Tee Keat stands by ‘Chinese marginalised’ remarks


Former MCA president Ong Tee Keat today confirmed telling US diplomats that ethnic Chinese in the country were marginalised but reiterated that he was merely conveying the sentiments of the minority community.”It is worth reiterating that the comments purportedly made by me was largely my observation and assessment of the Chinese community’s sentiment and perception pursuant to the statement of marginalisation by (Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore,” he said.NONELee (left) had in September 2006 told journalists at the sidelines of a World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Singapore that ethnic Chinese in both Malaysia and Indonesia were marginalised – a provocative statement that resonated with a significant segment of the Chinese populace across the causeway.”Our neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful. They are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised,” Lee was quoted as saying.

US diplomats had then sought Ong’s opinion on the comments, who remarked that the Chinese community in Malaysia were well aware that they were marginalised.

‘Leftovers’, ‘crumbs’ are metaphoric descriptions

In a statement to Malaysiakini today, Ong denied that his description of “leftovers” and “crumbs” referred to government projects, explaining that they were something that was expressed by the Chinese business community.

ong tee keat pandan mp supporters dinner 4“The metaphoric descriptions of ‘leftovers’ and ‘crumbs’ were the exact words I quoted from certain corporate personalities that were coincidentally shared by the petty traders in my own constituency over the issue in September 2006,” he said.

His comments come after Malaysiakini reported a confidential cable between Washington and its embassy in Kuala Lumpur that was released by whistleblower site Wikileaks last week, detailing Ong’s meeting with US embassy officials.

According to the cable, Ong was quoted as saying that “there was once a day in Malaysia when MCA would get the leftovers, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the Umno table”.

Ong was VP when he made the remarks

Standing by his statement to US diplomats, the Pandan MP conceded that he had kept his views private because he knew it would raise eyebrows within the MCA leadership.

“Throughout the conversation, the only view of mine expressed was the prior assessment of the Chinese support for BN/MCA in the 12th general election. I was not at all optimistic then.

“Unfortunately, what I described as ‘plummeting Chinese support for the party’ really came true as an enormous wave of political tsunami in the 2008 poll later.”

In what appears to be a challenge to the current MCA president Chua Soi Lek, Ong said that it was up to MCA to decide if they share the sentiment of the Chinese community.

“As to whether MCA shares the (Chinese) community’s perception of being marginalised or otherwise, the current party leadership should have the courage and wisdom to answer. After all, I have no role to play in it any more,” he said.

Ong was a MCA vice-president when he made the remarks in 2006 and later went on to helm the party’s presidency before being ousted by Chua in 2010.

Malaysiakini

Joke of the year by Miba clowns: Forum on the future of Indians

August 31, 2011

I would like to know on the standings of Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) as they are about to hold something called a forum on the future of Indians in Malaysia.

Miba’s president has been at the helm since 1999 and do ask him what was his aspirations for Indians then and where are they now. He is an ethnic-conscious leader in the similar mould as S Samy Vellu and his achievements are next to none.

Ask him how many members he has in Miba and what were their achievements thus far?

You will be surprised that you have only 20 committee members and those running errants for him.

If you want your articles to be taken seriously, please be careful before you could report on what he is saying. I am ready to meet you to expose his insincerity. Hope this would do for now.

For your information, I had served as a general secretary of Miba and MIBC (co-operative).

Anwar: Imej Najib tercalar, rakyat mahu k'jaan baru

Kemerosotan tahap kepopularan atau puas hati dengan kepemimpinan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak yang jatuh enam mata kepada 59 peratus adalah petanda peralihan sokongan kepada Pakatan Rakyat, kata Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

NONEBagaimanapun, Anwar dalam wawancaranya di TV Selangor berkata Pakatan Rakyat perlu bekerja lebih keras menyampaikan maklumat kepada rakyat, khususnya di luar bandar yang masih di bawah pengaruh Umno-BN.

"Jelas ada trend (tidak menyokong Najib) ini, tapi sekarang ni, terutamanya kebanyakan rakyat luar bandar masih dikongkong propaganda kerajaan.

“Tapi saya optimistik dengan usaha Pakatan Rakyat dan prestasi negeri seperti Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Kedah dan Kelantan, rakyat akan mengundi Pakatan," kata Anwar kepada wartawan ketika Majlis Sambutan Aidilfitri Kerajaan Negeri Selangor di Shah Alam, semalam.

Badan banci bebas dan pusat penyelidikan pendapat, Merdeka Center pada Isnin lalu dalam laporannya mendedahkan bahawa kemerosotan tahap puas hati terhadap Najib itu mempunyai kaitan dengan kos sara hidup yang terus meningkat.

azlanIni kerana pengguna mula merasai kesan atau impak kenaikan kos bahan api dan elektrik yang diumumkan kerajaan pimpinannya, baru-baru ini.

Menurut kajian Merdeka Center itu kepuasan hati rakyat terhadap Najib jatuh ke paras terendah iaitu 59 peratus, berbanding 72 peratus yang dicatatkan pada Jun tahun lalu.

Pusat banci itu juga mendapati bahawa cara kerajaan menangani dan mengendalikan perhimpunan BERSIH 2.0 turut mempengaruhi persepsi umum kerana ia mempunyai kesan negatif dan telah menghakis sokongan kepada perdana menteri.

Badan itu turut melaporkan bahawa rata-rata responden yang ditemui faham dan menyokong tuntutan reformasi sistem pilihan raya oleh BERSIH 2.0.

azlan“Cara kejam, propaganda keterlaluan, pembohongan, fitnah kepada pemimpin Pakatan dan Datuk S Ambiga (pengerusi BERSIH 2.0) memberi kesan kepada rakyat. Mereka tak mahu lagi ditipu. Apakah jenayah Ambiga? Hanya kerana sokong (menuntut) pilihan raya adil?" kata Anwar.

Beliau yang juga ketua umum PKR berkata sebarang perubahan polisi yang bakal dilaksanakan oleh Najib sebagai sudah terlewat kerana presiden Umno itu telah tidak menjalankan tanggungjawab sebagai pentadbir yang baik.

"Tak kira disokong atau tidak, wajib menjadi tanggungjawab seorang pemimpin yang dipilih untuk pastikan pilihan raya bersih dan adil. Anda tak boleh terus tadbir dan urus rakyat negara ini seperti tahun 1950-an.

libya sirte final assault rebel fighter 1“Libya telah berubah, Syria telah berubah, kenapa Malaysia tidak?" soal Anwar lagi.

Hasil kajian Merdeka Center itu turut menunjukkan Najib masih gagal mendapatkan sokongan masyarakat Cina dengan hanya 38 peratus yang berpuas hati dengan kepimpinan beliau.

Hanya kaun India sahaja yang memberi sokongan tambahan kepada Najib dengan peningkatan 4 peratus kepada 69 peratus berbanding Mei lalu.

Kaum Melayu bagaimanapun dilihat semakin kurang yakin dengan Najib apabila sokongan yang diterima semakin berkurang daripada 76 peratus pada Mac tahun ini, 73 peratus pada Mei dan kini 69 peratus berpuas hati dengan kepimpinan beliau.

