Monday, 31 August 2009

Wear Black On Merdeka Day

The government has gone on overdrive trying to promote Merdeka Day.

The overriding (and highly abused) word used is FREEDOM.

It's on nearly every radio channel. If you haven't been subject to the fake cheeriness of the DJ, who I'm certain has been ordered to inject 'patriotism' into the unsuspecting listeners, consider yourself blessed.

There was this Merdeka segment on Lite.FM revolving around freedom and independence. The message they were trying to get across to the public is that we should be thankful for our independence because we "now have freedom".

To call Malaysia a free country is to denigrate the true meaning of 'freedom'.

Because at the end of the day, patriotism is loyalty to one's country at all times, but to the government only when they deserve it.

Our government certainly doesn't. You and I know that.

So I humbly ask you fellow Malaysians to wear black on Merdeka Day even if you're only going to be at home.

We need to make our voices heard. Without shouting.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

They Are Munafik, Not Muslims

I saw this news yesterday. But even though I'm not even Hindu and carry no religious or emotional attachment to a cow, I was filled with rage.

So I decided not to blog, lest I said something I didn't really mean. Anger does that. I salute Naga, who has kept his cool without getting incited.

The mainstream media has kept mum on this issue, so I'm putting up this despicable picture on my blog because people need to know what this country has come to.

When I was a kid, I might have been gullible enough to draw across this image and think it represented all Muslims. I may have thought to myself, "Muslims are stupid, I want to migrate someplace else."

But you know what? I know heaps of Muslims. And they're a great bunch.

These ones who parade the dead cow's head and shout racial provocation? These fools are not Muslims, they are munafik - hypocrites! Listen to their words:

“I challenge YB Khalid, YB Rodziah and Xavier Jeyakumar to go on with the temple construction. I guarantee bloodshed and racial tension will happen if this goes on, and the state will be held responsible,” shouted Ibrahim Haji Sabri amid strong chants of “Allahu Akbar!”

This is gross injustice to the Hindus. The Hindus are perpetually marginalised. Because they are politically weak, they are largely ignored by Barisan Nasional.

Dozens of Hindu temples are demolished by state governments. Sometimes the idols are smashed and destroyed before worshippers can remove them. As Michael Backman once commented, it is an "action which is insensitive at best and a deliberate provocation at worst".

Occasionally, when the temples are actually relocated, there is vicious and intolerant protest against it. Is that fair??

The more I read about the injustices against Hindus, the more I understand why HINDRAF has such a following.

I was heartened today as I browsed some of the blogs. Most of the Muslims I know have condemned this act in the strongest words.

If you are Muslim and read this blog but never comment, please leave a message today.

Your Hindu brothers and sisters need to know that you will champion their cause simply because like you, they are Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

Results, Not Rhetoric

We're obviously full of talk, and next to nothing on substance.

And reaching new heights on the Malaysia Boleh scale, we have been blacklisted by the United States for human trafficking.

The government has protested and called the blacklisting unfair treatment.

But the US is obviously not gullible.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The United States welcomes Malaysia's crackdown on human trafficking, but wants to see "results rather than rhetoric" before it can remove the Southeast Asian country from a blacklist, a senior official said Thursday.

Several alleged traffickers, including government officials colluding with them, have been arrested and charged in recent weeks after Malaysia was labeled one of the world's worst offenders in a U.S. State Department report released in June.

The prosecutions were "heartening," Luis CdeBaca, a top State Department official, told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Malaysia where he met with government officials and aid groups.

But "we are looking for sustainability. We want to make sure that cases are brought (to court) not simply in the interim period," he said.

Check out our status on Human Trafficking.

Half the time, it's the Malaysian immigration officers who are guilty of the crime:
Malaysian Officers Held over Burmese Migrant Sale
Five immigration officers nabbed for human trafficking

But for reporting the truth through her organisation Tenaganita, Irene Fernandez goes to jail.

And we're celebrating 52 years of independence? What have we achieved??

Friday, 28 August 2009


Freedom? What freedom?

I don't think we've made any progress at all.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Minister Of Information, Communications & Culture

Some of you may sneer at me, but one thing I've always been proud of being Malaysian is our gentle, polite demeanour.

But this is our Arts, Culture and Heritage minister in all his glory.

What have we become?

P.S. Rais Yatim is the Information, Communications, and Culture Minister, and not Arts, Culture and Heritage as the portfolio previously used to be. Thanks to Romerz for correcting me.

