Saturday, December 3, 2011

A gathering of the National Organisation of Uncouth Morons

David Martin
December 02, 2011

DEC 2 — With the 13th General Elections a day closer with each sunrise, Malaysians are served with a nauseating fare of daily news by major electronic and print media agencies.

It seems that these days, Malaysian lives revolve around that annual gathering of rabid humans in Putra World Trade Centre whose antics would put even simians to shame.

It’s a place where foul language is cheered upon. A place where religious bashing is commonplace. A place where pots and kettles gather to call others black.

It’s a place where one race reigns supreme, not unlike Hitler’s mantra. A place where seeds of hatred are sown, nurtured and watered. A place that reeks of corruption and hypocrisy.

A place where a backdoor minister is angry over dubious goings-on at her hubby’s business venture. A place where warlords of all sorts and sizes gather hoping to find perhaps a scrap in the form of electoral candidacy or senatorships or even cow-rearing projects! Talk about milking moo-lah till the cows come home ...

It’s a place where the gathered are led by a deputy prime minister who is a Malaysian last. A place where a deputy minister accuses a political party of being agents of Christianisation.

A place where the president-cum-PM is a two-faced chameleon in human guise. A PM who espouses a global movement of moderates yet remains silent in suppressing rabid extremism amongst his party comrades.

It is also a place where the average Malaysian see the normally loud, obnoxious, opiniated leaders of the minor parties in the coalition sitting impassively, almost disinterested at the charged up proceedings.

It’s interesting to note the “Mr Nice Guy” and “Mr Cheated on My Wife and Got Caught With Pants Off” presidents of two components parties keeping their zip (not pants) shut despite the obvious racial and religious bigotry on show. If they should ever contemplate an alternative career, I’m sure co-authoring “An Idiot’s Guide to Being A Yes Man” would set them up for life.

Umno is not at a political crossroads. It’s facing execution and with it annihilation in the next GE. What the leaders are trying to do lately is akin to trying to gain a last-second reprieve from the powers-to-be for them to live, to fight another day.

I happened to catch the animated movie “A Bug’s Life” recently. For the uninitiated, it revolves around an ant named Flik who tries hard to fight off a bunch of grasshoppers.

Now these grasshoppers, they’re bullies. They take what they want from the ants without regard, not unlike a government that steals from its people to line its own pocket.

Now, as with most movies, it had a happy ending. Flik makes the colony realise that despite their smaller size, they have the numbers. Needless to say, the grasshoppers get their comeuppance with their leader getting a good blast up the backside.

The people, citizens of Malaysia, must realise that the power is in their hands. You and me, we decide who leads the country and in which direction it is to be led towards.

The time for reckoning is close at hand. The time has come for Malaysians to say enough is enough. It is time to show them political simians that we are the arbiters of our nation’s destiny.

Until then, I’m just going to ignore the gathering of the deluded cult comforted in the knowledge that the end is near.

Taken with a liberal dose of cynicism, it does make for a good laugh or two on a rainy, gloomy day, the antics of these idiots ...


BN, withdraw Assembly Bill if you respect rakyat

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) is against the new proposed Bill as it is restrictive, repressive and against freedom of assembly and against freedom of religion, two sacred fundamental rights guaranteed by the federal constitution.

The proposed Bill clearly gives the police and the home minister more powers and is aimed at stifling democratic space.

MCCBCHST is particularly concerned that the new Bill now specifies places where public assembly cannot be held and they include all places of worship, hospitals, train stations, public transport terminals, kindergartens, schools and many others. This proposed provision in the Bill goes against the letter and spirit of Article 11 of the federal constitution which guarantees freedom of religion.

MCCBCHST is also against the following provision in the Peaceful Assemblv Bill 2011, whose title appears to mislead people into not knowing the true nature of amendments:
  • The bill appears to ban all demonstration including peaceful processions, unless approved by the police
  • Notification period of 10 days to police is too long. lt does not recognise the right to spontaneous assembly when an important and urgent issue arise.
  • The removal of the requirement to obtain police permit is illusory as the assembly cannot proceed if Police object. On notification of the proposed assembly, the police are to reply within 10 days listing conditions including whether could proceed. Thus the assemblv is still dependant on police approval
  • lf the police refuse permission, then Bill provides for appeal to Home Minister. This is not acceptable. The appeal should be to the court.
  • Processions and peaceful assemblies should be distinguished from street protests. The Bill must reflect this.
  • The police have been too much power to impose restrictions and set up conditions to hold gathering including duration of event, participant's conduct and cleaning up costs. The Bill also gives the final say to refuse gathering on ground of cultural or religious sensitivity.

While governments all over the world are opening up democratic space, we appear to be back tracking. Even, Burma which has the military junta governing the country, has now passed a "protest bill" which allows citizens to protest peacefully.

The Burma Bill only requires demonstrators to inform authorities five days in advance and advises them to avoid government buildings, hospitals and embassies (The Sun, Nov 25). Our bill is a far cry from this Burma Bill.

We urge the government to listen to the many objections legitimately voiced and earnestly hope that the Bill would not be rushed through our Dewan Negara.

Finally, the MCCBCHST calls on all leaders of all faiths to dedicate every Friday, from December 2 to pray in their respective places of worship that the leaders of our nation have it in their hearts and minds to find the understanding, truth, respect, compassion and most of all, the wisdom, to withdraw the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 and engage all stakeholders.


Friday, December 2, 2011

PSC must adopt all Bersih’s demands

Bersih 2.0 welcomes certain reforms adopted by the interim report of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform. However, based on news report, out of Bersih 2.0’s 8 demands, only one is fully adopted while two others are partially adopted but five other demands have yet to be included. The one demand fully adopted is the implementation of indelible ink.