NONEBagaimanapun, tidak seorangpun pemimpin Umno dan BN menerima keputusan kajian berkenaan berbanding reaksi mereka apabila badan bancian yang sama menunjukkan tahap puas hati Najib pada tahap yang tinggi satu ketika dahulu.

Malah, Menteri Penerangan Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan Datuk Seri Rais Yatim menempelak kajian Merdeka Center itu dan berkata kepimpinan Najib diterima majoriti rakyat di negara ini.

Beliau berkata kajian yang dijalankan oleh Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia mendapati kepimpinan perdana menteri amat kukuh di kalangan rakyat di negara ini terutamanya daripada segi penerimaan program pembelaan rakyat.

Sehubungan itu, beliau menganggap laporan kajian Merdeka Centre yang mengatakan populariti perdana menteri semakin menurun sebagai tidak berasas.

NONE“Mereka hanya mengambil beberapa sampel yang tidak menyentuh komuniti luar bandar, masyarakat India yang tidak menyeluruh, masyarakat yang berada di sekitar Kuala Lumpur yang mempunyai sokongan kuat dan padu kepada Perdana Menteri," katanya.

Menurut Rais, kajian Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia yang melibatkan 50,000 responden yang terdiri daripada pelbagai masyarakat di seluruh negara termasuk di Sabah dan Sarawak mendapati mereka amat menerima kepimpinan Najib dan kerajaan BN secara ikhlas.

'Sejarah tak rasmi' kemerdekaan Malaysia

Walapun Malaysia mencapai kemerdekaannya lebih 50 tahun lalu, namun sehingga hari ini, rakyat sering kali diingatkan oleh pemimpin-pemimpin Umno berhubung apa yang dipanggil sebagai 'Kontrak Sosial'.

Perjanjian itu dikatakan telah dipersetujui oleh “tiga bangsa utama Malaysia” dan ditimbulkan setiap kali kaum bukan bumiputera menuntut hak kebebasan sivil mereka dan desakan supaya diskriminasi ke atas mereka ditamatkan.

kua kia soong book patriots and pretenders storyBuku terbaru saya 'Patriots & Pretenders' bertujuan untuk memaparkan fakta-fakta sejarah dalam perspektif supaya generasi baru rakyat Malaysia memahami sistem kelas yang diwujudkan dalam perjuangan anti-kolonial dan mengenali siapa sebenarnya pejuang anti-penjajah.

Penerbitan buku ini bertepatan dengan pengumuman baru-baru ini oleh Kementerian Pendidikan bahawa sejarah akan dijadikan mata pelajaran wajib dalam peperiksaan SPM. Ini menimbulkan bantahan lantang daripada beberapa sektor yang mendapati 'sejarah rasmi' di negara ini sebenarnya amat mencurigakan.

Sejak peristiwa berdarah 13 Mei dan penyebarluas Dasar Kebudayaan Kebangsaan, sejarah Malaysia telah ditulis mengikut sudut pandangan parti pemerintah Umno dan selaras dengan ideologi 'populis-centric' Melayu.

'Sejarah rasmi' ini digunakan untuk memperkukuh satu kumpulan etnik tertentu dan membelakangkan kaum-kaum lain dalam usaha untuk pecah dan perintah. Akibatnya, banyak masyarakat atau kaum tertentu yang telah dinafikan tempat mereka dalam sejarah Malaysia yang sah.

'Patriots & Pretenders' cuba untuk memaparkan rekod berkenaan dengan menyediakan analisis kelas semasa perjuangan. Buku ini juga mengakui sumbangan patriotik dalam semua masyarakat dan etnik dalam perjuangan menuntut kemerdekaan dan pembangunan negara.

'Sejarah Rakyat' ini adalah berasaskan penyelidikan oleh tokoh akademik yang dihormati, yang membongkar semula sejarah rasmi Malaysia yang sebenar. Dengan mengkajinya, kita boleh memahami punca polarisasi kaum di negara ini dan meletakkan asas bagi penyelesaian bukan-perkauman berhubung cabaran negara ini.

Everyone but Umnoputras 'marginalised' in M'sia

'Isn't it time for the ordinary members of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and those in Sabah and Sarawak to leave their respective parties?'

Wikileaks: MCA can't admit Chinese being marginalised

Abasir: Like their MIC and Gerakan counterparts, MCA leaders will not walk away from Umno for one reason only: preservation of self-interest, i.e. to protect a steady source of income, the formal and informal perks that come with the positions and the possibility of making something on the side, maybe a new 'Datuk' or 'Tan Sri' title and all the business and social payoff that comes with being in BN.

Umno knows that they are dealing with the 'pagar' that will 'makan the padi'. And so the game goes with the support of the foolish, gullible electorate easily impressed by titles and positions.

Kgen: So MCA has admitted its takings have dropped from leftovers to crumbs. Soon it will be 'droppings' exiting from Umno's rear end.

Baiyuensheng: What this all means is that no Chinese representation in the government is not a big deal. The Chinese are already being marginalised and being 'repressed' by the government - the same with the Orang Asli and those in Sabah and Sarawak albeit facing a different 'struggles' against the BN Malays.

It is time that we vote against the BN and only elect those Malays who practice equality, fairness and justice for all.

Cala: Nothing has changed for the better since 2008. Come the next GE, MCA will lose big, and one should not be surprised if its candidates are completely wiped out. Thereafter, MCA would be but a minuscule party not worthy of any mention, to be remembered only when one visits Museum Negara.

By MCA's golden silence on various issues, it is seen as condoning all of Umno's discriminatory policies. MCA is hence a partaker of unjust policies.

But former MCA chief Ong Tee Keat, despair not. Suppose we say you are part of the team tasked with the mission to bring Malaysia to the next level of development, say achieving those goals of Vision 2020, if one were to offer you help in your endeavour, would you object? The answer is certainly not.

But why not? Look at any economic development book (Todaro and Smith, 2006; Meier and Rauch, 2005) and see how Taiwan and Korea did before they succeeded. Success comes only at the back of meticulous planning, steadfast commitment, and self sacrifices of their leaders and bureaucrats.

Turning to Malaysia, are your (MCA) services required by the regime? No. But why not? Because Malaysia is ruled by teams of looters/plunderers, and so the less of you, the more shall be their share. In the literature, it is aptly called "kleptocracy" (Weil, 2009, p. 355). Now it explains why MCA is marginalised.

And when you have a system as rotten as the Umno-led BN regime, you find none of its component parties dare to publicly display defiance to the holder of the power lever.

Each finds an excuse to tolerate the system no matter how illogical, low, and worthless one may feel in the current position. To walk away may mean losing what one gets under the most dehumanising condition.

Look at MCA's math: it is the case of now having 20 marks in the pocket. The score is zero if one were to walk away.

SusahKes: The bottom line is, Ong, why then are you still dancing inside Umno's dance club? Don't tell me you're waiting for the crumbs?

Anonymous: MCA, Gerakan and MIC are all eunuchs and running dogs for Umno. Their leaders are all self-serving and yearn for monetary rewards and all the silly accessories in front of their names from their 'taiko' Umno. If these idiots still have pride and dignity, they should leave BN now.

Tkc: Ong was looking through the prism of the political patronage when he bemoaned that "MCA was getting the crumbs from Umno's table".

The sad fact is that most Malaysians, regardless of ethnic origin, are by and large marginalised if they are not members of Umno, MCA, MIC and the BN component parties over the last 53 years.

