Archive for November 29th, 2016

Will Maria Chin be re-arrested after her habeas corpus case had been officially disposed off?

I told Bersih Chairperson Maria Chin after the moving “singing in the rain” at the corner of Jalan Raja, nearby Dataran Merdeka, last night by Bersih supporters that she had to thank the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak for making her an “instant heroine”.

Maria Chin expects to be arrested again by the authorities but she had pledged that this will not shake her spirits and her commitment to fight for fair elections and democracy in Malaysia, as well as the abolition of Special Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Will Maria Chin be re-arrested after her habeas corpus case had been officially disposed off this afternoon? Read the rest of this entry »


The Observer view on corruption, repression and violence threatening fragile democracies

Observer editorial
27th November 2016

Malaysia, Thailand and Burma are all suffering a backwards slide from the basic standards expected of modern-day representative democracies. While the reasons vary, the results are similar: growing public unrest, increased state repression, negative economic effects, weakened institutions and reputational damage.

Malaysia vividly exemplifies these phenomena. The former British colony has never been a faultless democracy. The United Malays National Organisation, representing the ethnic Malay majority, has held power since independence in 1957. The mostly non-Muslim, ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, whose ancestors were shipped in by the British as cheap labour, have suffered historical discrimination, yet this furore has little to do with history, race or religion. It is about probity in government – which appears to be sorely lacking.

The problem centres on Najib Razak, the prime minister, who is alleged to have benefited from the disappearance of $3.5bn from a state-owned investment company called 1MDB. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that $700m was diverted to Najib’s personal bank account. In July, the US justice department alleged wrongdoing by “Malaysian Official 1”, identified as Najib. For his part, Najib flatly denies any wrongdoing.

However, his administration has delayed a parliamentary investigation, purged internal critics and further intimidated Malaysia’s much put-upon independent media. Demonstrators have been attacked by pro-Najib thugs and protest organisers arrested. Last week, the US expressed concern about the continuing detention under counter-terrorism laws of Maria Chin Abdullah, chairwoman of the Bersih pro-democracy group. No one has been charged over the missing funds.

This scandal has gone on for too long. Najib’s leadership has grown toxic. For the good of his country and its creaking democracy, he should stand down, at least until an independent inquiry has established the facts of the 1MDB matter. Sadly, the likelihood of that happening is slim. If Najib can survive in office, he will. Read the rest of this entry »

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