Saturday, 25 April 2009

Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award 2009

I was browsing through the Comment Is Free section of The Guardian when I stumbled across a name I recognised.

Why, I had sat only across the table from this man during one of the blogger gatherings at Blog House. I was quite impressed. I personally don't know all that many people who have had to deal with a death threat.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar seems to take it all in his stride and for his efforts and courage, he has been awarded the Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award by Index on Censorship.

And apparently, that was the reason why he had his piece on The Guardian entitled The truth about Malaysia - it was in conjunction with the award. An excerpt:

Architects of autocracies would benefit tremendously from studying the Malaysian model. It stands as a shining example of how, given the right combination of greed, ambition, maladministration and contempt for the rule of law, any democracy can be recast into an autocracy while preserving the veneer of democratic process.

Imtiaz is a deep thinker and not all his blog entries are easy to follow but this article is a must-read, so go to the site and read it in its entirety.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Paying Your Dues

Apparently I'm on the WANTED list.

No, it's not yet another Operasi Lalang this time. It's the Internal Revenue Board or the LHDN, and they want my money. Cheap jerks.

Every year I curse them and the politicians whose pockets I know my money is inevitably going to fall into while I stare ruefully at the poor public transportation and perpetually traffic-congested highways.

But I always pay up anyway. I pacify myself by thinking that the money that goes to the government is only a small amount. But then I'm reminded that it's only because I'm not paid all that much.

So it doesn't gratify me for long.

This year it's different. I want to pay (or rather, I want to get it over and done with) but I can't.

You see, I'd made an oversight when I travelled 17 hours on a plane in January. I forgot to bring my tax receipts for books, insurance, donations and others which are crucial for claiming tax deductions.

So now, even though the LHDN has miraculously (or maybe through the combination of God's grace and a talented IT engineer) managed to operate a semi-efficient website for e-filing one's taxes, I don't have all the documents I need, not to mention the EA form from my previous employer.

It's quite astounding that one would have to employ various methods of harrassment to allow oneself to pay money to the government.

Because really, if I wasn't going to be hunted down and forced to pay, I wouldn't dream of coughing up the dough. Not so that this fool can fly first class on an expensive holiday, or so this despot can build a humongous but garish mansion.

All for their own gain.

Hafiz Noor Shams, bless his heart, tries to explain my predicament in Of should we pay income tax? where he postulates "that the biggest reason of all [for paying tax] is to support the State for rendering services which in effect protect citizens and those within the jurisdiction of the State".

He goes on to say:

If the State fails to do so, the obligation to pay taxes evaporates. In fact, failure on behalf of the State to protect these rights eliminates a reason for such a State. This later calls for the creation of a new State capable of discharging its duties better, lest the dissolution of the previous incompetent or tyrannical State leads to an unstable state of anarchy.

At this point, I'm nodding my head so vigorously that I've created a vortex capable of bringing down a jumbo jet.

But it's never that simple and in no way is Hafiz advocating that we cease to pay our taxes altogether.

I do wish my money would be better managed though.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Calling The Shots

It looks like my reservations against Anwar Ibrahim were spot on.

But I didn't get to where I am today from being naive and gullible.

It is no secret that Anwar Ibrahim has been calling the shots from day one that the Barisan Rakyat got its act together and soundly kicked some BN ass.

Now don't get me wrong, this man is one heck of an orator. And personally, I think he was framed by our less-than-original, beyond-expiry, ruling coalition - which suggests they were frightened enough to stoop to desperate measures.

But this issue with Fairus of Penanti is disturbing. One does not, under critical circumstances, throw one's weight around. And considering Anwar Ibrahim has not become Prime Minister as yet (despite numerous false assurances), he is under critical circumstances.

Yet, he is busy playing political games and bestowing favours upon those who catch his fancy.

Perhaps Fairus was tainted by graft and corruption. That still does not give Anwar any right to remove Fairus from his Penanti seat without first discussing with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Acts like that merely serve to suggest that Anwar Ibrahim feels that the Barisan Rakyat belongs to him and that he is solely responsible for the success or failure of it.

It suggests that Lim Guan Eng is merely a puppet in the whole game of Opposition politics - one who is dispensable at will.

Now this sort of behaviour is disheartening when you consider that a lot of people put their trust on the Opposition, hoping that they could deliver some change.

This is not the change I hope to see. This sort of behaviour is UMNO-inherent. In fact, calling for "closed" discussion (away from the prying presence of the media) is what I despise.

Money politics plagued UMNO and BN purely because everything was settled by the head honcho and no one had the right to dissent or voice out their dissatisfaction.

Lim Guan Eng, by questioning Anwar's move, is following the right channels to a healthy and open discussion. Gagging him is to imitate what UMNO and by proxy, BN have been practising for years.

I don't want Barisan Rakyat to evolve into Barisan Nasional.