Message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO–We are all Malaysians


December 23, 2016

Message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNOWe are all Malaysians

by  Sin Chew Daily

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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During the dawn of our nationhood, it could be seen that the leaders of Umno then embraced moderation.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein, Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn all stressed the importance of racial harmony in our multicultural country. Their moderate approach was the primary moving force behind the formation of the Barisan Nasional.

Razak expanded the concept of the Alliance to Barisan Nasional in the hope of building a powerful and united multicultural Malaysia. He nevertheless realised after the May 13 incident that social and economic reforms would never succeed in the absence of social and political stability.

BN was mooted to minimise political tension so that the government could concentrate on the development of this country.

We can conclude from here that the BN spirit was established upon the reality of the country’s plural society. Although the various component parties have been largely race-based, they come together as one under BN for the good of our multiracial country.

Since the inception of BN, we can see that component parties have been able to handle religious and racial matters rather prudently despite differences in their beliefs and thinking, and that they did not sacrifice the interest of the entire nation for their own political gains.

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Unfortunately, recent developments in the country have sounded the alarm bell, and whether the BN spirit can still be carried on will depend very much on the racist and extremist remarks made by some politicians.

Such things have happened before, but what we are worried about is that if things get out of hand, racial polarisation could happen out of the political needs of some quarters. This is something we must not encourage, and it should not happen in the first place.

We can see from the issues arising from the bill proposing amendments to the Shariah Court (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, better known as Act 355, that there are indeed differences in the thinking of Muslims and non-Muslims, and this could further divide our society.Image result for Racism and Najib RazakNot Racist Najib: What we want now are firm and people-first leaders who will listen to the views of all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

We urgently need a strong and firm leader to take charge and deliver the country from the current crisis, not people who will tear our society further apart.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam advised our political leaders, without naming anyone specifically, that only bankrupt politicians use race and religion to gain support.

What he was trying to say is that BN must revert to the erstwhile consultative spirit and the recognition of the fact that the coalition was established upon the reality of the country’s ethnic diversity. The same should apply to non-BN political leaders, too.

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What we want now are firm and people-first leaders who will listen to the views of all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

The so-called bankrupt politicians Musa Hitam mentioned are those who look at things and national development from their narrow monoracial mind frame, overlooking the nation-building principles built upon the basis of our diversity.

Sin Chew Daily is a local vernacular publication

The Conspiracy to save Najib


December 8, 2016

The Conspiracy to Save Najib

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

The Conspiracy to Save Najib

In an extraordinary twist, a new Malaysian website has conflated George Soros, Tony Blair, former US Vice President Al Gore, the “Clinton team,” the aristocratic Rothschild family,  Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy chief Andrew McCabe, former golfing buddy and US President Barack Obama, UK critic Clare Rewcastle Brown and her husband, unnamed individuals from the Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan investment banks, and a flock of locals into elements of a conspiracy “to restructure the East Asian economy and political landscape,” but particularly arrayed against Malaysia and its Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The website, “Malaysia Outlook,” written by the pseudonymous “Third Force,” has printed four exhaustive articles detailing the conspiracy, “a nexus of associations linking key individuals, establishments, institutions and agencies, complicit with global elites to effect regime changes in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

In fact, however, the website appears to be the latest attempt to protect Najib from public scrutiny of overwhelming international evidence of his complicity in the biggest scandal in Malaysian history, the theft of at least US$2.5 billion and perhaps as much as US$4 billion from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the state-backed investment firm that was so disastrously overseen that it is believed to have lost as much as RM50 billion (US$11.316 billion) through theft and mismanagement. An unknown amount of that money allegedly went to finance Red Granite Pictures, the Hollywood entity that produced the blockbuster movie “Wolf of Wall Street. “

The lead investigation is in the hands of the US Justice Department, which in July issued a 136-page document alleging that “over the course of an approximately four-year period, between approximately 2009 and at least 2013, multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including and through U.S financial institutions.

“The funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States, pay gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$100 million in artwork, invest in a major New York development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments.”

