BERSIH5.0 hits the Headlines in Cambodia


November 21, 2016

 

This is a press statement released by the Bersih  2.0 Steering Committee, one day after the Bersih 5 rally. 

Bersih 5’s success in Kuala Lumpur with an estimated of 120,000 participants is a loud and clear cry for both our 5 demands of institutional reforms: clean elections, clean governments, strengthening parliamentary democracy, right to dissent, and empowerment of Sabah and Sarawak, and also the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In conjunction with our fifth demand of empowering Sabah and Sarawak, peaceful rallies were also conducted successfully in Sabah and Sarawak. Detailed reports will be issued shortly. Bersih 5 also continues to be held in 65 cities worldwide.

The coming together of Malaysians from all ethnic, religious, regional and socio-economic backgrounds in Bersih 5 shows that institutional reforms and Najib’s resignation are a growing Malaysian consensus, that no institutions, parties or groups can suppress.

Beginning 1 October 2016, we embarked on a nationwide convoy which officially launched the Bersih 5 programme. The convoys which reached 236 towns and villages in the 6 weeks before the rally on 19 November have proven to be an effective means to break media control and bridge urban-rural divide. We thank all who participated and helped in the convoys for making the success of Bersih 5 possible. Bersih 2.0 will continue its efforts on reaching Malaysians on institutional reforms and Najib’s corruption.

While we had planned for Bersih 5 a strategically planned programme, it was effectively disabled by the Police’s citywide lockdown. Even after we extended our full cooperation to the Police, being fully transparent with our plans, the IGP Khalid Abu Bakar and KL CPO Amar Singh has seriously undermined the rakyat’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble and freely express themselves by imposing restrictions.

The Police barricades in Bangsar, Masjid Negara, Dataran Merdeka, and Masjid Jamek; the seizing of our Hiluxes which served as our stages; and the arrest of our drivers seriously jeopardised our programme, crowd control, security, and communications. These restrictions had forced us to make several ad hoc decisions and compromises, including the redirection to KLCC, for Bersih 5 to continue peacefully.

Bersih 2.0 would like to acknowledge the Police officers on the ground who could not do a better job facilitating Bersih 5 because of orders of command from above. We would also like to extend our gratitude to our supporters and participants who turned out, remained peaceful, and followed instructions despite all Police restrictions. Bersih 5 ended peacefully at KLCC at 5.30pm proving that a peaceful assembly does not disrupt public order.

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Bersih 2.0 also condemns the police crackdown on Bersih 2.0 leaders, social activists and opposition leaders. We are especially shocked and disgusted with the blatant abuse of Sosma, a controversial law justified as a counter-terrorist measure, against an innocent citizen like Maria. This is a clear suppression the citizens’ right to dissent and undermining parliamentary democracy. Bersih 2.0 demands for the immediate release of all detained.

In solidarity with Maria and those detained, Bersih 2.0 will be holding a candlelight vigil at Jinjang Police Station at 8pm tonight. We urge concerned Malaysians to come and stand in solidarity with those arrested.

Bersih 5 has ended peacefully, but our fight for a new Malaysia will continue. Bersih 2.0 will embark on the agenda of institutional reforms to prepare for the inevitable post-Najib Malaysia. We will continue to object the Election Commission’s recent unconstitutional redelineation exercise and prepare for the looming GE14.

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The detention of Maria Chin Abdullah and others will only harden our determination to push for change.

Bersih 5 is another milestone in the building of a new Malaysia free from ethno-religious division and political violence. Malaysians have once again showed that the May 13 spectre is buried despite the UMNO-affiliated red-shirts’ futile attempts to cause violence and fear. Hidup Malaysia Baru!

Signed by the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee members.

