Monday, 31 October 2011

Malaysian Maturity By Ooi Kee Beng

A very succinct piece, in my opinion.

Did Malaysia mature when we were not looking? — Ooi Kee Beng

October 31, 2011

OCT 31 — The flurry of Malay organisations making the news in Malaysia bodes well for the country, whether or not these group together extreme rightists, opposition voices, concerned students or professors, or green or human right activists.

The matter has now become too obvious to be denied, which is that the Malay community in Malaysia is like any other community anywhere in the world. Its collectiveness, like anyone else’s, is pragmatic and contingent. This is how it should be. They are not an entity whose extremely diverse and individual needs, thoughts and aspirations can be articulated through one single political party.

The myth is broken. What will take its place is a cacophony of noises or a symphony of tunes, depending on one’s politics and disposition.

That powerful party, Umno, is the oldest in the country, founded as it was just one year after the Second World War. It has dominated Malaysian politics to this day, but now rightly fears that it will lose power in the very near future.

When the party started, its slogan was “Hidup Melayu” — Long Live the Malays. Only after changing that to “Merdeka” in March 1951 did it begin to make serious headway into the popular consciousness.

From the very beginning, Malay political consciousness went in many directions. There were pan-Indonesianists, communists and other leftists, monarchists, Fabian socialists and republicans. The British, with their reputation lost through their defeat by the Japanese, favoured conservatives who were willing to work closely with the nine sultanates. This entity was Umno.

The amazing diversity found in the Malay community — as in all communities — was obvious from the onset. Those more concerned about religious values broke away to form PAS in 1951, while Umno itself split around the same time when its president, Onn Jaafar, left with his group of followers to form the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP).

Umno gained the upper hand through co-operation with the Malayan Chinese Association, formed at the instigation of the British to draw Chinese support away from the communists. This coalition managed to gain independence in 1957 for the country after its electoral successes saw the British abandoning the IMP, which they had favoured since its founding.

Even after 1969, when the so-called Malay agenda could be applied fully through the New Economic Policy, internal fighting continued within Umno, leading to outright splits in 1988 and 1998.

Today, when more and more Malays are urban and well educated, and make up an increasing portion of the population, the expression of diversity within that community — the breaking of the collective myth — should be seen as the coming into being of Malaysia’s modern citizen, largely determined by the Malays.

Opposition from other communities since 1969 has been generally weak, and based on the activism of certain individuals. The propaganda that had served Umno for so long, that the Malays are in danger of extinction, does not work anymore.

This became most obvious when the group Himpun recently demonstrated with a cry against purported Christian threats to Islam.

Despite the claim that a massive crowd of one million would turn up, the Umno government granted the permit. Only 5,000 people showed up, indicating quite clearly that Malays in general cannot relate to the old idle logic any longer.

The Malays continue to decide the national discourse, as they have done since the beginning. But most hearteningly, diversity is taken for granted, and a lot of activism is done in collaboration with non-Malays.

The Malaysian citizen has come into his and her own right.

There is no longer any doubt that the Malays will “hidup”; and Merdeka was won a long time ago. What seems to be the problem now is, how quickly will the death of the old myth mean the fall from power of Umno?

Instead of 1 Malaysia, Umno’s latest slogan, to be correctly reflective of the government’s concerns, should be “Hidup Pemimpin Umno” — Long Live Umno Leaders. — Today

* The writer is a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Guess What Happened at CHOGM Perth?

Najib got his ass kicked -- yet again!!!

At this point, I am really beginning to feel sorry for him. Governments around the world meet to discuss world issues and guess which nation brings up their issues which were prohibited from being voiced in their home country?

Yes -- Malaysia!!

In Perth, the police evidently don't brutalise citizens for exercising their democratic right to protest on the streets!

Malaysians around the world have not forgotten the acts of the BN government. And Najib is going to feel the heat wherever he goes.

None of the protesters were handcuffed or beaten up like those in Malaysia were. So it obviously pays to demonstrate and air all grievances in a foreign country. Najib might want to think twice about going abroad again.

He is going to be embarrassed everywhere by good ole Malaysians who have decided that enough really is ENOUGH!!!

Go for it, Chin Huat!!

See the whole set of pictures by Trevor Morgano HERE.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


If you don't already know who PAGE is, they are the advocates of Science and Mathematics being taught in English.

It is frankly, a good cause. Malaysian school children need to be taught in English, not in Bahasa Malaysia, to be able to compete with the rest of the world.

