How should we judge a government?

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

Why we should be against censorship: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan


Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist?

MyCen News

Friday, November 30, 2007

Is he Robin Hood or the Sheriff?




Should we be eternally grateful to this man? He pretends to be Robin Hood but he is actually the Sheriff.

What seems like a goodwill gesture in not increasing toll charges where the expressways are more frequently used appears more like sweetener to the electorate. In not increasing toll rates, he takes from Peter to pay Paul. Peters happen to be those who are taxpayers who may or may not be the users and Pauls happen to be those who may or may not be taxpayers but are the users. It is blatantly unfair no matter how one looks at it.

Looking at the situation in perspective, he actually robs from the poor to give it to the rich!

We should question why he was a party to the original unfair contract and act more like a spokesman for the concessionaires than a government minister. The negotiators for the government acting for the people were dumb for agreeing to such guaranteed super profits for the concessionaires and we know why, don’t we? In fact, the concessionaires would prefer compensation as they get a fat cheque without having to collect the would-be increase in tolls over a period of time.

The people are angry with him for having thrown us into this trap: Either you allow them to increase the toll rates or the government will compensate them. The ‘choice is yours’ but in view of the coming elections, we have made the decision for you.

But for this coming election, we will decide for you too!

Undue rush to keep Rashid for the next polls

In an obvious display of ‘so what’ arrogance, BN decides to change the rules before the election in trying to keep the infamously biased referee. Instead of the usual ‘if in doubt, leave it out’, they are not about to take chances without their ‘lucky charm’.

Tian Chua put it well by saying ‘why change the Constitution for one person’? Why go to such trouble to keep the retiring Chairman and creating suspicion and reinforcing adverse perception of his impartiality?

Raja Petra, in his inimitable style, poked fun at certain aspects of Rashid's so-called reforms:

"BERSIH has asked for free, fair and transparent elections. This is fundamental in a democratic parliamentary system. But Malaysia practices the ‘first past the post’ electoral system. In other words, it is seats and not votes that count.

Yes, Malaysia has free, fair and transparent elections. It is free because you do not have to pay any money to vote. In fact, you can even receive money if you agree to vote for the ruling party. It is therefore more than free. It is profitable as well. And if your area faces a by-election, you will further receive tens of millions in development as the many by-elections thus far have proven.

Malaysian elections have never been transparent. But now the Elections Commission has introduced transparent ballot boxes. So, as far as the government is concerned, Malaysian elections are now transparent as well and there is no longer any reason for anyone to complain about Malaysian elections not being transparent enough. Of course, the people in government are not able to differentiate between a transparent system and transparent ballot boxes. It is like Samy Vellu walking into his office stark naked and declaring to all and sundry that he runs his ministry in a very transparent manner and nothing is hidden from public view."

From Haris Ibrahim’s ‘The People’s Parliament’:

“Rashid is due to retire on 31st December, 2007.

The move to extend Rashid’s term for another year could mean either that the elections will only be held next year or if before the end of this year, then Rashid is still needed to helm the EC if and when there are petitions to challenge any election results.

Pak Lah is pushing for a constitutional amendment to extend the retirement age to 66.

There they go again, messing about with our constitution for their own ends.

On 20th November, 2007, bodoh! bodoh! bodoh! tabled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 in Parliament for its first reading. This bill seeks to extend the retirement age of EC members to 66.
The bill is scheduled for the second and third reading on 11th December, 2007.

Kim Quek has written an excellent piece on this disgraceful move to tinker with the constitution. It appears in Malaysiakini and you can read it HERE. “

On the day scheduled for the second and third reading of the bill, BERSIH is planning a gathering outside Parliament at 11am to call on parliamentarians to vote against the bill."

Qualities of Senior Management

Once upon a time, in a nice little forest, there lived an orphaned bunny and an orphaned snake. By a surprising coincidence, both were blind from birth. One day, the bunny was hopping through the forest, and the snake was slithering through the forest, when the bunny tripped over the snake and fell down.

This, of course, knocked the snake about quite a bit. "Oh, my," said the bunny, "I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I've been blind since birth, so, I can't see where I'm going. In fact, since I'm also an orphan, I don't even know what I am."

It's quite ok," replied the snake. "Actually, my story is as yours. I too have been blind since birth, and also never knew my mother. Tell you what, maybe I could slither all over you, and work out what you are so at least you'll have that going for you."

"Oh, that would be wonderful" replied the bunny. So the snake slithered all over the bunny, and said, "Well, you're covered with soft fur, you have really long ears, your nose twitches, and you have a soft cottony tail. I'd say that you must be a bunny rabbit."

Oh, thank you, thank you," cried the bunny, in obvious excitement. The bunny suggested to the snake, "Maybe I could feel you all over with my paw, and help you the same way that you've helped me." So the bunny felt the snake all over, and remarked, "Well, you're smooth and slippery, and you have a forked tongue, no backbone and no balls. I'd say you must be either a team leader, supervisor, or possibly someone in senior management... "

Tell me the truth...

but will you listen?

An elderly couple who were childhood sweethearts had married & settled down in their old neighborhood.

To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary they walk down to their old school. There, they hold hands as they find the desk they shared & where he had carved "I love you, Sally".

On their way back home, a bag of money falls out of an armoured car practically at their feet. She quickly picks it up, & they don't know what to do with it so they take it home. There, she counts the money, & its fifty-thousand dollars.

The husband says: "We've got to give it back".

She says, "Finders keepers" & puts the money back in the bag & hides it up in their attic.

The next day, two FBI men are going from door-to-door in the neighbourhood looking for the money show up at their home.

One knocks on the door & says: "Pardon me, but did either of you find any money that fell out of an armoured car yesterday?"

She says: "No"..

The husband says: "She's lying. She hid it up in the attic."

She says: "Don't believe him, he's getting senile."

But the agents sit the man down & begin to question him.

One says: "Tell us the story from the beginning."

The old man says: "Well, when Sally & I were walking home from school yesterday ..."

At this, the FBI guy looks at his partner & says: "We're outta here .."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to become popular or otherwise

Khairy is now so well known with his stated ambition to become the PM by the age of 40 that there are actually ‘Anti-Khairy’ websites, which I just discovered when I did a search!


With such an ambition made public, it is only natural that there are many senior contenders who have to behave nice to him while his father-in-law is the incumbent with the power to decide who can be candidates in the coming elections. He had already admitted that he has to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, well, not exactly in those words.

There is a saying used in the Hong Kong serials: ‘ngo thai tou hei ke cheen, ngo charng tou hei ke hau peen’ which literally means ‘I look at his front and I hate him right to his back’. The reason why I am saying this is that I overheard someone at the coffeeshop saying that he would not like to see his picture all over the public places of business as Prime Minister. In other words, already there are some people who do not look forward to seeing him as such.

In the meantime, just imagine this picture in the shops a few years from now:



For us who are non-Malays and especially non-Umno citizens, we have to get used to whoever will become the future Umno President and Prime Minister and hope that he will truly be PM for all.

A Rose among the thorns...

The letter from Dr. Toh Kin Woon, Gerakan state executive councillor, seems like a breath of fresh air coming from the government. But, sad to say, it is only an exception to the rule and he, having indicated that he is retiring from politics.

It must be suffocating and stifling, being in the BN and having to behave like the three monkeys who are supposed to 'see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil' or else face the whip by Macho Nazri.

From Malaysiakini:

I disagree with the country's leaders
Dr Toh Kin Woon
Nov 28, 07 6:24pm

Several major marches and pickets, all peaceful, have taken place in our country over the last few months.

There was the ‘Walk for Justice’ organised by the Bar Council. This peaceful march called for a complete review of the country’s judiciary system with a view to restoring its independence, and hence put into effect the separation of powers so important for justice. This was followed by a march to the palace organised by Bersih, a broad coalition of political parties and NGOs, calling for free and fair elections.

The most recent, this time to hand over a memorandum to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, was organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, in short. Although the stated objective of this last demonstration was to demand compensation for the exploitation of Indians from the British government, it was in effect to highlight the socio-economic and cultural plight of the Indians, especially their lower strata.

To all these must be added the numerous pickets called by the trade unions for higher salaries just to meet rises in costs of living so burdensome to the workers.

All these marches and pickets, especially those organised by Bersih and Hindraf, drew tens of thousands of people. And this, despite the authorities warning the public not to take part as these assemblies were all so-called “illegal”. Participants were threatened with arrest should they take part in all these illegal assemblies.

These marches drew flak and condemnation from almost all Barisan Nasional leaders. Their criticisms centred on their illegality, potential threat to peace, the possible destablisation of the economy including frightening away foreign investors. I disagree with the views of our country’s leaders.

Instead of condemning, one would have thought and hoped that they should have been more concerned over the grievances, frustrations and disappointments that have brought so many thousands to the streets in the first place and to seek fair and just solutions to them.

