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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Journalists, Fight for Your Freedom!

By Kee Thuan Chye | Yahoo! News

The scourge is upon us. The Government is getting unreasonably authoritarian by suspending the publishing licence of the news weekly The Heat. We are seeing the beginnings of a return to Mahathirism, to the culture of fear that former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad imposed on us. It’s time to nip it in the bud before it gets more grim.

I call on the media and all journalists to do their part to stop the tyranny against media freedom. Stand up and take back your right to freedom of speech and expression. Push for the repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which accords power to the Home Ministry to grant and revoke licences.

A friend of mine who works in the media suggests a sympathy strike by all journalists, with media owners in tacit support. Is that doable? Or is it too much to ask?

Well, perhaps getting the cooperation of media owners will be virtually impossible – especially those of the mainstream media since most of them are affiliated to the ruling coalition – but journalists can stage the strike on their own.

So often, mainstream media journalists complain to me about having to take bullshit from their bosses, about having to do things that grate against their journalistic beliefs. So often, they say they are fed up. Now is the time for them to say, “Enough is enough!”

It’s time to refrain from being just bread-and-butter journalists or, as Sasterawan Negara A. Samad Said calls it, carma (cari makan) journalists.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) should facilitate this fight for media liberation. Once and for all, it should do what people expect it to do – represent journalists, fight for their welfare. And by fighting for their welfare, I mean not just fighting for material benefits like better pay. Far more important than that is satisfaction at work – and, certainly, the pride of being a journalist.

Reclaim that pride, journalists. The pride that you lost in the last few decades because megalomaniacs in the ruling establishment ensured that you didn’t do your job as you should, because they ensured that sycophants were promoted to become editors-in-chief. Now that megalomania is returning, it is incumbent on you, as watchdogs of society, to regain your traditional role and help our country move forward, away from the shackles of a regressive regime.

Reclaim that pride of being able to tell the truth, report the news as it should be reported and serve your reading public rightly. Instead of spinning the truth to serve the sinister agenda of the ruling coalition.

Editors-in-chief, change your stance of being a servant of the Government. Get your cojones back. Start publishing reports that expose the truth about what the Government does instead of those that seek to protect it; give equal coverage to the Opposition; be critical of both; give voice to the people in the Op-Ed pages. As long as a report is not libellous or seditious, it does not contravene the law. So what is there to fear?

If every media publication tells it like it is, would the Home Ministry suspend them all? Well, test it and see. Let the ministry suspend all and see what happens.

The Heat was doing its journalistic duty of telling it like it is. That’s why it has been stopped in its tracks. But what it did in no way broke the law. So how could the Home Ministry suspend it just like that?

The ministry gave it a show cause letter to which it must respond within two weeks. But only nine days after issuing the letter on December 10, the ministry ordered suspension on December 19. How come? Why didn’t the ministry have the courtesy to wait? Where is the fairness in that?

Most important of all, what law has The Heat broken to deserve such punishment? We don’t know. The ministry has given no reason for the suspension. Sure, it is not bound to do so – because the PPPA does not say it needs to. But this makes the PPPA an ass. It makes the PPPA unfair to the media.

Malaysiakini and theSun have speculated that the suspension could be motivated by The Heat’s article in its November 23-29 issue about Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s spending of public funds. If this is so, the Home Ministry has erred. This is not a valid reason for it to suspend the weekly. There is nothing in the article that breaks the law. In fact, in publishing it, The Heat was providing a public service in informing its readers about what the prime minister has been doing with our money.

If Najib and Rosmah are displeased with The Heat for exposing their extravagance, they should sue the weekly. No government agency should intervene in the matter instead and summarily inflict punishment, whether or not the couple requested it.

My lawyer friends think The Heat should contest the ministry’s action in court. I totally agree.

One says it should file for a judicial review. “It’s time to relitigate the constitutionality of the law,” he says.

First, the PPPA impinges on our right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Second, it gives too much power to the Home Ministry. Third, it does not make it mandatory for a reason to be given for the suspension or revocation of a publishing licence, and this is unfair.

The other lawyer feels The Heat should go to court precisely to force the ministry to give its reason or reasons for the suspension. If nothing else, this would show up the different treatment that the ministry accords the newspaper Utusan Malaysia, which, as we know, has got away with publishing content that bordered on sedition.

Litigation will, however, take time. Meanwhile, the media as a whole must seize the moment and fight for its freedom.

If it doesn’t do that, the ministry will read its inaction as fear and continue to bully it into submission each time the Government wants to control what readers can read. It will happen again and again, as it has over the years.

The ministry will apply the disgusting tactic of suspending the media organisation’s licence indefinitely, thereby keeping it on tenterhooks, unsure of when its licence will be restored. It may even threaten to revoke the licence. All for the purpose of teaching the media organisation a lesson. We should not tolerate this any more – unless we want to remain a backwater democracy.

Journalists should come together and with one voice shout, like the character portrayed by Peter Finch in the movie Network, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this any more!”

That’s the way to stand up to bullies. Once and for all.

Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the book The Elections Bullshit, available in bookstores.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Najib’s approval rating takes a plunge, Merdeka Centre survey reveals

The Malaysian Insider December 18, 2013

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's approval rating has taken the lowest dip since assuming office in 2009, declining to 52% in December, from 62% in August, a Merdeka Centre survey has found.

Two months after replacing Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime minister, Najib had a 65% approval rating.

The pollster said the survey was conducted between December 4 and 12, 2013, after the reduction of fuel subsidies in September 2013, and the tabling of the 2014 national budget during which the government announced the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2015.

The survey also showed that Najib’s drop in popularity cuts across all races, with the most significant decline being among the Indians, with a drop from 76% to 57%.

Among the Chinese, the approval rate stands at 21%, after a 15 percentage point loss, while a seven percentage point drop, from 73% to 66%, was recorded among the Malays.

Merdeka Centre said in a statement that concerns over the economy, particularly rising costs and inflation, rose to its highest ever level, up to 67% of all respondents.

The survey found that 55% of Peninsular Malaysia voters said that they did not quite understand how GST will affect them.

Additionally, 54% of respondents reported that they did not believe in statements by government leaders about the country’s economic situation.

The number of those expressing “happiness” with the government has also declined to 38%, compared to 50% in August 2013, showing a significant reduction in positive attitude from across major ethnic groups.

Merdeka Centre also released data from previously unreleased opinion surveys conducted in June 2013 and August 2013.

The latest survey, which coincided with the recent Umno general assembly, polled 1,005 registered voters comprising 60% Malays, 31% Chinese and 9% Indians through telephone interviews in the preferred language of the respondents.

They were selected randomly, representing Malaysians of different races and genders.

The June 2013 survey had 1006 respondents while 1008 were polled for the August 2013 survey. - December 18, 2013.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saluting M’sia’s Mandelas

By Dean Johns | Malaysiakini

In the wake of the death of the man who led South Africa to freedom from apartheid, many here have wondered whether there will ever be a Mandela-style leader to liberate Malaysia from the curse of Barisan Nasional.

Of course this robber-regime has already made a brazen bid to steal the spirit of Mandela for itself, with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak ludicrously claiming that his Umno party’s ‘struggle’ is similar to that of South Africa’s ANC.

A claim that was neatly rebutted by US President Barack Obama in his speech in celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela, in which his statement that “there are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people” was clearly directed at the Najibs of the world.

In any event, there was never much of a struggle to free Malaysia from colonial rule, except by socialists, trade unionists and communists.

And the Alliance that finally achieved Merdeka under the benevolent and broad-minded leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman all too soon degenerated into the Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional that has ever since so disgracefully re-colonised the nation for its own and its cronies’ benefit.

So that just as Mandela’s dream of a resurgent South Africa has degenerated into the current reality of a sink-hole of gross inequality, rampant crime and corruption under the unlovely Jacob Zuma, so has Tunku Abdul Rahman’s idea and ideal of Malaysia descended into today’s Najib-style nightmare.

Vastly aided and accelerated in this descent by 22 years under the prime-ministership of Mahathir Mohamad, a cynical, self-serving autocrat who modelled himself not on South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, but on his old pal Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, in his efforts to turn Malaysia into some kind of personal Zimbabi.

And he claimed to be doing it all, as his successors have similarly pretended, in ‘defence’ of the Malays and Islam. When in fact as any intelligent person, Malay, Muslim or otherwise, very well knows, the BN regime would be an absolute disgrace to any race or religion.

BN has also by implication insulted Malays by falsely patronising them as backward, ignorant and ineffectual, and, considering they compose the majority of the nation’s citizens systematically robbed them even more unmercifully than Malaysians of other races.

Stealing so many countless billions of ringgit that should otherwise be spent on health, education, public infrastructure and social services that Malaysia has for years led the world in illicit capital outflow per capita.

And otherwise misappropriating such a fortune in public funds for such purposes as buying votes, funding regime-propagandist media and supporting regime ministers, members and cronies in their preposterously profligate lifestyles that the country can no longer afford even the pretence of properly caring for the people.

Attempts to keep up the pretence

Though of course the regime makes strenuous attempts to keep up the pretence, as with Prime Minister Najib’s laughable claim that removal of the subsidy on sugar sold by BN monopolists is an anti-diabetes initiative, and increases in electricity tariffs are necessary for the continuing profitability of filthy-rich crony power companies.

However, none of Najib’s endless flow of frauds or falsehoods are as low as his attempt during the recent Umno general assembly to pass off BN’s 52 to 47 loss of the national vote as ‘proof’ that Umno is the “bravest and most popular party in Malaysia”.

Everybody is patently aware that this alleged popularity was achieved through blatant voter bribery and every other conceivable kind of electoral corruption and fraud.

And as for the claim of bravery, just how brave does a party have to be to fight elections, in blatant breach of the democratic principle of the fundamental democratic principle of the separation of powers, with the entire might of the police, judiciary, civil services, election commission and mainstream media on its side?