Besides, when they get to their tertiary education, they will be forced to switch to English as most textbooks are written by scholars and academicians of the English-speaking Western world.

The fact that the BN administration wants to switch back to Bahasa Malaysia is testament of their sheer stupidity.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Barisan Nasional (BN) risks losing votes in upcoming polls if it continues barring students from learning science and maths using English in schools, a parents lobby group said today.

The Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) wants the 10-year-old policy of teaching science and maths in English at national schools (PPSMI) to be made an option for students in primary and secondary schools.

“If it is political (decision on PPSMI) give us the PPSMI option in national primary and secondary schools, and we will give you the two-thirds majority, which you are making increasingly difficult for us to do.

“Do not make us give the opposition our vote,” said PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said in a statement to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.

I only have one issue with PAGE: Is the decision to revert to Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of education the only reason why they would say no to BN??

If you ask me, there are already so many reasons, and education is one of the least of them.

Read the rest: PAGE warns BN of polls backlash from PPSMI snub by Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

Friday, 28 October 2011

Being A Citizen Journalist

I think it is safe to assume that the US government allows street protests, but within a limited time frame.

After that, they get just as brutal and violent as the Malaysian police.

Any instance or place in which the authorities get violent on peaceful dissenters is wrong. And these instances should be documented for all and sundry to see.

Check out: RAW VIDEO - Cop Runs Over Wall Street Protester's Leg

We can't always rely on the mainstream media, for most of the time, they are owned by corporations that have a vested interest in keeping certain news from public knowledge -- especially if it concerns them.

That's why we need Citizen Journalists.

Gizmodo has given a comprehensive list of things to do and not to do when playing the role of Citizen Journalist.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

And You Claim We Are Conservative??

A bit on the issue of khalwat.

In 2002, the Reformasi website named top public figures and officials who were having relatively public affairs, including Najib Tun Razak, then the defense minister and now the prime minister, who was caught in a Port Dickson hotel room with the actress and singer Ziana Zain. None have been apprehended by the khalwat police.

“It’s in the culture — not that sex is a scandal in itself but that Malays like to aib or cause shame to their enemies,” said an ethnic Malay lawyer in Malaysia. “Khalwat is a tool to eliminate or shame your enemy. It’s partly rooted in perasaan hasad dengki – good old jealousy to bring down the other fella who has more than you. Islam itself forbids spying. That’s what khalwat is.

I wonder why no one in the Himpun rally thought it fitting to rally against Muslims indulging in this sort of thing?

Read the rest in Sex, Lies and Malaysian Politics

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

RM10.89Million Down The Drain!

Perhaps we are not developed enough to be building satellites. Or maybe we're just not smart enough to operate them.

But this is a lot of money to be losing: RM142m RazakSAT faulty after just one year, says federal auditor

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Malfunctions barely a year after the RM142 million RazakSAT satellite was launched caused it to take 1,328 unusable mapping images that were inaccurate by up to 37km, the Auditor-General’s report showed today.

The report made available today said state-owned Astronautic Technology Sdn Bhd (ATSB), which operates RazakSAT, lost RM10.89 million in 2009, of which RM7.7 million went towards insurance premiums for the faulty satellite.

“The operational lifespan of RazakSAT is three years. But the RazakSAT satellite failed to function fully on August 30, 2010, a year and sixteen days from launch date,” Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang wrote.

The Auditor General added that the remote sensing satellite was designed to “capture images within 1km accuracy” but “an image of an area in Sungai Buloh and Subang missed by 37km and captured Kuala Selangor.”

As a result, 1,328 high-resolution images could not be used for the project’s stated objective of providing remote information for land development, forestry and fish migration.

Is it too much to ask that my tax money be spent wisely???

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Do You Have What It Takes To Be An UMNO Politician?

It was started by Mariam Mokhtar and has some additions (in the multiple choice section) by Bernard Khoo.

Have you got what it takes to be an Umno politician? Take the test and find out.

1. Your special advisor phones you claiming that his foreign girlfriend is demanding money. She threatens to expose him and his dealings with you. What do you advise him to do?

(a) Pay her the money and send her away.

(b) Send her a legal letter saying she is blackmailing your friend, and have her deported.

(c) Get your security police to take her away, shoot her twice in the face and blow up her body in the jungle.

d) Like a good party man, I will diligently seek advisement from my Prime Minister and FLOM. A winnable politician will cover all bases. Sailful did, no?


