The voters’ roll for the upcoming 13th general election certainly cannot be used anymore due to the following reasons:
Some 240,000 Election Commission (EC) workers will be voting in advance and they will not be marked with indelible ink;
Cloning of voters’ names; and
Double-registration of voters’ names; and
No deaths recorded for Sabak Bernam, Sungai Besar, Hulu Selangor and
Tanjung Karang but a check with the National Registration Department
Selangor alone has 300,000 dubious voters, Perak has over 50,000,
Penang over 35,000, even the remote parliamentary seat of Tumpat in
Kelantan currently held by PAS’ Kamaruddin Jaffar has over 10,000
dubious voters and all these cases are just the ones detected. What
about those undetected?
More than 1,000 voters over the age of 100 with one voter aged 153;
Voters with suspicious and nonsensical names like “Kampung Baru” and
“Balai Polis Kerinchi”, located in the parliamentary seats of
Titiwangsa (PAS) and Lembah Pantai (PKR).
Besides the above reasons, one of the recent amendments to the
Election Offences Act 1954 (Amendment 2012), which were bulldozed
through in Parliament on April 19, states that party representatives are
not allowed to check the voter rolls together with the EC
representatives. This will certainly enable EC to do all sorts of
hanky-panky and dirty work with the voter rolls.
Certainly, the EC cannot be trusted to run a clean and fair election.
The Bersih 3.0 sit-in on April 28 is a call to the government to run a
clean and fair election, but if the government still ignores the demands
of the rakyat, then the government is certainly against the rakyat.
Best chance to change
Thus, it is the turn of the rakyat to sack the government of the day
but the problem is compounded further by the dirty voter rolls.
And that is why the government is crushing the opposition Pakatan
Rakyat. So that Pakatan cannot provide the check and balance, which is
so vital to ensure that there is a vibrant democracy and that there is
no hanky-panky in the government administration.
Recall the Operation Lalang in 1987. After that, it took 21 years for
the opposition to rise again and only in 2008 was the opposition strong
enough to challenge Barisan Nasional. If Pakatan were to be crushed by
BN, it is doubtful if it can ever rise again. Thus this is the best
chance to go for change.
It looks likely that there will never be another opportunity again.
At least not in our lifetime for those above 40 and as for the
youngsters, the future looks uncertain with BN’s plundering ways.
Umno is now using the race card to the hilt to obtain the Malay
votes. Everyone must work together for the good of all. It is not the
time to think of the interests of one’s race.
For the Indians who are impatient and have many grouses, they must
realise that they have to give time to Pakatan to put right all those 55
years of BN mistakes. It is a Herculean task and the problems of the
Indian community cannot be solved in just a few years.
After 2008, there are also more Indian MPs in Parliament than during
BN’s age of might and so the Indians must take note of this and be
encouraged by this new beginning and move from here to give support to
If the Indians continue to be hoodwinked by BN, then their lot will
still be oppressed as the foreign workers are getting blue MyKad faster
than the Indians who have stayed here for more than 30 or 40 years.
It is time for a change
It is time to go for change as Malaysia is already left far behind by
Singapore which has no natural resources. Another five more years under
BN will see Malaysia being booted back into the Stone Age.
PAS is constantly making reports of BN giving instant citizenship to
illegals and to foreign workers and yet the government is turning a
blind eye and deaf ear to these reports.
This is a clear indication that the government does not respect the
rakyat. Does this not speak volume of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s
Government Transformation Programme (GTP)?
What sort of a GTP and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is it
when massive low-skilled foreign labour is imported while our own
Malaysians are jobless? In Gelang Patah in Johor, many shoplots have
been converted to become hostels for the foreign workers.
The massive intake of low-skilled foreign labour is only enabling
Malaysia to be stuck in the low-income trap although it is a perfect
source of votes for BN.
And speaking of income, whatever happened to the minimum wage policy
and the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into the “IC Project”
Najib is good at ignoring issues that he is uncomfortable with. We
should not be duped by Najib’s sweet-talk without solid substance. So
far, he and other BN leaders have worked terribly hard in bad-mouthing
The promise of achieving Vision 2020 and a high-income nation is all
about building castles in the air – stories crafted by Najib the Dream
Peddler extraordinaire in an effort to dupe the rakyat.
PAS Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad has mentioned that most of the
projects planned under the ETP may not come into fruition after all
because it is only on paper and can easily be cancelled via the excuse
of “bad global economic climate.”