A demand that is partially addressed is the cleaning up of the Electoral Rolls, whereby a thorough audit of the electoral rolls is proposed but without a long-term mechanism. While the removal of RM10 fee for objection of each new voter is adopted, other proposals by Bersih 2.0 are yet to be addressed. These other proposals are:

a. Automatic voter registration, without which 3.7 million eligible citizens will be disenfranchised.

b. A monthly revision of the supplementary electoral roll instead of the current duration of 3 months to ensure timely inclusion of new voters (with or without automatic voter registration).

c. Supplementary electoral roll should be displayed both online and on location in enable easy access for voters. While the PSC interim report recommends for the display time to be extended from 7 days to 14 days, Bersih 2.0 recommends that display time should be a minimum period of 30 days.

d. Certified principal and supplementary rolls must be open for challenge in court and subject to a transparent process of objection and claim.

e. Setting up of an independent auditing committee to maintain and enhance integrity and accuracy of electoral rolls, rather than leaving the regular power of cleaning up at the end of the Election Commission (EC)

f. Reducing the cost of purchasing electoral rolls to enhance public scrutiny.

The other demand partially adopted is reform of absentee voting. We welcome the extension of such right to all Malaysians living overseas and East Malaysians living in Peninsula Malaysia and vice versa. In relation to absentee voting, we would like the PSC final report to make these specific recommendations:

a. In principle, the current practice of separate ordinary voter and permanent postal voters in the electoral rolls, which makes manipulation and intimidation easy, must end. All voters should be on one roll with the right to apply for absentee voting. Hence, the size of absentee voters will depend on application.

b. The right to absentee voting should encompass all civilian voters who are at least 250 km away from their constituencies on polling day. It is unfair if, for instance, Sarawakians are expected to travel from Miri back to Kuching to vote.

c. Military and police voters should be allowed to register for their home constituencies rather than where they serve, as in the case of overseas voters. Forcing the service voters to vote in constituencies where they serve but have no permanent interests is unfair to both themselves and the locals. For instance, in the last Sarawak state elections, more than 18,000 or 2% strong of the electorate were postal voters. Majority of them were non-Sarawakian soldiers and police, who could be king-makers in marginal constituencies.

d. Postal voting must be abolished for all except overseas voters beyond the reach of our foreign missions. This is to terminate the flawed practice of allowing postal voters to bring home their ballots and return them some time later.

e. Distance voting centres must therefore be set up in all our foreign missions, major towns in every West Malaysian state, every division in Sarawak and every residency in Sabah.

f. We support the proposals of allowing military and police voters to vote in advance but the polling centres for them must be out of their barracks and police stations, and the voting process must be under full scrutiny of party agents.

g. To make absentee voting possible, the campaign period should be extended to a minimum of 21 days or more to ensure adequate time for voters to apply for absentee voting and subsequent logistic preparation.

We note that the PSC has also taken on board other recommendations made by Bersih 2.0 in our submission to the PSC on 12 November 2011 and in the past. These include:

1. Election Commission to be made independent and empowered to enforce election laws

2. Forming a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe into allegations of citizenships being given out in exchange for votes at Sabah

3. Rearranging of desks in polling centres to enable better scrutiny

However, the PSC interim report has yet to respond to five other immediate demands of Bersih 2.0 which are:

1. Setting a minimum campaign period of 21 days

2. Free and Fair Access of Media:

a. Free airtime on state media

b. Televised debate between candidates for Prime Minister and key party leaders

c. Provision for right of reply

3. Strengthening Public Institutions

a. Regulate the conduct of the governments in general or by-elections to ensure impartiality and neutrality, including establishing a Code of Conduct

b. Adopt the practice of an impartial caretaker government

4. Stop Corruption

a. The EC should use its enforcement unit to actively deter corrupt practices and lodge police reports when allegations emerge

b. Vigilant monitoring mechanism for pre- and during elections should be established to detect and prevent corruption including a reporting system to allow for public to report evidences of vote buying

5. Stopping Dirty Politics

a. A Code of Conduct should be established to regulate behaviour of parties and candidates such as the Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates used by the Election Commission of India.

We note that there has been no recommendation made to the issues plaguing the process of constituency re-delineation despite strong representations made by Bersih 2.0 and other citizens. Reforming the current manner of the drawing of boundaries is equally of grave importance in ensuring that each vote is accorded its due value.

Bersih 2.0 is also gravely concerned that the recommendation to remove serial number on ballot papers may create possibility of ballot stuffing. It would be wiser to give ballot papers to voter at random instead of following the serial numbers. This can be done by tearing a few ballot papers at once and letting the voter pick his or her own ballot paper. We call for this recommendation to be withdrawn.

Bersih 2.0 emphasises that the EC and any other relevant government agencies must implement the Bersih 2.0 8 demands and the recommendations made by the PSC without further delay while the PSC prepares its final report. The aspiration to improve democratic processes and to guarantee the basic right to free and fair elections of every Malaysian must be present in the national electoral management body and any other enforcement agencies with a role to play in the electoral process. We hope to hear of no more excuses from the EC, but more action taken towards improving the electoral system.

Bersih 2.0 also calls on the EC and other stakeholders to publish a monthly progress report on the implementation of the PSC recommendations and recommendations made by Bersih 2.0 and other groups.

Finally, Bersih 2.0 reminds the PSC, the EC and the Government that the 8 demands of Bersih 2.0 is the bare minimum to ensure that the 13th General Elections will be reasonably clean and fair. The public will not tolerate any attempts to use the PSC to divert pressure on electoral reform.

Salam Bersih 2.0!

Issued by the steering committee of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) comprising:

Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Farouk Musa, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Subramaniam Pillay, Toh Kin Woon, Wong Chin Huat, Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin.