Monthly Archives: March 2008

Bloggers go ‘berak’ in Perak

Dean Johns |
Pardon my language, but I just couldn’t resist such a golden opportunity for this wordplay. 

And in any case my language is less colourful than that employed by some bloggers and their commentators in decrying Lim Kit Siang’s declaration last week that he and DAP colleagues would boycott the swearing-in of PAS secretary Mohamad Nizar Jamaludin as Perak’s new menteri besar.

The bloggosphere almost went into melt-down with outrage. And from what I could see, Zorro led the charge with his furious post: “Kit Siang, just shut the f**k up!”, then followed it up shortly afterwards by symbolically sentencing Lim to a stretch in his infamous Mexican Gas Chamber.

If you haven’t witnessed this terrible room, you owe yourself a visit to check it out.

lim kit siang dap and perak stateBut as fearsomely funny as his gas chamber is, Zorro wasn’t joking, and neither were the thousands of other bloggers and commentators who vented their feelings about what most saw as Lim’s betrayal of their visions for Barisan Rakyat.

Here are excerpts from just a tiny fraction of the comments I read on some blogs.

Lone: Tonight our euphoria has turned to sadness for it appears that the DAP CEC is unable to accept a PAS Perak MB. Are we still taking about a Malaysian Malaysia? Is the designated PAS Perak MB not a Malaysian? Do we still cling to our race-coloured politics? Is the DAP message of ‘Just Change It’ just an election slogan? Have we Malaysian Malaysians been taken for a ride by the DAP? Is the DAP for real?

20 Cent: Uncle Lim, my vote wasn’t for DAP, PKR or PAS. My vote was for the people of Malaysia..for democracy, justice and good governance.

Anonymous: I was absolutely thrilled with the way Malaysians voted. I told my children overseas, Malaysia had grown up. No longer are we frightened by the bigots and self serving sycophants in BN but now we vote on issues and across the racial divide..and now LKS had to come up with this.

Gerald Khor: If DAP cannot resolve this fiasco properly, all the manifestos and promises given pre-election will not be relevant anymore. Walk-the-talk. Integrity is everything. Otherwise the DAP is no different from any BN component parties.

Mahaguru58: What lunacy is this, Kit Siang? God damn you if you screw this up!!! I have put aside my doubts about you and the DAP and supported the Barisan Rakyat for the sake of seeing BN toppled and by Allah, we have done just that in 5 states!

KL Chan: Uncle Kit Siang this is a once in 50 year chance to rule a State with dignity and pride. Please reconsider.

DewA LavaU: Shame on you Lim Kit Siang! Now you’re just like BN already! We vote (for) you not because of party but because we have faith in Barisan Rakyat.

Yinhau: Wake up, man. I am Chinese and I want to cooperate with all Malay and other races in this country to make this place better.

Pakpandil: Kit, please end the boycott and attend the swearing-in ceremony in Perak today. Our enemy is not PAS but the corrupted BN and Umno..Just ensure you fight corruption, be transparent and accountable, the rakyat will vote you in again.

Carling: If Nizar is capable, honest and clean, I, being a Chinese, would support him. The main reason the opposition won so many seats are that people are tired of corruption, crimes, wastages, cronyism etc, and not becos we love LKS so much.

Ordinary Superhero: &*%##. Can’t he see that it doesn’t matter who is the MB? How he and the rest of the exco/elected representatives govern the state is more important.

Michael: I swear I will never ever vote again for DAP if you squander our chance of a Bangsa Malaysia rising from a just government.

Sans: There are serious issues to consider in governing Perak, including transparency, introducing local elections in Ipoh, helping the marginalised of which there are many in Perak, etc, and this should take priority over politicking.

Start performing, or else…

I wish I had room to quote from lots more, including the Old Fart’s wonderful account of an elderly Malay gentleman’s emotions on voting for the DAP, but never mind.

Lim has apologised to the Sultan for his threat to boycott the perak cm mb mohamad nizar jamaluddinceremony, Nizar (photo) has been installed as MB of Perak and stunned the gathering by speaking some Chinese, and everything’s hunky-dory.

Or it will be as long as this new state government and its fellow Barisan Rakyat administrations in Selangor, Penang, Perlis and Kelantan start performing. As revealed in the outcry against Lim’s apparent intransigence, the BR voters have very high expectations of the people they’ve elected to represent them.

Most have voted for principles, not parties, and they’re passionate in their desire to see their principles upheld, in the vicious ‘real world’ of Malaysian politics.

They’re craving what they’ve been denied by BN for half a century; government for all the people by all the people. Government that’s clean, transparent, just and even-handed. And now they’ve finally seen that it’s achievable, they’re seizing the opportunity with both hands.

corruption and money politicsAs they demonstrated last week, they’ve a visceral aversion to racism, power-tripping and arrogance, and they’ll purge their own representatives of any signs of such evils. And they’ll mercilessly punish lapses by their elected members into other BN-style evils like corruption, rent-seeking and fraud.

The much-maligned bloggers of Malaysia have put their hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears into opening the nation’s eyes to the lies of the government and its media, and now their sights are set on a win for democracy in the next general election.

They know as well as you and I do that Umno/BN is a lost cause for reform. They know that a DAP, PKR and PAS coalition – or better still a super-party – they call Barisan Rakyat is their best and brightest hope.

And they’ll do everything in their considerable power to ensure that it gets and keeps its shit together.

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New politics and the Indian Malaysian

 DR M NADARAJAH

The facts of the 12th general election have been recounted several times, but not the meaning of events of the socio-political drama that unfolded and burst into the public arena over the last six months, leading up to polling day.

On the ground, the election results are the outcome:
(i) the history of what the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has actually done for the people and this nation since independence,
(ii) political and campaign strategies of the individual parties or their coalitions,
(iii) systematic manipulation of the voting system and constituencies and lastly,
(iv) easy access to new information and communication technologies by all political contenders.

Among the factors, it is in the history of this nation that we need to look closely and to identify definite trends that have given us what we are experiencing today. A few centuries ago, an European social commentator and revolutionary said ‘History moves forward qualitatively only on the side of and through the agency of the oppressed and marginalised. It is they who provide the social ground that offer History a new Future’.

In a sense, history had thrust upon the Indian Malaysian (specifically the Tamils) that special responsibility. The 12th general election was the temporal space where history conspired to give us the opportunity for that ‘an-other’ Malaysia to which many of us aspire.

Indian Malaysians have faired extremely well in that effort. They have pushed the agenda of a new politics for Malaysia. On hindsight, the rise of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and later Makkal Sakthi, is undeniably a critical turning point in Malaysian politics.

They represent not just organisational politics but really the spirit of a marginalised community aspiring for fairness. With this development, emerged a social instrument that has now given us all an opportunity to break the hold of ethnocracy in Malaysia and dismantle the ethnic model of politics. We have an opportunity to look beyond that model, the limits of which was reached by the end of the last century.

samy vellu and micOne of the main icons of ethnic politics in Malaysia, the MIC and its head S Samy Vellu, supposedly represented the Indians in BN. But the increasing problems of the community and the inability of the MIC leadership to deal with these adequately only led to the accumulation of disenchantment.

The frustration, humiliation and disappointment Indians (in particular the Tamils) felt intensely was bound to take a social and communal form and it did. Indeed, Makkal Sakthi (people power) has become conscious of itself and its role.

The mainstream media, BN national leaders and Samy Vellu dismissed all these critical developments. One editorial in New Straits Times trivialised the anger of the Indian/Tamil people expressed through Hindraf.

Samy Vellu did not see what was coming his way. He even thought the observation of Thaipusam at Batu Caves was a success when the community knew it was not. He thought the Indians/Tamil would vote in the MIC leaders to power without carefully listening to the murmurings on the ground even among once-staunch MIC supporters. But it is all to clear now.

The angry Indian/Tamil Malaysians have not only thrown Samy Vellu out of power but have also, directly and with help of other Malaysians, left the MIC in disarray. The party is now actually useless to the Indian Malaysian community, which also does not want MIC to represent it.

Common destiny

MIC cannot now claim to represent Indian Malaysians in the BN and the government. Whatever BN may do to include Indian Malaysians, the BN now cannot claim to run a successful ethnic consociational model of politics.

A new political language needs to be framed. And it must be framed by the new young parliamentarians who will now speak for all of us, including Indian Malaysians.

indian rights demonstration in putrajaya 220807 overviewAlong with many concerned citizens, the Indian Malaysian community has delivered to all Malaysians the opportunity for nurturing a new politics. And in this challenging interim period, they have done that at great risk and further marginalisation as a community, if those who have been elected to power i.e. the opposition, do not subscribe to a politics beyond the ethnic model and beyond ethnocracy or theocracy.

The Indian Malaysian community needs active intervention of parties like the DAP, PKR and PAS (if it really believes that the spirit of Islam is for all) to take up their cause. There is an urgent need to subscribe to politics that sees the problems and needs of Malaysians as the common problems and needs of a people governed by a common destiny.

While needs and problems can be specific to definite Malaysian communities like the Kadazans, Chinese, Indians or Malays, they need to be framed as national problems or needs and addressed with national concern and sensitivity. There is no room for ethnicisation and  politicisation of the problems of the citizens, particularly when it involves access to basic goods and services, like water and housing.

