(A notice is posted at a retail outlet in Seoul on July 12, 2019, stating that it is neither selling nor buying Japanese products. A boycott campaign of Japanese goods is spreading in response to Japan’s recent curbs on exports of key chemicals to South Korean semiconductor and display manufacturers. Image Source: Yonhap News Agency)
In recent days, this has been a hot topic on the news – there has been a campaign for Muslims to boycott products made by non Muslims (it has mellowed down to Buy Muslim Products First).
How do you guys been doing lately? Do you still remember Rukunegara?
The last post I did was way back in early July and I considered that is a very long gap when it comes to blogging. My sincere apologies for missing from the blogosphere. It is not that I had stopped blogging but rather I have been busy – very, very busy indeed on something else.
For last 3 months and hopefully continuing into the coming months, I have spending my weekends rather religiously on activities that makes me achieve my daily target of 10,000 steps on my pedometer, cause me to sweat like hell and drink more than 8 cups of water (well it is more than 4 litres per day). Image source: Android Authority
(Personally I am not a true blue atheist but then again, religion for me is something personal between me and the Supreme Being and not to be imposed forcibly to anyone else. Quote source: http://www.thequotepedia.com)
In the month of Ramadan this year, we are seeing and listening to things that hardly can be called as good and blessed religious activities.
First we had a couple of men throwing grenades into a crowd of people in a pub and although there were denials first, the IGP now have confirmed that it was indeed a terrorist attack.
Police have confirmed that the Movida night club bombing last week was the first ever successful IS attack on Malaysian soil.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the attack, which left eight people injured, was carried out by locals who were directly instructed by IS member Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi from Syria.
“Since the attack on June 28 to July 1, we have arrested 15 people including the two men who threw the hand grenade,” he said.
It was confirmed that two of the 15 were also policemen
And elsewhere around the world, there was more bloody news of acts committed in the name of religion.
A wave of suicide bombings hit three Saudi Arabian cities over a 24-hour period.
The attacks came on the heels of massive jihadi assaults in the Muslim world last week that have been been tied to ISIS; analysts believe that this string of assaults in Saudi Arabia could be the work of the terror group.
There has been no claim of responsibility.
Two of the attacks failed but four people were killed in the third, all of which appear to be coordinated — targeting both Saudi security forces and Western interests.
And before that, a good number of foreigners were gunned down in Dhaka and where suspects were once studying in Malaysia and the Government is considering bringing in more workers from Bangladesh – a recipe for disaster?
Bangladeshi police are continuing to investigate Friday’s deadly attack on a Dhaka cafe, amid shock at the elite background of most of the suspects.
They include the son of a government politician, along with university and elite public school students.
Twenty hostages, two policemen and six suspects were killed in the raid. One suspect was arrested.
The so-called Islamic State (IS) group said it was behind the attack but the government has denied this.
Nine Italians, seven Japanese, one US citizen and an Indian were killed in the 12-hour siege at the Holey Artisan cafe in the Gulshan neighbourhood. One Italian is unaccounted for.
And there were more terror attack much nearer to Europe
Thirteen suspects, including 10 Turks, have been formally charged over the Istanbul airport suicide bombings, the deadliest of several attacks to strike Turkey’s biggest city this year, the Dogan news agency reported.
Turkish officials have pointed blame at the Islamic State jihadist group (IS) for Tuesday’s gun and bomb spree at Ataturk airport which left 45 people dead including 19 foreigners.
The suspects, who are in police custody, were charged with belonging to a terror group, homicide and endangering the unity of the state, Dogan reported, without providing the foreign suspects’ nationalities.
It is time to be more alert and put priority on moderation, good understanding and tolerance between the many religions and races in this country. Hope the authorities are on high alert and dumb citizens (and little Napoleons who have too much free time on their hands) have come to their senses to ensure they don’t cause any problems with their foolish acts and words. After all, you just need an idiot and small spark for an uncontrollable forest fire.
(Certainly not THE place for any funny business. The House of Commons in session and in a good mood for a debate over David Cameron’s motion on Syria. Although not all the MPs had the opportunity to speak their mind on the motion, whoever did managed, left a positive impression on the viewers. Image source: the Net)
In case you have been too busy to worry yourself with the latest on global news and the state of international response over Syria’s purported use of chemical weapon (yes, the same old “weapon of mass destruction” tone that left Iraq in a bloody mess to this day), here’s a snippet of what had happened recently in the UK Parliament:-
The British parliament yesterday rejected a motion supporting military action in Syria, reflecting deep divisions about using force to punish President Bashar al-Assad for what Western governments believe was his use of chemical weapons against civilians. The British parliament’s rejection of the largely symbolic motion proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron, which would have given authorization in principle for action subject to a second vote, was a setback for Obama’s efforts to build a coalition for action.
Cameron said afterward he would not override the will of parliament and approve such action, saying it was clear that parliament did not want to see a military strike on Syria to punish it for chemical weapons use and that he would act accordingly. The United States and its allies have “no smoking gun” proving Assad personally ordered the attack on a rebel-held Damascus neighborhood in which hundreds of people were killed, US national security officials said.
