Archive for February 23rd, 2011

70 and looking forward to more democratic breakthroughs (3)

Many have asked whether I have plans to retire after 45 years of politics.

With the DAP founding chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin a hale and hearty 86, keeping vigilant daily scrutiny of political developments; the declaration by DAP Chairman Karpal Singh, who is eight months my senior, of unremitting commitment in the cause of justice and freedom despite his physical problems; and the “good wishes” of the doyen of Barisan Nasional politicians, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 74, that I “continue to tread the rough and tumble of the Malaysian political road with even greater tenacity and thrust in the years ahead until we can all together ensured that no one in the country is allowed to create a situation of disaster of the type we have just seen in Tunisia and Egypt”, the least I could do was to pledge, as I did at my 70th birthday dinner at Hotel Equatorial Penang, that I will continue to contribute to party, people and the nation so long as I can be of use and contribution.

Three years ago in Feb 2008, I made a birthday wish that the DAP can succeed in winning the Penang State Government in the 2008 general election, which I had not made public at the time. This had come true.

My 70th birthday wish is that Malaysia will become a normal democratic country with the two coalition system fully institutionalized where change of political power would be regarded as a normal process and not once invoking threats and intimidations of national calamity like riots and unrest. Read the rest of this entry »


Church backs Penang’s non-Muslim portfolio

Susan Loone
Feb 23, 11

The Anglican church wants the Penang government to immediately activate the newly-minted non-Muslim Affairs portfolio to address issues which affect this group.
West Malaysia Anglican Diocese assistant bishop Andrew Phang (left) said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who heads the portfolio, must “act now” and put into practice what has been preached by the state government.

“(Otherwise) it would remain merely a committee; the state should start the ball rolling and gather all the relevant groups for a meeting soon,” suggested Phang, a vicar at the Redeemer Church in Butterworth.

“The churches can play an active role by organising groups to participate in the portfolio’s activities like dialogues between the different communities.”

Phang said that initiating the portfolio is a timely move, adding that the urgency to get it up and running is not intended to insult Muslims, who have always had their interests taken care of by the government. Read the rest of this entry »


Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law tackles corruption in Borneo

David Cohen
London Evening Standard
22 Feb 2011

In a flat above a restaurant in Covent Garden, an investigative reporter called Clare and a tribesman from Borneo covered in tattoos prepare to transmit their daily revolutionary radio broadcast deep into the Borneo jungle.

They make for an unlikely double act – she is a white, middle-aged Englishwoman, and he the proud grandson of a Dayak headhunter who broadcasts under the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan. Their aim is no less outlandish: to expose the alleged corruption of Taib Mahmud, chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo 6,500 miles from London, and bring an end to his 30-year rule.

“This is Radio Free Sarawak,” begins Papa Orang Utan, donning his headphones to interview a village headman who has been forcibly removed from his land and who, quite remarkably, speaks to them on a mobile phone from the edge of the Borneo rainforest. Clare briefs Papa: “Make sure you ask if he knows that it’s chief minister Taib who has stolen their land? And get who he’ll be voting for!”

Until now the identity of the “pirates” behind Radio Free Sarawak has been a closely guarded secret – and for good reason. Scandal-plagued Taib, 74, is one of the world’s most ruthless and wealthiest men – richer allegedly than the Sultan of Brunei, whose independent country lies alongside – and locals who oppose him can feel the full force of his retribution.

But today is a watershed: the duo have bravely decided to out themselves ahead of the upcoming Sarawak elections, expected in April. Indeed, the Evening Standard can reveal that the mystery Englishwoman who set up Radio Free Sarawak four months ago and who brought out the tattooed tribesman – real name Peter John Jaban – to front her broadcasts is in fact Clare Rewcastle Brown, sister-in-law of former prime minister Gordon Brown. Read the rest of this entry »


Lim Kit Siang 70 years young

Oon Time By Oon Yeoh
The Sun
Wed, 23 Feb 2011

PREMESH Chandran, CEO of Malaysiakini, once referred to Lim Kit Siang as “a walking encyclopedia of Malaysian political history” and for good reason.
Lim was first elected to Parliament in 1969, during the waning years of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s tenure as prime minister. As a politician, he has outlasted Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

When it comes to Malaysian politics this guy’s been there and done that, including being charged under the OSA and twice being detained under the ISA.

I’ve interviewed him about his time in Kamunting. For a guy as articulate as he is, he sure doesn’t have a lot to say about his experiences there. Some speculate that he feels bitter about being detained without trial. Others think he feels it was just a terrible waste of his time (although he did manage to learn Jawi and obtain a law degree while in detention).

Whatever the case, I’m sure he was never as down as he was after the 1999 general elections when he lost in Penang. Lim in his prime, could move to a new constituency and win that new area for DAP. Before the 1999 polls, he had been MP in Bandar Melaka, Kota Melaka, Petaling Jaya and Tanjung. Wherever he contested, he won.

He thought he could do it again in 1999 and instead of staying in the safe seat of Tanjung, Lim contested and lost in Bukit Bendera. It was a crushing blow. For the first time in his long career, Lim found himself in the political wilderness.

Sure, Lim continued to write press releases prolifically but his messages sounded tired and jaded. He was in danger of becoming a political has-been. A proverbial shadow of his former self.

Lim had one last chance at redemption. If he had lost in the 2004 general elections, that would have been the end of his career. It was a comeback bid worth watching and I wanted a ringside seat. I was working for theSun back then so I naturally chose to cover Ipoh Timur, the constituency Lim chose to contest in. Read the rest of this entry »


Malays are afraid of themselves

Mariam Mokhtar | Feb 21, 11

The BTN or National Civics Bureau is divisive, racist and politically-motivated. Most people are aware of this except for BN politicians. Despite the serious allegations made about the BTN, their main coalition partners, MCA and MIC have not been effective in condemning the BTN.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin denied claims that courses run by the BTN were a form of political indoctrination. He said, “BTN is to inculcate nationalism and unity among the people in line with the 1Malaysia concept”.

Talk of nationalism smacks of the supremacy of one race over the other races. If he had said that the mission of BTN was to promote patriotism, this would be more in line with the spirit of Malaysian unity.

After a media blitz on the BTN in late 2009, the cabinet decided that the BTN would be revamped as it had run counter to its aims of instilling a united Malaysia. When former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad disagreed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz described him as racist.

Nevertheless, the task of revamping the BTN was given to Ahmad Maslan, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is also the BTN chief. As is common with most BN politicians, he flip-flopped and said that he was not going to revamp the curriculum but would merely ‘upgrade’ it. Read the rest of this entry »