2. The opposition has won control in one of the states and you are anxious to wrest it back. How would you resolve this?

(a) Wait for the next general election and in the meantime work on winning over the public’s confidence.

(b) Find a copy of the opposition’s policies, improve on their ideas and then pass these new revised policies as your own party’s.

(c) With a suitcase full of money try and ‘persuade’ the person who confirms the appointment of the menteri besar, that your selected candidate is the best choice for the state.

(d) Visit all the frog farms aka depleted mining pools in Perak, select potential hoppers and send them to Chinese restaurants for complete annihilation.


3. You are losing the Malay vote and random surveys indicate that your party will lose in the upcoming general election. What will you do?

(a) Go on roadshows to the rural Malay heartlands and show them how your policies will change their lives for the better.

(b) Go on roadshows to the rural Malay heartlands and tell them that the opposition’s policies are rubbish

(c) Make three million Indonesian, Bangladeshi and Filipino migrant workers citizens of Malaysia, then give them jobs in exchange for their voting rights (to vote for your party).

(d) put these new citizens into New Villages for better control thereby creating another base for postal votes.


4. Your domineering wife aspires to be a politician and you fear she might do a better job than you. She is a determined lady and more importantly, wears the pants at home. What is your course of action?

(a) Tell her to get herself nominated like everyone else, and go through the usual motions of becoming an elected candidate

(b) Explain how hard you’ve worked, going on the road for ceramah and that you need her by your side for support

(c) Give her a suitably large diamond ring and enough Hermes Birkin bags to keep her distracted. Tell her the national airline is at her disposal to fly her on shopping trips abroad.

(d) Arbitrarily declare your wife as live President of COW (Club of Obedient Wives) thus rubbishing Phd sex which will not foster procreation in that chongkat “seeds will not get into the right holes” for successful fertilization (thanks Monyet King)


5. Your daughter is about to be engaged to the son of a powerful ‘don’ and you want to create a lasting impression. The only problem is that the ceremony is abroad and you do not want to appear to be stingy.

(a) You phone your prospective in-laws and say that you would prefer a quiet, modest ceremony attended by a few close members of the family.

(b) You inform your daughter that she ought to get a job first and work for a few years before setting up home.

(c) You arrange a trade delegation in the country where the ceremony is to be held and you fly your family and 500 close friends to attend the ceremony, on the pretext of attending an official function. You tell the taxpayers that they will be delighted to view the photos of this momentous occasion that you will post on Facebook.

(d) Coax Alex Ferguson to endorse this ManU(factured) coalition and be Guest of Honor at the high table.


6. The companies bidding for the tender of the multi-million ringgit road project have met your civil servants to discuss the details and specifications. What is your response?

(a) You do nothing but leave it to the technical experts to evaluate their proposals to award the contract to the most suitable bidder.

(b) You tell your office to keep you informed of the outcome because you want to show interest.

(c) You get your girlfriend to phone each of the companies and tell them that to ‘win’ the contract means a tidy sum of money upfront and a share of the profits, once the contract is awarded.

(d) Tell the contractors to go full steam ahead on condition that the tunnel does not pass under a VVIP’s mansion. It will be ok to skirt the mansion.


7. The Chinese have wised up, after 54 years of your party’s lies. You cannot trust them to deliver their votes. What do you do?

(a) Try and re-engage with them by visiting their communities and arranging talks with their business associations.

(b) Speak to Chinese colleagues in your party.

(c) Tell your staff to spread the word that the Chinese are pendatang and should return to their country of origin.

(d) As a winnable candidate, I will not waste time and resources courting the Chinese voters who have gone over to DAP and PAS. Two males and one female FROGS, all CHINESE is lesson enough.


8. Article 11 of the constitution ensures Malaysians the freedom of religion. Non-Muslims, are unhappy with temples being demolished and cemeteries being located beside sewage plants. How do you deal with this?

(a) Arrange to meet with the religious representatives to discuss an amicable solution.

(b) Set aside land for temples and cemeteries.

(c) Raid their dinner parties and then organise a march to protest about non-Muslims trying to proselytise the Muslims with the lure of a makan.

(d) This is of great import and as such I will seek the counsel of the Sultan of Perak’s mufti and Hasan Ali of PAS. No! Ibrahim Ali is anathema! This is about religion and not race.


