Monday, April 30, 2012

Najib the biggest loser from Bersih 3.0

Najib the biggest loser from Bersih 3.0 


bersih3The Bersih 3.0 rally at Dataran Merdeka has thankfully passed without any major outbreaks of violence but there are recorded scenes which show how it could have so easily gone the other way.

A report by Aljazeera showed bloodied demonstrators and the unwarranted use of teargas and water cannons on sections of the crowd.

According to Harry Fawcett, the Aljazeera correspondent covering the event, the police were extremely heavy handed, kneeing and slapping some of the demonstrators who had broken through the barricades.
The police also busted the station’s television camera in an attempt to prevent their violent and unlawful acts from being filmed. The police also had the temerity to threaten and act harshly towards the reporters.

Forced to improvise by using Skype, Fawcett was still able to show ugly images of the country’s police and authorities which have been broadcast all over the world as well as uploaded on You Tube.

In an analysis of the aftermath, our respect and congratulations must go to the Bersih participants that congregated in Kuala Lumpur as well as in other major cities. The estimated 100,000 crowd were remarkably well behaved and acted with decorum and good sense.

It is a tribute to the political maturity of the enormous crowd converging on Dataran Merdeka from all over the country and of their commitment to peaceful political reform that they did not allow themselves to be provoked.

Despite all the official threats and coercion, despite the roadblocks placed to prevent them from reaching the venue of the rally, they still kept their cool. They showed the Barisan government and other Malaysians that they are made of sterner stuff and that they will not give in meekly to crude authoritarian intimidation.

Only one episode marred the conduct of the protesters. Footage from the police website shows a police car being overturned while a video clip on You Tube from a bystander showed the vehicle going out of control and hitting the kerb (see video).

There are conflicting accounts of this incident but you can expect the police to milk public sympathy based on this portrayal of protestor violence.

In the next few days, the government and Bersih as well as the opposition will claim success in achieving their objectives with regard to the outcome of the rally. The government will no doubt crow through the official mass media as to why they have won an important victory.

Already the police are claiming that it was the demonstrators who were responsible for the violence that took place although unofficial reports indicate that more than 60 demonstrators were beaten up.
The demonstrators have their side of the story. According to one of them in reference to the breaching of the barricades at Dataran Merdeka:

“Hello PDRM don’t come and give us this crap OK! You guys partially opened the barriers making us think that we could go in, and without warning you started your tear-gassing. Worse still you ordered all the [LRT] stations to close their shutters preventing us from getting back.”

Whichever way the story is spun it is clear that the biggest loser is Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Where was the prime minister when all of this was taking place? He was in Kuching. Did he not care about what was happening in Kuala Lumpur? Apparently not.

In fact, the Prime Minister was an invisible man not only on April 28 but also throughout the entire week of official posturing on the rejection of the Bersih venue in the run-up to the rally. Hiding behind the sarong of the city mayor, Ahmad Fuad, the prime minister was guilty of an official conspiracy to have the Dataran Merdeka designated as a security site to prevent Bersih from gathering there, and therefore heightening the official rhetoric to deny and intimidate the protestors.

An activist was quoted as saying on the eve of the rally:
“We appeal to the good sense and stewardship of the prime minister – as prime minister of the country, and not just of Barisan Nasional … the prime minister has the authority to overrule DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur) and the police. All he has to do is make a phone call and allow Bersih to go on at Dataran Merdeka.”

That phone call not only did not materialize but the prime minister seems to have put his tail between his legs and headed out of the capital during a time of crisis.

What Najib should have done

Najib should not only have permitted the use of Dataran Merdeka but he should have facilitated his fellow Malaysians to attend the gathering there.

If he had any political acumen he should have instructed the various agencies of government to facilitate the rally by arranging for mobile toilets, Red Crescent assistance for the old and infirm (many thousands of elderly took part, some in wheel chairs!) and provided nasi bungkus (through his 1Malaysia Foundation) for the many poor who could ill afford to eat at the stalls.

He could have unclogged the roads and saved everyone the traffic mess caused by the police barring entry to the square.

He should have also offered to make a speech at the gathering – standing side by side with the Bersih and other rally leaders – to explain his agenda of democratic and electoral reform.

That way, he could have burnished his image in Malaysia and around the world as a reformist leader. He also would have scored political points which could have tilted the coming elections in his favour.

Instead he made a monumental political boo boo which is likely to seal his fate as the last Barisan Nasional prime minister of the country.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Malaysia needs is a total change.

( Speech at Tamil ceramah at Bandar Selesa Jaya, JB on April 28. 2012)

Although speculation is rife that June will be the likely date for the nation’s 13 th general election, it is possible that September may turn out to be the real date.

Many people say Malaysian politics has changed after the 2008 general election.

Today, not only one incident or issue can shift the public mood, there is also the political awakening of our youth.

I believe that BN has basically set its mind on holding the coming general election in June but will defer the date to September if the Bersih 3.0 sit in protest affects the approval ratings of the Prime Minister.

Recent Merdeka Centre survey says Datuk Seri Najib’s rating is at 69%.

This is of course a comfortable rating for him but two things remain to be seen, firstly , whether this rating will remain till when the electio is called and secondly, whether the favorable approval rating for him will translate into actual votes.

With the nation’s most important election in history fast approaching, the Indian community must once again reflect on the kingmaker role that they can play through their votes.

The 308 political tsunami in the 2008 general election had happened because many Malays, Indians and Chinese had voted against the BN.

Undoubtedly, the Indian voters’ kingmaker role had contributed to the political tsunami.

Hence, the question which we should all be asking is whether the Indian voters will again play their kingmaker role in the coming general election.
My message is very clear- we must move forward and move on with Pakatan Rakyat.

We must not retreat.

50 years of governmental rule under the BN is long enough. Time has proven that BN government is not one the people can rely on to bring about changes that can make Malaysia a better place for all.

Najib became the Prime Minister more than 3 years ago and pledged reforms.
But what concrete policy changes have been implemented to uplift the economic status of the Indian community?

What changes have taken place to ensure Tamil schools are given the fair treatment they deserve?

What about the many more long standing problems faced by the Indians like high unemployment, crime rate, school drop out etc?

Corruption in the country is still rampant and in fact, in terms of efforts to combat against the nation is doing worse under the present Prime Minister.

The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011 released last December showed that Malaysia has fallen to the lowest TI CPI ranking of No. 60, with the lowest CPI score of 4.3.

It is estimated that due to leakages, corruption and shoddy procurement we loose yearly over RM 28 billion. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported that illicit money outflows from Malaysia amounts to RM888 billion over 9 years from 2000-8. If RM888 billion was given to 27 million Malaysians, each man woman and child would receive nearly 33,000/- each over 9 years.

Malaysia under Najib is even more corrupt than under the two previous Prime Ministers, Mahathir and Abdullah.

Hence, Malaysians should not expect BN to change as it is clear that it is not a government that is committed to real change which Malaysian yearn for change.

What Malaysia needs is a total change.

The Indian community must rise to the occasion in the next general election and once again play their kingmaker role to effect a total political change.

