Sunday, 31 July 2011

Palanivel, Cabinet numbers and Parkinson’s Laws

If Palanivel is the deeply religious person everyone seems to think and has any moral compunction, he will decline the offer of a cabinet post. But as everyone knows, these MIC leaders have too much of the mandore-quotient to let this opportunity go.

Surely, we will be told that in the name of service to the nation, Palanivel will accept the gratuitous offer for a cabinet post. Why not? It comes with the prestige and the chance to coast along giving the appearance of being hardworking.

What has Palinivel offered? He didn't win any parliamentary seat. His contribution to Hulu Selangor when he was MP there nearly cost the BN the seat last time. We all heard the folks in Hulu Selangor lambasting him for not being seen as the constituency. He was the invisible man.

He was made a senator, deputy minister and now full minister on account of what? He will do UMNO's biddings. The MIC president will be Uncle Tom-ming all along or in his case, Uncle-Jibbing all the time. Lacking the merit and mandate how can Palani speak with conviction about Indians? The just released Dr Jeyakumar is held in higher esteem than Palanivel.

What he has done is just to add to the notoriety of the Najib cabinet being the largest in our history. Tengku Abdul Rahman had a cabinet of some 16 people I think. Pak Lah had 33. Najib now has 39? That's one short of the fabled number of a group of 40 people who made a living by relieving others off their wealth and property. But then the current crop of members in the cabinet has achieved notoriety surpassing the fabled band of 40.

The Najib cabinet is eerily becoming what Mugabe is doing to the Zimbabwean cabinet. People seemed to think that the seriousness of governance is measured by the increase in the number of cabinet positions. Mugabe in an effort to demonstrate substance keeps on increasing the number of cabinet members.

Bu Jove! Parkinson's Laws do work everywhere after all.

One version of the law states that the increase in the number of employees at the Colonial Office is highest as Great Britain's overseas empire declined; the Colonial Office had its greatest number of staff at the point when it was folded into the Foreign Office because of a lack of colonies to administer.

Could it also be that the increase in our own cabinet members becomes more prominent while the actual cabinet tasks declined? That is scary.

How can we explain this fetish to increase the size of the cabinet? Perhaps two forces are at work here:

  1. A Minister wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals.
  2. And Ministers make work for each other.

That reminds me of my late Economics professor at UM, Harcharan Singh used to say, in Russia there's no unemployment of any kind because one cow is looked after by 40 people. We have a zero unemployment cabinet then. What will Palanivel do as a minister which job is not being done by someone else now? Refer to Parkinson's laws above.

That is in defiance to the promise by our PM to have a small cabinet. PKR has more Indian MPs than MIC. In the next round, MIC will probably be decimated. PPP claims to also represent the Indians. I know cabinet appointments are the prerogative of the PM as head of the cabinet. But I think cabinet appointment must also reflect a moral standing. Palanivel didn't win any seat via elections, why should he be appointed a cabinet minister. MIC which won only 2 seats last time, now has 2 full ministers. That's a 100% achievement. In addition it has deputy minister's post.

MIC Indians are a privileged lot then. Threaten the PM and he will succumb to threats. I would have thought, the PM should have taken up the dare by the MIC Indians that they will not support the BN. see if the MIC leaders can talk big without any positions in the government. They will be running groveling at the feet of the PM and will tell him, he is the greatest PM since Samy Vellu. Yes sir, Samy Vellu was PM to Malaysian Indians.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Part 3- Amanah Agenda

There's a practical side as to why I usually break up my articles into several parts. One is I am writing from memory and therefore the output depends on my power of recall; if the issue at hand has decelerate I can discontinue. I am also able to include responses to comments that come in if I judge them to be of material relevance.

Many of the comments on my articles on Amanah for example said they know of Tengku Razaleigh's well-meaning intentions and all that. But they lamented that this country needs action. The action will come in the next elections is the short answer.

I think, if I may put it as such, we don't have to rush Tengku Razaleigh into doing something strategically not opportune. It will eventually be incorporated into a political agenda on a political platform. For the moment a little patience is prudent.

It's true, that the faces on the stage have long passed their political prime. But some of them are not looking for offices. Amanah isn't a political party; it is at the moment, an NGO where like-minded concerned citizens come together to find the means for articulating their concerns. Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said so himself- we on this stage sudah tak tahan lagi. We have to speak out.
So why not speak out through existing political parties if it's not BN they want to do so? My answer is they chose Amanah precisely because it's led by Tengku Razaleigh. The other non BN political parties simply do not have a figure that can serve as a singular rallying point. DAP is practical minded. PAS knows its own limitations. PKR- has other problems. But in Tengku Razaleigh, it is possible to find such a figure.

Why is UMNO quiet about it? Because they can't do anything about it. Even among UMNO members there is increasing disquiet about how things are managed. Saifuddin Abdullah's recent 'out-of-line' statements and Khairy Jamaluddin's conscientious objections are only tips of the icebergs. Tengku Razaleigh is merely pointing out the realities. He is still an UMNO member- so what can UMNO do at the moment? It can't sack a person of his stature without precipitating its own implosion. So go ahead- sack him and it will make the days of many.

Tengku Razaleigh is of course mindful of the possible repercussions of his actions. He may not be fielded as an UMNO candidate in the next elections. He may lose the support of UMNO Gua Musang. The last time I spoke to him, he was telling me of these reservations. I pointed out to him that his victory doesn't just depend on UMNO votes. It depends on the rakyat. Given the history of seeing only 60% of UMNO members voting for their own candidates and 60% of Malays voting for non UMNO candidates, I would rate his chances as being above average. The opinion of the present UMNO leadership is quite simply inconsequential.

So that is why UMNO is quiet about the whole thing.

At the moment this is what Amanah provides. A platform for speaking out against the abuses on the Merdeka heritage. The assault on fair and free elections. Because if I may continue from the last article, the means by which we achieve our end, to get a clean and fair government, is also the end itself. The clean and fair government which is the end, must be justified by clean and fair means. We want to speak out against the endemic corruption that has engulfed this country; the assault on the judiciary which has caused public distrust and haplessness, the divisiveness of the people because of opportunistic racism and all that.

The first portion of Kadir's speech was interesting. How does a government hold on to power?

Whoever wrote the American diplomatic dispatch which was made available to us through Wikileaks and Malaysia Today gave what seems to be some correct observations:-

The ruling party wants to stay in power indefinitely;
for instance- the ruling party defines national security primarily as a matter of protecting UMNO's superiority and ensuring that "people power," or a level electoral playing field, cannot become the opposition's means of toppling the ruling party.
That would explain the bludgeoning of the Bersih planned rally.
The ruling party is relying primarily on its own party structure and the embedded system of carrots and sticks to keep party membership in line. As in other one-party states, the party is seen opportunistically as a mechanism for personal advancement and enrichment.
The ruling elite maintain control over the security apparatus through party stalwarts who run the security institutions, mainly the police but also the military. We believe the military will remain loyal to legitimate leadership and is not a likely tool to overturn an elected, royally-approved and Malay-led government from either the ruling or opposition side. The police, on the other hand, follow orders from the ruling party.

That is why I find Kadir's anecdotal description of Nigeria's political experience while amusing, very instructive. He was telling the story of how the Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan came to power.

In Nigeria, there is a rotation system whereby Christian and Muslim leaders take turns to become president. Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian and the current roster is for a Muslim to be President. Having served as deputy president for the maximum allowed period of 2 terms, he was obliged to retire. Jonathan does not have a standing to offer himself as presidential candidates when by convention, it's the other fellow's turn.

But he successfully offered himself by doing the unconventional but doing what Nigerians have always wanted. The North and the South gave him the victory. How? Jonathan did offer himself by promising to do what justifies the end of getting a clean and fair government. He does it by offering the Nigerians the only means to get the end- clean and fair means. He changed the head of the judiciary; the head of the police install a neutral and fair minded elections commission and so forth. These fair and clean means to achieving a desired end, in the end rallied the people behind him.

Malaysians have a choice really- to adopt the method by which Goodluck Ebele Jonathan retains power or the way, the American diplomat observed above.

That is the typical way by which totalitarian governments keep their power. Everything is defined in terms of primarily their interests. Hence Bersih's march for fair and clean elections is taken as a challenge to Malay security, an assault on Islam and Malay rulers etc. hence a threat to UMNO's security is taken as a threat to the country.

The Amanah platform now serves primarily as a clarion call for people to set aside their partisan politics and see what the country has become into. The beneficiaries of an independent country are now witnessing the blatant abuse of what has been bequeathed to them by our founding fathers.