9. What did your friends think of you at school?

(a) Hardworking and helpful

(b) Good at sports and a team-player

(c) A bully, a racist and a show-off

(d) To be a winnable candidate, a prerequisite is HONESTY! Those who know me know that most often I played truant. Those who are close to me know that I am a winnable lallang and have an innate instinct to play to win! Ask my estranged parents and siblings! Without a doubt they will certify this.


10. In your opinion, what qualities should a good politician have?

(a) Ability to listen and empathise

(b) Good at problem solving

(c) Ability to tell lies and put on two faces

(d) Run when the going is good. I don’t want to be like that Klang railway gatekeeper who built a mansion and died in 2008 without enjoying occupancy.


How did you do?

Mostly As: Oops. You are honest, fair and enterprising and should choose another profession.

Mostly Bs: Very good, but you haven’t got quite what it takes to be a politician. You need to brush up on your political awareness. In the meantime, you would make a good political adviser. Try again for GE14.

Mostly Cs: Congratulations! BN need look no further and Najib Abdul Razak will award you a nice shiny medal.

If you perform, there will be a mega-contract or two for being smart enough to know what is required of you, but dumb enough to think your political role is important.

( I will leave my Ds to Mariam’s wise judgement and assessment! Am I forgiven Mariam….forgive lah, I also Perak mali, Taiping lang and an eco-warrior too!)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Didn't Quite Himpun After All

Target: 1 million
Achievement: 5000

A bit off the mark, I'd say -- I guess Harussani Zakaria (who eventually didn't show up, according to some quarters), Ibrahim Ali and Hasan Ali aren't exactly crowd-pullers.

I've been hearing conflicting reports about the purpose of HIMPUN. The overriding sentiment is that it was to protest the proselytisation of Muslims by the Christians, and it was consequently branded as being anti-Christian.

According to a report in FMT, "Many of the younger crowd [] emphasised that they were not out to start a fight with anyone and only wanted to play a part in strengthening their faith."

I personally can't gauge how, but assume we take their words at face value.

Does that mean that this rally had no element of protest at all? Was it the Muslim equivalent of an evangelical revival?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

On The Topic Of English In Education

I like this kid.

She tells Najib exactly what the problem is.

Click on image to enlarge

Good for her. There is no reason why her formal education should be ruined just because of Malaysian politics.

That being said, I do commend her personal education -- i.e. her upbringing by the parents -- as they have evidently taught her to speak up for herself.

That is something to be proud of indeed.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Got an issue? Then sort it out, folks! Have a walk, have a rally, wave some banners, scream your lungs out if you have to.

That is democracy. Of course, it has no place in this country, because Malaysia is not a democracy.

This HIMPUN has more issues than Lindsay Lohan, frankly.

Like Lindsay Lohan, HIMPUN seems incapable of taking itself seriously. In a country where Muslims are the majority, it seems a little redundant (and bizarre if I may) when they claim to be the victims.

Especially when the world knows what Malaysia is really like. I have blogged repeatedly over the body-snatching incidents by Muslims. It makes you wonder what kind of people would try to grab dead bodies.

It's even on BBC: Malaysia burial row fuels tension

Interestingly, PAS (Islamic party of Malaysia) has distanced itself from this HIMPUN rally. I would have expected that this would be a rallying cry for them as they are the pro-Islamists.

Most of the Opposition politicians have also looked away. This, ironically, seems to be a pro-UMNO movement.

I see sense in the words of AkuMelayuIslam:

Saya cadangkan dua juta umat Islam berhimpun bagi mengatasi masalah perangai orang Islam sendiri, seperti suka fitnah, rasuah, lucah, boros, malas, menipu, hiburan berlebihan, pergaulan bebas, buang bayi, rempit, dadah, berpecah, tolak hukum Allah, dan lain-lain. Masalah ini dihadapi oleh berjuta juta umat Islam.

Ini lah masalah sebenar yang dihadapi umat islam sekarang, bukan dikristiankan yang melibatkan mungkin beberapa ratus orang. Wassalam.

For a moment, it almost seems that Muslims can be level-headed. I wouldn't hold it against them. I suppose when you're distracted and bubble-brained like Lindsay Lohan, you do the strangest things.

That being said, I don't know why Bishop Paul Tan is getting agitated (since he is pretty smart, if a little verbose).

“Judging from the campaign waged by some sections of the mainstream media and blogs you would think Muslims in Malaysia in droves are being covertly converted to Christianity,” Bishop Tan said.