Bersih tarnishes Najib’s reform credentials, say foreign press

Bersih tarnishes Najib’s reform credentials, say foreign press

April 29, 2012
Malaysian Insider

Singapore’s Straits Times opined today “The political fallout may be severe, going by past precedents.” — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Yesterday’s Bersih rally may undermine Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s image as a reformist and delay polls expected by June, according to initial foreign media reports after police fired water cannon at protestors who defied a court order barring the public from Dataran Merdeka. The tear gas has barely settled after at least 25,000, more than last July’s rally for free and fair elections, turned up for the planned sit-in, and were forcibly dispersed after some broke through the barricade around the historic square.

“Police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water at thousands of protesters demonstrating for cleaner elections, potentially undermining Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to present himself as a political reformer with elections months away,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Several newswires, picked up by major newspapers globally, also took the same line, with Reuters reporting that police action raised “the risk of a political backlash that could delay national polls which had been expected as early as June.”

Reuters reported that police action raised “the risk of a political backlash.” — Reuters pic
“The protest presents a delicate challenge for Najib. The violence could carry risks for Prime Minister Najib Razak if it is seen as unjustified... Najib’s approval rating tumbled after July last year when police were accused of a heavy handed response to the last major electoral reform rally,” it reported.

 Agence France-Presse also said that “the rally poses a dilemma for Najib, who since last year’s crackdown has sought to portray himself as a reformer, launching a campaign to repeal authoritarian laws in a bid to create what he called ‘the greatest democracy’.”

Several reports pointed to the first Bersih rally held just months before the March 2008 elections, which saw Barisan Nasional (BN) record its worst electoral performance ever, ceding its customary two-thirds supermajority in Parliament and five state governments.

Najib took over from Tun Abdullah Badawi a year later, ostensibly to improve on the results and some observers say only a return to two-thirds majority will guarantee he remains Umno president.

“I’m sure this weighs on Prime Minister Najib’s mind. It’s very clear already that the opposition has every intention to piggyback on Bersih,” Bloomberg quoted Joseph Chinyong Liow, associate dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, as saying.

Widespread condemnation from the international press of Putrajaya’s crack down on last July’s Bersih rally saw Najib announce a raft of reforms including a parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms and the Peaceful Assembly Act, a major concession to win back an alienated middle-class.

But the findings of a bipartisan panel have been criticised as cosmetic by civil society and the opposition and yesterday’s planned sit-in was the first major test of the new law regulating demonstrations the BN chief says abides by “international norms”.

The foreign press widely carried global civil liberties watchdog Human Rights Watch’s criticism of the government, saying it showed “contempt for its people’s basic rights and freedoms.”

“Despite all the talk of ‘reform’ over the past year, we’re seeing a repeat of repressive actions by a government that does not hesitate to use force when it feels its prerogatives are challenged,” said Phil Robertson, its deputy Asia director.

Protesters take cover from tear gas fired by police. — Reuters pic
Singapore’s Straits Times also reported that “while both police and protesters are blaming each other for the mayhem... it is undoubtedly a public relations disaster” for Najib, although the island-state itself barred Malaysians from holding a simultaneous sit-in there. “The political fallout may be severe, going by past precedents. The size of yesterday’s crowd, easily in the tens of thousands, also surpassed expectations. That sends a grim message to the Prime Minister who had worked hard to regain the support of the middle-class urban electorate,” the newspaper reported.

But the most damning articles have come out of Australia, whose independent senator Nicholas Xenophon was caught in the tear gas fire
while observing proceedings.

Invited by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as part of an international fact-finding mission on electoral practices in Malaysia, he said that Canberra must rethink its relationship with Putrajaya.

“I wonder whether the Australian government has been mute about human rights issues... by virtue of our reliance on the refugee swap deal.

“It raises serious questions over how authoritarian it is,” he said in a statement that was reported across several Australian newspapers, referring to plans to swap 800 asylum seekers with 4,000 processed refugees from Malaysia.

300,000 at Bersih 3.0, Ambiga claims success

300,000 at Bersih 3.0, Ambiga claims success
Electoral reforms pressure group Bersih 2.0 says its rally today was a great success, claiming that 300,000 Malaysians had joined the Bersih 3.0 rally to call for an overhaul to the electoral system.

"In that sense it was a success," said the coalition for clean and fair elections co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan at a press conference at the KL Sentral after the rally.

"The atmosphere was wonderful and the numbers that were there - it was tremendous.”
“We feel that it was a success because there was so much support for the cause and everything was fine (so much so) that we gave the order to disperse very quickly, by 2.30pm, because as we got to Dataran (Merdeka) it was very difficult for the people to sit down,” Ambiga said.

“Now, as far as the crowd is concerned, they were so well behaved for such a large number.

“ Apart from the one incident that seem to set out things that had happened - of which I’ve just got news - and that’s why I feel very bad and sad,” said Ambiga, referring to incident at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman where a police vehicle was overturned.

She also expressed regret over the chaos that took place after part of the barriers cordoning Dataran Merdeka from trespass were brought down, saying that it was “very sad”.

She was particularly concerned over the news that supporters and police personnel on duty were injured in the melee, and stressed that the steering committee would fully cooperate with police in their investigation.
However, as there were no accurate facts at hand, Ambiga said, Bersih would call a press conference next week on the details.

“But the crowd that we saw before us, that we led, are not the kind of crowd that commits acts of violence like this. Having said that, whoever perpetrated this act will have to face the law. We will never support acts of violence, must be investigated,” she stressed.

Asked if there had been politically-minted speeches by politicians at the meeting points for the march, Ambiga said: “We specifically said that no anti-party or pro-party slogans are allowed, we issued guidelines that no one can promote party politics.

“But when people do that, there isn’t much that we can do. I can tell you that if I had heard it I would have put a stop to it.”

Ambiga added that it was undeniable that the police were “Not very restrained”, since there had been “excessive use of tear gas”.

Friday, April 27, 2012

EC bosses admit being Umno members | Free Malaysia Today

EC bosses admit being Umno members

Syed Jaymal Zahiid | April 27, 2012
But the duo claim that they are no longer active and thus capable of carrying out their duties in an impartial manner. However, PKR wants their heads to roll.
KUALA LUMPUR: Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (photo) and his deputy Wan Ahmad Wan Omar admitted that they “could have been” Umno members but were now inactive.

The pair also dismissed accusations that their ties with Umno affected their credibility.

The denial came immediately after PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution demanded both Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad to resign from after claiming that the two were still members of the ruling party.
“Are these two gentlemen expected to run free and fair elections in Malaysia?” Saifuddin asked in a statement, which included Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad’s membership details.

The former was said to be with the party’s Sri Ampang branch under the Ampang division while the latter was with the Kubang Bunggor branch under the Pasir Mas chapter.

Saifuddin also claimed that Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, who quit Kota Marudu Umno when he was appointed as Speaker in 2008, had informed him that the EC’s top two officers were still party members.
But in an interview published in a Malay daily today, the EC chief and his deputy claimed that they were no longer active members of Umno, saying that they no longer paid fees or attended party meetings.

“I can’t even remember which branch (I was with) because after I completed my studies, I lived in several areas — Segambut, Selayang and Ampang. So if anyone had named me (as an Umno member) I don’t know which branch,” Abdul Aziz told Sinar Harian.