The irony of it strikes me though - Rais Yatim rarely gives any valuable information, can't communicate decently and seems devoid of culture.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Planet Of The Apes - Yet Another Sequel

Unfortunately, you can't walk out of the cinema or switch off the television. It's live.

According to Malaysiakini, they've got their tits in a twirl over Malay Mail's report of caste politics.

They can't do anything right.

They don't fight for even basic human rights.

Who cares what they do in their party polls?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

A Death In Custody Brushed Aside

This particular post owes its thanks to Naga of the WIRED blog, who gave me the heads up on this video.

The image below is one of Francis Udayappan's mother, Sara Lily, weeping over the death of her son as she speaks to HINDRAF lawyer Uthayakumar.

I can understand why for Uthayakumar, the fight is for the Indians (or Hindus) and not Malaysians as a whole. Fundamental rights are non-existent for an Indian who has no standing in society.

I may not agree with Uthayakumar's approach, but I can understand where he's coming from.

After 10 days, the victim's body still hadn't been returned to his mother.

I believe the police were trying to figure out how to cover up their tracks and were hoping decomposition of the body would hide all traces of assault and the subsequent injuries.

Based on my understanding, the HINDRAF group (and current Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah) went to see the IGP to submit a memorandum for an investigation to be carried out over the mysterious circumstances of Francis Udayappan's death.

This was one of the pleas by the leaders of HINDRAF which fell on deaf ears. When they organised the HINDRAF rally, many people questioned why they did not go through "democratic" channels.

The answer is simply this: HINDRAF did, but it was brushed aside.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Deaths In Custody

Some time ago, when people were still outraged at the murder of Teoh Beng Hock, I sent an Australian colleague a link to a video in Malaysiakini.

Said Australian colleague did some research and came up with some other interesting but factual links. "I have really been moved by the news about this guy," he admitted.

I understand. I was moved during my "first" news of death in custody, a young alleged criminal named Kugan.

Now the fellow might have been up to some mischief (car theft, if I'm not mistaken), but it does not deserve torture to the extent of those kind of injuries.

Haris Ibrahim attended the funeral of Gunasegaran, the latest civilian to die in police custody - incidentally on the same day as Teoh Beng Hock. He was severely assaulted before he died.

That begs the question: how many people exactly are dying under police custody??

You wouldn't expect the mainsteam media to have that sort of information, but you may be rather surprised.

However, Bernama conveniently removes old news, so I am copying and pasting this in its entirety instead of linking it, but this bit of news actually comes from the horse's mouth - the government itself.

If you're alert, you may find the numbers don't tally and there are holes in the story.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) -- The Dewan Rakyat was told Tuesday there were 1,535 deaths in prisons, rehabilitation centres and detention centres for illegal immigrants between 2003 and last year.

There were 600 deaths in drug rehabilitation centres, according to the Prisons Department records. Deputy Home Minister Senator Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said the country's prisons had a better track record compared to prisons in the United Kingdom if that country's 'benchmarking' figures were used.

"In 2007, the number of deaths in British prisons was 183 while here there were only three.

"Most of the deaths were in hospitals, that is when the prisoners were undergoing treatment, one per cent of the deaths occurred while they were on the way to hospital and 0.5 per cent happened in the prisons," he said in reply to a supplementary question from M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat).

Kulasegaran wanted to know the cause of detainees' deaths and asked if there was a special body to investigate deaths in prisons and detention centres.

Wan Ahmad Farid said according to police statistics there were 85 deaths recorded in police lock-ups during the 2003-2007 period of which 77 were due to diseases, seven due to suicide by hanging and one due to a fight in the cell.

"There was only one death in police custody due to excessive force by those on duty," he said.

He said based on medical officers' and coroners' reports, the main cause of deaths were diseases like HIV/Aids, septicaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, cancer, heart disease, blood-related problems and asthma as well as infections of the intestines, liver, lungs and throat.

Wan Ahmad Farid said there were also deaths due to hanging, blood clots and falls in the bathrooms or toilets.

He said follow-up action taken to overcome deaths included having closed-circuit surveillance in all areas, increasing visits and patrols as well as having dialogue sessions with detainees to identify problems they faced.-- BERNAMA , 8/7/2008

SUARAM (the Penang branch) has more stats.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has an insight into this sordid issue:

Throughout 2003, there were numerous incidents of police brutality against criminal suspects resulting in serious injuries and deaths. In many cases, the victims were poor, had little education and lacked the proper “connections” to ensure proper treatment from the police. The treatment meted out against these suspects is a stark contrast to that accorded to persons of different backgrounds—namely professionals, affluent or well-connected people.

