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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jom balik Undi - We are Malaysians!

We are Malaysians who are passionate about our beloved country. There are many reasons why we are where we are, and the one thing that connects us all is that we all hold Malaysia very close to our hearts no matter the distance.

We are Malaysians. We love our country. We want to fly home. We want to vote.

Jom Balik Undi campaign urges all Malaysians abroad to fly home to vote in the 13th general elections to ensure a brighter future for Malaysia

We, a group of Malaysians currently living abroad, have organised the Jom Balik Undi (JBU; Malay for “Let’s Go Home and Vote”) campaign to urge all Malaysians abroad to fly home to cast their vote in the upcoming 13th general election to realise the possibility of a cleaner and brighter future for all Malaysians.

The upcoming 13th general election is critical to the future of Malaysia. The possibility for a brand new Malaysia is closer than ever before. Every vote counts.

We Malaysians abroad have a part to play in influencing the results of the 13th general election. We will do this by ensuring the highest possible voter-turnout on Malaysian soil and casting our votes in full force. In doing so, we also minimise the opportunities of electoral fraud and vote tampering on polling day.

This JBU campaign is being conducted notwithstanding the recent proposal by the Election Commission of Malaysia to allow registered voters living abroad to register themselves as postal voters and participate in the coming elections via the postal voting process.

JBU firstly urges Malaysians abroad who can afford the cost to return home to vote, but JBU also urges all Malaysian registered voters who cannot return home to apply to become postal voters as soon as possible.

How to participate in JBU

All Malaysians near and far are urged to participate in the JBU campaign by

1) Taking photos of themselves holding a sign that has their personal message of change and hope written on it

2) Submitting these photos to JBU at

3) Liking the JBU Facebook page ( and sharing the photos widely

All photos received will be published on the Jom Balik Undi FaceBook page within 24 hours to spread the JBU message and inspire more Malaysians to join in our campaign.

Photos we have received from Malaysians abroad in the last 72 hours bear messages such as:

> Sick of corruption. Flying home to vote

> A safer Malaysia for me and my loved ones. Coming home to vote

> Malaysia is still my home. Jom Balik Undi

All these photos have collectively been shared over 11,000 times on FaceBook so far.

This campaign is not limited to Malaysians who will return home to vote. Those who cannot do so and those who reside in Malaysia as well as non-Malaysians are also invited to submit their own messages of hope and change.

Future events

In addition, JBU will organise in Sydney a public forum featuring Malaysian political commentators as well as public screenings of the following Malaysian documentaries i.e. The Rights of the Dead, Waves of Change: Social Movements in Malaysia and 10 Years Before Independence.

Contact persons for JBU

• William de Cruz +61 425 237 429 (Australia)

• Adriene Leong +61 468 591 838 (Australia) +60 163 569 512 (Malaysia)



EC Chief Should Try Bersih Detergent

By Martin Jalleh

Najib Delivers — M’sia Worst-Ever Ranking On Press Freedom!

By Martin Jalleh

Stop delaying action against Ibrahim Ali, says former A-G

By Amin Iskandar | The Malaysian Insider

The authorities must speed up action against Datuk Ibrahim Ali over his Bible-burning threat, says retired Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, adding any further delay in acting against the veteran politician could be held against the establishment ahead of Election 2013.

The vocal Ibrahim, who heads right-wing Malay group Perkasa, had sparked a firestorm last week when he reportedly called on Muslims to torch Malay-language copies of the Christian holy book that describes the Christian god as “Allah”, an Arabic word many Muslims here believe to be exclusive to their community.

“The issue is not the burning of the Bible. What is in the issue is, did he utter those words?” Abu Talib told The Malaysian Insider in an interview.

“If so, whether those words were seditious within the Sedition Act, reading it as a whole and in the context it was made. So, whether the Bible was burned is not material though helpful in the prosecution of the case if he is charged,” he said.

The government’s former top lawyer noted the police reports filed complaining about Ibrahim’s provocative remarks were related to the “Allah” dispute that has been simmering for the past four years.

He said there was no reason for the law enforcers to procrastinate deciding whether or not to prosecute the independent federal lawmaker who has been accused of inciting tension among Malaysia’s Muslim majority camp and followers of other faiths.

Abu Talib has been among others who have accused the A-G’s Chambers of practising selective prosecution.

“The police said they were recording statement from relevant witnesses. Surely they don’t require so much time to complete their investigations and make a decision if they are committed to a fair and impartial investigation.

“In fairness to him, clear him fast if he has not acted contrary to the Sedition Act 1948 or for that matter, any law applicable,” said the 73-year-old, who served as A-G for 13 years from 1980 to 1993, referring to Ibrahim.

The Bar Council and opposition lawmaker Karpal Singh have urged the government to charge the Pasir Mas MP with sedition but the incumbent A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has said action will only be taken against Ibrahim if bibles were burnt, and that the latter’s statement was not of grave concern.

Weighing in on the issue, Abu Talib said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had worked to dismantle archaic laws, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA) — which had been widely panned as a tool to suppress dissent — to bring the country’s justice system up to speed and in line with international human rights policies.

“Democracy, being government of, for and by the people, implies that it is the populace that is to be served and the elected is the servant, not the reverse,” said Abu Talib, who has chaired the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the police force have taken a public beating in recent days with the Pakatan Rakyat federal opposition accusing the two public institutions of working with its political foe, Barisan Nasional, to keep the ruling coalition in power.

The AGC under Abdul Gani’s leadership has been hit with allegations of practising selective prosecution, including from Abu Talib and other retired civil servants such as former Kuala Lumpur criminal investigation police chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim.

A recent survey of five public institutions by the Merdeka Center found the police force bottoming out among Election 2013 first-time voters compared to both federal and state governments, the judiciary, the election regulator and political parties.

Politicians and local clergymen had lashed out at Ibrahim, the Perkasa founder and president, for allegedly stoking religious hatred and driving a deeper wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Muslims are Malaysia’s biggest religious group at 60 per cent, while the minority Christians, who form just under 10 per cent of the 28 million population, have been at the forefront of issues confronting the non-Muslim community, which are provided for under the country’s constitution.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department also upset church leaders with its sermon last Friday, in which it warned Muslims nationwide of “enemies of Islam” that would try to confuse them into believing that all religions share the same god.

Muslim and Christian leaders here have been at loggerheads over use of the Arabic word “Allah” despite a 2009 High Court judgment that ruled Muslims did not have an exclusive right to the word “Allah”.

Debate resurfaced last month after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also the Penang chief minister, called on Putrajaya to lift a ban on Malay-language bibles in Sabah and Sarawak, where the “Allah” word had been in use for centuries.

A Sabah church group has also alleged that the religious freedom of Christian Bumiputeras was under attack, pointing out that most adherents of the faith in Malaysia came from east Malaysia and used the Malay language.

A Buddhist group has urged the National Unity and Integration Department, which is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, to resolve the drawn-out dispute over the usage of “Allah”.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Once a pushover, Pakatan sniffs power

By Dan Martin | AFP/FMT

Speculation is rife that Pakatan could win enough in the polls to lure ruling coalition defectors and form a government.

After bloodying the government’s nose in 2008 elections, a more experienced and organised Malaysian opposition is eyeing the once-unthinkable: toppling one of the world’s longest-serving governments.

Malaysians vote soon with the formerly hapless opposition buoyed by a new track record of state-level government, signs of growing voter support, and what its leader Anwar Ibrahim calls a sense of history in the making.

“I am convinced, Inshallah (God willing), that we will win government,” Anwar told AFP, evoking the winds of change that powered the “Arab Spring” elsewhere in the Muslim world.

“Of course we call it a ‘Malaysian Spring’, but our method is elections (not uprisings).”

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is expected to call a fresh vote in weeks, pitting his Malay-dominated Barisan Nasional coalition against Anwar’s multi-ethnic opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat.

The 57-year-old ruling bloc enjoys deep pockets, mainstream media control, an electoral system the opposition says is rigged, and a record of decades of economic growth under its authoritarian template.

Few expect the opposition to win the 112 parliamentary seats needed to take power. The three-party alliance won 82 seats in the 2008 polls, up from 21, stunning the BN with its biggest-ever setback.

But speculation is rife that Pakatan could win enough in the polls — which must be held by late June — to lure ruling coalition defectors and form a government.

“Before this year, many were in denial about Pakatan’s potential. Today, we see society beginning to accept that the possibility (of a BN defeat) is real,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who runs the independent Malaysian think tank IDEAS.

The country’s stock market has trembled recently over the uncertainty as opinion polls suggest the vote will be tight. One recent survey put Najib and Anwar neck-and-neck as prime ministerial candidates.

In a Jan 12 show of force, the opposition held a rally that drew clsoe to 100,000 people.

“I think it’s very close, and the party that makes the least mistakes will be the party that wins,” said S Ambiga, , head of Bersih, an NGO coalition that has organised large public rallies for electoral reform.

Pakatan’s promise

Pakatan attacks the ruling coalition, and particularly its dominant partner Umno, as corrupt, repressive and lacking a long-term vision for Malaysia.

Anwar says Pakatan would end authoritarianism and free the media.

It would lure foreign investment by attacking rampant graft and reforming the system of preferences for Malays that is blamed for harming national econonomic competitiveness and stoking resentment among minority Chinese and Indians.

“The people are committed to reform. There is a legitimate expectation among the public for them to see that reforms do take place,” Anwar said.

Anwar, who was acquitted a year ago on sodomy charges he called a bogus Umno attempt to ruin him politically, has been integral to the opposition’s revival.

The former BN heir-apparent’s spectacular 1998 ouster in a power struggle with then-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad gifted the opposition a charismatic leader with top government experience to rally around.

The loose alliance of 2008 is stronger today, having since agreed on a common manifesto, and has shown it can govern in four states won five years ago, the most ever in opposition hands. Malaysia has 13 states.

“Cooperation between the parties is much stronger than 2008. They have done more to prepare the ground for new voters,” said leading political pollster Ibrahim Suffian.