 BERSIH5.0 hits the Headlines in Cambodia

Anger Drives Malaysians to the Streets of Kuala Lumpur, seeking an end to kleptocratic government in Malaysia

by Khmer Times/Mayuri Mei Lin

http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/32142/anger-drives-malaysians-to-the-streets/

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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his colleagues at BERSIH 5.0

 

Kuala Lumpur – Norya Esa and her husband, both in their 50s, traveled six hours from the sleepy town of Kluang, located on the outskirts of Johor state to the south of Kuala Lumpur, just to make it to the capital city first thing in the morning on Saturday.

Their journey started at 11pm on Friday and they did not arrive in Kuala Lumpur until 5am the next day, where they promptly went to the National Mosque to perform their morning prayer, before they went to work on the day’s task.

They put on their yellow T-shirts and attached the Johor state flag to a makeshift flagpole, made from a repurposed broomstick. By 7am, the pair were ready to join other protesters who were at the mosque to demand the resignation of Malaysia’s Prime Minister in a large street demonstration.

Thousands of Malaysians flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, turning the streets a bright yellow, to protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been plagued with allegations of misappropriating millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

Thousands of demonstrators participated in pro-reform NGO BERSIH 5.0’s rally in a desperate attempt to tell the government that they are fed up with the current administration and want someone else in office.

“Ever since Najib has been in office, everything has been on a decline. I’m from a rural town so we’re not rich. Everything is so expensive and even welfare handouts have been decreasing these last few years.We can find someone else better. We have an option and we want a change!” an incensed Ms. Norya, 54, told Khmer Times.


Demonstrators diverted to the Petronas Twin Towers after their original plan to converge at the Independence Square was thwarted by the Police. KT/Mayuri KT/Mayuri Mei Lin

Mr. Najib has been accused of “stealing” money from taxpayers after the Wall Street Journal reported last year that approximately $700 million from state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a brainchild of the Prime Minister, had been diverted into his personal bank account.

His reputation was further damaged when the US Department of Justice filed lawsuits in July stating that 1MDB had misappropriated $3.5 billion, with some of the funds allegedly having gone to an individual only identified as “Malaysian Official 1.” Both US and Malaysian officials have claimed Mr. Najib is Malaysian Official 1.

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Malaysia’s Infamous Couple–Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor

This all came at a time when the cost of living in Malaysia was on the rise following the government’s removal of gasoline subsidies and the introduction of a broad-based six percent consumption tax last year.The government now has plans to remove cooking oil subsidies next year as well, which will further drive up living costs.

Mr. Najib has also been blamed for the slump in the Malaysian ringgit after it clocked in at 4.4165 against the US dollar as of yesterday, the lowest level in 2016.

“Our leaders have cheated the people. They’ve stolen our money. Our currency has fallen so far. We live in a rural town so we really feel the impact because our income isn’t very high. Maybe if you work for the government your income will increase when prices increase, but for us on the outskirts, our income doesn’t increase like that. And the government isn’t helping us either,” Mr. Norya’s husband, who only wanted to be referred to as Azman, told Khmer Times.

The 55-year-old retiree explained that making the long trip to Kuala Lumpur specifically for the rally was crucial as the government had been ignoring the welfare of the Malaysian public for far too long, opting instead to protect only their own personal interests.

“What we want is a change in leadership, we must change our Prime Minister. Change the leader and maybe our economy will improve too. We must show them how we feel,” Mr. Azman added.

The BERSIH 5 rally, with “bersih” meaning clean in the Malay language, kicked off at 10am on Saturday with several thousand protesters gathering in various locations in the city before they were to march and converge at the Independence Square, a location symbolic of the country’s independence from its colonial masters.

However, carefully laid out plans and routes were thwarted by the Police, who blocked off the iconic location from protesters by forming human barricades along all the major streets leading up to it, forcing protesters to converge instead at the Petronas Twin Towers, the city’s most popular tourist attraction.

Traffic in the capital ground to a halt for much of Saturday as most roads were closed and a 7,000-strong Police force barricaded most major streets.

Despite the heavy Police presence, which included at least seven truckloads of riot police equipped with water cannons that went unused, the atmosphere remained carnival-like throughout the day until the demonstration wrapped up at 6pm.