While it serves as a clarion call or sounding board, the cudgels will be picked up by others hopefully. True, Tengku Razaleigh hasn't got the organizational structures at the moment, but only because it's only just launched and its not a political organization. But more important, I think, by launching this Amanah, Tengku Razaligh Hamzah is signaling his is ready and willing to offer leadership.

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Monday, 25 July 2011

The Amanah agenda- Part 2

This is a gathering of concerned citizens. On the stage forming the committee members of Amanah were Kadir Sh Fadzir himself, Daniel Tajem, Subramaniam( a former MIC deputy President), Tengku Razaleigh as chairman, Ong Tee Keat, Bujang Ulis from Sarawak and a sitting MP from Sabah.
The audience was made up of mainly concerned citizens of all races with Malays making the predominant number. I am sure not everyone in there in the hall that day will commit themselves to the rigors of field politics; but I was sure of one thing. Everyone were united in the revulsion and rejection of what is going on in the country- the politics, economy, the divisiveness in our society, the future of democracy, the future of this country. Being present there is already an indication that attendees cannot accept the things that are happening in the country.
The feelings were adequately expressed by Kadir Sh Fadzir. What he said was exemplary; coming from a person who has had everything- wealth, power, service to the country, enjoyed the esteem and respect of his peers. He would rather be enjoying his leisure days. So too would the others- Daniel Tajem –a sincere looking fellow who is committed to uplift the Sarawak people out of misery, Subramaniam (he may be motivated by his own pursuits), BUjang Ulis, Ong Tee Keat- the MCA man who wanted to do the right thing with regards to the PKFZ.
What the current UMNO is, MCA is that to the Chinese. MCA cannot be a den of thieves and plunderers irrespective of how many truckloads of class A durians the perpetrators of the PKFZ financial fiasco bring over to the bosses. A former MCA leader when he was a deputy minister would often treat his boss at TNB first class durians from Bentong!.
What the country has got itself into is no longer tolerable. These 'has-beens' and veterans of Malaysian politics cannot endure the transgressions, the abuse, the bullying and the direction the country is traveling. It's made worse by a leadership who is more suited to become a poster boy, popular but incapable of managing this country properly.
Amanah is really for now, a group of conscientious objectors. Our objection must therefore be well put.
And what do we object to?
Utusan Malaysia recently revealed the kind of warped thinking the leadership of this country has or even worse, they are unthinking at all. It writes that it's a common outcome of those subjected to interrogation to commit suicide. This kind of thinking is just another unfortunate and grossly stupid gloss of the general notion that the all ends justify all means. Hence the deaths of persons under the duty of care of the custodians are but collateral damages to the desired end of achieving the truth. Except the truth in this case, as Colonel Jessup says in 'A Few Good Men' can't be handled by the truth seekers.
So, it will be used at a general explanation- that all transgressions- corruption, cronyism, are all justifiable means because of our desired end. What is the desired end then? This is the basic objection to these totalitarian tendencies. For that is what these transgressions amount to- not objected they will serve the interest of totalitarian tendencies. The government wants to govern and rule unchallenged.
This country is teetering towards totalitarian tendencies which require objections from all fronts. The diversity of parties and NGOs pursuing the same objectives must be seen as the necessary repeat of struggles and fights to overcome wrong politics. So don't decry if Amanah emerges as- ah, it's just 'another one of those bodies'. It's NOT just another but is the sufficiently and necessarily required instrument in the pursuit of victory over evil that must be fought over and over again not just by one, but by as many as possible.
We must be clear what our general objection is. Very often we inure ourselves and accept the various transgressions and abuses as necessary evil or the ends justifying the means thinking. We must also be clear about this- when we object to the idea that the means are not justifiable no matter what the ends are, we mean, really that the actual end is not the end itself but the means for achieving that end. Hence to elicit truth does not justify murdering someone. To achieve development can be never justify the cronyism and corruption and the marginalization of whole people. Solving the traffic woes of people cannot justify building RM 50 billion worth of edifices. The list goes on and on.
This is our most fundamental objection- the means by which we achieve whatever ends must be correct and principled.

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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Tengku Razaleigh’s speech at the launch of Amanah

"SUARA MENUNTUT KEBENARAN, KEADILAN DAN RASA TIMBANG RASA"


 

Ucapan YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Di Majlis Pelancaran AMANAH, Hari Jumaat, 22 Julai 2011, 9.00 pagi di Memorial Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur


 

    Allow me to bid all of you, dear Associates and friends, a very warm welcome to this launching ceremony of Angkatan Amanah Merdeka or in short AMANAH. I am deeply grateful for your attendance today. I believe that as we start out on this journey we will have some extremely important choices to make before us – choices that we must make even against all odds. This morning can just be another interesting social event in the Malaysian landscape or it could be the start of something unprecedented that it could alter the course of our country's future and directions.


 

2. Let me state unequivocally that I love my country dearly as I am sure all of you do too. We are not gathered here today to start a protest movement and neither are we here to play politics. We are here because many of us are genuinely very concerned, grieved and saddened by what is now happening in this beloved country of ours. Right-thinking and fair-minded Malaysians must no longer stand by in passive and courteous submission to or acceptance of the situations created over the years by such horrible misdeeds as corruption, cronyism and communalism; we must act quickly before they reach a stage of no return leading ultimately to the total destruction of the very fabric of our social, moral, cultural, legal and constitutional foundation on which this nation of ours has sustained all these years. We must not wait before it will be too late for us to change.


 

3. We are here because we need that voice of conscience for the nation, to articulate our voice for the nation, to engage the authorities in a democratic fashion as guarded and guided by our constitutional rules and our common tradition as peace-loving rakyat. We must never allow acts of political manipulation of any kind and from any quarters to divide the majority with policies and decisions that deliberately cater to the interests of the minority. From the time of pre-independence right through the past 54 years, Malaysia has proven that its people can co-exist in a spirit of unity, harmony and tolerance. The tolerance among our people has been exceptional and if we look at our beginnings, racial interaction and religious tolerance have never been our problems. Time and again, Malaysia has been cited by the international community as a model of interethnic co-existence. It is this spirit, this model of racial unity as the foundation of our national solidarity, that we must all strive to restore and preserve. If today this spirit is seriously lacking – as we are seeing it happening daily - then something must have gone very wrong in the governance of this nation. I say that it is time to stop this terrible spiral downward trend. Let us not allow a denial of the situation to cover up the reality of the situation.


 

4. I have watched with great alarm the worrying deterioration of inter-racial and inter-religious harmony in recent years and if I add to this the actions of some groups and individuals to unobtrusively, perhaps deliberately destroy the institutions of unity in our country to serve their own interests, I must confess to you that I am deeply troubled.


 

5. For too long, those of us who belong to the voices of moderation have stood aside and avoided the specter of confrontation because we wanted to just live our individual lives that are free from problems and unnecessary troubles. Such an attitude is no longer acceptable because standing back now would result in dire and irreversible consequences.


 

6. This is the time for the silent majority to make their voices heard. This is the time for the quiet family man to join in the chorus of voices and say , "We want the truth and not a facade of deceptions." This is the time for the quiet housewife to say, "I want a future for my young son and daughter that is free from problems created by various political, economic and social interest-groups and individuals". This is the time for the young working adult to say, "We want to know where our country is headed to and we want to know that the choices are right!". Yes, this is the time for you and I to say NO to the massive corruption and racial discord, the latter is being spread under the guise of religious and racial protection. Say "Enough is enough". At no other time in the history of Malaysia is this need to stand up against such situations as urgent as the present.


 

7. When our beloved father of independence Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman founded Malaysia, he talked of the different races as part of one big happy family. He said, something to the effect that "If we really want to come together as a family and live under one roof called Malaysia, we must be sincere with one another – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dayak, Kadazan, Siamese and others – Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, etc. If we are sincere, then we cannot say anything that will hurt one another. We cannot also do anything that will hurt each other. As sincere members of one family, we must always be there to help one another. The rich must help the poor and the successful must help the unfortunate. Only then can we be one people and a country that is united and strong. Everyone will be happy. Only then will Malaysia be respected by the world….."


 

8. What powerful words of simplicity and wisdom. He intended for us to live in this manner as one big happy family. After 54 years, where are we? Are we already living as one big family? As I have said, if we are not, then something must be very wrong! We cannot wait any longer for us to take our country back on course. We must do something and do it now!! Every right-thinking Malaysian must be a part of this move to have our voices heard and it must be loud and clear.