Concerns linger over Pakatan’s ability to govern nationally.

Besides Anwar’s multi-racial PKR, it includes PAS representing Muslim ethnic Malays, and the secular DAP dominated by ethnic Chinese.

PAS’s calls for an Islamic state are a source of alliance squabbling, but Anwar dismisses any concern, saying PAS realises the goal is a non-starter in the diverse nation.

Economists, meanwhile, warn that populist Pakatan promises such as free primary-to-university education could sink Malaysia into debt, while noting ever-larger public handouts by Najib’s government also posed a risk.

Najib took office in 2009 and has portrayed himself as a reformer but surveys suggest BN is still viewed as a corruption-plagued, status-quo force.

Eroding minority support, particularly Chinese, that hurt the coalition in 2008 appears to be accelerating, independent polls show, while first-time voters estimated to number up to three million are a question mark.

One top Umno official told AFP that party officials fear the coalition could lose 20 more seats — it now has 140 — raising the spectre of a Pakatan power play.

“All said, Najib still has the advantage, but an opposition victory is clearly possible,” said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian politics expert at Singapore Management University.

Latest intelligence PR to win 124 seats, BN 98: RM5 MILLION "going-rate" to lure PR contestants

By Maria Begu | Malaysia Chronicle

The cat is out of the bag. Despite vows of being able to retain the federal government with two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, Prime Minister Najib Razak is staring at stark defeat.

According to political sources, a survey conducted by a special government intelligence unit showed Najib's Umno-Barisan Nasional coalition trailing far behind the Pakatan Rakyat led by Anwar Ibrahim with only 98 seats to the Opposition's 124.

Anwar and PR are expected to win 10 seats in the Federal Territories, 10 in Johor, 11 in Kedah, 12 in Kelantan, 18 in Perak, 17 in Selangor, 1 in Terengganu, 1 in Malacca, 3 in Negeri Sembilan, 5 in Pahang, 0 in Perlis and a total of 25 in Sabah and Sarawak.

"This is a real eye-opener for the big-wigs in Umno. It is no wonder Najib and Mahathir are now so panicky in their response to issues that crop up. They cannot afford to make any mistake at this stage," Zulkefly Othman, secretary of the security council in Anwar's PKR party, told Malaysia Chronicle.

RM5mil going rate to "buy over" a PR candidate

Zulkefly, who is also the head of strategy for the PKR Malacca division, expects the going to get "really rough and dirty" in the weeks ahead, with vote-rigging, Opposition-bashing and an avalanche of "election goodies" to deluge the nation as the Umno-BN struggled to retain its 55-year stranglehold on power.

He warns that BN has intensified its lures to Opposition candidates to defect, a threat that he said the PR leadership must beware of and put at the top of its list of electoral risks.

"The going rate is now RM5 mil for a PR candidate and going closer to the GE, we can expect this number to increase. The BN will surely play very dirty and the PR leadership must find ways to counter this," said Zulkefly.

"To me, this is even more dangerous than the vote-rigging and padding of the electoral rolls. So in choosing their contestants, the top PR leaders must be wise. They must have a plan to prevent this sort of unethical defection and the best way is to recruit only those who are truly sincere and have iron-cast principles. Those who are thick-skinned and not 'malu' (shy) to jump ship should not be considered," Zulkefly said.

Nervous Najib might again delay GE13

Indeed, the nervousness displayed by Umno-BN leaders is visible. Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has been making a return to the limelight in a bid to rally support from the key Malay electorate and even Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has promised the BN may make permanent a cash aid scheme it recently announced so as to get the people to retain the political status quo.

“We don't want to see such aid be a one-off payment. It should be disbursed on a long-term basis. I believe the Prime Minister will look into BR1M (1Malaysia People's Aid) as a programme that should be continued. I am sure that it will be continued on a long-term basis when the rakyat (people) retains Barisan as the Federal Government,” theStar newspaper reported Muhyiddin as saying after distributing RM100 cash vouchers to students of five schools last week.

However, it may be too late for the BN. No matter what late-hour strategy Najib pulls, many political observers and pundits are of the view that the people will plumb for change, disgusted and fed-up with the rampant and endemic corruption in the BN government.

According to Zulkefly, Najib might use the latest survey to once again delay the GE13. The latest hint coming from those in the PM's camp are that he will dissolve Parliament on Feb 22, post nominations on Mar 16, with balloting on Mar 30.

"We won't be surprised. Najib may wait for Parliament to automatically dissolve on April 28 to buy himself and the BN more time. But there is no guarantee they can win back the people. I would say Malaysians are already very annoyed by the delay so far. They have made up their minds and want to vote. If Najib continues to dilly-dally, it will only irritate them more," said Zulkefly.

Market sell-off, investors wearied by prolonged uncertainty

Even investors are betting on a regime change and recently sold off in anticipation that hardliners in Najib's party might create unrest if they lost. The benchmark stock market index FBM KLCI suffered its steepest one-day fall in 8 months last week, plunging 40.81 points and losing RM35billion in market capitalization amid speculation Najib would dissolve Parliament on February 22.

"Why must the entire nation- yes all of us - from corporate sector making investment decision to citizens wanting to plan weddings or umrah trip, be subjected to this vagaries of an election date?" asked Dzulkefly Ahmad, the MP for Kuala Selangor who also heads the PAS Research Centre.

In the country's coming 13th general election, 222 seats in the federal Parliament and 505 state assembly seats in 12 states (excluding Sarawak which held its state assembly election in 2011) will be contested.

In the 2008 election, PR had won 82 seats vs BN's 140, denying for the first time the Umno-BN government its long-held two-thirds control of Parliament, which allows it to hammer through key changes to the Federal Constitution, the country's highest law.

In the 2004 election, PR had only managed to win 21 vs BN's 198. At that time, there were only 219 parliamentary seats were up for contest. Three new seats were created only in the 2008 election - Igan, Sibuti and Limbang in Sarawak.

Game of ‘Sabotage 24/7′ in Selangor

By Selena Tay | FMT

In a slick and covert mission, some smooth operators have managed to shoot up the numbers of the Selangor electoral roll by adding as many dubious voters as possible in order to subvert the vote of genuine Selangorians.

Appended below is the information on the increase of dubious voters in these Pakatan Rakyat-held parliamentary seats. The information is obtained from PAS’ Harakah daily dated Jan 25 to 27, 2013:

1. Kuala Selangor 10,083 (PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad)

2. Selayang 16,189 (PKR MP William Leong)

3. Gombak 15,467 (PKR MP Azmin Ali)

4. Hulu Langat 23,334 (PAS MP Che Rosli Che Mat)

5. Serdang 23,748 (DAP MP Teo Nie Ching)

6. Puchong 19,772 (DAP MP Gobind Singh Deo)

7. Kelana Jaya 13,714 (PKR MP Loh Gwo Burne)

8. Subang 27,765 (PKR MP R Sivarasa)

9. Shah Alam 15,417 (PAS MP Khalid Samad)

10.Kapar 21,606 (PKR MP S Manikavasagam)

11.Klang 11,702 (DAP MP Charles Santiago)

12.Kota Raja 22,256 (PAS MP Siti Mariah Mahmud)

13.Kuala Langat 17,172 (PKR MP Abdullah Sani)

This underhand operation to negate the vote of genuine Malaysian citizens reveals the desperation of those who want to win at all costs so much so that they are willing to sell out the nation’s rights.

In the process, they do not give two hoots about altering the nation’s demographics or jeopardising the lives and livelihood of ordinary citizens.

The situation will be difficult for us citizens if we do not do something about these dubious voters (most of whom are foreigners with MyKad) and if we do not take pro-active action on polling day.

Pakatan leaders have already made countless police reports and filed countless complaints with the Election Commission (EC) but to no avail. The relevant authorities are just not concerned and have turned a blind eye to these reports and complaints.

Other problems as well

Besides the electoral roll problem, the water problem in Selangor is also an attempt to strike at Pakatan by victimising Selangorians.

“If the water pumps are spoilt, then just get them repaired. What has it got to do with the building of the Langat 2 dam? BN is talking nonsense by linking the water pumps problem with the dam,” said PAS Pokok Sena MP, Mahfuz Omar.

Even the collection of rubbish in Selangor has been sabotaged. It is the game of “Sabotage 24/7” to halt the smooth running of the Pakatan Selangor government’s administration.

Therefore from the Selangor situation we can see BN’s game in attacking Pakatan and the citizens as a whole.

This means that all genuine Malaysians (regardless of whether we are voting or not) must be ready to serve the nation on polling day. It only takes one day to change the course of history.

And Pakatan needs all men and women of goodwill to monitor all the roads leading to the polling centres on polling day from the break of dawn to dusk. The rakyat should also gather outside the vote-counting centres to deter any extra ballot boxes from being brought in or other types of hanky-panky.

Chaos and hooliganism can also be prevented due to the strength of the rakyat.

This is the only chance for all ordinary citizens. Otherwise, BN will win again as it is in control of the EC and the National Registration Department (NRD).

There needs to be a massive force ushering in this change in history. The role of civil society is most needed to negate the efforts and effects of the phantom voters.

Therefore, civil society must act. There has to be a stop to all this victimisation of the rakyat, plundering of the nation’s coffers and robbing of the citizens’ rights via the giving of instant citizenships to unskilled or low-skilled foreign labour or aliens who had landed on our shores via the porous borders.

Gerrymandering game

It is already an uphill battle as the extremely dirty electoral roll coupled with gerrymandering of parliamentary and state boundaries work in favour of the ruling government.

The omission or transferring out of genuine Malaysian voters’ names without the voters’ knowledge or consent is another dirty tactic done with a lame excuse.

In addition, the EC has more than doubled its workers from 100,000 to 240,000 and these are the people who will be voting earlier.

The “pondok panas” to monitor voters have seen an increase in its distance from 50 metres to 100 metres from the polling centre and in the polling centre itself, the party representative has to face the voter’s back – all these are measures put in place by the BN federal government to make it difficult for Pakatan’s people to identify the “foreign” voters.