But for those of us who do not get projects from the government on a silver platter, do we moan about our plight?

No, we just got on with it and made the most of the opportunities that came our way by working hard and smart. In the process, we pass on better genes to our children.

Anonimous Z: Isn't it now the right time for the ordinary members of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and those in Sabah and Sarawak to leave their respective parties? What are you all still waiting for?

Begging for the leftovers at the expense of the future of your next generation? Wake up now, my fellow 1Malaysian brother and sister.

Biro Tata Negara: MCA always complains a lot in Penang about the DAP government marginalising the Chinese.

They should instead start looking at their home base and ask Putrajaya how many contracts have been given to the Chinese.

They should, for example, ask PLUS Expressways Berhad how many stalls on the highways are given to the Chinese. They should also ask Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) how many projects have been given to Chinese.

Yeap Cheng Liang: For Malaysia to progress, Malaysians have to get rid of this debate of Chinese or Indian being marginalised, because it creates a mentality of non-Malays vs Malays.

In reality, everyone is marginalised except those who are close to the Umnoputras.

Merdeka! Are we truly free? What are we celebrating for?

Corruption, nepotism, cronyism and the abuse of the judiciary and legislation have marred the significance of Aug 31.

Aug 31 is a day of reflection, of taking cognisance of the fact that the country’s independence or Merdeka can no longer be taken for granted, that too by the “keepers” of this nation.

Regrettably, it is the “powers that be” that have marred the meaning of Merdeka. Corruption, nepotism, cronyism and the abuse of the judiciary and legislation have marred the significance of Merdeka, especially for the younger generation.

Instead of imparting profound meaning to Malaysians, Aug 31 had been reduced from the sublime to the ridiculous by the power-hungry and “self-first” politicians-leaders of this country.

The fact is Malaysia is “independent” but only in name, not in act. The existence of draconian laws that are continuously abused by the “powers that be” to safeguard its position have turned the understanding of Merdeka into a laughing stock.

To worsen matters, politicians never tire of playing the racial card, not the least bothered that they have relegated the nation’s Merdeka, the respect all but diminished. As for patriotism, it had become very much a case of “to each their own”.

Had the country’s Merdeka been given due respect, the rights and sentiments of its people of all races would have been equally respected. We would not have had the incident where former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad cautioned the non-Malays to “behave” themselves if they were to continue living in this country. For Malaysia, he said, belongs to the Malays, simply because at one time this nation was called Tanah Melayu (the Malay land).

If Merdeka held any meaning to the country’s leadership, there would have been no such case where the present deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin unabashedly proclaimed that he is a “Malay first and Malaysian second”.

Misusing the keris

Had the meaning of Merdeka been understood by Umno, the country’s dominant party championing Malay rights, its key players would not have misused the keris or Malay dagger by swaying it at the party’s general assemblies to remind the non-Malays to back off from questioning Malay rights.

Under Article 153 of the country’s Federal Constitution, the Malay rights are guaranteed, thereby creating a deadlock as far as debating these privileges is concerned.

Indeed, if Merdeka truly holds meaning, the Aug 28, 2009 episode would not have happened – where a cow head that had been severed was stepped on by a group of angry Malays who could not tolerate and accept the fact that a Hindu temple would soon be built in their neighbourhood of Section 23 in Shah Alam. Merdeka, really?

What was unbelievable was that such an act of desecration went on to receive the support of the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Did he not know that the cow is considered a sacred animal to Hindus? Merdeka, are we?

Yes, the painful truth is that Merdeka is no longer synonymous with freedom or liberty, more recently depicted by the July 9, 2011 “Walk for Democracy” rally calling for free and fair elections.

The police brutality vis-à-vis tear gas and water canons and beatings would always serve to remind Malaysians that they, albeit living in an independent and democratic nation, have no avenue to voice out their unhappiness with the government.

The Barisan Nasional-government which had been ruling the country since 1957 is no longer taking any chances, not after the political debacle it faced three years ago, when it lost five states to the opposition in the 12th general election.

The BN-agenda now is to, by hook or crook, silent all dissenting voices and impress a rosy picture of the country, the aim being to give BN the chance to enjoy the two-third majority that was denied in 2008.

Merdeka –but from whom?

The federal government’s refusal to do away with draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act 1960, the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) 1969 and the prohibitive Official Secrets Act 1972 and Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 all confirm that Merdeka had long been manipulated by the BN-government and Umno, both of whom are led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

The June 26, 2011 arrest of 30 activists from Parti Sosialis Malaysia under trumped up claims of waging war against the country’s monarch and spreading subversive beliefs is another proof that truth has no place in the heart of the country’s leadership.

To summon the police to “finish off” certain people because of the “danger” they pose had put the police force in a shameful position. Deaths in police cells have become the norm more than an exception. The Najib-led government’s refusal to acknowledge the importance of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in helping reform the police force signals that all is definitely not well where Malaysia’s democracy and Merdeka are concerned.

Tampering with the country’s judiciary to stifle the truth, as seen from the “suicide verdict” announced in the case of the DAP-aide Teoh Beng Hock and detainee A Kugan who ended up dead while in police custody give the rakyat much reason to question the validity of Aug 31.

When long-serving estate workers as in the case of the Bukit Jalil estate residents are made homeless by City Hall under the pretext of development, can they be blamed for questioning if Merdeka truly exists for Malaysians?

Unity vital for Merdeka

Does unity i.e. camaraderie between the rakyat exist? If the non-Malays are incessantly chastised and threatened, as done by the extremist Malay-rights group Perkasa and the Umno-owned Malay daily, Utusan Malaysia and coupled with the poor example shown by the country’s leaders, the answer at best is ambiguous.

Name-calling and threats are not going to sustain the Merdeka spirit for long. For a nation as young as Malaysia, there is much to learn in preserving the independence it had achieved from its British masters.

But it seems that the country’s politicians, this includes Najib, the ever-racist Hishammuddin, Perkasa founder Ibrahim Ali and the Umno honchos are far too foolishly arrogant to want to learn from the annals of history on what it takes to promote unity and sustain the independence gained.

Malaysians like Perkasa’s Ibrahim through his racial discrepancies has tainted the whole struggle towards Aug 31, when the nation finally achieved independence back in 1957.

The likes of Ibrahim believe their onslaught of threats would blench the non-Malays into subservience towards the dominant race, often times promising bloodshed should the non-Malays dare question Article 153 of the Constitution.

The damage, however, had long been done. In 2009, churches were attacked with petrol bombs after a court lifted a government ban on the use of “Allah” as a translation for “God” in Malay-language bibles.

The ban had been in place for years but enforcement only began in 2008 out of fear the word could encourage Muslims to convert.

Najib decided meeting Pope Benedict XVI in July this year to facilitate relations with the Vatican would somehow placate the Christians back home. But once again, Najib failed to walk his talk, unwilling to control the reigns of the overzealous respective state religious departments.

Using faith to rebuke and condemn as well as the repeated threats to persecute the non-Malays is a recipe for disaster.

The most recent case of “attack” by the Selangor Religious Department (JAIS) which on Aug 3 raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church under the claim that it was investigating complaints of apostasy among the Muslims who attended a farewell dinner there have placed unity between the people in a very precarious position.