 

9.    Tunku Abdul Rahman practiced what he preached. Since the government did not have too much money at the time, he successfully persuaded his non-Muslim friends and others to contribute to the building fund of the national .mosque. The mosque was built only at a cost of RM10 million. It is not only a tribute to the Tunku but also became a symbol of Muslim and non-Muslim cooperation to help forge a better understanding between the various different ethnic and religious groups in the country. The Tunku also persevered to bring peoples of different Islamic countries together for the promotion of economic cooperation, peace and stability. Finally, the idea that he floated became a reality when he successfully brought together people of 52 Islamic nations, big and small, rich and poor, as an organisation of Islamic countries after he obtained the endorsement of the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. to form the Organisation of Islamic Conference. This organisation now stands as a monument to the Tunku for his tireless effort to bring solidarity .to the Islamic people.


 

10.    In the field of sports, Tunku promoted football, badminton, sepak takraw, golf, etc. I cannot help but repeat what I have said at some other functions how sports was promoted by the Tunku as a means to instill team spirit and togetherness in this country. "Thinking of football, Tunku managed to bring teams from the Middle East and across Asia to play in Kuala Lumpur in the Merdeka tournament. Teams from South Korea and Japan came to participate and we defeated them routinely. Today our FIFA ranking is 157 out of 203 countries. That puts us below Maldives whose ranking is at 149, the smallest country in Asia with just 400,000 people living about 1.5 meters above sea level. In ASEAN we are behind Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, whom we used to dominate. The names of our football heroes used to roll off the tongues of our school children and they copied them on the school field. Where are they now? The likes of Soh Chin Aun, Arumugam, Isa Bakar, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Mokhtar Dahari? It was not about being the best in the world, but about being passionate and devoted to the game. Similarly, we used to see little kampung boys hit the shuttle cocks with broken rackets at the back of their dilapidated kampung houses calling themselves Wong Peng Soon. Yes, Peng Soon was a Malayan hero, just like our football heroes. Now we do not have an iota of that feeling." Where have they all gone?


 

11. "Our achievements in achieving growth with equity were recognized around the world. Our peer group in the economic development were South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan and we led the pack. I remember when we used to receive South Korean delegations coming to learn a thing or two from us about development. Now, unfortunately, we have fallen far behind this group. And today, we are entering the peer group of Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines as an investment destination. Without a doubt Malaysia is slipping. Yet we are gathered here in comfort. People say it is due less to good management than to the extraordinary wealth of this country. Malaysia is blessed with immense resources, both natural, cultural and social but, unfortunately, due to this mismanagement and corruption, we are declining." Yes, people say Malaysia is rich, but compared to its neighbours we are still relatively not free.


 

12. When Tunku declared independence for this country 54 years ago, we were told that Malaysia will be a Parliamentary democracy with an independent judiciary.


 

13. I pray that you will no longer stand back and be mere uncommitted spectators to watch things move, thinking that others will do what is necessary. If we do this, we will be living in a fool's paradise and will deserve the consequences when they come. We have to make that difference and if we want to make that difference, I would like you to join us in this move that we are starting. For the sake of your children and your children's children, we cannot afford to fail!!


 

14. We are starting an NGO called Angkatan Amanah MERDEKA (in short AMANAH) to mobilize our voices and our efforts and to make this an avenue of the new Spirit of Malaysia. It will be a voice of solidarity and truth and we will stand unwaveringly against the ills of corruption, cronyism, communalism, extremism and extravagance. We will say national interest and the interest of the rakyat first. This is our primary objective. All other policy priorities, decisions and choices must be subject to this primary national objective.


 

15. The conditions of the poor and the impoverished, especially in the rural areas – they still form the majority of our population - must be uplifted through systematic and systemic policy planning and decisions, and not through hollow slogan chanting. The legacy and vision of Tun Razak's policies of rural development, eradication of poverty irrespective of race and colour, and an overall national policy of socio-economic development based on the principles of Justice, Fairness and Balance across all sectors, will have to be revisited and remodeled if need be. We will relentlessly promote Almarhum Tunku's vision of the "One Happy Malaysian family". We will ensure that the basic or fundamental rights of the rakyat, rights that are not only defined in the Constitution but more importantly rights that are embedded in and shared by our religious, moral and cultural traditions, are promoted and observed as a function of the Nation.

    

16. I will personally go to every corner of this great country of ours (and I would ask you to come along with me) to bring down the barriers of discord, suspicion and insensitivities. I know that the Malays – and the other communities – are not 'racists' but the Malays and the others are becoming communalists because they have been manipulated to behave and think and act as communalists. To the Malays such behavior and attitude of mind is totally against the teachings of Islam. And when the Malays become less Islamic they tend towards 'racialism', going back to the age of jahiliah, the age of Ignorance before the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) preached against that "jahiliahism".


 

17. We can and we will pledge ourselves to uphold integrity and we must not fail in this urgent quest to bring back the core values of acceptance and unity.


 

18. The people want change and anticipate change and there is great urgency for us to move in that direction. It is now up to all of us, you and I, to make a difference. I would like to encourage you to get family members and friends to help us secure their support for this noble endeavor. Encourage them to continue to send this out to their friends. Let us make this a move of 'viral' proportions! No longer should the silent majority be taken for granted in a country that we are so proud of and cherish. Thank you my valued Associates and friends for giving me this chance to be heard. Let us not fail in this endeavor or labour of love for our country!


 

19. Let me end with a quote from that great man, Nelson Mandela. He says "Let there be justice for all, Let there be peace for all; Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. Let each know that for each person - the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves." Mandela's message is in fact a reiteration of a message of the universal mankind, a message that is true at all times and a message that is inherently, a human fitrah or human nature, shared by all of us, all of mankind. Let this be our call to strive for excellence – that every Malaysian will be given a platform for freedom and fulfillment.


 

20. Managed correctly and sincerely, this great nation of ours can be a platform of prosperity and peace for all Malaysians. Thank you.

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The Amanah Agenda- part 1

Last Friday, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah launched the setting up of another NGO. It is called Amanah. Its full name is Angkatan Amanah Merdeka. The name suggests that, independence and the wider meaning term, freedom, is a responsibility entrusted upon our shoulders.

It seems the main ingredients of an independent nation are being eroded and violated with irresponsible impunity. Our economy is slowly going to be run by powerful economic plutocracy. An elite group has taken over the planning and running of the country. We are simultaneously enthralled and goaded into believing that our economy can get better miraculously through stylish presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint authored by expensively paid consulting companies. Those people in Balakong, Sungai Besi and Jalan kelang Lama did not need power point presentations authored by McKinsey consultants. They didn't have to pay Idris Jala for leveraging on McKinsey people either!

The economic elite are working hand in hand with the political elite of this country so that from democracy, we are moving toward Plutarchy. Plutarchy is the combination of plutocracy- the rule of the wealthy and oligarchy- the rule of the few. These people are no longer talking about development costs of millions- they are now talking about billions- the billion Ringgit MRT, the billion Ringgit River of Life Project, no billion- no talk. How is our country's finances managed? Can we trust them?

Our founding fathers gave us a Westminster's type of democracy and we accepted it. We accept wholeheartedly that the way to form a government is through peaceful means and that is through fair and clean general elections. It must also mean that combatants and contestant are accorded the same facilities and treatment en route to forming a government. 
We accepted also a constitutional monarchy whereby the Malay rulers accept unreservedly that this country belongs to the people. By that, the rulers accept that they are also subjected to the powers of the constitution, whereby, rulers are also governed by the rule of law and do not have unbridled and absolute discretionary powers.
What has happened then? The tipping point came in the late 80s when one person hijacked the democratic heritage and enthralled the nation with the glitter of fast-tracked material advancements. Since then, this country has traveled only on one option- divisiveness. Our heralded and self-congratulatory development is generally paid by the erosion of the democratic ingredients that we spoke of above. We praised and patted ourselves by calling our leaders, fathers of this and that. These terms are alas, empty phrases aimed essentially at according ourselves the feel good feeling.

The aim of Bersih for example, was directed at one of these- which is, fundamental in a democracy is the way we choose our government. It must be done in a fair and clean manner. We have chosen a free market economy but nowadays, what is free, is the freedom by certain cliques in our country to plunder and gobble up the economy. Hence we no longer speak of millions and even 100 of millions but billions. The traffic congestion which is the bane of people in the Kelang valley can easily be solved cheaper by construction of elevated highways. But powerful economic oligarchs proposed to build an MRT whose final costs cannot be determined as yet.

I am not going to repeat its agenda, mission statement etc. these can be found in the concise booklets that were handed out on that day.

Let me cut to the chaff or cut to the chase what Amanah actually stands for. I attended the inaugural launch the other day. I had the chance to listen to the rather long welcoming speech by Kadir Sheikh Fadzir.