The rogues are therefore doing anything and everything, manipulating to the hilt to stay in power.

Selena Tay is a DAP member and a FMT columnist.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beng Hock: The dead brought to life in documentary

Steve Oh | CPI

Teoh Beng Hock was the man who died while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam.

We read about him, we saw his photo in the news, and we remember the emotive images of his sobbing sister.

We knew him as a political worker.

He was law-abiding and trusting of the MACC, a government anti-corruption agency – the good guys who go after the bad guys.

It was Teoh’s fatal mistake in trusting them.

He had gone to their office to help in their investigation over a minor expense, RM 2,400 to be exact, incurred by his boss, a state assemblyman who is a member of the Selangor exco (state executive committee).

We know the rest of the story.

We saw the haunting photo of his body sprawled on the fifth floor of the Plaza Masalam building where the MACC office was located.

We saw the torn pants and I imagined his last thoughts moments before he hit the ground and his young life ended.

A picture paints a thousand words. A sad one draws a thousand tears and makes the widow cry.

Teoh’s loved ones, his parents, his sister and his wife made a widow after a posthumous marriage, still can’t talk about Beng Hock without choking and we sense their grief and despair.

I could feel their pain as Teoh’s widow wiped the tears from her eyes with her gentle finger and could not answer a question. Such sorrow you cannot hide from the camera.

The big cover-up began long before the news of Teoh’s death got out.

To the countless number of Malaysians including I, who still point the finger at the MACC, Teoh was a stranger to the public, another cog in the political machinery where part-players are never in the limelight.

Timely exploration by an insider

Tricia Yeoh in her award-winning documentary on Teoh Beng Hock titled Rights of the Dead,released late last year, has brought him closer to us.

It is a timely work because like so many who died in mysterious circumstances Teoh can easily slip out of the public psyche into history.

“I really wanted to show how the family suffered through it…” said Yeoh at a Freedom Filmfest gathering.

Her first-hand knowledge as a staffer of the Selangor government had given her an intimate knowledge of the “unresolved case.”

The short film provides a succinct account of events before and after Teoh’s death and leaves the viewer still with the nagging proverbial question – “Who did it?”

After watching Yeoh’s documentary that won the Justin Louis Award FFF2012, I realised that more than feeling chagrin at the government for his death, we owe Teoh Beng Hock the moral obligation to finish what he had set out to do.

He wanted his country to be a better place.

I got to know more about the man who the public still think was murdered despite an official inquest and a royal commission of inquiry into his death that resulted in an open verdict.

Teoh was a true Malaysian, a promising young man who felt that working for a politician was one way he could put conviction to work.

Unlike those who only complain, he acted and got involved in helping a politician to change the country he loved.

It was a noble desire for which he paid the ultimate price.

Many Malaysians hold the government responsible for the deaths in MACC and police custody, and which have not been justly dealt with.

The culprits still roam free. The MACC man in charge of Teoh’s case was promoted away from where Teoh had died.

As for the police, they refused to act on the recommendations of a royal commission to enhance police standards and accountability.

This act of omission has signed the death warrants of more who will die in police custody because some think that a police uniform is licence to act above the law.

But Teoh did not die in police custody because he was a suspected criminal.

He died in the custody of the government’s anti-corruption agents whom he had gone to help.

Teoh’s death sounded the warning bells that something is drastically remiss with the MACC modus operandi.

” It can happen to anyone including me,” said Yeoh in an interview.

The royal commission blamed the MACC officers for their modus operandi that caused Teoh to die short of saying they killed Teoh.

But we are none the wiser because the royal commission’s final decision was neither homicide nor suicide. An earlier inquest gave a verdict of suicide that was opposed by Teoh’s family and the public.

It left many unanswered questions but to many in the public, they know why Teoh died but they do not have the smoking gun. And circumstantial evidence while compelling, is not enough to make the government, often seen as partial to the police, to bring about any criminal charges.

Any Joe Public could fall victim

The Unknown Soldier is a legend and remembered every year, but the many ‘unknown’ deaths in government custody are uninvestigated and forgotten because they never caught the public eye.

And now Malaysians are confronted with another death in police custody, that of Cheah Chin Lee, 36, in Penang. And again the death is shrouded in mystery, a man who had no reason to kill himself was found hanged in the police lock-up.

In her short documentary Tricia Yeoh succeeded in drawing the viewer closer to Beng Hock, the man of conviction, not just the victim of murder.

And viewers are poignantly reminded that they ‘cannot be neutral’ in light of injustice, said Yeoh in an interview.

Maybe I have a soft spot but who could be so heartless as to not be affected when a film allows you to take a closer look at someone’s untimely death. It could have been someone close to us – it could have been you or me, as Yeoh did not forget to remind us.

The video brought the truth closer to my heart and the tears to my eyes. It was such a gratuitous and senseless death and I keep asking myself why over and over again.

Why do Malaysians die in government custody – in the local police lock-up, in the prisons, in the MACC office?

Why are there so many deaths in custody and still there is no royal commission into those deaths? There is no public outrage, no taking to the streets. No indication it is all going to stop.

If the ‘system sucks’ as they say it is because we allow it and do not protest enough. And Yeoh makes her point in a polite but poignant way.

I guess we can’t demonstrate over every single act of injustice because many believe a change of government and the purge of corruption may make the radical difference.

To cure any sickness you have to treat the cause not the symptoms and you can’t be indifferent or neutral. He or she who is not against evil abets it and may be its victim. Yeoh could not remain neutral because the system compels us to take political sides and it is not the political party but what it does that wins our support.

Many holes in MACC story

Teoh Beng Hock did not deserve to die – no Malaysian deserves to die when in the supposedly safe hands of the police or enforcement officers who are trained to uphold the law and protect the public.

No one can convince me that Teoh Beng Hock was not tortured or roughed up as to want to hang around the MACC office when he could have left after the interview, if in fact we accept the MACC explanation.

The official story did not stack up.

The answers to deaths in custody never do. And the victims and their loved ones never get justice in most cases. Those who create fiction to cover up the fact and their culpability will eventually have to own up, hopefully, not always on their death bed.

If indeed it was true Teoh asked to stay back, he must have needed to recover from his ordeal, which might have included physical abuse, it explains why Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip pointed to the unexplained pre-fall injury on Teoh’s neck and her opinion that he was ‘murdered’.

And the anecdotal testimony of someone interviewed in the documentary, who was once roughed up by the MACC, backs the suspicion of Teoh’s own treatment at the hands of his interrogators.

Beng Hock was ‘collateral damage’

Tricia Yeoh (left) a first-time film-maker weaved a simple storyline using news footage and personal interviews and guided us through a labyrinth of witnesses including a former top government crime investigator who spoke of shortcomings in police investigations into Teoh’s death.

The impact on me was not the brilliance of its production, much of it was a simple point and record single camera work, but the authenticity and poignancy of Teoh’s death itself and the little details like his desire to serve his country that filled the pieces in the jigsaw for me.

Yeoh got to the point and there’s only so much you can cover in a short film and she succeeded in her aim.

If there was a crucial missing piece, it is ‘Why?’ the nagging question.

Why take away the life of someone who did not play any pivotal role in politics? Why did Teoh Beng Hock have to die?

Because we know he would not have killed himself when he had so much to live for –an imminent wedding and new role as a husband, and the thought of having a son would be enough reason for any man to want to live.

There are many hypotheses on Teoh’s death but there is one foregone conclusion: Teoh was the collateral damage in what now appears a political witchhunt.

The truth of how he died may emerge some day as it often does in Malaysia because scandals are often buried in shallow graves and the skeletons will rise to tell the truth.

Cover-up has always been the way of evading the truth. And it is young people like Tricia Yeoh who will keep the fire for justice burning.

Teoh Beng Hock is a political martyr. Yeoh’s documentary has certainly made it possible and easier to continue to tell Teoh Beng Hock’s story and to seek eventual justice for him, his family and friends.

But there is no video of Teoh’s interview with the MACC officers.

A recording would have saved his life and I trust it is standard procedure now for the MACC and it should also be in places where people are held in custody.

Story told for the sake of the son

A documentary film of this nature was not made with the singular aim to win awards at film festivals. Films of this genre are not made to entertain us and impress us with its artistry in the making.

I may not be presumptuous that Tricia Yeoh, a talented and concerned young Malaysian, a fine woman of conscience had meant that we take the message of the film to heart and act on it.

It was a story that had to be told. It is a film that deserved to win the award and Yeoh succeeded in her goal. Its message to me is that we need to vindicate Beng Hock’s death by bringing his murderers, whether intentional or otherwise, to justice and to ensure that it can never happen again.

Justice is unlikely to be given under the incumbent government and another death did happen again, not long after Teoh’s.

Ahmad Sarbani Mohammed, a Malay custom officer was the victim this time, and Malaysians must have felt a sense of deja vu, because like Teoh Beng Hock he also fell to his death while in MACC custody.

We know even less of this man’s death than we do of Beng Hock’s. He too deserves to have his story told.

The least we can do for Beng Hock is to ensure his young son will get a life his father would have given him had he returned from the MACC office that fateful day.

“Your Daddy was a hero, he died serving his country,” we must tell the boy.

Whatever our feelings on politics or our allegiances, justice must be master.

Putting The System under scrutiny

Justice delayed is justice denied, and justice denied is a crime unpunished and a victim doubly victimized while the perpetrator goes scot free.

And I hope the families of Kugan, the most well known of Indian deaths in police custody and others who also died in custody will get the justice their families and friends demand and deserve, and that the public want to see.

Corruption is the country’s cancer but a government that does nothing about deaths in custody, and in fact promotes those responsible for Beng Hock’s death sends the wrong message.

Teoh Beng Hock, Kugan, Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed – their unjust deaths have come to symbolize the tyranny of evil that must be challenged for under close scrutiny it is the same bloody evil that gave us the murders in the killing fields and that shock us to the core.