So far, only the MRT is a concrete project and that too because our
public transport is in the doldrums and befitting the status of a
Malaysians cannot afford to have BN helming the nation for another
five years as by then maybe even Myanmar’s democracy will be better than
ours. Hope is dim, and the light at the end of the tunnel is fading.
Bersih accused the Election Commission
(EC) today of failing to investigate 3.1 million voters whose identity
card (IC) addresses differ from that in the electoral roll despite
having the information since 2002.
Speaking at a press conference called by the electoral reform
movement, independent polls analyst Ong Kian Ming said the EC was given
this information for all states in the peninsula and also Kuala Lumpur
in 2002 and the figure made up 37 per cent of the 8.3 million voters
The project director for the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis
Project (MERAP) said he has had the information given by the National
Registration Department (NRD) to the EC before the implementation of the
new registration system where all voters have to be registered
according to the constituency indicated by their IC addresses.
“The EC has failed to act on this... to clean up the electoral roll
even though the presence of these non-resident voters contravenes
Article 119 1(b) of the Federal Constitution which says a voter must be a
resident in the constituency he is voting in,” he said.
Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah also said this
“shows serious problems in the electoral roll which is the role of the
EC to correct.”
“They say they are cleaning it up, so why are these findings still
emerging? The EC team should resign en bloc and let a new team step in
to clean up the roll,” she added.
Ong (picture) also
said his research found 65,455 “foreigners” in the electoral roll,
almost 90 per cent of whom had IC numbers which showed they were
Another 106,743 voters were deleted and 6,762 added to the electoral
roll without public display between the end of 2010 to the third quarter
of 2011, he added.
The UCSI lecturer also said the supplementary roll for the last
quarter of 2011 did not contain the usual information about the number
of voters added or subtracted due to death or enrolment in security
He said that given the average of 20,000 deaths and the third Q3 2011
roll showing an unusual spike in police and armed forces enrolment to
9,000, this could add another 30,000 to 50,000 dubious names.
“Including the 100,000 identified by MERAP previously, there are at
least 3.4 million cases or about 27 per cent of the current electoral
roll which needs to be further investigated,” he said.
EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had said last week
Malaysia’s electoral roll was the cleanest in the world, as only 42,000
out of 12.6 million voters, or 0.3 per cent, were considered
But Ong said Abdul Aziz should have checked the 100,000 already
identified by MERAP as having ages above 85 years old, gender
inconsistent with their ICs, same names and similar birthdates, born
overseas, Klang Valley voters who do not have house addresses, postal
voters with regular ICs, spouses of policemen who are postal voters,
spouses of army and police voters who have the same gender, army and
police voters above retirement age and army and police postal voters who
are above recruitment age.
The credibility of the electoral roll has been widely questioned
since a Parliamentary Select Committee was set up late last year to look
into electoral improvements.
The panel completed its six-month tenure and submitted its findings
to Parliament last week but the opposition and civil society have
criticised it for lacking specific recommendations on how to clean up
the voter registrar.
Bersih, a coalition of 84 NGOs, then announced it would hold a third rally for free and fair elections on April 28.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced the formation of
the bipartisan polls committee in August 2011, after being condemned in
the international press for his administration’s clampdown on Bersih’s
July 9 rally which drew tens of thousands to the streets of the capital.
The attack by thugs and hooligans on the students camping peacefully
at Dataran Merdeka is the last straw. Not only were the students beaten
up, their mobile phones, cameras and cash donations from well-wishers
were also taken away.
Civil society is now getting fed up with the government which seems
to be a law unto itself and acting with arrogance and impunity in
oppressing the rakyat. The students have their rights and the Barisan
Nasional government should engage in a peaceful discussion with them in
order to come up with an amicable win-win solution.
Instead, the BN government is thumbing its nose at the students. This
is unacceptable and this attack on the students just goes to show that
even law and order has been breached. What is Malaysia coming to?
This columnist who was at Dataran Merdeka to give moral support to
the students found that their rationale for protesting about their
student loans is reasonable as the repayment interest can go higher than
20% due to late repayment.
One student told this columnist that he is unhappy with the interest
rate as the debt of one BN crony amounting to RM589 million was written
off just like that.