But yes. If you've read the article or done your homework on deaths in custody, you'd be aware that most of the victims are the poor, uneducated Indians.

When their families claimed their bodies, the police categorically denied having assaulted them.

And yet, there were always signs of injuries - gashes and wounds.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Less Than Full

So much for racist propaganda. It looks like the voters are unimpressed with all the posturing.

But I must hand it to The Malaysian Insider for making the understatement of the year.

This is a view of a Barisan Nasional campaign hall. It has been described as less than full.

Less than full house? That bloody hall is next to empty, and the flag with the keris in the middle looks quite forlorn!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sedition: The Malaysian Definition

Apparently the debate is whether children can act as lawyers. I would be more concerned to know if people actually understand what the word 'sedition' means.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Karpal Singh's three children can continue to represent him in his sedition trial at the High Court.

The question of whether the three -- Gobind Singh Deo, Ram Karpal Singh and Sangeet Kaur Deo -- could act as Karpal's lawyers came up when judicial commissioner Azman Abdullah noticed in the video recording that they were present during Karpal's press conference at his office six months ago.

Karpal is charged with uttering seditious words against the sultan of Perak at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama here between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6. He is alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar by the sultan could be questioned in a court of law.

And that constitutes sedition? Are they for real???

Monday, 17 August 2009

Permatang Pasir's Golden Boy

Just yesterday, I was nauseated by an article in one of the mainstream tabloids about a snivelling MACC officer who claimed he was unfairly maligned for investigating politicians.

This dude claims to be frustrated and demoralised. No shit, sherlock.

The most well-treated of those who have been investigated by the MACC can rightfully claim to be dehumanised.

Others, unfortunately, can claim to be deceased.

But 'demoralised'? What a freaking drama mama.

He could make himself useful. Instead of needlessly pimping precious oxygen with his pathetic existence, he should pull up his pants and go investigate one soon-to-be-prominent political candidate.

Yes, folks.

This lawyer-turned-politician is none other than the wannabe MP of Permatang Pasir - Rohaizat Othman.

The UMNO candidate.

Of course, the success of an UMNO politician is directly proportional to the graft and corruption he indulges in.

Throw in some crime for good measure, because this fellow has even been struck off the roll by the Bar Council.

Hell yeah. Turns out even the lawyers have disowned him. That's grave, indeed.

What did he do?

Being an UMNO candidate, you just know he'd be grossly dishonest - no rocket science there.

And Rohaizat Othman is no exception: he absconded with stakeholders' money from Koperasi Pekebun Getah.

Now we're not talking about wealthy tycoons who are just as dirty and have heaps of money to spare. He was trying to swindle small time rubber investors.

What a fleabag.

Apparently, he made off with RM140,000 which is quite a bit if you realise that the investment by the stakeholders is not all that much.

The lawyers call it criminal misconduct.

And they've evidently made life easier for our MACC man - he doesn't even have to investigate all that much. No need to dangle anyone outside the window and accidentally drop him, even.

It's all handed out on a silver platter to the MACC.

Oh wait. It's UMNO we're talking about, isn't it? And MACC is UMNO's running dog. The faithful little pup that plays 'fetch'. Who rolls over and begs upon UMNO's command.

No investigation will happen - not now, not in the future. Not ever, as long as he remains true to UMNO.

This Rohaizat Othman could attain great amounts of wealth one day. Obscenely massive amounts of it.

Unless of course, we stop him.

Make sure he doesn't get voted, so he can't dip his filthy fingers into public coffers.

Do your thing, people.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

They Don't All Agree

I mentioned to a friend in passing, that I was planning to blog on the issue of dissent. It's been bugging me for a while now and I would have blogged earlier, had I the time.

You see, I hear a lot about people getting disillusioned with Pakatan Rakyat.

I hear a lot of gripes about how Pakatan Rakyat can't seem to agree on one topic or another.

They make that seem like a bad thing.

That's where I disagree. Do you know where BN went wrong?


Let me tell you. It all started when UMNO assumed the dominant role and dictated terms to all the other coalitions.

In BN, there is such a thing as a whip. From my understanding, it is official BN policy that:

1. No MP can speak against the party stand
2. No MP should support any motions brought by the opposition.

Because of this policy, no MP would dare to dissent or break ranks for fear of being punished or facing displinary action. And there have been MPs suspended for those very reasons.

So those who rule the roost remain unopposed. There is no check and balance, and since then things have gone downhill. Not just for the party but for the entire country as well.