Just five days before the nation’s 54th “birthday”, a death threat made its way to non-governmental organisation Harapan Komuniti, organiser of the thanksgiving dinner held at DUMC.

FMT reported on Aug 27 that the threat, in the form of a handwritten note, was written in Malay and contained a warning to Christians that Muslims would not “lose”. Fearing for the lives of those under its care especially children, Harapan Komuniti had no choice but to “relocate” its outreach centre for single mothers and people living with HIV/AIDS as well as its tuition centre for needy children.

Umno marred Aug 31′s significance

The government is upset that Malaysians are not patriotic enough, looking at the pathetic display of the Jalur Gemilang, the name given to the Malaysian flag, be it at homes, offices or restaurants.

But had the BN government bothered to figure out what is dissuading the rakyat from flying their national flag come Aug 31?

For one, looking at the threats to racial unity and the political agenda of BN and Umno, there is no reason to be convinced that Merdeka is very much alive and kicking in Malaysia.

The BN government has to work very hard to bring back the people’s profound feeling for Aug 31 and not dismiss it as yet another public holiday.

It appears that the blemish and nightmare left behind by the May 13, 1969 racial riot is lost on Umno in particular and BN in general. Democracy had been taken for granted by Najib and his cronies, when abusive laws despite having overstayed their welcome, are used as a weapon to threaten the rakyat, forcing them to crouch under fear.

Malaysians are fed up with the BN- government’s bullying tactics. The 2008 general election verdict was the rakyat’s way of saying they had had enough. But a stubborn BN refused to listen and learn.

Once again Malaysians’ showed their displeasure with the dirty tactics of the BN-leadership, this time when they supported election watchdog Bersih 2.0.

But did the Najib-administration listen? Unfortunately, not and it went on to make the mistake of manhandling the participants. And then Najib is puzzled as to why Malaysians are indifferent to the Jalur Gemilang.

The answer is obvious, is it not? But still, here is wishing the rakyat Selamat Merdeka!

A glitzy and glamorous Merdeka celebration will not compensate for the shameless political ploys and unending abuse of power

By Charles Santiago

As the nation marches towards its 54th Merdeka celebrations, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition government continues to lead the nation with no accountability. Not even a semblance of it lurking in the shadows.

Umno’s leadership has failed the people making it unlikely that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s bruises would disappear anytime soon.

Najib’s self-styled unity slogan, 1Malaysia, and public claims of a united nation only go to show the premier’s disconnect from ground reality.

What is worse is that the simmering racial and religious tension in the country is carefully engineered by Najib & Co.

In Malaysia, stirring racial and religious sentiments have become fashionable ways of ensuring the ruling elite’s continued hold on power.

Playing up issues of apostasy, indulging in smear campaigns against opposition politicians, openly playing double standards, using the police to instil a climate of fear among the people, engaging in backdoor deals to win the next election are some of the crucial issues gripping the nation.

But just like over the years, we see the government preparing an ambiance of pomp and glamour to usher in the country’s 54th year of independence from British rule. Najib has even thought out a costume and colour theme for the celebrations.

It is delusions to believe that a fusion of dances and colourful parade would make brewing discontent on the ground go away. Najib must know, by now, that this is no child’s play.

Getting out of control

Come Merdeka Day, we would watch the Malays, Chinese and Indians taking part in the parade, as a sign of unity and mutual respect for each other. And yet this neat juxtaposition is misleading.

In reality, we have seen some leaders promising bloodshed over unverified allegations of proselytisation by some churches.

These vile-mouthed villains have no qualms reading out statements which stoke racial sentiments outside police stations.

While the government acts with lightning speed to nab opposition politicians and human rights activists for alleged illegal gathering, they ignore the ramblings of these political leaders.

Government-owned print and electronic media are given a free hand to further fan racial flames in the country.

Opposition newspapers and alternative media have to resort to self-censorship or have their publishing licenses revoked. The online media are constantly harassed for writing the truth.

Government channel, RTM1, has falsely linked myself and my colleagues Ean Yong Hin, Boo Cheng Hau, Tan Kok Wai, and Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s Dr Nasir Hashim to a Facebook group called the “Murtads in Malaysia and Singapore”.

Checks with my Facebook friends have shown that many were added to the group as the administrator of these groups do not need permission before doing so. But the irresponsible reporting by the television station caricatures the extent of dirty politics in the country.

Government leaders certainly know stirring racial sentiments could get out of control. The nation had borne witness to the riots of 1969 and 2001. But potentially damning issues are fashioned by Umno leaders to frighten the Malays and bring them back to the party fold.

Blatant cover-ups

After all, Umno and BN leaders are adamant about winning the next general election at all cost.

The government’s only concern is about winning the four states ruled by the opposition and ensuring two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In order to see that materialize, government’s leaders are injecting venom into our political veins without caring two hoots about the consequences of their actions.

Playing up racial sensitivities is not their only devious plan. It is also registering permanent residence (PR) holders and illegal immigrants to shore up its voter bank.

The Election Commission is nonchalant about revamping the electoral system and is aligned with the government, raising questions about the integrity of the electoral body.

Although the EC and government are waltzing together, locked in each others’ arms, the people are getting fed-up with decades of abuses which are ingrained in the electoral system.

Their dissatisfaction was candidly marked when tens of thousands of people defied police orders and rallied on the streets, despite the presence of stern-looking cops and baton-wielding anti-riot policemen, to call for free and fair elections on July 9.

Glitzy decorations and blaring sounds would dominate the Merdeka celebrations. But, in my mind, the festivities would be haunted by Teoh Beng Hock’s ghost. It would also be infused with the pain and suffering of Teoh’s parents, family members and friends.

It is hard to imagine celebrating victory while the three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers who, according to the Royal Commission of Inquiry, tortured him to commit suicide remain unpunished.

While no one believes Teoh took his own life, it is doubly appalling that some officers have escaped punishment despite the RCI establishing that physical abuse and torture did take place.

We continue to see blatant cover-ups in Ahmad Sarbani’s case which also occurred in a MACC building.

Meanwhile, deaths in police custody are being swept under the carpet, corruption is rampant, the judiciary’s image remains tainted, legitimate dissent is clamped down using various preventive laws, human rights workers are persecuted and opposition politicians are targeted to score brownie points with the people.

Papering over the cracks

Malaysia has many lessons to learn from events unfolding around the world. The rule of dictators is coming to an end like in the case of Libya.

Tens of thousands of people watched Indian activist Anna Hazare break his 13-day fast, which shook the nation.

The diminutive man did not budge until the government agreed to implement a strong anti-corruption law.

This is peoples’ power, whether it is the Arab spring revolution, the Indian rise against corruption or a change of leadership in neighboring Singapore.

Umno leaders, therefore, must know that they cannot afford to repeat high-profile screw-ups.

And they certainly cannot be foolish enough to believe that open unaccountability, shameless political ploys and unending abuse of power could be made to disappear in the glitz and glamour of a one-day Merdeka celebration.

54th Merdeka in the shadow of ethnic distrust

As Malaysians mark the 54th anniversary of the country’s independence, the usual pomp and pageantry comes at a time of increasingly tense ethnic and religious ties.

Malaysia prides itself on its thriving multicultural society and the freedom of religion against the backdrop of a majority-Muslim population, but racial tensions have always simmered under the surface.