Is it true that there are lots of defects in our country’s judicial system? If so, what are they? What must we do to overcome these so that we can restore its independence, and give real substance to the separation of powers in order to strengthen our country’s democratic institutions?

Likewise, what are the shortcomings in our country’s electoral system, especially pertaining to the electoral rolls, election campaigning, access to media, etc? And on Hindraf, what are the grievances, frustrations and unhappiness of the lower strata of the Indian community, and that of all the other communities, pertaining to housing, education, health, jobs, equity and religious freedom?

Until and unless these and many more issues concerning our country’s judicial and electoral systems as well as social justice for the poor are looked into seriously and satisfactory solutions found, the discontent that has brought thousands to the streets over the last several months will remain. To me, it is this discontent and unhappiness that will be a greater threat to our country’s peace and stability, rather than the marches, pickets and demonstrations.

To be fair, the government did finally agree to the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry to look into the Lingam case that triggered the outpouring of dissatisfaction over the state of our judicial system. The terms of reference of this soon to be set-up royal commission have, however, not yet been announced. Hopefully, its scope of work will include getting to the bottom of why our judicial system has declined so precipitously over the years.

A truly democratic society that allows peaceful marches, an independent and just judicial system, free and fair elections, equal respect by the state for all religious faiths and social justice for the poor are, among others, the key pillars of democracy, peace and stability. Without these, no amount of coercion, including the threat to use the obnoxious Internal Security Act (ISA), can bring us the lasting peace and security that all Malaysians desire.

Finally, I find it extremely disturbing that a backbench Barisan Nasional MP who took a divergent stand on Hindraf should be so severely rebuked and chastised by a couple of BN leaders. This clearly does not augur well at all for intra-BN democracy.

The message sent seems to be that all BN elected representatives are expected to be meek and passive followers of the views of their leaders and that no space is provided for independent views, including those articulated by the larger civil society. I wonder how such a stance by the leaders can attract people who want to seek changes from within!

The writer is a member of Gerakan and Penang state executive councillor for Economic Planning, Education, and Human Resources Development, Science, Technology and Innovation.

Bon Voyage



‘Bon Voyage’, ‘Have a pleasant journey’ or ‘Yat lou soon foong’(literally ‘smooth wind all the way') are the usual ways we wish those who are travelling. It has to do with so many unexpected situations that can happen which can derail one’s best of plans. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted nor the pessimists.


Beng had his fair share of anxiety in his recent trip to look up his research-minded sister in Maastricht and his friend in Milan:

Knowing that the first train to Waterloo East was at 5.13am from Lewisham Station, I got out of bed at 4am to get ready and waited for the bus around 4.30am... One hour later, I was still waiting for the delayed train, and with 13 minutes to arrive Waterloo East, 5 minutes to walk over to the Eurostar check in counter and given 30 minutes check in time, there really was not much time. It sums up the inefficiencies of the British Rails and when I finally checked in (just) and got on the Eurostar, it was five minutes to take off, I mean chug off.

So then it was such a relief to reach Brussels Zuid and get in the Belgian train thinking whether it’s the spirit of nationalism that actually serves the european countires better compared to the British National Rail companies... However, I was pretty confused to be honest upon arrival in Brussels, as I was told on my train ticket that I would be arriving at Bruxxelles Midi and checking the Dutch rail itinerary, I was supposed to get on the Brussels Zuid train station to get to Maastricht. Little did I know that Brussels Zuid = Bruxxelles Midi. The reason behind this was seeing Midi I was thinking Middle, right? And god knows what Zuid meant! According to my sister, Zuid actually means South since 'ui' in Dutch is pronounced 'ou' thus, Zuid = Z'ou'd.

Complaining about the inefficiencies of the trains in the UK, throughout the trip I was given an insight to the relative comparisons as the Dutch national rail service does not really fare as well too! There was this one trip as I was going back to Maastricht from Eindhoven when I reached the last stop (Sittard) before Maastricht. An announcement was made in Dutch and the next thing you know, I was off course and going to an entirely different destination. Then of course there were the rail strikes in France and Germany that almost crippled the entire economy. There is nothing like coming out of your country of residence to appreciate what we have eh?

Just a food for thought about transportation prices, the Eurostar to Brussels and back cost me £60 (e 84) which is a 2 hour train ride. For the train to Eindhoven and back to Maastricht, which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, it cost me e 30 (£21). Then the train ride to Roermond from Maastricht which is about 40 minutes cost about e 15 return (£10.5). Now this may not be the most enticing way of travel, but in Europe it really is essential as it brings us around through different borders. Comparatively a 25 minute train ride from Lewisham to Dartford used to cost me £4.10 which when you think about it, really isn’t that expensive. And my sister was telling me that rail travel in Holland was cheap.

However in Milan, a 30 minute train ride from Bergamo to Milan central for a day would cost around e 3 (£2.10). Now that is what I call a bargain!


Beng

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bersih dan Hindraf...

Much has been written and many pictures as well as videos have been shown about the rallies on November 10 and 25. Rather than repeating, I wish to quote Bernard Khoo's on Hindraf:

"YOU GASSED US, YOU BATHED US IN CHEMICALLY-LACED JETS OF WATER, YOU MAN-HANDLED AND ARRESTED OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.IF YOU WON YESTERDAY, JUST REMEMBER OUR DAY WILL COME, COME THE GENERAL ELECTIONS.THAT WILL BE OUR DAY!"

"I HAVE BEEN WONDERING HOW COME THE RED CRESCENT AND THE ST. JOHN AMBULANCE ARE NOT AROUND TO RENDER AID? AREN’T THEY INDEPENDENT, WELFARE AGENCIES, PLEDGED TO GIVE MEDICAL AID TO FRIEND OR FOE? SOMEBODY, GIVE US AN ANSWER PLEASE!"

"I took the opportunity to engage my fellow-walkers. Palani, an electronic technician from Kedah volunteered, “We are here not for the money from the Queen. We are here my friends and I to ask for fair treatment and equal opportunities “ His friends echoed similar sentiments but the most vocal was Sundaraj from Sentul. “Our temples are torn down, our gods are bulldozed into pieces. Samy Velu did not protest for us, so we have to do it ourselves.”

"I took a dicey chance but told Kumaresan from Sri Petaling that despite this the Indians will still vote for MIC. His immediate retort had a finality about it: “Not this time, uncle.” However, Kumaresan’s friend, seemingly angry at my statement asked: “You Chinese, why are you here?” “To support you,” I shot back. And he shook my hand. It was a meaningful handshake. It conveyed gratitude and determination. Jokingly while shaking my hand, he said: “I thought you Special Branch, uncle.” How do I qualify for this tag?"

"Let me just volunteer this to the party in power: “DON’T GIVE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE MASSES TO HATE YOU. TRY CONSCIENTIOUSLY TO RECALL WHAT STARTED THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. I WILL HELP YOU. WASN’T IT HATRED FOR THE RULING CLASS AND THEIR RUNNING DOGS?"

I think 'Bersih' and 'Hindraf' are going to be potent forces in the coming election.

It's my way or the highway...

"There's nothing wrong with your koo-koo. Go back to your wife!"



(Picture borrowed from Zorro unmasked)

With the recent legal reform which criminalizes marital rape, I just wish to highlight a minor aspect from a different perspective.

A married man with a menopausal wife will have to contend with being celibate or try to be imaginative. While he contends with his sexual needs, the master-bedroom which turns into a masturbate room is no longer a joke.

Being a reasonable man, he has to decide among the options of monk-hood, straying or divorce. In the meantime, his health suffers as a result of being humiliated with the wife’s rejection and it is contributing to his likely erectile dysfunction problem. Imagine with a ‘don’t touch me partner’, all romantic and erotic thoughts, which he relied on before, disappeared and he is at a loss as to how to make it work again.

According to Australian sex therapist and relationship counsellor Dr Rosie King. “many marriages are strained as a result of desire discrepancy. Because a woman’s sexual desire is low, the wheels may fall off in the relationship. The relationship may become toxic as while he chases her, she withdraws from him.”

“The sexual contact will be good for the marriage as the couple spends some intimate time together. There is a saying ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’ and one should remember that regular sexual activity facilitates sexual functions,” she said, adding that medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED) may also rear its ugly head when a man is in his 40s.”

Wherever he goes to, gossips among women seem to go along the lines like, ‘that ungrateful so-and-so left his wife for a younger woman’ and ‘all men cannot be trusted’. In other words, he has to contend with “no means no” and any other action will be criticised no matter what the reasons were.

While we contend with problems of the majority cases of wife abuse and marital rape, spare a thought to the rare cases of husbands who are being emotionally abused by their wives, which left no scars. There is no avenue without criticism sums up his dilemma.
Dr. Rosie added, “While worrying about this, the man would also have to deal with less intense orgasms and a longer recovery period,” she said, adding that while a young man takes an average of 19 minutes before he is good to go again, a 55-year-old man may take anything from 24 hours to a week.”