Passers-by – the young and elderly – also stopped by to give the
students moral support and told this columnist that they will be coming
to Dataran Merdeka for Bersih 3.0 rally. Bersih 3.0 is going to be a big
event. “We will be near Dataran if there are roadblocks,” said an
Serious action must be taken against the thugs who attacked the
students and those who disrupted Pakatan Rakyat’s ceramahs. So far,
there has been no action against the thugs who beat people up at an ABU
(Anyone But Umno) function in Klang in January this year or the thugs
who attacked reporters at the Anti-Lynas Rally in Penang on Feb 26.
Twelve car windscreens were also smashed during a DAP fund-raising
dinner in Sarawak recently.
There has been an increase in lawlessness since the beginning of this
year and so far Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has kept an “elegant
silence”. This is unacceptable as it seems we are going back to the
medieval age where we need to carry a sword and shield for protection.
Najib must not be blind to these incidents of violence. He must come
out strongly to issue statements condemning these violent thugs. In a
press conference on April 4 during the announcement of the date of the
Bersih 3.0 sit-in, co-chairperson S Ambiga has expressed the hope that
Najib and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim can come up with a joint
statement condemning the recent escalating violence during political
ceramahs. This (spirally violence) is a dangerous prelude to the
forthcoming 13th general election.
It is every Malaysian’s ardent wish that the election campaign will
be peaceful and orderly and that a high level of decorum,
professionalism and sound ethics be employed. We hope that concrete
steps will be taken to stop this culture of violence.
Be that as it may, these incidents are not doing the BN government
any favour. The groundswell is building up. If you attend a Pakatan
ceramah, you can see people from all walks of life there. To give you an
example of the diversity, you will see an elderly Chinese man in short
trousers and singlet standing next to a young Malay boy or a Sikh guy.
Prior to 2004, the response to the opposition ceramahs was poor and
there might be 100 to 200 Malay men in skull-caps. But not so these
days. Today, Pakatan ceramahs always draw more than a 1,000 people. The
only way BN can win now is via the dirty voter rolls.
Even in the Umno stronghold of Johor, some of the die-hard Umno
supporters are waking up. There will be a group called Gabungan
Selamatkan Tanah Rakyat Johor (Tanah) which will be joining the Bersih
3.0 sit-in. These people are from Tanah Sungai Balang Muar, Felda Cahaya
Baru, Setinggan Kampung Plentong Tengah and many more.
According to Johor PAS Youth’s Suhaizan Kaiat, this is the first time
that this is happening. In Kelantan, 400 Umno members from Gual Ipoh
and Bukit Panau have left and joined PAS. Recently this month alone, 69
Umno members from Kampung Dangar and Kampung Kedap have joined PAS and
on April 7, 152 Umno members from Bukit Tuku, also in Kelantan, have
joined PAS. In the parliamentary seat of Kota Raja, Selangor, whose MP
is Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud from PAS, 450 members have left PPP to join
Amidst all this flurry of activities, the issue of fair and balanced
media coverage and 21-day campaign period – which are also among
Bersih’s eight demands – seem to have been left on the back-burner as
the focus is on the dirty voter rolls. Nevertheless, this columnist
dares to say that these two demands will clearly be ignored by the BN
Najib is also busy touring the country and showing that he is
campaigning hard to win the people’s support so that when BN wins, he
can say that he deserved it because he campaigned very hard. This is the
illusory reason BN will give to dupe the rakyat when it wins the 13th
BN is building up a great momentum and is like a tiger now. It is
showing its might and has let out a mighty roar. The people meanwhile
are waking up. The rakyat will be like the dragon rising up from the
ocean bringing a tsunami of change to clean up the nation. The tiger
will roar. The dragon will rise. The stage is set for Armageddon 2012.
PRESS STATEMENT from Global Bersih - 19 April 2012 The following is a press statement by Global Bersih, regarding the recent violence inflicted on students at Dataran Merdeka, KL. Global Bersih hopes your media organisation will publish this statement, or use these Global Bersih comments as the basis for a report. Please feel free to email either William de Cruz, the sender, or David Teoh for more information. Thank you very much.
William de Cruz, on behalf of Global Bersih
Blaming Dataran students like blaming women for rape
GLOBAL Bersih condemns the Malaysian government for doing nothing to address the violent attack on the Occupy Dataran student movement.
PutraJaya's criticism of the injured victims is like blaming women for rape.
