Archive for November, 2007

Hindraf demo – Indian Parliament in uproar over Nazri’s outburst

Malaysian Ministers must get rid of the “frog in coconut shell” mentality and learn the first basic rule of global society — we must accept and withstand international scrutiny of national policies in the same way Malaysian leaders castigate injustices of other countries like the Palestinian and Iraq issues.

Only yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi spoke up for the Palestinians and criticized oppressive Israeli policies — and rightly so. Similarly, with the frequent Malaysian government criticisms of United States policy in Iraq.

However, Malaysian leaders cannot demand double-standards in international society where they exercise the right to criticize unfair policies of foreign governments like the hot-button Palestinian and Iraq issues and yet claim the privilege of being spared from international scrutiny by foreign governments and leaders on Malaysian events and developments.

This is why the outburst of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz on Wednesday telling off the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to “butt out” and not to interfere in Malaysian internal affairs for the Tamil Nadu leader’s comments on Sunday’s Hindraf demonstration is so ridiculous and out-of-place, as if the Malaysian government is insisting on the unilateral special rights of not being subject to any international scrutiny for its national policies while enjoying the liberty to speak out against international injustices like those affecting the Palestinians and Iraqis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindraf demo – only two honourable options for Samy Vellu

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi kicking the ball back to the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) to set up another committee on the plight of Malaysian Indians is a great letdown after the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration — which was both a cry of desperation for justice of Malaysian Indians at becoming a new underclass and a powerful vote of no confidence in Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu after more than 28 years as MIC President and Cabinet Minister.

Samy Vellu’s revelation yesterday that after meeting the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Abdullah had asked MIC to set up a special committee to analyse and address socio-economic problems faced by the Indian community is further proof of the advanced denial syndrome of the Barisan Nasional government.

It is also powerful vindication of the critique by the Penang State Exco, Dr. Toh Kin Woon that the Abdullah administration had failed ordinary Malaysians in the past four years in being impervious and insensitive to their “grievances, frustrations and unhappiness”, giving force to his contention that “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.”

The worst possible responses to the Hindraf demonstration by the government are two — one, to persecute the organizers and supporters of the Hindraf demonstration as “bad hats” and “trouble-makers” and two, refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the “grievances, frustrations and unhappiness” of the Malaysian Indians which have transformed the Hindraf demonstration into such a powerful expression of protest and alienation.

Both these “worst responses” have been adopted. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindraf demo – BN Ministers and leaders should have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty

When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister on 30th October 2003, he made the famous pledge to “hear the truth, however unpleasant”, which he had infamously dishonoured in the past four years.

Recently, Abdulah’s pledge to “hear the truth” was ignomiously revised by the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin as applying only to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials but not to the media , the civil society or the ordinary Malaysian public!

In the past four years, however, Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders had been afflicted by the “Dare not speak the truth to Pak Lah” syndrome.

This has resulted in the least hands-on Prime Minister in the nation’s history but with the most Ministerial portfolios (trebling as Minister for Finance and Minister for Internal Security) setting a new record in Malaysian political history as a Prime Minister who has lost touch with the national pulse in the shortest time ever since assuming the highest political office of the land.

It is refreshing that in this ocean of distortions, half-truths and downright lies passing off as “truth”, Gerakan Penang State Executive Councillor, Dr. Toh Kin Woon has gloriously broken ranks in a letter to Malayaiakini yesterday declaring that it is the people’s “discontent and unhappiness that will be a greater threat to our country’s peace and stability, rather than the marches, pickets and demonstrations”.

I call on Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty to speak the truth to the Prime Minister whether about the “Walk for Justice” of 2,000 lawyers organized by the Bar Council for restoration of the independence and integrity of the judiciary; the 40,000-strong Bersih rally in support of electoral reforms for clean, free and fair elections; the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration on the socio-economic and cultural plight of the Malaysian Indians particularly the lower strata; or the numerous pickets by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and trade unions for higher salaries to meet rising costs of living so burdensome to the workers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindraf, Communitarianism and the Made-In-Malaysia Dilemma

By Farish A.Noor

Well, well, well… . Now it appears as if the proverbial chickens have come home to roost. Following the less-than-welcomed but to-be-expected reaction from some Indian politicians and political parties in neighbouring India in the wake of the recent demonstration in Kuala Lumpur organised by the Malaysian Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), it would appear as if some of those who walk the corridors of power in Malaysia have gotten a little flustered and hot behind the ears. But are we really surprised by the global reaction that has come in the wake of the Hindraf rally, and should we be surprised if this spins into a regional, if not international issue that brings into the fray representative groups of the Indian global diaspora?