Subsequently, when people like Tony Pua say, "State government leaders who openly defy party and coalition discipline and work in the interest of Umno and Barisan National must be harshly reprimanded..", I am disconcerted.

My confidence in Pakatan Rakyat is not boosted by the lack of disagreements between them.

It is boosted by the fact that they are so different, and yet work together to establish a shared medium or common ground to which we can all eventually agree.

Crying shame I can't say the same about Barisan Nasional.

In fact, I suspect Hasan Ali is a trojan horse planted by BN into PR to sow disharmony and discord in the state. After all, Selangor brings in the most amount of revenue and Najib has had his eye on it since BN pathetically lost it to PR.

We have a rabid dog foaming in the mouth with racism in his attempts to garner support for UMNO. It's no secret that UMNO has thrived because of race politics and corruption alone.

I surmise that UMNO has no redeeming quality to its name.

Khairy Jamaluddin is a smooth orator. He is the face that reassures an unsuspecting audience, the voice that calms the skeptics, the accent that makes the western world think that he is the educated symbol of reason.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

He is nothing but a greedy opportunist who would sell his mother to fulfil his personal ambitions.

And Khairy Jamaluddin is the UMNO Youth leader. No one within UMNO will rebuke him for the vitriolic and seditious attacks, where he attempted to agitate by saying that DAP is the enemy of Islam and the Malays.

Evidently, whatever weaknesses Pakatan Rakyat may have, it is not as bad as UMNO.

I beseech the public and the voters of GE13: whatever Pakatan Rakyat's failings may be, may it NOT be the lack of dissent within the party.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Drop Sedition Charges Against Karpal Singh

Malaysia: Drop Sedition Charges Against Parliamentarian

(New York) - Malaysia's attorney general should immediately drop politically motivated sedition charges against Karpal Singh, a prominent lawyer and opposition member of parliament, Human Rights Watch said today. His trial is to begin on August 12, 2009. Human Rights Watch also urged the government to repeal without delay the colonial-era Sedition Act 1948, long used selectively against the government's political opponents.

On March 17, the government charged Karpal, national chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party, under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act. He is accused of using "seditious words" in a February 6 comment to journalists that the legality of a decision to return control of Perak's state government to Malaysia's ruling coalition could be questioned in court. Karpal has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail. If found guilty, Karpal faces up to three years in prison or a fine of up to RM5,000 [US$1,400] or both. As of April, 45 prosecution witnesses were due to take the stand.

"These sedition charges against Karpal are utterly baseless," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Right Watch. "This is just an excuse to remove a powerful political opponent."

Perak was one of five states won, albeit by a razor-thin majority, by opposition candidates who worked in concert to defeat the ruling National Front (Barisan Nasional or BN) coalition in the March 2008 national elections. After several Perak assembly members crossed over to join the BN in January and February 2009, BN regained a majority. Rather than dissolve the state assembly and call for new elections, Sultan Azlan Shah decided in favor of BN, prompting Karpal's call for a court hearing. Suits related to the legitimacy of the newly constituted assembly are still in contention.

This is the second time Karpal has been charged under the Sedition Act. During his 2001 defense of Anwar Ibrahim against corruption charges in 2001, Karpal stated that Anwar's failing health in detention was "due to a high-level conspiracy to poison him with arsenic." The police charged Karpal with sedition, though then-Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail later withdrew the charges.

The Sedition Act defines "seditious tendency" as, "a tendency to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against any ruler or against any government ... to raise discontent or disaffection among the subjects of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the Malaysian monarch] or of the ruler of any state ... (or) to question any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by" certain articles in the Federal Constitution.

Article 181 of the constitution provides that no ruler may be charged in his official capacity in a court of law. Karpal did not suggest that charges should be brought against the sultan but suggested that his decision was subject to judicial review. The Sedition Act states that it is not seditious to "show that any ruler has been misled or mistaken in any of his measures."

BN, which has ruled Malaysia since independence, relies on the Sedition Act as well as the Internal Security Act to repress free expression and assembly to silence and punish its critics.

Human Rights Watch urges that such laws be repealed or reviewed to conform to international standards.

"It's a fallacy to suggest Malaysia needs laws that violate basic rights in order to maintain a peaceful and harmonious society," said Pearson. "Malaysians have time and again proven themselves capable of exercising the basic democratic rights to which they are entitled. It's time their government listened."

Have Some Bloggers..

.... had their accounts and websites hacked?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

If You Still Wonder Why

I tried so hard to read 'Because they did not care?' without rolling my eyes. I failed.