Evil rears its ugly head in different ways and different places but the victims always suffer an unjust and untimely death and their loved ones get a life sentence of suffering and sorrow.

Whoever we are, we simply cannot stand by and watch others die at the hands of sanctioned criminals whoever they are who abuse the power we gave them.

We are our brother’s keeper and we are responsible to prevent the widow’s tears.

The system must change. The corrupt must go.

We must work for good governance because corruption results in the deaths of innocent Malaysians and any death in the custody of the government is one death too many.

A vote for the change Beng Hock wanted

The Rights of the Dead is a documentary every Malaysian should watch and realise that you can never trust any government agency while you are in their custody because of what happened to Teoh Beng Hock.

It is a warning not to be treated lightly that those who are unfortunate to be placed in the custody of the authorities over the most minor matter may end up dead.

It is not to cow us but to compel us to bring the culprits to court and to ensure evil never triumphs because the good will do something.

The only safeguard is to ensure only the trustworthy get to hold office and the system makes any lawbreaker accountable and no one is allowed to be above the law.

Responsible leadership and responsible systems are a country’s best safeguards.

I am glad Tricia Yeoh did the film and look forward to more of such films and the Freedom Film Festival people are a real asset to humanity and the film industry and I applaud them.

A vote for Teoh Beng Hock is the least we can do for him and the country he loved. A vote for Teoh is a vote for the change he wanted.

Change will better safeguard the rights of the living.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat KL112 at its peak Video

After viewing so many videos of Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat KL112 I found this one to be more factual and taken at its peak. Judge for yourself and compare to what the umno-bn controlled media reported.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

GE 13: The last weapon to save UMNO/BN coalition from being sent to Opposition benches is to force a split in Pakatan Rakyat by driving apart PAS and DAP

By Lim Kit Siang

The last weapon to save UMNO/Barisan Nasional coalition from being sent to the Opposition benches in Parliament in the 13th general elections is to force a split in Pakatan Rakyat by driving apart PAS and DAP.

It is a reflection of the degree of desperation of UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors about their prospects of retaining Putrajaya in the 13GE which is looming ever nearer that they have revealed their hand by publicly putting in black-and-white their hope and strategy.

One of the chief UMNO/BN media spin doctors yesterday postulated that “Pakatan parties may go own way”, on the ground that “With chances of capturing Putrajaya slim, Pas and DAP may want to just wrest the states they fancy”.

He fancied:
“IS there a case to be made that DAP and Pas may be privately ditching the idea of taking over Putrajaya and are preparing themselves to keep the spoils of March 2008 instead?

“DAP, for instance, may want to be the biggest opposition group in the land, with one or two states in its hands, and Pas with its continued hold on Kelantan.

“This is especially so when the prognosis of Pakatan Rakyat’s performance for the next general election is generally believed to be less sterling than what supporters are made to believe.

“Apart from hardcore and partisan supporters, sober political observers, from all sides of the political divide, share a rather common reading that the chances of Pakatan taking over Putrajaya in the 13th general election are rather slim. It is not impossible, but it is slim.

“Or, to put it another way, there is a strong likelihood that Barisan Nasional will be returned to power at the federal level.”

It is the UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors who are victims of their own fantasy for independent and “sober political observers” think that although UMNO/BN at present enjoys an edge, there is a fair chance the table will be turned during the campaign period resulting in Pakatan Rakyat taking over Putrajaya in the 13th general election.

We don’t have to refer to the “high probability” forecast by the suspended Bank Islam chief economist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin at the Singapore Regional Outlook Forum early this month that Pakatan Rakyat was likely to form a federal government with a majority from eight to 28 seats – with Barisan Nasional likely to win only between 97 and 107 of the 222 parliamentary seats in 13GE.

This is because the Johore Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Osman gave almost the same scenario as Azrul a few days before the Singapore Regional Outlook Forum, conceding publicly that Pakatan Rakyat could win Putrajaya in the 13GE, although he warned that the most the Pakatan Rakyat could win would be a slim majority of 5% to 10% of the parliamentary seats or a majority from 12 to 22 seats.

The UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors cannot be unaware of the results of recent different opinion polls which generally point to Pakatan Rakyat gathering increasing support and strength in the run-up to the 13GE, with the potential and capability to turn the table during the election campaign.

Three days ago, the University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (Umcedel) director Mohamad Redzuan said that it will be “impossible” for the BN to get a two-thirds parliamentary majority, expecting BN to maintain the status quo in the 13GE.

The results of the latest Umcedel polls conducted between Dec 26 and Jan 11, however, showed much bleaker prospects for BN in the 13GE, with the difference between those who believe BN can beat PR in the 13GE slashed in 12 – 14 months from 25% in Dec. 2011 to 5% in January 2013.

Firstly, respondents who believe that Pakatan Rakyat can take Putrajaya in the 13GE have steadily climbed from 18% in December 2011 to 21% in April 2012 to 30% in Sept. 2012 and 37% in Jan 2013.

In contrast, respondents who believe that Barisan Nasional can win the 13GE had fluctuated from 43% in Dec. 2011 to 49% in April 2012 to 44% in Sept. 2012 and 42% in Jan 2013.

Respondents undecided or unsure who could win the 13GE fell from 39% in Dec. 2011 to 30 per cent in April 2012 and 26% in Sept 2012 and 21% in Jan 2013.

All that is needed for PR to beat BN in the race to Putrajaya is to win over more than five per cent of the undecided or unsure respondents, which stands at 21% in January 2013.

Furthermore, the latest Umcedel survey also shows that Najib and Anwar Ibrahim are running neck-to-neck in popularity, with a one percent point separating Najib at 43 per cent and Anwar Ibrahim’s 42 per cent as the “most qualified to be prime minister”.

The Umcedel survey has confirmed the recent Merdeka Centre opinion poll in the last fortnight of December which found that Najib’s popularity rating has dropped to the lowest level for the whole year – 63% in December 2012 as compared to 69% in February 2012 – while only 52 per cent of voters say that the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest since May 2010.

The former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had better poll ratings before the March 2008 general elections than Najib on the eve of the 13th general elections but that did not save the Abdullah premiership.

Abdullah’s popularity rating plunged from a high of 91% after the 2004 general election to 61% in December 2007 (which is still higher than Najib’s popularity rating of 52% in December 2012) while 63% of the voters felt that the country was heading in the right direction in December 2007 ( as compared to 52% under Najib in December 2012).

Although Najib’s approval rating has plunged to the lowest for the whole of last year, Merdeka Centre also reported that the level of dissatisfaction has reached the highest level in Najib’s four-year premiership, at 30% as compared to 28% in October 2012 and 16% in May 2009.

Also noteworthy is Merdeka Centre’s finding that while Najib’s approval rating has slid to 63 percent, his administration and Barisan Nasional has trailed further behind at 47 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Under these circumstances, UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and spin doctors are just whistling in the dark when they strike the stance and adopt the posture of supreme confidence of not only winning, but winning big, in the 13GE – by conjuring up the fantasy that Pakatan Rakyat will split with the pull-out of DAP and PAS, and thereby awarding UMNO/BN a virtual walk-over in the next polls.

We must expect UMNO/BN to escalate their politics of lies and falsehoods, by intensifying their dastardly campaign on the one hand telling the Malays and Muslims the falsehood that PAS is a puppet of DAP while disseminating the lies among the Chinese that DAP is only a stooge of PAS – a completely self-contradictory, double-faced and dishonest strategy.

Whatever our differences in Pakatan Rakyat, and DAP, PKR and PAS have differences or there will not be three component parties in Pakatan Rakyat but only one political party merging the three into one, all three of us are committed to the common objectives as laid down in the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework, Buku Jingga and the various PR Joint Declarations and Policy Statements.

We foreswear the politics of hegemony, racial hatred, religious bigotry, corruption and cronyism.

We are committed to uphold the fundamental features of the Constitution, the principles of justice, freedom, human rights, good governance, an all-out war against corruption, cronyism and abuses of power so as to build a united, harmonious, competitive, prosperous and progressive Malaysia where every Malaysian can hold his or her head high as a Malaysian anywhere in the world.

Malaysians must not therefore allow UMNO/BN to succeed in their Machiavellian politics of lies and falsehoods, irresponsibly playing the race and religious cards, to wreck the Pakatan Rakyat chance of ushering change in 13GE, where for the first time in the nation’s 55 years, there will be a Federal Government of the people, by the people and for the people in Putrajaya to open a new page of Malaysian nation-building – the second phase of Merdeka to free Malaysians from our local oppressors.

1Malaysia concept laid to waste

By Amir Ali | FMT

Need there be more proof that the 1Malaysia concept, built by the Najib Tun Razak government, is yet another failed policy? The recent outburst of a pro-Barisan National speaker at a university forum that went viral is the perfect example of this failure.

The first thing one reads when opening a PDF format of the 1Malaysia booklet, found on the website, is the following policy declaration by the prime minister himself:

“1Malaysia is a concept to foster unity among Malaysians of all races based on several important values that should be the practice of every Malaysian.”

First of all, the launching of the concept by the BN made it clear that the previous governments had failed in cementing the unity among the diverse ethnic groups in Malaysia.

It was, in silence and under the cover of “unity”, an admission that Malaysia had serious racial issues that needed to be ironed out. This kind of admission was not seen under the administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In the past, Malaysia was seen as a united country, with all the ethnic groups behind the BN while only some disgruntled members of the communities supported a divided opposition.

The opposition was always the culprit in attempting to divide the nation, the races and stirring conflicts. Its members were always deemed as “traitors” of the nation. This, of course, was BN ‘s way of demonising the opposition.

Reversal of fortune

BN is still using the same policy in a bid to undermine the rise of Pakatan Rakyat. Yet, the population in general seems to be unfazed by these old, outdated and failed BN strategies.

In those days, it was easy for BN to portray the opposition as a divided force and to win with two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Now the roles have reversed, and this reversal of fortune is damaging to the BN. Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin’s outburst, which was caught on video and went viral, is only the tip of the iceberg of racial division in Malaysia.