In secret intelligence assessments and a still-unreleased report summarizing US intelligence on the alleged gas attack on Aug 21, US agencies expressed high confidence that Syrian government forces carried out the attack, and that Assad’s government therefore bears responsibility, US national security officials said. Syria denies blame for the gas attacks and says they were perpetrated by rebels. Washington and its allies say the denial is not credible.
An extended parliamentary debate in London revealed deep misgivings stemming from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After pressure from lawmakers, the British government – a key player in any proposed air assault on Syria – had promised parliament that even if it voted in favour, there would be a second decisive vote once the UN weapons inspectors report their findings.
Even that motion was defeated by 285 to 272 votes.
Over past couple of days, the Western world seems to be on the verge of deciding to take military action on Syria (they calling it the “regime” now) and shown over and over again on the news, it had started to get a bit boring. Then I saw the debate of the motion by PM David Cameron a couple nights ago, shown live over CNN and it was simply brilliant.
(Live telecast of the parliament proceedings can indeed bring out some of the dumbest, self-centred and morally corrupted clowns in the open and allow the voters to see for themselves on how these clowns waste their time sleeping in Parliament. We need more quality politicians in the Parliament if we want to move the nation in the right direction. Image source: the Net)
Don’t get me wrong – I am sure that the debate skill and knowledge level of our own Members of Parliament are on par as any intelligent and skilful Members of Parliament out there (and surely that includes the UK MPs). But the problem is we don’t see this live and in complete on a regular basis. Nowadays, the only time you can watch the MPs “in action” is during the snippets during the news where the shot is edited (often to show the bad side of the oppositions) and heavily one sided. The other time would be during the presentation of the national budget by the Prime Minister although this is almost a one way argument.
Still remember the call to telecast live the parliament in session and to allow the voters to see what is being discussed and argued by their elected Member of Parliament? After a “promising” start to allow the live telecast, the idea was then shot down and the excuse that was given was that the viewers are “not matured” enough to watch the parliament in session:-
The first full day Parliament sat was fraught with controversy. Karpal Singh of the DAP delayed proceedings by protesting that several MPs had not been validly sworn in because they had not raised their right hands, a claim the Speaker rejected. Karpal subsequently exchanged heated words with Bung Mokhtar Radin, calling him “big foot”, with Bung retorting that he was a “big monkey”.
During question time, the Speaker gave one question for the Prime Minister to Razali Ibrahim and refused to permit supplementary follow-up questions, a decision Lim Kit Siang denounced as “making a mockery” of the House, branding it as part of “a conspiracy to silent the opposition MPs”. After the Prime Minister personally intervened, the Speaker permitted Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS to ask one follow-up question. Azmin Ali of PKR also protested the Speaker’s allocation of questions, arguing that as Leader of the Opposition, Wan Azizah had the right to first ask the Prime Minister a question, and that BN backbenchers received a disproportionate number of questions.
The controversial debate led Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek to suggest that the government would review live broadcasts of the first 30 minutes of question time because “it was misused to seek cheap publicity and raise trivial matters”. He later said that he would propose to the Cabinet that plans to broadcast future question times be shelved. In response, Deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi said it was too early to make a firm decision about the future of live broadcasts: “I feel the government should determine if this is a first-day phenomenon or if it will continue.” Prime Minister Abdullah also called for the cancellation of the live broadcasts, but the Cabinet decided to continue them for the time being.
Perhaps it was the right to do – the need to protect the matured viewers from the immature clowns sailing on trivial issue in the Parliament is probably justified.
But somehow seeing the UK MPs in action brought back the dreaded question of why we can’t see that same flair and intelligence that was demonstrated by the MPs in UK when debating on Cameron’s motion on Syria with our own MPs here. How we can assess this when the debate of motions in our Parliament is not telecast live and it’s troublesome to read the Hansard? Don’t we have the right to see our elected ones in action and ensure that they don’t use the opportunity to sleep in the Parliament and making a fool of themselves? After all, decisions and motions that they make in Parliament affects us all.
According to Klang MP (DAP) Charles Santiago, citizens had a right to know what the people who they voted for were doing in the Dewan Rakyat.
“Parliament should be televised. It is the house of the people, and we are the people’s representatives. We come here with a mandate from the people, and we’ve taken an oath to represent interests of the country. What we do here has every bit of a link and (can result in) ramifications to the world outside, so they (Malaysians) have to know,” he told FMT.
Santiago claimed that if MPs knew they were being watched live on the air, they would be pressured to “get their act together”.
To be realistic, it may be a long way to go before this can be done effectively. We need to start with the right quality of politicians (from BN, PR and others) who knows the subject matter well and knows what to debate (of course the Government being frank with the information would be a big factor here). And one good way to judge them on this would be see how they question and answer in the Parliament (how they work and response to their constituent would be another). Are they asking the right questions? Are they wasting the precious time on trivial issues? Are they trying to avoid answering questions that has been put forward? Does direction of their political parties drive their decisions in the Parliament and jeopardize the valid motions raised by fellow MP just because they are from the opposition? Do they sleep in the Parliament far too often?