Unless the relationship is already written off, it does not take much to please a husband, does it?
I cannot help recalling the recent news of Sapura’s boss who is 76, married to an Iranian of 30. Just imagine someone else, say in his 50s, having to consider celibacy. Does it seem natural? But then again, not many are as rich as him.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

We are part of the animal kingdom...

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!' - Dave Barry
Dog, like this one, barks but would immediately retreat when challenged. Some animals, like these 3 well known monkeys, are sworn to 'hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil'.

This greedy one will even take you as breakfast!

Is it in our culture to overstay welcome?

So soon after our former Chief Justice extension saga, our Election Commission Chairman is expected to have his term extended so that he can be in charge of the impending General Elections. He is reported to have said that he is willing to serve even after retirement! It can only reinforce our perception that he has been the mastermind in election rigging after all.

Our government seems to taunt and test our patience in view of their 90% majority in Parliament.

From Kim Quek in Malaysia Today:

"Almost by stealth, the government has just quietly introduced a constitutional amendment that will have an important impact on Malaysia’s course of history. On Nov 20, minister Nazri Abdul Aziz tabled for first reading the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 that seeks to extend the retirement age of members of election commission (EC) from 65 to 66. This bill will be tabled for second and third reading on Dec 11.

This lightning move to amend the constitution is obviously to enable current EC chairman Rashid Rahman - due for mandatory retirement on coming Dec 31 when he reaches 65 - to preside over a critical general election that may take place soon.

Rashid is a virtual UMNO functionary, having faithfully served to advance the political fortunes of UMNO led coalition Barisan Nasional through unabashed gerrymandering at every constituency re-delineation exercise in the past few decades. Our memories are still vivid of his shameful conduct as EC chairman in the Ijok by-election in April 2007 – an election so scandalised that it rendered election Malaysian-style meaningless. Apart from committing every election sin imaginable in that by-election, BN’s open and massive bribery - spending tens of millions of public funds on a constituency of only 12,000 voters in a matter of days prior to polling – was virtually crying out for punishment. And yet, in the face of such blatant challenge to his authority, EC chairman Rashid not only failed to blow the penalty whistle as an umpire should, but instead had abetted the crime by endorsing such bribery as legitimate government expenses."

Since we have short memory, from Malaysiakini:

Bersih to EC: Here’s the proof!
March 29th, 2007
Andrew Ong

While Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claims that his detractors have ‘no proof’ of the commission’s faults, election reform movement Bersih said he had ignored the obvious. Bersih, comprising 26 NGOs and five opposition political parties, today listed several recent glaring election irregularities:

· Releasing electoral rolls to candidates three days before polling
· Releasing electoral rolls to candidates that are starkly different from the ones held by EC officials at polling centres
· Not publishing electoral rolls for public scrutiny prior to the general elections Missing ballot papers in the Kuala Terengganu and Lumut parliamentary seats
· Existence of non-citizens in the electoral roll during the 2001 Likas by-election

Judicial review

Furthermore, Bersih pointed out that several allegations pertaining to the 2004 general elections brought up in a judicial review case initiated by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), also remains unanswered. Among the issues raised in the case were:

· Use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC
· Allowing pondok panas (campaign booths at polling centres) at the last minute in contravention of the law
· The extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7pm
· The practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of the ballot paper
· Whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending (The application for judicial review was struck out after the attorney-general, representing the EC, argued that all challenges pertaining to elections had to be made in form of an election petition according to Article 118 of the Federal Constitution)

Insincere challenge

On March 21, Abdul Rashid claimed that his critics did not furnish proof that the EC was not transparent in its actions and challenged them to take him and the commission to court.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Bersih committee member and PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said the challenge was not sincere as Abdul Rashid was well aware that the public could not take the EC to court.

Sivarasa said the government with the consent of the EC had on June 2002, amended the Election Act 1954 making the electoral roll “final and binding” - effectively removing all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the roll.

“When he was in part responsible for immunising the electoral roll from any challenge in an election petition, why is Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?” asked Sivarasa, a practising lawyer.

Quoting the judgement in the Likas by-election petition in 2001, Sivarasa said the Election Court then had found the electoral roll to be tainted but the EC-initiated legal amendments in 2002 no longer allowed proper public scrutiny of the roll.

(I have not ruled out the possibility of a snap election in December to avoid all the hassle of extension if Rashid is so indispensable.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

My name is Bond, James Bond...

and I dislike being challenged.

I can deliver something that is faster than your boy-boy's Ferrari.

Disclaimer: the picture is a doctored one copied from another blog.

Years ago, the English used to make fun of the Italians saying that they make cars with one forward gear and four reverse!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An urgent open letter to Malaysian Highway Authority

At around 1.30pm today my wife and I were caught in a massive traffic jam (from Km237 to Km232 along the North-South Expressway because of the landslide at Bukit Berapit which is just after the former Hanjoong Cement factory on the right side if we are going northwards.

While inching our way, we noticed 3 traffic policemen on their motorbikes and 3 ambulances sped past us. At the time, we did not know what happened but noticed some trucks unloading earth just north of the cement factory. We also noticed a few vehicles on the old road parked and my wife noticed there were no passing vehicles. As we approached nearer the scene, we saw an excavator clearing earth already covering the whole of the old road with a tipper truck, which was already turned on its side by the force of the landslide. We noticed a number of makeshift tents with police and other personnel and the ambulances waiting for just in case there were any persons buried under. There was a helicopter hovering above too.

On our return journey, before we joined the NSE at Changkat Jering, I suggested to my wife to call Plus to enquire whether the road is clear and the person confirmed it was. At the toll entrance we noticed additional booths for payment and unusual number of vehicles. The number of vehicles at the entrance booth and the expressway until Bukit Gantang service area appeared normal but we got a shock when we were again caught in another massive jam. Soon after, we heard over Mix Fm that one lane of the southbound NSE is still closed which explained the no improvement in traffic flow. My wife had earlier wanted to avoid the expressway by going back via Bruas and was fuming that Plus had given a totally different traffic situation from Mix Fm.

Just outside Bukit Gantang service area, we saw a Toyota Camry and a Ford saloon with their boots smashed in, and a Jabatan Bomba Pajero with its front left mudguard smashed in. Initially, we were puzzled as to how the accidents could have happened when there was a massive traffic jam. Then I remembered another accident in January which to me, was caused by the lack of warning of road obstruction along the expressway and the high speed of vehicles which could not brake in time.

In January, while we were travelling northwards along NSE, at Km176 which was just before the exit to Bandar Baru Serdang, there was an earlier accident involving a trailer and the road was covered with white liquid. We were travelling along the fast lane and I had to stop suddenly because the whole expressway was suddenly closed off for clearing the white substance. I had to quickly put on my hazard light to warn those vehicles travelling fast behind me! At the time I was annoyed at the totally irresponsible manner the workers were carrying out their work. A few hours later, on our return journey southwards, I saw another trailer and some cars involved in a pile-up just before the place where the trailer was still stuck on the expressway. I honestly believe the second accident was due to the lack of warning of the obstruction and again the high speed of vehicles which could not brake in time. This has happened so often that I felt guilty for not highlighting the matter so that the relevant authorities could do something to prevent recurrence.

I have also noticed the lack of coordination in putting out information to the motorists, for example, the differing news from the radio station and that given by the Plus call centre. By the time we got caught again when we joined at Changkat Jering, prompt information and action to prevent vehicles from joining the already jammed expressway would have saved a lot of time and fuel. Perhaps, Plus was too concerned with the loss of income if they were to provide such efficient service!

By the time we reached the site of the landslide (jammed from Km 226 to Km232), we saw some workers washing the road using water from a tanker, which caused the one lane closure and many people hanging around in obvious discussion over the incident. Now the question I wish to put forward is why the urgency in washing when there was still a massive traffic jam? To make matters worse, the northbound traffic was jammed from Km232 to Km239 even though both lanes were open and there was no police to ensure the vehicles move along instead of looking at the site!

Ideally, the whole expressway should have electronic signs to warn motorists of any obstruction or other relevant information like alternative routes to take. But in the meantime, Plus should have been pro-active in helping motorists instead of avoiding loss of revenue which a prompt and decisive action would entail. With today’s technology of mobile phones and computers, it is within their capability.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wishing Malaysiakini Happy 8th Anniversary!



How time flies! I checked my file and found my first letter, giving moral support to YB Fong Po Kuan when she was suspended for six months, which was published in December 2001 - almost 6 years ago!

Since that first letter, I have written a fair number under different pen names, partly to confuse the authorities and partly so as not to overuse my name until people get sick of it. My record so far was 3 letters published in a single day using different names!

I have just done something unusual by forwarding my comments on Kalimullah's opinion in the NST to the editor just after I have posted in my blogsite because I could not use my streamyx as well as yahoo mail!