In the past, the Indian community was a voter bank for the BN. Only a few brave political figures joined the opposition, championing the Indian cause without much success for decades. It is not true to state that the Indians have been 100% supporters of the BN since Independence.

It is also not true to state that the Indians were always behind the MIC or that the MIC had the interest of the Indian community at heart.

However, what is certain is that a large section of the Indians were behind the BN until 2008 when MIC got a bashing. Today, BN is in panic mode and has been formulating policies to arrest its decline.

But these policies have failed, letting down the BN while the communal division has become more serious than before. It is obvious that the 1Malaysia concept has not helped in healing the divisions in the country. On the contrary, government policies have caused a mini-revolt among supporters of the BN regime.

Is BN listening?

The reason Sharifah Zohra lashed out at undergraduate KS Bawani is that she felt she was from a stronger, more powerful community.

The government’s past policies of protecting one specific community has helped groom people with the twisted thinking that they are superior while others are inferior. Yet, despite all these policies, the community is seen as weak, economically challenged and in need of support.

Still, the community today is economically superior in many ways, and politically stronger. This has sent some of hard core elements into a racial frenzy. It is not the first time that you hear pro-BN speakers urging non-Muslims to leave the country.

It is not the first time that we have been told to shut up, and listen, listen, listen… since that defining year of 2008. There has been a plethora of statements – racially biased and targeted at the minorities – from teachers, professors, political figures and now speakers at pro-BN events.

The failure of 1Malaysia to cement the diverse people into one nation is not because of racist attacks on the minorities, but because of the complete failure by the BN to take action against such racism. None of the people, who are behind the racist slurs, were condemned or faced disciplinary actions.

These people are always allowed to walk freely at the expense of unity. With the authorities incapable of taking steps to stop the racial bashing, the failure of the 1Malaysia concept becomes obvious. Could this be one of the reasons why the BN may face a backlash in the coming general election?

Since 2008, there have been too many strategic failures by the BN. But is BN listening?

KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau.

Penang Penang Penang We LOVE Penang

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nation’s destiny in our hands

By KJ John | Malaysiakini

In an earlier column I had postulated that the nation may be moving in the right direction after the last general election, but I had questioned whether we were moving at the right speed.

I still believe that Najib Abdul Razak has tried his absolute best to move our ‘Titanic’ in the right direction, but unfortunately his own team has been his worst enemy to date.

Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad plays wayang kulit with Najib, although in less public ways than he did with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Actually, the opposition and NGOs have been better friends to him. At least they do not seem to shoot him below the belt, other than to highlight the unfortunate legacies that already surround and continue to haunt him.

Therefore I do think it is time to give the other side a chance regardless of how many uncertainties there in our minds and hearts. Yes, maybe we have to even let things slide a bit more before they can really improve. What other choice do we have as a people who have been told to “listen, listen, listen” for almost 54 years.

Nevertheless, we still cannot let the devil we already know to continue to play politics with this nation any more … his favourite song is ‘I Did It My Way’ and that ‘way’ is now becoming more obvious. It was fulfilled through various forms of bribery and corruption and the back door culture. I know and am aware that there is an alternate way.

Therefore, we must take charge of our nation by ourselves. We can move our nation to become one of the best in the world. That is because we are truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious people and that is our greatest asset.

Therefore, if we can master our national language, raise our standard of English and then learn a third language, we can quite easily become masters of any destiny of our personal choice.

Then too, we can also improve the quality of national governance because we will deploy multiple perspectives to appreciate, express or even understand any issue. Not just, listen, listen, and listen more!

At the 13th GE we, as citizens (excluding illegals) must make that significance and difference. But we can only do so if we remove our greatest enemy to our so-called ambition to become a truly universal and spiritual nation: the divide and rule policy. It is unfortunately a colonial heritage but which we have now mastered and fine-tuned into an art form. Let me explain.

Newer realities

I attended a fund-raising dinner at PJ Hockey Stadium last Saturday. Anwar Ibrahim was one of the speakers. He made one poignant point which I think is worth repeating, if true.

Since he said it, I have had no time to review the validity of his story, but will choose to publish it as I now know that I appear to be taken seriously by the BN-related media people.

As Anwar was watching the closing ceremony of the Umno general assembly on TV, he noticed many people crying and wiping away their tears. Wondering why and who was making such a great speech he began to focus, and noticed that they were merely singing an old kampong-style Malay song which most Malays have learnt from young. It was a very evocative song and therefore the Umno Malays in the room were quite rightly moved to tears.

Then Anwar gave his ‘listen, listen, and listen’ version of the story he told. He said he was totally shocked when he noticed, after the song was sung, that even the MCA representatives in the Umno general assembly were clapping to their hearts’ delight.

His next question – “Did they not know the real meaning and nuance of that song?” – actually opened my eyes to some newer realities in Malaysia.

Anwar then assumed the role of a singer and true educator and informed the audience of almost 5,000 that the last stanza talks about Malays losing their lands and property to foreigners, among whom, it was implied are the Chinese and Indian Malaysians. That is why Umno Malays were crying, because they really believed that they were losing their land to foreign robber barons.

Really, really, really, is that the whole truth? Is that the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to quote a blog site? Then charismatic Anwar gave his rendition of the song and concluded by singing that it is the Umno cronies who are the real thieves, regardless of whether we call them Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans.

I left educated that night. After all Anwar did also state that education and knowledge is the communication and dissemination of truths. Was that the whole truth?

A story of unity

When we were five young children, our father taught us about always staying united as a family. Once, in my memory, he actually told each of us to bring a stick and he showed us how he could easily break them as single units. Then he had us tie them together and demonstrated effectively that he could not as easily break them.

We as Malaysians, and yes as 1Bangsa Malaysians, must stand united in our commitment to avoid the divide and rule policy and philosophy which empowers and engenders all forms of bribery and corruption. And, I believe that yes, we can!

All we need is for about 5.8 million Malaysians to sign a pledge to say that we will not give one sen to bribery and corruption. We at OHMSI call this the ABC4Malaysians campaign. Please visit our website and make your anti-corruption pledge which we first launched in 2005.

Then the movement will really start. Remember that Gandhi said real change must start with the self.

Bribery and corruption have become endemic to the national culture. I never thought it possible. In fact I remember that in 1973 I wrote my first article on this subject for the Asian Beacon.

Since then I have studied this subject by reviewing the nature of human nature and concluded that it is in the very essence of man’s nature to lie, to cheat and to hide some truths; all in the process of pursuing and securing one’s own welfare.

Of course, all this is often glamorised as the “interests of the community” or “the interests of the nation-state” (especially if one is a politician), but the honest truth is that it is really guided and motivated by much self-interest and self-seeking security.

Therefore, I try not lie. If any reader believes that I have lied, I am sure that truthful individuals who know me will correct me. Others who do not know me can always use logic to correct and admonish me. Failing even that, I am sure that anyone can write to the editor of Malaysiakini asserting that I am lying and I am sure the editor will not ignore that complaint.

Consequently, there is never a need for me to revert to unknown blogs and assert truth seeking while remaining anonymous. When a truth-seeking blog site remains anonymous; the truth has already been established. Professor SH Nasr says, “A veil reveals as much as it hides.”

Freedom of speech remains a fundamental freedom. But let us all also be aware that the Personal Protection Data Act 2010 has taken effect since January 2013.

May God bless Malaysia at the next general election!

KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at with any feedback or views.

Pride comes before destruction

By Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini

According to one Sabahan, there is so much crime in Sabah that squatter houses, too, have grilles on the doors and windows, and that these cost more than the houses themselves.

For four decades, ordinary Sahabans have been angered by illegal immigration and the social and economic problems associated with it, such as a shortage of housing, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, high levels of crime and massive overcrowding.

Despite the limited terms of reference of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) ordered by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the RCI has revealed disturbing aspects of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to remain in power. Soon, the RCI will be overshadowed by the side-show that Mahathir may have helped arrange.

The star-performer is the self-styled motivational guru Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin (right). One wonders if Zohra has replaced the virgin queen, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who used to come to Mahathir’s aid and helped distract the rakyat with golden showers and salacious revelations.

There was once a time when the government would detain reporters and send them to Kamunting, ostensibly for their own safety. Zohra was denied this privilege because Najib has abolished the ISA. Last week, Zohra bowed to overwhelming pressure and heeded police advice to cancel her seminar on ‘How to Make Your First Million’.

I can give you the gist of the RM200 seminar. It is an open secret that the first million is easy to make; join Umno, then claw your way to the top by backstabbing and badmouthing everyone who stands in your way.

There are tell-tale signs that that you have “made it” and joined the Umno elite. In the election canvassing that takes place every five years, Umno delivers bags of rice to the masses, but the Umno elite receive Birkin bags.

Households that qualify are given a one-off payment of RM500 (and possibly another RM500 if the situation demands it) but the elite get several million ringgit in hard cash, stuffed in suitcases.

The poor may get a discount on their smartphones, but the elite are given the contracts to sell the phones.

The rakyat may be given tins of powdered milk as freebies during canvassing, but elite members are given millions of ringgit to buy a few cows and many luxury condominiums.

Zohra has not much in humility

A video of the shameful conduct of Zohra emerged a month after the incident. Despite the public opprobrium which she received, Zohra showed everyone that she is miskin by name and miskin (poor) by nature.

She lacks the intellect to reflect on her poor behaviour. She did not have much in the way of humility. She displayed an inferior understanding of people’s feelings and she was a poor communicator.

Instead of eating the humble pie, she has become more arrogant and haughty. Instead of acknowledging that she was tactless and rude, Zohra issued a statement from her hiding place, in which she declined to apologise but “forgave” KS Bawani, the student who suffered Zohra’s acid tongue.

This incident should have been a temporary frenzy and yes, we are angry because it is obvious that Zohra’s behaviour is unacceptable. Some Umno leaders and members of the BN coalition have distanced themselves from her, but it appears that Zohra is determined to prolong this crisis into a full blown affair.