Demonstrators blew vuvuzelas and a drum troupe played along as others chanted, demanding the resignation of Mr. Najib and calling for clean elections.

For prominent civil liberties lawyer Mohamed Hanif Khatri Abdullah, the show of civil disobedience was necessary to send a message to the government that deep-seated dissatisfaction existed among the Malaysian public.

“We hope the people of Malaysia take this opportunity to express themselves about all that is wrong in the government. This is the best way to express yourself apart from just complaining in the privacy of your homes and office, it’s the best way to express yourself to the leaders running this country,” he told Khmer Times.

“Najib should realize enough is enough. It doesn’t take a genius to know what he’s done is wrong. He owes it to the people to resign. If the people can get Najib to step down then there is hope for the next election,” he added.

Top leaders from Malaysia’s political opposition also came out in full force on Saturday, reminding the public that Mr. Najib’s popularity is dwindling despite his concerted measures to remain in power.

“Many Malaysians have bravely come out in the thousands to voice what is in their hearts to the Najib government. Your support is what reinforces our spirit to fight and to join the opposition, to carry out a reformation, to create a democratic government and to not misuse the laws. Down with Najib!” former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, himself a staunch critic of street demonstrations while in power in the 1980s and ‘90s, said to a roaring sea of yellow.

Dr. Mahathir, who led ruling party United Malay National Organization (UMNO) for 22 years while he was Prime Minister and was an MP far longer, quit the party and severed all ties to the government after his calls for Mr. Najib’s resignation went unheeded. Dr. Mahathir has made no qualms in placing the blame for the country’s growing intolerance and political instability squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Najib.

Dr. Mahathir, along with several ex-UMNO strongmen and former ministers who were fired by Mr. Najib for speaking out against him, have since formed a new political party which formed a larger opposition coalition with the same opposition leaders Dr. Mahathir imprisoned for dissenting while he was in power.

“We want to show there is cooperation among all the political parties so that there is hope for change. Change must happen and now is the time for us to see a change at the next general elections.Unfortunately at present, the country doesn’t take care of you, they only care for themselves. All the cronies steal the people’s money, they sell our pride. Time is up for Najib, time up for his cronies, time is up for corrupt power, time is up for ministers who speak nonsense, now is the time for Malaysians,” ousted UMNO deputy president and former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was removed from the cabinet ostensibly for demanding answers to allegations of the prime minister’s misappropriation, told demonstrators within sight of the famous towers.

For Ambiga Sreenevasan, the former chief of rally organizers Bersih 2.0, the Police arrest of the NGO’s current chairperson a day prior to the major rally was a sign that the government was shaken. It was a sign that demonstrators were having their voices heard.

“I ask you is it fair? The person who steals is walking free while [Maria Chin Abdullah], who is asking for free and fair elections, is under SOSMA. It’s not fair. Can we accept this? No. It is unacceptable,” she told the crowd, referring to Malaysia’s 2012 Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, a law created to protect national security against extremist threats.

“Why are they so scared of BERSIH? BERSIH isn’t scared of them. Why are they afraid of us? Because we fight for the truth and they don’t want the truth to come out. What does it tell you when the government keeps hiding the truth? What does it show you? It shows you that they are crooked, that they have a lot to hide,” she said to roaring applause.
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Ms Ambiga Sreenevasan, Award Winning Activist  and Former BERSIH Chairperson seen with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

Eleven activists, including BERSIH 5 rally organizer Maria Chin Abdullah, who is also the current Bersih 2.0 chairperson, were arrested on Friday over various charges ranging from rioting to “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.”Another two activists were arrested during Saturday’s rally.

Ms. Maria’s lawyers yesterday told local media that she would be held for a further 28 days.

“BERSIH 5 has won the hearts and minds of the people. You are the hope of the nation you are really the ones who will bring change. We do this not only for ourselves but for our children, our grandchildren. Because we will not accept a kleptocratic government and today, BERSIH has made it crystal clear to this government that kleptocracy is unacceptable and we are no longer accepting it.”, Ms. Ambiga said.