That the reaction of Hindu groups based in India was so fast should not be seen as novel by anyone. After all, similar reactions were seen when the Chinese minority were singled out in the bloody racial pogroms of Indonesia in 1998, when hundreds of Chinese homes and shops in cities like Jakarta were put to the torch by hordes of racist right wing Indonesians looking for a scapegoat to blame for the economic crisis on 1997-98. (The cause of which, we should remember, was the economic mismanagement and corruption of the Suharto regime between 1970 to 1998.) Then, as now, the minority that was persecuted and victimised turned to the global diaspora for help, and surely it came: Millions of Chinese from China to the United States join in a global campaign to defend the Chinese of Indonesia. Though what this did was offer only temporary respite for the victims of the race attacks then. What it really did was divide Indonesian society even further, pitting the Chinese against the indigenous Indonesians, and worse of all underlining the fiction that the Chinese were somehow a community distinct and apart that were ‘alien’ and ‘foreign’ to the norm. Sadly, what the reaction did was to add to the erasure of the long-term presence of the Chinese in the Indonesian archipelago, many of whom had been there for at least five generations and who were as Indonesian as the next person on the street…

Now to turn to what happened in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, we see some disturbing parallels at work: Read the rest of this entry »

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High-handed police action at Hindraf rally — Indian diaspora reacts

Monday’s press carried reports and photographs of a foreign woman tourist in the Kuala Lumpur centre on Sunday who was the victim of indiscriminate police tear gas attacks which aggravated her asthmatic condition.

In the era of globalization, the earth has become a global village and it is impossible for Malaysia to disregard international reactions to local events if we are to enhance our international competitiveness whether in attracting tourists or foreign investors.

Peaceful demonstrations do not scare tourists. It is high-handed police actions and the mishandling of peaceful demonstrations as happened with regard to the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday which drive away tourists and investors.

For example, in countries with a very flourishing tourist industry like the United Kingdom, Australia and United States, peaceful demonstrations are quite common and do not have any effect in scaring away tourists.

During question time this morning, I had asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik whether there had been adverse reactions from the Indian diaspora or whether the Ministry is expecting any from the police mishandling of the Hindraf rally.

Although Ahmad Shabery replied in the negative, the truth is otherwise. The Indian media have reported adverse reactions to the government handling of the Hindraf demonstration — media like Hindu India, Hindustan Times India, Times of India, CNN-IBN India, Zee News India, News Today India and The Tribune India. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – Chan Kong Choy still Minister-on-the-run

MCA Deputy President and Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy has confirmed that he is a Minister-on-the-run from his sheer inability to answer five simplified questions on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal in Parliament yesterday.

When moving a RM10 salary-cut motion for the Transport Minister yesterday, I tried to make things easy for Chan by reducing the public furore over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal into five simplified questions, viz:

1. Was it true that when the Port Klang Authority and the Transport Ministry insisted on buying the 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land for PKFZ at RM25 psf on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis, in the face of strong objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Treasury which had recommended that the land be acquired at RM10 psf, the Cabinet had given its approval subject to two conditions: (i) categorical assurance by the Transport Minister that the PKFZ proposal was feasible and self-financing and would not require any public funding; and (ii) that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ would require prior Cabinet approval.

2. In the event, the first condition was breached when the PKFZ project ballooned from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion requiring government intervention and bailout while the second condition was breached with the original PKFZ development costs of RM400 million ballooning to RM2.8 billion without any prior Cabinet approval ever been sought for every RM100 million increase in development costs.

3. The Transport Minister had unlawfully issued four Letters of Support to Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB), the PKFZ turnkey contractor — to raise RM4 billion bonds, which were regarded as government guarantees by the market. The Transport Minister had no such powers to issue financial guarantees committing the government, as it could only be issued by the Finance Minister and only after Cabinet approval. The first Letter of Support was issued by the former Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik on May 28, 2003, which was Liong Sik’s last day as Transport Minister while the other three were issued by Kong Choy.