A regular telecast of the Parliamentary debate is necessary in a matured and democratic society. It would be good if they can start with the debate of important motions that affects the nation such as introduction of new and controversial laws. Then the voters can see what the MPs had argued for and against the motion before the proposals become the law. It’s important to see whether the MPs who had argued for the law to be approved have done so because there were real merits in the new law and not because they were forced to toe the line of their political parties.
In the case of David Cameron’s motion in the UK Parliament, there were indeed merits to strike Syria militarily (David Cameron’s passionate plea to send the right message to President Al Assad before more deaths from the use of chemical weapons and the right of the international society to play it’s role was very valid) but the arguments put forward by the MPs who had rejected the motion made more sense too (MPs asked why there is a motion for military action when the UN inspectors have not completed their investigations). And learning the hard mistakes with Iraq, the motion was rightfully defeated. Having said that, there was a fair share of the telecast show time for the MPs from the opposition.
One could only dread the shock if that has happened in Malaysia where Anwar Ibrahim has almost equal air-time as Najib. Moving forward, who knows, with a greater scrutiny on the Parliament proceedings, perhaps the quality of politicians in this country may just improve. After all, we do have some of the dumbest, self-centred and morally corrupted politicians in the country wasting everyone’s time and taking the nation on the wrong side of the road. Bringing them in the open on a more regular basis and forcing them to change their ways would be most sensible thing to do.
(In the end, it was nothing but just a food colouring? Didn’t we paid RM7.1 million for it? Cartoonist Zunar – Malaysiakini say it all)
Here’s one to digest for your lovely weekend.
It is an interesting article in Malaysiakini (reproduced at Anwar Ibrahim Blog) on the issue of indelible ink used in the last general election. Considering that there has been a greater call for the EC chief to step down and too many complaints against the quality of the indelible ink in the last elections makes this a good reading.
The interesting snippets from that article was on the chronology of event and the excuses given by the EC on whether to use or not the indelible ink and the quality of the indelible ink against the various complaints from the voters & oppositions alike:-
In 2008, the use of indelible ink in GE12 was stopped at the last minute. At a forum on ‘Free and Fair Elections: Reality or Illusion?’ in Kota Baru in January 2012, the former EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claimed that the EC was banned from using indelible ink in GE12 because it contravened Article 119 of the federal constitution.
PAS vice-president Husam Musa had challenged this and said that Abdul Rashid had announced on national television then, that the ban was for security concerns. Abdul Rashid had claimed that various people had obtained a similar ink and were using it to trick rural Malaysians into staining their fingers before voting.
Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz confessed that it was he who had prevented the use of the indelible ink prior to the 2008 general election.
He cited constitutional concerns and the worry that Muslims would be unable to perform the proper ablutions for prayers. He denied Husam’s claim that the Fatwa Council had endorsed the use of indelible ink in the 2008 general election.
On May 1, complaints about the indelible ink prompted EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria to say that tests had shown that fingers painted with ink from shaken bottles lasted longer than the ink from bottles which had not been shaken.
In an interview with the Straits Times of Singapore on May 12, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claimed that silver nitrate in the ink was dangerous, and that the Health Ministry had warned about the possible damage to kidneys and risk of cancer. Meanwhile, a mainstream paper claimed on May 29 that several people had been harassed for lodging police reports on the indelible ink.
On June 6, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam scotched Abdul Aziz’s claim and denied issuing a report about the harmful risks to health from silver nitrate.
On June 17, Abdul Aziz then blamed God for the poor performance of the ink. The ink had been tested prior to GE13 and he said: “On the much-awaited day, the power of Allah is greater when the ink could disappear after being washed several times. Where is the mistake?” [sic]
On June 21, the EC vice-chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said a special internal team would be formed to discover if the ink had suffered from internal sabotage.
On June 26, Shahidan Kassim, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the ink was actually food colouring. He said, “No chemicals were used in the ink, they were instead replaced with food colouring ingredients which were approved.”
On June 27, the Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that Malaysia is “not a Third World country” and so does not need indelible ink in its elections. He said that Parliament agreed to its use because “the opposition wanted it”.
By June 28, various NGOs were demanding details of the supplier of the ink. Despite the lies and furore surrounding the indelible ink, Wan Ahmad said that the ink would be used in the Kuala Besut by-election in Terengganu.
Indelible ink, which will last for more than a week, will restore democracy to Malaysia and smite the foes of the rakyat.
So did the EC or did they not screw up things with the indelible ink in the last general elections? Did we end up paying through our noses for something that is not? And of course, the final say in idiocy came from the politician who said that the Parliament agreed to its use because “the opposition wanted it”. The opposition wanted a lot of things before the election but did the Parliament or the Government agreed to it? Think about it.
