Archive for November 23rd, 2007

Truth and justice are no longer Malaysian way

By Michael Backman
The Age
November 21, 2007

THE Government of Australia will probably change hands this weekend. There will be no arrests, no tear gas and no water cannons. The Government of John Howard will leave office, the Opposition will form a government and everyone will accept the verdict.

For this, every Australian can feel justifiably proud. This playing by the rules is what has made Australia rich and a good place in which to invest. It is a country to which people want to migrate; not leave.

Now consider Malaysia. The weekend before last, up to 40,000 Malaysians took to the streets in Kuala Lumpur to protest peacefully against the judiciary’s lack of independence, electoral fraud, corruption and a controlled media.

In response, they were threatened by the Prime Minister, called monkeys by his powerful son-in-law, and blasted with water cannons and tear gas. And yet the vast majority of Malaysians do not want a change of government. All they want is for their government to govern better.

Both Malaysia and Australia have a rule of law that’s based on the English system. Both started out as colonies of Britain. So why is Malaysia getting it so wrong now?

Malaysia’s Government hates feedback. Dissent is regarded as dangerous, rather than a product of diversity. And like the wicked witch so ugly that she can’t stand mirrors, the Government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi controls the media so that it doesn’t have to see its own reflection. Read the rest of this entry »


Lee Song Yong one-semester suspension – Mustapha should quash it so that Malaysian undergrads do not become zombies

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Mohamad should quash the one-semester suspension of second-year computer science student Lee Song Yong by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and send a clear message to all universities to be single-minded in the national objective to create a world-class university system.

The national contribution and challenge of all universities and university administrators in the country is to achieve a world-class university education system without which Malaysia cannot succeed in the transition and transformation from a production-based to a knowledge-based innovative economy.

It is simply outrageous that the UPM should be obsessed with the pettiness of Little Napoleons to penalize independent-spirited students when all universities and university officials should be united by one objective – how to reverse the free fall of international rankings of Malaysian universities confirmed by the latest Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) World’s Top 200 Universities Rankings 2007 which demonstrate that no Malaysian university is competitive internationally.

What is Lee Song Yong’s offence?

On Aug 22, Lee was stopped by security guards at the university’s exit and his notebook was seized on grounds that he was being investigated for being a member of an illegal student organisation.

Lee initially refused to cooperate because the campus officers were not in their uniforms which led to the university accusing him of obstructing its officers from executing their duty.

In the background was the unfair and one-sided rigging of campus student elections, orchestrated by the university student affairs department in cahoots with the campus security personnel.

Should such a minor and trivial matter result in the empanelling of a disciplinary proceeding, where Lee was denied legal representation, leading to his university suspension for six months? Or even the arrogant and contemptuous dismissal of the Suhakam appeal for a suspension of the disciplinary proceedings?

One would have thought from the university’s response that Lee was guilty of some heinous crime, like being a member of some militant terrorist student outfit planning to throw bombs in the campus — when it was nothing of the sort whatsoever.

Lee’s guilt was being too idealistic and independent-minded in wanting to work for change in the university to foster student activism and academic freedom.

Is that a virtue or a vice, or even a crime? Read the rest of this entry »


Hindraf rally – police stop over-reacting, dismantle roadblocks and issue permit

The police should not repeat their over-reaction and high-handed action on Nov. 10 over the peaceful 40,000-people Bersih gathering to hand over a petition to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for electoral reforms to ensure free, fair and clean elections and should immediately dismantle the roadblocks creating massive jams in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley since yesterday.

The massive Nov. 10 traffic gridlock creating massive congestions in Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley were largely the creation of the police and could have been avoided or ameliorated considerably with enlightened and sensitive police handling of peaceful gatherings by citizens exercising their fundamental constitutional rights to get their voices heard in a meaningful democracy.

If the Police had issued a police permit for the Bersih peaceful gathering on Nov. 10, demonstrating greater sensitivity and respect for human rights guaranteed in the Malaysian Constitution as recommended by the Dzaiddin Royal Police Commission 30 months ago, all legitimate concerns would have been met — the concerns of the police and government with regard to law and order and the concerns of aggrieved citizenry to petition the Yang di Pertuan Agong for an end to electoral abuses.

For the Hindraf rally on Sunday, the Police has not only refused to learn any lesson to respect the human rights of Malaysians to peaceful assembly, but has decided even earlier to impose roadblocks — starting since yesterday on various roads and expressways in the Klang Valley.

