December 12th

These blog posts are thinning out to say the least, partly because I'm busy, and partly because I've already said a lot of things I wanted to. Which is better, repeating yourself endlessly, or staying silent once you've said your piece?

Quote of the Week

  • "This house has been far out at sea all night, |The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills, |Winds stampeding the fields under the window |Floundering black astride and blinding wet |Till day rose; then under an orange sky |The hills had new places, and wind wielded |Blade-light, luminous black and emerald, |Flexing like the lens of a mad eye." - Ted Hughes, Wind

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Musings

A series of random thoughts, in no particular order, that I may one day expand. Until then, have a think about them.

On integration and freedom to be different:
Do we separate different groups, then expect them to come together, or do we bring them together, then let them express their uniqueness in their own ways?

On social classes:
How can we tell a boy that because he was born to a poor man, he would not have access to tertiary education, medical treatment, healthy food, and a house?

On global warming:
How can we save the earth when we are told to buy as many things that our income allows?

On socialism:
How do you tell a manager he will get the same pay as his cleaner?

On non-conformism:
Everybody's doing it - so aren't they all conforming to being rebels?

On starvation:
There are more obese people than there are starving ones, and we produce enough grain to feed the world 1.5 times over. Why hasn't the problem been solved?

On politics:
Politicians are civil servants, and every civil servant's job is to serve the people. So why don't they?

On musicians:
They are just like us, but they got left behind on one genre while the rest of us moved on.

On genetic engineering:
When everyone is engineered to look like Christiano Ronaldo and Jessica Alba, who would we get to play movie characters?

On GDP:
If I paid a billion dollars for holes to be dug and filled up again, I would still be contributing to GDP, but would I be doing anything useful?

What I hope BERSIH has achieved

On the eve of the BERSIH march, the government quakes in terror and the people chatter excitedly about a change in the wind. The march was far from ideal, but it greatly raised hopes at a time when morale is in short supply.

However, BERSIH’s demands (even if met) still do not address certain key issues that have been dogging Malaysian politics for a time, chiefly, the ability of the Alternative Front to effectively replace the existing coalition, and clean up its mess at the same time.

One glaring issue is that the opposition camp doesn’t provide a realistic alternative to BN in the long run. People are apprehensive of the fundamentally Islamic PAS, distrustful of the DAP with its leadership passed down from father to son, and confused about the intentions of PKR, itself led by a former UMNO strongman and would-be-Prime Minister. These allies of convenience, each with fundamentally different objectives and party demographics, will likely fall upon each other the moment BN is defeated – and since each party recruits from a particular race, they may just come to resemble UMNO and its sisters the MCA and MIC. We may change the leaders on top, but there is a risk that the existing racism and cronyism will continue to exist.

Of course, there is also the issue of how well the government manages the country, and whether these parties will be able to do so with so much endemic corruption is up to the reader to decide. One thing is for sure, this author does not trust any politician with their hand in the cookie jar to be completely honest. With an anticorruption agency, a police force and a judiciary that have sold themselves to the highest bidders, significant reforms will have to take place before these checks and balances can function effectively again.

There is also the possibility, however remote, that a party or individual from the alternative camp may defect to the BN camp, bringing vital parliamentary seats along with it – which is precisely what happened in 1969. For all its intentions at its formation, Parti Gerakan Rakyat was ultimately reduced by years of cronyism and corruption into becoming just another BN lapdog – a legacy hardly worthy of its good beginnings.

From behind both camps looms the invisible hand of Dr Mahathir – how deeply he is involved with this particular event, and what exactly his intentions are, can only be speculated. At the moment, his actions appear to be benefiting the people by exposing the corruption of the existing government – what he would do in the future is anybody’s guess.

One thing is certain – there must be some sort of check and balance to the politicians, a system which the people themselves can use when the interests of the government no longer mirror those of the people. The question then, is what kind of system needs to be formed, and how should it go about its activities?

Actually the system could be quite simple – a group that could organise people to hold demonstrations, marches or, simply, a general strike, would be enough to give pause to any government official. All that is really needed is a good grassroots movement, a number of people who are concerned enough to spend a day or two at a march. From this base would come others who disseminate information, who provide ideas and suggestions, who have transport, who know how to maintain order. And once the numbers build up to the thousands, people, not governments, will have control of their lives.