The writer comes off sounding so shallow and simple-minded after I read the original piece by Yeo Yang Poh which eloquently summed up the essence of what mobilises people to face-off with authorities who possess water cannons and tear-gas.

The points put forward by his/her detractor fell flat.

Are we not able to run errands, shop and hang out with friends every day except for the First of August??

Do we not have horrible traffic congestion every day after work, to the point that ambulances take ages to maneuver through traffic?

Bear in mind, that bad traffic everyday is due to poor town planning by the government.

The especially horrendous traffic on that particular day was caused by police roadblocks, not even by protestors.

I'm not going to dignify the rest of his opinions with a response. I think they speak for themselves and the man/woman who wrote them.

No wonder the writer didn't leave a name. I'd be ashamed to do so, too.

It is disturbing that people could be so stupid.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Al-Jazeera Covers The Protest And ISA Issue

Peeps, you might be interested in watching Al-Jazeera's interview with three Malaysians: Khairy Jamaluddin, Denison Jayasooria and Zaid Ibrahim.

This is covering the need and use of the Internal Security Act.

It was actually covered on Astro 513 last night, Aug 6 at 8.30pm. There will be repeats, but I don't subscribe to Astro.

If you're like me, fortunately, they are now available online at these youtube links:
Part 1
Part 2

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Care To Vote?

The Home Ministry apparently wants your views on the ISA.

Go HERE to vote. Scroll down to the bottom right corner of the website.

You'd be surprised to find out what your fellow Malaysian thinks.

Chaining The Children Of The Poor

By Bakri Musa

The ancient Chinese bound the feet of their baby daughters so they would grow up with deformed tiny feet, thus limiting their mobility and participation in life outside the little world of their homes. These women would then be totally dependent on their men.

In rescinding the policy of teaching science and mathematics in English, the government is likewise binding the intellectual development of our children. They and future generations of Malaysians would grow up with warped intellect. They would then be totally dependent on the government, just as ancient Chinese women with tiny feet were on their men.

My friend and fellow commentator Azly Rahman has a more apt and colorful local metaphor; we are condemning future generations to the Pekan Rabu economy, capable only of selling pirated versions of Michael Jackson albums. That would be the extent of their entrepreneurial prowess and creative flair. They are only subsistence entrepreneurs and ‘copy cat’ creators.

Make no mistake about it.

The government’s professed concerns for the poor and those from rural areas notwithstanding, reversing the current policy would adversely and disproportionately impact them.

The rich and those in the cities have a ready escape; the rich through private English classes, urban children from the already high levels of English in their community.

The most disadvantaged will be the poor kampong kids. That means Malay children.

Thus we have the supreme irony if not perversity of the champions of Ketuanan Melayu actively pursuing a policy that would ensure Malay children be perpetually trapped economically and intellectually.

I thank Allah that I grew up at a time when the likes of Muhyyuddin were not in charge of our education system. Otherwise I would have been trapped in my kampong.

The idiocy of the new move is best illustrated by this one startling example. In 2012 when the new plan will be implemented, students in Form IV will be taught science and mathematics in Malay, after learning the two subjects in English for the past nine years. Then two years later when they will be entering Sixth Form or the Matriculation stream, they will again have to revert to English.

Pupils in the vernacular schools would have it worse. They would learn the two subjects in their mother tongue during their primary school years, then switch to Malay for the next five while in secondary school, and then switch again, this time to English, in Sixth Form and university!

Had these policymakers done their homework and diligent downstream analysis, such idiocies would not crop up. Then again this is what we would expect from our civil servants. They have been brought up with their minds bound up; they cannot think. They have depended on others to do the thinking for them.

Najib Razak’s flip-flopping on this major national issue eerily reminds me of similar indecisiveness and lack of resolve of his immediate predecessor, Abdullah Badawi. No wonder he supports Najib in this policy shift. Najib should not take comfort in that, unless he expects a similar fate as Abdullah’s. Abdullah was kicked out by his party; with Najib, it would be the voters who would be kicking him out. Public sentiments are definitely against this policy switch.

Failure of Policy Versus Failure of Implementation

The cabinet reversed course because it deemed the policy did not produce the desired results. However, in arriving at this pivotal decision the cabinet failed to address the fundamental question on whether the original policy was flawed or its implementation ineffective.

It just assumed the policy to be flawed. Muhyyuddin and his senior officers relied heavily on the 2005 UNESCO Report which suggests that “‘mother tongue first’ bilingual education” may (my emphasis) be the solution to the dilemma of members of minority linguistic groups in acquiring knowledge.