‘I am speaking the truth’

Wan Ahmad gave a similar statement, saying he had “never bothered to find out” about his membership and said his priority was to serve as a government servant.

“I am speaking the truth,” he said, adding that the law disallowed government servants from party membership which he then said was proof of his inactive role in Umno and ability to carry out his duties impartially.

The EC had been heavily criticised and accused of bias, a pivotal reason behind poll watchdog Bersih’s plan to hold tomorrow’s mass protest at the iconic Dataran Merdeka, the third since its inception.
The previous Bersih rally had caused extensive damage to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s reform credentials and forced him to make major concessions which included vows to clean up the electoral process for fear of a potential voter backlash.

He instructed the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee, with the cooperation of the EC, to look into poll reforms but opposition lawmakers claimed that the commission gave a half-baked commitment to an already sham undertaking given the panel’s lopsided composition.

Bersih, a coalition of rights groups, eventually rejected the PSC’s recommendations and announced its plan for a mass sit-in protest following Putrajaya’s failure to ensure electoral reforms were in place before the national polls.

But government leaders claimed that Bersih never gave EC the chance to implement the panel’s findings, adding that the planned protest indicated the group’s disinterest in serious dialogues for genuine cooperation on improving the election process.

EC top two still in Umno, PKR wants duo to quit

EC top two still in Umno, PKR wants duo to quit

April 27, 2012
Malaysian Insider 
KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — PKR today demanded the Election Commission (EC) chairman and deputy chairman resign from their posts, and has furnished evidence to show that the two are still Umno members.
Both EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and his deputy Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar have admitted that they could have been Umno members a long time ago, but stressed that it did not affect their ability to carry out their professional duties.

They took great pains to point out that it (being Umno members) happened a long time ago, and that they were inactive members, having not paid any fees or attended any party meetings.

“Both of them have to resign their positions in the EC immediately.
“PKR is concerned... as these two gentlemen are expected to run free and fair elections in Malaysia,” PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution (picture) said in a statement today.

He said both Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad had failed the basic requirement needed to run an organisation like the EC — being impartial and non-partisan.
Saifuddin said Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad’s Umno membership details are as follows:
Abdul Aziz:
Umno membership number: 113804
Branch code: 09920036 (Sri Ampang Baru)
Assembly seat code: 09920 (Lembah Jaya)
Division code: 009 (Ampang)
State: Selangor

Wan Ahmad:
Umno membership number: 2374564
Branch Code: 02213049 (Kubang Bunggor)
Assembly seat code: 02213 (Chetok)
Division code 022 (Pasir Mas)
State: Kelantan

The duo have come under intense scrutiny in the past year over claims of fraud in election practices and the electoral roll as federal polls draw near.

“I know Aziz’s membership number and I have information on which branch Tan Sri Aziz and his deputy are from.

“This is the only EC in the world where its chief and his deputy are officially members of a party that contests elections,” Saifuddin had said yesterday.

The EC was heavily criticised in the lead-up to Bersih’s rally for free and fair elections on July 9 last year in which tens of thousands flooded the streets of the capital in chaotic scenes that saw over 1,500 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier.

Widespread condemnation of the Najib administration’s clampdown saw Putrajaya make major concessions including announcing a bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee to look into improving the electoral system.

During the committee’s six-month tenure, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) accused the EC of not being committed to reforms and eventually rejected the panel’s findings.

Early this month, Bersih, a coalition of 84 civil societies, also announced a sit-in protest at Dataran Merdeka for tomorrow, saying the findings of the select committee were disappointing and did not meet its demands for electoral reform.

Abdul Aziz became EC chairman on January 2009 while Wan Ahmad was appointed in 2007.

The world is watching on Dataran stand off

 27th April 2012 in Ipoh

Just had a media conference on Bersih 3.0 at PR Perak office. Among present were YB Nizar, Ngeh, Nga, A.Sivanesan, Leong Mei  Meng, Wong Kah Woh, Chen Fook Chye, Chang Lee Kang. Dr. Lee and many more.

Also at the same press conference PR announced the Perak level peoples convention on 30thApril and 1stMay in Ipoh.

On Bersih3.0, I said among other matters:

Kuala Lumpur City Hall has rejected Bersih Committee’s application to hold the April 28 sit in protest at Dataran Merdeka.

The decision has not come as a surprise. However, I was quite surprised at the ground given for rejecting the application.

City Hall’s letter said :-

 ‘Dataran Merdeka untuk acara yang bertahap nasional. Contohnya, Hari Kebangsaan dan Hari Wilayah Persekutuan dan acara yang setaraf dengannya’

How could DBKL give such an excuse when it was reported that food giant Nestle celebrated its 100th anniversary at the iconic square for two days, on March 18 and 19?

I therefore support the Bersih Committee’s decision to hold the event at Dataran Merdeka as planned.

A development which has quite surprised me though was Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s view on the coming sit in protest.

He said that the event  did not pose a security threat to the nation, adding that the civil rights movement’s demands had gained little traction with the public.

“April 28 is not an issue,” he told reporters.

He is certainly right to say that the event is not a security issue though  many Malaysians can still recall how the historic 709 rally last year was handled by the government with water cannons and arrests.

PM must intervene

The sealing of all roads leading to the Dataran on the orders of the KL Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Faud is irresponsible and unacceptable.

Dataran belongs to all and sundry. The Prime Minister must intervene and order the Mayor to lift the ban on Dataran and advice the police to act in civil manner when the Bersih 3.0 “duduk dan bantah” proceeds. If the PM fails to do this it only goes to demonstrate, he has failed to keep to his promise of political reforms he stated on September 16, 2011.

I am very confident that Bersih 3.0  demands have strong support from Malaysians. The coming general election is going to be the most important election in the nation’s history.

We need to ensure that the impending elections will be a free, fair and clean election.

Hence, we are in total support for Bersih’s 8 demands which are:-

1)   Clean the electoral roll 

2)Reform postal voting

 3) Use of indelible ink 

4) A minimum  campaigning  period of 21 days 

5) Free and fair access to mainstream media 

6) Strengthen public institutions 

7) Stop corruption 

8) Stop dirty politics.

In the last 10 days we have distributed Bersih 3.0 pamphlets at wet markets and at pasar malams all over Ipoh areas. The purpose of the distribution was meant both as an awareness campaign and urging people to attend the Bersih 3.0 event.

I therefore call on Malaysians to give full support to Bersih 3.0 sit in protest and make 428 a historic day in the struggle for free, fair and clean elections in Malaysia.

40,000 people took part in the 2007 Bersih Rally and 50,000 people participated in last year’s Bersih 2.0 Rally.

For those Perakians who can’t make it to KL, don’t worry as the local NGO’s are organizing one in Ipoh. It will be similar to the KL do and it will be held at Polo Ground between 2-4pm on 28thApril2012. In any case,  we call all to wear yellow on the 28th and every Saturday until EC overhauls the electoral process.

Bersih’s Perak representatives Augustine Antony has confirmed that the usage of Polo Ground has been approved by all concerned.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guan Eng perturbed over temple demolition

Malay Mail 26thApril2012

Guan Eng perturbed over temple demolition

THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 2012 - 11:32
GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wants Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to intervene if the demolished 50-year-old Muniswarar Hindu Shrine is not rebuilt before the next general election.