 

Thousands call for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to quit


November 20, 2016

 

Thousands call for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to quit

By The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/thousands-call-for-malaysian-prime-minister-najib-razak-to-quit

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Protesters march in Kuala Lumpur just hours after activists and opposition leaders were arrested in a government crackdown

Thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Malaysia’s capital on Saturday demanding the resignation of the prime minister, Najib Razak, over his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar misappropriation scandal.

Clad in yellow shirts and unfazed by arrests of activists and opposition leaders just hours before the rally, protesters marched from various spots towards the heart of Kuala Lumpur amid tight security.

The mood among those gathered was festive, with drums and vuvuzelas heard along with speeches, songs and chants by participants calling for a clean Malaysia and people power.

The head of pro-democracy group BERSIH – the organisers of Saturday’s rally – was arrested on Friday, along with several other supporters of the demonstration, including opposition leaders and student activists. Police have said the BERSIH rally is illegal.

“We are not here to bring down the country. We love this country! We are not here to tear down the government, we’re here to strengthen it,” the BERSIH Deputy Chair, Shahrul Aman Shaari, told the crowds gathered at the National Mosque.

Another BERSIH leader Hishamuddin Rais was arrested on Saturday at the protest area, with the Police also issuing warnings to other participants. State news agency Bernama said about 7,000 policemen will be on duty near the protest area.

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“Our country is being governed by clowns and crooks. So I’m here to protest against our Prime Minister,” said artist Fahmi Reza (pic above), holding a poster of a clown-faced Najib.

In a speech uploaded on his website on Friday, Najib said the protesters were “a tool of the opposition”.

“Their movement is deceitful. It is clear that these street protests are in fact the opposition disguised as an independent NGO working to unseat a democratically elected government,” said Najib, who is in Lima, Peru to attend the APEC summit.

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Azalina Othman Said, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, on Saturday said it was unlawful for any party to try to unseat a democratically elected government via street protests.

Fears of clashes between BERSIH and a pro-Najib group called the Red Shirts mounted this week after the latter threatened to target Bersih supporters.

The Red Shirts also rallied on Saturday, marching from the headquarters of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Party towards Dataran Merdeka, or Independence Square, where the BERSIH rally is expected to converge. The Red Shirts’ rally has also been declared illegal. Jamal Yunos, an UMNO member and leader of the Red Shirts, was arrested before the protests began.

Pro-government Red Shirts
Pro-government Red Shirts march to counter a protest organised by leading reformist group Bersih. Photograph: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

A six-week campaign by BERSIH ahead of the rally was marred by several violent confrontations with the Red Shirts, and anonymous death threats have been sent to the BERSIH chairwoman, Maria Chin Abdullah.

Jamal has warned of a repeat of racial riots in 1969 that killed hundreds in clashes between Malays and ethnic Chinese.

Ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities formed the bulk of a similar rally of more than 200,000 organised by BERSIH last year, after the Wall Street Journal reported that around $700m from state fund 1MDB was diverted into the personal bank account of the prime minister.

Najib ran into further trouble this year when lawsuits filed by the US Justice Department in July said over $3.5b was stolen from 1MDB, which was founded by Najib, and that some of those funds flowed into the accounts of “Malaysian Official 1”, whom US and Malaysian officials have identified as Najib.

Najib has taken steps that, critics say, aim to limit discussion of the scandal, such as sacking a deputy prime minister, replacing the attorney general, and suspending newspapers and blocking websites.

He retains significant support within UMNO and from the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Mariam and Claire talk about BERSIH 5.0


November 18, 2016

Mariam and Claire talk about BERSIH 5.0

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Mariam in London asked me via e-mail today to share this video with all Malaysians who will be on the streets of Kuala Lumpur tomorrow and readers of this blog around the world. I told her that it will be my pleasure to do it.