Muhyyuddin and his advisers seriously misread the Report. It was concerned primarily with the dilemma at the societal level of members of a linguistic minority having to learn the language of the majority (“national language”) versus the need to maintain linguistic diversity generally and minority languages specifically.

UNESCO was rightly concerned with the rapid disappearance of languages spoken by small minority groups. The report was not addressing specifically the learning of science and mathematics.

Malay language is not at risk of disappearing; it is the native tongue of literally hundreds of millions. To extrapolate the UNESCO recommendations for Malay language is a gross oversimplification and misreading of the report.

The UNESCO Report does not address the issue of when and how best to introduce children to bilingual education. Later studies that focused specifically on the pedagogical and psychological aspects instead of the sociological and political have shown that children are quite capable of learning multiple languages at the same time.

Even more remarkable is that the earlier they are exposed to a second language the more facile they would be with that language. They would also learn that second language much faster; hence second language even at preschool.

The acquisition of bilingual ability at an early age confers other significant cognitive advantages. These have been documented by clinical studies with functional MRIs (imaging studies of the brain).

Malaysia should learn from these more modern studies and the experiences of more advanced societies, not from the UNESCO studies of backward tribes of Asia.

The other basis for the cabinet’s decision was ‘research’ by local half-baked and politically-oriented pseudo academics. They should be embarrassed to append their names to such a sophomoric paper. The quality is such that it will never appear in reputable journals.

As for the Ministry’s own internal ‘researchers,’ remember that they came out within months of the policy’s introduction in 2003 documenting the ‘impressive’ improvements in students’ achievements!

The one major entity that would be severely impacted by the cabinet’s decision is our universities. Yet our Vice-Chancellors have remained quiet and detached in this important national debate. They have not advised the cabinet nor lead the public discussions.

Again that reflects the caliber of leadership of our major institutions.

Had the cabinet decided that the policy was essentially sound but that the flaws were with its implementations, then measures other than rescinding it would be the appropriate response. This would include recruiting and training more English-speaking teachers and devoting more hours to the subject.

What surprised me is that when Mahathir introduced the policy in 2003, he was supported by his cabinet that included Najib, Muhyyuddin, Hishamuddin, and over a dozen of current ministers who now collectively voted to reverse the policy.

Likewise, the policy was fully endorsed too by UMNO’s Supreme Council then. Like the cabinet, many of those earlier members are still in that body today. Yet today the Council also voted to disband the policy.

Muhyyuddin, Hishamuddin and the others have yet to share with us why they changed their minds. The conditions that prompted the introduction of the policy back then are still present today. This reversal will do not change that.

Najib, Muhyyuddin and Hishamuddin are “lallang leaders,” they bend with the slightest wind change. Unlike Margaret Thatcher’s famed resolve of “This lady is not for turning,” with Najib, Muhyyuddin, et al., all you have to do to make them undertake a U turn would be to blow slightly in their faces. Blow a bit harder and they would scoot off with their tails between their legs.

These leaders will never lead us forward.

This reversal will not solve the widening achievement gap between urban and rural students. The cabinet has yet to put forth new ideas on ameliorating that problem. So, just as ancient Chinese women were physically handicapped because of their bound feet, rural or more specifically Malay children will continue to be intellectually handicapped by their warped and small minds, the consequence of this policy shift.

Perhaps that is the real objective of this policy reversal, the shackling of the intellectual development of our young so they will forever be dependent on their ‘leaders.’

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Of All Ethnic And Religious Backgrounds

In the midst of all the agitation and confrontation with the authorities during the anti-ISA protest, I had this warm, fuzzy feeling.

I caught sight of this banner that decries the murder of Teoh Beng Hock by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission or Suruhanjaya Pencegah Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM).


Teoh was Chinese, but these demonstrators are Malays. At that point, his death no longer became a racial issue. People just came together as Malaysians and spoke out against what was obviously wrong.

A commenter named Eric left a note on my blog:

Yesterday Malaysians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, both genders and all skin colours, walked together on a matter of national policy. This was simply beautiful.

I was there. I saw black-clad Malaysian Chinese who shared light moments with tudung-clad Malaysian Malay ladies, brave Unit Amal members giving salt (against tear gas) to Hindraf supporters.

That's why BN is so enraged. Malaysians built history together yesterday, as they did in the Hartal and the PUTERA-AMCJA people's constitution days. Malaysians have a history together, though it has been hidden to them for decades. They just proved they will build a future together!