He also asked why MCA president and Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya had not apologised to the Hindu  community over the incident.
He said the shrine was demolished by the PPSB last Friday.
According to Lim, several port workers had said the shrine, used by the workers and dealers, was demolished without any prior notice.
“Even though Dr Hilmi announced that the PPSB would bear the cost of rebuilding the shrine near the Prai Bulk Cargo Teminal in the Prai Industrial Area, its general manager, Abdul Halim Abdul Kader, denied such plans,” he said in a statement.
“When I visited the area on Monday, Abdul Halim said he had checked with Dr Hilmi’s office, affirming that it would not be rebuilt in the same area. So, where then will the temple be rebuilt?
“Is this just another of BN’s empty promises to be discarded after the coming general election? To demonstrate remorse for demolishing the shrine, both Dr Hilmi and Dr Chua must apologise on behalf of the PPC and PPSB to the Hindu community.”
Lim said the failure of Dr Hilmi and Dr Chua to immediately meet and explain to the port workers and Hindu community the reason behind the demolition was “regrettable, irresponsible and disrespectful”.

UBAH -Vote PR for total change! When General Elections?

Speech by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at DAP Dinner held River Front Hotel on Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Despite having been the Prime Minister for 3 years, Datuk Seri Najib is still not so confident about dissolving the Parliament to pave way for the nation’s 13 th general election.

The 308 general election has changed the political landscape in the nation and despite recent approval ratings showing that the Prime Minister’s approval ratings have gone up to 69%, Dato Seri Najib is still uncertain when to dissolve the Parliament to pave way for the nation’s 13 th general election.

Nevertheless, he will have to pick a date and all speculation has pointed towards June as the likely date.

There is no doubt that the coming general election is the most important election in the nation’s history. As Najib has said before what ever happens they will defend PutraJaya at all cost thus this will also be the dirtiest general election ever.

It is going to be the election where the Opposition will not be dismissed, like in all previous elections, as having totally no hope in toppling the BN government.

No serious political analyst will write off the Pakatan Rakyat’s chances to  win the next general election and helm Putrajaya government.

In fact, MCA President Datuk Chua Soi Lek is so sure that PR may take over the next government that he has been asking the questions as to who shall be the PR’s prime minister and deputy prime minister!

To go for change, we must first ensure that the coming general election is free, fair and clean.

Hence, we are in total support for Bersih’s 8 demands which are:-

1) Clean the electoral roll
2)Reform postal voting
 3) Use of indelible ink
4) A minimum campaigning period of 21 days
 5) Free and fair access to mainstream media
 6) Strengthen public institutions
7) Stop corruption
8) Stop dirty politics

We must all ensure 428 to be a day of success. Let 428 be a historic day for the struggle for free, fair and clean elections. Lets all Malaysians make it a point to go to Dataran Merdaka on 28thApril2012 between 2-4pm. Those Perakians who are unable to make it to KL kindly converge at Polo Ground. But in any case be in Yellow on 428!!

Despite having suffered its worst electoral debacle at the last election, BN government under the leadership of a new Prime Minister has proven that it is not committed to and is not capable of implementing changes which are urgently needed to bring about A Better Malaysia for All.

Look at the corruption issue.

The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2011 released last December showed that Malaysia has fallen to the lowest TI CPI ranking of No. 60, with the lowest CPI score of 4.3.

It is said, based on the latest TI CPI 2011 ranking and score and available data going back to 1995, Malaysia under Najib is even more corrupt than under the two previous Prime Ministers, Mahathir and Abdullah.

It is estimated that due to leakages, corruption and shoddy procurement we lose yearly over RM 28 billion. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported that illicit money outflows from Malaysia amounts to RM888 billion over 9 years from 2000-8. If RM888 billion was given to 27 million Malaysians, each man woman and child would receive nearly 33,000/- each over 9 years.

So is Najib serious and committed to fight against corruption?

What reforms is he talking about when corruption continues to be rampant in Malaysia ?

Real reforms and changes which Malaysians have yearned for can only come about with a new Putrajaya government helmed by PR.

UBAH Vote PR for total change!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BN stop using local council as your personal item


Over the last 3 weeks, volunteers and members helped DAP to sell over 200 tables for the Ipoh Barat dinner which will be held tonight at River Front Hotel.

 For the first time in many years, we have a situation of oversold position of the dinner tickets.

The sale was so encouraging, more so when people called and even sms us for the tickets. We are happy and grateful to the many Ipoh folks for supporting us. 

As the support is overwhelming, we have decided to put up a screen outside the hotel. This is to screen live the activities that are happening inside, including the speeches of all of the political leaders.

We have on Monday written to the Ipoh City Council (MBI) for the necessary permission to put up our political flags. 

On Tuesday we have confirmed with the MBI senior officers that we can put up the flags as they have no objections to it. 
Last night, our volunteers put up over 500 flags under the code name “ Banjirkan Ipoh Dengan Bendera” all the vicinity of the Hotel.

To our shock early this morning, we got numerous calls from locals alerting us that the MBI enforcement section was removing the flags.  

Immediately by 8am, I arrived near the Hotel and confronted the MBI workers .The workers told us that they were instructed to remove same by the Mayor. We were unable to reach the Mayor but managed to reach the Secretary Dato Rahim .We expressed our disgust and objections in the MBI removing the flags.

Dato Rahim came over to the Hotel area and agreed and ordered the MBI workers to cease taking down the flags. After much heated arguments, the flags were returned and apologies were extended to us.

The MBI workers were very upset that their bosses had ordered the flags to be removed.

We had to recall back some of the volunteers to come and help to put up the flags.

All the volunteers worked for the love of the party without any remuneration paid to them.

We heard from reliable sources that the top BN leaders wanted the flags to be removed as they felt the flags were put up illegally and were too near the State Secretariat building.

But, not a single flag was obstructing traffic or on Government buildings.
Why MBI failed to reach us for an explanation before removing the flags? Why MBI took down the flags when we had complied with the necessary by laws of the MBI and when we were already given the necessary permission?

They should exercise some independence and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.

They cannot and should not be yes man to BN illegal Government of Perak. 