PutraJaya's failure to stand by and protect young citizens who converged in the heart of our capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is the act of a government that has failed civil society.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's silence in this matter is also an act of sacrilege in the face of Malaysia's history of independence - if Malaysians are not safe in Merdeka Square, they are not safe anywhere in Malaysia.
The government has clearly given the impression that they are supportive of the scores of thugs who attacked the students, some of whom were beaten while asleep in their tents.
Social media reports and news portals have told people all over the world how Malaysian police officers stood by as the unprovoked violence was inflicted on women and men in KL.
Neither the government nor the Inspector-General of Police has acted to hold the uniformed personnel to account, or try to apprehend the attackers.
Victims have told the world that at least one of the attackers was armed and others were recognised as being members of Umno Youth and the Special Branch of police - these thugs had already been involved in other recent incidents of violence against Malaysians exercising their right to gather peacefully.
In Perth, Global Bersih co-ordinator Yap Soon Yee said: "No one should be subjected to this kind of thuggery and intimidation. Democracy and freedom of expression are constantly under attack, and the attacks are growing under the watchful eyes of the government and police, and it gives the impression that they support these thugs.
"We appeal to the international community to lend their voice against such oppression of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and voices of dissent. Good neighbours must not stay silent when atrocities such as this attack are committed, but firmly reprimand the authorities and law enforcers who stood by and did nothing."
In Singapore, Ong Guan Sin said: "The violence is deplorable. Even more worrying are indications of involvement by Umno Youth and Special Branch. This makes even more urgent and resolute our case for the April 28 rally, as a way to express 'all is not well with Malaysia'."
In Geneva, Switzerland, Global Bersih facilitator Bala Chelliah said: "In a democratic country we assume that students have a right to ask for better opportunities to higher education, and that citizens can exercise freedom of expression untrammelled.
"We assume police will diligently protect from unprovoked violence those peaceful civilians who are unarmed and non-retaliatory.
"These basic assumptions of all civilized men and women took a horrendous beating at Dataran Merdeka.
"Geneva appeals to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to write to the Malaysian authorities condemning such actions and recommending an investigation to be carried out immediately."
In Melbourne, Global Bersih activist T. Vicknaraj said: "This is a wake-up call. It is one thing to see politicians jeered at, threatened or even assaulted, but it's entirely another thing when young, passive students are bullied and assaulted, especially in the midst of armed police personnel who are employed by the taxpayer to guarantee protection of the meek. This is a blatant disgrace.
"What is more disappointing is to see politicians insinuate if not blatantly deny that such attacks took place, notwithstanding videos and numerous eyewitness statements.
"Bare denial and wayang kulit no longer suffice in the internet age, because action or inaction is witnessed throughout the world."
Jon-Michael Chia in Brisbane said: "What has happened to Malaysia and it's 'best democracy in the world'? Do we have to be afraid of being violently attacked whenever we have opposing ideas or views?
"We call upon the Malaysian government and the international community to condemn these thugs and to bring justice to the victims, whose only crime was to ask for something different from the government. We ask that the perpetrators be caught and tried under the law, as anyone else would be if they were found assaulting another person.
"Do not forget that all eyes are on Malaysia.
"These thugs can break our bones. They can never break our desire for a better Malaysia."
Jordan Sugunasingam in Perth said: "This attack on the students camped at Dataran Merdeka is the latest incident in what appears to be a developing and rather worrying trend of certain groups being able to engage in thuggery and intimidation with impunity.
"What is of particular concern is that these groups carry out their activities in full view of the law, who take no action to contain them. The fact that all these attacks or acts of intimidation are targeted at those who are critical of the policies of the ruling party suggest that these groups are sanctioned by the authorities.
"If Malaysians wish to salvage their democratic rights, enshrined in the Constitution, they must come out in great numbers to support Bersih 3.0 on 28 April so the gathering cannot be subjected to any form of harassment and intimidation and, more importantly, so we can push for free and fair elections that would enable us to elect a government that would respect the constitutional rights of it citizens."
Updated: For those who aren't ABLE to watch the VIDEO of UMNO Gangsters ATTACKING our Malaysian Students camped at Dataran Merdeka on "YouTube" ( the video was believed to have been REPORTED by members of UMNO's 'Waris Malaya' group which is the group that assaulted the students to have it removed ) Here is a BACK-UP, thanks courtesy of Leong Pengyew! :-) -w.i.w.c Watch backup HERE
According to the report, about 50-70 thugs attacked and roughed up the students camping there around 2.45am. According to the report, there were about ” a dozen police officers in the area but they did not intervene until the students’ leaders pleaded for their help.”