For this orientation to really get rooted in Malaysia, we need that new political language of dialogue and inclusiveness urgently, knowing well that it is going to take some time and challenges to institutionalise it.

It is the responsibility of the opposition and the new set of young parliamentarians to give us this as soon as possible. They have to balance their social commitment, the demands of their parties and arrive at a workable minimum programme for inter-party relationship and cooperation.

We are at a threshold of a new future for the future generations and us. Can we nurture, shape and sustain it…together with single-mindedness?


DR M NADARAJAH is a sociologist by training. He belongs to the Asian Public Intellectuals Community, a community of filmmakers, theatre people, song writers, poets, activists and academics working in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Japan for a better Asia. His work focuses on cultural and sustainability issues.

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Showdown in Tibet

Warren W Smith |
On March 14, the otherworldly calm of Lhasa, Tibet’s holy city, was shattered by riots and gunfire. The spark that triggered unrest in the Tibetan part of what is now a largely ethnic Han Chinese city is unclear, but occurred somewhere near the Ramoche Temple when Chinese security forces attempted to stop a demonstration by monks.

Whatever the details, only a spark was needed to set off the most serious disturbances in Tibet since the riots of 1987-1989, or perhaps since the Tibetan Revolt of March 1959, which sent the Dalai Lama into exile. It was the 49th anniversary of that revolt, on March 10, that led monks from two large monasteries near Lhasa to stage demonstrations, in which many of them were arrested, raising tensions in the city.

While denying much of what subsequently happened, Chinese officials did reveal the scale of the riots: 422 Chinese-owned shops partially or completely burned, more than 200 million yuan (US$28 million) in damage, 325 people injured, and 13 killed – all of them Han Chinese. China admitted to no deaths among the Tibetan protesters, claiming that its security forces had exercised restraint and had not even fired a single shot.

This contradicted Tibetan reports of dozens of deaths, perhaps as many as 100, and accounts of foreign tourists who said they heard shots and saw the bodies of Tibetans gunned down by the security forces. China claimed that the “Dalai Clique” had “organized, premeditated, and carefully engineered and instigated” incidents of “beating, smashing, looting, and burning,” in an attempt to use the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing to publicize his cause of Tibetan independence. But the only evidence China offered was international Tibetan support groups’ statements that they intended to demonstrate at events associated with the Olympics.

The claim that force had not been used came from the Tibetan head of the supposedly autonomous government of Tibet, Jampa Phuntsok, who was in Beijing at the time for a meeting of China’s National People’s Congress. Significantly, he remained in Beijing, while the Han Chinese head of the Communist Party in Tibet, Zhang Qingli, returned to handle the situation.

Phuntsok also claimed that the People’s Liberation Army had not been used to put down the riot – a sensitive issue because China does not like to admit that the PLA is used internally, as it was during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. He said that only the Public Security Police and People’s Armed Police had been used. However, foreign military experts observed that the type of armored vehicles used in Lhasa and shown on film were of the type issued only to elite PLA units, though their PLA markings were obscured.

They want good relations

In the aftermath of the Lhasa riots, similar disturbances occurred across the Tibetan Plateau, now divided into the Tibet Autonomous Region and several autonomous districts in the neighboring provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan. More Tibetan deaths were reported, with China admitting that in some of these instances its security forces had opened fire “in self-defense.” Chinese security forces then began to move into all Tibetan areas in large numbers.

China unleashed a barrage of propaganda claiming that the world should condemn the Dalai Lama, not China, for instigating the riots, and that only innocent Chinese had suffered. But the evidence suggests that the riots in Lhasa and elsewhere were an expression of Tibetan frustration at years of Chinese control and repression.

The situation is unlikely to improve. On the contrary, China now reports that it is rounding up “criminals” across Tibet and will “re-educate” them about their misguided beliefs in Tibetan freedom and independence. World leaders have called on China to exercise restraint and begin a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Neither is likely.

World leaders seem inclined against a boycott of August’s Olympic Games, or even of the opening ceremonies, which will highlight China’s policies aimed at a “harmonious society and harmonious world,” and will certainly feature performances by happy national minorities, including Tibetans. As in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the world appears to prefer good economic and diplomatic relations with China over all else.


WARREN W SMITH, a broadcaster with the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia, is the author of Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations and co-author of the 1997 International Commission of Jurists report Tibet: Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

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S’gor reps lend voice to Bkt Gasing residents

(Malaysiakini) 

Property developer Gasing Meridien Sdn Bhd found a bigger stumbling block against its ambition to build bungalows on Bukit Gasing today.