My wife Dr. Kamsiah Haider and I join Mariam and Clare in wishing Malaysians all the best for their November 19 protest against the corrupt Najib Razak and his UMNO crooks. –Din Merican in Phnom Penh

BERSIH 5.0–Come in Force as there is nothing to fear but fear itself


November 18, 2016

BERSIH 5.0–Come in Force as there is nothing to fear but fear itself

by Kee Thuan Chye

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Maria Chin: “We cannot have a Prime Minister who steals money from the people and still allow him to be our Prime Minister.” If you agree with this Malaysia’s Joan of Arc, then come to BERSIH 5.0 on November 19, 2016.

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Owing to academic duties in Phnom Penh, I am unable to be with you as I was with my wife Dr. Kamsiah at BERSIH 4.0. Our country is in a political gridlock and only we Malaysians can unlock and make it a great place again for all. May the Force with you in peace. Best wishes–Din Merican, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This Saturday (November 19, 2016) was supposed to see only the yellow-shirts of the BERSIH rally at Dataran Merdeka, but the red-shirts want to stop them by rallying as well.

BERSIH has a cause, which is to draw public attention to the need for systemic reform to save Malaysia’s democracy, including clean elections, clean government, upholding the right to dissent. What is the red-shirts’ cause?

On the side, the rally dubbed BERSIH 5 is urging Najib Abdul Razak to step down as prime minister in order to allow for independent investigations into the corruption scandal surrounding him. It looks obvious that the red-shirts are against that.

Their leader, Jamal Md Yunos, is, after all, the chief of the Sungai Besar UMNO division, and UMNO information chief Annuar Musa has said that the party’s members can join the red-shirts rally.

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Don’t allow this UMNO Ikan Bakar Man bully you

BERSIH has time and again reminded its supporters that their rally must be peaceful, but Jamal has more than once talked of “blood”.

Three weeks ago, he said he would do anything, even “bathe in blood”, to stop BERSIH 5. Last Sunday, after getting punched in the nose during a scuffle between the police and his Red Shirts at a shopping mall, he threatened that “blood will be paid in blood”.

Is he for real?

Obviously, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar doesn’t think so. He has said, “Jamal has been making a lot of statements, but nothing comes of them.”

Is Jamal a bully whose bark is worse than his bite? Will nothing come out of the avowed confrontation between the yellows and the reds this Saturday? Will Jamal be able to even gather a big enough crowd to match the expected BERSIH numbers?

This is where it will matter very much for BERSIH supporters to come forward on Saturday to overwhelm the Reds in numbers. And how can they not come forward when they will be supporting the much nobler cause? How can they not stand up to a bully that is trying to muffle Bersih’s messages calling for reform? How can they buckle under the threats of violence that the bully spouts?

Besides, I don’t think there will be violence. I don’t think Saturday will see a bloodbath.

The Police will be monitoring the situation closely. That’s because it is most unlikely that Najib will allow violence to break out after he has secured lots of spoils from China that could benefit fellow UMNOputras. The East Coast Rail Link alone is going to cost RM55 billion. Imagine how much benefit the cronies are going to get from it. You can bet the red-shirts are with Najib. They will not rock his boat.

China, too, would expect a peaceful and trouble-free Malaysia if it is to invest substantially here. So would the 4 million Chinese citizens who Najib says should be coming next year. Surely, the government would not allow violence to break out and frighten them away.

It’s all sandiwara

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They must Go for Malaysia’s sake

So, all that sabre-rattling by Jamal and the red-shirts about Bersih 5 appears to be just that. It is part of a show to demonise the reform movement and warn the simple-minded folk of its danger to the status quo, and concomitantly remind the Malays that UMNO is their only protector, their saviour. It’s all sandiwara.

I think those who may have been intimidated by fear of violence and decided not to turn up for BERSIH 5 should reconsider. Those who complain of ‘political fatigue’ and want to sit this one out should transcend themselves and think of the larger cause. They might then realise that it could constitute their moral duty to be part of a movement that wants a better Malaysia.