Is this the transformation the Prime Minister is talking about?
The students may be wrong and it is their democratic rights to sit in but such mob attack is surely criminal and worse off the police did nothing.
ITS TIME FOR CHANGE
The time has come to make the CHANGE. GE 13 is the time. Please help to spread the message of CHANGE and distribute this video far and wide.
A political party does not own the government. A political party may legislate but the implementation is carried out by civil servants who are beholden to the constitutional ruler.
We should be able to separate government and political party.
Development is not something unique to Umno. Every party that has power can carry out development.
As such, Umno can’t go around claiming only they can bring on development. The governments in Penang, Kelantan, Selangor, and Kedah also carry out development, indeed the development there has been achieved on more meritorious grounds.
These states have better reserves, operated and achieved surplus budgets and have been able to avoid wasteful spending. Those are sterling qualities of good governments.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak recently lectured the people not to repeat their mistake.
What mistake is he talking about? Is he alluding that the people’s decision in the historic elections in 2008 was a mistake?
The only mistake which people are now realising is that Umno and Barisan Nasional have fleeced the country. This is a government that subsidises its falsehoods on mounting debt.
The public debt in relation to our GDP is almost reaching the breaking point.
Yet the country’s incompetent and ignorant leaders are proclaiming it’s all right. And we have not even counted the value of guarantees given by this government to incompetent government-linked companies (GLCs) which, if they default, places all the questionable loans given to questionable people with questionable business proposals, on the shoulders of the people.
Umno has lost legitimacy
Don’t forget RM1.3 trillion of ill-gotten money has been spirited out of the country over a period of 10 years. A small percentage, RM130 billion, of which could have been injected into the national budget to finance development.
Also, we have the RM20 billion a year lost on leakages – an euphemism for corruption. Let us kick out the deceivers.
The fact is Umno has lost its legitimacy. It has forfeited all the powers it inherited since 1957 to accomplish what it set out to do, which was to uplift the Malays.
Why? Because it started on the wrong premise and that premise wasn’t adapted and evolved into the engine to uplift Malays first and then country.
This now, is the overriding fear of Umno because it can no longer defend its legitimacy and therefore its reason to continue to be in power.
The only reason why Umno is coming to its inglorious end is because its myths are no longer sustainable.
Umno has survived on several myths spun and drilled into the Malay subconscious over generations.
It has survived on the myth that Malays and Umno are inextricably linked. The myths we mean include: the fate of Malays rests on the fate of Umno; the fate of Malay rulers is linked to the fate of Umno; and the fate of Islam depends on the fate of Umno.
This is Umno’s trinity of falsehoods which formed the foundation of Umno’s legitimacy with the Malays.
A party that survives on myths and falsehoods and not sustained by principles, can never endure. And so it is that Umno has reached its end.
We can neither hasten nor postpone its demise.
The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but joined DAP earlier this year. He is a FMT columnist.
Before last year’s Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9, 2011, there was a tussle of words between the Bersih organisers and the government over the issue of the venue to be used. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had then said that the Bersih participants could use the stadium and so the Bersih organisers requested for the use of Stadium Merdeka.
But lo and behold! Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein then announced that Stadium Merdeka was off-limits. After the Bersih rally wherein more than 1,600 participants were arrested, Najib came out to announce that what he meant was the stadium in Shah Alam.
What sort of excuse is that? Absolute flip-flop. Not content with that, he also had a show of force at the Umno headquarters in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) claiming that he could easily marshal millions to take over Kuala Lumpur. Such a PM. Believe it or not! Does it show his strength of character or a sign of weakness?
Now the same thing is happening with Bersih 3.0. The home minister has said that the event is okay but the venue of Dataran Merdeka cannot be used. Again the double-talk to confuse and unsettle the Bersih organisers and participants.
Will the BN government stop this nonsense once and for all? If the event is to be disallowed, please say so clearly and plainly. Otherwise, there should be no hindrances from the relevant authorities. As Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual adviser of PAS, has said, “1 say 1, 2 say 2, not 1 say 11 or 3, speak plainly and clearly”.
Another prime example of the government’s double-talk is the Jalan Sultan issue. In March this year, Najib had said that the government will not be acquiring those properties that were supposed to make way for the MRT line.