“This is only true in the fevered imagination of the Harussani Zakarias’ of this country and not anywhere else,” added the bishop.

(Harussani Zakaria is the Perak mufti who has periodically raised the alarums about Christianization of Muslims in Malaysia.)

“In all the history of Muslim-Christian relations since independence I have never seen a government so casual and so irresponsible as to allow the fabrications this man has visited on the general population go by with impunity,” lamented the prelate.

One of the speakers at the Himpunan Sejuta Umat this weekend is Harussani Zakaria.

Ah yes :-) Harussani Zakaria -- a man of limited talents and multiple grouses. Watch him incite ill-feelings and racial hatred.

I guess it remains to be seen how many Muslims would take up this "cause".

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Foreign Woman Hurt In Police Raid

A reader alerted me to the news of this foreign national who was bullied by the authorities: Woman: I was hurt in raid

As usual, this goes to show that the police have free reign to do as they please. They evidently violated procedure when:

1. The police were not in uniform
2. The police did not state the reason of the arrest to the suspect as is stipulated in the procedure
3. The police acted violently
4. The police did not give medical attention to the injuries sustained

In my opinion, everything falls neatly and squarely into the lap of this Chinese national. She was wrongly treated -- pure and simple.

However, I see something wrong in this.

Why did the husband pay RM2,000 to have his wife released? Was it legal? Or was it under-the-counter as usual?

Then I see a purpose for these illegal raids. They are to help these policemen make money from bribes.

University Suspends Professor Aziz Bari

There are probably less than 5 decent law lecturers in this god-forsaken country.

I know two of them -- Aziz Bari of International Islamic University and Azmi Sharom of University Malaya.

As of a few hours ago, I apparently only know one, because Aziz Bari has been suspended indefinitely.

He is one of the few gentlemen and civil servants that have the gumption to speak up against blatant government practices and injustices.

According to a source, Aziz is accused of "making statements that run contrary to the interest of the university" as stated in the show-cause letter issued to him.

The issue is pure and simple -- he has given support to the BERSIH 2.0 movement.

So the UMNO government is unhappy, and possibly enraged about that and wants his head on a platter.

But they are picking a fight, not with one man, but a host of angry students that he has worked with.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Italians And Malaysians Are Very Different

You know what? Maybe we should sick some Italian protesters onto the Malaysian police. That'll teach them a lesson or two about violence and brutality.

Even the Australians would never put up with what we Malaysians mildly accept. If a policeman dare abuse or injure any peaceful protester, he'd better have a will drawn up and signed.

Trust me, he would be torn into pieces over a stunt like that in Australia, and most likely in Italy as well.


Hundreds of hooded, masked protesters rampaged through Rome in some of the worst violence in the Italian capital for years Saturday, torching cars and breaking windows during a larger peaceful protest against elites blamed for economic downturn.

Police repeatedly fired tear gas and water cannon in attempts to disperse them but the clashes with a minority of violent demonstrators stretched into the evening, hours after tens of thousands of people in Rome joined a global "day of rage" against bankers and politicians.

A demonstrator celebrates as a Carabinieri police vehicle burns during a demonstration of the "Indignant" group in Rome on Saturday.

Smoke rose over many parts of the neighborhood between the Colosseum and St John's Basilica, forcing many residents and peaceful demonstrators to run into buildings and churches for shelter as militant protesters ran wild.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Occupy Dataran

Oh ye Malaysians at Dataran Merdeka on 15th October? You rock.

Heck, the gathering in KL may not have been as big as the few thousands in New York, Rome, Auckland or Spain but the spirit was there -- and for that, I salute you!

No prizes for guessing that they were broken up by the police, but it looks like our fellow freedom fighters all over the world didn't have it easy either.

A little bit of police brutality isn't going to stop us. In fact, that is one of the biggest drivers in spurring people to get involved as well. It certainly worked for the Wall Street occupants! :-)

Related: Beautiful humans embodying the spirit of joy and freedom...

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Indignant Around The World

There was a time last year when I considered the Americans to be one of the most stupid bunch of homo sapiens to inhabit the planet.

After all, it was their economy that was the most erratic, and their corporate investors that needed the most bailing out -- and all through tax-payer funds.

Make no mistake, this was money that belonged to the people, being used to finance a very select group of people who expected to be getting huge bonuses even while others had no jobs and nothing but a bleak future on the horizons.