Those who say it would be futile to participate in another rally because nothing has changed since BERSIH 4 last year should consider that the road to reform can often be long and difficult, and that the objective may not even be finally attained, but if the cause is worth fighting for, regardless of whether the outcome will be victory or defeat, it is important to fight the good fight.

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The BERSIH 5.0 Icon

And as for those who are still sceptical about whether Najib needs to be investigated for corruption, all they need to do is consider what BERSIH chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, DAP Adviser Lim Kit Siang and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad have been saying in regard to the issue.

Maria has been quoted as saying: “We cannot have a Prime Minister who steals money from the people and still allow him to be our prime minister.” This is a serious statement, but Najib has not sued her for defamation.

Last July, Lim pronounced, “Thanks to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Malaysia has achieved a new status, becoming overnight a kleptocracy and one of the most globally corrupt nations…”

‘Kleptocracy’ is defined as “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves”.Lim has repeated this a few times, verbally and in writing, but Najib has not taken out a defamation lawsuit against him.

Mahathir has openly and publicly called Najib “pencuri” (thief) numerous times. What could be more direct and damning than that, more damaging to Najib’s reputation? But Najib has taken no action against him either.

Do we need more reasons to go for Bersih 5 then? Oh, by the way, Jamal said one-and-a-half months ago that he had proof that Bersih planned to “take over” several strategic locations during BERSIH 5, like the Prime Minister’s Office and the KL International Airport (KLIA).

He also said BERSIH had been infiltrated by terrorist group Islamic State (IS), and he feared that IS might hijack the rally.

Come along this Saturday and see if this is going to happen!

Malaysia–The Land of Fear and Intimidation


November 17, 2016

Malaysia–The Land of Fear and Intimidation

by Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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Fear is filling our land. People are becoming increasingly afraid of their government, a government which has been amassing more and more power to harass, intimidate, threaten, punish or imprison those who oppose or disagree with it.

The goal is to cow the people into submission, force them to toe the line, pressure them to bend their knees to what their heart cries out against, to keep silent when citizenship demands a response.

Liberty impoverished

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Najib Razak’s  Lapdog or Guardian of Public Order?

There are so many oppressive laws now and so many different ways they can be applied and enforced.There are laws against sedition, laws prohibiting actions detrimental to parliamentary democracy (a law that is itself detrimental to democracy), laws against online posts that are deemed offensive or that might hurt the feelings of others and laws against insulting behaviour, to name a few.

A tweet, a Facebook post or a careless comment on a blog can suddenly bring tactical teams to your front door. What is free speech in other democracies is increasingly criminal here.

Even harmless yellow balloons can become subversive material, leading to a “breach of peace,” be seen as “intent to provoke anger” or be taken as “insulting behaviour.”

On pain of suspension or dismissal, university students are denied the right to protest, make known their unhappiness or be politically active unless, of course, they are active on behalf of the establishment.

Cartoonist and artists may not lampoon political leaders or bruise their ever so sensitive egos. Evidently many thin-skinned politicians feel they need protection from the disdain of the people.

The people may not insult their political leaders or hurt their feelings; political leaders, however, are under no obligation to respect the feelings or the intelligence of the people.

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Freedom is their cause

Whatever it is, the underlying message from those in power is simply this: public opposition and dissent invite state retaliation in one form or another. If you play the game – close your eyes, turn away, keep silent and wave the flag when it is demanded of you – you’ll be spared their wrath.

It appears that as citizens the only privilege we have is to pay for all the profligacy, misgovernance and corruption that we see all around us. And, of course, to suffer in silence.

Never in our history have we been so impoverished of our rights, so at the mercy of those in power.

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Is this what they mean when they talk about wanting a governance system based on Asian values, standards and requirements rather than on “the lopsided ethos” of the West (whatever that means) as one leader asserted recently?

The word is out

The word is out: don’t talk publicly, don’t write, don’t demonstrate because you never know who’s listening, who’s watching, who’s waiting for you. The state may not have such vast capabilities to monitor what people are saying or doing but when the people believe it, it becomes real. They modify their behaviour, they tone it down, they retreat from the public square.