Instead, the buildings will be preserved as heritage buildings and the foundations and structures will be reinforced. Well and good. This settles the issue once and for all.
But once again the joke is on the rakyat or, in this case, the property owners for just before mid-April, they received a letter dated March 31, 2012 from the Land Office instructing them to vacate their premises by April 30 as their property will be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act.
And that is the reason why PAS Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad labelled Najib as a spineless flip-flopper.
The property owners then had a press conference on April 13 to tell everyone what Najib had said. On the wall behind where the property owners were seated were the words “Walk The Talk” written on a yellow manila card and in Bahasa Malaysia “Janji mesti dikotakan” written on a green manila card. The government must take note of the words and the colours of the manila cards.
Even the Parliamentary Select Committee for electoral reform is an eyewash.
And the same goes for the Government Transformation Programme (GTP). The Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 which was bulldozed through Parliament last year and the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) is not all as it seems.
Only the gullible will continue to be duped by the government whose leaders are all smooth and slippery characters speaking with forked tongues.
‘Not true really’
And what is the meaning of Umno leaders constantly telling the rural Malays that “if Pakatan Rakyat comes into power, the Malays will be under threat?”
This shows that Najib is full of double-talk and practises double-standard and his lackeys, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP and the rest are merely cowardly yes-men. It is obvious 1Malaysia is just a gimmick to woo the non-Malay voters.
In this year’s Parliament session when PAS MP Mahfuz Omar questioned the prime minister on what happened to those in the Premier division who had signed the agreement with the government in the now-defunct Civil Servants New Remuneration Scheme, Najib mocked PAS for fighting only for high-level civil servants by saying that BN fights for everyone.
This is Najib’s impudent and arrogant style of evading the question. In recent days the government’s high-handedness and bullying ways have come to the fore.
A case in point happened in Pahang when a man asked Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob about the certificate of fitness in a meet-the-people session. This man was told off by the menteri besar who replied, “Pay first then talk and tell Anwar Ibrahim to give you a house as you are a PKR supporter.”
Why should we the rakyat continue to vote for a government which continues to bully and insult us?
We must stand up for our rights and dignity as citizens. Right now, the government is trampling on our rights and robbing us of our dignity.
Not only that, it is also eroding or selling out our rights to foreign workers and illegals by giving them instant citizenship so that they can vote and drown our voice and choice.
The government is only concerned with lining its heir own pockets and the pockets of their cronies.
One has to take note that although the Cheras-Kajang toll has been halved, the concession period has been extended for another 15 years. Najib has not told us the whole story and this means that our future generation will still continue to pay the toll.
This columnist has one new acronym to add to Najib’s alphabet soup. It is NTR and it stands for Not True Really. The prime minister would do well to take note of this new acronym.
My questions and concerns about the Lynas project to both the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) is: Why is the development of this particular rare earths plant of such a strategic interest to Malaysia, in the light of the failed Bukit Merah project?
What kind of real or new high-skilled employment is actually generated by the project that it qualifies for a pioneer status of 12 years?
What really is the value add for Malaysian strategic interests, other than the obvious rent-seeking behaviour of local partners; cronies, or otherwise? Does a deputy minister’s brother really have a stake in this project? Why are the Australian owners dumping their rejected project and residuals into Malaysia?
No one really questions the demand or marketability of the final outputs; but, the most serious questions remains the waste generated; and my question is, why in Malaysia, and why in Kuantan?
When with Miti, I was in charge of industrial policy, and we developed and launched the Second Industrial Master Plan or what was labelled as the IMP2. The underlying theme of both the first and second IMPs was the growth and acceleration of the manufacturing industry through value adding clusters of industries within Malaysia.
Under the IMP1 it was low value added of labour and land, with a focus on capital investments (and technology) in the 12 subsectors of the selected industries. IMP2 consequently argued for raising the value added, “by moving up the value-chain” either on the research end of the continuum or at the marketing and distribution end. The primary focus of the manufacturing sector remained the traditional industrial and manufacturing industries.
The IMP3 is the latest strategic 15-year plan for the manufacturing sector from 2006 to 2020. It focuses on the development and growth of both the manufacturing and services sector industries in Malaysia.
The services sector is anticipated to overtake the manufacturing sector in terms of value added. Therefore and consistent with this strategic intent, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority has even been renamed the Malaysia Investment Development Authority.
