Archive for September, 2009

I want you back, Ibrahim

Well, that seems to be the sentiment expressed by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad upon learning that the controversial politician Ibrahim Ali had been asked to resign his Pasir Mas parliamentary seat by Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

See here for the full story.

That familiar school of thought in Bagan Pinang

Some people apparently still believe that it’s appropriate and kosher to hand over ‘gifts’ to the ordinary folks prior to a by-election. And so we have no less than the Deputy Prime Minister promising two new schools in the state constituency near Port Dickson.

An excerpt from The Malaysian Insider:

PORT DICKSON, Sept 28 – Less than 24 hours before the announcement of the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the construction of two new schools in the state constituency.

One new primary school, costing RM18 million, will be built at Taman Intan Perdana, situated some 15 kilometres from Port Dickson town centre.

The deputy prime minister said in his speech at the new school’s ground-breaking ceremony cum Hari Raya open house that he has been receiving requests from the locals for a new secondary school.

Muhyiddin added that a new secondary school costing RM20 million will also be built once a suitable site is found.

Journalism of the (de)pressing type

Mainstream Berita Harian yesterday came up with an editorial that can only be interpreted as taking one step backwards in its social responsibility and journalistic standards.

It called for tough action by the authorities against whistleblowers, particularly the person(s) who leaked the Cabinet paper on the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) issue.

This call was made apparently in lieu of doing some investigative journalism into the alleged financial scandal that revolves around PKFZ for some time now.

The editorial obviously did not see the need to question the possible misuse of the Official Secrets Act in cases such as this one that involves huge amounts of taxpayers’ money.

Here’s an excerpt of that editorial:

PENYIARAN dan penyebaran Kertas Kabinet mengenai isu Zon Bebas Pelabuhan Klang (PKFZ) dalam satu laman web amat membimbangkan kerana dokumen 18 muka surat itu diklasifikasikan sebagai sulit mengikut Akta Rahsia Rasmi (OSA). Bagaimana dokumen bertarikh 22 Jun 2007 atas rujukan KK/BPKA/D5 (Y)540/1/1 dikatakan sebagai Memorandum Daripada Menteri Kewangan berhubung PKFZ boleh disebarkan tanpa rasa takut oleh pihak berkenaan termasuk pemilik web berkenaan. Justeru, siasatan polis pastinya menjurus kepada siapa yang mengeluarkan dokumen sulit kerajaan itu daripada failnya selain mereka yang menyiar dan menyebarkannya. Niat mereka yang terbabit membocor, menyiar dan menyebarkan dokumen ini juga mesti diperhalusi sedalam-dalamnya. Siapa dalang di belakang mereka? Apakah habuan yang mereka dapat? Semua pihak terbabit mesti dikenakan tindakan tegas dan keras. Ini sebagai membuktikan kerajaan serius menangani ketidakjujuran kakitangan atau pegawai perkhidmatan awam ataupun individu yang sanggup membocorkan maklumat rahsia kerajaan atas pelbagai dorongan serta kepentingan. Jentera perkhidmatan awam yang terikat dengan ikrar menyimpan rahsia sepatutnya bersikap ‘biar pecah di perut asalkan jangan pecah di mulut’. Pepatah ini turut membawa maksud, menyimpan rahsia kerajaan adalah keutamaan yang perlu dijunjung sepanjang masa oleh setiap anggota perkhidmatan awam termasuk apabila bersara. Jika dokumen sulit kerajaan seperti itu boleh tersebar mudah, dibimbangi pihak tidak bertanggungjawab ini juga sanggup menjual rahsia sulit kerajaan yang lain. Jadi, perkara ini tidak wajar dianggap remeh dan mudah. Tindakan paling tegas perlu diambil terhadap individu atau mereka yang membocorkan rahsia kerajaan itu termasuk pemilik laman web itu.

Eid Mubarak

(Photo credit: jcmc.org/wordpress/?paged=2)

Wishing fellow Muslims a blessed and happy Eid.

Selamat Hari Raya Idilfitri. Maaf zahir dan batin.

 

Civil society celebrates Malaysia Day

Civil Society’s Malaysia Day Message

2009-09-16

New Nationalism: Freedom with Empowering Peace

We the undersigned civil society organizations believe that Malaysia must renew our national independence after Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak were brought together to become a new nation 46 years ago.

Following a series of saddening and outraging developments since the last Malaysia Day, we feel strongly the need for a new discourse of nationalism that denounces political violence and pursues empowering peace.

Diversity and dissent are signs of real independence

We fully appreciate the complexity of Malaysia in ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, regional, socio-economical, gender, lifestyle and physical terms. We therefore do not pretend that there is a single Malaysia that would meet the expectation and aspiration of every Malaysian.  We are proud with our own vision for the nation and at the same time respect those of others.

We see the differences in preferences and opinion of how this country should move forward as both inevitable and desirable – inevitable because we are free to choose; and  desirable because we have plenty alternatives to consider. Diversity and dissent in public opinion are beautiful signs of real independence.

We believe, however, every Malaysian, politician and voter alike, must sign up to one common position: the elimination of political violence.

Political violence threatens our independence

Political violence refers to actions that aim to achieve certain political goals by causing harm to others or subduing them with violence. This must not be confused with legitimate exercise of freedom of speech, assembly and association where violence is not preached, threatened and executed.

More than violation of peace, political violence is exploitation of the physically weak and outnumbered. It deprives the victims of political violence their right to participate in public affairs and prevents the emergence of an inclusive outcome through the use of reason.