The reason must be to take our attention away from Mahathir’s alleged crimes in the Sabah votes for citizenship fiasco.

Just a few months ago, Najib outlined the terms of reference for the Sabah RCI. Many have criticised the RCI for its limited scope and because its findings will not be revealed before GE13.

If the RCI proves that Umno won elections by fraud and cheating, it brings into doubt the legitimacy of this and previous Umno/BN governments. By cheating, Umno has disenfranchised the people of Malaysia and forced us to wait until GE13 to gain our choice of ruling party.

Proof of fraud and cheating will confirm that Umno/BN should not be the current government. Will the RCI be another whitewash or will its members seek to save their own skins, by leaving the sinking Umno ship?

As the extent of Mahathir’s Project IC is slowly being revealed, the importance of this RCI is increasing.

Mahathir won’t go without a fight

Just as Mahathir thought he had undermined Najib, his hopes were damned. So he tried to deflect some of the rakyat’s abhorrence of Project IC, by tarnishing the name of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.

Will the RCI bring about the fall of Mahathir? No. He may have cut a pathetic figure recently but he will not go without a fight. Although the rakyat have a strong case against him, Mahathir has too many people in his pockets. They owe their success to him and he will call in his favours.

The rakyat is leading the opposition fight to topple the Mahathir regime, but their wish will not be fulfilled, just yet.

Both Najib and Mahathir are locked in a deadly battle. Najib cannot bring about Mahathir’s fall, because to do so would bring the fight right to his front door. He, like Mahathir, has a dirty past. The best Najib can do is to hold out for a few more months.

If Najib were to destroy Mahathir now, it would start a media frenzy, which would eclipse the one Zohra is facing today.

Zohra’s gaffe has caused quite a stir. She tried to put on a brave face and refused to apologise, thus avoiding an admission of guilt. Ironically, her intransigence has damaged Umno by rallying the rakyat to vote for the opposition.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rights Of The Dead / Mati Sebelum Ajal by Tricia Yeoh


In July 2009, the mysterious death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock rocked the nation. His body was found outside the premises of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), where he was being held overnight for interrogation. The filmmaker was herself was a colleague of the deceased working in the Selangor State government. She tries to make sense of the inquest and royal commission of inquiry into his death and takes a critical look at the Malaysian system of government and politics that is ultimately responsible for ensuring justice for its citizens including those who died in custody or while in detention. The film also shares the perspective from Teoh Beng Hock's family.

Comment by yingchinghengable on YouTube

Someone has taken away a Son

Someone has taken away a Brother

Someone has taken away a Husband

Someone has denied a child to grow up with a Father

That someone MUST pay!

No one to speak up for the Tunku

No one to speak up for the Tunku | TMI

It is a measure of how far Umno/MCA/MIC have fallen that not one of its members has leapt to the defence of Tunku Abdul Rahman in the wake of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s self-serving statement on the award of a million citizenships in the early days of Malaya.

Even a primary student can see that there is an ocean of difference between the award of citizenship by the Tunku Abdul Rahman and the insidious manner in which senior members of the Mahathir administration in the 1990s gave ICs to illegals in Sabah so that they could vote in the state elections and pervert the electoral system.

Tunku Abdul Rahman did not give citizenships to Chinese and Indians under the counter. It was an open exercise and it was not done to circumvent any election.

But just listen to the treason at play in Sabah since the 1990s to keep Barisan Nasional (BN) in power and dilute the position of the Kadazandusuns.

Just look at the phenomenal jump in Sabah’s population and the number of foreigners in the state holding blue or citizenship identity cards.

Money and ICs were given by Dr Mahathir’s acolytes without regard for national security and the sanctity of the electoral system.

It is vintage Dr Mahathir that when caught in a sticky situation he tries to deflect the blame.

But to try and justify the actions of his administration by dragging in the Father of Independence is just dishonest. And to even suggest a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), be it in jest or sarcasm, is plainly undermining and insulting all those who became Malayans and Malaysians because they lived here long enough or were born here.

This is to be expected. Didn’t Dr Mahathir do the same during the infamous VK Lingam RCI where his role for subverting the judiciary was highlighted.

But what happened to the voices of MCA and MIC and Umno?

Aren’t their sensibilities troubled at least by the attempt to sully Tunku Abdul Rahman’s name and paint the legitimate attempt to give citizenship to Chinese and Indians like what was done in Sabah.

Dance Remix: Listen! Listen! When I Speak, Listen!

Miss out this "Dance Remix: Listen! Listen! When I Speak, Listen!" video in my earlier posting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Umno is rotten to the core – it seems!

By P. Ramakrishnan | Aliran

The cat is out of the bag – at last! Tun Mahathir and all his cohorts from his era cannot plead ignorance or amnesia. It is out in the open how they cheated and stole elections to remain in power.

Shamelessly they plotted and subverted the democratic process in their greed to remain in power. What they did is tantamount to treason.

They stole our elections and cheated our voters. They made a mockery of our elections and the democratic process consciously and deliberately.

To think that this diabolical scheme was hatched by people from the Prime Minister’s Department, the Home Ministry, the National Registration Department, the Election Commission, etc. It clearly establishes the fact that there was massive official fraud to ensure the two thirds majority, win the election and fool the public that the Barisan Nasional came into power through legitimate means.

To think that two of the then PM’s closest confidantes – Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin, Mahathir’s political secretary, and Megat Junid Megat Ayub, the deputy home minister under Mahathir – were actively involved in cheating and stealing elections exposes the very possibility that one can remain as prime minister in Malaysia not only for 22 years but forever!

The Royal Commission of Inquiry in session in Sabah has exposed some startling revelations that are sending shock waves across the nation. What has been revealed during the session really stinks – perhaps that is the reason this scam was so aptly code-named Ops Durian Buruk!

*40,000 blue identity cards were signed within a month for Muslim immigrants, mostly Indonesians and Filipinos, for the purpose of voting for Umno in the 1994 Sabah state election;

*Mohd Nasir Sugip, a former National Registration Department official, was handed over a list of 16,000 names to be made into ‘bumiputera Islam’ voters. The ‘operation involved providing the immigrants with new identity card numbers based on the date of birth, photographs and names provided by the EC’;

*Kee Dzulkifly, a member of the special unit dubbed G17 which operated out of the Sabah NRD headquarters, testified that the unit processed 100,000 blue identity cards for immigrants;

*This special unit “was also responsible for issuing letters of approval for birth certificates, which he estimated the unit had processed some 200,000 for the children of immigrants”.

The election scam, according to many, irrefutably proves there there is an ongoing plot – which the federal government, the NRD and the EC are actively engaged in – that exists right up to today, making the electoral process a meaningless farce.

Based on what is revealed – which proves that the various apparatus and functionaries of government have become the pliant subservient agents of the BN – it is no wonder that ruling coalition politicians can confidently declare that they can capture Selangor and take over Penang in the 13th GE. Having perfected the art of massive fraud in the past, the possibility that the BN will use similar schemes again is not unthinkable.

The BN’s victories have never been honourable ones won on a level playing field.

It is, as revealed at the RCI, within their means to easily create new voters, as has been alleged, give them MyKads or temporary receipts, round them up in a house to teach them how to vote for the BN, bribe them and then transport them into constituencies which are marginal to carry out the dastardly deed. This is apparently their perfected modus operandi to win elections.

This was how they defeated the PBS government in Sabah; this was how they denied the Gagasan Rakyat their victory; this was how they prevented Pakatan Rakyat from forming the federal government in March 2008.

Under these circumstances, it would be terribly wrong – even immoral – for the present Election Commission to conduct the 13th General Election. The present members of the EC have forfeited their right to conduct the election by implication. Their integrity is suspect; their neutrality cannot be trusted and their fairness is not beyond question.

What the so-called ‘trusted and respected leaders’ of our country have done is unforgiveable. They have sacrificed the security of our country and the sacredness of our nation for t selfish greed to hang on to power by whatever means it takes.

It is Umno, as it were, that has been behind this conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process which is unprecedented and mind-boggling. It has always been Umno that has been dictating terms and deciding policies. It must be held responsible for the electoral fraud.

We must liberate ourselves from this sordid affair that has nullified our sacred vote. It is said, “The first step toward liberation for any group is to use the power in hand…And the power in hand is the vote.” Let’s remember that!

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive Committee member

The Ugly 1Malaysian Muslim Woman

By Mariam Mokhtar | FMT

Umno seems to have a lot of people who open their mouths and put their feet straight into them. That is why few will sympathise with Sharifah Zohra Jabeen, the president of Suara Wanita 1Malaysia (SW1M) who has gone into hiding and is attempting to restore her reputation after she delivered a knockout blow to Umno.

Perhaps, she deserves a tinge of sympathy for having an out-of-body experience; the moment she opened her mouth, all credibility left her body.

Incidentally, from where does SW1M get its funding? Is it the taxpayer or does the money come from abroad?

Incredibly, the other members of her little known organisation are just as blind, and do not think Sharifah’s behavior was appalling. Can anything be clearer?

It is Sharifah’s snobbery and aggression which the rakyat identifies with Umno. Her lack of humility prevented her from apologising for her poor conduct. She is too arrogant to admit that she was wrong and her decision to go into hiding because she says she is being “blackmailed”, shows her cowardice and guilt. Her decision to prolong the issue and not deal decisively and immediately with it, has made her look even more conceited.

Sharifah’s tirade against KS Bawani the law student couldn’t have come at a worse time. The day before, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had tried to take the credit for the incident-free People’s Uprising rally dubbed KL112, but Sharifah’s outburst, has again focused our minds on Umno’s arrogance. Najib was again eclipsed by an arrogant woman.

Umno women, like Sharifah, Norhayati Saiddin, Raja Ropiah Raja Abdullah, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Rosmah Mansor, are poor role models for Malaysian women.

The video clip of the incident was around 24 minutes long, but in that short episode, we witnessed a snapshot of Malaysia as it really is. In real life, we have Umno, the bully party. In the university hall, Umno is personified by Sharifah.