With such overwhelmingly superior forces ranged against the rakyat, Malay and non-Malay alike, and with the whole corrupt and criminal system illegally funded with public money, it’s no wonder so many Malaysians have taken to hoping and praying for a Mandela-style saviour.

But what’s the point of waiting for the kind of charismatic leader who arises as rarely as a Nelson Mandela? In any case, as I’m sure the great man himself in his legendary humility would have been the first to concede he was just the foremost among many.

Hundreds if not thousands of black, coloured and even white South Africans suffered, and a great many died for the anti-apartheid cause. In fact one of the common ways in which the white regime’s jailers killed anti-apartheid activists in their custody was by what they called “defenestration”: throwing them out through high windows.

A practice later allegedly adopted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in several cases, most notoriously that of the young DAP “witness”, Teoh Beng Hock, whose ‘fall’ from a 14th-floor window of the MACC building was subsequently deemed by the BN regime as “neither murder nor suicide”, and whose interrogators have never been charged with his killing.

But back to the point I’m ineptly endeavouring to make, which is that it takes more than one man or woman, even one as gifted and courageous as Nelson Mandela, to overthrow a corrupt, criminal, racist and repressive government.

And it’s clearly evident that Malaysia is blessed with countless such honest, upstanding, tolerant, truth-loving people. From many if not most of the leadership of opposition parties PAS, PKR and the DAP through unprecedented numbers of activists in opposition NGOs to countless individuals who blog, write, cartoon and otherwise fearlessly express the Malaysian Mandela spirit.

I mention no names for fear of missing some out, and in any case there’s not space here to list even a small fraction of them. But I will take a line or two to pay particular personal tribute to the Malaysian family in which I am proud to have married.

A family currently headed by my 90-year-old Chinese father-in-law and much younger Malay mother-in law, and so dedicated to the concept of racial equality as to welcome not just me, an Australian, but other members from afar afield as Botswana and Germany.

But of course Malaysians and their families don’t have to intermarry with other races to demonstrate their enlightened, egalitarian natures.

All they and the individuals of which they are composed have to do is proselytise, protest and above all vote at every opportunity in the spirit of Mandela and out of love for an honest, clean, inclusive and thus, by definition, BN-free Malaysia.

As a majority did in GE13, and as I’m willing to bet almost anything you like overwhelming numbers will do come the increasingly eagerly-awaited GE14.

DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’, ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The wrath of a losing 'winner'

Malaysians should be very proud of their country, a nation where they are born into, raised and will die and buried here irrespective of what kind of government they have. But sadly many still could not differentiate between the country that they owned (belong to) and an elected government that are supposed to serve. The long serving one party (precisely 56 years) has gone overboard and arrogant to remind the rakyat that they must be grateful and be patriotic to the powers that be.

Most Malaysians are moving forward fast and are adapting well to the various changes that are ongoing together with the outside world but are pulled back or hindered by a restrictive government that are not willing to open up and face the present day reality. The results of the 12th and 13th General Elections have shown that most Malaysians wanted to move along with the rest of the world but post 308 and 505 gave you a more opaque and an intolerance government.

They are still using the old formula of divide and rule, enhancing their racism and religious intolerance including veiled threats which they thought can still work to their advantage and hold on to power. We wish them all the best except not to create chaos and 'crushed bodies and lives lost' to fulfill their wish of holding on to power.

Are Malaysians really that blind, dumb and deaf to fall yet again to all these antics? Yes, there are still 47% of the voters that believe in them. What then can we do to make the ruling government listen to us? Guess there is not much we can do individually but to lend support to a greater force that can challenged the ruling government to ensure that they served the rakyat and not the reverse and if possible a total change in GE 14. Presently we have this greater force by the name of Pakatan Rakyat.

Many would not agree that Pakatan Rakyat is the greater force. Let me just ask one question and let you decide if PR is or is not the greater force. Why is the ruling government going all out to kill-off DAP, activating their 'speculative moles' inside PKR and enticing PAS in talks? The motive is very clear for all to see, "TO BREAK UP or DESTROYED PAKATAN RAKYAT" before GE 14.

With the reintroduction of 'detention without trial', The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, fuelling anti-Shia sentiments, no intention of removing the sedition act and the daily doses of veiled threats against anything that are challenging their stay in power comes GE 14, Pakatan Rakyat must be at their toes at all times.

The machinery "TO BREAK UP or DESTROYED PAKATAN RAKYAT" before GE 14 has gain momentum each passing day and I would like to provide PR my 2sen worth of suggestion.

Their modus operandi is very simple, to keep PR coalition parties busy fighting the fires which are thrown at them be it lies or slanders ranging from racial, religious issues to just about anything that they can think of to ensure that PR is broken or destroyed by GE 14.

PR must form a council or committee comprising members from all the three parties and on full time basis. The members should be from the younger generation that are trustworthy, with integrity and are presently not elected MPs or Adun. Elected representatives will be busy with their work functions to serve the rakyat and nation on pressing daily issues. The senior leaders can act as advisers. The council job functions are to study all the attacks from the opponent collectively, work out counter solutions and response to the attacks on PR platform. If time permit and if experienced enough, this council should also be on the look out and identify suspected moles.

No doubt there may be such a council in each party where each party will response to the attacks individually. It may work that way but at times there are conflicting responses from each other that gave more bullets to the opponent for further attacks.

The new PR council should be able to identify if the attack is very specific to a certain party but will still study together to provide solution and response. This response will be conveyed to that particular party leader before any statement is issued publicly. Most attacks are interlinked within the three parties, it would be better to study, resolve and make a final PR stand to ward of the attacks. PR must be able to work together, to help each other and resolve matters on a standard platform no matter how hard the attacks are.

Pakatan Rakyat is a coalition of three parties that are supposed to be equal partners but sometimes we still read about party members going after each others throat. Should there be any disagreement, the problems can be forwarded to the new PR council to try and find a solution before any of these go to the press. One thing PR politicians must learn is, try not to talk too much to the press (especially in this country) on personal and party issues should there be any differences among you all, one minute of fame can destroy you if not the party!

Unless there are any hidden agenda within each individual party or lack of credible members, I see no problem in forming a new PR council or committee to work in tandem and proving to Malaysians that PR is the greater force that can bring down a very much disliked present government in GE 14.

This is not the case of 'too many cooks spoil the soup' but 'united we stand, divided we fall'.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Umno Baru running scared

by Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini

The 4Rs – race, royalty, religion and the rural people – have been used by UMNO Baru to divide and rule Malaysia.

When Najib asked the rhetorical question, “Where would the Malays be without UMNO Baru?”, it was a cry of desperation and an admission of defeat.

UMNO Baru’s hold on the Malays is slipping. Najib and UMNO Baru are scared. Without the Malays, where would UMNO Baru be? Domination of the Malays is not about protecting their rights. It is all about power and status.

The line that UMNO Baru has used for over five decades to divide the nation is no longer relevant. Malay graduates who return to Malaysia do so because they have to fulfill the terms of their scholarship or loan. Try asking them what they really feel about Malaysia, about UMNO Baru and its leaders. Their stories will fill you with hope.

The current clampdown on dissent and the hunt for Malays who speak their minds is because the government is afraid. A thinking Malay is a threat to UMNO Baru. A thinking Malay who is prepared to question the leaders and make them accountable for their actions will erode the power of UMNO Baru. UMNO Baru knows that one thinking Malay will embolden other Malays and very soon, UMNO Baru will become irrelevant.

If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, the brain drain is no longer confined to non-Malays seeking better shores. What frightens UMNO Baru is the fact that many Malays have become disillusioned with UMNO Baru and are not just abandoning the party. They are prepared to forsake their country.

In the past, Malays used to deride the non-Malays for leaving Malaysia. Many did not know the degree of unfairness with which the government treated the non-Malays, in the areas of employment, business opportunities, education, jobs in the civil service and defence.

Today, young graduate Malays, who have been educated overseas, are telling their parents that enough is enough. They are astute enough to know that the government will make the lives of their families miserable so they leave quietly and without fuss. If the government cannot prosecute the Malay graduate who has absconded, their modus operandi is to go after their families.

In a change from the past, Malay families are now supportive of their children working and living abroad. In the age of the Internet, communication is easy and relatively cheap. Ironically, the Malays are now emulating their non-Malay peers, by turning their backs on Malaysia.

Many Malays who have found employment in the countries in which they studied are happy and glad they made the move. One Malay doctor said, “My work experience in the (Malaysian) hospital was a bitter experience. I wasn’t just overworked but when I asked the consultant for advice, I was shouted at in front of the patients and other staff. It was humiliating and degrading. In the teaching hospital in Sydney, the consultants were pleasant and eager to train me. I felt appreciated.”

When you hear stories like these you know that young Malays are not prepared to believe the lies of UMNO Baru any longer. The young Malays of today have an appetite for hard work, which is not matched by the UMNO Baru Malays or mat rempit types whom Najib is fond of praising.

Answering Najib

A Malay farmer in his sixties said, “What is Najib doing about the farmers? The youth have no interest in agriculture They are leaving the kampong in search of jobs. Many farmers are now in their 60s and 70s. Who will take over my farm when I die?

“I know that many young men who migrated to the cities, are still unemployed. Many have turned to drugs or petty theft. What has the government done to make farming attractive?”

Many civil servants claim that they are demoralised at work. They find that their time and departmental operating budgets are increasingly being used for UMNO Baru political activities. The ones who voice their opinions are warned that they risk destroying their career prospects.

Even UMNO Baru supporters are slowly realising they are being conned. One senior party worker said that, with UMNO Baru’s help, many rich Malays drive imported sports cars and live in rumah mewah (mansions). When asked how UMNO Baru had helped uplift his life, he was dumb-struck. The penny had dropped!

If Najib Abdul Razak had asked the rhetorical question “Where would the Malays be without UMNO Baru?”, in front of ordinary members of the rakyat, he would have been drowned out with hisses and pelted with rotten eggs, or shoes.