UPDATE 1: From theSun – KUALA LUMPUR (July 24, 2012): The High Court today quashed the declaration of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on July 1 last year declaring Bersih 2.0 an unlawful society. In her 30-page judgement, Rohana ruled that the decision to declare Bersih 2.0 unlawful was made without taking into account some relevant facts or by taking into account some irrelevant facts.
Back to the original post
Just a quick one…
(Out of the many images of BERSIH 3.0 that I have seen (including the overturn police patrol car), this has to be one of the most moving one – a Malaysian lying down in front of the police water cannon truck to stop them. It reminded me of the lone protestor who stood in front of the tanks during the Tiananmen Square. Image source: Lim SK @ Flickr)
We had BERSIH 1.0 in 2007 which was unprecedented (together with Hindraf rally), 2.0 in 2011 was better and forced the Government to appoint PSC to look into the electoral reforms and last week, we had 3.0 which saw the police getting some beating from the protestors (and a larger number of protestors and reporters getting the same from the police) and you can be rest assured that if the electoral reforms are not implemented in time or with the right and sincere thrust, we will have BERSIH 4.0 and more.
Whilst we all agree that there seems to be some kind of steps taken by the Government to address the electoral shortcomings and come up with a list of reforms, it means nothing if these reforms is not implemented in time before the next general elections especially when BN is just too eager to wrestle back the state of Selangor and Penang. Look at this way – election reforms passed by the Parliament is not something that the current Government is too eager to implement and if it is not for BERSIH 1.0 and 2.0, we would not even come close to any kind of electoral reforms. So, when the Government announces PSC to look into the electoral reforms last year, we were not sure whether it was to silent the calls for electoral reforms (the usual wayang kulit) or if they were indeed sincere to make the positive change (but it is a long shot indeed).
Thus BERSIH 3.0 was mooted because it was evident that many of the recommendations cannot be implemented soon. If the general election is indeed called in June, there is no way for the EC to implement all of the PSC’s recommendations in time. And if EC indeed proceed to implement the reforms sometime in the future, it may be too late. So, it is possible that we have not see the end of BERSIH rallies but hopefully if they have the next one, the organizers should look for a better solution on crowd control (whatever happens, the last thing we need is for the ordinary people to be fighting the police on the streets) and ensuring that political parties do not hijack the rally.
Yes, we need to keep up the pressure on the Government and on the EC not much on coming up with the list for electoral reforms (BERSIH have done the same way before PSC was appointed) but it should be more on the implementation of whatever reforms that has been proposed. And whilst we do that it should not at the expense of breaching the convention of a peaceful rally and violence against the police and making the rally ending up the oppositions’ rally. If we do that, you can expect that the next BERSIH rally will be more effective than the one we had last week and with a greater participation as well.
Folks, the signs of the general election are everywhere now – it’s anytime now
(You can hardly see this fine beautiful art in motion these days but in the political landscape, it is still alive and played well to the end. Image source: Wikipedia)
For one, there are plenty of feel-good news in the mainstream medias, highlight of the oppositions having trouble in Kedah (and other PR led states) and many more things to spin that the BN is better than PR. Just read some of the headlines in recent days and some of it may even make you want to puke:-
Johor is a role model in relation to the development of Chinese schools, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. In comparison, Dr Chua said the community faced problems getting land for schools in Selangor.
Najib given an A+ for performance since last polls. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has performed well since the last general election, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is regarded as a leader who has bravely spoken up for the interest of the community, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
The action by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in apologising on behalf of Barisan Nasional (BN) for its mistakes, including its dismal performance in the 2008 general election, reflected the party’s humility, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
There’s more and last weekend, Najib even meet up with some NGOs – just to say that “the NGOs, which are partners at the grassroots, and their leaders contribute their time and energy voluntarily to achieve their respective objectives, whether in championing for women’s right, persons with disabilities or protection for children”.
Hmm, interesting. Would he have said the same thing to the NGOs who had contributed their time and energy voluntarily for Bersih 2.0? What about Tenaganita where the founder Irene Fernandez in 1996 arrested for publishing false news and convicted (a conviction which in 2008 was overturned by the High Court).
With election looming even closer, expect the unexpected – roads full of potholes for months suddenly patched up, new roads laid, toll charges reduced, land titles distributed, citizenship suddenly granted, previously “missing-in-action” politicians visiting their constituencies and more. Yes, you will see more and more of the famed politicians coming down from the sky, making themselves holier than the holiest man around, just to get votes for the next elections.
To be fair, we see the same thing over at Pakatan’s side as well. So, depending on which type of media you are accessing, you will either be reading too much of BN’s spins or PR’s spins. But it does not really matters as to who you will support at the end of the day – it can be a BN or PR candidate, what really matters is that you have registered to vote and you exercise them by picking the very best to represent all Malaysians and the country whilst at the same time, showing the half-past six, corrupted and two-faced politicians to their early exit.
Najib have been going around apologizing (why now?) but the fact is we rather see a real action for the future than apology for the past, bygone actions.