In Britain, this system appeared in the form of trade unions, which demanded for rises in living standards, minimum wages, etc. The legacy today is that when the government does something unpopular, the people have the power to hurt the government where it counts – in its pockets. When Margaret Thatcher introduced a poll tax, millions – literally millions – of people refused to pay – and this led to the tax being repealed. When Britain planned to invade Iraq, two million marched through London to protest. That is one out of every thirty British. Remarkable.

How soon will a movement like this form in Malaysia? Sadly, it appears that most Malaysians have not even contemplated the idea –the banning of trade unions, the University and University Colleges Act, the mainstream media and the education system have been carefully designed to discourage people from being active in politics, and even from learning about it – which has left the Malaysian grassroots charred and barren - until the BERSIH march.

I do not expect the current administration to conduct electoral reforms – judging from the responses by some of our leaders, it will not – nor do I expect Barisan Alternatif to make a flying leap into the Prime Minister’s office, nor even that the government will begin to make concessions to the people, or even that it will pretend to clean up its image. What I expect, and pray for, is that Malaysians of all skin colours will finally, finally shed their misgivings of race and apathy, and begin to get involved in the running of their own government. And maybe then, we shall finally see the birth of a truly democratic Malaysia.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

BERSIH Demonstration Marred by Immature Government Response

At 3pm on the 10th of November, thousands and thousands of people braved rain, riot police, tear gas, and chemical sprays in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to demonstrate for clean elections.

In an attempt to disrupt the demonstration, the government resorted to using underhanded tricks, up to and including:

  • Declaring the demonstration illegal and threatening to arrest those who would participate
  • Locking down KL city in an attempt to prevent demonstrators from gathering
  • Diverting buses and cars with demonstrators away from the city
  • Closing down monorail exits to prevent demonstrators from entering the city
  • Confiscating T-shirts and banners belonging to demonstrators
  • Bringing weapons to the scene (including sub-machine guns, police helicopters and gas grenade launchers) to intimidate the crowds
  • Video recording individual faces for later identification of demonstrators
  • Infiltrating crowds using plainclothes policemen in order to sew violence and dissent
  • Unprovoked use of tear gas grenades and high-powered chemical hoses
  • Beating and attacking journalists who were recording the scenes, including an international journalist
Despite these, and more, tactics used by our leaders and their cronies, an estimated 40,000 people joined the march. The memorandum was handed to the DYMM Agong, and the crowds then dispersed peacefully.

However, this was not the end of the line for the government and their lackeys, for the police then began indiscriminately attacking and arresting demonstrators who were dispersing. At least 28 protesters were arrested, most of whom were subsequently released.

The government continued to abuse their rights and responsibilities as elected leaders of the people by playing down the demonstration in the Malaysian media, and failing to report at all the cases of unprovoked police brutality.





News clips from Al-Jazeera showing the unnecessary heavy-handedness of the police response.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2007/11/10/malaysia_police_move_to_foil_opposition_rally/

http://www.mysinchew.com/node/2878

http://www.malaysia-today.net/nuc2006/news2007.php?itemid=210

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=28625&l=f3ecc&id=617416275


http://englishsection.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=382&Itemid=1


Power to the People! Bangkitlah Bangsa Malaysia!

Friday, 9 November 2007

A Debate

On RockyBru's blogsite, I challenged a certain anonymous commentator to a debate. If he/she decides to respond, please do so here. All others interested are invited to put forth their arguments, in a civil manner.

Read the details here:
http://rockybru.blogspot.com/2007/11/bloggers-for-peaceful-march.html

Anonymous posts will not be tolerated, at least give yourselves nicknames so that I can separate one anonymous from another. Name-calling, foul language and the like will either be severely criticised or deleted from this blog.

I await your response.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

BERSIH March 10 November 2007 [Updated]



UPDATED THURSDAY 8th NOVEMBER

Apologies for there nto being much content in the above post, I felt that the video speaks volumes about what we need to do.

But to highlight a point, it is the PEOPLE who need to take back the streets. Politicians, even the real ones, can only do so much. Even if all of the opposition showed up, they wouldn't be able to shake things up enough.

When 2,000 marched in Putrajaya, it shook the very foundations of the government.

I can also honestly tell you that when the British government tried to close down a public hospital, twenty thousand showed up to protest - more than the population of the town itself.

Now I want you to come to your own conclusions here: if twenty thousand can show up to protest a hospital being closed in a random town, how many do you think should turn up to demand change in Malaysia, where someone got blown up with C4, police shot two unarmed civilians, petroleum will run out in 10 years and the politicians threaten the deaths of their own citizens?