The answer to Najib’s question is simple. Without UMNO Baru, the Malays would be better off economically, financially, morally, spiritually and intellectually. Without UMNO Baru, the Malays can restore their lost dignity. A Malay who has the courage to reject UMNO Baru will be mentally liberated and feel a weight lifted from his shoulders.

UMNO Baru has brainwashed Malays and gave them a false sense of entitlement. They were told they were owed success without the need for hard work. Only UMNO Baru would think of placing a copyright on the word ‘Allah’. UMNO Baru gave Malays and Islam a bad reputation.

Under UMNO Baru, Malays have become arrogant, insincere, work-shy, complacent, uncompetitive, demanding and insensitive. UMNO Baru conditioned the Malays to stop thinking and let UMNO Baru think for them.

UMNO Baru taught some Malays to steal the taxpayers’ money and learn the fine art of corruption. It conditioned the Malay mind to think that any wrongdoing by its leaders is acceptable, because this is preferable to a non-Malay leading the country. How pathetic can anyone get than someone with this frame of mind.

UMNO Baru injected fear into the Malay psyche and told him that he should be afraid of change and new ideas. Only UMNO Baru will say that liberal Malays, Christians, Singapore and progressive NGOs are a threat to Malays and Islam.

UMNO Baru is Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s creation and mistrust, disunity, treachery, sedition and intolerance are his true legacy.

Only an UMNO Baru leader would defend his wife’s extravagance and boast of her ability, but ignore the suffering of the rakyat. The average Malaysian family is barely surviving. Where is the breadwinner going to find an additional 15 percent more income to pay for the increase caused by the GST?

Mahathir, Najib, Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin Hussein, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Khairy Jamaluddin and other senior UMNO Baru politicians are poor role models for Malays.

UMNO Baru is not concerned about Malays or Malay rights. Its only concern is status and power; both economic and political power. Najib realises that without the Malays, UMNO Baru could be as dead as a dodo. Najib knows that UMNO Baru is living on borrowed time.

By GE14, the only people supporting Najib and UMNO Baru will be the mat rempits and the ‘new Malays’ from Bangladesh.

Where would Umno be without the Malays? – Sakmongkol AK47

By Datuk Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz | TMI

Where would Umno be without the Malays and the people? Najib Razak is a poor imitator and a poor student of history.

Many many years ago, President Kennedy asked the rhetorical question — ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. This particular passage has been criticised because it contradicted much that was said in the stirring speech. The speech, by the way, is a classic, not worthy to be estimated by a lowly person such as I.

It contradicts the very idea of freedom which the speech wanted to convey. Neither half of the passage reflects the idea of the freeman, freedom and liberty.

Ask not what your country can do for you suggests that the country, and by extension, the government, is your overlord, the one whose generosity one depends on. The other half of the passage, ask what you can do to the country, suggests that you are the slave to the overlord, consigned forever to toil and to owe absolute loyalty to the country and by extension to the government that rules the country.

It contradicts the idea that man alone has in his mortal hands the power to do good and also to destroy which Kennedy said earlier in the speech.

Najib on the other hand doesn’t have the intellectual breadth of Kennedy. He was able only to say: where would the Malays be without Umno. It means the same to the Malays, that Umno is the supreme overlord, whose generosity the Malays depend on and whose absolute obedience is owned by. Umno is your master, and you, Umno slaves.

The right question, Mr Prime Minister, should be: where would Umno be, without the Malays? Without Malay support, Umno is doomed.

Do we see Malays lying dead in Kelantan where Umno remains defeated for so long a time? Do we see Malays lying around dead since DAP took over Penang? And do we see dead Malays on the streets in Selangor ever since PR governed it? We saw better and more honest government in these states which we didn’t see during Umno rule. Things can only get better without Umno for the Malays.

Why? Because in replacement of Umno, we have governments that rule on the basis of the principles of the rule of law, on the principles of good governance and on the principles of responsibility and accountability. What does Umno represent? It represents absolute discretion, it represents corruption and abuse of power and it represents total abandonment of responsibility and accountability.

I have said it many times. Let me try to put it simpler and clearer. There are 18 million Malays in Malaysia. There are 3.4 million Umno members. In other words, 1 out of 6 Malays is an Umno member. Suppose the 1 Umno Malay were to drop dead, will the other Malays also drop dead?

The answer is, if the Umno Malay dies, the 5 others continue living. To answer Najib in a simple manner understandable by the Umno JKKK delegates: if Umno dies, the Malays will continue living. Will the people of Pekan die if Najib were not the PM?

Where are the Umno windbags when Zaid Ibrahim answered Najib? And we know, during Zaid’s short stint as a minister in Pak Lah’s government, Najib disliked him because Zaid has the mind of an independent gadfly who Najib cannot dominate. Why should any democrat submit to feudal Najib anyway?

Zaid has written an article with similar message that I have written many times. The destiny and future of Malays are not dependent on Umno. Their future and destiny lies in the own mortal hands.

We who oppose Najib and his Umno must always remind the people that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. I hope Najib doesn’t think that God is an Umno member! We must never permit the slow undoing of those human rights which Umno is doing.

The mass of the Malays are poor. The bottom 40% earn a monthly income of RM1,300 while the top 20% Malays earn RM10,666 a month. Since 1970, the top 20% Malays have always controlled and captured 52% of the income while the bottom feeders, the bulk of the sad class, share 12% of the income.

To borrow some passages in Kennedy’s speech, to those peoples in the huts and villages across our country struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Najib simply doesn’t get it. He gets and understands only to heap praises and offer self-congratulatory and self-serving dictates supporting a feudal overlord and his consort.

The Umno people can’t respond to what Zaid said, because they simply can’t. The only thing coming out from their mouths are material that are supposed to come out from their rear end. That’s the value of what were said at length in the recent Umno PAU-wow.

Let’s see if any Umno member can engage Zaid sensibly. Chances are, they will come out with the usual vitriol and venom that are thrown at people who will not subscribe to the fascist thinking of Umno. - sakmongkol.blogspot.com, December 10, 2013.

Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de guerre of Raub MP Datuk Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz.

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Dare Najib Discredit Mandela

By Kee Thuan Chye | Yahoo! News

Umno President Najib Razak diminished the stature of a great man when he said last Saturday at his party’s general assembly that Umno fought for the “same cause” as Nelson Mandela, who had died two days before.

What same cause? Mandela fought against racial discrimination whereas Umno institutionalised racial discrimination a few decades ago and still upholds it.

Mandela never advocated black supremacy, whereas Umno promotes Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

After he became president of South Africa, Mandela proposed reconciliation and sought to bring the races in his country together, whereas in Malaysia, Umno divides the races in order to keep itself in power.

Even at its general assembly, Umno’s delegates lobbied for the ethnocentric ‘1Melayu’ to replace the more inclusive ‘1Malaysia’, bashed the Chinese for not supporting the party at the last general election, and demanded a bigger stake in the economy, totally ignoring the reality that most of the country’s economic development is now already in Malay hands.

Furthermore, no less an Umno leader than Awang Adek Hussin, who is also the country’s deputy finance minister, proposed that private companies should declare how they support the Bumiputera agenda in their annual reports. He also insisted that, because Malays now make up almost 70 per cent of the population, the hiring policy of private companies should reflect the country’s racial composition at every level.

This is effectively saying that CEOs of private companies should also be Malay, and that their staff should be 70 per cent Malay. Indeed. Apa lagi Umno mahu? (What more does Umno want?)

On the other hand, does the civil service reflect the country’s racial composition? Are there 30 per cent non-Malay heads of department? In our public universities, are 30 per cent of vice-chancellors non-Malay?

Mandela did not take away the businesses of the whites in the name of affirmative action for the black South Africans. He allowed the whites to continue to control the economy and as a result of its being in experienced hands, South Africa’s economy grew at a steady, robust rate.

Mandela also believed in inclusiveness, in humanity and human rights. But Umno abhors lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs) although they are no less human beings. One delegate denigrated them by saying at the assembly that LGBTs exist so that “orang jahat (bad people) can be purged, leaving behind only the good people to inherit the earth”. How simplistically stupid, or stupidly simplistic.

Neither does Umno tolerate Shiite (Syiah) Muslims. Delegates urged that the Federal Constitution be amended to give recognition only to Sunni Islam. And Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his customary aggressive manner of winning support from the Umno flock, seized the moment to accuse the “No. 2” man in the Opposition party PAS of being a Shiite leader. He called for action to be taken against the latter. It was a clear manifestation of gutter politics posing under the guise of religion.

How, then, could Najib have had the temerity to draw parallels between Umno and Mandela? They couldn’t be more worlds apart. How could he have said what he said and not appear foolish to the outside world? He might have been able to deceive his audience of Umno members, but he cannot deceive the intelligent and discerning.

He apparently rationalised it by claiming that no race has been deprived under the New Economic Policy (NEP). He probably knows better – or else he is ignorant or dumb – but he still played to the gallery. When he asked his audience, “Were (other races) sidelined during the NEP? Did we ever hurt the livelihood of other races?”, they of course responded with a resounding “no”. This of course is an act of syiok sendiri too.

They chose to conveniently forget the millions of non-Malays who over the decades have been deprived of places in public universities, scholarships, jobs in the civil service, promotions, higher ranks in the security forces, government projects (except the big crony Chinese companies), etc.

They pretended not to know that the non-Malays most hurt by the NEP were the low-income and middle-class groups. Many of their children could not pursue tertiary education through lack of means. Those who could had parents who worked extra hard to make extra money to send their children to private institutions.

They chose to ignore the truth that the push for Ketuanan Melayu caused non-Malays to be sidelined in unjust, uncountable ways and turned them into second-class citizens.

Now, to add insult to injury, they profess no knowledge of all that, still present the Malays as victims after more than 50 years of independence from the British “oppressors”, brand the “foreign races” (meaning non-Malays) as threats, lament that the Malays might become “slaves in their own land”, ask for more handouts, more projects, more quotas.

