Archive for June 11th, 2012
By Rama Ramanathan | June 11, 2012
The Malaysian Insider
JUNE 11 — Tomorrow my wife and I leave Malaysia so that I can take up a short-term assignment abroad. As I said in my last post, we struggle over whether, as citizens, we are doing the right thing. We are after all Malaysians. We don’t think of any other country as our home. Politicians in no other countries care about our votes.
After I paid a few hundred US dollars, India recognised me as a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) — this means I don’t need a visa to enter India. But this is only in order to encourage me to transfer funds to India, which I have not done. I don’t have voting rights in India. Why should I? I care more about Malaysia than I do about India!
I do have voting rights in Malaysia, and I am disappointed that the 13th general election in Malaysia will likely occur while I’m away. Fortunately, my member of Parliament is not Umno-BN, and it seems likely the seat will remain with the opposition even without the help of the votes of my wife and myself. But, with all the shenanigans the Election Commission and Umno-BN are practising, we can’t be too sure.
The Malaysian Insider reported that Muhyiddin Yassin, the deputy prime minister, said the opposition is “skilful at spinning” and at using social media tools.
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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has styled himself a reformer, but his government’s prosecution of protesters shows he still has a long way to go.
By Robert Horn
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appears determined to give himself a political black eye. On June 13, government prosecutors will haul into court 10 leaders of Bersih, a coalition of civil society groups campaigning to clean up the country’s corrupt elections commission. The government is demanding damages for destruction to public property during a clash between Bersih demonstrators and police in Kuala Lumpur on April 28. At least 100,000 people marched for clean elections in the Malaysian capital that day, while tens of thousands more joined protests in 11 other cities across the country and 80 cities around the world. Whether or not the government wins compensation in court, however, no amount of money will undo the damage it is inflicting upon its own reputation by pursuing the case.
The April 28 demonstrations were a stunning show of discontent in a country where protests are rarely tolerated. In half a century, Malaysia has advanced from a poor British colony with a plantation economy to an ambitious, middle-income nation with science parks, cybercities and skyscrapers. But in a trade-off typical of Asia, the Barisan National coalition, which has ruled the country since independence in 1957, curtails civil liberties and keeps a tight rein on political opposition in exchange for delivering prosperity. That governing model, however, contains the seeds of its own decay. Malaysia’s successful development “translates into a better-educated electorate who have more sophisticated demands and expectations,” political scientist Prof. Farish Noor tells TIME.
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