4. Whether it wasn’t true that in recognition that the four unlawful “Letters of Support” of the Transport Minister had nonetheless given implicit government guarantee to the market that the Cabinet had in mid-year to give retrospective approval for the unlawful and unauthorized four Letters of Support by the Transport Ministers in the past four years creating RM4.6 billion liability for the government in the bailout of PKFZ.

5. Why no action had been taken against the Transport Minister, both Liong Sik and Kong Choy, as well as the government officials responsible for the unlawful issue of the four “Letters of Support”. Kong Choy had said that he did not know that he had no power as Transport Minister to issue such Letters of Support. Was this acceptable explanation for getting the government embroiled in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?

After each question, I specifically asked Chan to give a “yes or not” answer — to deny if the facts I had mentioned were untrue, and to explain and justify what he and the government had done if what I had said was undisputed and true.

In his reply, Chan completely ignored the five simplified questions on the core issues of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, as well as other questions which I had posed, including: Read the rest of this entry »

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Abdullah’s threat to use ISA – nadir in 4 years of broken pledges on democracy, human rights, accountability, integrity

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi returned from the Kampala Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and threatened to use the nefarious law, the Internal Security Act (ISA), against peaceful demonstrators — marking a new nadir of the four-year broken pledges by the Abdullah premiership on democracy, human rights, accountability, incorruptibility and preparedness to hear the truth from the people.

Yesterday, Aljazeera reported the controversy in Japan over the Education Ministry’s latest effort to revise school history textbooks on one of the most notorious wartime incidents in Japan, where the Japanese military ordered and sometimes forced the islanders to commit suicide during the US invasion of Okinawa in the closing days of the second world war. There was a peaceful demonstration of more than 100,000 people in Okinawa to protest against the Japanese Education Ministry’s instruction to textbook publishers to edit out all references to the military’s role in the mass suicides.

Abdullah wants Malaysians to have “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” and not “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” and it is time for the government to set the example of such “First-World Mentality” and mindset by accepting the important role of peaceful demonstrations in a first-world developed nation like Japan, United Kingdom, Australia and United States for their citizenry to exercise their democratic rights on freedom of expression and assembly.

What chance and hope of Malaysia becoming a nation with “First-World Mentality” when the government is the worst culprit of having “Third-World” and even “Fourth-World” mindsets, as in threatening to invoke the notorious Internal Security Act?

Many have asked whether mass ISA arrests like the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987, which led to major assaults on the independence and integrity of the judiciary, the emasculation of press freedom and the suppression of a vibrant civil society, is possible under Abdullah’s premiership.

With Abdullah’s threat to use the ISA yesterday, such a scenario now appears more and more likely – and I call on Abdullah to make clear his real stand on democracy, human rights, accountability, incorruptibility and preparedness to hear the truth from the people. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal questions – why Kong Choy cannot give “yes or no” answers?

On the very first day of the current 45-day budget parliamentary session from August 27 to December 19, 2007, I had highlighted the scandal of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone bailout in an emergency motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 18(1) for a debate on an issue of urgent, definite public importance as there had been no proper accountability to Parliament whether by the Transport Minister or Finance Minister despite the various exposes in the public domain, such as

  • Hanky-panky in the purchase of the 1,000 acres for the PKFZ, despite objections by the Finance Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
  • Mismanagement resulting in the pull-out of Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone (Jafza) from the project, which could become a “white elephant”.
  • Questionable cost-overruns of the PKFZ, ballooning to RM4.63 billion from the original estimate of RM1.1 billion.
  • The unlawful and unauthorized Transport Ministry issue of four “letters of support” which were used by the turnkey contractor – Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) – to raise RM4.6 billion bonds and get an AAA rating from the Malaysia Rating Corporation Bhd. for the PKFZ project.
  • Why the government and the 26 million Malaysians must now bear responsibility for a RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout despite earlier assurances that the PKFZ project would be feasible, self-financing and would not involve a single ringgit of public funds.
  • Why the Prime Minister is breaching his undertaking of no bailout of mega-billion-ringgit “white elephant” projects — with the PKFZ bailout set to be the biggest financial scandal at the beginning of any Prime Minister.

However, my emergency motion on the first day of the current meeting of Parliament was rejected by the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah as not urgent.

Since then, for the past three months, I had repeatedly sought to demand government accountability for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal but to no avail, as I came up against the wall of prevarication and evasion, with the ball kicked from one Ministry to another, namely the Transport Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department. Nobody wanted wanting to give a proper answer or accept accountability, with everyone either falsely claiming that it had already been answered or would be answered by another Ministry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindraf demo – Cabinet should offer olive branch and end all sabre-rattling

The Barisan Nasional leaders, led by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should stop their truculent and confrontational responses to the Sunday 30,000 Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur, as illustrated by the following:

  • Saber-rattling and tough language like newspaper headlines, “Kerajaan tidak gentar — Perhimpunan Hindraf jelas bermotif politik — Najib” (Utusan Malaysia) and “‘WE WON’T BACK DOWN’ — We will meet the challenge — Najib” (New Straits Times);
  • warning of dire action by Umno leaders including the use of Internal Security Act; and
  • Condemnation by Barisan Nasional MPs like the MP for Jasin Datuk Mohd Said Yusof branding the Hindraf leaders as “kurang ajar” and demanding action to be taken against them.

    Instead of threatening all sorts of dire consequences against the Hindraf organizers and supporters, the Cabinet should offer an olive branch to acknowledge the legitimacy of the long-standing grievances of the Indian community at becoming the most marginalized group after 50 years of Merdeka by taking the following measures:

  • Unconditional release of all 136 Hindraf supporters arrested during Sunday’s demonstration;
  • Withdraw all charges and proceedings against Hindraf organizers, including P. Uthayakumar, P. Waytha Moorthy and V. Ganabatirau.
  • Establish a commission of inquiry into the police handling of the Hindraf demonstration on Sunday;
  • Support the establishment of a parliamentary select committee on the marginalization of the Indian community which should be given three months to submit its first report by early March next year.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Between a rock and a hard place (2)

Two YouTube items here:

(1) A longer 8.23 minute video clip of the two parliamentary episodes during question time yesterday when the 30,000-people Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 25th November 2007 was raised. The earlier clip was 5.08 minutes. The longer video clip has the supplementary question by the “one-eye closed” BN MP for Jasin who demanded to know what action would be taken against the “kurang ajar” Hindraf demonstration. It also exposed the hollowness of the reply by the Internal Security Deputy Minister, Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum that action would be taken against all political leaders who break the law without fear or favour. Johari was stumped and speechless when I riposted why no action was taken against Khairy Jamaluddin.

(2) The controversial Aljazeera interview of MIC Cameron Highlands MP, S.K. Devamany belitting “the type of people” who took part in the Hindraf demonstration, which he accused as having been “orchestrated” by “irresponsible” people.

The Sagaladoola blog has not only volunteered a transcript of part of the Devamany Aljazeera interview, but posed several pertinent questions to the MIC MP who is now caught between a rock and a hard place. Read the rest of this entry »

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Between a rock and a hard place

See on YouTube two parliamentary episodes during question time today — the first, “Hindraf rally was a cry of desperation by the Indian community” when I asked a supplementary question to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department pointing out that the Hindraf demonstration was the upshot of the long-standing marginalization of the Malaysian Indians into a new underclass; and the second, when the MIC MP for Cameron Highlands Devamany a/l S. Krishnasamy was asking a supplementary question to the Deputy Internal Security Minister and I intervened to expose his hypocrisy and outrageous Aljazeera interview yesterday attacking the Hindraf demonstration.

Devamany has been caught between a rock and a hard place as illustrated by the following Malaysiakini report:

MIC MP: Rally reflects govt’s failure
Yoges Palaniappan
Nov 26, 07 6:59pm

A Barisan Nasional MP departed from the norm today when he said the rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) reflected the Indian community’s disgruntlement towards certain government policies.

K Devamany (MIC-Cameron Highlands) added that the rally proved the failure of government policies which do not benefit the Indians.

The ruling politician made the remark after interjecting Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) who argued that the rally was a cry of desperation from the Indians.

“Some 50,000 people took to the streets yesterday. It shows the government’s failure and it needs to be looked into carefully,” said Devamany. Read the rest of this entry »

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RCI on Lingam Tape – test of whether Mahathir is right that Cabinet is “half-past six”

The Cabinet must prove Tun Dr. Mahathir wrong that it is “half-past six’ by establishing a wide-ranging and unfettered Royal Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday to deal with the root-and-branch problem of the crisis of confidence in the judiciary going back for 19 years and not just deal with the “tip of the iceberg” of the Lingam Tape.