A survey conducted by independent polling group Merdeka Centre this year revealed that the number of Malaysians who felt that ethnic relations were good had dropped to 66 percent from 78 percent five years ago.

The poll also showed a particularly high level of distrust among Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds.

“In our view, the survey findings reflect a significant shift in Malaysian public thinking – the optimism of the mid-2000s appears to have given way to increased insecurities and distrust, which is in part due to the current competitive political environment,” the centre said this month after its survey results were announced.

Race and religion have always been sensitive issues, but interracial clashes in recent years have exacerbated the growing ethnic divide.

Last year, the Home Ministry appealed against a High Court decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word ‘Allah’, a ruling that had riled most Muslims.

The case led to at least eight churches being attacked, including one in Kuala Lumpur city centre which was firebombed.

No casualties were reported in any of the attacks, but many observers noted that the incident brought to light the fragile and tense relationships within multi-religious Malaysia.

Despite Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stated commitment to closing the racial divide since he took office in 2009, Malaysia’s political, education and economic structures continue to be deeply entrenched along racial and religious lines.

The worrying level of ethnic tensions of late has been blamed largely on irresponsible politicians playing the race card.

’1Malaysia just lip service’

Government policies on almost every area – from education to economic and electoral reform – continue to be “articulated from an ethnic framework, rather than seeking to find commonalities,” said Denison Jayasooria, a lead researcher in ethnic studies in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

“This articulation and the attempt to champion ethnic policies has had an impact on contemporary Malaysian society,” Denison said.

A poll conducted by the Merdeka Centre in August also revealed that Najib’s popularity has suffered, with his approval rating dropping 6 percentage points over a period of three months from May.

While the rising cost of living and continued concerns of a high crime rate were some of the major reasons for the drop, observers noted that Najib’s handling of racial and religious issues in recent times may have also contributed to his lagging support.

His ’1Malaysia’ campaign, which aims to break down racial divisions and create a single, unifying Malaysian identity, has been criticised as hypocritical vote-grabbing after his ruling coalition suffered badly in the 2008 general elections.

“I don’t believe in Najib’s 1Malaysia. It’s just lip service,” said journalist Maria Hasan.

“The reality on the ground is that there is an increasingly wide racial divide,” she said.

Denison said that while Najib had put in place positive reform policies, he continued to “remain silent” in addressing racially tinged statements coming from members of his ruling Umno.

But despite the grim outlook for ethnic and religious harmony, Denison said he remains hopeful that the growing number of moderate Malaysians would respond rationally to sensitive situations.

“In the long run, Malaysians will reject extremism of all kinds,” he said. “The Malaysian spirit … will draw us towards balance.”

Malaysiakini

How did we get Merdeka?


All the friends I have met since the sudden termination of my Emergency Ordinance (EO) detention have been very clear - the EO6 were set up by the police and the BN government to spook the Malaysian public from participating in the Bersih 2.0 rally.

NONEThey feel that it was ridiculous and totally unacceptable to charge that the EO6 and the PSM were threats to public order and national security.

But after several minutes of expressing their dismay and disgust at the gross misuse of police powers, and reaffirming their commitment to vote wisely in the coming general election, several of them asked, “So what's the story about the T-shirts (depicting photos of communist leaders)? Did the police plant those too?”

No, the nine T-shirts - there were five with Suriani Abdullah's picture, two with Abdullah CD's and one each with Rashid Maidin's and Chin Peng's - were not planted by anyone. They were ours.

These nine cheap cotton T-shirts were in a carton of about 30 T-shirts - the remainder were with anti-privatisation and anti-neoliberalism themes - that were left over from the PSM congress in Sungai Siput on June 3.

The carton containing these items was loaded on to the bus along with the pamphlets for the 'Udahlah' campaign. They would have stayed unnoticed in the luggage compartment of the bus for the entire duration of our 'Udahlah tu ... Bersaralah' campaign if not given front-page prominence in several national dailies by our men in blue.

It was never our intention to sell these T-shirts to the public or indeed even to wear them during the course of the campaign - it simply would not have been relevant to the message of our campaign! In fact, most of us on the bus only became aware of the T-shirts after the police arrested us and searched the vehicle.

But why have those T shirts in the first place?

That is a reasonable question, and there is a reasonable answer for it if you would bear with me as I briefly recount some history of our nation's independence struggle.

CPM was part of independence struggle

The PSM is the political expression of all the grassroots work that several activist organisations were doing in the early 1990s among plantation workers, urban pioneers (squatters), vegetable farmers on government land, and other groups marginalised by profit-centred development.

The inspiration to form the the PSM had nothing to do with the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM).

However, after forming the PSM, and realising that our political analysis and programme can only be termed “socialist”, it became incumbent on us to understand the history of the other left-wing and progressive groups that have been active in Malaya and Malaysia - the AMCJA-Putera coalition, the CPM itself, the Labour Party and the Parti Rakyat Malaysia.

Our reading of history from sources such as Michael Stenson, K Das, Said Zahari, Colin Abraham, and others brought us to the realisation that the BN government's depiction of the CPM leaders as well as other leftist leaders as bloodthirsty, inhuman villains wasn't quite objective.

Let me cite a few historical facts:

(i) Following World War Two, all left-leaning groups partook in open politics, demanding for early Independence. They were part of the AMCJA-Putera coalition. Rashid Maidin and Abdullah CD were in unions affiliated to the PMFTU (Pan-Malaysian Federation of Trade Unions) which was a major component of the AMCJA.

hartal 10 tahun sebelum merdeka documentary 151008 posterAMCJA-Putera came up with the 'Peoples Constitution' in February 1947, which the British ignored. This group organised the 'hartal' of August 1947. A hartal is a non-violent general strike where not only workers do not go to work, but businesses do not open and schoolchildren do not go to school.

The August 1947 Hartal brought all economic activity to a halt for a day, but it did not result in the commencement of negotiations with the colonial government that the AMCJA-Putera was hoping for.

All this goes to show that the initial intention of this coalition was not armed struggle, but political mobilisation utilising legitimate democratic avenues.

(ii) It is also a historical fact that the colonial regime reacted harshly against AMCJA-Putera long before the start of the armed rebellion in June 1948. Some examples:
  • Ahmad Boestaman, the charismatic leader of API (Angkatan Pemuda Insaf), a component of AMCJA-Putera, was arrested in 1947 and detained for eight years.
  • A new Trade Union Ordinance was passed in 1947 and this led to the de-registration of 85 percent of the component unions constituting the PMFTU. They were all required to register. However when they attempted to register, they were turned down and thus rendered “illegal”. The PMFTU itself could not get registered.
  • Chin Peng endorses 'The Finest Hour'The 'thondar padai' (anti-toddy activists) faced harsh aggression. Beatings by the colonial police actually led to deaths among anti-toddy activists picketing at toddy shops in Kedah (see account in Colin Abraham's book, 'Their Finest Hour').
  • Estate union activists planning for May Day were attacked by the police - their chairman was shot dead (see also Colin Abraham (left in photo with Chin Peng).

Communists sought participation in free elections



This was the backdrop against which the CPM made the decision to switch to armed struggle in June 1948. A strong argument can be made that the CPM was pushed by the colonial regime to take the course they did.