With NFC mess and 1Care seemed to be quite down for now (but not over), there seems to be other mess creeping in. The proposed RM7.1 billion highway project is one and this seems to be one-notch over all those lopsided highway contracts of the past:-
Critics have also questioned the logic of awarding the project to Europlus which has no experience in highway construction. Although the original length of the West Coast Expressway was 215.8km, critics claim another 100km do not justify an additional RM4 billion.
“The A-G is also questioning why the concessionaire is getting 70 per cent of the toll revenue when it should be a 70:30 agreement, with the government getting 70 per cent since it is footing the cost of the project,” said another source.
Another issue is that Europlus president and chief executive Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye also controls Talam Corporation, which has a blemished record in property development because of a number of abandoned projects.
Will this RM7.1 billion highway contract get approved in the end with the same lopsided terms and the rakyat once again are made suckers? Certainly we hope not – BN should be smarter by now.
Then we have Lynas – the proposed tax-free, rare-earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan. There has been serious concern on the by-product of the processing plant which is radioactive in nature. Even more serious is the question why there is 12 years tax break for the plant and why BN politicians harping on the project.
Despite the promises to keep close watch on the enforcement of the law on the processing plant and assurances (yeah, we all know how well enforcement of the law can be in this country), we are certainly not taking the bait, more so with this news:-
The fact that Australia has refused to accept the waste by-product – thorium – produced by the Lynas operation tells something of the risks hidden in the rare earth. Australia will only mine the ore and ship it to Malaysia. Australia is safe. Malaysia will refine it and has to take care of the waste. Malaysia is not safe.
Where do you bury the waste? Call the prime minister and he will say the thorium will be dumped far from human settlements. Not a good answer. The waste can seep into the ground and eventually contaminate the water. Relocate the affected residents? Pointless. The radioactive gas called “radon” – which is released when the ore is crushed to remove thorium – will bring menacing clouds to the whole country on the wings of the winds. There is no place you can hide.
The rare earth plant is located only 2km away from a residential area (Gebeng) with a population of about 30,000 and some 25km from Kuantan. It is estimated that the combined population of the two towns – about 400,000 – will be put at risk from possible toxic leaks and emissions. Yet the government experts are cocksure that LAMP is totally safe.
One minister even had the audacity to advance his perverted logic that the waste water can safely be discharged into drains. The call for him to resign is fitting. He does not have the foggiest idea about the Lynas operation or understand the horrors that await the people who live in the vicinity of the refinery.
Election is coming and if Najib wants to show that BN is better than anyone in governing the country and be fair to all its people irrespective of their political affiliates, they need to prove more than just fancy headlines on state controlled media. They must show that they have changed for good – the granting of a RM7.1 billion highway contract in dubious circumstances (despite public outcries in the past on lopsided highway contract) or making policies that undermines the people’s health and welfare is not.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the wayang kulit to be played out to the maximum in both sides – just keep a clear head and conscience and focus on what you need to do when the elections are finally held.
(The King who presided over the previous Bersih 1.0 is once again have made declaration that should bring the Government and Bersih 2.0 on talking terms again – hopefully. Image source: http://pinkturtle2.wordpress.com)
Well, it could have been an indirect warning to Bersih 2.0 or it could have been the lifeline that Najib been looking for to bring the tug-of-war between the Government and Bersih 2.0 to a friendlier conclusion but still, it is an interesting and timely statement from the King.
“I am following closely the developments of the proposed gathering and procession by Bersih with the aim of handing over a memorandum to me as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and how the government, particularly the agencies and departments concerned, is handling the issue.
“However, I believe that the nation’s leadership under Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak is capable of handling this problem in the best possible way.
“I urge that amid the political fervour of a section of the people to bolster democracy in our country, it must also be ensured that this demand on democracy does not bring destruction to the country.
“Generally, we cannot be following too much the practices in other countries, as harmony and stability are vital foundations for a country and which all quarters must protect.
“I also urge the government to carry out everything that is entrusted to it by the people in a just and wise manner, and it is important that I as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong do not want to see this country with a plural society in a situation where there is animosity among them or a section of the people being enemies with the government, on whatever grounds.
“When any problem arises, we as a civilised society must resolve it through consultations and not follow our emotions, as the Malay saying goes, Yang Dikejar Tak Dapat Yang Dikendong Berciciran (Not getting what we chase after and spilling what we carry).
“The fact is, street demonstrations bring more bad than good although the original intention is good. Instead, we should focus on our main objective to develop this country, and not create problems that will cause the country to lag behind.
“Remember that there is no land where the rain does not fall, there is no ocean that is not turbulent. That is how important moderation and compromise is, which has been long been in practice by our nation’s administration.”
Yes, it is a translated text (read here for the BM version) but there are wise messages for both side of the divide from the King and if one read between the lines (rather widely, of course), is the King telling the Government that they are not handling the situation wisely?