But not a single American protested. They were silent, in spite of the federal takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which had given loans out indiscriminately to those who couldn't afford to pay them back.

That wasn't so bad.

What was worse: the bailouts of AIG, Merrill Lynch etc. The heads of these corporations were those appointed to be CEOs of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

The irony.

Somehow this year, and to be more specific, THIS MONTH, a group of Americans decided to occupy Wall Street instead. Literally.

They have been camping out at Liberty Plaza Park (outside Wall Street) for over 2 weeks.

This is in spite of the threats by New York's mayor, Bloomberg, who himself has significant share in the nation's wealth through his media corporation.

There were numerous clashes with the US police (not unlike the Malaysian ones who inflict pain and injury for no reason) but the protesters stood their ground.

I have only one word for them:


Since then, others from different countries have woken up to their plight of being used by the 1% who control the billions of dollars.

In solidarity with the Americans, about 951 cities were supposed to see non-violent demonstrations. Not all of the cities participated, but a huge number did.

And so, from Europe -- in Germany, Italy, England, Sweden, Portugal, Spain .....

..... to Asia Pacific -- in South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia .....

..... and not to mention Canada, people have stood up to protest. Hell yeah, they have!!

Even Wikileaks has gotten involved:

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange spoke to 500 demonstrators outside St. Paul's cathedral in London.

"The banking system in London is the recipient of corrupt money," he said, adding that Wikileaks would launch a campaign against financial institutions in the coming months.

And in Australia, we appear to have our unwitting representative from Malaysia in the form of Danny Lim:

Danny Lim, a 67-year-old immigrant from Malaysia, said he moved to Australia 48 years ago in search of opportunities.

Now he no longer trusts the government to look after his best interests. He thinks Australia's government has become too dependent upon the U.S. for direction.

"The big man — they don't care. They screw everyone. Eventually we'll mortgage our children away," Lim said.

I guess running away to some other part of the world will not solve the problem if no one grabs it by the horns. As they say, you can run, but you can't hide.

The young people of today will have to stand up and stop the bullying instead of staying silent and hoping it goes away.

Congratulations, America! You have led the way.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Letter To Refugees

Dear Asian Refugees (presumably from Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka or Iran),

Congratulations for making that treacherous journey by boat to Australia! Unfortunately, that would have been the peak of your success and only the beginning of the consequences of making poor decisions.

When you landed safely on Australian shores, the first people you met were probably the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. They probably glanced at you wearily and sent you off to some refugee holding centre.

While you were waiting in that centre, an agreement was made by the Australian government with its Malaysian counterparts. They wanted to exchange refugees.

If you could only read or hear of this news, you would be horrified. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention. It treats its refugees very badly. It abuses those who try to protect, help and speak out for refugees as well.

Like Irene Fernandez for example, who in 1995, published a report on the abuse of migrant workers, cataloguing the malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse and the appalling conditions and the detention camps where they end up and where many of them die. She was arrested at home and charged with ‘maliciously publishing false news’.

You may say that it happened long ago and that conditions have since improved. You would be very wrong. I recently met this person, who for some reason, has a heart for the downtrodden.

In Malaysia, "downtrodden" could refer to a number of groups, including the rural poor, urban poor, non-Muslims, but it is most significantly applied to the group of people called "refugees".

This acquaintance of mine chanced upon a number of detention camps for refugees and she thinks that Irene Fernandez was grossly understating the conditions. Most of these camps are under the watch of RELA.

RELA is a paramilitary organisation that can only be formed under an Emergency. We are currently under 4 emergency rules which have yet to be lifted. These rules are still being enforced so that it allows the UMNO government more leeway to do things within its discretion.

Unfortunately, there are no rules to govern what RELA can or cannot do, as they are an ad-hoc organisation. They know it, so they pretty much do as they please, including having their way with refugees.

My acquaintance told me that the refugees quake in fear when the RELA members as much as just walk past. If you are unaware of what I am trying to say, please watch the movie, 'The Kite Runner' about life in Afghanistan. It would be an eye-opener to you, though I wager most of you (and not just you, but most Malaysians as well) would come away traumatised.

This acquaintance of mine, if caught, can be charged with aiding and abetting because she brings along food to eat when she pays them a visit.