Sharifah talks down to us and tells the students that she has respect for Bawani, despite giving her a public tongue-lashing. Her behaviour is just like Umno which tells us that the reforms are working, that there are low levels of crime in the country, that our education in the best in the world, but at the same time steals from us.

After several hours of listening to the panel members, only two questions were allowed from the floor. Even then, one wonders if the questions had been selected before the talk and did not come from the students themselves.

Drug dealer’s pitbull

Concerned that the students were unable to provide feedback on the talk, Bawani felt compelled to ask some questions. She quoted the High Court ruling on Bersih and corrected SW1M’s assertion that S Ambiga was an anarchist. She then asked for the panel’s opinion on the provision of free education for Malaysian students.

Sharifah, like a drug dealer’s pitbull, was ready to sink her fangs into Bawani, to prevent the other students from “thinking” about greater issues. Perhaps, the only difference between Sharifah and a pitbull is that eventually a pitbull will let go.

Sharifah, in typical Umno fashion, sidestepped Bawani’s questions and prattled on about animals and other unrelated matters – an Umno trick which has been honed to perfection in parliament.

Another similarity with Umno is the way Sharifah held the galaxy lucky draw after the talk. This is just like Umno offering bags of rice and Milo after canvassing.

The fact that the video-clip took one month to surface showed that the university was afraid of the backlash. When only one student appeared to show support for Bawani, the quality of our students, at least in that hall, is questioned. The panel members who failed to stop Sharifah from making a fool of herself, are themselves weak. What is Sharifah to them?

Most of us, despite our racial origins, have been brought up to respect others, but the school of respect Sharifah attended does things differently.

She sees nothing wrong in verbally abusing others in public. She claims she is being respectful, by virtue of shaking their hands first.

When Sharifah talked about respecting elders, did she want us to have respect for leaders who steal from us and take away our dignity?

Perhaps, this is another symptom of an education system gone wrong. Muslim children are given religious education at school and are barred from Moral Studies, when they should be learning alongside their non-Muslim peers, about manners, courtesy and consideration to others.

Sharifah’s SW1M cannot claim to speak for Malaysian women; she certainly does not speak for me.

For all her intellectual snobbery, the mangled English on Sharifah’s SW1M website brought howls of laughter, thus attracting more ridicule on the president, who had sought to browbeat Bawani with boasts about her degree.

Divisive doctrines

Are animals in an animal testing laboratory, which have been conditioned by scientists cleverer than animals in the wild? Sharifah should realise that the attainment of a degree is not as important as the use to which one puts it. A degree is not a badge of honour with which to belittle others.

We are all products of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s divisive doctrines. Whilst many of us try to overturn his racism and look forward to a country with can be proud of its varied population, people like Sharifah feel it convenient to prolong Mahathir’s legacy.

At this crucial time before GE-13, other BN groups have distanced themselves from Sharifah.

Is Sharifah a Malaysian or someone who was put on the fastrack to citizenship?

The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA) has denounced Sharifah for being difficult. Perhaps, her overbearing nature hides insecurities about her origins. Is this a trait which she shares with another Indian who calls himself a Malay?

In the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) sessions, students are told that all Muslims are considered Malays whatever their racial origins. Thus, any Chinese or Indians who embrace Islam become Malay.

When Sharifah locked eyes with Bawani, in the university hall, did she realise that the only difference between them was religion? These two women could have been twins who were separated at birth, but by virtue of being brought up a Muslim, Sharifah was entitled to all the perks of the bumiputera.

Did she feel morally, intellectually and spiritually superior to Bawani and decide to bully her? Was it fear that made Sharifah lash out? In Bavani, Sharifah saw herself as she might have been, if she or her family had not converted.

If a Malay had posed Bawani’s questions, would Sharifah’s tongue-lashing have been as severe and would she have suggested the questioner go to another country?

Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

Orang Melayu perlu merdekakan jiwa dan minda

Aspan Alias

Kita sudah sampai ke penghujung penggal pilihanraya dan pemilihan itu akan diadakan dalam beberapa minggu sahaja lagi. Kali ini merupakan pilihanraya yang berkeadaan yang paling rumit dan mencabar bagi BN dan masa yang paling baik bagi Pakatan Rakyat untuk menunjukkan mereka (PR) sebagai “coalition” alternatif yang akan menjadi pengganti kepada pemerintahan BN. Umno sudah dianggap terlalu usang oleh sebahagian besar rakyat negara ini.

Tanda yang paling jelas Umno itu usang ialah ketidak-mampuan untuk mengubah keadaan dan persepsi buruk rakyat terhadap parti itu dengan keseluruhan kepimpinannya. Banyak pihak telah mengkritik dan memberikan pandangan yang berbagai-bagai untuk memperbaiki parti itu tetapi Umno tetap dengan sikap dan perangai yang sama tanpa ada tanda-tanda untuk berubah kepada kebaikan.

Segala kesalahan moral dan jenayah yang dilakukan oleh Umno dan BN selama ini tetap terus berlaku dan rakyat sudah tiada pilihan selain dari melakukan yang drastik terhadap parti pemerintah itu. Betul lah kata setengah pendapat orang, keadaan ini adalah kehendak yang “natural” dan ianya berlaku kepada semua parti-parti dan pertubuhan siasah yang sudah lama dan usang dimana-mana.

Ahli-ahli serta penyokong-penyokong tegar Umno masih dalam sindrom penafian dan masih bertegas mengatakan Umno akan menang dan ada yang mengatakan yang parti itu akan mendapat sokongan 2/3 dalam Dewan Parlimen kali ini. Tetapi hakikatnya tindakan mereka hanyalah untuk menyedapkan hati mereka sahaja kerana keadaan sebenarnya adalah di sebaliknya.

Umno masih terkial-kial dengan masalah dalaman mereka sendiri dan masalah seperti ini tidak memungkinkan mampu untuk memperbaiki peluang Umno untuk mendapatkan mandat yang lebih baik. Malahan parti itu akan bertambah merudum dan akan terbukti dalam pilihanraya yang akan datang ini. Kalau Umno hendak berubah pun ia terpaksa berlaku sebelum pilihanraya ini dan masa untuk membetulkannya sudah terlalu suntuk untuk melakukannya.

Persoalannya apakah yang patut dilakukan oleh Umno dalam masa yang amat suntuk ini jika ia masih mahu melihat sedikit saki baki kehadirannya dalam politik negara ini? Pertamanya mampukah Umno melakukan perubahan dengan melakukan tindakan yang drastik dengan menggantikan keseluruhan barisan kepimpinannya dalam kerajaan dan parti dengan pemimpin parti itu yang tiada dalam barisan kerajaan dan MKT parti itu. Umno tidak sedar yang masalah terbesar parti itu ialah di sebabkan persepsi buruk yang tidak terkira buruknya.

Menggantikan barisan kepimpinan dengan orang lain secara keseluruhan adalah satu-satunya jalan bagi parti itu untuk dipandang oleh rakyat. Umno sudah tidak dipandang lagi oleh rakyat, malahan ia tidak dihormati oleh ahli-ahlinya sendiri. Itulah sebabnya Najib boleh berikan bantuan BRIM1, BRIM2 dan apa-apa “RIM” yang lain tetapi rakyat tetap tidak melihat Umno itu sebagai parti yang relevan sekarang ini. Maksud saya rakyat sudah tidak senang dengan kehadiran Umno itu sendiri. Itu masalahnya.

Justeru, Umno perlu membuang semua yang ada di dalam barisan MKT serta barisan kabinet sekarang ini. Tindakan setengah pimpinan dalam Umno untuk menggantikan Najib dengan Muhyiddin tidak akan membawa apa-apa keuntungan kepada Umno itu. Mereka semuanya adalah hasil dari acuan yang sama seperti yang di bentuik oleh Dr Mahathir dahulu. Orang yang patut menggantikan pimpinan Umno ini seharusnya dari mereka yang tidak bersetuju dengan acuan ciptaan Mahathir ini kerana itu sahaja caranya Umno untk menempilkan kepada rakyat yang Umno sekarang adalah berimej baru dan ia akan membawa dan membina keyakinan yang baru.

Saya telah lama menyebut ini semasa saya masih berada di dalam parti itu tetapi saya tidak digemari oleh pimpinan terutamanya di peringkat negeri. Kesabaran saya sudah habis dan saya telah begitu yakin yang Umno tidak akan boleh baik lagi maka itu sebabnya saya meninggalkan parti itu dan mengambil keputusan “to grow old with DAP” dan tidak akan berpatah balik. Tindakan saya itu telah mengundng banyak sokongan dan hanya saya sahaja yang merasakannya.

Ramai orang Melayu di dalam Umno telah menyuarakan sokongan terhadap tindakan saya itu dan saya membacanya melalui e-mail saya setiap hari sehingga hari ini. Saya merasakan degup nadi orang Melayu yang sudah tidak melihat Umno sebagi parti yang relevan lagi. Tindakan saya bersama beberapa rakan yang lain telah membuka minda setengah orang Melayu dan mereka sekarang merasakan yang jika Umno tiada orang Melayu tetap wujud bersama agamanya yang tidak terguris dan tercalar.

Rupa-rupanya momokan Umno yang mengaku parti itu sahaja yang menentukan masa depan orang Melayu itu tidak memberi makna apa-apa kepada kita semua. Ia hanyalah momokan Umno semata-mata tidak lebih dari itu. Di negara ini ada seramai 18 juta orang Melayu dan Bumiputera dan yang menjadi ahli Umno hanyalah 3 juta sahaja. Selebihnya tidak menjadi ahli Umno pun tetapi mereka tetap dengan Melayu dan Islamnya.

Malahan kumpulan ini tetap hidup dalam keadaan yang lebih baik kerana pemikiran mereka tidak ditentukan oleh Umno. Mereka berfikir dengan pemikiran bebas mereka. Mereka bersikap lebih positif dan tidak bersandar kepada Umno untuk meneruskan kehidupan mereka membina keluarga dan keturunan mereka denagn baik. Pemikiran mereka tidak dikongkong oleh retorik lapuk Umno yang mengatakan “Melayu akan hilang di dunia” ini jika Umno ditolak oleh rakyat. Mereka pula mempunyai pendapat berlainan dan terbukti benar. Mereka berfikir jika Umno masih di benarkan memomokan mereka, “Melayu itu akan hilang dunianya”.