International Islamic University constitutional law expert Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari is right his interview with New Sunday Times in describing the Lingam Tape as “just the tip of the iceberg” after the state of the judiciary after 1988.

This led to the question — “If the video clip is the tip, what is the iceberg?” and the following answer in “Putting confidence back in judiciary”:

“A: How the people are selecting the judges, how the judges are having behind-closed-door relationships with lawyers, and how lawyers manage to predict or determine the outcome of cases.

“This is something very serious when it comes to suits. If this is the case, then people won’t have confidence in the judiciary.

“The judiciary’s strength is the public’s confidence. In law, you don’t have to establish bias: if the person cannot convince you of his or her integrity, then he’s got to disqualify himself.

“The mere likelihood (of bias) is good enough to establish a real bias. The moment it (the confidence) is lost, it is difficult to get it back.”

Earlier in the interview, there was a specific Q & A on the “scope of the inquiry”, viz: Read the rest of this entry »

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Wimax & penipuan SMS

1 ) Penipuan melalui kandungan SMS

Saya merujuk kepada kenyataan Menteri Tenaga, Air dan Komunikasi bertarikh 5 September 2007 di mana menteri berkenaan menyebut hanya terdapat 23 kes daripada 176 aduan orang awam yang telah melanggar Garispanduan industri pembekalan kandungan SMS, dan hanya 9 syarikat pembekal kandungan SMS tersebut dikenakan penalti secara pembayaran kompaun.

Dalam pada itu, menteri berkenaan juga berkata semua syarikat telekom selular telah diarah untuk melaksanakan satu ‘Preventive System’ untuk menbanteras kejadian penipuan yang seumpamanya — dan tarikh penamatnya (deadline) ialah 30 September.

The New Sunday Times bertarikh 4 November telah melaporkan bahawa sebanyak 712,676 pengguna telefon bimbit telah menjadi mangsa penipuan SMS sejak Januari 2006, melibatkan duit aniaya sebanyak RM377,411.60.

Kami perolehi maklumat dari sumber industri bahawa sebilangan daripada syarikat pembekal kandungan SMS yang dikenakan kompaun masih belum menjelaskan kompaun mereka setelah melebihi tiga bulan.

Malahan, kita juga diberitahu oleh sumber industri bahawa salah satu syarikat pembekal kandungan SMS yang berkali-kali melanggar Garispanduan industri — iaitu Macro Kiosk Bhd — telah dilantik oleh two syarikat telekomunikasi selular menerusi sebuah anak syarikat yang bernama Toprole Network Sdn Bhd, sebagai pembekal dan pengendali ‘Preventive System” yang Menteri berkenaan telah janjikan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Offensive Aljazeera interview on Hindraf demo – MIC MP Devamany owes public apology

MIC MP for Cameron Highlands Devamany a/l S. Krishnasamy should publicly apologise for his Aljazeera interview yesterday belittling the Hindraf demonstration and condemning the demonstrators when he should be deploring the police mishandling and excessive use of force in firing tear gas and liquid chemicals against the defenceless and unarmed in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

In the Aljazeera interview, Devamany joined the chorus of Barisan Nasional leaders in running down the Hindraf demonstration, condemning it as irresponsible with bad intention, making derogatory reference to the “type of people” who came to join the demonstration — as if they were the riff-raff and good-for-nothings when they in fact represented a fair cross-section of the Malaysian Indian community from all over the country, including professionals and among the most idealistic men and women for whom the Malaysian Indian community and the Malaysian nation have every reason to feel proud.

I actually gave Devamany an opportunity during parliamentary question time this morning to apologise and withdraw his offensive and derogratory remarks about the Hindraf demonstration and demonstrators, but he chose to be obstinate and unrepentant, trying to argue and justify his offensive Aljazeera interview.

As I had said during my supplementary question this morning that the government failure to ensure equity has created the conditions for the Hindraf demonstration, which was “a cry of desperation” by the Indian community at their neglect and marginalisation in the Barisan Nasional nation-building policies which have made the Malaysian Indians into a new under class in Malaysia after 50 years of Merdeka.