But surely this does not mean we close our eyes and take in any kind of non-quality investment, especially investments that give little or poor value added to our existing industrial clusters. Surely we do not want industries that come in still for cheap labour and land.
Therefore my many questions about the Lynas plant remain and I believe that this may become another “failed coup” between government-to-government relations between Australia and Malaysia. The refugee exchange plan was shot down under international law and requisite conditionalities.
Fear factor heightened by Fukushima
What is the real value add for the community in Kuantan; other than the insertion of fear of the possibility of some kind of potential nuclear disaster in the future? The fear factor has been further heightened by the Fukushima nuclear plants disaster caused almost entirely by a totally unanticipated tsunami factor.
Even the meticulous Japanese did not fully anticipate the recent extent of the nuclear disaster. So, why do we think we are better?
Have we really learned anything from the Look East Policy? Who then are the real and ultimate stakeholders of this risky venture, if not the local community? It is not our petrochemical cluster of industries? Neither is it our electrical and electronics (E&E) cluster and related industries? Where then in the IMP3 is the strategic nature of the Lynas-type rare earths a preferred and promoted investment? I searched and could not find it.
What is really so unique about Kuantan as a location for the plant, other than her history as a gold-mining wasteland to maybe justify the plant to be located there. But why then is the plant not located in continental Australia instead where they have plenty of wasteland?
Probably the most important but not well understood and unanswered question relates to the toxicity of the waste. How much real waste is actually generated and how poor is the quality of the particular kind of waste? Where and how is all this waste going to be stored; both temporarily and for the longer term? Why is this waste issue only being seriously addressed now; if an EIA was done?
As Derek Fernandez argued in the Malay Mail, why was the local authority not fully informed about the potential dangers of the waste matter? Why was the respective community-level stakeholders never consulted in the first place as part and parcel of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report? Was not the most critical constraint the potentially toxicity of the waste?
Furthermore, given our recorded history of the 1985 Bukit Merah case and the subsequent complete abandonment of that project; why is this sudden interest to supply rare earth processed products from Australia vide Malaysia and ultimately to Japan (I understand) of such interest to Malaysians? The Comsumers Association of Penang (CAP) has already published an entire book on the Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth project; so, why is there a reversal of views?
We all must have heard by now about the strategic control that China has for the development, control and distribution of this rare-earths capability. Now they control 95 percent of the world market. In that context, what is Malaysia’s strategic role and intent for making a home for this plant in Malaysia? Is there such a strategic intent? If so, what is it?
Private investment interest makes it strategic?
To me, if this was a Khazanah-owned plant for the strategic supply of the requisite rare-earth minerals for the defence of our nation, I could still understand. But, all I hear is that, factual or otherwise, is that one of the children of Mahathir Mohamad has a crony stake in this plant. Does that private investment interest make it strategic enough a project for Malaysia?
The people of Kuantan (especially the children and grandchildren) have to sacrifice their certainties and quality of their life for the sake of some private crony interests of some capitalists? Is it truly so worthwhile for Malaysia and especially for Kuantan?
While I understand and appreciate the challenge of balancing between development interests with the protection, preservation and safety of private investment interests, there is no excuse whatsoever for compromising the different stakeholders’ interests and concerns before the construction of the plant.
What appears rather unfortunate is why the safety, security, and sustainability issues have been put on the back burner until now, when it is too late and the people have raised their serious objections and concerns.
The project could have been dealt with professionally and the communication managed better but it is too late now, because the real costs of unlearning, learning and relearning is too high, and while this need not become a political project; it has become one almost by poor design and incompetent execution.
Right now, the Green movement in Malaysia has been jumpstarted in Kuantan and they have been joined by the victims of the Bukit Merah accident and incident. Tomorrow this will also become an issue of “the lack of free and fair governance!” When the Green movement joins the Yellow movement under the reign of the hijau-kuning regime, we may be asking for some real trouble in Malaysia.
May God bless Malaysians to make both Bersih and Lynas national issues for this general election and help us be rational with our votes.
KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or views.
THE call to rally has been made. There’s going to be a Bersih 3.0. Those who have been waiting for it are ecstatic.
April 28 is the day, and this time the anti-Lynas group, Himpunan Hijau, will be joining in. It looks like this is going to be more than just about electoral reform. It seems to have gone beyond that. It looks like those who are going to turn up for the rally will be declaring their stand against the Government and its administration of the country.