Consider these statements:-
“…Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak is capable of handling this problem…”
The King says Najib is capable of, he did not say Najib IS handling the best possible way. As at todate, instead of engaging Bersih 2.0 in a more matured ways, the Government unfortunately has only acted irrational and with a pinch of paranoia from labeling the organizers as trouble makers, banning yellow Bersih T-shirts under an unnamed law, arresting groups of protestors under unimaginative charges, to stopping pre Bersih 2.0 rallies.
“….a section of the people being enemies with the government…”
Instead using the label “trouble makers” for the organizers of Bersih 2.0, the King calls them “a section of the people” which is true and admirable because Bersih 2.0 at the end of the day is nothing but ordinary citizens who have certain demands for the Government. And when the ordinary citizens are deemed to be enemies of the Government, it is actually reflecting badly on the Government, not the people. This is because Government is elected by the people and once you fall out with the people, it could mean the end of you in the next elections.
No doubt, there were messages for Bersih 2.0 as well – to continue with direct engagements with the relevant stakeholders instead of doing it through street rallies and demonstrations. And there seems to be some positive development towards that both from Bersih 2.0 and the Government (they seems to agree on rally to be held in a stadium now) but do expect massive traffic jam during the weekend especially towards the city centre.
The ball is in the Government’s court now – demands of Bersih 2.0 only calls for betterment of the election process (minus the call for street rally perhaps). We would not have even gotten to Bersih 1.0 if the whole election process has been well managed and fair from the very start but the truth of the matter is that it is not – one must admit that loopholes still exists and even the EC has admitted that there is “only so much” they could do although many may disagree with this – certainly “cleaning the electoral roll, reforming postal balloting, use of indelible ink, and minimum 21 days campaigning period is well within the ambit and ability of the EC.
P.s. In the meantime, it seems that Ibrahim Ali is now so upset because the King is willing to see the organizers of Bersih 2.0 and not him. His quote of the day – “We at Perkasa have written many times to meet with the King on several issues but we’ve never gotten that” was timely responded by one of reader with this statement “Ibrahim Ali? Perkasa? I am not surprised with Istana Negara’s decision”. Now that is funny!
Imagine reading this news on 10th July 2011 morning:-
I have been busy with an assignment lately and I have been traveling too but as much as possible, I do try to keep abreast with the latest news at home. And one that has been quite hot in the news recently is the Bersih 2.0 rally on 9th July 2011.
It is amazing that 500 – 600 police reports have been lodged against Bersih 2.0 todate and it has gotten Perkasa and UMNO Youth into the act as well although their objectives may differ from what Bersih 2.0 is standing for.
No doubt, public rallies in Malaysia have always been chaotic and not in all circumstance, we can say that the blame needs to be put on the shoulders of the organizers. As Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa had said it will be chaos and we agree to that but it only get even more chaotic when there are opposing parties striven to throw the spanner into the woodworks. Still remember the rallies by Anti ISA organizers and the Pro ISA organizers that happen on the same time. The Pro ISA rally was cocked up only after the Anti ISA rally was announced.
And whenever we have public rallies, there is this famed “mother of roadblocks” by the police which does nothing to prevent the public rally from happening but gets into the nerve of every motorist that have to pass through these insane traffic jams that is created by these road blocks. It is more productive for these policemen to doing real policing work rather stand around by the side of the highway, manning road blocks which cause 3 lanes of traffic to be squeezed into 1 and as no ones passes these road blocks wears a large “I am Public Rally participant” signboard, the effectiveness of such road blocks is highly questionable. Bersih 2.0 organizer did not get the permit for the public rally but so did Perkasa – so it will be interesting to see how police will act against the two.
And why we should oppose this rally which calls for fair election practices? Doesn’t it promote the very principles of democracy? There are still loopholes in the way we conduct our elections although the Election Commission and the Government will think otherwise. Postal votes for example remains a pain in the neck for the oppositions and it is no secret that gerrymandering is practiced wide spread by those who intend to keep themselves in power. Yes, our election process has not reached the level of maturity that we have hoped it to be.
Bersih 1.0 was unprecedented and was a great success and a couple of weeks later, the Government had another headache dealing with Hindraf rally. Both rallies, coupled with high handed tactics by the previous Government helped to steer the nation to hand over the worst election result to BN and helped the opposition to gain control of 4 states. We have seen the progress made by the oppositions since 2008 – some is good, some is bad.
Having thousands of people on the streets will not only be a logistic nightmare for the organizers but also for the law enforcement agencies. Can they keep peace and order? The easy way out for the police would be to deny the permit for the rally in the place, mitigating the expected chaos if the rally goes through. And that is what the police had done too but certainly it is not going to stop the rally. And what about the inconvenience that it creates for those who is not involved in the rally but had to drive in to the city for urgent matters. Think of the traffic jams and disruptions to the daily routine for the day. And we have yet to count the expected losses by businesses that had to close their premises for the day in fear of riots and public disorder.
Thus arriving to the question that many may be asking – whether we still need a Bersih 2.0? To answer that question, we probably need to see what Bersih 2.0 is demanding.