Never before in the past 50 years have Malaysian Indians felt so discriminated and marginalized in the whole gamut of their citizenship rights –political, economic, social, educational, cultural and religious. Read the rest of this entry »

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Moratorium on Syabas water disconnections which violate the fundamental human right of the poor to clean water

The Ministry of Water, Energy and Communications should issue an directive to Syabas to impose an immediate moratorium on water disconnections in the concession area of Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya which affect the poor.

Last month, the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) and MTUC had spoken up because they were appalled at the high levels of water supply disconnection in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya since water privatization in the last two years.

They had consistently argued that organising water for profits would lead to high levels of disconnections, a notion that violates peoples’ rights and access to clean water. Poor and vulnerable communities might be at risk.

CAWP and MTUC have been proven right and the Ministry should instruct Syabas to develop a humane way of collecting water bills, one where peoples’ right to clean water is not violated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Free and peaceful demonstration is provided for in the constituition

by Richard Teo

Why should the govt stifle dissent by refusing to give permits for its citizens to demonstrate? It does not matter whether the govt thinks that the issue is not justifiable or for some imaginary reason it is a threat to national security. Whether their grievances are legitimate or not is something the public will have to judge. The govt’s role is merely to ensure that the demonstration is held peacefully and without any violence.

When people take to the street to demonstrate it is always for a cause. History has shown us repeatedly that when the voice of the people is continually and contemptously ignored the only recourse is to show their displeasure by demonstrating. After all this liberty to demonstrate peacefully is provided in our constituition and it is the inalienable right of every citizen to exercise this right.

I disagree with some view that because the rally was specifically for a certain community the demonstration should not proceed. This view is in direct contradiction with the basic principle that the right to peaceful assembly is enshrined in the constitution and if the aggrieved party is of the view that their grievances have not been addressed than they should have every right to demonstrate. It does not matter whether their grievances merely highlight a particular community interest as long as they perceive there is a need to publicise and convey their message. Read the rest of this entry »

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Another Local Demonstration Gone Global

By Farish A. Noor

Let there be no mistake about it: We live in a globalised world. But then again, what’s new about that? Only someone totally ignorant of the history of greater Asia would be surprised to learn that our neatly-compartmentalised nation-states are, after all, bound together by a common shared history that overlaps across so many levels and interfaces. Long before the European ships arrived on our shores, Asians have been travelling all across the great land mass, making tracks from the furthest end of China, across Southeast Asia and the land of the mighty Indus, all the way to the scorching deserts of Arabia and the Gulf and down the West coast of Africa. What colonialism did, however, was to interrupt this movement of peoples, cultures and ideas in two distinct ways: Firstly by dividing the nations of Asia into distinct nation-states with fixed (and artificial) borders; and secondly by attempting to control the movement of people by commodifying human beings into human capital instead.

The net result has been the creation of the world map as we know it today, with intrusive lines rudely and crudely drawn between areas that once overlapped and communities that were once closer united to each other. The Indian Ocean, for instance, was once the corridor between South and Southeast Asia, and that is why so much of Southeast Asia (till today) bears the cultural imprint of India. It was from India that the religions, philosophies, aesthetics and norms of society and governance of Southeast
Asia were derived; and it was no mere coincidence that the Malay archipelago was once referred to as ‘Greater India’, testimony to how close the two regions were — both geographically and culturally.

Sadly today the division of Asia into neat compartments has managed to sever these long-established bonds, leaving the residents of both regions confused as to why they seem so similar yet different. Many a conservative nationalist in Southeast Asia is still loathe to admit that his or her culture shares so much in common with that of India’s, while many South Asians fail to realise that much of what they regard as familiar there is also present in Southeast Asia next door. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindraf rally – excessive use of police force with firing of tear gas and water cannons

The excessive use of police force with the firing of tear gas and water cannons against the Hindraf gathering in Kuala Lumpur this morning to present a memorandum to the British High Commission is most high-handed, ham-fisted, undemocratic and a grave disservice not ony to the Malaysian Indian community but to Malaysia’s international reputation in wanting to be a first-world developed nation.

If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had “walked the talk” of creating a Malaysia with “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality”, today’s disgraceful display of excessive police force would not have happened.