One rural vote worth six urban ballots, favours BN, analysts say

One rural vote worth six urban ballots, favours BN, analysts say

April 25, 2012
Malaysian Insider
Lecturer Wong Chin Huat said a constitutional safeguard against gerrymandering was first loosened and subsequently removed completely.—File pic
PETALING JAYA, April 25 — The Election Commission’s (EC) drawing of electoral boundaries makes a rural voter worth an average of six urban voters, biasing elections towards Barisan Nasional (BN) as it is stronger in the countryside, according to poll analysts. Election watchdog Tindak Malaysia founder PY Wong said the ruling coalition won 112 out of the smallest 139 federal seats in Election 2008, giving it simple majority in Parliament with just 18.9 per cent of the popular vote. The seats have not been changed for the next general election.
“Something is seriously wrong when you can win 50.4 per cent of Parliament with just 18.9 per cent of the votes,” he told a forum here last night.
Wong said malapportionment — unequally-sized constituencies — and gerrymandering — manipulation of electoral boundaries — also allowed the ruling coalition to rack up 62 of the smallest seats with just 6.2 per cent of the popular vote.
Something is seriously wrong when you can win 50.4 per cent of Parliament with just 18.9 per cent of the votes
He pointed out how the smallest federal seat was Putrajaya, won by BN, with 6,008 voters, while Kapar, won by PKR, had over 112,000.
Another analyst, Wong Chin Huat, pointed out that the smallest 112 seats only represented 33.8 per cent of the electorate.
The Bersih steering committee member said this allowed for the lopsided results in 2004, where BN won 90.9 per cent of Parliament with just 63.9 per cent of the popular vote, while Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was PKR’s sole MP despite gaining 8.4 per cent of votes cast.
“This means one vote for BN was worth 26 votes for PKR,” he said.
Chin Huat said malapportionment and gerrymandering have been made easier after a constitutional provision, which stated the largest and smallest seats may only have a 15 per cent differential, was amended in 1962 to 50 per cent and then abolished completely in 1973.
The lecturer at Monash University, Sunway, said Bersih proposed to solve the rural bias by ensuring that the maximum size of the largest state seat can only be half of the smallest federal seat.
“If they have small rural parliamentary seats, this will only create many urban state seats and give urban voters control of the state governments. By linking Parliament and state seats, you avoid the bias,” he said.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) denied BN its customary two-thirds supermajority of Parliament at the last general election by capturing 82 federal seats and five state governments.
Although the opposition coalition marginally won the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia, it only took 80 out of the 166 federal seats available there. But it has now lost six seats as the winning lawmakers have turned independent and support BN in parliament.
Bersih will hold a sit-in rally this weekend to press its demands for electoral reforms despite a parliamentary select committee (PSC) making its recommendations to the EC.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NFC's 'all in the family' rental deal exposed

NFC's 'all in the family' rental deal exposed

PKR has continued its expose on the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC), this time showing that the company directors have been leasing out their personal properties to NFC for high returns.

NONEA search with the Valuation and Property Services Department showed that two office units used by NFC belong to executive chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail and his son and director Wan Shahinur Izran Salleh, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli (centre in photo) said.

Based on NFC's financial accounts made public by Rafizi, the units located at Solaris Mont Kiara were rented from the duo at RM28,000 and RM8,240 a month respectively.


The search further established that Izran owns the premises of the Meatworks Restaurant, also in Solaris Mont Kiara.

Meatworks is operated by the Real Food Company, an NFC associate company.

NONE"I do not have detailed financial records for Real Food Company... but I believe Izran (left) also receives lucrative rental payments from the two restaurant premises he owns," Rafizi told a press conference today.

According to Rafizi, the rental of RM8,240 paid to Mohamad Salleh is "too high" for the property which was bought for RM814,500.

"If the property was bought with a 25-year loan, (then) at prevailing interest rates, the monthly installments would be around RM4,800. This means Mohamad Salleh enjoys a yield of 72 percent monthly...," he said.

The property search shows that the NFC-related properties owned by Izran at Solaris Mont Kiara were bought for RM14.1 million in 2008 and 2010.

'Money must be recovered'

Rafizi alleged that all this proves there has been “criminal breach of trust”.

He said the duo could have signed a rental contract agreement with NFC and Real Food Company in order to obtain a bank loan to purchase the properties.

"We have maintained from the first day that what is important is the recovery of the money, not whether Shahrizat (should) withdraw from her cabinet post," he said.

NONEShahrizat is the wife of Mohamad Salleh, who runs NFC with their three children. She stepped down as the women, family and community development minister on April 8 when her term as senator expired.

Since the exposes, the government has re-tendered the National Feedlot Centre project and appointed an auditor to probe the matter.

Mohamad Salleh has claimed trial to charges of criminal breach of trust and for allegedly violating the Companies Act.

Bersih says will call off rally if PM guarantees polls reforms

Bersih says will call off rally if PM guarantees polls reforms

April 24, 2012
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Bersih said today it will consider calling off Saturday’s rally if Datuk Seri Najib Razak can guarantee the electoral reform movement’s demands are met before the next federal polls.

But its co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (picture) told a press conference “it’s a bit late now” as “the guarantee would’ve come by now if there is any sincerity.”

“We’re rushing, because they’re rushing,” the former Bar Council president said, referring to persistent speculation that the prime minister will call elections by June.

“If they promise to delay the elections and implement the changes that we want, and must have, to have a clean 13th general election, there is no issue and there is no rush. Postponing it (the elections) is not enough. There has to be a guarantee that the demands of Bersih will be met before 13th GE.

“I’d like to hear that guarantee actually. If there is a guarantee by the government, we will certainly reconsider, yes,” she said.

Bersih announced today it will proceed with its sit-in on Saturday after the 84 civil societies that make up the coalition last night “decided unanimously to proceed with Dataran Merdeka” despite threats of action by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

City police have also rejected Bersih’s request for help with traffic control, citing security reasons.

The movement said early this month a third rally was necessary to warn Malaysians that the country is about to face its “dirtiest” polls to date.

The coalition said it was disappointed by the recently concluded Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms, saying that despite Putrajaya’s repeated assurances and promises, the panel had failed to introduce meaningful reforms to the election system.

The bipartisan panel was formed following the July 9, 2011 rally for free and fair elections which saw tens of thousands flood into the streets of the capital.

Najib’s administration was widely condemned for a clampdown on the demonstration where police fired water cannons and tear gas into crowds in chaotic scenes which resulted in over 1,500 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier.

Bersih’s eight demands are a clean electoral roll, reforming postal voting, the use of indelible ink, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, free access to the media, strengthening public institutions, stopping corruption and ending dirty politics.

Ambiga said today that Bersih also wants the Election Commission (EC) to resign and international observers to be present at the next polls.

Monday, April 23, 2012

3.1m dubious voters on list for a decade, says Bersih

3.1m dubious voters on list for a decade, says Bersih

April 23, 2012
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Bersih accused the Election Commission (EC) today of failing to investigate 3.1 million voters whose identity card (IC) addresses differ from that in the electoral roll despite having the information since 2002.

Speaking at a press conference called by the electoral reform movement, independent polls analyst Ong Kian Ming said the EC was given this information for all states in the peninsula and also Kuala Lumpur in 2002 and the figure made up 37 per cent of the 8.3 million voters registered then.

The project director for the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP) said he has had the information given by the National Registration Department (NRD) to the EC before the implementation of the new registration system where all voters have to be registered according to the constituency indicated by their IC addresses.

“The EC has failed to act on this... to clean up the electoral roll even though the presence of these non-resident voters contravenes Article 119 1(b) of the Federal Constitution which says a voter must be a resident in the constituency he is voting in,” he said.

Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah also said this “shows serious problems in the electoral roll which is the role of the EC to correct.”

“They say they are cleaning it up, so why are these findings still emerging? The EC team should resign en bloc and let a new team step in to clean up the roll,” she added.

Ong (picture) also said his research found 65,455 “foreigners” in the electoral roll, almost 90 per cent of whom had IC numbers which showed they were Malaysian-born.