Bersih 2.0’s 8 demands are not surprisingly something new – it is something we have been hearing from NGOs and the oppositions all over the years.
1. Clean the electoral roll
The electoral roll is marred with irregularities such as deceased persons and multiple persons registered under a single address or non-existent addresses. The electoral roll must be revised and updated to wipe out these ‘phantom voters’. The rakyat have a right to an electoral roll that is an accurate reflection of the voting population.
In the longer term, BERSIH 2.0 also calls for the EC to implement an automated voter registration system upon eligibility to reduce irregularities.
2. Reform postal ballot
The current postal ballot system must be reformed to ensure that all citizens of Malaysia are able to exercise their right to vote. Postal ballot should not only be open for all Malaysian citizens living abroad, but also for those within the country who cannot be physically present in their voting constituency on polling day. Police, military and civil servants too must vote normally like other voters if not on duty on polling day.
The postal ballot system must be transparent. Party agents should be allowed to monitor the entire process of postal voting.
3. Use of indelible ink Indelible ink must be used in all elections. It is a simple, affordable and effective solution in preventing voter fraud. In 2007, the EC decided to implement the use of indelible ink. However, in the final days leading up to the 12th General Elections, the EC decided to withdraw the use of indelible ink citing legal reasons and rumours of sabotage.
BERSIH 2.0 demands for indelible ink to be used for all the upcoming elections. Failure to do so will lead to the inevitable conclusion that there is an intention to allow voter fraud.
4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
The EC should stipulate a campaign period of not less than 21 days. A longer campaign period would allow voters more time to gather information and deliberate on their choices. It will also allow candidates more time to disseminate information to rural areas. The first national elections in 1955 under the British Colonial Government had a campaign period of 42 days but the campaign period for 12th GE in 2008 was a mere 8 days.
5. Free and fair access to media
It is no secret that the Malaysian mainstream media fails to practice proportionate, fair and objective reporting for political parties of all divide. BERSIH 2.0 calls on the EC to press for all media agencies, especially state-funded media agencies such as Radio and Television Malaysia (RTM) and Bernama to allocate proportionate and objective coverage for all potlical parties.
6. Strengthen public institutions
Public institutions must act independently and impartially in upholding the rule of law and democracy. Public institutions such as the Judiciary, Attorney-General, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), Police and the EC must be reformed to act independently, uphold laws and protect human rights.
In particular, the EC must perform its constitutional duty to act independently and impartially so as to enjoy public confidence. The EC cannot continue to claim that they have no power to act, as the law provides for sufficient powers to institute a credible electoral system.
7. Stop corruption
Corruption is a disease that has infected every aspect of Malaysian life. BERSIH 2.0 and the rakyat demand for an end to all forms of corruption. Current efforts to eradicate corruption are mere tokens to appease public grouses. We demand that serious action is taken against ALL allegations of corruption, including vote buying.
8. Stop dirty politics
Malaysians are tired of dirty politics that has been the main feature of the Malaysian political arena. We demand for all political parties and politicians to put an end to gutter politics. As citizens and voters, we are not interested in gutter politics; we are interested in policies that affect the nation.
Certainly reforms like automatic registration of voters for example will eliminate the need for manual registration of voters that creates the notion of phantom voters. We have the right tools and resources, so what’s keeping us from deploying them to ensure everyone of the right age automatically qualifies to vote on who will represent them in Parliament.
And if the EC and the Government are of the opinion that they have done the best to ensure a fair and just election process, just have a look at the recent Sarawak State Election where there were incidents that prevented a fair and just election process.
In the past, we have called for fair and just election process through the press statements, letters, memorandums, petitions and more but progress towards fair and just election process has been rather slow. Sometimes, it does take a public rally with thousands of people from different background and cause to drive the point home. It happened with Bersih 1.0 and we can expect the same awareness with Bersih 2.0.
What we request in the end from the Government is a promise to allow the rally to proceed and end peacefully and thereafter to take Bersih 2.0’s demands for reforms. After all, doesn’t the needs of the nation takes precedent over the needs of political agendas?
(Never underestimate the power of impressions, more so if it was handled by professionals. Image source: http://www.americanprogress.org)
2010 was unfortunately “their” year but they deserved it – they played their cards rights
One of the few best things that BN under Najib did in 2010 (although it was long, long overdue) was getting a new President for MIC but then again, MIC is old news and the old President did not go away with empty hands. He is still around on tax-payers’ payroll. But that is not the main reason why I say 2010 was the year of the BN. Let’s look back on what went wrong for PR and what went right for BN (in no particular order).