Enough is never enough. At every annual general assembly, they dish out the same laments, the same non-Malay bashing, the same demands for more opportunities while at the same time moaning that Malay entrepreneurs still need “hand-holding”. Their thinking is this: Ask and it shall be given. Just like that. No need to prove their abilities first, no need to be free of “hand-holding” first, no need to work to attain their goals. That’s the attitude they take.

And this is equated with Mandela’s struggle?

This sort of attitude exhibited by Umno is what pisses off a lot of people and makes them hate the party. If Najib’s comparison between Umno and Mandela doesn’t piss off the South African Government, well, that’s its business. But if it does, President Jacob Zuma might want to demand an apology from Najib for showing disrespect and distorting the principles of the great Mandela.

Najib cannot exploit a good man’s name to justify his party’s petty schemes.

Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the new book The Elections Bullshit, now available in bookstores.

The big hue and cry over Selangor assemblymen/women pay hike

Human beings are very complicated and their mental behavior can be misdirected at times where even psychologists have no answer to it. When news of the pay hike to all the Selangor Assemblymen/women were announced 'all hell breaks loose'. People suddenly do not see or study the rational of the increase before they started blasting away. Their discontentment varies from Anwar's excessive statement to Najib's hypocrite argument, while others claimed that now is not the time or raise it gradually.

Let us look at the three main arguments, 'Excessive', 'now is not the right time' and 'to raise gradually'. I have no answer to Najib's hypocrite argument, I leave it to the readers to interpret what it meant.

1) Excessive - How do you quantified excessive? A company usually has salary scale for all levels of its employees including the annual percentage salary increase so when an employee suddenly received a three bar jump in his increment, 'excessive' will call into question. Is there any salary scale for state assemblymen or guidelines for any increment? If there are then they should follow the scale or guidelines, if not how can we judged that it is excessive, just because the figures look big?

2) Now is not the right time - I ask you, so when is the right time? Yes, the economy is not good (contrary to what the federal government said), rakyat is suffering with price increases in almost every consumer goods, they have to tighten their belts and living by the day. Rakayat must understand that at least 50% of state activities and policies especially the economy are still under the Federal government influence. Whether the economy is good or bad primarily depends on the Federal government performances. Our economy is in bad state for years now and will continue to be so if not worst. Can we used the overall bad economy that affected the whole nation to stop the pay hike and not base on the individual state performances? You will get to understand more further down this article.

3) Raise it gradually - here I ask, how gradual and at what quantum? These state assemblymen/women are elected to serve a five year term, so, should their pay hike be carried out on a yearly basis and at what quantum? If the quantum is an insignificant small amount might as well not raise at all. Moreover, no matter how much is raised there would be angry people not happy with the raise and the state assemblymen/women will have to suffer the brick-bat thrown at them over the raise five times during their term in office.

To those who are against the pay hike your reasoning's are not totally wrong but you have to look at the different perspective as well. Some who are against the pay hike, especially gerakan and its youth chief Tan Keng Liang are just playing politics, trying to score political points.

My basis of argument is not to present whether the pay hike is right or wrong but to show how at times we can be penny wise pound foolish. I am comparing this state assemblymen/women pay hike to the 'secretive' payment of RM7.2 billions to foreign consultants.

a) State: The whole process to approve the pay hike to all the state assemblymen/women salary were carried out during the assembly. Everything is open and transparent to show each individual assemblyman/woman how much is his/her increment.

Federal: Nobody knows who are the foreign consultants, is it 1, 5, 10 or none at all. How much was paid to each of them and the best part is we get to know only after they were already being paid.

b) State: Assemblymen/women should know what are their job functions and everyone got eyes to see them at work. You will know and able to evaluate whether their high pay commensurate with their performances.

Federal: What are the job functions of these foreign consultants, no one knows. Have they achieved the results that they are paid for so 'excessively'? Here I have to really say this word aloud!

c) State: Will the rakyat really suffer more because of the extra few millions used for the assemblymen/women pay hike? Will the state government becomes bankrupt, neglect the state and rakyat due to the increase or their performances will decline?

Federal: Malaysia has 28 million people and the federal government could not find someone local capable of doing the job that they need to engage a RM7.2 billion foreign consultants. Will RM7.2 billion outflow to foreigners or the few millions extra paid to Malaysian assemblymen/women cause the rakyat to suffer or even bankrupt the nation? You tell me.

d) State: RESULTS - What the rakyat must look at is the end RESULTS. They can have their so call 'excessive pay hike' but you can monitor their overall performances for the next five years and the power is in your hand should they fail to perform to your expectation.

Federal:The RM7.2 billion have already being paid out and they will continue to engage these foreign consultants, so they said. Have they shown us these foreign consultants performance results to date. Yes or No you answer that.

Lastly, why I said gerakan, Tan Keng Liang and many other umno/bn supporters are playing politics to gain some brownie points on this matter. They never speak out against the Sarawak state government which also raised their assemblymen/women salaries so 'excessively' and not a sound over the engagement of the RM7.2 billion foreign consultants that we never know existed nor their performances. To call others 'hypocrite'? What a joke.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Combatting untruths in Malaysian history

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong | Malaysiakini

The unprovoked attack and bewildering prejudice exhibited by the Director of the film ‘Tanda Putera’ against my 2007 book, ‘May 13: Declassified documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969′, are symptomatic of a deeper malaise evident among the UMNO-nurtured propagandists in Malaysia who appear diligently uninterested in distinguishing fact from fiction.

The refusal to allow even the ashes of the former leader of the Communist Party of Malaya Chin Peng to return to his homeland, basing this on the official version of the Emergency, likewise point to a bizarre interpretation of history and its consequences for Malaysian collective conscience.

Former American President Abraham Lincoln once said: “I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he/she who makes an assertion, without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him/her.”

I consider it my patriotic duty to combat untruths regarding Malaysian history, such as the ‘May 13 incident’, the Second World War and the Emergency. I have been doing that ever since I went to university in the Seventies. These articles have been written to debunk falsehood, myths and prejudice in the Malaysian landscape.

A society at peace with itself?

Recently, we witnessed shocking cases of bigotry unbecoming of a society that is attempting to be “at peace with itself” (a fashionable phrase espoused in ‘Vision 2020′). There was the case of the attention starved sex bloggers who were “tried by media” after they had posted an insensitive Ramadan greeting on their Facebook of them eating ‘bak kut teh’ (herbal pork soup).

They were arrested and jailed, with no bail granted, after the public outcry from the mainstream Malay language press. The couple was charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002, 298A of the Penal Code for promoting enmity between different groups of religion and Section 4(1) (c) of the 1948 Sedition Act.

Then the Police arrested Maznah, also known as Chetz, under Section 298A of the Penal Code as well as under the Sedition Act after a three-year-old video of her bathing her dogs and wishing viewers Selamat Hari Raya resurfaced online one day before Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year. Likewise, there was a posse of religious zealots calling for punishment to be meted out for the alleged affront to their religion.

More recently, the owner of a resort in Kota Tinggi, who had allowed a group of Buddhists to meditate in a surau there, was remanded for four days, again after an outcry from the Malay vernacular press. More alarmingly, the surau was subsequently demolished, on the grounds that it had been tainted through its use by Buddhists.

The fallout from the 13th general election, when the BN lost the support of the non-Malays, saw the government taking out its unhappiness against the non-Malay electorate. “It’s payback time!”, as an observer pointed out.

Among the punitive post-GE13 actions was the withholding of the permit for the film “New Village”. I have pointed out that this could not be a tit-for-tat action since ‘Tanda Putera’ had not been banned at any time – the ‘Tanda Putera’ permit had been intentionally withheld by the BN government until after the GE13 because it did not want to upset the Chinese voters.

These examples illustrate the impatience and influence of neo-fascist groups in Malaysia, noted for their violence against the many peaceful efforts by Malaysian civil society in recent years.

Such actions demonstrate to today’s youth the credibility of my thesis in ‘May 13′, that the pogrom in 1969 was orchestrated by the emergent state capitalist elements within Umno who were impatient with the Tunku’s laissez faire policy. Notice how little it takes for these neo-fascist groups to resort to violence?

Even more recently, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (right) was caught on video spewing a racist tirade against Chinese and Indian Malaysians while encouraging the banned Malay-based “Tiga Line” gang to carry on with their work since they were tolerated by Umno.

But in this survey of Malaysian prejudices, the Malaysian government’s refusal to allow Chin Peng’s ashes to return to his homeland, despite the 1989 Haadyai Agreement, takes the biscuit.

No pride in prejudice

In Malaysian officialdom, prejudice tends to follow discrimination or racism. Prejudice is defined by Collier’s Dictionary as “an opinion or judgment, usually a negative attitude, formed beforehand or without sufficient knowledge or just grounds”, while discrimination is defined as “prejudice or partiality in attitudes or actions”.

Thus, there is a circular relationship between prejudice and discrimination and it would be futile to pretend that prejudice does not lead to nor play a factor in discriminatory behaviour. To the prejudiced, the facts of history seem to be far less important than the “right” beliefs that people hold, and how, for example, their racial beliefs inform and govern their perceptions and behaviour.

Through the years, important issues in our society and history have often been swept under the rug until occasionally a book like mine on ‘May 13′ comes along to challenge the official version of history.

Isn’t it time that we Malaysians, of all backgrounds, find a way to squarely face the facts in our history and learn to communicate with one another without fear, in a spirit of truth and reconciliation?

For that to happen, it is vital that all communities adopt an open-minded attitude that values objectivity in our multicultural society. Until we do that, these issues under the rug will continue to fester and be a source of tension in our society.

Role of the media and opinion makers

In Malaysia, the UMNO-controlled press has been used by the ruling party to entrench age-old prejudice and legitimise racial discrimination. As professional journalists, intellectuals or artistes, we are obligated to portray social reality without having pre-conceived perceptions and prejudices.

We have the responsibility to provide accurate information of historical, cultural and social contexts in society in order not to promote stereotypes or hearsay. Responsibility is vital to the profession. Our role as writers, journalists and intellectuals is to help society overcome issues related to all forms of discrimination.