Yes, there is hope yet.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Happy Hour

FT Minister: Protest cost RM100mil in damage

KUALA LUMPUR: The anti-Internal Security Act (ISA) illegal rally has caused business losses and damage to property estimated to run into millions of ringgit, said Federal Territories Minister Senator Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.

Damage worth millions eh? How charming.

Now this dude with the "Happy Hour" banner was not exactly devastated at the presence of the protestors. I'm guessing his business wasn't doing too badly, and his shop wasn't exactly empty.

In fact, he was quite obliging when it came to posing for photographs with errr... dodgy protestors. :)

Now I'll tell you why there may indeed have been plenty of damage on the 1st of August 2009 in the city of Kuala Lumpur.

When a huge truck with gallons and gallons of acid chemicals sprays its contents onto buildings, trees, street lamps, garbage cans and roads, there is bound to be corrosive damage. There wasn't just one truck, there were many.

When canister after canister of tear gas is released into the environment, the air is undoubtedly polluted. And the FRU was rather generous with its poisonous gases.

This polluted air isn't going to go away. It will return as acid rain the next time it pours. Cars will be corroded, and even drainage systems will corrode and collapse. Trust me, I'm an engineer - I know.

But none of this damage was caused by the protestors. It was caused by the authorities, the government.

So it's highly dubious and inconsistent for the FT minister (who, of course hails from the BN party) to blame the protestors for damage that was essentially caused by the government themselves.

But you and I know that there's nothing consistent about BN except the corruption.

Malaysian Evasion

The Prime Minister should abolish the ISA

From the Wall Street Journal

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak promised in April that his government would conduct a “comprehensive review” of the Internal Security Act, a colonial-era law that allows indefinite detention without trial. On Saturday, 10,000 Malaysians marched in the streets of Kuala Lumpur to hold him to his word, asking him to abolish the act. They were soon dispersed with tear gas and water cannons, and 589 people were arrested.

The confrontation marks a turning point for Mr. Najib’s administration, which until now has refrained from employing roughshod tactics against political opponents. Earlier he won praise for releasing 26 ISA detainees and using that law to detain terrorists, not politicians or journalists as his predecessor did.

But even given that restraint, Malaysians increasingly want a more transparent and freer society. Saturday’s protest was nominally about the ISA, and it was organized by Abolish the ISA Movement, a human-rights group, along with other NGOs. But it was also a larger vote of dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to press ahead with a show trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the unexplained death last month of a young opposition political aide following several hours of interrogation by anti-corruption officials. Politicians from all three opposition parties were present at the protest, including Mr. Anwar.

Malaysia’s constitution guarantees the right to free speech and assembly. But police set up barricades and checkpoints on Friday to prevent crowds from gathering, and launched teargas Saturday before the march began. Under Malaysian law, street gatherings of more than five people are automatically illegal because they require a permit—which in practice is almost never granted. The prime minister’s office and the home office declined to comment to us yesterday, and the police didn’t return our calls.

Mr. Najib would be better served by embracing the protestors’ cause. Abolishing the ISA would not only benefit Malaysians—who would still be protected from terrorists by a host of other detention laws—but would also deny Mr. Anwar’s opposition coalition one of its key rallying points. Arresting opposition leaders, as police did Saturday, only augments their popularity.

Mr. Najib has so far proved to be a savvy leader and boosted his popularity ratings by introducing a series of reforms that begin to tackle Malaysia’s affirmative action polices. If he wants to demonstrate his reform bona fides he could start by listening to those protesters instead of chasing them away.

Quote Of The Day

I stumbled across this spectacular quote in Al-Jazeera, whose journalists evidently have a sardonic sense of humour.

The demonstrators had gathered in the Malaysian capital to protest against a security law that allows detention without trial, but were dispersed by police using water cannons and tear gas.

Omar denied that police action had been heavy handed, saying the authorities had used the "minimum amount of force".

"It was a standard procedure ... to disperse this crowd in Kuala Lumpur," he told Al Jazeera.

If this is "minimum amount of force", I would really hate to witness the "maximum" amount.

Monday, 3 August 2009

To Feel Hate Or Pity

In silence, I watched them stroll by.

I'd just witnessed their kind inflict pain on their fellow human beings.

I know they do their master's bidding. Their master happens to be the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional.

But I wonder how they feel inside as they carry out their job.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Arrests At Anti-ISA Demonstration

At last count it was 589.

Those who are arrested should have rights to a lawyer. The government is currently denying them this right.

Watching From Above

This helicopter hovered over us the whole day during the Anti-ISA protest yesterday.