Dissent is slowly being driven behind closed doors – people complain in private, grouse quietly among friends, surreptitiously share black humour on WhatsApp or vent their anger online under cover of anonymity. This is what we have been reduced to.

Outsourcing terror

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UMNO’s Gangsters

And then there’s the outsourcing of terror and intimidation to groups like the Red Shirts who run around with apparent impunity threatening, intimidating and sowing fear. They vow bloodshed and promise destruction if they don’t get their way – to stifle all criticism of the party in power, to silence dissenting opinions, to deter public protest. They are shallow, crude and thuggish but they have their secret admirers.

It is simply devious for political leaders to disavow any connection to the Red Shirts while allowing them to continue their reign of terror and excusing their ugly behaviour.

In the meantime, those responsible for public safety, quick to investigate and arrest opposition leaders and activists for what they say, dismiss the threatening language of the Red Shirts as harmless talk, a mere “war of words.”

Perhaps to demonstrate some resolve, some semblance of impartiality, a few Red Shirt minions are being investigated for the minor offense of dumping trash in front of Malaysiakini’s offices.

That in itself is an affront; it is the leader of the Red Shirts himself who should be held accountable and not simply for usurping the functions of Alam Flora but for criminal intimidation.

For so long as the Red Shirts leader is allowed to strut around like a peacock on heat, it will be hard not to conclude that he has a patron in high places, that he is merely a protected hired-hand doing the dirty work of men hiding in the shadows.

The colour of legitimacy

Some, of course, are endeavouring to conflate the illegitimacy of the Red Shirts with BERSIH, suggesting that both are but different sides of the same coin, that both should stop their activities.Nothing could be more disingenuous.

BERSIH is exercising its constitutional right to peaceful assembly to demand clean elections, clean government, support for parliamentary democracy, the right to dissent and the empowerment of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Red Shirts, on the other hand, have no other agenda than to prevent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. They have no legitimacy, no integrity and no business harassing BERSIH supporters.

There’s no moral equivalency here; they are poles apart, as different as night is from day. And in harassing BERSIH, they cannot even claim the right to peaceful assembly.

 

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Tan Sri Razali Ismail

As Razali Ismail, the Suhakam chairman, said, “If the intention of the organizers of a counter-demonstration is to prevent another assembly from taking place, or to interfere with it, the counter-demonstration will cease to enjoy the protection afforded by the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.” That makes them a mob, illegitimate and illegal.

Hard choices ahead

Whatever it is, we all have a hard and difficult choice before us: keep silent as our nation continues on its downward trajectory towards tyranny or stand up and speak out despite the threats and intimidation.

Many feel the battle is already lost and are leaving. Others have decided to just stay out of the fray, abandon the struggle to build a better nation. They figure the only option that they have is make the best of a bad situation, keep their heads down, learn to survive in tyranny’s shadow.

But submission to tyranny doesn’t buy peace; it merely postpones the day of reckoning. Unbridled greed, misgovernance and the abuse of power will take its toll; it always does.

Benjamin Franklin may well be right: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty not safety.”

We all have some soul-searching to do to confront both the fear within and the fear without. We either overcome our fears or go quietly into the dark night that awaits us if we do nothing.

 

 

Donald Trump and The West


November 17, 2016

Donald Trump and The West

by Lord Chris Patten

Lord Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-threat-to-the-west-by-chris-patten-2016-11

Image result for Lord Chris Patten

I have spent my whole political life somewhere called “the West.” It was not literally “west”: while its heartland was Western Europe and the United States, it also included faraway countries like Australia and Japan. Rather, it was a community that embraced shared hopes and values. Reflecting America’s global leadership after World War II, the West was protected by US hard power and shaped by US soft power. And it was the most peaceful and prosperous place in the world.