The third historical fact that one has to look at carefully is the Baling Talks in 1955. CPM leaders Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin were prepared to lay down arms at that time for the guarantee that they were allowed to participate in the democratic process in Malaya.



tunku abdul rahman 290809Tunku Abdul Rahman (right), and especially David Marshall, took a hardline position –'surrender and submit to preventive detention. We will decide when you can participate.'



It is now clear that the British had indicated in no uncertain terms to Tunku that Independence would only be granted if the CPM was kept out of the political process. Malaya remained an important source of wealth for Britain even after Independence. The CPM finally got what it asked for in 1955 - withdraw with dignity - 34 years later, in 1989.



The jungle war could have come to an end when the country won Independence. But the British wanted the CPM muzzled, and the Alliance government went along with that game plan.



If one is to be strictly objective, all the injuries and deaths arising from the jungle war from 1955 onwards cannot be attributed entirely to Chin Peng and the CPM. The Alliance through Tunku and the British also played a vital role in perpetuating the jungle war that everyone knew the CPM could not win.



It is on the basis of these analyses of our nation's history that the PSM perceives the CPM leaders as 'Pejuang Merdeka' or freedom fighters. They took on the most powerful colonial power of that time. They were committed to the building of an independent and just society in Malaysia.



So, even though PSM itself rejects the 'armed struggle' option as a route to political power, we consider the leaders of the CPM as Independence fighters.



Focus is on helping Malaysia's underclass



However, although our perception of the CPM and its leaders is quite different from BN'spropaganda, the PSM does not consider the rehabilitation of the name and image of the CPM as one of PSM's priorities.



Yes, history has to be re-assessed and, yes, the struggles of the past have to be accurately understood, but some of the wounds left by the armed rebellion are still raw and there are far more important things to do with/for Malaysians here and now - the ordinary people of Malaysia are being pressured by neo-liberal policies that holds down wages while increasing the costs of all necessities.



There are many estate communities and urban pioneer communities which are being threatened with eviction. And there is a need to oust Umno-BN and install the Pakatan Rakyat in Putrajaya - this will take the political process forward for this nation. These are the issues that the PSM has been focusing on.



NONEThe PSM central committee (CC) did not procure the T-shirts with the pictures of CPM leaders. However, when several such T-shirts, along with other items, were sold at the PSM Congress - a closed-door function for PSM members and specially invited supporters - the CC did not see it necessary to stop it.



The purchase and sale of such T-shirts does not contravene any law, and in any case, the memoirs and biographies of many CPM leaders are available in many bookshops in our major towns. That's how the unsold T-shirts eventually came to be on the bus - and just because of that, several of us got to experience detention without trial for almost one month.



However, we always thought - and indeed we still maintain - that we were well within the law, and that we had nothing to fear from having in our possession these or any other T-shirts.



Now, however, we have learnt through direct experience - and the public, too, has seen - that desperate men in positions of power in this country can lie and slander and grossly misuse the formidable power that they hold in order to sow fear and confusion.



It would be criminal to let them stay on in office any longer. And so, we say again: “Udahlah tu ... Bersaralah!”

Happy Merdeka Day, Tell Me Why? Without justice to rakyat

The ‘unofficial history’ of our Independence

More than 50 years after Independence, Malaysians are still frequently reminded by Umno leaders of the so-called ‘Social Contract’ that was supposed to have been agreed upon by “the three races” whenever the non-bumiputeras demand civil liberties and the end to discrimination.

My new book ‘Patriots & Pretenders’ aims to put the historical facts in perspective so that the new generation of Malaysians understands the class forces that were arraigned during the anti-colonial struggle and gets to know who the real anti-colonial fighters were.

The publication of this book coincides with the recent announcement by the Education Ministry that history is to be a compulsory subject in the SPM. It led to vocal protest from several sectors who find the ‘official’ history in Malaysia rather suspect.

Ever since the ‘May 13 Incident’ and the promulgation of the National Cultural Policy, Malaysian history has been written from the point of view of the ruling party Umno in line with its Malay-centric populist ideology.

It is an official history that is used to bolster one ethnic group at the expense of the other communities in an attempt to divide and rule. Consequently, whole categories of people have been denied their rightful place in Malaysian history.

‘Patriots & Pretenders’ tries to set the record straight by providing a class analysis of the anti-colonial struggle and acknowledging the contributions of the patriotic forces in all the ethnic communities to Independence and nation building.

This ‘Peoples’ History’ which is based on academic research by respected scholars, has been hidden from official Malaysian history and by studying it we can uncover the roots of racial polarisation in Malaysia and lay the basis for a non-racial solution to our nation’s challenges.

The neo-colonial solution
From the Colonial Office and Foreign Office documents of the period uncovered from the Public Records Office in London, it has been possible to provide evidence of the thinking and calculation of Western interests with regard to Southeast Asia, but especially the importance laid on securing Malaya for economic, political and military-strategic interests.

They show the priority accorded to defeating the anti-colonial forces spearheaded by the workers. The post-war period was also one of re-dividing the world by the Western powers, which under the hegemony of the US, began to move toward an integration rather than division of interests. These records reveal the articulation of the whole Western, rather than solely British, interest in Malaya.

The atmosphere of repression during the ‘Emergency’ provided the British colonial power with an opportunity to deflect the forces of revolt and effect the neo-colonial accommodation. The entire colonial strategy – especially the aftermath of the Malayan Union crisis – had convinced the British that the custodians of an Independent Malaya would be the traditional Malay elite.

This was in keeping with the communalist strategy of British rule throughout their colonisation of Malaya. At the same time, the neo-colonial arrangement had to accommodate the upper strata of the non-Malay capitalist class who were a necessary link in the foreign domination of the Malayan economy. The repression during the ‘Emergency’ enabled the colonial government to exploit sectional interests and thereby isolate the working class and the peasantry.

Thus, the ‘Alliance Formula’ with all its contradictions was devised in Independent Malaya. The reform measures conceded by the colonial power and grudgingly agreed to by the Malay rulers were in many ways necessitated by the ferocity of the revolt.

Another myth that is purveyed during ‘Merdeka Day’ every year is that it was Umno who won Independence for the country.

The evidence presented in ‘Patriots & Pretenders’ will show who the main opponents of the British colonial power were and who put up a protracted struggle to end the exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources while forging a truly multi-ethnic peoples’ united front.

The Independence struggle and the Merdeka Agreement have to be understood in class terms – the ruling class in the making represented by Umno, MCA and MIC on the one side, and the truly anti-colonial forces in the PMCJA-Putera coalition representing the workers, peasantry and disenchanted middle class on the other.

The struggle for Independence
The Umno leadership after the Second World War represented the interests of the Malay aristocracy. They were by no means anti-colonial and did not challenge British interests. Malaya was still very much dependent on export commodities, largely rubber and tin. The industrial base was narrow and based on these two commodities, while the problem of the peasantry since colonial times was still unresolved.

The mass-based anti-colonial movement, on the other hand, had very clear policies based on self-determination, civil liberties and equality. The workers’ movement was the main threat to colonial interests and the Federation of Malaya proposals culminating in the Merdeka Agreement were intended to deflect the working class revolt by introducing communalism in the Independence package.