Now, Kadir has never struck me as a thoughtful and thinking person. He was the quintessential bon vivant with the bow tie. He would, I think be more at home dining at Lafite at Shangri-La rather than with the thrust and parry of raw politics. On that day however, he was talking sense. Perhaps the articulation was the product of a profound appreciation of the sorry state of affairs that has overtaken our country.

But that, my readers, will appear in the next installment.
.

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Friday, 22 July 2011

A forgotten older and enduring ideal

Was the Bersih agenda wrong? The agenda was simply the call for the EC to conduct its business cleanly and fairly. That to my mind is a legitimate and acceptable agenda. This government responded by demonizing Bersih. This was all part of the boxed-in mentality of the ruling government to prevent any mass movement snowballing into a popular movement. When it responded the way it did, the very dreaded effect it wanted to avoid, came into effect. Because public and international opinion made Bersih into the impression of a popular movement rather that a localized event it should have been.

Well, that's what you get if the government is reactive by nature rather that proactive in a thoughtful way. It doesn't want to engage Bersih preferring the bully tactics so liked by people like Ibrahim Ali.

When the marchers took the streets in a peaceful manner, it took a life of its own. It wasn't any more about Ambiga or Anwar or whoever else. They may have set the tone and did some synchronization, but once out there, the people called the shots.

This I think is what the government doesn't understand and because of that it responded the only way, a government believing in its own infallibility and invincibility behaves.

In the UK, our PM said that street demonstrations are not the way to form a government. He is stating what is already universally accepted nowadays. In Malaysia, no right thinking people harbors any thought about securing governmental power, through undemocratic or unconstitutional methods. Indeed we quarrel a lot to ensure the sanctity and integrity of a democracy be preserved. UMNO people went to court to seek a declaration that the 1987 UMNO elections were subverted. A new UMNO was formed in 1988. From then on, UMNO could never qualify to have practiced real democracy.

Malayan communism was ended half a century ago. Because the idea of forming a government through armed insurrection could never be accepted. Plus, there were a lot other complications such as religion and ethnic composition. Government is formed through the democratic way- through free and fair elections. We all do it through fair and clean elections, we are all democrats.

The statement which the PM raises and which is fortified further by the solemn declaration of the DPM when he said no more street rallies- raises important points.

Why does a democratic system still make possible for other forms of collective political expression take place? If elections sort out all issues, if a democratically elected government is supposed to end all issues, there wouldn't be a need for other forms of collective political expression, would there?

The response towards Bersih has been handled badly. So the government becomes the target of international censorship and sharp criticisms. The issue has not died down in our own country. Bersih has increased awareness among citizens on the importance of having clean and fair elections. That's a simple demand. The circuitous responses by the EC and government supporters will surely widen the divide between voters and the ruing government.

Behind the whole issue of Bersih trying to prop up mass awareness and the government's trenchant and violent response is the issue of a forgotten older ideal. Which is: that the power of all authorities exercising governmental functions ought to be limited by long run rules which nobody has the power to alter or abrogate in the service of particular ends.

How does a government that has forsaken this older universal principle rule the country then? It rules mainly through the stalwarts system by ensuring those who hold the levers of authority are its obedient servants. The judiciary?- an emasculated and pliant one, the chief law officer?-their man; the chief of police? –One who does its biddings, the chairman of the elections commission? - Its chief apologist. The chief secretary- maybe the one who will stall the swearing in of a new legitimate government come the next GE.

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Thursday, 21 July 2011

The voice of conscience: AMANAH

EVENT: - MAJLIS PELANCARAN ANGKATAN AMANAH MERDEKA (AMANAH)
PLACE:-DEWAN AUDITORIUM MEMORIAL TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN JALAN DATO ONN KUALA LUMPUR.
WAKTU: 09:30 AM.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS OLEH: YBM TENGKU RAZALEIGH HAMZAH- THE PM WE NEVER HAD.
I am asking my fans and readers to come and listen to the inaugural speech by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah this Friday. He will launch AMANAH, an NGO committed to the ideals of saving this nation from political insanity. This NGO is not a political party or grouping at least not for the moment. In the future, the NGO will remain an NGO but we cannot preclude members or supporters of Amanah taking the plunge into party politics. They are free to go support ant political parties they wish.
Some UMNO people are already worried and in the coming days will do their best to demonize Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Never mind them. They are just gasping for air and clutching at the last straws.
In the past few years, this country of ours has been put on a course of self-destruction. Our economy is not doing that good compared to the countries in south East Asia. UMNO which claimed they represent the Malays can't put on a straight face to say whether they have done well for the Malays. It only takes one example to demolish their self-conceit- the wealth disparity among Malays is greatest in Malaysia inspite of all the help that UMNO says it has given. We are inundated daily with all sorts of pious reminders that we ought to be grateful.
I want UMNO people to now realize why we are now reaping what we have sown. The UMNO we have (whatever happened to the word Baru that ought to accompany UMNO), this one reformed in 1988 was formed on a fundamentally flawed foundation. The UMNO of 1946 was formed on the basis of Malays coming together. The various Malay groupings subjecting themselves to a common goal and united for a purpose. The UMNO of 1988 was formed on the foundation of Malay divisiveness- the UMNO was split into two.
The man responsible for the creation of UMNO baru is now this time retired, next time not retired, or will do whatever he damn pleases. The other person also linked to the split is now making things right.
People can read the agenda of Amanah in the write-ups. I am writing from a different perspective. Amanah is here to put things right- by first organizing themselves, then by offering solutions, offering criticisms and later probably urging all political parties to surrender to permanent ideals rather than to transient personalized solutions.
Amanah sets out to reaffirm, inculcate and re-ignite the sense of togetherness and true family spirit that prevailed among all Malaysians during the time of our common struggle for national independence.
Its other objectives are:-
* To earnestly acknowledge, affirm and respect the sovereignty of the constituent states of the Malaysian Federation, consistent with the principles of federalism, democratic principles and in the true spirit of the Federal Constitution.
* To ensure that our national institutions respect and uphold the rule of law, democratic principles, rights and universal values.
* To support a government and administration that is transparent and accountable, truly competent, efficient, free of corruption and cronyism, clean and honest, fair and trustworthy, and that will be fully able to serve its functions and meet its responsibilities, freely and fairly; an administration that will always be mindful of the rights and interests of the people in whose name and cause it is appointed to serve.
* To promote the socio-economic well-being of the people, so that all Malaysians may enjoy truly advanced, progressive, fair and equitable lives – individually upholding filial piety and other noble values and collectively joined together in sincere family kinship as members of our national community and as stakeholders in our common national destiny.

 
* To support an economic policy that will help achieve and sustain a high standard of living for the people, based on the principle of justice, fairness and balance, consistent with the constitution and under a stable monetary condition.

I invite everyone to be there to listen with an open heart. I shall certainly be there and will be writing on Amanah in the next few articles.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Memahami Bersih- Bahagian 1