The West has long provided the foundation for the global order – probably the most successful such foundation ever created. Led by the US, the West built, shaped, and championed international institutions, cooperative arrangements, and common approaches to common problems. As it helped to sustain peace and boost prosperity in much of the world, its approaches and principles attracted millions of followers.

Donald Trump looks at Barack Obama

The POTUS-Elect Donald J. Trump

The election of Donald Trump as US President, however, threatens this entire system. If Trump does in office what he promised to do during his crude and mendacious campaign, he could wreck a highly sophisticated creation, one that took several decades to develop and has benefited billions of people. Those of us who, like Americans, have gained from it must fight for it while it still breathes.

One promise on which Trump must not follow through is to advance trade protectionism. The case for tearing up free-trade agreements and aborting negotiations for new ones is premised on the belief that globalization is the reason for rising income inequality, which has left the American working class economically marooned. But the real sources of American workers’ economic pain are technological innovation and tax-and-spend policies that favor the rich.

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The Presumptive Secretary of State–In God Americans Trust

If Trump, say, walks away from the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, turns his back on ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and challenges the World Trade Organization, he will hurt the very people who voted for him. And he will lose friends and influence abroad.

Another dangerous policy that Trump could pursue would be to back away from America’s security arrangements with countries like Japan and South Korea, as well as with NATO. In Trump’s distorted view, the US should not be offering “free” security to its allies, and instead should leave them to fend for themselves.

In practice, such a stance would be highly destabilizing. Eastern Europe and the Baltic states would be at the mercy of Russia. And Asia and the Middle East would be at risk of nuclear proliferation, as countries lacking the US security backstop would seek to develop their own nuclear arsenals – an approach that Trump has said would be acceptable.

Trump’s pledge to scrap the nuclear deal with Iran is a case in point. Does anyone think Saudi Arabia would sit still if Iran restarted its weapons program? Criticizing the agreement – a major achievement of US President Barack Obama – might have served Trump during the campaign, but actually abrogating the deal would make the world a far more dangerous place.

Trump’s stated approach to climate change is just as problematic. He has declared his intention to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and staving off catastrophic climate change. He has already appointed Myron Ebell, an outspoken climate change denier, to oversee the transition at the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump bases this approach on the nonsensical belief that human-driven climate change is a hoax, invented by the Chinese to make US industry less competitive. And that is far from the only accusation Trump has hurled at China. His generally hostile attitude toward the country, particularly with regard to trade, threatens further damage to an already-tense bilateral relationship – and thus poses a risk for US multinationals and US allies alike.

A Trump presidency also poses something of an existential threat. His derogatory comments about marginalized groups – including Muslims, Mexicans, women, and people with disabilities – imperil the values that are fundamental to America’s identity and place in the world, and that bind the countries of the West together.

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Germany’s 21st century Otto von Bismarck

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one leader who seems to recognize how quickly the collapse of US leadership could bring about the end of the post-1945 global order. Her response to Trump’s victory was eloquent and powerful: “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.” On the basis of those values, she declared, she would work with Trump.

That is precisely how all of America’s allies and friends should be responding. Like Merkel, we should all speak up for all that the West has stood for, and all that it has achieved. We must condemn any move by Trump to shirk the rule of law and the norms of a free society. We must argue the case for free trade, which has brought far-reaching benefits to humanity. And we must fight to uphold the nuclear deal with Iran and nuclear non-proliferation around the world.

There is also an imperative to reiterate our commitment to stand firm against Russian adventurism in Eastern and Central Europe. In particular, we must make clear that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty applies to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland – all members of the military alliance that the US still leads. (It would also help if, after years of backsliding, NATO’s European members upped their contributions to our collective defense.)

Finally, we should assert that, while we in the West do not agree with China’s mercantilist policies and repressive measures at home, we want to work with it, not seek to marginalize and humiliate it.

The idea of “the West” is one of America’s finest achievements (though many other countries have also contributed). It would be a true disaster for the world if America, in an act of self-destructive decadence, tossed this noble, practical, and inspiring creation into the dustbin of history.