The Emergency (1948-60) was as much a crackdown on the workers’ movement as it was a war against the anti-colonial insurrection. The subsequent ‘Alliance Formula’ comprising the Malay aristocratic class and non-Malay capitalist class was designed to deal with the workers’ revolt and put in place a neo-colonial solution.

The colonial Malayan economy saw a neglected peasantry while the crucial questions of exploitation by foreign capital, land ownership and size of landholdings of the Malay peasantry (for which the Malay aristocracy was responsible) were deflected into grievances against the non-Malay middlemen.

The Malayan Union (MU) proposal by the British in 1946 was opposed by the political left and right in Malaya for different reasons. Basically, the post-war Labour government in Britain had to grant civil rights including citizenship for the non-Malays as in elsewhere in the post-war world, but the Malay elite were opposed to this.

The latter also opposed the MU because it proposed to transfer the sultans’ jurisdiction to the British and abolish the need for royal assent to legislation. On the other hand, the peoples’ anti-colonial forces opposed it because it did not propose self-rule and no elections were contemplated. They were also against the exclusion of Singapore from the federation.

In their demonstrations against the Malayan Union, Umno carried banners calling for, among other things, denial of citizenship rights for the non-Malays but they did not oppose British colonial rule per se. Umno’s opposition to the Union had been mainly provoked by the brusque manner in which the British had forced the sultans to sign the treaties.

By contrast, the Malay Nationalist Party (MNP) called for, among other things:

  • the right to self-determination of the Malayan people;
  • equal rights for all races;
  • freedom of speech, press, meeting, religion;
  • improving standard of living of all the people;
  • improving farming conditions and abolishing land tax;
  • improving labour conditions;
  • education reform on democratic lines;
  • fostering friendly inter-racial relations.
  • On Oct 20, 1947, the AMCJA-Putera coalition launched a general strike and economic boycott or ‘hartal’ to protest against the constitutional proposals. It brought the country to a complete standstill. It also called on all parties to boycott the federal legislative and state councils.

    Realising the different class forces opposing the Malayan Union, the British did a volte face and began to consult only with the Malay elite to the exclusion of all the other interest groups.

    The colonial power again used its divide-and-rule strategy to put the anti-colonial forces on the defensive by tightening up citizenship rules from five to 15 years’ residence under the Federation of Malaya proposals of 1948; Singapore was to be excluded from the federation and no representative democracy was considered.

    The constitutional crisis and labour unrest led to the Emergency being declared on June 17, 1948. During the period from 1948 to 1960, thousands were deported to China while some 500,000 were relocated to ‘new villages’.

    In looking at the citizenship issue, it is worth noting that by 1947, three-fifths of Chinese and one-half of Indians in Malaya were local born but in 1950, only 500,000 Chinese (one-fifth of the total) and 230,000 Indians had Malayan citizenship.

    The 1952 Kuala Lumpur Municipal Council elections, which saw the successful application of the Alliance formula, gave the British colonial power an indication of the political forces to back for the neo-colonial solution.

    The 1955 federal legislative council elections confirmed their choice of the Alliance and when the Alliance reneged on its amnesty proposals for the guerrillas at the Baling talks in 1955, the British were assured of the Alliance’ reliability as the custodians of British interests.

    When the Constitutional (Reid) Commission was considering the provision for Malay special position, it made the following comments:

    “Our recommendations are made on the footing that the Malays should be assured that the present position will continue for a substantial period, but that in due course the present preferences should be reduced and should ultimately cease so that there should be no discrimination between races or communities.”

    The proposal to review Malay special position after 15 years by the legislature was opposed by Umno and they got their way. The Alliance formula of three racially-based parties made up of the Malay ruling class and the non-Malay capitalist class was plainly the neo-colonialist alternative to the truly Malayan nationalist movement grounded in the workers’ movement.

    The Alliance won the upper hand mainly through the help of British colonial repression of the mass-based nationalist movement and the failure of the latter to mobilise the Malay peasantry.

    Lessons from the past
    Frantz Fanon has commented that decolonisation is invariably a violent phenomenon. The Emergency in Malaya from 1948 to 1960 was certainly a violent chapter in Malayan history and predated the Vietnam War in its scale and intensity of repression.

    Many lost their lives and freedoms, thousands were banished from our shores and some, such as the families who lost their loved ones in the Batang Kali massacre during the Emergency are still seeking justice and closure.

    The restrictions on workers’ organisation and activities were initiated during the Emergency repression and the labour movement has scarcely recovered since.

    The Malayan peoples’ independence struggle is an inspiring story of patriots who were prepared to give their lives and freedoms to rid the country of colonial exploitation and repression. The anti-colonial movement demanded self-government and their AMCJA-Putera coalition put forward their ‘Peoples’ Constitutional Proposals’. Imagine what our nation would have become had this ‘People’s Constitution’ been the federal constitution at Independence.

    This coalition encapsulated a more genuine multi-ethnic approach compared to the “communal formula” of the Alliance that was made up of racially-based parties and fraught with contradictions from the start.

    The component parties in the Alliance (now BN) were unashamedly racial and have been dominated by Umno from the start. They would find it difficult to justify themselves if there was a Race Relations Act or if Malaysia ratified the Convention on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination.

    The Malayan workers’ movement and radical intelligentsia in the anti-colonial coalition of AMCJA-Putera displayed strong organisation, solidarity and inter-ethnic unity and this history is a source of inspiration and a model of genuine multiethnic cooperation for Malaysians today. Through this struggle, they developed an awareness of nationalism and anti-imperialism and the socialist road to egalitarian development.

    The British colonial power used its communalist strategy to divide this anti-colonial movement by raising the issue of citizenship for the non-Malays and reneging on the promises of civil equality for all. What would it have been like if all Malayans had been granted genuine civil liberties and political equality?

    The anti-colonial movement was defeated largely because the Malay peasantry had been isolated from the movement, buffered from capitalist exploitation in the estates, factories and other urban industries. The colonial state did not hesitate to use crude racial and religious propaganda against the movement.

    But despite the compromises made to civil rights by the British colonial power under the 1957 Federal Constitution, it seems logical for us to abide by that Independence Agreement rather than its subsequent amendments. Our fundamental liberties are inscribed in that Federal Constitution which confers upon every citizen basic rights we all enjoy as citizens. The status quo today is a far cry from what it was in 1957. May 13, 1969 changed all that.

    The ‘May 13′ incident in 1969 and the ascendance of the Malay capitalist class has enabled the total dominance and hegemony by this ruling class in Umno.

    The fait accompli presented to the country during the Emergency decree proclaimed after the 1969 riots and the creation of a ‘broader BN’ has led to the notion of “Malay dominance” being bandied around with impunity by Umno leaders and far-right Malay extremists.

    The amendment to Article 153 has transformed completely the so-called ‘social contract’ of 1957. Following the amendment, the so-called ‘quota system’ which has led to gross racial discrimination has been laid down as a fait accompli up to the present day.

    Pointers to the future
    Today, the Malay masses are no longer isolated in the rural sector but they have become part of the capitalist economy since the industrialisation of the 60s. Nevertheless, the state has relied on its populist ‘bumiputera’ policy with the implementation of the New Economic Policy in an effort to win their electoral support.