 
Saya telah menulis beberapa artikel mengenai Bersih dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Inginlah saya membuat suatu artikel dalam Bahasa Melayu pula supaya mudah mudahan isiu sebenar nya dapat di fahami.
Semua orang mahukan PRU yang bersih. PM Najib pun besyarah berapi api sehingga merah padam dan bersembur air liur, dia tidak mahu menang dengan cara tipu dan muslihat. Kita mengalu ngalukan keberanian PM kita. Tabik!
Sebab itu, 8 tuntutan yang di pelopori oleh Bersih, kita sokong. Kita bukan sokong siapa disebalik gerakan Bersih tersebut. Perkara yang di majukan itu kita sokong. Penglibatan parti pembangkang dalam gerakan Bersih jangan di jadikan alasan tuntutan tersebut tidak boleh di terima. Come on lah- takkan ini jawapan dari pengerusi SPR. Standard lah sikit Tan Sri.
Tuntutan Bersih tidak perlu di takuti. Hanya orang yang mampu menang dengan cara kotor sahaja yang takutkan PRU yang bersih.
Sebagai contoh: perimintaan untuk mendapat waktu siaran berkempen di udara adalah suatu yang munasabah. Sebab rakyat mahukan pimpinan dan kerajaan yang terbaik. Kita mahu mendengar buah fikiran oleh semua yang bertanding dalam PRU supaya kita boleh mengadili mereka dengan saksama.
Kita amat suka, jika Ibrahim Ali misalnya, di beri peluang bercakap 15 minit di TV supaya semua yang berminat untuk mengundi Ibrahim dapat dengar kehandalan Ibrahim Ali. Sebagai seorang panglima tentu Ibrahim Ali tidak gentar untuk memperlihatkan kehandalan serta bakat nya.
Pemimpin kerajaan pun dapat peluang yang sama. Dapat lah mereka menyampaikan dasar dan wawasan mereka. Dapat juga kita analisa standard pemimpin kita. Kita nak dengar anak Dr Mahathir bercakap. Hebat tak dia dari KJ contohnya?
Berpandukan prestasi mereka mereka ini, PM pun senang nak lantik siapa kedalam cabinet. Bukankah objektif kita hari ini, ialah untuk memastikan pimpinan yang terbaik menerajui negara? Banyak faedah boleh di hasilkan jika kita mendapat pimpinan ber-standard tinggi.
Semua tuduhan negatif kepada perserta perarakan bersih tempoh hari adalah sebahagian dari indoktrinasi dan brainwashing oleh media kerajaan. Yang demikian, janganlah kita terlalu susah hati. Sebab cara kerajaan menangani Bersih lebih banyak bodoh dari cerdiknya.
Almaklumlah, kebanyakan buah fikiran dan cara penyelesaian nya datang dari bekas wartawan yang sudah putus haidz yang sub-standard sebenarnya. Tapi oleh sebab mereka ada rakan rakan dan koneksi dalam pejabat PM, dapatlah mereka menjaja ilmu yang tak seberapa mereka itu.
Sebagai contoh: kalau lah benar cara menangani Bersih adalah seperti yang di karang oleh Jalil Hamid, maka standard nya amat menyedihkan. Sebab apabila di baca, kesan paling pantas dan lansung ialah mengalienasi sokongan dari golongan atas pagar dan mereka yang membaca antara baris tulisan. Orang akan meluat dan loya tekak dengan cara yang di anjurkan. Dia baca buku propaganda Bolshevik ke? Atau Propaganda for Dummies ke? agak nya target audiens Jalil Hamid ialah budak sekolah rendah. Darjah 1 hingga darjah 6.
Saya berharap orang orang kerajaan menyedari bahawa sekarang ini maklumat yang di sampaikan oleh media arus perdana- sama ada berbentuk audio visual atau citak, sukar hendak di percayai masyarakat.
Ini kerana mereka melihat permainan spin dari pengamal media sub-standard yang terdiri dari bekas wartawan dan mereka yang menganggap diri mereka legenda dalam benak mereka sendiri. Jadi, orang yang sudah tamat tempoh hayat hidup( past shelf lives) akan di ambil semula berkerja di akhbar2 dan insitusi media yang lain. Dari tempat kerja mereka, mereka menjalankan penjajaan mereka meng-kondisi pemikiran rakyat. Fakta nya, apa yang mereka spin dan putar alam, sukar hendak di terima bulat2.
Negara kita ini ketandusan bakat ke?
Baru baru ini, kita mendengar interview PM Najib dengan John Defterious. Dulu mamat ni kerja dengan CNN. Dia kemudian nya menubuhkan syarikat PR nya sendiri. Khidmat dan barangan yang di jaja nya ialah pembikinan feature interview – seperti yang di lakukan kepada PM kita.
Apa yang dia jual ialah PR space yang berjuta Ringgit yang kemudian nya di jual kepada media penyiaran top top seperti CNN atau Chanel News Asia yang berpangkalan di Singapura. Maka rakyat Malaysia akan terlopong lah bila mendapat perkhabaran PM kita bercakap dengan CNN. Oleh kerana siaran tersebut di bayar oleh kerajaan dengan nilai jutaan Ringgit, kita pun boleh cakap apa sahaja. Skrip yang disediakan oleh Defterios tentulah sudah di persetujui terlebih dahaulu.
Maka, apa yang terjadi sebenarnya? Yang terjadi ialah kita di sajikan dengan interview yang farcical yang berpihak berat sebelah. Penyiaran melalui CNN atau CNA di lihat sebagai memberikan respectability. Well, ianya suatu respectable farce.
Kita pun sedia maklum, PM Najib menggaji ramai bekas wartawan yang sudah pun menopause. Pejabat PM tambahan pula full of characters yang melihat beberapa perkerja impot sebagai bakat yang maha handal. Memang benar lah seperti dalam cerita A Passage to India, dalam babak peguam mendakwa Dr Azeez, peguam Mat Salih tu berkata- it is an axiom, all over the world, colored people will look up to the Caucasians.
Mamat yang inferiority complex ni ramai kat Pejabat PM. Sebagai contoh, kalau diri sendiri tak berapa pandai dalam Bahasa Inggeris, maka si fulan dan si fulanah yang cakap English macam bertih akan di lihat sebagai manusia luar biasa. Perkerja mat salih apatah lagi. Kalau ada anak perempuan mahu di jadikan menantu.
Kita tahu orang orang ini ply their trade kepada small minds yang memandang kepada Caucasians sebagai manusia luar biasa. Ini menyebabkan apa sahaja pakej PR yang di jual akan di beli dengan jutaan Ringgit. Kita semua tahu berapa juta kerajaan  membayar orang orang seperti APCO dan lain lain.
Saya rasa sudah tiba lah kita berjiwa besar dan menampakkan kepada dunia kita ada jati diri yang kental. Banyak mana lah pandai nya matlaon di APCO atau berapa pandai sangatlah orang seperti Alex Furguson yang menjadi perantaraan pelanggan dengan John Defterious. Kenapa kita harus membayar juaan Ringgit kepada mamat mamat ni hanya untuk menipu rakyat?

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Friday, 15 July 2011

Untamable Bersih- part 2, understanding it.


 

Some spell it as tamable. Others as tameable. The fact remains, the marchers cannot be tamed and though battered and aspersed, remained unbowed and honorable.

How do we make sense and explain the actions that took place after Bersih ? Let's have our own debriefing session lest we agonized over how the media characterized our fellow citizens who marched on the 9th of July. On the whole, I think, those people who marched towards stadium merdeka on the 9th of July before being horribly set upon by the Police with tear gas and chemical-laced water sprays, are good honorable and public spirited people.

They carried no Parangs and other assortment of dangerous weapons which were displayed by the Police a few weeks ago and which looked suspiciously bought from a same single supplier. Perhaps one person was assigned to purchase the 'weapons' from a single supplier and then, the cache was displayed before all. Logic would have it that if the weapons were owned by different people, they would be of a jumbled up lot. Here an axe, there a pisau, over here a parang, over there a catapult. Where were the Molotov cocktails?

Samad Said the Nobel Laureate whose earliest novel Salina I read a long time ago could hardly be described a subversive or crook. Khalid Samad? Haji Hadi? These people consisted of ordinary people from all walks of lives- pensioners, taxi drivers, writers, lawyers. They are just plain public spirited individuals.

The bersih marchers are not street mobs on a rampage of looting spree. They are peaceful marchers making a statement about how elections are run in this country. But as usual UMNO and the government like to claim and exercise ownership on the bad things. So any attacks against the bad things owned by the government are taken as attacks against lawful government and therefore require punishment. The punishment came in baton wallops, water cannons ejecting chemical-laced water, tear gas and physical abuse. All these are of course mild treatment from our own chaps in blue.

If we read and listened to the pliant print and audio visual media machine, all those who participated in the Bersih march are subversives, traitors, and dummies. These people are tools for Lim Kit Siang, mules for Anwar Ibrahim, digits directed by Indians, especially that minachi named Ambiga. Those marchers and those who write in support for the Bersih cause will all perish. UMNO will triumph and those causing trouble will be punished.

How does the government explain Bersih?

1)    Bersih is an outlaw organization used as a front by opposition politicians and politicians who have lost credibility.

2)    Bersih is just a ploy by Anwar Ibrahim to revive his image.

3)    Bersih is a subversive effort by people to unseat the government unlawfully.

4)    Bersih is a strategy by non-Malays and foreign agents to destroy the Malay government.

5)    Bersih is anti-Islam.

This is the story that is going to retold over and over gain in kampong and villages.

Bersih 1 took place so many years ago. The previous Home Minister must have slept through his job, whoever he was. Perhaps at that time, he was busier overseeing the processing of immigrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Bersih who did the same thing as the intended one on the 9th of July, wasn't outlawed? The answer can only be straight and simple- simply because, it never contained any crook elements. This time, the government is more creative- first they discovered an assortment of weapons, then the NGO was outlawed. There was also an attempt to picture the marchers as communists because some posters of Shamsiah Fakeh were discovered. I thought some time ago, Utusan Malaysia hailed Shamsiah Fakeh as a freedom fighter? Bersih was also hinted on as a front for foreign powers and it received funding abroad.

Why would the Agong be allowed to meet up with representatives of an outlawed organization and why would the PM be willing to discuss with an outlawed organization?