Peaceful demonstrations and marches are common and accepted occurrences in First World developed nations which Malaysia aspires to become. As has been rightly pointed out recently, in Britain, Australia and other modern countries, when people wish to demonstrate, the police typically clear the way and make sure no one gets hurt. The streets belong to the people. And the police, like the politicians, are their servants. It is not the other way around as in Malaysia where the first reflex of the police and the government to any peaceful demonstration is to impose a ban and to fire tear gas and water cannons to deny Malaysians the fundamental right to a voice in national affairs.

During the world-wide anti-Iraq war demonstrations in late 2002, the Malaysian government had applauded mammoth peaceful demonstrations in the Western capitals, whether in London, Paris, Rome or Washington where crowds ranging from hundreds of thousands and even millions came out to peacefully voice their anti-war aspirations.

If the Police had issued a permit to Hindraf for their gathering to submit a memorandum to the British High Commission this morning, the whole incident would have ended in a peaceful, orderly and swift manner, which will not only be a credit to the police but to the nation’s international reputation as well.

This is a case where the Police has failed to make the important distinction between their role from that of their political masters in the Barisan Nasional. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ambiga as commissioner to ensure credibility and legitimacy of Royal Commission of Inquiry

In completely excluding the Bar Council members as members of the Royal Commission of Inquiry in the Lingam Tape, the government is only undermining its own case and cause that it is concerned about the restoration of national and international confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said yesterday that there was no possibility that Bar Council members could become royal commissioners themselves.

He said: “There is no chance of that happening. How can they act fairly and be unbiased if they have already marched against the judiciary. They have already made their stand.”

This is classic perverse illogic. The 2,000 lawyers who participated in the historic “March for Justice” in Putrajaya on 26th September 2007 did not march against the judiciary. They marched against a judiciary which is subservient, decadent and corrupt. But they also marched for an independent, honest and incorruptible judiciary.

Going by Nazri’s perverse illogic, isn’t the Executive itself compromised by the 19-year history of a tainted judiciary, because of the acts of omission and commission by the Executive, which should render the Ministers unfit and unqualified to exercise powers to appoint members of the Royal Commission concerned about the independence and integrity of the judiciary?

Cabinet Ministers cannot feign innocence in the nearly two-decade-long ravages and degradation of the Judiciary as they are fully part of the process in the undermining of the independence of the judiciary and the undermining of the fundamental doctrine of the Separation of Powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

Let good sense prevail. The Bar Council should not only be allowed to take part in the Royal Commission hearings, the Bar Council President Ambiga Sreenevasan should be seriously considered as a member of the Royal Commission to ensure its acceptability, credibility and legitimacy. Read the rest of this entry »

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IPCMC Bill – make public after Cabinet Wednesday to give MPs and civil society at least two weeks to study

The current 42-day budget meeting of Parliament scheduled to end on Dec. 13 has been extended by three days till Dec. 19 to debate a spate of bills, seven of which had been presented for first reading while several others have yet to be brought to the House.

One of the bills which have yet to be presented for first reading but which the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has promised would be debated before the end of the current parliamentary meeting is the long-delayed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill proposed by the Royal Police Commission as the most important of its 125 recommendations to create an incorruptible, efficient, professional world-class police service.

The Royal Police Commission had proposed the IPCMC as the centre-piece of its police reform proposals to achieve what it recommended should be the three core objectives of the Police – to keep crime low, eradicate corruption in the police force and uphold human rights.

The Royal Police Commission placed such importance and priority on its IPCMC proposal that it even took the trouble to include a draft IPCMC Bill in its Report to facilitate its establishment, which it envisaged should begin to be operational by May 2006.

However, the Police mounted a strong opposition to the IPCMC proposal threatening even an open revolt in the initial stages, with some top police officers blatantly displaying insubordination to the political masters of the day.

More than 18 months have elapsed from the timeline proposed by the Royal Police Commission for the establishment of the IPCMC, and we are still waiting for the proposed IPCMC bill to surface into the public domain.

The question is whether the final IPCMC Bill when presented to Parliament will still be recognized as basically constituting the external oversight mechanism to check police abuses of power as proposed by the Royal Police Commission or so shorn of the substantive features and “teeth” of the IPCMC proposed by the Royal Police Commission as to be a completely different creature altogether. Read the rest of this entry »

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