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For months, Najib and his cronies in the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, have been attempting to wriggle free from domestic and international charges over the theft of the money.  According to multiple sources in Kuala Lumpur, he has survived as Prime Minister primarily by bribing the 190-odd cadres who determine the leadership of UMNO to keep him in power. UMNO leadership confers automatic status as Prime Minister.

Against devastating articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Sarawak Report, Asia Sentinel and other publications, Najib, who is alleged to have diverted at least US$681 million and perhaps as much as US$1 billion into his own accounts, is believed to have mounted a flurry of online fake new outlets, the best-funded of which appears to be Malaysia Outlook.

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Malaysia Outlook is said to be the brainchild of Habibur Rahman Kadir Shah, an accountant and a long-time associate of Najib Razak.  Habibur was previously an UMNO Youth head in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya when Najib was national youth head.  The two became close friends.

“Najib has given control of running the media hounds to Habibur, who has been at it since Najib became Prime Minister,” said a well-connected political source in Kuala Lumpur. Habibur, in addition to serving as the informal media dictator to the Star, the New Straits Times Press and TV3 – the three most prominent English-language media outlets – is reportedly the controller and paymaster, with Najib’s money, for the bloggers who write for Malaysia Outlook, including Raja Petra Kamarudin, who formerly was a major opposition blogger but who has since joined Najib’s crew.

The key members of the team are said to be Raja Petra Kamarudin, universally known as RPK, as well as Rahmat Haniff, the son of a former Inspector General of Police Haniff Omar , who calls himself seademon, and Sheik Muzzaffar, who writes a blog called bigdogdotcom.  They are said to be paid well to produce what appears to be the very definition of fake news.

In recent weeks, the Malaysian government has raised the ante against opposition figures, briefly jailing Maria Chin Abdullah, the head of the electoral reform organization BERSIH 2.0 (“clean”) and attacking the editor and publisher of Malaysiakini, the country’s most popular independent news website, on allegations they are in the pay of Soros, who is accused of attempting to destabilize the country.

But a close look at the US Justice Department document paints a picture not of an international conspiracy against Malaysia but of a breathtaking campaign to divert billions of dollars out of 1MDB and into the hands of the Prime Minister, known in the document as “Malaysian Official 1” and his family, beginning in 2009 with the diversion of funds into a corporate entity called “Good Star” under the pretense of investing in a middle-eastern oil exploration company called Petro Saudi.

As much as US$1 billon was allegedly diverted into Swiss bank account held by Good Star Ltd., whose beneficial owner was Jho Taek Low, better known as Jho Low, the youthful, rotund Penang-born financial whiz who convinced Najib to set up 1MDB in the first place.

As has been widely reported, billions more were diverted through an entity called Aabar-BVI, which “was created and named to give the impression that it was associated with Aabar Investments PJS,” a legitimate subsidiary of the International Petroleum Investment Company, a state-owned Abu Dhabi investment concern.

And where did the money go? It poured into a stunning assortment of US real estate and other properties. That includes, but was not limited to:

THE L’ERMITAGE PROPERTY, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, California 90210 – better known as L’Ermitage Hotel.

HILLCREST PROPERTY 1, a mansion  at 912 North Hillcrest Road Beverly Hills, owned by a shell company.

PARK LAUREL CONDOMINIUM, real property located in New York, New York owned by Park Laurel Acquisition LLC, a shell company

BOMBARDIER JET: Global 5000 aircraft bearing manufacturer serial number 9265, registration number N689WM.

TIME WARNER PENTHOUSE:  located in New York, New York owned by 80 Columbus Circle (NYC) LLC, a shell company.

ORIOLE MANSION:  real property located in Los Angeles, California, owned by Oriole Drive (LA) LLC, a shell company.

GREENE CONDOMINIUM:  real property located in New York, New York owned by the 118 Greene Street, a shell company.

EMI ASSETS:  including copyright and intellectual property rights, as well as the right to collect and receive any profits, royalties, and proceeds of distribution owned by or owed to JW Nile (BVI), Ltd.; JCL Media, a shell company.

SYMPHONY CP (PARK LANE) LLC ASSETS:  a Delaware limited liability company, owned, held or acquired, directly or indirectly, by Symphony CP Investments LLC and Symphony CP Investments Holdings LLC, shell companies that own the Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South, New York, New York, 10019.