The outlawing of Bersih smacks the use of unbridled discretionary power. If Bersih is outlawed, then it must have contained elements that were outlaw-able right from the beginning. That it was outlawed on the eve of the 9th of July March would suggest that, the decision to do so was done maliciously as it was unprincipled. This is the reason why Bersih was outlawed – to justify the actions intended upon the marchers.

Understanding why they were set upon then, would help marchers dispel any notions that they were crooks or subversive elements. These people are not crooks but participants and supporters to a cause espoused by a hastily and peculiarly outlawed organization.

The hidden agenda is, by outlawing Bersih, it will be possible for the government to declare whatever Bersih wanted to do such as declaring the participants and the organizers, en bloc as law breakers. As law breakers, they are subject to the laws governing crowd control and public disturbance. It will be easy henceforth to justify any actions against the marchers and organizers in accordance to the law.

I think the mainstream media is overplaying this point. There were elaborate attempts to show Bersih as a means to restore Anwar's sagging fortunes. Hence Utusan Malaysia gave coverage about Anwar's involvement in the rally. But this was truly and actually wasn't about Anwar anymore. If he feigned his injury, wearing the familiar neck brace and looking almost dead on the hospital bed, he must have gotten a miraculous recovery for the very same night he was in his element at the PKNS stadium in Kelana Jaya.

Everyone saw he fell down while negotiating somewhere after leaving his presidential suite at KL Hilton. Tian Chua was mobilizing marchers who stampeded through police cordon and in the melee, Anwar fell down. I am almost near to saying; Anwar was actually a liability in the Bersih Rally.

I am sure; the Police must have been instructed not to touch the 91 people classified persona non grata in KL on the 9th of July. The same cannot be said of the nameless but determined marchers on that day. Being nameless gave the Police a freer hand to deal at their discretion. Excessive force was applied on these people.

Let's push the argument further. Even if Anwar leveraged on the Bersih March, does association with Anwar make the march illegal? Somehow it must be wrong if Anwar is involved. Let's not forget that Anwar has paid a heavy cost for his 1 Sodomy. He has not been convicted yet and therefore technically must be presumed innocent.

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy PM and is currently battling legal charges and is on trial. Association with Anwar who is maligned with all sort of dirty description does not make Bersih and its cause any less honorable. Anwar's case is his and his alone- it does not pollute the cause of Bersih marchers. Hence, there is no shame for the marchers, if others accused the marchers as Anwar's mules. Anwar's presence does not diminish Bersih nor besmirch the honor of marchers.

Let's try to make some sense about how the government responded. Anwar was factored in the rally. First-hand accounts were elicited from international tourists. Traders and travellers were solicited for their comments. The whole rally was classified as haram. It caused great hardships to traders who lost business and the daily life disrupted. Bersih is an insidious ploy by non-Malays to undermine the Malay government.

Why is the government doing all these rather elaborately? The answer is it's all part of the mind conditioning process of the public. It's trying to isolate the Bersih marchers as some foreign substance to prevent it from becoming some integral element of a civil society.

But here is the thing. Spontaneous and voluntary banding up together is an important ingredient of a civilized and democratic society. Only 3rd world despots who are natural anti democracy respond the way the government did. Use batons and other harsh treatments on its own citizens.

Is Bersih an agenda for non-Malays to dislodge the Malays from political power? The bitter and inconvenient truth is the majority who marched with Bersih the other day were Malays. That makes the debatable fact that the rally was planned by Indians and that Malays are being used, insignificant.

The cause and the beliefs underlying the resolve to march with Bersih are more important. That the elections Commission hasn't been up to standard in ensuring elections are and are seen as clean was and shall remain the main objective. It wasn't about overthrowing the government though street actions. People marched because they are motivated by real concerns.

Why is the government afraid of electoral reforms? Everyone seems confident that the government will be returned with a bigger majority. The victory will be more honorable if it wins with integrity. The issue of postal voting is insignificant. Those in the service vote earlier because of operational reasons and the election process is done under watchful eyes. Representatives of political parties are present during the voting and vote counting process.

Why should aliens be given citizenship and rights to vote in order to ensure victory for certain people? The bigger issue here, how come they get citizenship with such ease and so large a number?

On TV, we were shown interviews with a few Caucasians. They were inconvenienced they said. The inconvenience of 2 or 3 Caucasians is considered to create a jarring impact on Malaysia? Their pedantic views are irrelevant; as though they are not inconvenienced by other things. Many of us had to waddle through crawling traffic. Come, interview us, we will tell you another story.

Our opinions, coming out as Malaysians are definitely more important than two backpacking Caucasians. The two Indian tourists said they had to go to bed starving. Were they going for a particular type of food that can't be found elsewhere?

We were of course made to listen to excerpted interviews. If these kwailos come from western democracies, they are not altogether strangers to marches and demonstrations. Everyone get inconvenienced especially those who want to use the same route.

The impression represented by the kwailos is irrelevant to Malaysia. Caucasian tourists will still come to Malaysia. All Ng Yen Yen needs to do, is to flash out on her expensive Facebook, routes to be avoided by the kwailos. Better still, redirect them to Jalan Alor so that they can have a good time there and thereafter form a better impression on Malaysia. Then we will hear satisfied testimonies of Oh yeah baby, oh yeah baby, give it to me baby reverberate around the world. Petite Asian babes are anytime preferable than Showamaru-able Caucasian mevrouws.

It's all part of the mind conditioning strategies of the print and audio visual media industry. Interviews with the Caucasians and the horny looking Egyptian will be exploited to show people that tourism in Malaysia will be affected. Ng Yen Yen came out with her usual condescending explanation of how much we lost in terms of tourist revenue. If we earn RM 30 billion over a month, a loss in one day's revenue is RM 1 billion, she will boom in her usual speech giving style as though she's talking to stupidas. We will teach you a lesson in Raub , nyonya.