Another 106,743 voters were deleted and 6,762 added to the electoral roll without public display between the end of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, he added.

The UCSI lecturer also said the supplementary roll for the last quarter of 2011 did not contain the usual information about the number of voters added or subtracted due to death or enrolment in security forces.

He said that given the average of 20,000 deaths and the third Q3 2011 roll showing an unusual spike in police and armed forces enrolment to 9,000, this could add another 30,000 to 50,000 dubious names.

“Including the 100,000 identified by MERAP previously, there are at least 3.4 million cases or about 27 per cent of the current electoral roll which needs to be further investigated,” he said.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had said last week Malaysia’s electoral roll was the cleanest in the world, as only 42,000 out of 12.6 million voters, or 0.3 per cent, were considered unverifiable.

But Ong said Abdul Aziz should have checked the 100,000 already identified by MERAP as having ages above 85 years old, gender inconsistent with their ICs, same names and similar birthdates, born overseas, Klang Valley voters who do not have house addresses, postal voters with regular ICs, spouses of policemen who are postal voters, spouses of army and police voters who have the same gender, army and police voters above retirement age and army and police postal voters who are above recruitment age.

The credibility of the electoral roll has been widely questioned since a Parliamentary Select Committee was set up late last year to look into electoral improvements.

The panel completed its six-month tenure and submitted its findings to Parliament last week but the opposition and civil society have criticised it for lacking specific recommendations on how to clean up the voter registrar.

Bersih, a coalition of 84 NGOs, then announced it would hold a third rally for free and fair elections on April 28.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced the formation of the bipartisan polls committee in August 2011, after being condemned in the international press for his administration’s clampdown on Bersih’s July 9 rally which drew tens of thousands to the streets of the capital.

"Justice for Sri Lankan Tamils"

Speech by M Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman on the occasion “Justice for Sri Lanka Tamils at Butterworth, Penang on April 21, 2012

I spoke at the MGR societies function at Butterworth on Saturday night. Other speakers were Prof. Ramasamy, YB A.Sivanesan and many more. The crowd was encouraging more so when the visual and real happennings were shown on screen.

Among the matters I spoke about were:

During the recent sitting of Parliament many MP's including myself raised the issue of the recent civil war of Sri Lanka and the cruelty caused to innocent Tamils.

We raised the issue of Sri Lanka's abuse of its own citizens namely the Tamil people where tens of thousands of innocent people were killed, raped, tortured and are still missing.

The civil war has resulted in over 100, 000 people killed. The issue is, is the Sri Lanka government military action clean in the civil war issue? Are they guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity,genocide,ethnic cleansing ,mass murder and the sort and if they have committed such heinous crimes, Malaysia and the world should not turn a blind eye on this issue.

Shouldn’t the perpetrators of this war crime and those involved in the heinous crimes be brought to justice?

A. The UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts Report

A three-member panel was set up in September 2010 following the Joint Statement made by UN Secretary–General Ban Ki Moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, after the Secretary-General Ban visited Sri Lanka shortly after the end of the conflict in May 2009. The panel consisted of Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Ms. Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Prof. Steven Ratner (USA).

The Sri Lankan Government refused to cooperate.

The evidence obtained by the panel revealed ”a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Government of Sri Lanka". The panel found "credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity". The panel concluded that the "conduct of the war represented a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace".

The panel found "credible allegations" that the Sri Lankan military/government killed civilians through widespread shelling; shelled hospitals and humanitarian objects; denied humanitarian assistance; violated the human rights of civilians and Tamil Tiger combatants; and violated the human rights of non- combatants outside the conflict zone such as the media representatives. The panel found "credible allegations" that the Tamil Tigers used civilians as a human buffer; killed civilians attempting to escape Tamil Tiger control; used military equipment in the proximity of civilians; forcibly recruited children; used forced labor; and killed civilians using suicide attacks.

The Channel 4 documentary “Sri Lanka Killing fields” went on the 14thjune 2011 provided real and visual killings and torture which happen during the last days of the civil war. The 48 minute depicted “death, injury, execution, evidence of sexual abuse and murder”

The Sri Lanka President set up the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in May 2010. Unfortunately the commission’s investigation etc was criticized by the UN which had this to say- Observations of the UN Panel of Experts on the nature of the LLRC

The Panel concluded that the Government’s notion of accountability is not in accordance with international standards. The government appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission has been under scrutiny by the panel as the report says, “…the LLRC is deeply flawed, does not meet International standards for an effective accountability mechanism and, therefore, does not and cannot satisfy the joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General to an accountability process”.

Malaysia decided to abstain in support of the resolutions on Sri lanka presented by the US, France and Norway.

The resolutions were:

a. To address accountability for the violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law committed by all sides in the last months of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

b. To discuss both Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report and the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts (PoE) report in 2010 to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws in the last stages of the war.

c. To establish an independent international mechanism to investigate Sri Lanka for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

d. To establish an international mechanism to monitor progress towards the implementation of an effective transitional justice process by the Government of Sri Lanka.

In reply to the matters raised in Parliament on March 28 , Deputy Foreign Minister YB Riot said they had 3 reasons for not supporting resolution at HR Conference in Geneva:

1) LRCC just concluded in Nov2011 its findings and must be given time.
2) it is an internal issue and Malaysia will not get involved
3) Sri Lanka is an independent democratic country, consistent and transparent in its acts.

The above reasons are unacceptable and flawed. Human rights abuse is a universal matter. It cannot and should not be regarded as an internal matter of a country. Thus it can't be questioned by any country is inconsistent with UN resolutions on Human Rights.

In the case of Palestinian issue with Israel, Southern Thailand up rising by Muslims, uprising in Philippines and in Bosina, in all these states Malaysia has been involved to resolvee their internal political issues. Thus how come, then, in the case of Sri Lanka, Malaysia views the killings of over 100,000 innocent people as an internal issue? Clearly double standard when it comes to issues of Tamils of Sri Lanka!!

By voting neutral Malaysia has failed to live to the exceptions of civil society and right thinking nations.

It is said after the civil war in Sri Lanka, Malaysian business people have got many lucrative business contracts in Sri Lanka. Was the decision to stay neutral influenced by these big business tycoons?

The Government failed to read, feel and act to the interest in particular of the local Tamil people and others who share similar values in this country who want bold action against Sri Lanka.

As Malaysia had acted contrary to accepted human rights norms, it is best for Malaysia to vacate its seat in the UN's Human Rights Council.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Najib an opportunistic reformer, says author

Najib an opportunistic reformer, says author

Barry Wain, who in 2010 raised red flags at the Home Ministry with his book 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times', has described Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak reformer image as a selective one.

The journalist and author, while acknowledging that the current premier had given more substance to his reform agenda compared with his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he had only instituted changes where the government's position was not endangered, he said.

NONE"Recognising his personal and political limits, Najib has become what I call a tactical or selective reformer, a less charitable description might be an opportunistic reformer," said the Australian, who has lived in Asia for nearly 40 years.

"Skirting some of the areas most in need of reform, he is hoping he can make enough changes around the edges of certain policies, package them attractively and sell them to Malaysia to arrest Umno's slide," Wain told some 30 members of the Foreign Correspondence Club Malaysia (FCCM) at a talk in Kuala Lumpur last night.