WALKER TOWER PENTHOUSE:  located in New York, New York owned by 212 West 18th Street LLC, a shell company,

LAUREL BEVERLY HILLS MANSION:  located in Beverly Hills, California, owned by Laurel Beverly Hills Holdings, LLC, a shell company.

HILLCREST PROPERTY 2: located in Beverly Hills, California owned by 1169 Hillcrest Road LLC, a shell company.

THE QENTAS TOWNHOUSE:  located in London, United Kingdom, owned by Qentas Holdings Ltd., a shell company.

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Those transactions are reported in exhaustive detail in the US Justice Department’s filing, which is worth reading for its entertainment value if not its educational value for the citizens of Malaysia. If it is fiction constructed to destabilize the country and bring down Najib, it is a far more sophisticated job than The Malaysia Outlook. Then again, the chances are better that it is real.

Does Britain owe reparations to India and other former colonies?


December 5, 2016

Does Britain owe reparations to India and other former colonies?

Shashi Tharoor’s speech to the Oxford Union on whether Britain should pay reparations for colonial-era attrocities went viral online. Photo: AFP

A speech to the Oxford Union by Indian former UN Undersecretary-General Shashi Tharoor appears to have hit a nerve online

By Shashi Tharoor

At the end of May 2015, I was invited by the Oxford Union to speak on the proposition ‘Britain Owes Reparations to Her Former Colonies’. The event, in the Union’s impressive wood-panelled premises, was a success and I left pleased enough, but without giving the proceedings a second thought.

In early July, however, the union posted the debate on the web and sent me a video copy of my own speech. I promptly tweeted a link to it and watched in astonishment as it went viral.

Within hours it was being downloaded and replicated on hundreds of sites, sent out on WhatsApp and forwarded by email. One site swiftly crossed over three million views while others did not keep track, but reported record numbers of hits. Even the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, congratulated me publicly for having said ‘the right things at the right place’. Hundreds of articles were written for and against what I had said. For months, I kept meeting strangers who came up to me in public places to praise my ‘Oxford speech’.

This is why my publishers persuaded me that the arguments outlined in my speech needed to be turned into a substantial book. It has just been published in India and is already the number one bestseller on several lists.

Should a work of engaged amateur history have aroused so much passion? Seventy years after independence, shouldn’t we just forget about the past and move on? Is there still any moral urgency to explain to today’s Indians why colonialism was the horror it turned out to be? A lot of the popular histories of the British Empire in the last decade or two, by the likes of Niall Ferguson and Lawrence James, have painted colonialism in rosy colors, and this needed to be challenged. Historical material is available to everyone who’s willing to look for it, but perhaps, in the rush of modern materialism, we’ve stopped looking.

In three months’ time, the book will also be published in Britain, which has been suffering from a kind of historical amnesia about colonialism. As the book emerged from the press in India, an article by a Pakistani writer in The Guardian pointed out that the Brits simply don’t teach their own schoolchildren the truth about their colonial past. Many Brits are genuinely unaware of the atrocities committed by their ancestors and live in the blissful illusion that the Empire was some sort of benign boon to the ignorant natives.

There’s been a lot of self-justificatory mythologising in Britain about the colonial era. Popular television shows tend to focus only on the romanticised aspects of the Raj. All this explains Britons’ ignorance, but does not excuse it.

British rule deindustrialised India, created landlessness and poverty, drained our country’s resources, exploited, enslaved, exiled and oppressed millions, sowed seeds of division and inter-communal hatred that led to the country’s partition into two hostile states, and was directly responsible for the deaths of 35 million people in unnecessary and mismanaged famines as well as of thousands in massacres and killings. That just skims the surface of the havoc wreaked by British colonialism. The British conquered one of the richest countries in the world and reduced it to one of the poorest. At the beginning of the 18th century, India accounted for 23 per cent of global GDP. When the British left it was down to barely 3 per cent. A country where landlessness and poverty were virtually unknown before the British, found itself at independence with 90 per cent of its population living below the poverty line.