I am taking this opportunity to thank Steven Gan for his kind indulgence and may I wish him and his crew greater success in this era of web publishing.

Confession in Yorkshire accent...





Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
I had sex with seven different women last night..

We are all sinners in the eyes of God.
You must take seven lemons, cut them in half and juice them.
Then drink the juice down in one gulp.



And I’ll be forgiven?

No But it will wipe that fooking smirk off your face!

R.D. Jones and His Sewing Machine

While surfing for more information on my wife's early Jones sewing machine which we brought back 30 years ago, I found the following joke:

The following is an ad from a real-life newspaper which appeared four days in a row - the last three hopelessly trying to correct the first day’s mistake.
MONDAY:
For sale: R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone 948-0707 after 7 P.M., and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap.
TUESDAY:
Notice: We regret having erred In R. D. Jones’ ad yesterday. It should have read “One sewing machine for sale cheap. Phone 948-0707 and ask for Mrs. Kelly, who lives with him after 7 P.M.”
WEDNESDAY:
Notice: R. D. Jones has informed us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of the error we made in the classified ad yesterday. The ad stands correct as follows: “For sale — R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 948-0707 after 7 P.M. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who loves with him.”
THURSDAY:
Notice: I, R. D. Jones, have no sewing machine for sale. I intentionally broke it. Don’t call 948-0707 as I have had the phone disconnected. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but she has now quit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Comment on Kalimullah's opinion in the NST

Umno’s chief propagandist, Kalimullah Hassan had a field day publishing his opinion in his controlled paper, the NST, headlined ‘Reform yes,but not through violence in the streets’ which covers two and a half page in The New Sunday Times.

I find his headline objectionable for the simple reason that it was not true that there was violence except those instances caused by the police.

He highlighted ‘It does seem strange that Anwar, who headed two of the most controversial election campaigns in Malaysian history in the last 15 years, would be the one asking for electoral reforms.’

Though he is well entitled to his opinions, I feel it would only be fair to publish opinions from those with alternative opinions but it is next to impossible to expect such goodwill from a crony of the present leadership. Anwar happened to be the most suitable leader in the current situation and the rally was not initiated by him. It was by Bersih, a coalition of opposition parties and NGOs. While he belittled some relatively unknown NGOs, this can be said of those who claimed to have suffered losses in business, who to my mind, are nothing more than people out for publicity and winning favours from the powers that be.

He also highlighted ‘And the current government despite its flaws has repeatedly talked and sought improvements in the delivery systems, in strengthening institutions and in ensuring it is fair to all.’ Here again, it is his opinion with the benefit of the control of mainstream newspaper and having the last say as though it was the gospel truth. There are countless well-documented cases of corruption and leakages in the delivery systems in the online websites like Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today which do not see any light of day and which the government can simply dismiss as lies.

A good example of how the government would try to avoid taking action is the Lingam video. If not for the ingenuity of Anwar with incontrovertible evidence, the matter could have been swept under the carpet. Just imagine an obvious video recording had to go through a panel of 3, followed by a panel of 3 ministers with legal background and then a full cabinet before a decision could be made to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry!

The lies propagated by the newspapers were incredible. For example, the number of people who took to the streets was taken as 4,000 yet the number of police on duty was also 4,000, which meant a one-to-one supervision. The many pictures and even videos showed otherwise. Bearing in mind, the people disregarded the PM ’s as well as IGP’s warnings by turning out in such huge numbers, and I am sure the number would have been phenomenal if the government had given its blessings.

“Has the Barisan Nasional government ensured fairness in conducting elections? Ironically, despite flaws, fair elections have been proven in the defeats the BN suffered in the polls.” This line of reasoning can easily be countered by the argument that if there had been fair elections, the opposition would have won more seats. Winning 90% of parliamentary seats with just 64% was not something to shout about on fairness.

As to the allegation that DAP seems to have followed the style of PAP in having the son succeeding the father and ‘what happens when DAP wins an election through the electoral process that it wants reformed?’,

I could have said that ‘we shall cross the bridge when we come to it’ but he had been untruthful simply because there is no way DAP can ever form the government in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the rally was about election reforms to ensure fair elections. Would DAP support it if the party was not prepared to face a level playing field where any further success would make its own policies come under greater scrutiny?

In any case, Umno’s leaders had shown that extremist views while being Youth chief would have to be moderated once he aspires to go any further in the party hierarchy to gain acceptance from the other races. Being anchor party where the President also becomes Prime Minister, it is only natural that it is answerable to the people and the main objection here is the unfair practices in the general elections.

Would Kalimullah like to succeed in a dynasty where there is no possibility of taking over the government but every possibility that Kamunting beckons if the PM evokes the ISA? Anybody can form a party and establish a dynasty and nobody would bother unless the party is also the one where the PM is chosen. It is a whole world of difference.

It is a totally different scenario where succession means becoming the all-powerful PM of Malaysia, which the famous son-in-law aspires to. What did his parachuting into Umno Youth suggest? Even his crony can make tons of money and he is already laughing all the way to the bank. With that kind of money it is not good enough to just pay for the beggar’s food and drinks in a restaurant, but should offer to provide shelter as well for all the needy in the country.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Star's editorial on the Election Commission

Opinion
Friday November 16, 2007

Stop accusing the Election Commission of bias

Comment by V.K. CHIN

IT is time non-governmental organisations, political parties of all sizes and ideologies, and others stop accusing the Election Commission of bias in carrying out its work.

The commission has often been the target of the opposition, especially during a general or by-election.

The commission has been blamed for lots of things, from bias to not updating the electoral roll. However, its officials are used to such allegations, many of which are without any basis.

In fact, the commission should be lauded for doing a good job in carrying out its duties. It has been holding many general and by-elections and has always adhered strictly to the law.

At the same time, the commission can be described as one of the fairest, and most impartial, in performing its statutory duties. If elections were rigged, then opposition candidates would have no chance whatsoever in such contests.

But the fact is quite different from fiction. Opposition candidates were not only able to win many parliamentary and state seats but their parties were able to win control of state governments, too.

A good example is PAS being in control of the Kelantan state government. It managed to hold on to power despite the best efforts of its rival, Barisan Nasional.

If the commission had been unfair, PAS would have lost Kelantan a long time ago. In 1999, it even captured the Terengganu state government from the ruling coalition.

Unfortunately, opposition parties like to blame the commission to cover up their own shortcomings and inability to compete with the powerful election machinery and resources of the Barisan.

It is therefore an insult to the commission and its hardworking officials to be accused of being biased in favour of the ruling party. They should in fact be praised for their independence and fair play.

Whatever mistakes the commission has made have mostly to do with updating of the electoral roll.

For example, political parties like to highlight the fact that some dead voters’ names are still on the electoral list. Actually, it is up to the public to inform the commission of such deaths so that the names can be removed from the rolls.

It is also up to voters who have moved out of the constituencies to inform the commission, which will then be able to update the list.

Another obstacle faced by the commission is the reluctance of eligible voters to register themselves so they can exercise their democratic right to participate in elections.

Its appeal to this group has obviously fallen on deaf ears. It can only ask them to do so, and it is up to political parties to help out in this task.

The result is that millions of those qualified to become voters are deprived of this right, and surely the commission cannot be blamed for this unsatisfactory state of affairs.

Neither can the commission force voters to go to the polling booth during a general or by-election. It has tried its best to wake up these people, but the results are disappointing.

It is only due to the good work of the commission and the Barisan Nasional that Malaysian elections have been conducted in a democratic and just manner since Merdeka, and this is likely to remain so for a long time to come.

If opposition parties have no intention of praising the commission’s good work, they should keep quiet and let the agency discharge its duties without outside interference.

(Rashid should nominate him for Datukship for his unwavering support)

According to Yahya's Yap, Umno's 35.9% of total votes garnered 109 seats (49.8%) while PAS's 15.2% only managed to get 7 seats (3.2%).

In my opinion if there were level playing field, PAS's total votes should get 46 seats based on Umno's 'good fortune'!

So it looks like V K Chin and company live in a world of their own.

Ugly face of Police brutality

unnecessarily provocative


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Apt signs


Our perception of ACA...


What our Minister of Information fails to inform

and why our government was so against the Bersih rally. From blogger Yahya's Yap:

“Westminster democracy has at its core that the people are entitled to choose those who govern them in free and fair elections. This means not only that elections be held, but that the parliament elected should be broadly representative of the votes taken in the election. People must also be free to vote for who they wish without risking penalties to do so. Another assumption is that all parties will have access to and be treated equally by the media.

Malaysia's democracy has become plainly deficient in each of these respects, despite the fact that elections are held every 4-5 years.

1) The composition of parliament should be representative of the votes cast at the election.
This is demonstrably not the case in the Dewan Rakyat (Malaysia's lower house of parliament), which consists of 219 seats.