    With growing intra-ethnic inequality within the Malay community and exposures of corruption and crony capitalism by Umno leaders, the opposition has been steadily attracting Malay support away from Umno.

    If Malaysia is to have a viable future and a new agenda for change involving all Malaysians, we must demand a fair, socially just, equal and democratic country that respects human rights as laid out in the conclusion of ‘Patriots & Pretenders’.

    Malaysiakini

    Forum on ‘future of Indian M’sians’

    August 29, 2011

    A business organisation will hold a forum to look at the battle for Indian votes ahead of the next general election.

    PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) will be organising a forum here on Sept 11.

    Titled “Future of Indian Malaysians – Towards the 13th general election”, the forum would feature Indian political leaders from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat as well as activists, community and business leaders.

    In a statement, Miba president P Sivakumar said the last general election witnessed an erosion of support for BN.

    “After 11 general elections of solid block support to BN, a majority of Indians voted opposition candidates as reflected in the current representation in Parliament and state assemblies.

    “However, since 2008 and after 16 by-elections there are some indications of a change with regard to the return of Indians back to BN due to the community’s confidence in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s leadership style and inclusive approach.

    “The battle for the Indian vote is at hand and therefore this forum seeks to provide an opportunity for an intellectual discussion to ascertain the current status of events.

    “This forum is a meeting of minds and we hope that all parties will take the opportunity to use this forum to debate their views, challenges, hurdles and future possibilities,” he added.

    Sivakumar said this is the time for stock taking to compare what was promised, with what was delivered, between what was part of the election manifesto in 2008 and the track record in terms of delivery and public confidence.

    “We acknowledge that the Indian community is a very diverse political community. We believe all groups irrespective of the political divide are committed towards seeing the advancement of the Indian community in the context of socio-economic development of all Malaysians.

    “The forum provides a platform for politicians and aspiring politicians to share their dreams and hope for the community in the context of what they have promised and delivered,” he added.

    Registration fee is RM100. The forum would be held at the Menara PKNS here. For further information, contact Miba’s office at 03-7859 1670, fax:03-7859 1864.

    Sweeping sensitive issues under the carpet will only lead to public backlash or mass emigration, warned a local sociologist.

    PETALING JAYA: “Well, all things must come to an end, including BN (Barisan Nasional).” This was a comment made by a FMT reader known only as “boniyoniku” on an article entitled “World’s oldest panda dies”.

    The article – which had nothing to do whatsoever with local political developments – described how the oldest panda in the world died of natural causes.

    A quick glance through FMT’s daily news stories also revealed many a reader’s baffling attempts at connecting unrelated stories with Malaysian politics.

    Other comments also appeared to be tinged with personal attacks, with characters being singled out for slamming.

    On an article entitled “Najib, Rosmah in court but no interviews”, a reader known only as “anti gay frog” had this to say about former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    “No use to sue Kutty. He just need coverage and glamour. Ibrahim (Ali) katak was the one who didn’t gave Anwar (Ibrahim) floor to explain.”

    “Ibrahim was the one who hit the table during the meeting. Obviously he had collaborated with Kutty to expel Anwar. We will sue Kutty and the frog once BN fall. Ibrahim will cry because cant find boys to put his short p***** into boys a*******!!!” the reader wailed.

    Monash University professor Phua Kai Lit said that these comments were a sign of public frustration in an environment intolerant of public dissent.

    “In the universities in the United States, you have more room to say things that are unpopular, such as sensitive issues like race.”

    “There is more space for dissenting or different views, (they’re) more tolerant in that sense, (unlike) Malaysia,” he said.

    Traditional channels

    The lack of avenues for public criticism, Phua added, often led Malaysians to make their views known in the online world, especially online media websites.

    A sociologist by trade, Phua said that locals were not encouraged to do the same in more traditional channels.

    “I think we avoid (talking about) certain issues (in public) because we fear getting in trouble with the authorities.”

    “We don’t have enough of that (free speech). There is some free speech in the online media. Of course, if the government is totally repressive, they can clamp down on everything, so you do have some space,” he said.

    “But it’s not big enough.”

    Malaysia has little space for free speech or press freedom. On many occasions, the government has told the public not to rock the boat.

    In recent months, the government – as well as other groups – have clamped down on many newspaper outfits and reporters, criticising them for allegedly negative coverage.

    One of these was former senior Utusan Malaysia journalist Hata Wahari, who slammed his newspaper for playing up racial rhetoric.

    At the time, Hata made the comments as National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president. He was summarily suspended for his comments.

    Mass emigration

    Malaysia is also ranked at 143rd out of a total of 178 countries, according to the Press Freedom Index.

    Phua said that there were disadvantages to the government sweeping sensitive or certain issues under the carpet.

    Public backlash and mass emigration were two known effects.

    “If you don’t give people space to dissent, then we may have a sudden eruption of anti-social behaviour. On the surface, it seems that people are fine, but suddenly you’ll have this outbreak simply because people are so frustrated.”

    “They can also exit, and you can see Malaysians voting with their feet… so many people have left the country (because of this),” he added.

    According to a World Bank report on brain drain, more than a million Malaysians are residing overseas. Many have left due to career prospects and social injustice, the report said.

    Contrary to popular belief, Phua said that most people were “rational and accommodating” when it came to discussing these issues.

    Nevertheless, he said that the right way to go about things was to have a “responsible” free speech.

    “So if you say things that are offensive, people can sue you for libel. That should be the proper way, rather than arresting you and throwing you in jail.”

    “They should discuss sensitive issues in a responsible way, so that the government knows how the people feel,” he said.

    Reject race politics

    August 30, 2011

    We should embark on a crusade to preach inter-racial unity to propagate basic rights for all, says former ISA detainee R Kengadharan.

    By R Kengadharan

    KUALA LUMPUR: Fifty four years after independence and we still find it extremely difficult to divorce ourselves from the politics of race.

    Why? The communal feeling is still deeprooted and for most of the time, such uncontrolled feelings go overboard creating nightmares.

    We often hear racist remarks and comments that create hatred and communal dissatisfaction and this has effectively caused national unity to suffer and deteriorate seriously.

    These ruthless and unscrupulous methods employed thus far have created anxiety and unrest among Malaysians.

    While most of the statements, comments and remarks were flagrant falsehoods, some however have succeeded in fanning the communal sensitivities purely for personal gains and political mileage.

    When there is intense racial agitation and emotions are uncontrollably fanned, this could lead the country through a mischievous and dangerous path.

    But these are clearly the works of influential political leaders who use the media in the pursuit of their deplorable communal political propaganda of destruction.

    On this independence day, let us re-visit our national obligations and responsibilities, and learn completely to restrain from indulging in inflammatory racist propaganda.

    No citizen of this country should feel persecuted and look at another with apprehension and suspicion.

    No one should be vulnerable and should seek refuge elsewhere. This would be terribly disheartening and may be a negation of everything our forefathers had believed in and worked for.

    While it would be quite impossible to dispel or overcome the deepseated communal feeling, much is however depended upon our faith and trust.

    As a country we bear the main burden of responsibility to ensure that communal sensitivities are kept at bay at all times.

    Our ultimate goal this independence day would be to embark on a crusade to preach inter-racial unity to propagate basic rights of all races forming our multi racial society.

    R Kengadharan is a lawyer and a former ISA detainee.

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