Of course, many see lasting benefits from British rule. But each of these supposed benefits in turn – political unity, democracy and rule of law, the civil services, the railways, the English language, tea and even cricket – was designed to serve British interests and any benefit to Indians was either incidental or came despite the British.

But I don’t in fact ask for reparations, as the Oxford debate did. How do you place a monetary value on all that India suffered and lost under British rule? There’s really no compensation that would even begin to be adequate, or credible. The symbolic pound-a-year I’d suggested would be a nightmare to administer.

Atonement is therefore the best we can hope for. An apology by the British would signal true atonement. Imagine a British prime minister, on the centenary of the notorious Jallianwala Bagh masssacre, apologising to the Indian people for that atrocity and by extension for all colonial injustices – that would be better than any sum of reparations. The British could also teach the harsh truth about colonialism to their schoolchildren instead of allowing them to wallow in romanticised ignorance about their own past misdeeds.

An Indian man takes a photograph of a painting depicting the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The massacre took place on April 13, 1919, when British Indian Army soldiers on the direct orders of their British officers opened fire on an unarmed gathering killing at least 379 men, women and children. Photo: AFP

Yet the book is not intended to have any bearing on today’s Indo-British relationship. That is now between two sovereign and equal nations, not between an imperial overlord and oppressed subjects. Indeed, British Prime Minister Theresa May has just concluded a visit to India seeking investment from here in her post-Brexit economy. You don’t need to seek revenge upon history. History is its own revenge.

 

 

A piece of advice after BERSIH 5.0


November 24, 2016

A piece of advice after BERSIH 5.0

by Azly Rahman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysians, we need to come back to our senses. Our strength will still come from diversity and the respect and cultivation of talent. We should rejoice and celebrate the achievements of this nation for that beautiful concept of unity in diversity; not to organise any rally that spews hatred and invoke the horrors of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.

 

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The recent yellow-shirt 60,000 strong-mass rally in Malaysia, urging cleaner elections and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak ended in both warring parties winning – the protesters got their message across for the fifth time and the government got to test-drive the 2012 Special Offences Act (Sosma), its new anti-terrorist law, for the first time.

The leader of BERSIH (‘Clean’ in Malay), Maria Chin Abdullah, a long-time human rights activist, is now in solitary confinement, detained like a suspected Islamic State (IS) terrorist while investigations on her alleged links with the American intelligence-gathering-legit-government agency, the CIA, are being carried out. Exactly how she is linked will be a puzzle and a mystery, like those of the world-famous money-laundering and high-profile case of the Malaysian 1MDB.

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But the government, as always, is winning. I attribute this perpetual victory to one concept – hegemony. Rousseau and Gramsci have written a lot about this idea of ‘common sense’. The control over Man, machinery, media, and money.

The former Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled Malaysia with an iron glove for 22 years mastered this concept. Today he marches with the BERSIH protesters, outside of the real of hegemony he created, and trying to figure out how to play the game of counter-hegemony and feels what it is like to play with authority.

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Najib learned politics from Mahahtir Mohamed

Ironically, the authority he is trying to bring down was a child of his own creation – his Frankenstein. Or rather, culturally speaking, his Badang. It is a tough and complicating act and one which seemingly has no poetic justice in sight.

Recently, in a US-based publication, I wrote about the representation of the Malays on the eve of the red-shirt-yellow-shirt confrontation:

“ … Aren’t Malaysians tired of seeing the Malays being represented as buffoons, stupid, amok-prone, close-minded, rempits, kris-kissing fools, Ali Baba forty-thieves, rejects, religious fanatics, red-shirts, whatever shirts… it is a clever production and reproduction of the Malay ruling class, both feudal and wannabe-feudal… so that the Jebat aspect of the Malay – the amuck, the wannabe-sultan, the misogynic, the sex-maniac-royal groper and rapist of ancient Malacca, the royal-jet-setting-good-for-nothing-ancient-kings, the hedonistic, the grotesque epicure, the gangster, the absurd – is pushed forward and propagated to strengthen the Tuah aspect – the fool that followed the foolish orders of the foolish and idiotic Malacca sultan, the womaniser-cum-religious leader – the bad hombre of Malay culture – these are the twin representation of the Malays. A laughing stock – the Malays are made to become…” Source here.

