Sunday, September 27, 2009

Justice for Kugan petition to DYMM YDP Agong 26/09/09 - what I observed

This is what I observed at the peaceful assembly in front of the Istana Negara on 26 September 2009, which was called by Hindraf and the Human Rights Party Malaysia to deliver a petition to the the DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. The petition, which you can download and read here, pleads to the YDP Agong for justice for Kugan and his family. Eight months after his death in police custody, the killer/s of A. Kugan, have yet to be arrested and brought to justice.

I tried to get to the Istana Negara at about 10.30 a.m., but there was a police roadblock where Jalan Dewan Bahasa joins Jalan Istana, and the police were not allowing any cars to get past. I made some calls and found out that the petitioners were meeting at Naga's Restaurant in Brickfields, which is where I headed to.

Members of Kugan's family were already there, including Madam Indra (his mother), sister, brothers and uncle. With them were a small group of Hindraf and MHRP folks; MP for Kapar YB S Manikavasagam, MP for Puchong YB Gobind Singh Deo, and ADUN for Kota Shah Alam YB M. Manoharan were also there. Soon, Human Rights Party Malaysia pro-tem secretary-general P. Uthayakumar and Hindraf coordinator Mr. Jayathas arrived, and the group organised themselves for the trip to the istana.

Some of Kugan's family members waiting for transport to the Istana

I hitched a ride in one of the cars carrying some of Kugan's relatives. We set of towards the Istana, but somehow got separated from the lead cars. We parked before the roadblock at Jln Dewan Bahasa, and began walking towards the Istana proper.

Members of the police manning the roadblock blocked our way and told us that we could not pass.

The police stop us from proceeding

We told them that we were going to deliver a petition to the Istana, and that Kugan's relatives were with us. The policeman asked us to wait while he radioed his superiors for permission. He took an inordinate amount of time doing this.

Asking for instructions, or delaying tactics?

After about ten minutes of waiting with no indication of any permission forthcoming, our group decided not to wait there any longer, but to get back into our cars and try another route. By 11.30 we were walking towards the group of petitioners in front of the Istana.

The petitioners outside the Istana, outnumbered by the police, reporters and cameramen. By what stretch of the imagination could they have been considered a threat to public security?

As I approached this group at 11.33 a.m., a policeman was already ordering the crowd to disperse. This is what I managed to record:

Thus the people's attempt to express their plea for justice to their King was foiled by the police. The people there made their way back, and as you can see in the video above, their frustration and disappointment was evident.

The petitioners leaving the Istana area

The leaders of the petitioners had a quick discussion, and decided to hold a press conference back at Naga's Restaurant.

These are the people who prevented the rakyat from presenting their petition to DYMM YDP Agong. They are supposed to protect and serve the rakyat, but whose interests are they protecting now? Whose orders were they following?

Kugan's mother and other family members waiting by the roadside of Jalan Istana, having been chased away from the Istana area itself. Don't they have a right to plead for justice from their King, when the Malaysian AG and police have denied them justice for eight months? Why must they be treated so?

We got back into our cars and headed back to Naga's, where the impromptu press conference was held. Here are some video clips from it (apologies for the poor audio quality):

YB Gobind Singh Deo

YB M. Manoharan

Mr. Uthayakumar, YB Manickavasagam, YB Manoharan and lawyer Mr. N. Surendran

Madam Indra, with YB Manoharan translating for her. Kugan's mother still grieves.

YB Gobind Singh Deo again pt. 1

Pt. 2

Pt. 3

During the press conference, there were three gentlemen who were hanging about the restaurant, with a video camera. here they are, numbered accordingly:

I cannot verify this, but I was told that they were special branch officers. Here is another shot of them:

Here is number 3 recording the press conference from up close:

According to this Bernama report of the event:
Brickfields police chief ACP Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said police managed to disperse the gathering without any untoward incidents.

"No arrests were made. Police were on duty in front of Istana Negara to prevent incidents as the group comprised Hindraf members and politicians.

"The public should respect the residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the laws of the country," he said when contacted today.
Reading his statement, and having seen the events unfold for myself, these are the questions and thoughts that come to my mind:

1) What "untoward incident" was he expecting? Was he afraid that Kugan's mother was going to assault him with a deadly petition?

2) Why are Hindraf members and politicians singled out for "special treatment", when the cow head protestors get a free pass? Blatant double standards at work!

3) What did any of the petitioners do there, which can be construed as disrespecting the YDP Agong or his residence? Palace officials had already been informed and were prepared to accept the memorandum. Isn't DYMM YDP Agong the King for all Malaysians, including for Kugan and his family? Wasn't His Majesty's palace built and maintained with their blood, sweat and tears as well? What laws did they break? Why is the Brickfields police chief slandering them?

4) Why aren't Malaysians allowed to exercise their right to assemble peacefully? Were these folks in any way or form a threat to public safety and security? If peaceful assemblies like these are broken up by the police, how else are Malaysians going to express their views and feelings? IMHO, all the while our 1Malaysia government is embarking on a "feel-good" PR campaign, they are severely eroding our rights to assemble peacefully, amongst many others. We need work urgently to re-establish our rights, before we lose them altogether.

5) Why was it that the people who showed up in support of the petition were virtually all Indians? In the past (for example during Kugan's funeral), there was heartwarming and encouraging support from all communities; we must never let such cooperation and understanding die away. Kugan's case, just like Adi Anwar Mansor's and Teoh Beng Hock's, is a serious issue for all Malaysians. If we only fight for justice when our own race is involved, then Umno/BN will win, because we cannot defeat them by ourselves. Civil society and progressive groups must work together to find common ground and strive for change with a united voice. This will require high quality, principled leaders. United we stand; divided, we'll all die with Umno/BN in power for the next 52 years. Please people, we must break down the racial walls that Umno/BN have built between us!

6) We must ensure that the IPCMC is formed. IMHO, the police have become an instrument for the oppression of Malaysian's political expression and aspirations. If we are to have any hope of change in Malaysia, we must reform the police into an organisation that serves the rakyat, and not the political purposes of the party which happens to be in government.

The pain and anguish that our mothers bear for us, transcends time, language, race, and religion. Paradise lies beneath their feet, but all we give them in return is suffering. When our time comes, will God have mercy on us?

Malaysian Heart

Please read more reports of the event here, here, here and here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If our politicians are working only for their own interests, it is because we do not make them work for ours!

Dear Readers,

Hope you all had happy and meaningful Hari Raya holidays, because now it's time to get back to the work we must all do: bringing change to our country, beginning with ourselves.

Raja Petra wrote an excellent article, "Me serve the rakyat? Nah!", published on Malaysia Today yesterday. While I can't vouch for the factuality of the specifics RPK reported as going on behind the scene of Pakatan Rakyat Selangor, on the whole it seems plausible to me. However, what struck me the most were these words (bold emphasis mine):
It is therefore not difficult to understand why there is so much chaos in Pakatan Rakyat Selangor. Not only are PKR, DAP and PAS trying to outmanoeuvre each other. Internally, within PKR, DAP and PAS, there are many factions and each is trying to kill off the other.

We have inter-party and we have intra-party wars going on. And it is all because no one is interested in bringing changes or to serve the rakyat. They are only interested in seeking power because politicians naturally lust for power.

So we, the people, need to keep them in check. If power goes to their heads they will very quickly forget that it was the people who put them there. They will forget that they are supposed to work for the rakyat. They will become just like Barisan Nasional in thinking that the rakyat are the slaves while they are the masters.

Never trust politicians. They will use us when it best suits them. Then they will turn on us and betray the trust we gave them. And that is why the need for some of us to remain as political activists and not become politicians. This is so that we can whack the politicians when they forget themselves, which will be as soon as they win the election and form the new government.

Please read the entire article here. I feel that RPK has put it in the best way possible: if we elect a particular set of politicians, and expect that they will automatically do what is right and good for our country because (we hope) that they are good people, then we are in for a big disappointment. While I believe that there are individual politicians who are principled, the prevailing political culture and system, compounded by we Malaysians' apparent apathy to values and good governance, make it difficult for them to make their voices heard over the shrill cacophony of self-interest. As Franklin D. Roosevelt told A. Philip Randolph, who had just given FDR an earful on what direction America should be taking (my bold emphasis):
"I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it."
If we want our government and politicians to listen to us, and act to promote our interests and aspirations, we have to make them do it. We have to have press freedom so that what they do behind closed doors is exposed in the open. We need to tell them what we want, keep track of their promises, and hold them accountable when they don't deliver. We need to fight for what is right whenever it is right, not just when it suits us or ours. We need to unite our voices so that when we speak, they sit up and listen. We cannot do this as long as we identify ourselves by our race and religion, as Umno/BN wants us to.

Our end goal must be to establish a new political culture in Malaysia: one where the rakyat's interests come first, and one where only principled leaders have a chance of being elected to office.

I believe that the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative is an excellent platform from which to make our politicians work for us instead of the other way around. Please read their charter here, read the SABM powerpoint presentation here and see Haris Ibrahim's speech here.

Whatever we want Malaysia to be, it's not going to happen if we just watch from the sidelines. It's time to get involved, people! ARE YOU, YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS REGISTERED VOTERS?

Malaysian Heart

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all!

Today, 20 September 2009 AD (or 1 Syawal 1430 AH) is Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Hari Raya means "day of celebration" in Bahasa Malaysia, and Aidil Fitri is from the Arabic Eid ul-Fitr; Eid means celebration or festival, and Fitr pertains to the breaking of fast. It is the Islamic festival that is celebrated to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. As it is written in the Holy Quran:
Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 185, translated by Hafiz Abdullah Yusuf Ali
A relevant hadith:
Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Al-Madinah, the people of Madinah used to have two festivals. On those two days they had carnivals and festivity. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) asked the Ansar (the Muslims of Madinah) about it. They replied that before Islam they used to have carnivals on those two joyous days. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) told them: "Instead of those two days, Allah has appointed two other days which are better, the days of `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha."

(from "riwayat Ahmad, Abu Daud dan al-Nasa’ie")
From Wikipedia:
The Takbir is recited after having confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins, every Muslim who is able must pay Zakat al-fitr,[3] an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given at any time during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can use it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity. The Takbir consists of:

Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
laa ilaaha illAllaah لا إله إلا الله
Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illaahil-hamd ولله الحمد

God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest,
There is no deity but God
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
and to God goes all praise

How is Aidil Fitri celebrated in Malaysia? From Wikipedia:

Usually on the eve of the celebrations, family members, especially mothers and housewives, will be busy preparing food, cakes, sweets, biscuits and various delicacies to be served on the day of Hari Raya. Delicacies such as ketupat or rice cake and a meat cuisine called rendang are among the most famous cuisines that are served during this day. Other family members will help in other chores such as decorating and cleaning up the house.

Days before Hari Raya, house compounds, particularly those in the countryside will be lit up with oil lamps known as pelita or panjut. This display of oil lamps will reach its height on the 27th night of Ramadan, called the Tujuh Likur night. 'Likur' literally meaning a figure between 20 and 30, hence 'tujuh likur' means twenty seven. Originally during the early days of the arrival of Islam among the Malays, the purpose of lighting the oil lamps was to attract spirit of passed relatives and angels to descend to people's homes during the night of Lailatulqadar. However after ages has passed, such misconception is regarded counterfactual as much understanding of Islam were obtained. Nowadays the oil lamps are lit solely for decorative purposes.

It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay costumes. The dress for men is called baju Melayu while the women's are known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. Traditional textiles such as songket and batik are worn favourably during this day.

Muslims will attend Eid prayer in the morning and consecrate together harmoniously while taking the chance to meet and greet each other. Once the prayer is done, it is also common for Muslims in Malaysia to visit the grave of their loved ones. During this visit, they will clean the grave, perform the recital of the Yasin — a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also the tahlil or prayers for the deceased. All these are done in hope that their loved ones are blessed by God and they are spared from the punishment in the grave.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Hari Raya is a very joyous day for children for this is the day where adults are extra generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as duit raya from their parents and elders.

During the night, there are often celebrations with sparklers and firecrackers, albeit restrictions on playing firecrackers enforced by the authorities. Most firecracker stocks are purchased and smuggled illegally from black markets. Safety issues, especially among children are raised and alarming cases relating to injuries caused by playing firecrackers are often reported, which initially led to the banning of playing firecrackers. Despite of the enforcement of banning firecrackers, more Malay children turn to home-made firecrackers such as meriam buluh (bamboo cannon) as alternatives to commercial fireworks. Usually the lighting of firecrackers begins a few days before the end of Ramadan, and continues for about a week afterwards.

The main greeting used by Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore is "Selamat Hari Raya" which means "Happy Eid" in Malay. Another greeting is "maaf zahir dan batin" which translates loosely to "I seek forgiveness (from you) physically and spiritually", for Hari Raya is a time to reconcile and renew relationships with others.
Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all, maaf zahir dan batin!

Malaysian Heart

Please visit these links to learn more:
Takbir Aidil Fitri in Masjidil Haram
Bagaimana kita Menyambut Aidil Fitri?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rest in Peace, Mary Travers

Mary Allin Travers
(9/11/1936 - 16/9/2009)

Mary Travers, folk singer, activist, and member of Peter, Paul and Mary, the influential folk trio of the 60's, passed away on 16 September 2009. How influential were they? Speaking for myself, the first time I heard Blowin in the wind, it made me think hard about some of the values that I had adopted, and some of the things that I had taken for granted. Such is the power that a good song, book or painting can have, and such was the power of many of the songs that she sang.

Peter Paul & Mary - Blowin in the wind (lyrics here)

Their sang about simple things, but with deep underlying truths. Mary's voice and presence added a charisma that I don't think 2 guys with goatees would have had on their own!

Peter, Paul & Mary - Where Have All The Flowers Gone

Their songs became the anthems of a generation, and provided the music for the sea-changes taking place in America and the world then. Would the struggle for civil rights, to end the Vietnam War and nuclear disarmament have been the same without them?

Peter Paul & Mary - If I Had A Hammer (lyrics)

All throughout, Mary herself remained an activist, speaking and acting for the cause of human rights the world over.

Thank you, Mary Travers, and may you rest in peace.

Peter Paul & Mary - These times they are a-changing

Her obituary in the New York Times here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Charter of the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia Initiative


Recognising that our beloved Malaysia is:
  • A sovereign and independent member of the global community of nations;
  • A polity founded on the principles of a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy;
  • A multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multi-cultural society formed on the basis of a shared choice of membership;
  • A country built and nurtured by the immeasurable efforts and invaluable contributions of all her people, past and present;
  • A nation where her people are inextricably bound by a shared history, heritage, a common interest and destiny;
  • A land blessed with rich natural and human resources.
And fully subscribing to the immutable and universal principle that we are all of a single human race and born equal;

We, Anak Bangsa Malaysia, hereby declare that we are first and foremost Malaysians and Malaysia is our Home. We aspire to be the conscience of the nation and therefore pledge to:
  1. Nurture the spirit of 'Unity is Strength' as enunciated in our Merdeka and Malaysia Day proclamations;
  2. Honour and Uphold the Federal Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land;
  3. Defend the constitutional provisions of fundamental liberties and equal rights for all citizens;
  4. Respect our fellow citizens irrespective of ethnicity, faith, colour, class or gender;
  5. Oppose all forms of prejudice, discrimination, oppression, persecution and injustice;
  6. Cherish our multi-cultural heritage and celebrate our rich diversity; and
  7. Respect and safeguard our natural and built environment;
We, Anak Bangsa Malaysia, herewith undertake to:
  1. Engender a National Mindset to think and act first and foremost as Malaysians;
  2. Engage the Hearts and Minds of our people to rise above the social constructs and divisive forces of ethnicity, faith, colour, class or gender;
  3. Promote the humanitarian Values of inclusiveness, equality and justice for all;
  4. Advance the principles of Good Governance, namely, stewardship, integrity, accountability and transparency;
  5. Educate our people to be responsible and caring Global Citizens contributing to peace, prosperity and sustainable development.
We are committed to actualising the spirit and substance of Anak Bangsa Malaysia —
"One People, One Nation".

Towards this end, we are determined to take this message to the PEOPLE.

25th April 2009

Note: I photographed and OCRed this; please excuse any errors. You can read more about the SABM initiative here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. BM Version here.

MUST READ: What does Umno value? Another GREAT article from The Nut Graph

Dear Readers,

The folks at The Nut Graph have done it again! I reproduce here part of another powerful article from there, this time by Ding Jo-Ann. This article is sharp and incisive; it gets to the heart of the matter and drives a stake through it. It lays bare what our ruling party is all about:
"Since the March 2008 general election, calls have been growing for the BN to rethink the race-based politics that has kept them in government for more than 50 years. In the past, Umno has let its partners in the coalition, such as the MCA and MIC, speak up on Chinese and Indian Malaysian issues. This formula is not just lacking in terms of ensuring national unity; it's myopic in protecting the legitimate rights of all Malaysians.

The responses of Umno leaders to recent events prove just as much. They tell us that Umno's main priority is in ensuring that particular interests are protected. These interests, however, don't include those of minority communities such as non-Muslims and the indigenous people.

Additionally, there are many other ethnic groups that are not directly represented in the BN formula such as the Penan. There is no Penan-based party in the BN. With the current model, who then is supposed to speak up for them? Should the Penan have to set up a National Penan Party and win seats in Parliament before their plight is taken seriously by the government?"

If we find Umno/BN's values and priorities grotesque, let us remember that WE are the ones who are keeping them in power! Are we and our families registered voters? Did we vote in the last elections?

Please, please read the entire article here:

If you like the quality of journalism practiced by The Nut Graph, please consider supporting them. Their investors cannot continue funding them, and they will have to close down if they cannot find adequate support.

As far as I know, The Nut Graph is the only Malaysian news organisation to have published a statement of their journalistic principles, that you can hold them to. If we do not support good journalism when we have it, then we have only ourselves to blame when we are left with the likes of Azmi Anshar and the mainstream media telling us what to think.

Malaysian Heart

The Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative: launched on Hari Malaysia!

On the 46th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, another endeavour of hope has been launched: the Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative, the goal of which is to actualise the spirit and substance of "One People, One Nation".

It is an initiative by a group of Malaysians who believe that we can, and need to, do better as a nation. The difference between this particular effort and the others that have gone before and that continue to suck our precious resources, is that these folk believe in, and know, what they are doing. They:
  • Have identified the things (attitudes, mindsets, policies) that are holding us back as a nation
  • Suggested a set of values and guiding principles that (I strongly believe) our nation needs
  • Proposed a programme of specific actions to address those needs
  • Suggested many ways how we as individuals can help realise the goals, starting with things we can practically do
Why is there a need for such an initiative? Because, as events post GE-12 have clearly shown, our political parties (on both sides) have not been able to effectively address our nation's need for a national identity and consciousness; for justice, human rights, freedom and democracy. Even though DS Najib is promoting his One Malaysia, it is vague and undefined beyond platitudes, and seems to be designed to present different faces to Malaysians from different communities. Furthermore, even as our PM goes around the nation promoting it, his cabinet and their mainstream media are working hard to divide Malaysians by race and religion, just so they stand a chance of winning GE-13.

PR on the other hand, have fared no better. As Kg. Buah Pala has shown, they have made election promises which they have seen fit to break, resulting in injustice being done to poor Malaysians.

It's clear (to me) that we need civil society groups to be the voice of the rakyat. We need to educate and empower ourselves to hold our elected representatives and our public servants to account. We need to decide how our nation is going to move forward and progress as a diverse democracy. We have to do this ourselves, for the political parties have let us down.

Who are leading this initiative? A small group of Malaysians led by civil rights lawyer Haris Ibrahim, of the People's Parliament. They are the folks who came up with the groundbreaking People's Voice and the People's Declaration way back in February 2008. Here they are during the launch of the SABM on 16/9/09:

And here is Haris presenting the SABM initiative:

This is a video where he talks about discrimination, social justice, inclusiveness and diversity (apologies for the poor video quality):

Please do visit the SABM website here and please do read the SABM Charter if you can (note: I've also posted it here) . I believe that if we want a Malaysia that is free from all forms of racism, discrimination and inequality, we need to seriously practise its principles in our daily lives.

Malaysian Heart

New Nationalism: Freedom with Empowering Peace

Dear Readers,

This is a joint statement made by more than fifty civil society organizations, where they spelt out a framework for a new national discourse which embodies diversity and dissent and the rejection of political violence as the true signs of nationhood.

New Nationalism: Freedom with Empowering Peace

We the undersigned civil society organizations believe that Malaysia must renew our national independence after Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak were brought together to become a new nation 46 years ago.

Following a series of saddening and outraging developments since the last Malaysia Day, we feel strongly the need for a new discourse of nationalism that denounces political violence and pursues empowering peace.

Diversity and dissent are signs of real independence.

We fully appreciate the complexity of Malaysia in ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, regional, socio-economical, gender, lifestyle and physical terms. We therefore do not pretend that there is a single Malaysia that would meet the expectation and aspiration of every Malaysian. We are proud with our own vision for the nation and at the same time respect those of others.

We see the differences in preferences and opinion of how this country should move forward as both inevitable and desirable - inevitable because we are free to choose; and desirable because we have plenty alternatives to consider. Diversity and dissent in public opinion are beautiful signs of real independence.

We believe, however, every Malaysian, politician and voter alike, must sign up to one common position: the elimination of political violence.

Political violence threatens our independence

Political violence refers to actions that aim to achieve certain political goals by causing harm to others or subduing them with violence. This must not be confused with legitimate exercise of freedom of speech, assembly and association where violence is not preached, threatened and executed.

More than violation of peace, political violence is exploitation of the physically weak and outnumbered. It deprives the victims of political violence their right to participate in public affairs and prevents the emergence of an inclusive outcome through the use of reason.

In fact, political violence is at the core of colonialism as it was the very means how colonial rule was imposed on us. National liberation is in this sense meaningful only when all citizens are free from further colonization of violence and may exercise freedom and reason in running their public life.

Four principles of Empowering Peace

In this regard, peace associated with fear that inhibits us from full participation in public affairs is but pseudo peace.

True peace must be empowering and inclusive to allow all Malaysians to contribute to and enjoy the national life. True peace requires rule of law and protection of human rights. It is therefore political, but in no way partisan.

We call upon every Malaysian citizen and organization, especially the politicians and political parties, to sign up to the following principles:

1. Zero tolerance for violence as a political means

Civilized life requires restrain and self-control. Conflicts should be solved through dialogues, deliberation, debates or litigation. There must be zero tolerance for the use, threat or incitement of violence as a political means, regardless of circumstances or subject matters.

In this sense, the perpetrators of the cow-head protest should be charged for incitement of violence, not sedition or illegal assembly. The thugs who threatened to rape Rodziah Ismail and to murder Khalid Samad, the elected representatives in Shah Alam, must be investigated and prosecuted for criminal intimidation. The threat of sexual violence, a common trait in many communal conflicts, is especially alarming and absolutely intolerable.

2. Fighting Hatred with Reason

Hatred exists in every society and can only be effectively eliminated by reason, not law. Given a vibrant public sphere, the flaws of hate speeches can be exposed and the perpetrators shamed. Legal suppression only weakens the society’s resistance to hatred by removing the need for intellectual rigour and moral courage to confront bigotry.

The latest harassment of Malaysiakini by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for featuring video-clips of the cow-head protest and the Home Minister’s press conference justifying the act is not only violating freedom of expression, but also protecting violence from public shaming.

3. The State’s Duty to Protect Political Participation

The state which monopolizes the legitimate use of violence should exist only to protect citizens from private violence, not to inflict more violence than necessary. The state’s coercive power therefore must never be used against peaceful political activities. Instead, the state has the duty to protect political participation.

Instead of arbitrarily arresting over 160 1BLACKMalaysia protesters, lawyers on duty, 589 Anti-ISA protestors and bystanders, the anti-PPSMI, Kampung Buah Pala and Hindraf protesters, and using unnecessary violence, the police should have only controlled traffic and maintained order. After all, the validity of the protesters’ causes should be judged by the citizen, not the police or the Executive.

4. Upholding Elected Government

The threat of political violence is greatest when political elites resort to means other than elections to attain power. Democracy is the only guarantee for political stability and peace. Politicians and political parties must therefore do their best to win elections honestly, not usurping power after elections. Otherwise, democratic breakdown may lead to coups or revolutions.

The Perak coup has seen an elected government being overthrown by a host of unelected institutions including but not limited to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Election Commission (EC), the Judiciary, the bureaucracy and the police. The partisan investigation of MACC in Selangor amidst the Barisan Nasional’s express wish to takeover the state had led to the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the first of a state official in the custody of a federal agency. If there is no firmed commitment from both sides of the political divide to democracy, the next election may see the military being the next unelected institution dragged into political struggle.

On the auspicious birthday of Malaysia, which should have been made a national holiday 46 years ago, let us all vow to make empowering peace the basis of public life of our nation so that all of us may enjoy real freedom.

The signatories:

1. 1BLACKMalaysia Facebook Page and Group

2. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran)

3. All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)

4. Amnesty International Malaysia

5. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)

6. Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

7. Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS)

8. Civil Rights Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)

9. Civil Society Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG-CSC)

10. Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI@Parliament)

11. Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth Network

12. Durham Malaysian Scholars

13. Gabungan Bertindak Mahasiswa Utara(GBMU)

14. Group of Concerned Citizens (GCC)

15. Institut Kajian Dasar (IKD)

16. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL), Sibu

17. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)

18. Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS)

19. Jawatankuasa Penduduk Zon 23 MPSJ

20. Justice for Beng Hock Facebook Page and Group

21. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Youth Section (KLSCAH-YS)

22. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)

23. Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)

24. Malaysian AIDS Council

25. Malaysian Indian Development Association

26. Middle Eastern Graduate Centre (Magc)

27. Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)

28. Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)

29. National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI)

30. Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)

31. Pahlawan Volunteers

32. Partners of Community Organisations, Sabah (PACOS)

33. Penang Du Zhong Education Society

34. Penggerak Belia Zon 23 MPSJ

35. Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Selangor

36. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)

37. Persatuan Meditasi Projan KL & Selangor

38. Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah Seri Kembangan

39. Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)

40. Sarawak Central Region Friendship Association

41. Semparuthi Iyakkam

42. Sisters in Islam (SIS)

43. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)

44. Tenaganita

45. The Micah Mandate (TMM)

46. The People’s Parliament

47. TONIBUNG (Friends for Village Development), Sabah

48. Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)

49. Women's Candidacy Initiative (WCI)

50. Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

51. Awal Nahdah Resources

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Five ISA detainees released - THANK GOODNESS!!! Nine more to go!

(Mat Sah Satray with his son Shuaib. Photograph taken from here)

Mat Sah Mohamad Satray, Dr Abdullah Daud, Mohd Nasir Ismail @ Hassan, Ahmad Kamil Md Hanapiah and Muhammad Amir Md Hanapiah will be released from detention without trial under the Internal Security Act today. En. Mat Sah, who had been detained without trial since April 2002, is the husband of anti-ISA activist Pn. Norlaila Othman, or Kak Laila. She has worked tirelessly with the Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA for the freedom of ALL ISA detainees. I'm really happy that Kak Laila and her family, and the families of all those released, will be able to celebrate Aidil Fitri with their loved one after so long.

But her work (and our work too) is far from over. There are nine people still detained under ISA: four Malaysians and one each from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Detention without trial is inherently unjust, and there exist enough laws to allow our law enforcement agencies to investigate, arrest, charge, try in an open court and (if guilty) punish anyone who threatens our national security. If our law enforcement claim to be unable to protect Malaysia's security with the just powers they have been given, I say it is time for their leaders to step down and allow those more capable and committed to do the job.

Furthermore, our ISA has been abused to improperly clamp down on legitimate political activity and expression, even to torture and brainwash detainees into providing false testimony for politically motivated trials. This travesty must be eliminated.

(Kak Laila and son Shuaib, after being arrested during the anti-ISA protest, 1/8/09. Photo from here)

Please support Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA. Here are their principles:
GMI berpegang kepada prinsip bahawa tiada sesiapa pun yang berhak ditahan tanpa bicara. Seseorang itu perlulah di bawa ke mahkamah untuk pengadilan atau dibebaskan. Seseorang itu perlulah dianggap tidak bersalah sebelum dibuktikan bersalah (innocent until proven guilty).

GMI memperjuangkan prinsip-prinsip hak asasi manusia seperti yang termaktub dalam Arktikel 5 dan 10, Perlembagaan Persekutuan

GMI berpegang kepada prinsip bahawa penglibatan dan penggemblengan masyarakat adalah penting untuk melaksanakan perubahan
Repeal the ISA! Justice for all detainees! Close down the Kamunting Detention Camp!

Malaysian Heart

UPDATE: Please read Kak Laila's blog post on their family's Aidil Fitri together here.

Would a British politician stand on stage with a weapon in hand? - Response to an anon

In response to my previous post "MUST READ: Would a British politician stand on stage with a weapon in hand? - Article by Dr Farish A Noor, from the Nut Graph", an anonymous commenter replied as follows:
No need to imagine, violent anti-islam demonstration did happen in Britain

This is my response to him:
@ anon 3:02 pm,

Good of you to bring that to our attention, because it demonstrates the very obvious differences with our cow head incident, and our Malaysian political culture in general. Let's revisit what Dr. Farish wrote:
"Can anyone of us imagine a British politician standing on stage with a weapon in hand? Can anyone imagine a demonstration in Europe against a mosque or a Hindu temple where a pig's or cow's head is dragged out into the streets?

Can we imagine those involved not being arrested on the spot? Can anyone imagine a press conference in any European city where a politician is publicly threatened with rape — and the police do nothing?"
The protesters who claimed to be anti "Islamic extremism" were the so-called "English Defence League". They are the UK version of Pekida and Pewaris: thugs who threaten their fellow (minority) citizens with violence if they do not "toe the line". Just like Pekida, Pewaris and their UMNO inspired friends, the EDL were protesting against a place of worship.

Questions to consider:
1) Even with their disgusting fascist agenda, did the EDL protestors carry the head of any dead animal to insult any religion? No.

2) Did the police stand idly by while the violence went on? No. "A "significant number" of people have been arrested during clashes between right-wing protesters and anti-fascist campaigners in Birmingham." The UK police chief would have been sacked for incompetence if he had stood by and done nothing.

3) Did any UK government minister meet/sympathize with the EDL protesters and/or provide support and justification for their actions, like Hishammudin and Mukhriz did? No, the exact opposite happened. John Denham, the UK Communities Minister unequivocally condemned the EDL. This is what he said (extracted from here):

Right-wing groups who claim to oppose Islamic extremism are trying to provoke violence on Britain's streets, the communities minister has said.

Mr Denham said such right-wing protesters were trying to provoke an "overreaction" from the Asian community.

"Then people blame the people who overreact and the situation gets out of control," he said.

"We know from the recent past that provocation can lead to community division and overreaction unless we nip it in the bud very quickly."

The minister singled out the EDL in particular: "If you look at the types of demonstrations they have organised, the language used and the targets chosen, it looks pretty clear that it's a tactic designed to provoke, to get a response and create violence

John Denham has so accurately described what Umno/BN are trying to do in Malaysia, with their cow-head protest, Utusan headlines and blogger stories. Any UK minister who did what our Hishamuddin and Mukhriz have done would have been sacked.

4) The group which opposed the EDL were the UAF (Unite Against Fascism). As you can see in the video here, and the report here, UAF consists of Britons from various communities and religions, even white people. Their chant is "We are black, we are white, together we are dynamite". The UAF Chairman is Ken Livingstone, a white man. These people there fight for what is right regardless of their race, religion etc. In Malaysia, if a person speaks for justice regardless of race, he is called a "pengkhianat bangsa" by our racist politicians and their newspapers.

We in Malaysia too need to fight for what is right and just regardless of our own race, religion, gender, age, social status, class, selfish interests, etc. For 52 years we have not been able to learn how. I believe that with the "Saya Anak bangsa Malaysia initiative", we can.

Well done. Please provide more such examples, thanks.

MUST READ: Would a British politician stand on stage with a weapon in hand? - Article by Dr Farish A Noor, from the Nut Graph

Dear Readers,

This is a short excerpt from a powerful article titled "Power, politicians and brutality", by Dr Farish A Noor, which was published in The Nut Graph today (bold emphasis mine):

"Southeast Asians tend to adopt a dismissive view of the West. And there are far too many right-wing ethno-nationalist leaders in our part of the world who cannot evolve any further than to continue in their nasty polemics against anything and everything Western.

But let us ask ourselves this simple question, and answer it honestly if we can: Can anyone of us imagine a British politician standing on stage with a weapon in hand? Can anyone imagine a demonstration in Europe against a mosque or a Hindu temple where a pig's or cow's head is dragged out into the streets?

Can we imagine those involved not being arrested on the spot? Can anyone imagine a press conference in any European city where a politician is publicly threatened with rape — and the police do nothing? Perchance, therein lies the difference between us Asians and the so-called secular, decadent, materialistic West."

Perchance we Malaysians have a lot of soul-searching to do?

Please read the entire article here:

If you like the quality of journalism practiced by The Nut Graph, please consider supporting them. Their investors cannot continue funding them, and they will have to close down if they cannot find adequate support.

As far as I know, the Nut Graph is the only Malaysian news organisation to have published a statement of their journalistic principles, that you can hold them to. If we do not support good journalism when we have it, then we have only ourselves to blame when we are left with the likes of Azmi Anshar and the mainstream media telling us what to think.


Malaysian Heart

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meme: Save Yvonne’s Sight

Dear Reader,

I read about the Save Yvonne's Sight meme on Crankshaft.

Blogger Yvonne Foong, 22, has neurofibromatosis type II, which has severely affected her sight and hearing due to tumours in the brain and spine. She is scheduled for an operation between 1 and 4 December 2009. The cost of surgery is USD44,000 or RM54,770, and the cost of staying in hospital for two weeks is USD915 or RM3219.

She has raised about RM52,454.28 of this and is hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick; I'm Just a Bit Unwell in English and Chinese.

The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her web site store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store. You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund.

You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:

1. Create a blog entry titled “Meme: Save Yvonne’s Sight”
2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne’s book cover. The URL is
3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at".
4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?
5. If you have a Facebook account, please check out Ellen’s new invention, a “feme” pronounced FEEM, a meme designed for Facebook here. And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!

Three things/people I'd love to see:
1. Freedom, Human Rights, Justice and Democracy in Malaysia
2. Malaysians supporting what is right without being influenced by their race, religion, personal interests etc.
3. Someone whom I have not seen in 30 days!

I'm tagging:
1. Fi-sha - Dream a Little More Dream
2. Bongkers - The Flaccid Mind
3. Vijay Kumar Murugavell - Vote for Vijay Kumar
4. Duke Cheng - The Whisperer
5. delCapo - delCapo

Malaysian Heart

Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The magpie barks propaganda: How to read partisan blogs 5

For this fifth instalment of HTRPB, we'll be looking at a post by blogger Pasquale of Barking Magpie. In the past, he has posted entries titled "When will the Malays learn!!! The Chinese will and can never share power once they ARE in power!", and "CPM stands for Chinese Party of Malaya and they failed to form a Chinese entity in Malaya...cept for Penang!". The post we will be looking at is more recent, and titled "A short note on Anwar Ibrahim by a commenter using the handle "Deacon1957".

In it, Pasquale reproduces in its entirety a comment left at his blog, which accuses Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) (inter alia) of being:
  1. A CIA agent working to destabilise Malaysia;
  2. Responsible (through "his Indonesian network") for the current Indonesian "hatred for Malaysia"; and
  3. Of working to "discredit traditional Islam and plant one of two of America's version of Islam in all Islamic states..."
If the commenter (or Pasquale himself) had any evidence for these accusations, it was not shared there. You can read the entry for yourself here, but what I want to focus on are the propaganda techniques used by Pasquale when he uses a photograph to reinforce the accusations against DSAI.

The above photograph is placed at the beginning of the article, captioned as follows:
Flanked by former US President George Bush's most right wing Jewish-Zionist American cabinet members (Cohen and Wolfowitz), and the man in the middle will sell his soul (or already sold) to the Devil, and already betrayed the Malays and will betrayed his mother, and at all cost, even destroying the country just he thinks he can be the next PM! This picture was taken in 1997 in Penang.
What we see here is a classic example of propaganda, i.e.:
"...communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda." (bold emphasis mine)
In just this photograph and its caption alone, Pasquale has managed to use the following propaganda techniques:
Let's see where and how he uses them. First, Reductio ad Hitlerum: Since George W. Bush is the most reviled US President in Malaysia, if not the world (imho, quite rightly so), by identifying Cohen and Wolfowitz as members of his cabinet, disapproval is cast upon them.

Second, labelling and appeal to prejudice: By labelling both Cohen and Wolfowitz as Jewish, and relying on prevailing stereotypes and prejudices against Jews, again a negative light is cast upon them.

Next, the big lie(s), which I debunk below:
  1. William Cohen was never in George Bush's cabinet. He was in Bill Clinton's cabinet, as Secretary of Defense.
  2. He is not Jewish. His father was Jewish, his mother was Protestant; he went to a Jewish school, but he is a Unitarian.
  3. In 1997, Paul Wolfowitz was Professor of International Relations and Dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University; George W. Bush was not elected President until 2000.
Next, the half-truth: Are Cohen and Paul Wolfowitz Zionists? Yes, especially Wolfowitz. Was George W. Bush a Zionist? Yes. How about Barack Obama? Not as much as Bush, but basically yes. Can you get elected or appointed to public office in America if you do not support Israel? Probably not. Given longstanding US foreign policy, it's safe to say that the vast majority of American public officials (with a some rare exceptions) are pro-Israel. Is it uncommon, unusual or somehow sinister for Malaysian leaders to have been seen with Zionist American officials? Certainly not; scroll down to the end of this post to see who else has been photographed in their company.

Next, transfer: By presenting an image of the target (DSAI) with Cohen and Wolfowitz (identified as "George Bush's most right wing Jewish-Zionist American cabinet members"), the propagandist wants to project their supposedly negative qualities onto DSAI. Note that the context of the photograph (besides when and where it was taken) has not been given.

Finally, name-calling and appeal to fear (in bold): "the man in the middle will sell his soul (or already sold) to the Devil, and already betrayed the Malays and will betrayed his mother, and at all cost, even destroying the country just he thinks he can be the next PM!"

There you have it: just take a photograph, neglect to mention it's context (what was the occassion, what was said), neglect to mention that others have been in similar situations, add some outright untruths, half-truths, racial prejudice and fear; uncritical readers will irrationally adopt a negative attitude towards the target, in this case DSAI.

So, what should critical readers bear in mind when reading anything:
  1. Independently verify the "facts" presented. Propagandists like Pasquale never let the truth get in the way of a good smear.
  2. Look for the half truths and selective presentation of facts, ask if any relevant information that could reframe the situation has been left out.
  3. Be aware of any irrational, emotional response they feel; is it the result of a specific propaganda technique being used?
  4. Most importantly, ask where is the evidence for the message being pushed? Without solid evidence, it is merely a smear.
Although Pasquale denies this, Malaysians Unplugged Uncensored have made (what I believe to be) a convincing case that Pasquale is actually Rusdi Mustapha (or Rosdi Mustafa). Furthermore, according to Dato' Ariff Sabri of Sakmongkol AK47 (in his post of 16/5/09), this Rosdi Mustafa "works in the PM's outfit and one of the media handlers". This is how Dato' Ariff describes Rosdi (these words were probably written in anger, so please read with a pinch of salt. I've underlined the parts I feel are relevant):
I see him loitering around Dato Najib's office engaging in whispers with other officers prompting us to believe he is privy to some top state secret. These are all symptoms of juvenile childishness. It is just his way of urinating to mark territory. I am here, you are out there kind of thing.

What do you make of someone who works in the PM's office saying the above? I can only say, this is someone who shamelessly exploits his official status to excoriate others just for the fun of it. He mistakes vile and abusive remarks for forthrightness. I am afraid that reflects his deficiency in moral and intellectual fibre.
If Pasquale is indeed a civil servant, my question is this: are Malaysian taxpayers paying for (or subsidising) a propagandist at the PM's office? While all civil servants must be free to pursue their own political beliefs on their own time (although the present DG of PSD seems to think otherwise), it is wrong for government leaders (and civil servants) to use their offices, staff and other government resources for party political purposes (even though Umno/BN seems to do otherwise). Pasquale's post was posted on Thursday, 10 September, 2009, at 11:23 am; that is well within standard Malaysian civil service working hours. Did he use a Government issued PC and internet connection? These are reasonable questions for Malaysian citizens and taxpayers to ask.

When Damian McBride, then special advisor to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught discussing the setting up of a website to smear the Labour Party's political opponents, public outrage forced him to resign. From Wikipedia:
"...he [McBride] and another prominent Labour Party supporter, blogger Derek Draper, had exchanged emails discussing the possibility of disseminating rumours McBride had fabricated about the private lives of some Conservative Party politicians. The emails from McBride had been sent from his No. 10 Downing Street e-mail account."
Gordon Brown had to apologise, and was called to account in Parliament, for his subordinate's shenanigans.

If Pasquale is a civil servant in our PM's office, shouldn't we be demanding the same of him and DS Najib?

Malaysian Heart

Note: This photograph (from here) of Tun Dr. Mahathir (TDM) and George W. Bush was taken on 14 May 2002, during TDM's visit to the White House. Just obtaining an invitation for TDM to visit Bush cost RM 4.4 million (US$ 1.2 million), which was paid to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. For the record, Abramoff (who was later convicted of fraud), "diverted 'money meant for inner-city kids' to Jewish settlers occupying the Palestinian West Bank in order to help them 'fight the Palestinian intifada'", AND is Jewish. Was taxpayer money used to buy TDM's invitation? Read more about the issue here.

Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia 2009

Dear Readers,
This is a most commendable effort by Peace4Msia. Here it is in full:

Dear friends,
A few friends met up some days ago and in talking about events that have happened in the country in the past year, came up with this idea: what if on Malaysia Day we all fast for peace for our nation? The idea grew into a plan and now, it has become a nationwide call for action.

"Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia" is our response to this call. Please read below and join us:

Malaysia is a peaceful country and it should remain that way forever. Acts of Violence and inciting hatred must have no place in our public life.

Unfortunately, too many cruelties and injustices have happened since the nation’s last birthday.

It is tempting to slip into despair or become revengeful. Let us turn our anger and sadness into a positive force for change.

This September 16, let us all combine our efforts to present a meaningful gift for Malaysia on her 46th birthday.

Let us be united in one single action. Let us all fast from dawn to dusk for peace in this blessed land. Let the Muslims amongst us fast with a specific prayer for peace for the nation. Let the Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists, followers of other spiritual traditions and atheists amongst us fast in solidarity and the same determination for peace.

Let our common experience of hunger and human weakness humble, strengthen and unite us.

Let us offer a hospitable smile to people we know and especially to those we don’t.

Let us perform one extra act of kindness while fasting on this Malaysia day.

Let us show our love and compassion for each other.

Let Malaysia be a better country on her 46th birthday and every day after.

Let Malaysia be truly happy and peaceful this September 16.

And so we fast.
. . . . . . to make room for peace!

Things you can do and How do you join?:

1. Sign up.
- e-mail your pledge to fast on Sept 16, 2009, to:
or SMS to 016-9707966
or leave a comment at
(If you want, you may include your age and location)
or sign the petition here
2. Forward this e-mail to your circle of friends, family and colleagues. Please try to get your friends and family from outside the Klang Valley to sign up as well
3. Come to the press conference to announce this initiative: Friday, 11am, Sept 11, 2009, at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
4. Break fast (or have the pre-fast meal) together wherever your location is and send pics and caption to:

Here are the standard recommendations which you may modify according to your preferences, medical conditions and other circumstances.

• Get a group of at least three people.
• Have your pre-fast meal together before dawn (e.g. before 5.35am for Muslims*). The meal is preferably vegetarian to be inclusive to all.
• Carry out your daily duties and tasks as usual.
• Smile and do an extra act of kindness to people around you or afar.
• Share your message of peace with every curious person.
• Break your fast together after dusk(e.g. after 7.25 pm for Muslims*). The meal is preferably vegetarian to be inclusive to all.
• Share your experience, feeling and thought in this national fasting exercise with more people, in every possible way.

Plotting goodness with friends,
Sivin Kit
On behalf of
"Fast for the Nation, Peace for the Nation 2009" Core Group

Will you join us?

Malaysian Heart

P.S. You can get the banners and sidebar badges from here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Is this what Rocky's Bru has turned into? How to read partisan blogs 4

(Updated Below)

The testimony of Sivanesan Tanggavelu that he was hit with a metal rod, punched, kicked, slapped all over and even caned on his genitals and the soles of his feet until he passed out from the pain, while in the custody of the ACA, should be cause for serious concern for all Malaysians. After all, we have been plagued with a series of suspicious deaths in custody, and we have seen many complaints against the high-handed tactics that Malaysian law enforcement agencies allegedly use. In the context of Teoh Beng Hock's mysterious death while in custody of the MACC (the ACA's new name), it raises an extremely serious question about the circumstances surrounding Teoh's death: did he also experience such abuse before he died?

Given the seriousness of the issue, what does Ahirudin Attan, editor-in-chief of The Malay Mail have to say about it? Here is his blog post of 9/9/09, charmingly titled "S'pender at Inquest":
NST 09/09: Beng Hock's inquest: Witness T. Sivanesan alleges he was slapped, kicked and caned on penis by MACC officer, showed underwear as proof

After all these years, many of us still can't get images of the mattress during the Sodomy Part I trial. And now we have this - a torn s'pender* at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest!

I don't know why the Coroner allowed Sivanesan's spender to the hearing. The MACC official who had caned his prick could be a rogue officer. If it's true, Sivanesan's bad experience should be brought to the Royal Commission that the
Government has set up in connection with TBH to look into the procedures at the MACC.

The Coroner must now allow for witnesses who were NOT tortured by the MACC interrogation to share their experience with the Inquest. Just a week ago, a GLC head told me of his experience. I'm sure he still has his untorn s'pender/boxer/underwear to prove his point.

* S'pender is an old slang, believed to be short for suspender, to describe underwear. It's like gostan, which is derived from go a stern, which we still use to mean reverse.

(Please read the Rocky's entire, updated post here)
Instead of being outraged and disgusted at the revelations, Rocky seems to be modeling behavour as if beating up suspects is something we shouldn't be too worried about. He seems to be more concerned about being offended by Sivanesan's torn underwear, than he is about (what is prima facie) evidence of abuse suffered by a fellow Malaysian, and serious misconduct by MACC officers, including one who was involved in Teoh Beng Hock's interrogation, done in our name.

Without offering any supporting evidence, Rocky is quick to rationalise and justify Sivanesan's ordeal as possibly the actions of a rogue officer. He makes light of Sivanesan's humiliation at the ACA hands, and to add insult to injury, he mocks Sivanesan's testimony by expecting us to believe that a GLC head would be treated the same as how someone like Sivanesan would be. Finally, Rocky chooses to enlighten us on the Malaysian slang for underwear; what an impeccable sense of priority and proportion he has!

What Rocky did is to divert our attention from the horrific implications about TBH's death which arise from Sivanesan's testimony. He did this by making fun of Sivanesan's alleged torture and humiliation by ACA officers, and focusing our attention on his torn "spender" instead. This is a common propaganda technique, namely dehumanising the victim to make their testimony carry less weight. Rocky's message is: Sivanesan's story is a laughing matter and a joke, we should all laugh at it and not take him seriously.

I'd like to know just who, or what, is Rocky spinning for this time?

From "The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect", (bold emphasis mine):
  1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
There was a time when Rocky used to speak out against torture, police states and abuses of the weak by the powerful. When two Malaysians were detained at Guantanamo Bay, Rocky called upon the Abdullah administration to "demand that they are sent back here to be fairly dealt with", because (in Rocky's words), "Human rights does not exist in Guantanamo Bay". Rocky also remarked, in a post titled "torture for two", that Bush could "keep the two Malaysians - and everyone else - detained at Guantanamo Bay for as long as he wishes and also resorts to the harshest means - including torture - to get them to confess to their crimes and terror links." He also reported how Al-Jazeera accuses "the US of resorting to methods usually applied in 'police states'."

It was certainly commendable of Rocky to speak for human rights then. It is sad to see him change his tune now that his circumstances have changed. Does his criteria for what constitutes torture and abuse depend on who is signing his paycheck? Can The Malay Mail still claim to be "the paper that cares" when it's editor-in-chief does not even pretend to anymore?

Malaysian Heart

UPDATED: Ong Hock Chuan from Indonesia, who blogs at Unspun, had this to say about Rocky today:
"... Rocky's Bru, a blog that used to speaks its mind, but now seems to be channeling the UMNO establishment. "
Looks like others have noticed Rocky's metamorphosis too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What was Hindraf singing during their vigil?

Those of us who have seen the video of Hindraf's candle light vigil on 5/9/09, and the subsequent arrests by our police, would have heard the vigillers singing a song in Tamil, as they tried unsuccessfully to get to Dataran Merdeka. For the benefit of those of us who would like to understand what they were singing, and why, here is some info.

The title of the song is Tholvi nilayena ninaithaal, and it is from the 1986 movie Oomai Vizhigal. In the movie, politically connected thugs (who had earlier killed a journalist), destroy the printing press of a newspaper, in order to silence their investigative reporting. This song is what the editor sings to motivate his team after the attack. Here is a translation in English:

If we only dwell on on our defeated condition, how can we even hope of living?
If we consider this life a burden, isn't that trampling upon our mothers' dreams?

Having lost our rights, having lost our belongings, shall we give up our humanity too?
Being human, and still alive, how can we forget our dreams?

When dawn is about to break, why should our hearts be heavy?
When our hearts are full of courage, why should our eyes have tears?

Even if they oppose us, even if they spill our blood, can we ever change our path?
Our blood will only drive our fear away, then can our principles ever die?

Here is the song in full, as sung in the movie by P.B. Srinivas and Abavaanan:

Some people find that anything which is unfamiliar to them makes them uncomfortable; hence they become intolerant towards it. This is especially true if there are negative stereotypes and prejudices already associated with that particular community. People like blogger Dnightcaller even go so far as to call Hindraf "biadap" simply for choosing to sing a Tamil song.

I believe that if we take the trouble to understand our fellow humans better, we will find that they feel exactly what we feel, and that what they want for their children is exactly what we want for ours. However, we first need to get over our own prejudices and speak (and act) against the subtle (and often not so subtle) racism that our fellow Malaysians still suffer in our midst.

If you would like to join them in singing this song, here are the lyrics in Romanised Tamil.

Malaysian Heart

My gratitude to M.A. for providing the translation, and explaining its meaning to me.