'Umno insider no natural reformer'

Despite the recent flurry of legislative reforms, it appeared evident that no attempt has been made to arrest institutional degradation of the police force and judiciary, said Wain, now attached to Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Among examples he cited was the lack of accountability in the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the conviction of two police officers without known motive for the murder of Mongolia Altantuya Sharibuu and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's second sodomy trial.

NONE"No serious analyst in Malaysia or abroad would believe that Anwar's prosecution and trial was free of political influence," said the keen observer of Malaysian politics.

The premier, Wain (left) added, had not signalled intention to reform the internal mechanics of Umno where corruption was most endemic and his proposed reforms to political financing was likely to circumvent money politics within Umno.

"Should Najib attempt to seriously curb the flow of patronage within the ruling party, he would probably follow Abdullah out the door," he said.

Before the Najib's reform push to soften the government's image, his involvement in the the Perak coup had not not helped his reputation as a natural reformist, he added.

"Throughout Najib's career, he has been cautious and pragmatic, he has never questioned Malaysia's ethnic-based political system nor has he proposed significant innovation, not even during his direct ministerial responsibilities.

"It is difficult to define what he stands for... Najib is not only part of the system, one of his closest associates said, he trusts the system, he is the system," said Wain.

NONEOn the economic reform front, he said, there also appeared to be an absent of genuine change.

"I remember the first time he announced the New Economic Model and said we'll have a world-class education system, you know education in Malaysia is a mess, if you got the right policies it would probably take years if not generations to bring about change.

"Yes, he articulates it, it's true we need a world-class education system but there is no follow-up action, sometimes it's just like once he has said it he pretends it is done.

"With any politicians, one must watch what they do and not just what they say, and this is more true with Najib as there is a big gap between what he says and what they have", he added.

Umno's salvation, losing power

Wain added that he had spoken to people who Najib had consulted at the World Bank and they were convinced that the premier was capable of understanding the nation's problems.

"But he is not instinctively bold or audacious nor does he have strong support from the party to make those reforms," he said.

perodua tea time with mahathir function 271011 05The truly outstanding leaders such as former deputy prime ministers Musa Hitam and Anwar Ibrahim and former finance minister Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah, Wain said, had long been ousted by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) during his 22-year reign.

"Mahathir failed to provide future leadership for Malaysia... his long tenure also blocked the ascendency of others with leadership potential.

"The most capable people Mahathir got rid off and the people who are left are simply just second or third rung," he said.

Umno in its current form, he added, was unable to reform while it remained in the cusp of power.

NONE"I don't believe Umno will reform itself, I think the best way for Umno is to be defeated and become the opposition and then go and do some serious reform and find new leadership."

Mahathir, Wain said, completed Umno's transition from a humble self-sacrificing party of peasants and schoolteachers to a party of self-serving corporate chieftain and dealmakers.

Even after the longest serving premier handed over power, his legacy lingered on as he had engineered both Abdullah and Najib's premiership.

"The country has been run for more than eight years by fairly weak men put there by Mahathir," he said.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ambiga: ‘Whirlwind’ of law reforms pointless without clean polls

Ambiga: ‘Whirlwind’ of law reforms pointless without clean polls

April 21, 2012
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 The sudden "whirlwind" of legislative reforms to the country's restrictive laws has left Malaysians both elated and disappointed in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government ahead of the 13th general election, Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan has said.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his team may have earned plus points for daring to slacken the government's leash over civil freedom, a historical point in Malaysian politics, but the prime minister's failed attempt at electoral reform had hurtled him back to square one, she said.

The vocal civil society leader added that although crucial restrictive legal provisions were removed in recent months, they were forced down the throats of Malaysians in a rushed manner, drawing suspicion over the government's true motive for reform.

"To me, the speed at which new laws and amendments were suddenly being pushed through Parliament, without consideration at all for consultation and opposition viewpoints, I think, reeks of suspicion.

"All it shows is that the elections are close," Ambiga (picture) told The Malaysian Insider recently.

"We are in a bit of a whirlwind, really, with these legislations being passed through in such a rushed manner.

"Some people say it’s a good thing... but to many, you (the government) are only doing this because of the elections.

"This how it would just enforce the insincerity of the government," she said.

In the span of two Dewan Rakyat sittings and about six months, the government had pushed through a record number of critical amendments to laws long described as draconian by civil society groups and those in the opposition camp.

Key among these was the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA), the 1960 anti-Communist insurgency law which critics have accused the government of misusing to threaten and quell opposition dissent.

A new legislation, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, was proposed in its place, removing the government's power under the ISA to throw a person behind bars for up to two years without trial.

Last November, both Houses of Parliament approved the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, a fresh law mooted by the government to permit public gatherings after the authorities arrested over 1,600 individuals and sprayed tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse Bersih 2.0's peaceful rally for free and fair elections last July 9.

On the final day of the Dewan Rakyat sitting on Thursday, the government also lifted the over four-decade-old ban on student participation in politics after approving amendments to the highly-criticised University and University Colleges Act 1971.

In a rare show of unity, both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers even unanimously agreed to widen academic freedom by voting positively on a motion to allow university students to hold posts in both political parties and on-campus organisations.

Adding to the growing list, Dewan Rakyat also agreed to loosen government control over media freedom slightly, passing during the historic sitting at 2.15am yesterday amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Despite the Bill's harried manner of approval and uproar from the opposition bench, the amendment effectively clips Putrajaya's wings over the granting of publishing permits and scraps the annual permit renewal requirement earlier imposed on publications in the PPPA.

Other significant legislative reforms include earlier amendments to the Police Act, the repeal of the Banishment Act 1959 and Restricted Residence Act 1933, the lifting of three Emergency Declarations and the tabling of the Malaysia Volunteers Corps (RELA) Bill 2012, a new law that removes the organisation's powers of arrest and firearms possession.

But these legislative reforms, said Ambiga, merely offer a "psychological boost" in the people's support and trust in Najib and BN.

She said some may celebrate them, but others would eventually realise that the key to a truly democratic nation that respects civil freedom was a clean and fair election process.

This, Ambiga charged, was Najib's biggest and greatest failure in his "whirlwind" of reforms.

"To me, there are plus points for the amendments, which are definitely liberalising. But... there are many pertinent complaints as well.

"There is a lot of unhappiness all around about the election process... will there be free and fair elections next? We are doubtful. Because this, in my view, has not been addressed," she said.

Another reformist move taken by Najib was to form the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for electoral reform last October, tasking it to look into key demands made by Bersih and opposition lawmakers on how to clean up the election process.

But when its six-month tenure was up, the bipartisan panel tabled on April 2 what Ambiga and PR representatives have described as a report lacking in true reform to the many discrepancies they have uncovered in the electoral roll.

"The glaring absence of true reform speaks volumes. Even worse, the report was rushed through Parliament without debate.

"So many things could have otherwise been trashed out," she said.

"The most obvious shortcoming is that the report did not state a deadline for the reforms. If there is commitment to implement the PSC's 22 recommendations before the 13th general election... then everything would be resolved."