In fact, political violence is at the core of colonialism as it was the very means how colonial rule was imposed on us. National liberation is in this sense meaningful only when all citizens are free from further colonization of violence and may exercise freedom and reason in running their public life.

Four principles of Empowering Peace

In this regard, peace associated with fear that inhibits us from full participation in public affairs is but pseudo peace.  

True peace must be empowering and inclusive to allow all Malaysians to contribute to and enjoy the national life. True peace requires rule of law and protection of human rights. It is therefore political, but in no way partisan.

We call upon every Malaysian citizen and organization, especially the politicians and political parties, to sign up to the following principles:

1.  Zero tolerance for violence as a political means

Civilized life requires restrain and self-control. Conflicts should be solved through dialogues, deliberation, debates or litigation. There must be zero tolerance for the use, threat or incitement of violence as a political means, regardless of circumstances or subject matters.

In this sense, the perpetrators of the cow-head protest should be charged for incitement of violence, not sedition or illegal assembly. The thugs who threatened to rape Rodziah Ismail and to murder Khalid Samad, the elected representatives in Shah Alam, must be investigated and prosecuted for criminal intimidation. The threat of sexual violence, a common trait in many communal conflicts, is especially alarming and absolutely intolerable.

2.  Fighting Hatred with Reason

Hatred exists in every society and can only be effectively eliminated by reason, not law. Given a vibrant public sphere, the flaws of hate speeches can be exposed and the perpetrators shamed. Legal suppression only weakens the society’s resistance to hatred by removing the need for intellectual rigour and moral courage to confront bigotry.

The latest harassment of Malaysiakini by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for featuring video-clips of the cow-head protest and the Home Minister’s press conference justifying the act is not only violating freedom of expression, but also protecting violence from public shaming.

3. The State’s Duty to Protect Political Participation

The state which monopolizes the legitimate use of violence should exist only to protect citizens from private violence, not to inflict more violence than necessary. The state’s coercive power therefore must never be used against peaceful political activities. Instead, the state has the duty to protect political participation.

Instead of arbitrarily arresting over 160 1BLACKMalaysia protesters, lawyers on duty, 589 Anti-ISA protestors and bystanders, the anti-PPSMI, Kampung Buah Pala and Hindraf protesters, and using unnecessary violence, the police should have only controlled traffic and maintained order. After all, the validity of the protesters’ causes should be judged by the citizen, not the police or the Executive.

4. Upholding Elected Government

The threat of political violence is greatest when political elites resort to means other than elections to attain power. Democracy is the only guarantee for political stability and peace. Politicians and political parties must therefore do their best to win elections honestly, not usurping power after elections. Otherwise, democratic breakdown may lead to coups or revolutions.

The Perak coup has seen an elected government being overthrown by a host of unelected institutions including but not limited to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Election Commission (EC), the Judiciary, the bureaucracy and the police. The partisan investigation of MACC in Selangor amidst the Barisan Nasional’s express wish to takeover the state had led to the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the first of a state official in the custody of a federal agency.  If there is no firmed commitment from both sides of the political divide to democracy, the next election may see the military being the next unelected institution dragged into political struggle.

On the auspicious birthday of Malaysia, which should have been made a national holiday 46 years ago, let us all vow to make empowering peace the basis of public life of our nation so that all of us may enjoy real freedom.

 The signatories:

1.      1BLACKMalaysia Facebook Page and Group

2.      Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)

3.      All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)

4.      Amnesty International Malaysia

5.      Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

6.      Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

7.      Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS)

8.      Civil Rights Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)

9.      Civil Society Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG-CSC)

10.  Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI@Parliament)

11.  Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth Network

12.  Durham Malaysian Scholars

13.  Gabungan Bertindak Mahasiswa Utara(GBMU)

14.  Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)

15.  Institut Kajian Dasar (IKD)

16.  Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL), Sibu

17.  Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)

18.  Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS)

19.  Jawatankuasa Penduduk Zon 23 MPSJ

20.  Justice for Beng Hock Facebook Page and Group

21.  Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section (KLSCAH-YS)

22.  Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)

23.  Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)

24.  Malaysian AIDS Council

25.  Malaysian Indian Development Association 

26.  Middle Eastern Graduate Centre (Magc)

27.  Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)

28.  Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)

29.  National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI)

30.  Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)

31.  Pahlawan Volunteers

32.  Partners of Community Organisations, Sabah (PACOS)

33.  Penang Du Zhong Education Society

34.  Penggerak Belia Zon 23 MPSJ

35.  Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor

36.  Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)

37.  Persatuan Meditasi Projan KL & Selangor

38.  Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah Seri Kembangan

39.  Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)

40.  Sarawak Central Region Friendship Association

41.  Semparuthi Iyakkam

42.  Sisters in Islam (SIS)

43.  Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

44.  Tenaganita

45.  The Micah Mandate (TMM)

46.  The People’s Parliament

47.  TONIBUNG (Friends for Village Development), Sabah

48.  Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

49.  Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI)

50.  Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

In case we forget

In case we, particularly Peninsular Malaysians who are so used to celebrating Merdeka in a big way, forget, today is Malaysia Day.

Today marks the 46th annivesary of the formation of the federation of Malaysia.

Insider hacked

(Photo credit: forum.mamboserver.com/showthread.php?t=85966) 

The Malaysian Insider has been hacked.

When you click on the website, you get these words: ‘Tribute to MalangSial’.