Went Wrong for PR
Keshwinder Singh of PR jumped ship to BN with a very flimsy excuse. People were getting tired of the “frogs” jumping out from the opposition camp
Resignation of Zaid Ibrahim from PKR who went out to form his own political party. Zaid was seen as the independent entity within Pakatan Rakyat to merge all the opposition parties
But frankly speaking, more damage done to Pakatan Rakyat by Pakatan Rakyat themselves than by BN and so-call NGOs. If you think about it, some of the hard facts that Pakatan Rakyat failed to capitalised in ensuring continued voters’ support in the next general elections are:-
Selangor and Penang under Pakatan Rakyat is doing better than the time it was under BN. There is clear sense of accountability and reduction of corruption under PR than under BN
Samy Vellu is not out of the picture – he is still leeching tax-payers’ money in his new assignment (out of the many thousands eligible Malaysians, the Government cannot find no other better person?) and he is yet to be made accountable for the MAIKA fiasco
No head up on the PKFZ investigations and prosecution of those had raped millions of tax-payer’s money despite big fishes charged by MACC but who to is going to repay back the millions burned in this project
MACC is yet to be very effective – corruption is still riding high in East Malaysia according to reports in the Sarawak Report
BN is still weak in management of tax payers money – more so after Idris Jala warned of the high subsidies been paid out to keep prices artificially low. Still remember Tourism Minister RM1.28 million overseas trips?
Charge of corruption against Khir Toyo seems too late, too little – what about others?
The “Allah” issue – how well unity and integration among Malaysians been in 2010? BN is still consist of race based political parties but PR is more spread out and represents Malaysia as whole better.
Politician’s wife interference with the administration tasks and abuse of tax payers’ money (the lady is going on 3 nation trip but on who’s money?)
The case of Teoh Beng Hock who died when under interrogation by MACC is yet to be resolved. He did not commit suicide but there is no homicide as well.
BN played the public relations card very well – they managed to play up PR’s shortcomings and in-fighting, play up the good things that the BN Government have done and at the same time down play the mess that the BN Government has and down play the good things that the PR State Government have done. It is not a big surprise indeed. After all, they had the means (APCO, mainstream media, etc) and the cash to pay for the public relations which would have been expensive. In 2010, PR was certainly at a disadvantage when it comes to the battle of the public relations.
And you can be rest assured that BN will continue to play their upper hands on the war of public relations in 2011 and all the way until they are able to wrestle back the State of Selangor and Penang. What PR can do to counter that and get at least some of the confidence lost in 2010 in 2011? What PR can do to reverse the tables on BN?
Some of the steps that PR can take to improve their image and more importantly, the stand with the cautious voters is nothing new – in fact, we can take the cue from BN for some ideas, for example:-
1. Appoint a professional PR agency / military strategist / professional chess-player to advise PR on how to project a more stable, viable and feasible coalition and how to keep one step ahead of the more experienced, better “armed” BN. Just make sure that the agency’s fees are paid from political party funds instead from the State funds so that integrity of appointment can be persevered and creates no room for scandals.
2. Have proper channel for party members to voice their grievousness without them need to make noise in the mainstream media (where the fact can be presented in advantage of BN), twitters, blogs or personal press conferences. Once the channel has been established, ensure that all comments, critics and suggestions by the members are given its due consideration. For those who have a valid complaint / suggestions, give them the room to make their case – it will be helpful in the long run. For those who been making noise because they just want more position and without any substance, there is no need to tolerate them further – just kick them out from the party to minimize the damage.
3. Have periodic update of the oppositions’ progress of work – similar to BN’s KPI but back it with hard facts and statistics. Periodic updates need to be disseminated in multiple media and channels. Such dissemination of information is not only important to counter BN’s accusations and arguments but also to keep the voters who voted them into power updated on the progress of their representatives. Don’t take voters for a ride – voters know how to read in between the lines too
4. Have a selection committee to vet through candidates and representatives to ensure that they work for the people and is not easily swayed by emotion and personal views. Work closely with the Third Force and NGOs who can provide candidates with the right set of values. Give way to pulse of the local community – one good example, getting the right candidates to be appointed leaders to head Sabah and Sarawak branches.
5. Focus on actual work that benefits the people instead of working to highlight the past wrongdoing of the previous Government. Since 2008, too much time, effort and energy been wasted on digging out the past administration mess instead of moving on and doing a good job for the people. At the same time, the effort of digging up the wrongdoing of the previous administration should be left to the enforcement agencies in the country (if they sleep on this, fire the whole lot after you have become the Government)
6. Be more proactive and ensure that what need to be done to ensure smooth operation of the Government is done as early as possible and with the right procedures. Don’t wait until the BN appoints their own people before deciding to the change the constitution and finalizing your set of lists. After all, making the first move is a good strategy and makes it difficult for attacks to be made.
Frankly speaking, it does not take a genius to make the “dos and don’ts list” for Pakatan Rakyat to get their act together in 2011. There is no assurance that they will win back most of the confidence lost on them over the years since 2008 but who knows, Malaysians are forgiving type and there is a pain in the neck called BN who have not make major changes for the betterment of the country.
We still need the opposition to be strong and viable to provide the alternative option for the country. We have been doing nothing but waste money and precious time, bickering among ourselves instead of focusing on what is more important. For Pakatan Rakyat, 2010 was not their year but who knows what can happen in 2011.