Ambiga added that BN had missed a grand opportunity to coax voter support.

"I have said in the past and I mean it still today - if they are committed to electoral reform, their popularity would grow. But they reformed many other things and the part about elections, they completely failed," she said.

"Now, they are back to square one."

Bersih 3.0, which has received the backing of PR parties of PAS, PKR and DAP, will kick off at 2pm next Saturday at Dataran Merdeka in the capital city.

The government has given the green light for the rally, in the spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 but City Hall yesterday rejected the group's plan to use the historic square for a non-violent sit-down show of civil disobedience.

Friday, April 20, 2012

City Hall says no, Bersih 3.0 to go ahead

City Hall says no, Bersih 3.0 to go ahead

UPDATED @ 03:10:12 PM 20-04-2012
April 20, 2012
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the electoral sit-down protest at Dataran Merdeka next Saturday will go ahead as planned despite Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s rejection of its request.

“We are going to go ahead with it anyway,” she told reporters at a press conference today.

Fellow Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said it received this morning City Hall’s letter rejecting its request to hold the event at the historic square on April 28.

File photo of Ambiga (second from right) and other Bersih leaders earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur when they announced the date of the sit-down protest. — Picture by Jack Ooi

“It said: ‘Dataran Merdeka untuk acara yang bertahap nasional. Contohnya, Hari Kebangsaan dan Hari Wilayah Persekutuan dan acara yang setaraf dengannya’ (Dataran Merdeka is for national-level events. Examples are the National Day and Federal Territory Day [parades] and events of similar stature),” she told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

Chin said the letter was signed by a Datuk Normah Malik, deputy director of management at City Hall.

Ambiga said the group was not surprised to receive the rejection letter and will proceed with the sit-in as “Dataran Merdeka belongs to the people”.

“There are many events held there that are not of national level, including concerts. You can check that,” she told reporters here.

Last month, food giant Nestle celebrated its 100th anniversary at the iconic square for two days, on March 18 and 19.

Asked if the coalition will appeal the decision, Ambiga said: “If there are any obstructions by DBKL on that day, we will discuss with them on that day.”

Electoral reform group Bersih’s rally next Saturday is a sequel to its mammoth rally on July 9 last year to raise greater attention to its causes ahead of the 13th general election, widely expected to be called soon ahead of its expiry next March.

PAS’s national leadership has instructed all members and supporters to attend the protest in a major boost for the electoral reform protest movement dismissed yesterday as having very little traction with the public.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali said the party’s machinery has been directed to mobilise support among members to take part in the protest.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday the April 28 rally did not pose a security threat to the nation, adding that the civil rights movement’s demands had gained little traction with the public.

“April 28 is not an issue,” he told reporters.

He appeared to suggest that the federal government has accommodated the group’s demands on electoral issues through a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) set up last year, the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and even addressed public fears as to radioactive hazards on the Lynas rare earth project in Pahang.

Hishammuddin also described the organisers and participants of the Bersih rally as “irresponsible”.

Last year, thousands thronged the capital city’s streets to march for free and fair elections during a time when gatherings were still deemed illegal without permit from the authorities.

At about midday, riot police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water to disperse protesters who had assembled for an otherwise peaceful event calling for electoral reform.

The clampdown drew negative publicity for the Najib administration in the foreign media, and was seen as the catalyst for a series of reforms announced by the government.

As polls loom, Parliament’s last session ‘suspends’ time to approve laws

As polls loom, Parliament’s last session ‘suspends’ time to approve laws
By Clara Chooi
April 20, 2012
Malaysian Insider

Nazri (centre), flanked by (from left) DAP MP Anthony Loke and BN MPs Datuk Ismail Kassim, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahalan and Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, holds copies of the Standing Orders after the Dewan Rakyat approved a ‘stop the clock’ motion for the first time in two decades. — Picture by Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — For the first time in 22 years, Parliament approved a “stop the clock” motion to complete all legislative debates till early this morning before adjourning what is believed to be the final sitting before the 13th general election.

The House debated and approved eight Bills on its last day when the meeting finally ended at 3.21am.

Earlier, at the stroke of midnight, the House stopped in mid-debate for Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz to “suspend” time in accordance with parliamentary rules.

“Yang di Pertua, in accordance with Standing Order 90(2), I submit a motion to suspend the enforcement of Standing Order 12 in order to allow the meeting to complete all matters that should be completed by today,” said the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Standing Order 12 stipulates that each sitting of the House can be extended past 5.30pm until midnight to complete the order for the day. The motion, supported by Nazri’s deputy Datuk V.K. Liew, was approved unanimously by the Lower House.

The motion effectively allowed the Dewan Rakyat to be extended indefinitely in order to complete debates and pass all the eight Bills listed on yesterday’s agenda.

Speaking to reporters later, Nazri said this was the first time since 1990 that such a motion was moved and approved in Parliament.

“I have been a legislator since 1990 so my memory only dates back to 1990. But as far as I know, this has never happened. In my experience, this is the first time in 22 years,” he said.

Nazri, who was flanked by several parliamentarians at the MPs’ lounge outside the chambers, noted that this was a poignant moment in Malaysian history, jokingly pointing out that Malaysia was expecting to go to the polls very soon.

The digital clock in the Dewan Rakyat chambers was stopped after a motion was moved to extend proceedings of the House indefinitely. — Picture courtesy of an MP
According to lawmakers, there were still 37 Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs, 17 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs and one independent lawmaker in the House after the “stop the clock” motion, all ready to debate the one remaining Bill and five ministry motions that were still on the day’s agenda.

Several MPs were also seen loitering around the Parliament lobby, some locked in discussion over the day’s events and some engaged in banter with the remaining reporters observing the proceedings.

A few lawmakers also stopped to pose for pictures in front of a large flat-screen TV right outside the House chambers that was screening the ongoing proceedings. The TV also projected an analogue clock that showed the time.

Earlier in the day, PR lawmakers had slammed the ruling BN government for “bulldozing” the eight Bills through the Lower House, claiming it was part of the government’s strategy to position itself well before calling for polls.

The sitting could be described as historic at best, with the House having debated and approved crucial amendments to laws long described as draconian by those in the opposition camp.

Among others, the sitting had agreed to repeal the controversial Internal Security Act 1960 and approved the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill in its place despite objections from the opposition bench.

The sitting also approved amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which effectively lifted the ban on student participation in politics.

Late last night, the Dewan Rakyat debated and approved amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, agreeing to remove the home minister’s absolute discretion over publishing licences and the need for annual renewals.

The Malaysian Insider had reported last month that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is looking to lead his coalition into federal polls for the first time in the first half of the year if he can put to bed controversies surrounding the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

Observers, including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, believe this could be Najib’s best chance to score a significant win amid the feel-good factor emerging from his transformative and reformist polices.

In a boost to his confidence, a recent poll also showed that Najib’s approval rating had surged by 10 percentage points to 69 per cent on the back of an improving economy and the cash handout of RM500 to low-income earners under the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) scheme.

Pollsters Merdeka Center found that the prime minister’s support was highest among households earning less than RM1,500 a month at 78 per cent, with four-fifths of Indians and 74 per cent of Malays also giving Najib the thumbs up.