Don't get me wrong. I know that you refugees do not come about because you're bored. In a previous post, I once said, "Something drastic must have caused these people to flee their homeland. Often it is war. Sometimes it is the tyranny of the tin-pot dictators. People don't become refugees in search of a better lifestyle; they become refugees because they have no other choice."

Sometimes, I really wonder if you did have a choice, to begin with. Why didn't you fight the oppressors in your home country? The biggest group of refugees in Malaysia are the Myanmarese -- the Chins and Rohingyas -- why didn't you do something before you let your country get to that sorry state??

The rest of the world is fighting against their oppressors. In many instances, they are the men in white collars. In other countries, it is the men in military uniforms. The Americans have decided to stop taking it lying down! And consequently, we have the Wall Street Occupation, speaking out against the bullying and thieving done by the white collars.

We Malaysians have woken up as well. We refuse to let the select few rape and plunder.

But this exchange program between the Australian and Malaysian governments are for a reason. They want to naturalise you refugees and give you citizenship and voting rights in exchange for your votes. They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. They, whoever they are, are right indeed.

So for your rights to live and start your new life, you will be violating our rights to a free and democratic government. And frankly, that is what upsets us. It is not your presence here in this country. It is your political role.

And for that reason alone, we don't want you. Nothing personal.


Monday, 10 October 2011

Dinner Lecture 6

Those of you who know of Dr Jeyakumar will know that he is an intellectual. You would do well to come and listen. Besides, at SABM, the food is always good :-)

Just to reiterate:

Date: 22 October 2011 (Saturday)
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Rumah Anak Bangsa Malaysia
66 Lorong Setiabistari 1
Damansara Heights

I'm also curious to hear from Dr Rohana Ariffin.

See you there.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Three Concerns The Budget Doesn't Address

By Dr Jeyakumar

Every year, once the Budget is read by the Finance Minister, the BN sycophants will fall over each other in trying to give a positive spin to it. Tomorrow we will see the same tired phrases repeated in the mainstream papers – “a peoples’ budget”, “a caring budget”, “budget from the heart”, “with goodies for everyone”, and other sugary phrases which are meant to make everyone believe in the benevolence of the BN government.

Sure there are some points that are positive – the abolishment of all school fees for example which though is only about RM 200 per student, will give real relief to the 40% of families whose total monthly income is less than RM2300. The allocation of RM 100 million each for Tamil Primary Schools, Chinese Primary Schools and Religious Schools will be of great help to these partly aided schools. And there are several other examples like these.

However an objective assessment of a national budget has to go deeper than this. You just can’t juxtapose a few goodies for disparate sectors and use that to argue that it’s a great budget! A National Budget is a blueprint detailing how the Government of the day plans to tackle the main economic problems facing the nation.

So, what are the main economic problems facing the nation? I think that there are 3 main ones:–

1. There is a real possibility of a serious recession in the next 12 months. The sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the USA may precipitate this. How would this affect us, a nation that exports almost 60% of what we produce? How should we prepare ourselves for such an eventuality?

2. Liberalization of the economy and the reliance on the free market to supply basic necessities such as health care, water, education and housing has led to financial hardships of the 80% of families earning less than RM 5300 per month. How do we address this problem?

3. The leakages are enormous. Many government procurements are at prices that are up to 3 times their actual market value. The development budget is about RM 45 billion, and the allocation for supplies and services is another RM 30 billion. At a conservative guesstimate that half of this money will go to the pocket of cronies through over-priced contracts and quotations, the country will be losing RM 37.5 billion in the course of 2012. (To put this amount in proper perspective – the total budget for the Selangor State Government for 2010 was less than RM 1.5 billion!)

Sad to say, none of these crucial issues are addressed in this budget.

The Government planners seem oblivious to the possibility of a recession. They talk glibly sound fundamentals, of robust growth in India and China without taking into account that a 8% growth of a GDP of US 1.5 trillion (India) and US 3.3 trillion (China) is not enough to counter a drop of 4% in the US GDP (US 12 trillion) and the combined GDP of the EU which is of a similar magnitude! And in any case, China’s and India’s growth also depends to a certain extent on exports to the US and the EU, so their growth rates will also be brought down by a recession in the West!

There are several things we can do to cushion the effect of a serious recession – one would be to quickly implement the Retrenchment Fund that the MTUC, PSM, JERIT and other labour groups have been asking for. Another would be to put off expensive infrastructure works and keep those funds aside to ensure that the basic need of the rakyat are met perhaps through issuing food stamps in event there are people who cannot find re employment for some months.