So – how now brown cow? What are Malaysians to do after yet another rally? After yet another governmental pounding on the protesters with arrests a la Machiavelli?

The way forward

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Dr. Azly Rahman–An Educator for Peace

As an educator for peace and an advocate of long-haul bloodless revolutions focusing on changing consciousness through education and self-reflection, through living an ethical, morally-compassed, and intelligible life for the collective-good of society, I would suggest the following as a long-term plan for a radical change:

It is better to focus on raising your children well in adjusting to a changing, globalising, and very diversifying Malaysian and global society. We must work harder to improve race relations, be stronger to fight corruption and power abuse, and be more intelligent in designing policies that will benefit the poor, the marginalised and the powerless.

We must teach our children to focus on ways to understand others, improving their English language skills, perfecting their moral compass, encouraging them to think well and good about children of other races and religion, to encourage them to make friends with people of other races, to be grateful that schools offer the great opportunity to love and respect teachers of different races.

Teach them to learn about the dangers of generalising, stereotyping, and projecting hate that would lead to mass deception, to encourage each child to learn about other cultures and religion, and to teach them that all of us in Malaysia are now Malaysians and not this or that group of immigrants.

We all are migrants in time and space and in history and that all of us are human beings with emotions, struggles, challenges, history of joy and despair, memory of pain and pleasure of living, and that all of us are merely of differing skin colour tone and born to speak different languages and to believe in different things about salvation and that we are all travelers in this life.

We cannot allow Malaysia to come to a point in which riots such as those race-based against the police to take root. We cannot allow the Malaysian version of #BlackLivesMatter to be the impetus for urban violence.

We are all these and will not need moments of history where we cultivate hate for the bigger picture of oppression we do not understand. We may all be pawns in this great political game of big-time plunderers and multi-ethnic robber-barons skilled at mass deception and distractions. Today, the level of corruption and the growing cases of mass corruption and power abuse that are going unpunished have made Malaysia a critically ill nation.

We should be grateful that we are still alive and breathe daily and that we must think happily and joyfully like Malaysians in order for each and every one of us to prosper in peace. We cannot travel the path of America in which racism is on the rise and of late especially in places such as Texas, Islamophobia is brewing.

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Malaysians, we need to come back to our senses. Our strength will still come from diversity and the respect and cultivation of talent. We should rejoice and celebrate the achievements of this nation for that beautiful concept of unity in diversity; not to organise any rally that spews hatred and invoke the horrors of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.

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Let us design a safer journey towards a progressive and harmonious Malaysia, beyond for example, the red T-shirt red-river of blood march of some mangled manufactured propaganda of Malay dignity.

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My Thanksgiving wish is to see a saner and more peaceful America as well as Malaysia – two countries I have loved and will continue to love. On that note: Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my fellow Americans!

BERSIH is losing its shine


November 22, 2016

BERSIH is losing its shine

by Scott Ng

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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BERSIH November 2007

BERSIH demonstrators no longer get a lot to show for their patriotism. An album of Facebook photos and a sunburn make for the only souvenirs one can take from the protest. This is a far cry from the first BERSIH demonstrations (2007), when FRU trucks sprayed jets of water and tear gas grenades were chucked into the milling crowd.

Robbed of resistance, the protest merely lingers on the streets, with thousands doing the best they can to listen to barely audible speeches and thousands more just sitting and waiting.

In such a stalemate between the authorities and the protesting elements of society, there is no catalyst to elevate the cause into a reason for a large enough section of society to come out in protest.

One of the interesting stories to come out of BERSIH 5 says that while the majority of Malaysians are in favour of BERSIH and its goals, many are electing to stay home. Another story concerns a former protestor railing against the seeming futility of sitting on hot gravel as politicians puff up their feathers before an audience.

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BERSIH 5.o hijacked by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Opposition Politicians and checked by the Red Shirits

This comes back to the accusation that BERSIH is far too cozy with the opposition, and it’s not a totally unfair judgement. Political parties have been co-opting protest movements since time immemorial and this practice has continued despite increasing distrust of politicians in the Information Age. There is a chicken and egg argument here. Who feeds the rally its core demographic if not those with similar or aligning interests? There is, after all, no point throwing a party if no one attends or knows about it.