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Monday, 11 July 2011

Untamable Bersih- 1

The object of derision and concern is the Elections Commission. How does the government respond? They did so by demonizing the Bersih Rally. The PM went a step further and went on his, well now predictable, charm offensive. The business people complaining on TV3 about lost business would also not be doing good business on a normal day. But their grievance is now useful to the government because it can be used as testimony that the rally caused severe economic hardships.
The Egyptian tourist who talked about something similar happening in Cairo some weeks ago was probably looking for a good time in Bukit Bintang. He was also probably searching for Dato Eskay whom he may have heard can arrange for a good time for horny Egyptians.
What about those who made a roaring business because marchers were hungry and thirsty? Ask the 'mother of fish head curry' shop how much business they made that day? What about the vendor selling cold drinks on that hot day?
We will allow that president of the mamak eateries to state how much he can make in one day and then we will let the JHDN calculate whether he has been paying taxes on that daily revenue.
One day after the Bersih rally, the UMNO President came out with possibly his most forceful speech to date. He spoke with such intensity, vehemence and vigor and would surely succeed in inspiring the UMNO faithfuls. We have a fighting president after all. He seems almost believable.
He has thus redeemed himself- to be forceful and firm as demanded by Ibrahim Ali. Let's see how the UMNO president manages his new found vigorousness against the competing demands by anti Bersih online petitioners asking him to take stern action against Bersih organizers and the petitioners demanding his resignation. Will the intensity that aided him during his fiery speech helped him on?
Bersih has taken a life of its own and would have become what it became even if Ambiga wasn't around. Isn't it embarrassing for anyone to respond to Ambiga by asking her title be taken back and even her citizenship be revoked? Isn't this a sign of shallowness and an example of pitiable pettiness?
How would I understand his explosive speech? In order to properly place that speech in its context, we need to understand what Bersih has evolved into. Bersih started with its 8 demands on electoral reforms. That shouldn't scare UMNO in the first place. No problem with postal voting because violation on postal voting isn't as widespread as it was a long time ago. Unless of course the candidates' representatives during the voting and counting process were sleeping.
There should not be any problem even if voting is made compulsory on reaching 21 years of age. Cleaning up the electoral roles off dead people shouldn't be much of a problem because this is more administrative and technical. Making voting transparent shouldn't be a problem too.
The big issues are always money politics and Gerry meandering, and phantom voters. Thousands of people in Sabah are being issued IDs with addresses in Kelantan! Now this is a problem.
Gerry-meandering is a real problem. It seems that UMNO can only ensure it has more reps in parliament by creating more parliamentary seats of maybe with 5,000 voters per constituent. Hence an UMNO MP represents 5,000 people, while his opposite number represents 30,000 people. The UMNO MP represents the same number if that number includes 10,000 police and 10,000 army voters.
What has Bersih become? To me Bersih has come to represent the people's willingness to translate beliefs into action. That's what is troubling the UMNO president. Bersih represents willful readiness to translate articulation into action. The shocking thing is, he couldn't detect the same voluntariness and missionary zeal among UMNO people! No money no move.
In response, he came out with his fiery speech upon pressing the panic button.
Which silent majority is he talking? How would we categorize the more than 100,000 people asking him to resign? Maybe they are the silent subversives, anti-Malay, and anti-Islam and so on. Perhaps even traitors.
Here is another troubling thing for me. The Agong to whom everyone pledges allegiance and loyalty has ruled for conciliation. Yet the Home Minister countermanded that rule by unleashing security forces on peaceful marchers. Did the Police find any weapons among Bersih supporters that day?
I am sure, the video clip showing the man who eventually died after participating in the rally whose handcuffs were taken off only in the ambulance, will be played over and over again in the next coming general elections. The opposition already has a weapon. A portent one more worrisome that Anwar's black eye!
Anwar Ibrahim? He was largely incidental in the Bersih rally because the Bersih rally actually and truly wasn't about him. If he participated in the rally because of some personal motives, who are we to fault him on that? At least he wasn't as stupid as ex ITM guy who went around telling people that Bersih is really about overthrowing a Malay government. 70% of the rally participants were Malays!
Now, the number who attended the promptly arranged special penerangan session by UMNO was 6000 as claimed the organizers. I am thinking this impromptu congregation was planned by the backroom boys and the PM's strategists; only they could come out with this magical number! Definitely it wasn't planned by the UMNO Information chief. We couldn't give too much credit to Ahmad Maslan the UMNO information chief.
Except it also got me thinking- hmm, the number is almost the same as the figure attributed to the Bersih marchers. How come the number of marchers seems to fill up whole streets and stadiums, yet the number are still 6000? The number of delegates to any UMNO General assembly at any one time is around 2500. That means, around 3500 were standing on the balcony in the hall. It's a miracle with that big an attendance; the building didn't collapse under the collective weight. But it's been 4 years I have not attended the UMNO general assembly, maybe they have enlarged the space.
The UMNO president was talking to his flock. So, we should not over read the significance. You MUST sound fighting among your own people lest morale is lost. Even if 6000 attended, that's still not a number than can win votes. That represents a miniscule proportion of Malay voters.
So, let's remind my UMNO friends of the number. In 2008, there were 5.7 million Malay voters. How many did UMNO candidates get? UMNO got 2.38 million votes. Assuming 380,000 votes came from non-Malays, UMNO candidates got only 2 million votes.
That's strange. UMNO got 3.5 million members, yet it got only 2 million votes? If we assume that all the 2 million votes came from UMNO members, then 1.5 million UMNO members did not vote UMNO candidates for 1001 reasons.
Therefore I am not easily impressed when the UMNO president said, if we want, we can have 3 million marchers. Unless they are bussed into the city, given a t shirt maybe two for the missus back home, a packet of lamb or chicken mandi, RM 50 pocket money and a night's stay at Chow Kit. 

correction: see para on handcuffs. 

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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bersih- the humbling of government

And then the whole country erupts into chaos. This is what I'm worried about. The government also keeps flip-flopping on whether it will allow the rally to go on or not. It needs to rule with a firmer hand!"
Now Ibrahim Ali is making sense. The whole country erupts into chaos because this country hasn't got a firm leadership.
But how does Ibrahim Ali define firm? By applying the big stick on Ambiga? On Bersih? It seems according to Ibrahim, general of Perkasa, Malay of the Malays, the government is firm only if they lock up Ambiga (who's trying to undermine the Malays, who is a threat to Islam etc.). The government is firm only when it does the bidding of Ibrahim Ali.
It depends who is defining what. Some people will say the government is firm if it arrests Ibrahim Ali and leaders of martial arts groups who subvert the legal apparatuses of coercion in this country- the police and the military. By not reigning in the forces of 'our 3rd line of defense' the government is sending messages that other groupings can elevate their questionable statuses into respectable 3rd line defense forces.
Pekida the shadowy group of Malay enforcers can, in future become one too. Toh Peh Kong group emerging from the bowels of Jinjang can become one. The Red Thali group from some estate somewhere can also become one.
Friends coming into the city called me in the wee hours of the morning lamenting of the traffic snarls. Surprisingly, they are blaming the police for causing the hardships in their daily routine. If people have not been paying attention to Bersih these past two weeks, today, they are asking one another what is Bersih?
The past two weeks, the government hasn't developed and earned a positive characterization; it is largely vilified as incompetent and confused in its responses. Here Hishamudin made some noises- eventually outlawing Bersih. There Muhyidin was spewing statements of no consequence.
Najib is fox-trotting with whatever came to his mind at the moment; first by sounding accommodative and willing to allow Bersih to do their thing in a stadium. Then backtracking because he wasn't aware that cousin Hisham has outlawed the NGO.
Hisham was bolder saying that despite being granted an audience with the King, the organization remains an outlawed entity. The King means nothing. Probably the King is fed-up of the whole messy and the make-it-up-as-you-go responses of the government.
The object of public concern is the conduct of the elections commission. Bersih represents the voice of the people who demand only 8 simple things from the election commission. They demand the electoral roll be cleaned, that the postal voting system be reformed, that indelible ink be used, a minimum 21 day campaign period be instated, free and fair access to media for all be provided, public institutions be strengthened, and for corruption as well as dirty politics to be stopped.

 
But these, say Ibrahim Ali, proxy of UMNO and Malay of the Malays, are actually disguises aimed at undermining the rule of the Malays, Malay rulers and whatever is of concern to the Malays.
The first and probably the only strategy UMNO and its supporters know is tocast aspersions on Bersih. Dig up any dirt you can find; destroy the credibility of the witness. Make him out as a fiend and traitor and all that. Hence Bersih is communist inspired because some photographs of Shamsiah Fakeh were found; Bersih is out to cause injury and bloodshed because some weapons(usually the stock in trade of secret societies) were found. Maybe the Police will be kind enough to allow inspection whether some items already in their inventory, were booked out temporarily to show the public the cache of arms belonging to Bersih?
Funny thing, people should start thinking why was Ambiga (that woman who is out to cause trouble and a threat to Islam) was able to meet up the King who is the head of the Islamic religion. Who is Ibrahim Ali to tell the king who he should or should not meet? Then I remember Nazri Aziz saying of Ibrahim Ali- he is nothing, nobody listens to him.
The government's ability in crisis management is now suspect. It put up a proxy fight through that pompous windbag from Pasir Mas and probably attempted to intimidate people through the show of force by 50,000 or whatever figures that can be conjured by one Silat Grandmaster. Didn't this person at one time stood as candidate opposing the BN at one point?
One son of the Linchah Grandmaster is an exco member of Pemuda UMNO who must have used his father's organization to scare the rally participants. I asked one fight trainer to the Police force what he thought about using martial arts groups for prop effects; he laughed it away by saying you think all silat opponents are lion hearted? Maybe 3 out of 10 will brave any onslaughts. You think they can withstand the forces of the moral majority? Silat proponents have conscience too.
The generals behind Mubarak and Zainal Abideen employed the might of the military forces. They can't forever strike at their own brothers and sisters. How can you even compare 50,000 martial arts experts to the well-equipped army of Mubarak and Zainal Abideen.
Here is a lesson painfully obvious. Once people are not intimidated with the show of force, your days are numbered.
We can spin till kingdom come about the willingness of the King to meet up with Ambiga. As one buffoon of a minister said, doing the hair splitting stuff- oh, the king met Ambiga in her capacity of a person. The king does not meet Bersih. However you say it, the people will say the King recognizes Ambiga as the leader of Bersih- whether that organization has been outlawed or not. She and what she represents is of some consequence.
Bersih is recognized while Ibrahim Ali, UMNO's proxy is not. To push the incredulity of the minister's twisted statement further- Ibrahim Ali, in person or representing a lawful society doing unlawful things isn't recognized. The government should outlaw Perkasa.
I would like to ask UMNO people, why do we support Ibrahim Ali who is not even an UMNO member? He has no moral standing to speak about the Malays in a space where it is UMNO who is claiming a monopoly to speak on and about Malays. If Ibrahim Ali is given that freedom, then by default UMNO accepts that it's no longer the sole and voice of choice for Malays.
What about those who insist- never mind, things will get back to normal for UMNO. We will let those who have no inkling about what's developing in the minds of the people, continue to think that by some miraculous act, UMNO will regain the ground that it lost, without doing anything substantial about it. What they have done is to psyche themselves into delusion.
This mistake is probably due to misreading history. In the history of revolutions and changes on the social and political scene, the catalytic forces of change always start in the towns and cities. Change is always started by progressive elements which are usually associated with towns and cities. Hence the consoling and self-patting assertions that, oh, this Bersih agenda will not be of any consequence because it doesn't affect the majority in the countryside, will be proven to be fallacious. Unfortunately this kind of torpid thinking seems to dominate UMNO's outlook.
Who keeps flip-flopping Ibrahim? I thought this was the moniker used to describe Pak Lah, our previous PM. He was OUR previous PM right- the one most UMNO people prostrate before and who was once carried on the shoulders of his staunch supporters when he won the Vice President's post at a time when Dr Mahathir wanted him booted out?
But then I realized that Ibrahim Ali is taking about our current PM. This was what Ibrahim Ali said. Now, this is the man who UMNO counts upon to help out when it feels hapless. This is a serious thing, for it suggests UMNO hasn't got leadership. When the PM reaches out to martial groups, imploring them to defend the nation from enemies from within, it shows that not only UMNO hasn't got leadership but it hasn't got responsible leadership.
This will serve to prove that all those talk about 1 Malaysia are all rhetoric. When the country is in trouble is should turn to the sanctity of the law of the land not to people like Ibrahim Ali or some martial arts group. Ibrahim Ali says it as much- the leader of this country is flip-flopping.

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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

BERSIH and the inane responses

This present government has developed one distinguishing characteristic not unlike the previous administration. If the previous administration was maligned as being uninspiring and sleeping through its job, this present government isn't that far from being similarly aspersed. How so?

It has shown it has a knack of being inept at handling small shocks to the system. Many of us for example are not supporters of Anwar Ibrahim, but the manner the government handles the Anwar affairs- whether it's the sodomy 2 charge or the recent video clip showing a person resembling Anwar in a sexual tryst, the administration has shown its ineptness and incompetence.

In the video clip affair for example, people see the court as being a manipulated instrument to serve the interest of the siting government. The court has allowed itself to be the pulpit for making political statements; lawyers representing the three people accused of possession and distribution or broadcasting pornographic material, used that occasion to declare the authenticity of the video and its main actor. How was it relevant and moreover we heard it through a secondary source- i.e. regurgitation from the defense lawyers. That become hearsay evidence and can be contested.

Its Anwar again this time having his hands tied behind and walloped defenselessly. Last time it was the physical black eye. This time it is the legal black eye. The last time, it nearly cost the loss of Najib in Pekan, this time it could probably cost more to UMNO as a whole.

The current shock to the system- a system made merry by numerous announcements of projects by the PM and his chief major domo in this field of auta-mania, Idris Jala, is how the government handles the Bersih NGO. 

This is an NGO led by a Malaysian Indian lady by the name of S Ambiga. This lady has managed to rattle almost all the top guns in UMNO and those wishing they were part of UMNO.

Ibrahim Ali is responding mindlessly justifying his conduct as an answer to his interpretation of Bersih as being a movement to (1) unseat the government and (2) attacking the position of Malays. So he steps in as the self-appointed warrior defending the position of Malays. He says he is willing to be murderous and warned the Chinese to stay away. But he hasn't asked his Chinese business backers to do the same.

Bersih was a godsend re-invigorating Ibrahim Ali from an otherwise political stupor. He now has an issue and Ibrahim Ali lives.

But why is Ibrahim Ali defending the UMNO led government? Ibrahim Ali is not even an UMNO member. Two, has UMNO not got enough warrior politicians to defend it in its hour of need? UMNO does not need Ibrahim Ali to speak for the party. If it does, then the warrior politicians in UMNO have since become eunuchs.

The other reason for attacking Bersih as a movement to endanger Malays and Malay interests is too far-fetched to be dignified by answering it.

Who is the right mind will entertain the idea of unseating the government through undemocratic means? The only one that did, were the UMNO politicians who engineered the downfall of the Perak PR government. Already there are signs that the Perak government will be retaken by the PR forces.

Ambiga and the Bersih people must be absent minded or must have suffered a bout of spontaneous amnesia to not be aware that Governments can be unseated only though democratic means, that is by way of free and fair elections. Therefore to seriously suggest that Bersih is a copycat version of the mass movements in Tunisa and Egypt is not acceptable.

Our response becomes more bizarre when the discovery of the portrait of Shamsiah Fakeh among Bersih rally paraphernalia is taken as proof that Bersih is communist inspired! The whole handling becomes even more macabre with the 'discovery' of weapons said to belong to Bersih would be participants. Oh yes. Oh yes- more of the incompetence. The discovery is a miracle to happen just before the planned rally. I hope the people masterminding the discovery will also be ready with some creative answers to tell the PM, how the weapons were 'planted' there. How convenient! The gods must be smiling at the politicians and police.

And now the investigation into the finances of Bersih shall be used as proof that Bersih is a Trojan horse for foreign subversion. That would probably provide an aphrodisiac for the recuperating Dr Mahathir who is a well-known opponent of any form of colonialism.

People may get inspired by those movements but were probably so without seriously entertaining the idea of unseating a government by undemocratic or violent means. Public opinion will certainly go against Bersih if that is the case. Ambiga will be lynched for that.

But the aims of Bersih are not that. By asking the elections commission to conduct itself properly shows that Bersih accepts that the means to unseat a government is through the voting system. But the voting system is in need of better supervision and that's where the demands on the election commission come to the fore.
This aim should be supported. Some people will show their support by participating in the rally. Some will not do so. It's a matter of choice.
The right to express their wishes must be upheld by the government. If Perkasa and other groups supportive of the sitting government are allowed to gather and demonstrate, that right must also be given to others. If the Bersih planned rally is wrong in law, then the same judgment applies to the rallies carried out by supporters of the sitting government.
Our laws are clear. If people break the law, irrespective of who they are, they must be brought to before the forces of the law. We have the institutions to deal with that and we certainly don't need a third line of defense. Can any secret society and gangster organizations apply to be a bona-fide 3rd line of defense?

The problem here is that the elections commission is seen as a pliant tool for one side of the contestants. It doesn't answer questions with solutions but gives all sorts of excuses. People accept the principle of elections as a means to establish governments. But they also want that means to be above board. They accept they are powerless unless they act collectively and speak as a voice. The powerless are striking back demanding that competition to get power to form governments be carried out fairly and in even handed manners.

The body that oversees elections is conducted fairly and transparently is the elections commission. We mustn't lose sight of the object of the current disputes now. Bersih's objective is to call upon the election commissions to conduct itself as it's chartered to do. This isn't a rally threatening the sovereignty of the Agong or to strike fear at Malays.

The election commission is an independent commission. It's not just another government department answerable to the Chief Secretary or even to the PM. It's the custodian of fair and transparent conduct of elections and it must guard this role jealously. It does so jealously from the meddling and intervention of interested parties. It must also rid itself of any perceptions of being a submissive tool for those holding power at the moment.

Its responses to criticisms therefore mustn't be evasive. It has to avail itself to the latest methods and technology that upgrade the participation of people in an electoral process. If the use of indelible ink is good for participatory democracy it must adopt the method as a natural development without having to be at pains defending its non-usage. If making voting compulsory and its cost effective doing so, then it must do so.
People are now diverting their attention to debating whether the planned assembly of people in the Bersih Rally should be allowed or otherwise. The real issue has and is always the conduct of the elections commission.

The watching majority must be dismayed at the response of our police. The police with all the sophisticated instruments of crowd control and other suppressive means appear to have admitted that they are powerless to control the crowds. What have we spent public money for then? The idea of a police is to keep the peace. In keeping the peace, it must conduct its business in a professional manner and be fair minded. If Bersih is not allowed to hold rallies, then other parties must also be disallowed.
In Penang, the police have given permit for some people to hold a rally? In Rembau, some people consisting of ex policemen were given permit? Ibrahim Ali was even given a permit to denounce a rally that has not taken place. He is a clairvoyant extraordinaire- can see the future. In ancient times, people like Ibrahim Ali got burnt at the stakes. Shall we roast Ibrahim Ali then?
Let's not forget the object of the issue. It's the election commission. It answers to the Agong and therefore should not be seen as working for an interested party. What's the problem with clearing the electoral registers off dead people? How can it apply its resources and time to restructure how postal votes can be seen to be fair and transparent? How can it monitor and apply strict rules to election spending and election funding etc.?
These are important issues to those looking at elections as a means to exercise their democratic rights to elect a government of their choice. This isn't an issue whether public demonstrations or going on a march as practices that are good only elsewhere but not suitable in Malaysia. The need to express publicly the collective wants and demands is part and parcel a democracy.

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