Headlines of such traffic gridlocks are already in the media — “Klang Valley chokes up” (The Star), “Roadblocks mounted ahead of Hindraf rally” (The Sun), “Massive traffic jams leading into the city” (New Straits Times) and “Police roadblocks jam up roads, again” (Malaysiakini).

From all indications, the traffic gridlock in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley this time is going to be worse than a fortnight ago — no thanks to the police. Read the rest of this entry »


Economic masters and economic slaves

by Dr. Chen Man Hin

The frustration in the hearts of Malaysians at the stubborn attitude of Umno leaders and the greed of their cronies is mounting by the day.

Even the advice of foreign dignitaries like Thierry Rommel had been rejected haughtily by DPM and the Umno Youth chief. The EU envoy had no axe to grind except to see that justice is done.

World Bank statistics have shown that the NEP is jeopardising the economy, and is marginalising the poor whether Malays or non-Malays.

Umno leaders are the economic masters and the non-Malays are the economic slaves. Read the rest of this entry »


An Indictment of Malaysia’s Media

by M. Bakri Musa

Editors and journalists serve as nothing more than as chief errand boys and girls for the establishment.

If you were a Malaysian and had relied only on the mainstream media for news, you could be excused for being befuddled over what happened in Kuala Lumpur on the Saturday of November 10, 2007. You would be confounded too on the day before to see the normally busy streets eerily empty except for police trucks and personnel. Tourists could be excused into thinking that they were visiting a banana republic in the midst of another routine military coup.

It turned out that the only folks befuddled on both days were ministers and officials. The citizens knew exactly what was going on despite the news blackout by the mainstream media. That more than anything demonstrates the irrelevance of these mainstream editors and reporters.

No amount of post event editorial contortions could alter that fact. These editors and journalists have little left of their personal pride and professional integrity; they have completely prostituted themselves to being instruments of the state’s propaganda machinery. They may have fancy titles as Group Editor or Editor-in-Chief, their functions however are nothing more than as “chief errand boys and girls” for the establishment. They acceded only too willingly to orders from their political masters.

Their once informative news pages are today filled with nothing more than ministerial speeches and press releases. Their formerly critical and influential Op-Ed columns are today reduced to carrying unashamedly toadying pieces praising the current leaders.

Malaysians are fully aware of this reality and react accordingly. The mainstream papers’ declining circulation, readership, and influence attest to their lack of credibility. These papers are eagerly read only by members of the ruling party, where the obsession is on tracking which party operatives are being featured on the front page and which ones have been relegated to the middle. The paper is effectively reduced to being the ruling party’s newsletter. Read the rest of this entry »


Kee Thuan Chye interview (2) – A culture of fearing the truth

Helen Ang
Nov 22, 07 12:45pm

{Last week, Kee Thuan Chye opined that many non-Malays have been conditioned to swallow wholesale Ketuanan Melayu propaganda from the exhaustive indoctrination and would probably vote Barisan Nasional again come the general election.

Part 2 of the Q & A continues. The views expressed here are strictly the interviewee’s own and do not reflect the stand of any organisation that he is with.)

Helen: Let’s examine the nuances of non-Malay support for the incumbency. Pundits are predicting that disgruntled Chinese will swing to the opposition this time around. So it may actually turn out that a large percentage of the community will indeed buck the status quo.

What I think is that while Chinese are prepared to secretly (they will refuse to tell anyone who they voted for) cast their once-every-five-years ballot in favour of the opposition, their mindset in the remaining four years and 364 days will remain as you say, conditioned: fearful, refusing to engage and self-centred.

But given the uneven electoral playing field and lack of proportional representation, popular disenchantment may nonetheless not translate into a diminished BN influence. Sadly true?

Kee: The gerrymandering that has been done has really made it harder for the Chinese to swing votes in many constituencies. I was in Balakong a couple of weeks ago and the residents there told me that their constituency used to be opposition-controlled, but lately with the redemarcation exercise, the BN has been winning.

There used to be about 70 per cent Chinese in the constituency but that has been diluted to about 50 per cent. The other 20 per cent has been moved to another constituency. They don’t foresee the opposition winning it back this coming election unless a huge majority of the remaining 50 per cent vote for them. Many Chinese, however, tend to vote BN.

Surely they can see that BN is a gross disservice to their community? Who are those still so blinkered? Read the rest of this entry »