Pilihanraya ini merupakan peluang untuk orang Melayu untuk memerdekakan pemikiran mereka dan menjauhi momokan Umno yang membunuh kemajuan pemikiran kita semua.

Merdeka! —

Voting for the future

Tommy Thomas | TMI

Imagine Britain being governed by the same political party, say, Labour, for 55 successive years from 1957. Or the United States by the Republican party for the same continuous, unbroken period.

That has been Malaysia’s fate since Merdeka. The 13th general election, which must be held before June 28, gives Malaysians an opportunity to break free from the monopoly of political power exercised by Umno, first, in the guise of Alliance and subsequently as Barisan Nasional.

Umno dominance

The five years between the 12th general election in March 2008 and the 13th have been a watershed period in post-independent Malaysia because of the establishment of a truly functioning two-party system, with a strong opposition capable of forming the next government.

But it took half a century for our nation to accomplish this stage of democratic development. Like many peoples of nations emerging from colonial rule in the Third World, Malaysians were very grateful to the Alliance party, led by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, for gaining independence from the British.

The reservoir of goodwill for nationalist independence fighters greatly assisted Umno in the early decades. Race, which the colonial power had exploited in its divide-and-rule policy, became the singular fundamental feature of Malaysian politics since Merdeka, reflected at the centre by the Alliance coalition comprising Umno, the MCA and MIC, each representing a specific race, and expected to pursue the interests of its ethnic constituency.

In the early days, Umno acted as the elder brother, with a semblance of contribution from its junior siblings, the MCA and MIC. But there was never a question of parity. After the National Operations Council (NOC) through its director, Tun Abdul Razak, assumed actual power in the wake of the May 13, 1969 riots, Umno’s ascendency and dominance were never questioned.

Hence, the practical reality since the early 1970s is that Barisan is actually Umno, and major decisions affecting the nation are more often than not taken in the inner recesses of Umno rather than the Cabinet.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 resulted in an Islamic resurgence across the globe.

It had its influence in Malaysia by the mid-1980s when Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad decided to outflank PAS by taking up Islam as a political idealogy and weapon. Thus, Umno added religion to race, a powerful emotive cocktail in a plural society. Race or religion infects nearly every decision made by Umno, and the state apparatus controlled by it.

It will therefore not be an understatement to describe race and religion as the fundamental elements of modern Malaysian politics.

Perhaps the most unacceptable consequence of a lengthy rule by Umno is its control over all the nation’s public institutions, like the media, the universities, the civil service and the police. Length of governance creates rulers who believe they have a divine right to rule, that, there is no longer any difference between the nation state and the ruling party — they become inseparable. Thus, Umno has behaved as if its interests are identical with that of Malaysia.

When genuine support for Umno ebbed over time, a climate of fear was developed, with the spectre of May 13 repeated time and again to intimidate and frighten the electorate, especially the older generation and non-Malays.

The success of Pakatan in depriving Barisan of the much vaunted two-thirds majority in Parliament, winning 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in Kuala Lumpur, and capturing power in five states in March 2008 forever demolished the myth of Umno’s invincibility.

Even if ethnic-based politics played a role in securing Merdeka and governing an infant nation, it has long outlived its use, and should be jettisoned. The next stage in Malaysia’s evolving democracy is a change of national government.

As night follows day, it will inevitably happen.


The Deepak Jaikishan saga currently hogging the Internet media, which has for all practical purposes became the mainstream media for millions of Malaysians disgusted with the putrid reporting of newspapers, epitomises the depths to which our public life has descended: only a basket nation like Zimbabwe can provide an adequate parallel.

Here is an absolutely unknown businessman of a minority ethnic group without any known institutional support mocking the prime minister and his wife for over one month without anyone from Umno defending them.

One would have thought that such repeated public criticism of Umno’s president constitutes a direct challenge to the entire party, which in the past was always met with a stinging rebuttal from Umno, and thereafter by the full might of the state. One only needs to recall strident calls just months ago to revoke the citizenship of Ambiga Sreenevasan, also a member of the same minority ethnic group, when she bravely led Bersih’s legitimate struggle for electoral return.

What must be kept in mind about Deepak’s allegations is their gravity: after all it concerns the barbarous murder of a Mongolian mother visiting her alleged lover in Kuala Lumpur, and its cover-up. The critical issue in her murder — who gave the instructions to the two patsies to C-4 her has never been investigated — and the perpetrators have never been charged.

A society that does not allow the most thorough, independent and professional investigation leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Altantuya’s actual murderers forfeits all claim to be a decent, law-abiding society.

It is no coincidence that such brazen conduct takes place in a society where the political leaders have governed for half a century, and have treated the nation and its institutions like their private property, and its electorate with contempt. Accountability, integrity and truth are lost values in our society.

Even the establishment’s response to Deepak’s blackmail has been striking: since his private debt has to be settled, a company which purports to look after the interest of armed forces servicemen has been directed to bail him out. What has been totally disregarded is the corporate governance question: how are the interests of this company, its shareholders and creditors served by this transaction?

Because Umno controls the management of hundreds of companies, the distinction between Umno’s interests and the interests of such companies is blurred. Seldom in history is Lord Acton’s acute comment “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” more apt than in contemporary Malaysia.

Governing Malaysia

It is often argued by Umno apologists that on a relative basis, Malaysia is prosperous. The response should be: with which country are we being compared to? If we are compared to Myanmar, Nigeria or Columbia, yes, we are flourishing. But surely, any comparison should be with countries with equivalent standing, that is, our peers. South Korea and Malaysia were victims of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Indeed, South Korea received IMF assistance in 1998. But 15 years later, by every measure, South Korea has surpassed Malaysian by leaps and bounds. Whether in heavy industry, shipbuilding or technology, South Korea is absolutely world class: think Samsung, LG and Hyundai.

Likewise, its democratic traditions.

Hence, the best way to describe the management of Malaysia’s economy is that despite poor and misguided policies that have impinged on business, Malaysia has thrived because of natural resources and the industry, initiative and inherent business skills of its people, especially those in the SMEs. Corruption and nepotism have caused leakages in the billions.

If Tan Siew Sin had remained as Malaysia’s finance minister for these 55 years, his prudent stewardship would have saved, I suggest, at least RM1 trillion.

A nation’s greatest asset is its people: human capital. Umno’s brilliant policies have driven away 1½ million to two million Malaysians with their skills and talents to be enjoyed by other nations, and in return, we have attracted four million to five million immigrants (legal and illegal) to keep our country “cheap” and to depress the wages of our labour. What a great exchange! Just to cite one illustration of the loss to Malaysia and benefit to other nations: if all Malaysian citizens were to immediately leave Singapore, and return to Malaysia, Singapore will be seriously affected.

A Pakatan government?

It is often asked: we accept Umno’s weaknesses, but better the devil you know; can we trust Pakatan to govern better. The short answer is that in a proper functioning two-party system we shall have an opportunity in four to five years to throw them out at the 14th general elections. A nation is always better served when governments alternate regularly: after all, that is the raison d’etre of genuine free and fair general elections.

But the better answer is to consider the actual track record of the five Pakatan state governments from 2008. Even detractors accept Lim Guan Eng has led Penang superbly, and should be entrusted with national leadership. Likewise, Selangor.

Proponents of “big development” criticise the PAS style of leadership in Kelantan and Kedah: what is disregarded in this analysis is that their soft, gentle and slow style receives support from their electorate. Nizar Jamaluddin was a fantastic mentri besar in Perak, and his administration was already making waves in the first year, which resulted in the Umno-orchestrated coup d’etat. Even a cursory consideration of the Pakatan performance as administrators of five states will establish that they are fair, reasonable and, most importantly, not corrupt.

Can the same be said of the other state governments ruled by Umno?

When one also takes into account heavyweight politicians of the standing and experience of Nik Aziz, Hadi Awang, Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh being given senior Cabinet positions, the ship of the state will be in very safe and capable hands.

Anwar Ibrahim will be sworn in as Malaysia’s 7th prime minister when Pakatan is elected. In a public life exceeding 30 years, Anwar had had his detractors. But it must be remembered that he was a very successful finance minister for some five years, even earning accolades from Mrs Thatcher. He was equally a very successful deputy prime minister; indeed, so successful that his boss had to remove him in 1998! Being in the political wilderness for 15 years, and having suffered the humility of prosecution, persecution, conviction and a long jail sentence can only have humbled him. Dr Mahathir and Umno have been obsessive, and have used the might of the state to prevent Anwar from assuming power. But the Malaysian electorate is the final arbiter. Malaysians should therefore look forward with confidence to his prime ministership. We hope his government will take race-free, religion-free and colour-blind decisions.

The one person in Malaysia who cannot accept Anwar becoming prime minister is Dr Mahathir, who can only judge people by his (Dr M) own values and standards. Consequently, Dr Mahathir expects an Anwar administration to settle scores, particularly against him and his family. He may be proved wrong. What is to say that rather than wasting the time, energy and resources of the state in investigating and prosecuting Dr Mahathir and his cohorts in what may be perceived as political vendetta, Anwar may appoint a “Truth and Reconciliation” Royal Commission, modelled along Nelson Mandela’s post-apartheid South Africa, with a mandate to discover the truth (rather that punishing wrongdoers) as a means of reconciling the nation, and moving forward to meet fresh challenges.

If the majority of Malaysians accept that a change of government is imperative and cast their ballots in the forthcoming general election, it will happen. Pious people should also seek divine intervention. With God’s blessing, Malaysia should finally leave the yolk of one-party rule by the middle of this year. Millions cannot wait for it to happen soon enough.

Tommy Thomas is a senior Malaysian lawyer.


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