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It should be noted that despite the clashes with the Red Shirts, the BERSIH 5 convoy was very important in getting the message out. This is an example of BERSIH’s actual potential. The clashes with the Red Shirts were also essential in creating public sympathy for BERSIH given the unruly behaviour shown on the countless viral social media videos detailing the exploits of Jamal Yunos and his merry men.

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BERSIH 5 can still be considered a success. It is no small achievement to be able to drag tens of thousands into the streets, and with an increased Malay participation this time round, the organisers can say that the protest cannot be convincingly labelled “Chinese”.

But after five iterations and two elections, patience is wearing thin as there seems to be little to no change. Furthermore, in between these five protests, the opposition has been exposed just as flawed as the rest of us.

BERSIH as a movement must now ask itself: What next? Do we march every year till BERSIH 10? It’s not all that far off. It’s just another Najib term away and the voices questioning BERSIH from within its own ranks will only grow in that time if nothing changes. Certainly, Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz’s suggestion that BERSIH enter the political arena may be feasible, but support for the movement will take a blow among those simply sick of politics, and there will be those who will say an entry into politics is merely a mad dash for power.

As great a tool as a protest is, it is clear the BERSIH banner is starting to fray a little at the edges. The movement needs to change in some essential ways. A street protest is only one tool in the playbook of community organising, and the BERSIH movement can perhaps do far more good in varying the ways of spreading its message rather than just baking under the sun as politicians drone on.

BERSIH and its followers and detractors


November 21, 2016

BERSIH and its followers and detractors

 by Mariam Mokhtar
 www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The people who say it’s not the time to rally must tell us when the right time is.

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You would have to be living on another planet to be unaware of Malaysia’s worst financial scandal and political crisis in recent memory. In her series of exposes on 1MDB, Clare Rewcastle-Brown has alleged that our leaders are ill-equipped to deal with large-scale corruption. Many certainly agree that the 1MDB affair is about fraud on a massive scale.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that our so-called democratic system and institutions cannot stop Malaysia’s slide to becoming an international pariah. The right to dissent has been taken away from us. We are threatened with the Sedition Act and a slew of other draconian laws. The avenues for discourse have been reduced to so few that a complete overhaul of our institutions has become necessary if Malaysia is to retain any respect from the democratic world.

That’s why it’s important to support BERSIH. BERSIH has often been denied permits for its peaceful rallies. When plans were being made for BERSIH 3, the authorities claimed that communist elements were going to topple the government. That was quickly exposed as a lie. Against BERSIH 4, the race card was used to isolate the Malays from other Malaysians, with the claim that the Malays were not interested in reforms. That tactic failed too.

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In anticipation of BERSIH 5, sermons in government controlled mosques all over the country alleged that going on marches against the government was anti-Islamic and would expose the country to foreign intervention.

This tactic of using religion to scare the Malays from participating is also likely to fail, and the authorities probably know it.

Some people have claimed that the best way to make institutional reforms is to cast your vote at election time. Have these people not heard that electoral fraud has not been redressed? The electorate has no confidence in the fairness or legality of elections in Malaysia.

In many places around the world, people have pledged to be in solidarity with Malaysians taking part in the BERSIH 5 rally. At these overseas locations, people will march without any problems. They will not be arrested, be photographed or beaten up.

In Kuala Lumpur, the authorities do not want BERSIH participants to march to or gather at Dataran Merdeka. The reason is simple. It’s where Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first Prime Minister, raised the Malaysian flag and the Union Jack was lowered. It was the place where the colonial power, Britain, returned the country to its people. It will be a psychological boost for the rakyat if Bersih gathers at such a symbolic location, and that’s why the authorities don’t want it to happen.

The people who say that now is not the right time to march have the burden of telling us when the right time will be.

Students have been warned of disciplinary action if they take part in the rally. Civil servants have been threatened with dismissal or pay cuts. Journalists have been harassed. So, isn’t this as good a time as any to protest?

The rally-goers are not flippant people who have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning. They are sacrificing their time, effort, and possibly their freedom so that their children may have a brighter future.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.