The irresponsible media has tended to exploit hate among people when we would expect it to have a better understanding of information and broader writing about a subject. As peace-loving Malaysians, we cannot afford to neglect issues of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination because it’s our responsibility to change these perceptions.

Some comments on my latest book:

“Among dissidents in the country, Kia Soong stands out for the longevity of his record of social activism… But it is in his role as social critic and intellectual dissident in debunking untruths and fighting falsehood that the Malaysian public is most indebted to him.”
- Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives

“Kua spares no one; the ruling party, the Opposition coalition, opportunistic politicians… This book is a fascinating account of the poor governance of a nation and the excesses its leaders perpetrate to cling on to power. It doesn’t just inform and educate; it serves as a call for every Malaysian to specify the actions and policies needed to govern the country effectively.”
- Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysiakini columnist

“As always, this public intellectual and activist, freed from partisan allegiances, doesn’t shy away from public interest issues that others wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. In so doing, he sheds much needed light on issues lurking in the shadows while puting forward valuable alternative perspectives for a wider audience. Indeed, when Kua writes, concerned Malaysians sit up and take notice.”
- Anil Netto, Aliran

Friday, December 6, 2013

Threatened by Umno Baru, again

Mariam Mokhtar | FMT

Writers, like me, seek to inform their readers of the abuse of power, corruption, criminal acts and injustices which are perpetrated by the leaders.


Umno Baru is nothing more than a bully and a coward. When we were at school, we were told that there was only one way to deal with bullies. You confront them. Most Umno Baru politicians are shameless cowards who function best when in a pack. They think they can do no wrong.

For years, NGOs and opposition politicians allege that they faced violent acts by thugs, presumably acting on behalf of Umno Baru. For reasons of their own, most of the victims kept quiet. Perhaps, they did not want Umno Baru to gloat. This meant that the tyranny of Umno Baru continued unabated.

My writing has come under attack recently and I feel that the time has come to put a stop to Umno Baru’s bully-boy tactics. I and my peers will continue to expose the thuggery which Umno Baru has adopted to try to silence me and the publications I write for.

The age of the internet has helped weaken 56 years of Umno Baru domination. The younger generation of Malaysians are better informed. They can compare what they are told by the mainstream papers which are controlled by Umno Baru, with the information they have obtained from the net.

The empowered Malaysians have started to question their leaders and they are dissatisfied with the answers. The new breed of Malaysians are not easily intimidated. They are not fools. They have an open mind and can see and hear for themselves.

Writers, like me, seek to inform their readers of the abuse of power, corruption, criminal acts and injustices which are perpetrated by the leaders. The leaders are supposed to set a good example to the rakyat. Our work is successful, otherwise Umno Baru would not threaten us and the publications we write for.

When writers refuse to be silenced, the Umno Baru hate machine goes after our editors. They hope to pressure the editors with a shakedown. When that tack is unsuccessful, they go higher up the chain, to continue their intimidation.

When threats of jail and accusations of sedition fail to get the desired action, Umno Baru politicians, or their cohorts, then attempt to intimidate the owners of the publications. They threaten to sue with million dollar lawsuits and threats of closure.

Desperate Umno Baru types use their influence to further intimidate the writer and publication. With vast sums of money and manpower at their disposal, they trawl through old articles, photos, videos and other trivia to search for something with which they can sate their desire for revenge.

The politician or civil servant who is prepared to spend millions of ringgits for an act of revenge, instead of putting things right in this country, is not fit to run the country, be an MP or lead a government department.

Age of silence is over

When my article ‘One ideology, two reactions’ was published last Friday, it appeared that the IGP Khalid Abu Bakar reacted badly and took it as a personal slight on his character. Perhaps, the article should have been called ‘One ideology, three reactions’.

First came the threats of arrest and charges of sedition. He had to make a national announcement and treat me like a common criminal. He was not prepared for the tide of support which Malaysians and foreigners have shown me. I am grateful for your support.

Not content with his bullying, the IGP then sent policemen to the newsportal’s office to take various details from the editors.

The desperation of Umno Baru knows no bounds. At the same time, a senior failed politician whose corruption I have highlighted in the past, appeared to act in tandem with the police shakedown of another newspaper. Under her instruction, it is believed that past articles written for other publications, have been studied at length to try and incriminate me.

Are Umno Baru really so desperate that they will attack the freedom of the press? A free press is the bedrock of a democratic process. When the press is persecuted, you have nothing but a dictatorship.

When an article incurs the displeasure of Umno Baru, the writer and publisher are threatened, jailed or served with a lawsuit. Umno Baru wants the publication to be put out of business. It wants the writer and publisher to be used as examples to deter other writers and newspapers from exposing more acts of corruption, injustices, abuses of power and criminal activities.

Is this what you want to happen in Malaysia? We know that power, money and greed have corrupted the morals of this politician and her peers. The emotional outbursts suggest that her mental balance is disturbed.

I have written many articles about corruption and abuse of power which have upset the politicians, but the politicians never stop to think how the rakyat would feel about their money being wasted.Umno Baru politicians and their sympathisers have seen that today’s writers and citizens refuse to be silenced. Malaysians are supportive of the people who help expose corruption and injustices.

The dominance and tyranny of Umno Baru is coming to an end. Writers are in solidarity with their peers. Umno Baru can prosecute one, but do they have the resources to jail hundreds, perhaps thousands of writers? The age of silence is over.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

IGP's Xmas hit - You better watch out

by Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini

I am on the waiting-list for membership of the exclusive ‘Sedition Club Uniting Malaysians’, (SCUM) which has several distinguished members like Adam Adli, Haris Ibrahim, Tian Chua, Tamrin Ghafar, Safwan Anang and Zunar. I don’t think many people know the criteria which makes one eligible for membership.

Who would have realised that a well-meaning article ‘One Idealogy, Two Reactions’ about the need to be compassionate to Malaysians, regardless of their political leanings or social background, would have upset the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar?

Does Khalid suffer from an inferiority complex or was he under extreme pressure to explain his involvement in the Lahad Datu debacle?

More importantly, he wanted to divert attention from the terrible handling of the Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab story, by the Malaysian government and himself. They probably thought they would capitalise on the story of Aishah’s enslavement.

Initially, the Metropolitan Police in England refused to divulge the identity of the Malaysian woman who had been “freed”, but Khalid jumped the gun and blurted out her name before the English Police were ready to make this public.

Even before Kamar Mahtum and Hishamuddin Rais arrived in London, the IGP was already boasting about the welcome they would give Aishah on her return home. Khalid said she would not be arrested as her “crime” was in the past. Meanwhile, the Women’s Minister talked about providing counselling.

It was like a couple expecting their first child, preparing the nursery to receive the baby, except the ‘baby’ – Aishah – refused to come home.

As information trickled back to KL, the IGP was probably told that Aishah had not deviated from her ideology. She had not been enslaved, as was previously reported. She had no intention of returning to Malaysia. She was not remorseful, nor did she want to resume ties with the land of her birth. Sources also allege that the reunion between Kamar and Aishah was far from cordial.

If Aishah really wanted to flee from her captors, she would have. Khalid and the government realised, too late, that Aishah had outsmarted them. Aishah did not follow the UMNO Baru script.

The IGP and Najib Abdul Razak probably wanted to give Aishah a heroine’s welcome at KLIA. Then, after a six month religious rehabilitation at one of the indoctrination centres, arrange a photo-shoot of Aishah kissing Najib’s hand, renouncing her previous ideology, giving up her Marxist beliefs, and praising Najib’s government as the saviour of her body and soul.

The penny must have dropped as Kamar and Hisham passed through passport control at Heathrow, on Saturday morning to return home. So, Khalid had to divert attention from the government’s terrible handling of the Aishah story. A distraction had to be found. Me! The rest is history.

A means to intimidate the public?

Did Khalid, in a moment of madness, lose his judgment and decide to abuse his position and utilise the publicity machinery of the state, and use me as a means to intimidate the public?

He was foolish to think I would be intimidated. Perhaps, he wanted me to be cowed and cower under the bed, as a certain politician, who was caught in flagrante delicto in Port Dickson, was alleged to have done.

Khalid believes that writers for the alternative media write, merely to get hits. They don’t! One would like to ask the IGP if his men have been given orders to use their weapons, just to score hits, on their victims?

Will Khalid understand that one of the reasons the mainstream media is failing the public is because they are economical with the truth. They manipulate facts and tell lies to mislead and also incite hatred.

If Khalid were to talk to former Utusan journalists, he would learn many painful truths. Those who joined the exodus, in 2007, have alleged that their wages have not been paid. Another journalist alleges that the paper is losing money, because UMNO Baru takes out full page advertisements in Utusan, and then fails to pay the paper.

Utusan loses revenue, and Najib, the President of UMNO Baru knows that the party is bankrupt. So, he urges the government-linked companies (GLCs) to place advertisements in Utusan Malaysia.

My calling is to continue informing the public and stimulate them to ask questions of their parliamentarians and people in positions of responsibility, like the IGP. What are Khalid’s good points? People have lost faith in the police because of leaders like Khalid.

One would have thought that Khalid would have understood the nuances of my article. Surely, someone could have explained them to him, before he was allowed to shoot his mouth off.

It was Khalid who incorrectly mentioned race as the reason for the different treatments meted out to Chin Peng and Aishah. Perhaps, he would like to tell us why the dead Malaysian terrorists like Dr Azahari Hussein and Noordin Mat Top, the masterminds of the Jakarta and Bali bombings, were allegedly given the VIP treatment? Not many dead Malaysians would be returned to Malaysia at the taxpayer’s expense, in an RMAF transport.

Khalid warned me via a Bernama report that, “She (Mariam Mokhtar) had better watch out…” Despite his failings, we should praise Khalid for his ‘1Malaysia’ spirit. During his visit to multicultural and predominantly Christian Sabah, he has kicked off the Christmas season with the classic song ‘You’d better watch out’. Most readers may know it by its original title, ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’.

A Malaysian makeover

With apologies to the original songwriters, J Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, whose song made its debut in 1934, I have given the song a Malaysian makeover, and substituted the words ‘Santa Claus’ with ‘The IGP’.

The older generation may recall Fred Astaire, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra singing this song. Khalid and younger Malaysians may prefer Miley Cyrus’ catchy rendition on YouTube.

Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why:
The IGP is coming to town!


He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
The IGP is coming to town!

He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows when you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

So…You better watch out, You better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why.
The IGP is coming to town.

Who knows? The Khalid inspired song, ‘You Better Watch Out’, may prove to be this year’s Christmas hit.

Khalid was wrong to attack and intimidate the rakyat. This harassment should be our catalyst for real, meaningful change. It is Khalid and UMNO Baru who had better watch out! Change is coming to town.

Columnist Mariam Mokhtar defiant in face of top cop’s “threat”

BY MUZLIZA MUSTAFA | TMI

A columnist vowed to continue giving her opinions despite “crude threats” from the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar over her piece decrying Putrajaya’s treatment of two Malaysian-born communists.

Mariam Mokhtar said she felt that Khalid’s warning was a misguided attempt to silence the public rather than being aimed at her.

“I think the IGP was acting under orders,” she said in an email to The Malaysian Insider from London, where she is based.

Mariam said it was “refreshing to learn that the IGP reads online news portals”.

The country’s top cop yesterday warned Mariam over her article titled “One ideology, two reactions" in the news portal, Free Malaysia Today, which he deemed to be seditious.

He said Mariam should watch out or the police would go after her.

The article had irked Khalid when she questioned the Government's discrimination over the return of two Malaysian-born communists – ashes of the deceased Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng from Bangkok, Thailand, and Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab, who had been influenced by Marxism and was allegedly held as a “slave” in London for 30 years.

“In the original article, I had to keep within the word limit. I was unable to mention the alleged special treatment accorded to the Malaysian terrorists responsible for the Bali and Jakarta bombings – Noordin Mat Top and Dr Azahari Hussein,” said Mariam in the email.

She said it was shameful that Khalid had no understanding of the laws of sedition, nor of the role of the government.

Mariam also thanked supporters who defended her.

She added no one in authority had contacted her with regard to her article.

She said Khalid had lied to mislead readers and to harass Malaysians with his statement.

She questioned if he was attempting to disseminate disinformation and to stop people accessing alternative websites.

Mariam said Khalid should know that many writers, for alternative newspapers, were conscientious and wrote to highlight, inform and educate readers.

“We also seek answers to questions that our Umno-Baru MPs and BN leaders seek to avoid.

Neither I nor the publication that I write for seek merely to attract visitors to the website.” - December 1, 2013.

Dear IGP, I write to inform, not attract readers

From Mariam Mokhtar via Malaysiakini

Dear friends,

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Thank you so much for your kind words of support and encouragement.

The IGP, Khalid Abu Bakar said in the Bernama report of Saturday Nov 30 that he had issued a warning to me.

Neither he, nor any of his personnel have contacted me, by phone or by e-mail.

On Friday Nov 29, I was in the company of friends and colleagues throughout the day and then late into the night. They will vouch that no contact had been made by PDRM. Neither was any contact made on Saturday morning.

The IGP is promulgating another bare-faced lie to mislead readers and to harass Malaysians. Is he attempting to disseminate disinformation in an attempt to stop people accessing the alternative websites?

The IGP should know that many writers for the alternative newspapers are conscientious and write to highlight, inform and educate readers.

We also seek answers to questions that our Umno Baru MPs and BN leaders seek to avoid.

Neither I, nor the publication that I write for, seek merely to attract visitors to the website.

It is at least encouraging to learn that the IGP reads newspapers. It is shameful that he has no understanding of the laws of sedition, nor of the role of the government.

Thanks again for your support.

IGP warns FMT columnist

FMT columnist Mariam Mokhtar has been warned for writing articles that can be deemed seditious.

KOTA KINABALU: Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar has warned freemalaysiatoday.com’s columnist, Mariam Mokhtar, from writing articles that can be deemed seditious.

He was displeased with her article, entitled “One Ideology, Two Reactions”, published on the portal yesterday, in which she questioned the government’s discriminating treatment on the return of two Malaysian-born communist radicals — ashes of the deceased Malayan Communist Party leader Chin Peng from Bangkok, Thailand and Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab, who had been influenced by the political ideology and was allegedly held as a slave in London for 30 years.

“She (Mariam Mokhtar) had better watch out or we will go after her.

“This (article) is highly seditious. Don’t publish just to attract people to visit your website. That can also be an invitation for us (police) to come and apprehend you,” he told reporters after the opening of the Security and Public Order Seminar here today.

The seminar was opened by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Khalid was disappointed that the columnist could not differentiate the degree of the offence committed by Siti Aishah and Chin Peng.

“Even an uneducated person understands why the government allowed Siti Aishah to return home and not Chin Peng’s ashes. It is not because one is a Malay and the other, a Chinese.

“Chin Peng was involved in armed struggle, while Siti Aishah purely adopted a leftist ideology. Tell me how many people has she killed?” he asked.

Khalid said no action would be taken against Siti Aishah should she return to Malaysia on the grounds that she was already 69 years old and that her offence was committed a long time ago.

Regarding Siti Aishah’s citizenship, he said police were still waiting for a report from the United Kingdom on whether or not she had given up her Malaysian citizenship during the 45 years she was in the European country.

The woman, who hails from Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan, left the country in 1968 to pursue her studies at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom, but neglected her studies after being influenced by the leftist ideology.

Bernama

One ideology, two reactions

Mariam Mokhtar | Free Malaysia Today

Malaysians must wonder why Aishah is considered safe but Chin Peng’s ashes are deemed a national threat

COMMENT

Two people with a shared ideology – communism. Both Malaysians, both radicals. Both have spent the past 30 years living outside Malaysia. Both were educated locally, one at the Methodist run Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) in Perak, the other at the Tengku Khursiah College in Negri Sembilan.

One became a leader albeit of a banned organisation and disappeared into the Malayan jungle, whilst the other disappeared into the back-streets of London into oblivion.

The two people are a Chinese man, 88-year-old Chin Peng who died in Bangkok last September and a Malay woman 69-year-old Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab who with her two comrades staged a daring escape from her alleged captors on Oct 25.

Aishah and the other women had been kept as “slaves” in a collective by a couple – an Indian and a Tanzanian for the past 30 years.

Chin Peng rose up the ranks to become the leader of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) when he was only 23-years-old. Aishah was a very promising, intelligent woman who secured a Commonwealth scholarship to study at the London School of Economics (LSE) when she was 24-years-old.

Two days ago the IGP Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed the identity of the woman who was enslaved. He said that Aishah would not be arrested should she decide to return to Malaysia. He claimed that Aishah had been on the wanted list in the 70s, as she was considered an extremist.

He also confirmed that when she went to London to study, the police had kept her under surveillance. He did not make it clear if, or when, the surveillance stopped. Khalid’s revelation coupled with the information provided by PKR politician Nurul Izzah Anwar that there are 30 Special Branch (SB) officers in London begs the question: “Why did the Malaysian police not inform the family of Siti Aishah at any point in the past 30 years that Aishah was alive and well and had not disappeared without trace from her last known address?”

Was Khalid being economical with the truth or is he deliberately misleading the public to justify the large numbers of SB personnel operating in London? Was Aishah really being watched in London? Did the police and SB lose sight of her soon after she arrived in London? Was she only briefly under their watch?

Did they keep her family in the dark because her return would generate publicity about another Malay communist, which would be difficult to hide? So they thought it would be best if she were to stay away from Malaysia. They were happy to wash their hands of her. Another Malay communist was one red too many.

Khalid claimed that Aishah would not be arrested if she returned as her communist activities were “in the past”. Does the IGP know for sure that she has renounced her communist ideology?

Mental distress

Malaysians must wonder why Aishah is considered safe but Chin Peng’s ashes are deemed a national threat. The authorities feared that a martyr’s shrine for Chin Peng would be built in Sitiawan. Would Aishah not attract an extraordinary amount of publicity whether or not she still believes in her communist ideology? How will she recover from her trauma if she is not left in peace?

One is dead, the other is alive. According to a colleague who visited Chin Peng a few years before he died, the former Communist Party leader was very articulate, spoke fluent English and was a “nice old gentleman”. He did not show any bitterness about being banned from returning to Malaysia, despite the terms of the Peace Treaty.

A few of Aishah’s acquaintances allege that in 1982 when they last had contact with her Aishah was still committed to her ideology. The British press have reported that Aishah is highly traumatised and the police will not allow consular officials or her sister to contact her.

More disturbing reports emerge. The High Commission in London has said that it would extend its full cooperation to reinstate Aishah’s citizenship if she had unknowingly lost her identification papers during her 30-year imprisonment. We are thankful that the global network of the Foreign Ministry is diligent in performing its responsibilities in assisting Malaysians in various parts of the world.

So why can’t the same assistance be made available by the necessary departments in Malaysia to serve the hundreds of thousands of stateless people who were not registered by their poor and uneducated parents? Parents who may be the rural Orang Asli, the interior bound Penan or Indians who live on rubber estates?

On Nov 23, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry said that it would provide counselling to Aishah. Critics fear that the Women’s Minister is only swapping one ideology with another – communism for Umno-Baruism – and that this would cause Aishah further mental distress.

Wisma Putra, the Women’s Ministry and the IGP are keen to help Aishah. By all means show compassion but make sure that compassion is extended to all Malaysians and not a select few individuals who just happen to be making headlines in the developed world.

If Aishah is promised counselling, the same should be given to the traumatised victims at home; the ostracised Penan women and young girls who were raped by timber workers, the family members of people killed in violent incidents like Batangkali, Memali, Kampung Medan and May 13.

Don’t dance in the limelight just because Aishah’s story is big news in London.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Selangor State Assembly salary boost warranted – Michael Xavier

By Michael Xavier | TMI

I have to confess that my first reaction to the astonishing news of the salary hike was a shocker as the last time we were subject to that news was when the Sarawak State Assembly initiated the move to triple the salary of the house of representatives.

Until I realised that I was reading the news in retrospect to the time when BN was in office. Hey, contrary to the usual undeserving request by poor performing elected representatives of the past, the news, refreshingly comes from the Pakatan government.

Does it sound so bad now? To me… far from it. Khalid has successfully increased the reserves of the State coffers through prudent spending and plugged quite a bit of leakage that the past Selangor government was fond of. It is only after a full term in office, producing results that we can all be proud of that he has now implemented a salary hike.

Can he do better, of course he can. Conversely, when government is corrupt and have their hands stained with people's money through ill-gotten means than, needless to say, that a hike is unjustified and even audaciously scandalous in intent hence the outcry by Pakatan leaders when BN representatives salaries were raised without substantial results to show.

What is RM 39,000 a month for a head of state government when he may be in possession of billions of dollars of "illicit" money from logging concessions and land snatching activities? When a corrupt government raises salary, it is not only wrong, it is repugnant and supremely abominable.

In the case of Khalid and this team, they are not accused of any money swindling activities and have somewhat run a clean and prudent state government.

Let's talk facts from a wider perspective: Singapore with only 5.3 million people, elect representatives that earn in access of US 13,000 (RM 33,000) a month totalling to US 166,000 (RM405,000) per annum. In the 2012 Corruption Perception Index, Singapore is listed No 5 of 170 countries.

Australian MPs earn $118,000 (RM 389,000) and they are ranked No 7 on the 2012 CPI. Canada MPs earn $151,000 (RM 453,000) and they are ranked No 9 on the CPI. Malaysia MPs earn RM6,500 per month, RM78,000 per annum and we are ranked 54 in the CPI. The moral of the story: Pay peanuts and you get monkeys!

We know for the fact that we have many "monkeys" as elected representatives and further aggravated when we offer a thin and measly carrot at the end of the stick. When the Selangor state assemblymen are remunerated handsomely, they are now compelled to serve the people even more diligently and courageously, punctuated with a sense of pride and self-worth. The same should apply for our MPs.

In the long run, we can attract high professional talents to public office including people who will be willing to forgo their corporate and academic high paying jobs to serve the people. So, I record my blessing for the Selangor State Government and I urge them to increase their service to the people by 400%, the same quantum that will enjoy as a pay rise.

For some reason, I strongly believe they will rise to the occasion. – November 29, 2013.

Michael Xavier, consultant and corporate trainer, reads The Malaysian Insider.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Should Penang Island control its population growth?

Since Pakatan Rakyat rules Penang many are comparing the Island with Singapore or Hong Kong but do not realised that both Singapore and Hong Kong are governments by itself with no hindrance/control by a Federal or central government. Though Hong Kong may now be influenced by China one way or another after 1997.

Also since then various NGOs are openly voicing their opinions or objections to how the state government runs the state especially in developments and the infrastructures.

They are very much concerned with the hills, the seas and beaches and rivers, forests, park land and cultural aspects which they term as 'The Commons'. The article in Anil Netto's blog titled Corporate predators eyeing ‘the Commons’ prompted me to write and ask the pertinent question "Should Penang Island control its population growth?"

The one thing that NGOs seldom talk about is population growth. All their fights over environment destruction are due to what, is it not cause by human beings? No doubt human beings can easily be taught how to be environmentally friendly as they can also be taught how to live on trees, but would they. As population grew the need to house them grew as well and the whole cycle begins with developments vs environment(The Commons). To avoid any misunderstanding, what I am saying or proposing is specifically on Penang Island only.

Penangnites must know that Penang Island is already badly damaged in terms of developments and infrastructures by poor planning, outdated National Land Code and Building by-laws. There is no way any government can reverse it provided they dare or can impose strict restrictions on private lands. One example of strict restriction is, any private land less than 5acres cannot be developed (even if it is gazetted as development land). If you can visualized the situation as it is now, you can see small buildings popping up at every corner by private land owners, some land less than an acre.

What are the consequences? Traffic congestion, drainage & sewerage system failure. When the government plan and construct the infrastructures in the early years they did not foresee the future growth hence built the infrastructures as per required at that time. Since then more and more developments, big or small were built and all discharges be it cars, drainage & sewerage from those new developments are connected to the main infrastructures which were built and only cater for in the early years.

There is no way the government can restrict private developments as long as developers comply with the National Land Code and Building By-laws which are enacted by the government themselves. Developments will continue when the demand is there as more people flock to reside on the Island and the local resident population growth itself.

So, can you blame the greedy developers when they are allowed to buy up as many private lands, big and small, comply with the authority requirements and developed them. Is the government to be blamed when their hands are tight by their own laws?

Some may question why Singapore or Hong Kong can do it and not Penang Island. Let me use Singapore as an example how they can developed so well since I was there in the 70's involving in the construction of their HDB flats.

Firstly as per my opening statement, Singapore is a government by itself with no Federal or central government looking over them and secondly, they started on a near clean ground or you can say a fresh start since leaving Malaysia. Not much damages done yet to most of the Island's land. Their planning were done with the future in mind. No doubt they evict with iron fist but they do have other places ready for you before the eviction. The way I see it is that most Singaporeans are willing to 'Move' with their government together in developing the nation or they will die should the nation failed.

How far is Penangnites willing to 'Move' with the government, giving up their lands or old depleted buildings (outside the heritage zone) at nominal prices to make way for newer better development? Many would not since private developers can offer a much better premium.

So, what are we going to do and I can safely declare that no government can solved the Island development problems if no drastic action is taken to address it. And I can also be quite certain that hill developments will be carried out beyond the present 250 feet allowed in 50 years time.

I can suggest three very nasty solutions not popular with Penangnites but may be acceptable to some NGOs.

1) Government acquiring private lands and old depleted buildings by force.

With so limited land for development on the Island whereby 'The Commons' must not be touch what other options does the government have? All develop-able private lands and old depleted houses standing on it must be sold to government at a controlled reasonable pricing. Amalgamate all small pieces of land into a sizable piece where newer and proper affordable housing can be developed. Simply put, remove the old low density and replace with new of higher density.

2) Control the population growth

The population on the Island is set to keep on growing and uncontrolled development will go on till hill development beyond 250feet will be allowed by whoever is the government of the day. To avoid this and the concern of 'The Commons', the government should start finding out how much land is still available for development and calculate the total residential units that can be built including the existing ones. Let us assume the whole Island can allow 3 millions of residential units, present plus future with no more registering of new units. The population should then be controlled at 3millions when all develop-able land have been developed.

The third suggestion is a little far fetched, just a little laugh for enlightenment.

3)Turn Penang Island into a Tourist Island

Move all Penangnites and other residences to the mainland or else where. Turn existing housing areas into tourist attractions, tear down some to turn it into green zone, zoo, theme parks and whatever that can attract tourists. Let the Island grow back to the era before Sir Francis Light landed on the Island. Bring in the wild animals and let them roam wild and free as like the African Safari or The Jurassic Park. The whole Island will practically be a tourist haven. You will have to stay in a hotel if you want to visit overnight and everyone you meet will either be local Malaysian tourists or foreigners. No one live on the Island as residence but as tourist.

Give this a thought: You want to live in a clean, affordable, easy accessibility movement, pleasant environment on an Island that was already badly damaged that can only be rectified by forceful, unpopular amendment of the laws to acquire private lands and old buildings to rebuild a newer and better housing and infrastructures. Would you accept that?

Malaysian media – watchdog or running dog?

BY TESSA HOUGHTON, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR – 17 NOVEMBER 2013 New Mandala

If people use the mass media to inform themselves about their society and about the performance of their politicians, and if they use this information to direct their political choices and participation, then inadequate or inaccurate information is liable to result in misconceived political acts. (Street, 2001: 257)

Malaysia’s 13th General Election (GE13), held on the 5th of May 2013, was the continuation of a historical arc that begun at the 2008 general election (GE12), when the Barisan Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s ruling coalition for the past fifty-six years, lost the states of Penang and Selangor (and Perak temporarily) to the Opposition, as well as their coveted two-thirds Parliamentary majority. This was an unexpected shock to the system that immediately plunged Malaysia into an anticipatory political fervour. After 5 years of delays, civil unrest, and an increasingly unified opposition, with their term stretched to the far edge of expiration (and several state assemblies pushed beyond this point), BN failed to counter Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) message of ‘Ini Kali Lah!’, returning their worst result ever. The BN not only failed to recover a two-thirds majority in Parliament but lost the popular vote for the first time, with only 47.38% support compared to PR’s 50.87%.

The anticipation and tension leading up to and extending beyond GE13 (with widespread accusations of electoral fraud and BN retaining power through systemic gerrymandering and malapportionment), was apparent not just within civil society but also within academia, surely going down as not just the most anticipated but the most researched election in Malaysian history. Non-governmental organisations, too, were on high alert, with extensive scrutiny of electoral processes and authorities. One of the main areas of interest and contention in political, academic, activist, and civil society alike was that of media bias.

The ‘Watching the Watchdog’ GE13 media monitoring project, a collaboration between the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus’s Centre for the Study of Communications & Culture (CSCC) and the Malaysian Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), brought together the intersecting goals of data-based media freedom advocacy and critical media and politics research. With much of Malaysia’s mediascape controlled by BN and its constituent parties through a combination of political/regulatory mechanisms (most notably, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act), and the economic domination and control that exists in a state of symbiosis with these regressive and often selectively-mobilised pieces of legislation, most Malaysians have resigned themselves to newspapers and television news broadcasts full of what is best described as ‘running dog’ journalism, with little of the ‘watchdog’ functionality one expects from a free and independent media.

Several scholars, notably those from the Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Communication, have delineated the political-economic power structures behind this state of affairs (e.g. Mustafa & Zaharom, 1998; Wang, 2001; Zaharom, 2002), and there has been content analysis carried out at both the academic level (e.g. Abbott, 2011) and by NGOs (such as CIJ’s previous monitoring exercises) in an attempt to map the extent of the actually-occurring political bias in the Malaysian media. However, these content analyses have been relatively limited in scope and/or conducted at the article level.