This was probably how the authorities pinned down the location of where people were gathered.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Demonstration At Masjid Jamek

By the time I arrived at Masjid Jamek, I expected that the crowd would have dispersed.

In fact, I think that the original protestors had left, and those that remained were merely curious onlookers.

But that didn't stop the FRU from going all out on the public.

The trucks rolled in carrying their arsenal. A siren sounded and I think that must have been the warning that the water cannons were going to be released on anyone who was close enough to take a hit.

The crowd ran upon hearing it.

For a while nothing happened. Then a group of people came out of the Putra LRT station. The look of alarm on their faces upon seeing the FRU truck was evident even from a distance.

They were given a warning by the authorities (presumably to vacate the area) and they complied with haste. :)

Those who didn't were sprayed.

That was some really potent acid they used. I'm sure it will corrode the tiles and road. Not to mention the windows and premises of outlets in that region.

FRU At Anti-ISA Rally Behind Sogo

If you were there downtown, you'd be a first hand witness to how the authorities violated the people's freedom of expression.

There were numerous locations where the public gathered to march. One was at Batu Road. The other was at Jalan Raja Laut.

The FRU were deployed to break up the huge but organised crowd behind the Sogo complex that marched very peacefully.

I was right down where the action was, so I couldn't get an aerial shot that shows exactly how many protestors were milling about in that area. I think Malaysiakini has some good pictures that could give an estimate.

But take my word for it, it was a huge crowd, and it shows people are not going to take it lying down anymore.

The draconian and often abused Internal Security Act has to go, and soon. The Wall Street Journal gives a reasonably accurate account of just how the authorities (the ruling coalition) have used it for their personal interests.

Yet, the crowd was well-behaved and resolute in their protest.

So why it was necessary to break up that crowd in such a brutal manner is a mystery known only to the authorities in their infinite wisdom.

It still amazes me that we need so many members of the riot squad to break up peaceful demonstrations when there are thousands of unsolved crimes out there; missing children, which to date have not been found.

It only goes to show how skewed the priorities of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional really are.

This red truck is the water cannon. It was being filled with water from the fire hydrant. The water was mixed with acid chemicals. I was sprayed, and let me tell you, it hurts a b!tch.

It wasn't the only truck there. There were plenty on stand by.

And they were sent out to wreak havoc on the protestors, who knew what was coming and eventually had to disperse.

Gallons and gallons of stinging acid water was sprayed carelessly onto human beings. People dashed for cover as the searing pain engulfed their skin and eyes.

I guess this must be the Malaysian sense of compassion exhibited by the Malaysian authorities in their eagerness to protect public security.

Anti ISA Protestors At Batu Road

With all the roadblocks set up, we figured we'd be spending more time trying to navigate out of a traffic jam caused by multiple detours.

So Shar, Kallie and I took a train into town and got off at the Dang Wangi station. On the way, we noticed the unusual traffic congestion.

But nothing prepared me for the crowd at Batu Road. It was phenomenal - Batu Road is generally a busy road, but there was a crowd thronging in every direction that I turned.

The protestors chanted slogans like "Reformasi" and "Demokrasi" as they marched down the road, heading towards Masjid Jamek.

They attracted a lot of curious onlookers.

But their march didn't last for very long and they didn't get very far as the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) or what others refer to as the "anti-riot squad" stepped in to try and disperse them.

The FRU had batons in their hands and even at that point, before 2.30pm, a few arrests had already been made.

We later discovered Sivarasa Rasiah, MP for Subang was one of them.

The crowd dispersed when the arrests were made, but quickly regrouped again behind Masjid India.

Some protestors were spluttering and had tears streaming down their eyes - an unpleasant encounter with tear gas.

The speed at which they regrouped was pretty impressive, especially how everything was planned and communicated between the people at HQ and those at ground.

Unit Amal PAS and Gerakan Mansuh ISA did an excellent job at coordinating the rally.

Last Minute Details

Alright peeps, just a few hours to go.

There is a checklist before heading out. I expect there will be police brutality, so bring your cameras along. We'd like to document all these.

I'm bringing mine, so come back and visit this blog later this evening for reports on the rally.

And if you have some good pics, please email them to me with comments (if any) using the email listed on my profile. I will post them all here.

If you have goggles, bring them along. This is to protect your eyes when the riot police spray chemical-laced water and fire off tear gas to disperse protestors. Also bring towels and water in a container.

They will be trying to provoke us. Ignore them all. These are the fools who deliberately set up roadblocks to rile up the public against us. It hasn't worked, so why humour these village idiots?

For all other tips I may have missed, go HERE.

See you guys in a bit.