198 of these (90.4%) are controlled by the government, effectively rendering Malaysia a one-party state until the next election is held. This is despite the government only winning 63.9% of the vote.

When one considers the individual parties that make up the government, the unrepresentativeness becomes even more obvious.

UMNO (the party of the Prime Minister) won just 35.9% of the vote - yet controls half of the seats in parliament (49.8%).
PAS, the opposition party that won the largest number of votes (15.2%), has just 7 seats in parliament (3.2%).
Both these parties have mainly Malay Muslim supporters.

Looking at the two parties mainly voted for by Chinese,
the government's coalition partner MCA won 15.5% of the vote (about the same as PAS) but won 31 seats (14.2% of the parliament), while the opposition DAP won 9.9% of the vote but has just 12 seats in the parliament.

The multi-ethnic but mainly supported by Malays opposition PKR won 8.9% of the votes but just 1 seat in the parliament. By contrast the government coalition partner MIC won just 3.2% of the vote, but holds 9 seats in parliament, more than PAS who nearly 5x as many Malaysian's voted for.

This means for every seat in parliament the following number of Malaysians voted for them:

GOVERNMENT PARTIES
UMNO - 22,782 voters
MCA - 34,652 voters
MIC - 24,616 voters

OPPOSITION PARTIES
DAP - 57,278 voters
PAS - 150,211 voters
PKR - 617,518 voters

(Any errors in calculations are typos - source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Parliament)

These figures speak for themselves.

They show that UMNO and the MIC are greatly over-represented in the parliament according to the support they actually received in the elections.

The MCA, and the opposition parties who are in fact voted for by more than 1/3 of Malaysians - even in a landslide election like 2004 - are grossly under-represented.

Chinese who vote for the MCA, and even more so the DAP are treated unfairly by getting less representation that their votes deserve.

However, clearly the people most cheated in Malaysia's parliament are the 1.7 million (mainly) Malays who voted for either PAS or PKR, who got just 8 seats for their votes compared with 109 for the 2.4 million (mainly) Malays who voted for UMNO.

This is despite the claims that UMNO makes that it stands up for the interests of Malays - in fact, it cheats them of fair and honest representation more than anyone else.

Among the reasons for this state of affairs, the most important is the drawing up of electoral boundaries is done so that Malays in UMNO voting areas have electorates with much smaller numbers of voters than those in PAS voting areas.

Urban areas which vote for the opposition generally have huge numbers of voters for each electorate. This is called gerrymandering, a term which means manipulating electoral boundaries to favour one group of voters at the expense of others.

2) People should be free to vote for whom they choose without fear of recrimination.

When Malaysians go to vote, a serial number is recorded on their ballot paper that potentially allows who they voted for to be traced back to their name.

This has particular implications for government servants, many of whom believe that if they vote for the opposition this will prevent them from career advancement.

I personally know many Malays who have told me they simply don't vote because they don't want to vote for UMNO but are afraid to vote for the opposition because they fear for their government careers.

The traceability of votes back to people also encourages vote-buying, something which is impossible where votes are secret and anonymous.

3) Fairness in the media.

The Malaysian mainstream media is dependent on the government to issue licenses to allow them to keep publishing.

One former NST journalist (a friend) told me that although the papers uncover many scandals about the government - including corruption on a grand scale at the highest levels - they dare not publish for fear of losing their license.

In the political context this means that not only are the press highly restricted in criticizing the government, they are expected to not give air to the views of opposition leaders. This usually means that while the views of government ministers are presented mostly without comment, opposition leaders are seldom quoted in the newspapers and almost never seen on television.

This press bias is evident to anyone who has ever seen the media operate in a genuine democratic environment - elections are not free and fair if the government controls the main means by which ordinary citizens gather their information.

All these reasons explain why more than 40,000 Malaysians braved road-blocks, chemical-laced water-cannon and tear-gas to peacefully present a petition to their Ruler (the Agong, the leader of the nation's Sultans and constitutionally the government's boss) asking for a chance to have their votes count.

This blogger believes that ALL people regardless of ethnicity, religion or place of birth deserve to have their votes count.

The Malaysian government has been in power for 50 years, and frankly, some of their members are taking the people of Malaysia for fools. I believe they are reading Malaysians wrong, and that the people are starting to realize that they deserve to have a real choice in who governs them, not have that choice made for them in the back-rooms of UMNO.

Malaysia's independence heroes did not fight to be liberated from British tyrants to see their great-grandchildren made fools of by locally-born tyrants such as those who now appear to control UMNO.

To those 40,000+ who showed their love for Malaysia by standing up for true 'merdeka', I salute you."

Yahya’s Yap

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First-hand report by Malaysiakini intern

No ABCs of protest reporting

Chua Sue-Ann Nov 13, 07 2:45pm

ON the ground, amidst the rain and thousands of protesters, you're living in momentary frames. You wait for the next move, wait for something to happen. All your senses are on high alert. The air is unbearably thick with tension. There is nothing predictable about a planned public rally. No amount of preparation is enough (and believe me, we prepared as if we were going for a space mission!)

I found that out the hard way at the Bersih public rally for clean and fair elections last Saturday. As a student intern, I was at the protest with the Malaysiakini team. Pasar Seni, of the designated meeting spots, was a milder affair compared to the unnecessary chaos that erupted at Masjid Jamek.

Organisers of the public gathering had originally planned to gather at Dataran Merdeka before marching to the Istana Negara to hand in a memorandum to the Yang Dipertuan Agong. However, due to police lockdown of Dataran Merdeka, four alternative meeting points were designated; Pasar Seni, Masjid Jamek, Sogo and Masjid Negara.

The memorandum was drawn up by Bersih, a coalition of almost 70 civil society groups and five opposition political parties. They were appealing for the King's intervention in cleaning up the elections, which are expected to be called in the next few months. The four key reforms requested are the use of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting, a clean-up of the electoral roll to remove phantom voters, the abolishment of postal voting and equal and free access to the media.

The 500-strong crowd, consisting of concerned citizens and local civil society members, started marching from Pasar Seni at 2.30pm after receiving instructions. PKR information chief Tian Chua, Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez, prominent human rights lawyer Haris Ibrahim and Amnesty International Malaysia director Shannon Shah were among those congregated there.

Snap judgment required
Walking from to Istana Negara via Dataran Merdeka, the five hundred Bersih rally participants encountered almost a hundred police and anti-riot Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officers. A minor clash ensued as the crowd attempted to barge through police lines. Anti-riot police furiously shoved the crowd back with their shields. The crowd was forced to the left side of the road to prevent them from proceeding to Dataran Merdeka. Several people were beaten, but nobody was seriously injured.

In that moment of panic and disorder, everything I had learnt in journalism class went out the window. I guess, nobody can teach you the ABCs of reporting a protest. Every little step requires a snap judgment, whether it is to move left with the crowd, to photograph from behind police lines or to stand afar. When batons are flying, the crowd erratic and people being shoved left, right and centre, all rationale dissolves. You're on a "fight or flight" autopilot to hopefully, remain unharmed and at the same time, pray that you've managed to capture great photographs.

Watching the anti-riot policemen drag helpless protesters, I felt a little conflicted. My heart was telling me to help, do something, anything! But my mind was sternly reprimanding the heart, "No, journalists don't interfere. You are here to observe and report. Do that."

The unsung heroes of the day were undoubtedly the Badan Amal team from PAS. The maroon-clad army, played a crucial role at the rally, not just directing crowds and traffic. These brave men were right in the thick of things, protecting frontline protesters and pulling people to safety when clashes occurred.

Rally leaders then attempted to negotiate with policemen to let them pass peacefully. However, the crowd was told to either disperse or wait until a senior officer arrives to negotiate. By 3pm, the number of protesters had dwindled as many had discovered an alternative route via the Dayabumi building.

Around twenty protesters remained near Pasar Seni, awaiting further instruction. At the frontline were Irene Fernandez and several women and children pleading with the policemen to allow the rally to proceed peacefully. The crowd were chanting Daulat Tuanku (long live the King) and Allahuakbar (God is great) throughout their stand-off with the police.

Things nobody can teach you
Twenty minutes later, rally leaders of the Pasar Seni crowd broke news that two to three thousand people had managed to reach Istana Negara. Everyone burst out in joy, giving thanks to God for that good news. The remaining few dispersed quietly, shaking hands with policemen, thanking them, on their way out. Many joined the long trail of protesters walking towards Istana Negara in the rain to join the thousands more who were already there.

The King's representatives received the memorandum just before 4pm. Some of the Bersih delegates who delivered the memorandum included PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, PAS president Hadi Awang and DAP secretary- general Lim Guan Eng. After the memorandum was delivered, the crowds were ordered to disperse peacefully. Many made their way, on foot, to Masjid Negara for prayers.