It’s beginning to seem like a rally to say “no” to Barisan Nasional (BN).
Hardcore anti-BN elements will be there. Those who have been declaring “ABU” (Anything But Umno) will be there. The Opposition will be there. As an ardent supporter of Bersih, I will be there.
But Bersih has mentioned an expected turnout of 500,000, and I wish it hadn’t. That’s a virtually impossible number. Even 100,000 would seem difficult to achieve, although it is planned that the rally will take place simultaneously in cities other than Kuala Lumpur.
The number of people that eventually show up will be crucial. If it is big enough, it will send a clear signal to the Government that the rakyat is not happy with its administration. It may even decide if elections should be called yet.
But if the number falls far short of expectations, it could indicate that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent strategy of ‘bribing’ the electorate with cash handouts has indeed worked, and he can call for elections as early as possible. He will probably laugh all the way to the polling booths.
Bersih 3.0 could indeed be a litmus test of voter sentiment.
So, will people turn up? Will the fervour be as strong as it was for Bersih 2.0, which was partly charged by the heavy-handed measures taken by the authorities to scuttle it?
This time, it is unlikely that the authorities will react the same way. They would have learned their lesson after the severe backlash they received over the Bersih 2.0 rally of July 9 last year.
However, this doesn’t mean they may not employ certain measures to discourage people from attending Bersih 3.0. Already, de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz has said that Dataran Merdeka, which Bersih has chosen as its protest venue, is not a lawful assembly point.
It’s not likely, though, that this will be of great concern, although it may create a bit of tension because the rally organisers would then have to be called to meet the police to thrash out certain conditions, as has happened in the last few big gatherings since the passing of the Peaceful Assembly Act.
Of greater concern – particularly to me – is whether the middle ground, who form a major part of the rakyat and who are not as gung-ho as the hardcore about going to rallies, will be charged up enough by the new demands of Bersih to take to the streets.
The three new demands are for the resignation of the current Election Commission members; the clean-up of the electoral rolls; and the invitation of international observers to monitor the general election.
To me, the most compelling is the one calling for the electoral rolls to be thoroughly purged of irregularities. The parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform has recommended that another such committee be set up to oversee the clean-up, but Bersih has called for an independent audit. That certainly makes good sense.
I think Bersih must focus on this as its rallying cry. This will serve well its ultimate purpose for protesting on April 28 – that of ensuring that there will be no fraudery committed by any quarters at the upcoming 13th general election. This must be its theme writ large. If it is persuasive enough to move the middle ground, the latter may come out to march.
Already, the battle to win over the middle ground has started in the mainstream media, which is making the Government look good by providing a rosy picture of the PSC’s 22 recommendations for electoral reform. The Star was quick to shout out on its front page of April 4: ‘Hooray for voters’.
People who access only the mainstream media – and many of these comprise the middle ground – may have been moved to wonder why Bersih is still kicking up a fuss. Consequently, some of them may conclude that Bersih is only trying to cari pasal (find fault).
Bersih must therefore impress on all and sundry that while many of these recommendations are positive, the PSC must clearly specify that some can and have to be implemented before the 13th general election. And unless this happens, it will not be a clean and fair general election.
Bersih must drum it into the rakyat that there is already hanky-panky going on; it must provide solid evidence through a mass awareness campaign.
In keeping with its theme, Bersih must clamour for an impartial investigation into allegations that immigrants are being offered citizenship so that they will vote for BN.
The most important thing that Bersih must make the rakyat understand is that the election process has to be made clean before they next vote. And this may not happen if pressure is not applied on the Government to undertake the clean-up.
For this important reason, we need Bersih 3.0.
Not much time is left before the next general election has to be called. The rakyat must turn up in full force on April 28 if the call for free and fair elections is to ring out clear and loud. Bersih will have to depend on its own initiatives and marketing to make this come about.
Pakatan Rakyat will of course provide support by calling on its members, but this will not give sufficient legitimacy to the cause. It’s true that Pakatan members are also Malaysian citizens and have every right to be part of the rally – and their participation does not make the rally partisan – but the non-aligned citizens are the ones who matter most.
After all, Bersih 3.0 is for them – because it is meant for them to vote for a government cleanly, fairly and properly. If they don’t come out to claim it, what hope will there be for a better Malaysia?
Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new bookNo More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians.