Nov 242007
 

It’s not because I really like rallies.

I find them too hot or too wet, hell to get to, and liable to get me arrested.

Been there, done that, wasn’t fun at all.

I’ve been reading a lot about the spectrum of responses towards Hindraf, and it’s been really engaging.

I’ve searched my soul, and I now know what I must do.

I now know that if I don’t stand with my brothers and sisters on Sunday, I will never stand with them.


Why are they marching?

Let’s start by examining Bersih.

How many actually came because they felt strongly about ink and postal votes?

How many came because they’re pissed off as all hell about our country going to shit?

Now let’s look at Hindraf.

How many of us have any idea what it’s like to be a poor Indian in Malaysia?

I remember the Ijok campaign, and our walkabouts in the Indian tapper villagers.

0704-ijok-campaign-034.jpg

I’ve been to Sierra Leone, and what I saw in Ijok wasn’t much better.

When you’re small, you become a punching bag. It’s just about as simple as that.

Are the Indians all a bunch of victimised saints? Not any more than the Chinese, Malays or any other group are.

But they have it worst around here. There’s little doubt in my mind around that.

They’ve been pushed around, kicked, insulted, made fun of and neglected.

Remember Khairy’s remark about newspaper vendors and the PM’s speech?

What that really symbolises is that in Malaysia, you can kick an Indian and get away with it.

And now they have said “Ya basta!” – Enough!

The community will no longer take this abuse lying down.

Why Hindraf?

Many have expressed their ill ease with a Hindu-centric movement whose approach borders on racism.

I am sympathetic to this objection. I rather doubt that all the sentiments expressed throughout shockingly well attended Hindraf rallies throughout the country espoused the ultra-sensitive and nuanced views that would appease those like me.

No, it probably went more something like: “They (by which I basically mean the Malays) are bitchslapping us, and it’s time we fought back!”

I agree, that’s really not the best way to move forward.

Still, it seems to be the only way things are moving at all.

The popularity of Hindraf clearly points to one thing: a lack of credible Indian leadership that is truly voicing the feelings of the community.

If you have doubts about this, check out any of their rallies.

That MIC has failed and betrayed the Indians hardly bothers exposition.

I will be perfectly honest. Hindraf shows that the opposition has probably failed the Indians as well.

DAP has made some inroads, but they know which side their bread is buttered. KeADILan and Pas seem to have their hands full in their efforts to swing the decisive Malay middle ground – without which quite honestly, all other efforts are futile.

I’m not making excuses. We should be doing more, and we aren’t. Electoral reality has simply put Indians off the map of most.

So, when a group of people wearing a civil society hat step up and really articulate a community’s plight just by speaking from their hearts, that community responds in astounding strength.

Unlike the Chinese, the Indians have so much less to lose.

Something I read and saw the truth of when I attended the solidarity gathering for arrested Hindraf rulers: “The Indians are losing their fear.” (See Malaysiakini)

All they needed was for someone to lead them where they’ve long wanted to go. Since no one else dared or bothered, Hindraf filled the vacuum.

Race: Politics and Principles

Haris Ibrahim’s intelligence is outweighed only by his warmth, which is eminently more important.

He is not attending on Sunday for moral reasons, objecting to the racialist approach taken by Hindraf.

Anwar Ibrahim as well has given qualified support to the rally, feeling that some of the demands and articulations expressed by the group are too extreme, albeit well founded in terms of being based on real exploitation and marginalisation of the community.

Again, I can also agree that yes some temples are built illegally, and yes, like any other community, racism rears its ugly head among the Indians often enough.

Are these reasons for us not to go?

I thought a fair bit about this (while turning over in my head the threat of seeing the inside of the lockup again).

My conclusion is this: If we were to wait for another mass rally that will take a more mature, universalistic approach to race relations while actually having an impact in calling attention to the horrific living conditions facing Indian Malaysians today, we will wait forever.

I expect attendance well in the five figures.

Let’s be honest, no other group is going to pull those numbers in defence of minority rights in Malaysia.

If we don’t stand with them now, we will never stand with them.

We may not agree now, but if we don’t come out when it matters the most, we will never get a chance to dialogue.

We will never get a chance to speak from a position of credibility about the need to unite, and to look beyond parochial interests.

It has been said that the Hindraf approach opens the door for BN to introduce their hoodlums and engineer violence on the scale of May 13, thus plunging the opposition and civil society back some twenty years.

Well, that will certainly be easier to do if there are no Chinese or (especially) Malays standing with the Indians that day.

And the march is not going to be called off; it would be idiotic to suppose so.

So, are we going to walk the talk about multiracialism?

Are we who like to quote Voltaire’s “I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” actually going to do anything to defend the right to assemble?

Or are we going to criticise the cops from the comforts of our homes and leave our Indian brothers and sisters to feel just how hard a baton or pipe feels when it comes crashing down on your skull?

When the newspapers print stories of massive racial violence, will the people say “Bullshit – Malays and Chinese stood with the Indians that day.” Or will they say “Shit, BN was right all along: without them, racial violence will run rampant”?

A Petition to the Queen of England?

Might make you feel a bit stupid, yes. Some felt stupid enough presenting a memorandum to the DYMM SPB Agong, much less some foreign liege who incidentally used to ‘rule’ over us.

The strategy and approach has been lampooned, and probably rightfully so.