While in the past, DAP’s Edward Lee Poh Lin (Bukit Gasing state assemblyperson) was merely an opposition squeak, today he has a more powerful voice backed up by his PKR colleagues.

adun rep meet mbpj 270308 bukit gasingTogether with Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan state assemblyperson), PKR’s S Sivarasa (Subang MP) and Hee Loy Sian (PJ Selatan MP), they made another plea to the developer to halt their work on Bukit Gasing.

“Residents around the Bukit Gasing area have received letters from the developer Gasing Meridien saying that the project will proceed,” said Wong.

“As of today, we noticed that trees have been cut in the Kuala Lumpur side of Bukit Gasing. Although, we don’t have legal jurisdiction, nonetheless, we are very concerned as the effects are on the residents of Selangor,” she said.

“As state exco for environment, we are urging that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) stop this work order until the legal matter is settled.”

Wong, who was at the site today, expressed her surprise that trees were felled and work had resumed.

Among the initiatives, they will undertake is to ask the Federal Territory MPs to raise the matter with DBKL to halt the work and to re-purchase the land from the developer before gazetting it as a green lung.

“The question of the compensation will be done in detail but it should not be done at the profit of the developer,” said Lee.

Prevent heavy vehicles

Bukit Gasing 180108 1st landslideAnother idea raised was to prevent heavy vehicles from entering the work site from Selangor jurisdiction areas but the routes have not been identified as yet.

It was reported on March 18 that the Kuala Lumpur High Court has set April 23 to hear an application for leave by the Joint Action Committee of Bukit Gasing (JACBG) and a group of residents for a judicial review against DBKL to compel them to have a public hearing on the development.

The residents have also asked to see the technical reports and studies on the development. During a meeting with DBKL planning officials on Nov 14, their request for a public hearing was turned down.

Gasing Meridien earmarked 15.4 ha for development on Bukit Gasing. Out of the 68 plots of bungalow land, 54 will be sold with the buildings erected while the remainder will be sold as land only.

It is currently being marketed as Sanctuary Ridge and a check with them revealed that “almost half had already been taken up”. Work is expected to commence in August.

In one of the reports on its website, general manager KC Tan said that hoarding of the perimeters will commence over the next several weeks. The hoarding is being erected pursuant to approvals dated Oct 2 and Nov 16, 2007 from DBKL.

Meeting with MBPJ

Meanwhile, a group of PKR, DAP and PAS state representatives and MPs met Petaling Jaya mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman and officials of MBPJ today.

“We had very good discussions and were briefed on how the system works and brought up some of the issues pertaining to planning, maintenance and how complaints are addressed,” said Wong.

“This is just a start and we are pleased that some of the complaints were already dealt with,” she added.

Among the matters discussed were the need for greater transparency in MBPJ’s dealings with the public, zero tolerance for corruption and that local councilors will be appointed by April.

Meanwhile, Lee said the new local council is also expected to have a higher representation from professionals and members of civil society.

“In my opinion, a fair representation would be 30 percent from civil society, 30 percent professionals and 30 percent nominees from professionals within political parties,” said Lee.

“This is a fair spread and will give everyone a chance to be heard,” he added.

However, this formula is still preliminary and is subject to further discussion and approval by the state government, he pointed out.

Another important point though was that plans for elected local councilors are in the pipeline.

elizabeth wong 220507“It could be a year or as long as three years but we are definitely committed to bringing back local council elections. Full democratic local council elections,” said Wong.

Although nothing concrete was agreed on how greater transparency will be implemented, Wong said that everyone agreed that future MBPJ initiatives, tenders, applications for development land or development work will be conveyed to the public via the press.

On the issue of declaration of assets by councilors and the mayor, Wong said that it was not discussed.

“We were thinking in terms of tenders and contracts but that is something we will bear in mind in our future discussions,” she noted.

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Umno polls in Dec, Ahmad backed as MB

After a four-hour marathon Supreme Council meeting, Umno today decided that it could not defer its party polls and at the same time give its support for Kijal state representative Ahmad Said as the new Terengganu menteri besar.

Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today said the party had asked former Terengganu menteri besar Idris Jusoh to accept the Terengganu palace’s decision to appoint Ahmad as the menteri besar.

Idris was present at the council meeting in his capacity as the Terengganu party chief.

According to a source, none of the council members objected to the appointment of Ahmad, who took office on Tuesday.

Abdullah also revealed that the party polls would be held during this year’s annual general assembly which begins on Dec 16 to 20 this year, killing off all earlier speculations that it could be deferred.

Branch level elections will start from July 17.

Abdullah, also the prime minister, said that he had not “lost face” following the decision to back out from supporting Idris.

He also said that a proposal to hold extraordinary general meeting was not dicussed at all.

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Who wants to be a billionaire

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Rough Little Indians

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