News of police brutality towards protesters at Masjid Jamek earlier in the afternoon surfaced amongst the crowd still hanging around the streets. The full impact of the violence only sank in much later, after watching Al Jazeera's great coverage of the rally. It was very confronting to see tear gas bullets and water canons fired so liberally at the crowd of almost 2,000.

I'll confess that part of me wished I was at the area to witness the chaos. But another side of me wonders if I would have known what to do in those circumstances. Even veteran journalists found themselves lost in the thick of it all, what more I, an aspiring journalist? There are many things you cannot learn from books and classes.

There are certain things nobody can teach you. There are certain times where you must rely on faith and good intuition alone. This is one of those things, as I’ve learnt last Saturday.

Essential reading for our 'Macho' Nazri

notwithstanding he does not read blogs but I am sure all Ministers secretly read Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today. I am reproducing selected letters for the benefit of some of my friends who are even afraid to log onto the two sites for fear of attracting cyber troopers who are trained and paid to hack and introduce viruses and trojan horses. It is very disappointing to know there are many who did not know the truth about the November 10, such is the effectiveness of control over the mainstream media.

From Malaysiakini's letter section:

Malaysia’s Goebbels at work

Dr Lim Teck Ghee Nov 13, 07 5:05pm

Hitler’s notorious minister of propaganda would have been proud of the way the editors of our English and some vernacular national media covered what is probably the most important event the country has seen in relation to public outrage over the way the ruling party has rigged the elections. The two English papers focused almost entirely on the massive traffic jams and the government’s version of the historic gathering held to present public concerns on election rigging to the palace.

Such incredibly biased spin by our mainstream media of the Istana Negara march on Nov 10 and further efforts by the government to discredit the organisers and opposition parties is an attempt to conceal what almost two generations of Malaysians and international political and social scientists have written numerous books and research papers on: the systematic debasement of the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process over the last 50 years.

Dishonest electoral conduct by the ruling party includes:

The manipulation of electoral boundaries
The vast disparity of voter numbers among the constituencies
The grossly unfair use of the governmental machinery in support of ruling party candidates
The growing incidence of phantom, postal and absentee voters
Various other irregularities and unethical practices

In addition, there is a denial of legitimate media space to the opposition parties; silencing of issues they have raised and minimal, if any, coverage of their proposals for change. It is no wonder that the leaders of the ruling party are confident the Barisan Nasional can be in power for the next 50 years.

Readers interested in how the ruling party has manipulated the electoral process to its advantage are spoilt for choice. Reference to any of the following scholars: Sothi Rachagan, Mavis Puthucheary, Noraini Othman, Lim Hong Hai, Wong Chin Huat, Harold Crouch, James Jesudason, John Funston, Rainer Heufers, Bridget Welsh, Ong Kian Meng, Mustafa Anuar, James Chin, William Case, Francis Loh Kok Wah, Andrew Aeria and others.

These will provide important facts and figures on the truth behind the facade of ‘free and fair’ elections in the country. Unfortunately such analysis and data have been deliberately obliterated Goebbels-style from the national media coverage so far.

Finally, the Malaysian public will be interested to know some of the important ideas that have emerged from the independent scholarship on the reform needed to ensure a free and fair political process. These include:

A reintroduction of local elections.

Upholding the principle of ‘One person one vote’ by restricting the disparity in constituency sizes and prohibiting gerrymandering; or introducing the elements of proportional representation into the electoral system.

Adherence to the principle of administrative neutrality by barring ruling parties from buying votes through development pledges and misusing public service facilities and apparatus for electioneering purposes.

Ensuring free and fair access to mass media by all parties.

The elimination of polling irregularities by cleaning up the electoral roll, abolishing domestic postal voting and employing indelible ink.

Repeal of the1962 amendment to the Constitution which abrogated the Electoral Commission’s right to enforce fair delineation of constituencies

Guarantees to ensure that the Electoral Commission is free from any form of political pressure or influence.

Another first-hand report

From Malaysiakini's letters section:

The day I helped deliver the memo to the King

Ronald Quay Nov 12, 07 5:58pm

A Kuala Lumpur native all my life, I was figuring out which was the best route to navigate my car to attend the Bersih rally at Dataran Merdeka on Saturday. Thought I ought to do my bit for the Bersih cause which I felt was just.

Because of a thunderstorm at about 2.30pm or so, I had no problems driving to the Bank Negara roundabout. The idea was to park my car somewhere nearby and take a walk to Dataran Merdeka. But when I arrived there, there was hardly anyone around save for policemen. Upon inquiring where everyone was, I received the reply that all had already marched to the Istana.

The rain soon abated and I figured the best way forward in the midst of a massive traffic jam was to find my way to Muzium Negara and park my car there. Thankfully, keeping to the left-hand side of the lane along the ever busy Jalan Istana, I reached the Muzium car park in quick time.

While I was walking on the road to the palace, behind me I saw a few gentlemen alighting from three cars and one of them, wearing a blazer, was walking in a hurry to the same destination I was also headed. The perfect gentleman that I am, and as it was still drizzling, I thought I ought to share my umbrella with the gentleman in the blazer who was obviously in a hurry, escorted by his cohorts.

I guess he was surprised that I extended to share my umbrella with him. He introduced himself as Dr (Syed) Azman (Syed Ahmad) and I reciprocated and introduced myself as Ronnie. These days, you could easily identify a PAS supporter.

Nonetheless, I asked him, "Are you from PAS?" He nodded and replied, "Yes, I’m from PAS and I am the chief of the party's international bureau." Then he pointed to his leather-bound folder, and said, "See this? This is the petition which we are sending to the King." Wow!

We were walking at a furious pace towards the palace, as obviously he was in a hurry as he said they (the leaders) are waiting for this memorandum to be handed over to the palace. As we were walking, I quickly got initiated as a "member" of the Bersih cause when for a few seconds, Dr Azman asked me to hold the memorandum while he was rummaging to retrieve something from his jacket with both his hands. I literally had ‘a hand’ in the Bersih cause!

We quickly reached the massive crowd, all gathered on both sides of the road leading to the palace gates. The scene was a sea of yellow and many were drenched from the earlier downpour. Immediately, upon reaching the crowd, Dr Azman's men pleaded, "Please, please make way, the memorandum has arrived for the King!"

Just like Moses' ability to part the Red Sea to create a passage for his flock to cross, I saw immediately all those seated or squatting on the road, in a matter of moments, opened a path for Dr Azman to walk through. Dr Azman waved a quick goodbye to me to indicate his thank you. But I thought this was too exciting an event to miss some great moments. Also, where can you get an opportunity to walk through a crowd of thousands unobstructed?

Believe it or not, as I walked through, I could even feel the heat emanating from the mass of humans. It's an extraordinary experience. So I continued to walk closely behind Dr Azman, acting like another important emissary, still with the umbrella overhead.

It was a sensational feeling. To walk through this human corridor, with every person looking at you and, perhaps wondering who the hell is this Chinaman walking behind a PAS leader?

Anwar Ibrahim and Hadi Awang were quickly spotted and next thing I knew, I suddenly heard huge roars of "Allahu Akbar" and "Rerformasi!" I think Dr Azman managed to pass on the petition to the two leaders. And suddenly the crowds began to surge forward to follow their leaders.

With the police just about 10 metres away to the left, it was pretty amazing to see groups of volunteers in maroon uniforms, all thoroughly drenched, linking their hands to form a human chain around their leaders, to protect them just in case anything untoward were to happen. It was then I realised I could not go any further except to go back and be a part of the crowd which I was happy to do, after the satisfying feeling that, just like the many thousands of petitioners congregating there, I, too, did my bit. And what a big bit, too!

Soon after, Anwar Ibrahim and Hadi Awang were brought forward on the shoulders of their supporters to the middle of the road for both to make their speeches to the massive crowd.

But it was well nigh impossible to hear them speak as hovering closely overhead, maybe about 100 feet up were two helicopters circling the Istana and the crowds, making one helluva of a din. Obviously, the aerial mission was to deliberately fly low and to drown out the sound of the two speakers from two feeble megaphones. Despite the loud droning sound of the two choppers, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the massive crowd.

After a few minutes, a dolphin-like warning sound started to come out from one of the police trucks, followed by a public announcement from one of the police officers who issued a warning to the crowd to disperse. Huge sighs and groans arose from the crowd but even before the crescendo could get louder, the leaders of the gathering urged the crowd to disperse.

It was amazing to see the excellent coordination of the crowds that discipline was not an issue at all. They responded to the call of the leaders, ably marshaled by a disciplined bunch of volunteer wardens in maroon uniforms who made sure no one stepped out of line.

I am not a politician but I was most impressed with the way the Bersih movement conducted themselves.

First hand report from a 'pondan'...



My report from the 10 Nov Bersih Rally by Rashaad Ali

This is not some second-hand story; this is an account from the front line.