As for the issue of liberalization – it appears that Najib and his planners have no doubts in their mind, although ordinary people the world over are coming out to protest neo-liberal policies. The liberalization of another 17 service subsectors was announced in the budget, including private hospitals. Now a foreign company can set up a private hospital in Malaysia. The fact that this will accelerate brain drain and weaken the government sector on which 75% of our population depend on seems to have been deemed unimportant by our Finance Minister!

And as for the issue of plugging leakages there is nothing but lip service and a whole set of acronyms such as “SRI”, “GTP” and “ETP” among others, which do not seem to have reduced the pilfering of public funds significantly. There do not seem to be any new believable initiatives in the 2012 Budget to stem the hemorrhage of public funds.

The 2012 Budget fails to address the crucial economic issues facing the nation. This can only mean one thing – those entrusted with the stewardship of this country and its economy, are certainly not up to mark! Its high time they are replaced!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What TIME Has To Say About Najib And Malaysia

I like how Malaysians are being seen a positive light. Before, we were the pathetic cowards, but not any longer! :-)

In fact, while the journalist at TIME concedes that Malaysia will be no Arab Spring, others ask Najib if he would like another Tahrir Square.

Anyway, an excerpt from TIME below:

Southeast Asians have at least two things in common. First, they all know what it's like to live under authoritarian regimes and rulers. The latter range from brutal autocrats (Burma's recently retired General Than Shwe) to self-styled strongmen (Cambodia's Hun Sen) to leaders who benefit from repressive laws that safeguard the predominance of a single party (Malaysia's Najib Razak).

Second, Southeast Asians are bone weary of authoritarianism, and increasingly unafraid to say so. There is a growing demand for accountability and good governance that the region's elites and demidespots ignore at their peril. To call it a Southeast Asian Spring is an exaggeration. But the movement is youthful and social-media-savvy, and could precipitate changes just as profound as those in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Najib, who casts himself as a moderate, seems to realize this. His party, the United Malays National Organization, leads the National Front coalition, whose decades-old grip on power has sparked protests for electoral reform. In July police violently dispersed what should have been a peaceful rally by some 50,000 members of Bersih 2.0, a group campaigning for free and fair elections. (Bersih means clean.) Protesters used Twitter and YouTube to organize the rally and, later, undermine claims that the police acted with restraint.

On Sept. 15, his reformist credentials in shreds, Najib promised to scrap the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows police to detain suspects indefinitely, along with the much abused Emergency Ordinance. He also vowed to loosen media restrictions and review the laws on freedom of assembly. It's hard to know whether he will keep his promises. But emboldened Malaysians will hold him to them, either at the polls — an election must be held by 2013 — or on the streets.

Read the rest at: The Fire Next Time by Andrew Marshall.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Himpunan Hijau (Anti-Lynas Demonstration)

The folks in Kuantan are not taking it lying down.

Date: 9 October 2011
Time: 6:00am to 9:00am (yes, you read right -- it's early)
Venue: Taman Gelora, Kuantan

Join them if you can. It is your future as well.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ong Boon Hua Wants To Come Back

Well, few people know him as Ong Boon Hua. Everyone knows him as Chin Peng.

He's on his last days -- after all, he is 86 and some of the activities he was up to in his youth weren't exactly conducive for good health and longevity.

The dude is hospitalised in Bangkok because the authorities refuse to let him in.

Apparently, "his return would upset many Malaysians who lost their loved ones during the communist insurgency." Or so says the BN government, which is really no better than Chin Peng's party, if you want my honest opinion.

The true reason the government refuses to let him in, I suspect, are as follows:

After independence, Chin Peng continued to fight the Malaysian government. But with the dragnet closing in on his jungle hide-outs and his Marxist-Leninist campaign losing steam, he fled to China in 1960. From there, he went to southern Thailand with hundreds of fighters loyal to him.

Malaysia signed a peace treaty in 1989 with the insurgents, but persistent suspicion among authorities about communist ideologies prevented Chin Peng from ever coming back.

Chin Peng began a court battle in 2005 to force the government to allow him back into Malaysia. The country’s top court eventually ruled he cannot return unless he first produces birth and citizen certificates, which his lawyers say were lost after being seized by British authorities in the 1940s.

Read the whole article at Exiled former Malaysian communist leader in coma in Thailand; relatives fear he’s dying