The ‘Watching the Watchdog’ project both expanded the scope of these previous studies (monitoring twenty-seven print, televisual and online media in 3 languages, English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin, across Semenanjung and Bornean Malaysia) (see Table 1).

Table 1: Media monitored by the WtW project

The project utilised a conservative sentence-level methodology, with references to politician and political figures or political parties and coalitions only ‘codeable’ as non-neutral in tone when linguistic data such as emotive or descriptive vocabulary (such as ‘liar’ or ‘experienced’) was present. Some overarching ideological frameworks were accepted as normative – such as economic growth being (in the abstract) something generally perceived as positive – but issues such as hudud were not ‘coded’ as inherently negative, despite this being, in many cases, what was inferred. The methodology was designed to remove as much ‘coder bias’ from the results as possible; to be able to be applied effectively by a cohort of over seventy coders or research assistants; and to provide a granular measure of bias.

References to politicians and political figures were disaggregated into (1) individuals being talked about/mentioned and (2) individuals being used as sources. This allowed us to see which politicians (and political parties/coalitions) were given the highest proportion of unmediated access to the media – who, effectively, is able to use the media as their personal soapbox, and who is not. We used this disaggregation to track not just positive and negative mentions but to track source-level attacks – i.e. who was conducting attacks when used as a source, and which politician or party were they attacking?

The project monitored the month leading up to the election plus slightly beyond polling day – from the 7th of April to the 7th of May. Only election news articles were coded/analysed – no opinion columns or reader comments or contributions were included, with the one exception of the newspaper’s daily editorial if they ran one. Five interim data reports were released in the two weeks leading up to polling day, with two final overview reports on the media’s coverage of (1) politicians and political figures and (2) political parties and coalitions split by language/location/medium, as well as twenty-seven individual publication reports, released to the public on the 17th of September 2013. The full cohort of reports can be downloaded from Scribd.

For the most part, our results statistically corroborate the copious anecdata available. Within the newspapers and television news broadcasts monitored, in both Semenanjung and Bornean Malaysia, in English and Bahasa Malaysia, there was consistent bias in favour of BN and against PR. The volume of coverage dedicated to each coalition and its constituent parties and politicians varied from media to media, with some media groups, surprisingly, dedicating significantly more coverage to the opposition (although for the most part, BN received more coverage overall). However, once coverage volume was contextualised with the data on tone, this unexpected skew was explained – PR may have sometimes received more coverage overall, but they always received much higher proportions of negative coverage and attacks in comparison to BN, who always received the highest proportions of positive coverage. This was true for both coverage of political parties/coalitions (see Table 2) and politicians/political figures (see Table 3).

Table 2: Distribution of Tonal Coverage of Political Parties & Coalitions

Table 3: Distribution of Tonal Coverage of Politicians and Political Figures

These tables show the proportions of tonal coverage within each media group (e.g. Bernama’s coverage consisted of 36% positive mentions of; 39% neutral mentions of; 17% negative mentions of; and 9% attacks on political parties/coalitions), as well as the ratios within each tonal category with regards to their split between BN and PR (e.g. Bernama’s 36% positive coverage was split between BN and PR at a ratio of 1: 0.045 respectively). The top 5 most unequal ratios within each tonal category are shaded grey, with these ‘most unequal’ ratings then extrapolated across horizontally to show ‘repeat offenders’ with regards to unequal distributions of tonal material – i.e. political bias. It is notable that a very pronounced pattern of these ‘repeat offenders’ emerges, as does the overwhelming bias in favour of BN and against PR. The only media groups who do not conform to this bias pattern are the Mandarin newspapers and the online media.

The sourcing practices of all the media groups, with the exception of the online English media, were further cause for concern. Table 4 below shows the ratios of use as source distribution between BN and PR politicians (e.g. Bernama used BN sources 88.81% of the time and PR sources only 3.19% of the time). BN sources are used at much higher rates than PR sources – a fact that is likely attributable to multiple factors, including the vast electoral machinery at BN’s disposal. Causation aside, when paired with the extremely negative or attack-oriented Malaysian political environment, and the tendency for these sources to be attacking the opposition (as can be seen in the individual publication reports), this skewed direct access to the ‘media soapbox’ is another major contributing factor to the lack of a free, fair, and balanced Malaysian mediascape.

Table 4: Distribution of Use as Source

The findings below were particularly notable:
* The extremely pronounced bias present in Bernama’s news wire releases: Bernama has not been monitored previously; it runs on taxpayer funds; and it is a common news source for many, if not all, other Malaysian media. As such, its pronounced bias is cause for extra concern.

*The relatively balanced coverage provided by the online media we monitored: Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider (TMI) both regularly come under fire for being pro-opposition. Certainly, once one takes opinion columns and reader comments and contributions into account, this is likely the case, but in terms of their core news output, they are doing a professional job of maintaining balance in an extremely difficult environment.

*The relatively balanced coverage provided by the Mandarin newspapers we monitored; these papers, too, have sometimes come under fire as being pro-opposition. I am unable to speak for their opinion columns and reader contributions, but their core news content also does a professional job of maintaining balance in a difficult environment.

There have been reoccurring and predictable arguments against the significance of our findings. Firstly, that the internet, and particularly social media have equalised the playing field, so it doesn’t really matter than the mainstream media are in such a state (just look at all the votes the opposition got!); and secondly, that PR has its party organs, such as Keadilan and Harakah. I’m not sure if these criticisms are na├»ve, deluded, or strategic, but my response is as follows.

The argument that the internet has equalised the playing field is misguided on several levels. Firstly, not everyone has internet access (roughly 35% of Malaysians are still offline), and huge differences exist in terms of the quality and quantity of the access that does exist. Older, poorer, rural populations continue to be BN’s main vote banks, as has been definitively shown by the voting data from GE13. These populations (following global trends) are much more likely to have no/poor quality/limited internet access. This is no coincidence. It has nothing to do with innate intelligence, and everything to do with access to competing opinions and ideologies. These populations have and continue to consume primarily BN propaganda masquerading as news, whereas wealthier, younger, urban populations are constantly bombarded with and socialised into consuming a multitude of competing and critical perspectives.

That is not to say that factors such as party allegiance and political leanings derived from factors such as family background, ethnicity, and religion do not have any impact on the interaction between media and audience – they do. But they are secondary factors, part of the interpretive framework audiences apply to the primary information received from the media. If the primary information pool is limited and biased and audiences do not have well-developed critical media literacy skills, then their resulting decisions are likely to be similarly biased – particularly when set within a developing context and against a meta-discursive background of stability versus the unknown.

As for the rising importance of social media – certainly, the opposition appear to be savvier in terms of utilising Web 2.0 platforms than BN, likely because they have had to learn or perish. However, much of what circulates on Facebook and Twitter is in reaction to news stories emerging from the mainstream media. While recognising the importance of citizen journalism, social media, and micro/blogging, high quality ‘traditional’ journalism is still central to the facilitation of a vibrant mediated public sphere. Furthermore, socially mediated political debate often tends towards ‘cyberbalkanisation’ – and in an already heavily polarised and increasingly bitter political environment, is this really what is needed? A more diverse and balanced mainstream media environment would feed into engagement across difference – rather than opposition supporters clustering around Malaysiakini and TMI and circulating in one social media loop, and government supporters clustering around the sites of Utusan et al and staying within their own respective media enclaves, only emerging to ridicule and malign one another. It would also help foster meaningful debate between religions, races, classes, and between Semenanjung and Malaysian Borneo – all important conversations to do with the core issues of national identity and community.

The same argument applies for party organs like Harakah. Party organs and news media perform different roles, and the former cannot substitute for the latter. News media should facilitate informed political participation and hopefully understanding of (if not agreement with) our socio-political community; party organs are for the express purpose of party advocacy, and are intended to ‘preach to the choir’. When the vast majority of the mainstream Malaysian ‘news’ media, labelled and sold as such, is actually more akin to a BN party organ; when the only media functioning as anything like professional news journalism organisations are in Mandarin or are online? It’s safe to say that something is seriously rotten in what aspires to be the “best democracy in the world” (Najib Razak, September 18, 2011).

The media are key to the democratic and electoral integrity of any political system, and “[f]reedom of information is a fundamental feature of a democratic society” (Street, 2001: 170). Malaysian citizens who relied on English and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers and/or television as their media source/s during the GE13 campaign (either by choice or as a result of only limited options being available) were not provided with fair and accurate information with which to construct informed voting preferences, with clear voting patterns emerging along these strata of info-communicative diversity and scarcity, and the media used more as a tool of division than of reconciliation. Although gradual improvements in internet penetration and demographic shifts may benefit the opposition, BN continues to possess many structural advantages and despite lacking agility overall, is capable of adapting to the shifting terrain. With Malaysia already turning its attention towards GE14, the national media continue to be the arena in which political struggles play out. In media as in politics, only time will tell whether entropy or stasis will prevail.

Tessa J. Houghton is Assistant Professor in Media and Communication / Director of the Centre for the Study of Communications and Culture at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

References


Abbott, J. P. (2011). Electoral Authoritarianism and the Print Media in Malaysia: Measuring Political Bias and Analyzing Its Cause. Asian Affairs: An American Review, 38(1): 1-38.

Deuze, M. (2011). Media Life. Media Culture and Society. 33(1): 137-148.

Mustafa, A. K., & Zaharom, N. (1998). Ownership and control of the Malaysian media. Media Development. XLV (4): 9-17.

Street, J. (2001). Mass Media, Politics & Democracy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Wang, L. K. (2001). Media and Democracy in Malaysia. Javnost/The Public. 8(2): 67-88.

Zaharom, N. (2002). The structure of the media industry: implications for democracy. In Loh, K. W. and Khoo, B. T. (eds.) Democracy in Malaysia: Discourses and Practices. London: Curzon, p.111-137.

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