These are not borrowed photographs; these are pictures from the epicentre.

Because that was what the situation descended to in the city centre this afternoon, where my entire view of the present government was shattered the moment I saw those first gas cannisters fly. You can read it in a paper, on a website, in a forwarded email, but the magnanimity of the brutality will never compare to the panic that infiltrated into my being, and the fear that I now harbour for the government.

You could feel the stillness in the air, the sudden descent of tension into the atmosphere. Ominous signs paraded before us, my younger brother, my sister and I, before we even left the house. We headed toward the city via the Putra LRT, where Shaz managed this almost candid shot of policemen in RapidKL uniforms being briefed by a senior officer.

Once we exited the station at Masjid Jamek, we were greeted by the ever heart-warming sight of riot police. Here they call them the Federal Reserve Unit, but they are nothing more than mercenaries in uniform. Zealots armed with batons and gas launchers, completely apathetic to the growing crowd, swollen by passer-bys and passionate Malaysians. The police sprayed preliminary water-cannon fire on the crowd, which I wasn't to concerned about. It was only upon reaching home that I found out they were contaminated with chemicals.

Now there is something of great importance that I need to stress; in no way, absolutely none, did the demonstrators aim to incite the police. There was lots of chanting, of slogan shouting, of crowd rallying, but there was no hatred or contempt hurled against those in power. In short, we did not merit the treatment we received. One may say, "But it was an illegal gathering anyway." How can the executive issue a decree banning the people in a democracy from voicing their opinion? We are not looking for a riot. We're not looking for impeachment. We're not looking for a revolution. We want clean elections. After all, if the government did its job efficiently, without corruption,racism and wanton aggression, why would we want to vote for the opposition? The demonstration today was truly a model demonstration. A peaceful, passionate crowd standing defiant, in a completely passive manner. It was a moment to remember, the solidarity on the faces of others as we stared down the threats in the hope of a better tomorrow. All until the police became violent.

And then God played his hand; the heavens opened as it started to pour. As the precipitation flowed down my skin, a sickening sight developed before my eyes. If you notice in the above picture, the corner was crowded with people, having made some headway, only for cannon fire to push us back to the aforementioned corner. That's when the police formed a line, and fired tear gas at the crowd.

Fellow Malaysians, firing on their countrymen. It wasn't so much as the actual shooting which was horrendous, but seeing them take their line of sight made my stomach turn. These uncompassionate robots, protectors of the society shooting against the people they swear to protect. Here they are, ladies and gentlemen, "dispersing crowds", while paedophiles run riot, pun very much intended. When they fired, they shot directly infront of the crowd. Shaz and I happened to be caught in between a mass of bodies and a drain barrier. Just like some bad war movie, everything seemed to happen in slow motion, as the cannister rolled to a stop barely 10 feet away. Time sped back to normal as the people around me started scrambling into the nearby station. Shaz and I were stuck outside, but fortunately, my brother was pulled in by a fairy-tale hero.

"Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death", but don't give me tear gas. The following account is in no way dramatisation, it is, as it is. Maybe it was my severe underestimation of the pain, both physical and psychological, that caused my hesitation. If not for the rain, I shudder to think of the potential pain. Had I known...

Completely immobile and covering our faces with wet cloths, we were powerless for a good 45 seconds to the gas. Initially, you feel a sting in your nose. As the pain increases, it ignites your eyeballs into blindness. As the pain mounts unbearable, tears streaming uncontrollably out of your eyes, the gas enters the pores on your face, the sensation acid to the pH. As you try and escape the gas, running literally blindly, with your skin aflame, the gas enters your lungs, constricting respiration to almost nil. Every inhalation you take is void of oxygen, and soon you will not be able to breathe. More than once the thought of death surfaced in my mind, as I moved with, not fought against the crowd to clear the area. Shazee later told me she thought she was as good as gone as well. Tear gas brings you to the edge of death, only for you to be resuscitated back into Hell.

Finally, we broke into the station, where the gas was less. The stations themselves had all been shutdown, effectively freezing all those in the city centre, as the station officials looked on with barely masked glee. The three of us huddled in a small corner, tears, mucus and saliva smeared all over our faces like a child's hand painting, resisting the temptation to throw up. We sat there recuperating for much of the time, before continuing down the street, away from the uncivil servants. We lingered on the corner, based on utter foolishness, that the police wouldn't shoot again with so many ordinary civilians. Around us were myriad characters, women and children, to armchair politicians raised to a fury. And then they fired again.

Now I'm unaware in the ensuing panic whether they fired two volleys or one, for as we moved away from the gas (by the way, huge kudos to all BERSIH chaps for ensuring people kept cool) we turned into the corner. The shots were similar to the first episode in that they were fired infront of the crowd, however, as we entered the corner there was ANOTHER canister on my right barely 10 feet away. What luck.

As we scrambled yet again, in my mind I was still able to ponder, as the familiar pain returns, "Are they aware of how devastatingly painful it is?" I question the tactics of the police. Why fire so unbelievably close to the crowd? The gas is supposed to deter and disperse, not to cause chaos and anarchy. How would they have liked it, that fatalistic sensation creeping upon themselves?

We were able to move quicker this time. The crowd pushed and heaved past empty buildings, knocking over motorcycles carelessly parked. An entry point of one office building, and we all rushed in, taking to the stairs, and as the sensation died down the sight in the stairwell was one to behold. Like some kind of urban warfare, there were people slumped against the wall, faces in disarray, completely broken in spirit, trying to regain some semblance of composure. Around went a saviour passing out salt, which miraculously rid us of the worst effects almost instantly. Resigned to painful defeat, we decided to walk back home, with public transport at the mercy of the government.

Funnily enough, we found ourselves walking towards Istana Negara, where the memo was to be passed to the king. And i've just learned from dad that as we left the city, people lingered on as a decoy, while a mass gathering took place at the Istana. Ingenious, when you see the size of the crowd. Once again, hats off and big kudos the the organisers who did a fantastic job of keeping everyone calm, orderly, help direct traffic, etcetera, etcetera.

At the Istana, it was a normal looking sort of demonstration, one which did not look like it was gonna get ugly. Cheers as I presume the memo was handed over, and the crowd slowly dispersed. As quickly as the tear gas hit, it was all over.

Even now, as I write this, I feel a mild headache coming on. It may or may not be a side effect, but surely the worrying thing is my willingness to believe it is born out of injustice. For now, I have come to a deeper understanding as to why private security is still employed despite the police, and I may cower everytime I see smoke or smell something foreign in the air.

Today serves as a landmark for my patriotism. Today serves as a landmark for the nation's patriotism, for in the face of such cruelty and opposition we prevailed and were crowned victors of the day. I also hope, that with the events of today, change shall, God willing, be effected. The people have spoken, the people have risen, the people have taken action. The onus passes to the King as a test of strength, and to the government to clean up its act.

You want the votes? Bloody earn it.

Our HP6 Ministers...

who are prone to outbursts.

Bearing in mind Bersih's memorandum to demand clean and fair elections has the following four key reforms:

1. Use of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting.
2. To remove phantom voters and those who have died from the electoral roll.
3. The abolishment of postal voting.
4. Equal and fair access to the press.

From Malaysiaunplugged:

In Parliament, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (BN-Padang Renggas) called the Opposition, among others, “pondan” (wimps).

Nazri said it would be pointless to try and understand the reason behind the rally as the “brains of Opposition members do not function well.”

Nazri said the government has no intention to drawing up a law to allow citizens to be automatically registered as voters upon reaching 21 years of age.

He said:
"... If I were to describe this in the language of today’s youths, I would have to say that the wires in their heads are severed. I don’t understand why they claim that the EC is unfair.

I would understand if he (Anwar) says that the EC is unfair after losing an election, but he hasn't even contested to say that the EC is unfair and that's why I say that his head does not function well.

Yang Di Pertua (Speaker), this is a man (MP Lim Kit Siang ) whose 'wires in the head have severed’. We support the demonstrations in Myanmar (Burma) as there's no democracy there.

But we have democracy HERE , which is through the elections, not through street demonstrations.

Don't try to drag the King into this. The King and the people are behind us. They (the opposition) are afraid to face the next elections.

If you've no courage, don't become a 'pondan'.

Many Malaysians who shift to another state or district do not inform the National Registration Department of their new address.

In this case, they have to return to their previous constituency to cast their votes and it creates the possibility for a very poor voter turnout as many will be reluctant to travel to their previous constituencies to vote."

***

Below is a transcript of the telephone interview that Malaysia's Minister of Information Zainuddin Maidin (ZAM) gave to the Doha-based TV Network Al-Jazeera (AJ), moments after the BERSIH memo was delivered to Royal Palace at the close of the biggest anti-government protest in Malaysia in ten years. (reproduced from www.idlethink.com/bersih )

The transcript below of the interview (as close as it can be transcribed from the ramblings of the Information Minister):

ZAM: ....I commend your journalists trying to project, to exaggerate more than what actually happened. That, that, that, that's it. We, we are not, the, the -- and I, I congratulate your journalists behaving like an actor, that, that's ---

AJ: As you say that, sir, we're watching scenes of protesters being sprayed by chemical-filled water ...

ZAM (interrupts): Ya, I am watching, I hear, [?] .... trying to do it everywhere but in Malaysia people are allowed, to, you know [?] ... Police have allowed the procession to go to the Istana Negara, you know, do police, first police, like, they handle them, they [?] them, they ... the police don't, don't, don't fire anybody ...

AJ: Our correspondent came back to the office, sir, with chemicals in his eyes!

ZAM (speaking over her): ... You, you, you, you are here with the idea, you are trying to project, what is your mind, you think that we are Pakistan, we are Burma, we are Myanmar, everything you, you are thinking ...

AJ: Well unfortunately when you refuse to let people protest, it does appear so.

ZAM (speaking over her): ...Ya, ya, we are not like you, you have early perception, you come here, you want to project us like undemocratic country. This a democratic country!

AJ: So why can't people protest then, if it's a democratic country?

ZAM (interjects at "protest then"): Ya, people protest, people then -- first they protest, we are allowing protests, and they have demonstrated. But we just trying to disperse them and then later they, you know, disperse, but later our police compromise. They have compromised and allowed them to proceed to Negara. Police, our police have succeeded in handling them gently, right? Why do you report that and you take the opposition, someone from opposition party you ask him to speak, you don't take from the government, right?

AJ: Why did you not break up these protesters --

ZAM (interrupting): Pardon? Pardon? Pardon?

AJ: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?

ZAM: I can't hear you. I can't hear you.

AJ: Why did you not break up these protests more peacefully?

ZAM: No we, we are, we, this protest is illegal. We don't want, this, the, normally ... (slight pause, then continues to talk while she interjects)

AJ (interjecting): OK, so let me return to my former question. Why is this protest illegal?

ZAM (babbling on): Ya it's illegal protest because (AJ: Why?) we have the election in Malaysia. It's no, no point on having the protest, we are allowing to have every, an election every five years, never fail. We not our like, are not like Myanmar, not like other country. And, and you are helping this. You Al-Jazeera also is helping this, this forces, the, you know, these forces who are not [?], who don't believe in [?] ...

AJ (seems to want to say something, but decides not to): I don't ... many thanks for joining us.

ZAM: I don't, ya, you, Jazeera, this is, is Al-Jazeera attitude. Right?

(she doesn't reply. In the background, the chants of the protesters fill the silence)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Elia's Wedding

as reported in The Star.


"And speaking of beaming, the glowing bride Elia, eldest daughter of Datuk Raziah Mahmud Geneid and niece to the Chief Minister himself, is the face of this high society, complete with society-savvy fashion sense, corporate wisdom and enough professional qualifications to wallpaper her corner-lot office with. Plus, she is genuinely nice and polite."

"Granted, a young lady of her level should only deserve the best on her big day. With a fleet of stretch limousines (courtesy of business-man/cousin Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman), guests and family members were luxuriously ferried to the Kuching Hilton for what was to be the highlight of the city’s calendar."

"By dinner time, all guest congregated at the resplendent Kasuma Resort – a venue of such majestic proportions, you had to breast-stroke across the plush carpeting to get across to the dining area. Once there, one witnessed a multi-cultural congregation worthy of a United Nation summit, only with more chandeliers, tuxedos and estate jewellery than a Cecille B. DeMille epic."

"The father of the bride Robert Geneid’s Middle Eastern roots lent the presence of many Mediterranean luminaries which included Elham Al-Yasin, the mother of Queen Rania of Jordan, KL-based socialite Gilda Bejani and dashing Jordanians Gaim Paolo and Gerald Genta of the luxury timepiece fame. Not to be outdone, the Japanese invasion came in the form of Hirose-Muller’s family and friends, elegant in their elaborate kimonos while happily brandishing their pocket-sized Nikons relentlessly."

"Apart from the nuptials, the second agenda of the night was the engagement of Elia’s equally stunning sister, Esha “Shasha’’ Geneid to her dashing dearly-intended, Joseph Afaki. Not to be outdone, she appeared – almost sylph-like – in a frothy concoction topped by a Maharani Baroda rendition of rubies. I felt tears in my eyes as the two young couples solemnised their union in the eyes of God, their family members and loved ones."

"The next session is in Kobe, Japan, to be hosted by the Hirose Mullers. (And yes, we were all invited, in grand Sarawakian style.)"

"Looking at Datuk Raziah beam beside her husband that night, I could not help but feel equally jubilant and happy over the weekend affair. As elaborate as it was, it was clearly what every parent would want for their children – a good, positive start to life with their loved ones."

· Social observer Mansor Tun Abdul Aziz revels in the beauty and irony of city society in his fortnightly column.

(managed to search and found this on Staronline for the benefit of Beng who was Elia's university mate in Sydney. Another university mate married Elia's brother and the wedding was equally grand, attended by the previous Agong in KL and the PM in Kuching)

As a last resort when PM refuses to listen...

Can Nazri claim this is not a crowd?


In spite of warnings from PM and IGP that the rally is illegal and stern action will be taken

and they paid for their own fares!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Schoolboy fantasy and fatal attraction

This is every schoolboy's fantasy

and this is fatal attraction

More rantings from Marina...

Friday, November 9, 2007
Young Women Deserve Better, Don't They?

Hat-tip to Nuraina Samad for alerting us on Puteri UMNO chief Noraini Ahmad's dimwit speech at the UMNO GA.

At a time when young women are more than 60% of university students and are facing all sorts of challenges, what they need most are good leaders and examples. That means women who care about them and who inspire them with their intelligence and ideas. Noraini unfortunately is not it. Which disappoints me greatly because I have met her before and she seemed like a bright enough spark.

One thing I do know about leadership is that you can't come to the table with absolutely no ideas yourself. You have to have the ideas, you must be able to articulate and persuade people why you think they are good ideas and you must be open to criticism on them and work out some solution to those. You cannot simply repeat what has been said before and even then with the shallowest of introspection of whether those ideas are worth anything or not.

I happen to believe that the future of this country belongs to young women and will be driven by young women. In them I have seen the most eagerness and enthusiasm to do something good. None of the complacency that you find in many young men who think that the world owes them a living. There are many young women who have so much talent, creativity and drive...all they need is the opportunity to fulfil that potential.

What Puteri UMNO and other organisations should be doing is ensuring that the space that young women have to achieve their ambitions is constantly enlarged and made safe. That means ensuring that laws that discriminate against women are repealed, that violence against women is an issue that is taken very seriously as a blight on society, that women's voices are heard in every arena that affects them. Which is pretty much everywhere, including in politics.

But when a little girl is killed, what does Puteri do but blame the parents? How simplistic is that, not to mention insensitive?

When many women are bloggers, why does Puteri call on the government to come down hard on blogging as in this report in The Sun: She said the Sedition Act, Internal Security Act, Officials Secrets Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act must be enforced to the fullest as irresponsible acts by bloggers caused tension among people of different races and religions. Oh my, my! I'm surprised she didn't mention bloggers causing tension between the sexes (with her flag firmly planted on the male side of the fence!).

And how's this for a simpleton's analysis? On the brain drain experienced by Malaysia, Noraini said if students fail to come back and serve the country once they completed their studies, they should be penalised with higher interest on her loans.
"To avoid brain drain, local universities must be strengthened to be on par with international standards."

My dear, firstly, the brain drain is not caused by people not coming back. It's caused by people leaving. There is a subtle difference. You have to look at what's making them leave, not just not wanting to come back. And how do you even collect repayment of loans with higher interest (eh, isn't that unIslamic?) from people who aren't here?

Secondly, yes I do agree that local universities need to be strengthened and be on par with international standards. After all, most university students are young women and we should expect high standards from them. But that's not going to be enough to stop people leaving. We need academic freedom, we need a university environment that supports and celebrates diversity, we need wholistic university experiences that encourages students to participate in many activities and sports and one that that does not segregate by race. What is the point of having students who graduate with the inability to adapt themselves in a society that is socially diverse and competitive? One way to make sure there is no 'brain drain' is of course to make sure that nobody speaks English well. Then there is absolutely no hope of them leaving the country for greener pastures. Hey, how's that for a Puteri-worthy solution?

Read the blogs by young women, Noraini. There you will find a whole slew of different opinions and ideas, not just the type that your pink ladies will eagerly tell you. There are young women who are keen to change the world, and not in the Puteri way (not that Puteri wants to change the world anytime soon by the looks of it.). They are sharp and smart and they don't need the approval of men to affirm them.

(Marina Mahathir is getting very popular (unpopular to Umno) for being critical. My wife likes her objectivity and style. Don't we?)