Do we expect the Queen to say jolly good, and the suit to actually win trillions of ringgit? Don’t make me laugh.

But again, is this really why the Indians are taking to the British High Commission? Because they believe it will win them British citizenship? To think that would be equally laughable.

(Well perhaps not entirely. Once in a blue moon, I think I would take to the streets for British citizenship, haha :)

It would be just as silly to assume that everyone who attended Bersih truly understood the pressing need for electoral reforms, or the complicated process in which BN blatantly cheats its way to victory in the polls.

Quite frankly, to me and to thousands of Indians on the march, that’s not what it’s about.

It’s about greater equality among the races, and about making every Malaysian feel at home in Malaysia.

It’s also about refusing to be raped any more.

The Walk: Ends and Means

I have never believed that one justifies the other. There are lines that just cannot be crossed.

Nonetheless, if there is anything I’ve learnt in my line of work, it’s just how hard it is to dislodge BN.

I object to their every fibre of their being with every fibre of mine, but I’m no fool who underestimates their strength, nor the magnitude of our task ahead.

In my line of work as well, I have witnessed petty squabbles of every imaginable sort.

Needless to say, these are not unique to my field, but exist instead in every human endeavour. This fact does not make them any less unbearable however.

We have seen many who refuse to subscribe to a greater centrist unity due to unflinching belief in certain principles, or in worse cases, an inability to get along on a personal level.

Examples include Ezam & Gerak, Nallakarupan & MIUP, Wee Choo Keong & the MDP, PSM and so on.

I honestly bear none of these people ill will; they certainly have not directed any to me.

I have seen though, division upon division. I’m sympathetic to some reasons for those divisions, as I feel many of the same frustrations those dissenters have felt.

But people are nitpicking over politics, over principles, over pride and over personalities. To me, the only thing that dominates the big picture is disunity.

The question remains: how much do we really want what we want?

If, like me, you truly believe that BN is the root of all rot, how much are you willing to sacrifice to see that their injustices are forever stopped?

Myself, I’m at least willing to go as far as walking on Sunday.

I don’t believe that an Indian-centric approach alone will solve the problems of the Indians, but I do believe that they have been screwed over like few others have ever been screwed over.

I don’t believe in sacrificing a more embracing conceptualisation (“Malaysian rights”) for an increasingly narrow one (“Hindu Rights”), but I do believe that some – if not all – of the grouses are perfectly well founded.

I don’t know exactly what levels of violence if any will be perpetrated on Sunday and by whom, but I do know that if there is any attempt to paint any violence as racial, that at least one Malaysian will be there to do his best to confound the unholy efforts of the spin doctors and bear witness to the truth.

I don’t know whether my walk on Sunday will end at the British High Commission, blocked at some LRT station, or back at the Dang Wangi lockup, but I do know it will begin in the spirit of unity and solidarity.

See you there, I hope.

Mar 192007
 

Good news: Malaysiakini video speaks a 1000 words! Check it out, it’s far better than my big ass collection of pictures.

So I’ll just add tidbits.

Demo prob started around 4.15pm; then the police started the usual threats and then started spamming their sirens to drown out the speakers. New strategy, apparently, where all the squad cars just blast their sirens, creating quite the disco atmosphere.

Let’s think about this. Why do the cops so badly want to keep the rakyat from hearing what a few people have to say? If we were disturbing the peace, wasn’t that cacophany of sirens even worse?

So from speeches we transitioned to leaflet handing. And then we regrouped for 2nd round of speeches. The cops let Dr. Hatta speak, but as soon as they transitioned to Shaari Sungip, the cops laid on. You can see for yourself how brutal they were in the video, here are a few more pics.

Seriously, why do the cops need to so viciously manhandle a man who offered them no violence? (see video for evidence)

Once they ‘engaged’ him, do you really think anyone would attempt to physically harm the cops? Protestors aren’t stupid. We don’t go out there to pick a fight with cops. Our quarrel is with the government.

Can you think of a single reason why someone like Shaari Sungip would have to be violently grabbed and subdued so forcefully? Want to arrest, just arrestLAH.

*

After that, Chan got arrested. He’s a real nice guy, just shooting videos most of the time. He was shoved around violently too. SB flers kept shouting and being all alpha-male about it. Here are the only photos I managed to get:

 

At this point, I had a little tussle of my own.

Let me introduce two SB friends. Proton Yellow (who you can see above too) and Round Orange.

 

Round Orange was a real hefty guy who showed me the true agent provocateur nature of our Special Branch.

At one point, when things started to get nasty, (I am perfectly willing to swear that) I witnessed this guy forcefully shove the crowd from behind.

It was so obvious he was trying to escalate the situation into more violence, probably to give the police an excuse to brutalise and get violent with the crowd?

Doesn’t sound like your friendly neighbourhood police?

Well, he’s not (plainclothes). But don’t think for a moment that the police aren’t capable of this sort of thing.

Proton Yellow got violent with me personally.

I was trying to take pictures of Chan getting dragged away violently, when Proton Yellow started yelling at me and at one point the ninny actually shoved my camera.

If they had damaged my favourite graduation gift, I would have been very unhappy.

I was already pretty unhappy and found myself standing there making an unhappy deadpan face at him. It was a bit of a blur, but I think he was still yelling at me. Then some uniformed cop came from behind and have me a little ‘hug’ and insisted (again, quite loudly) that I back off.

I think I was giving him a look too (but offering no forceful resistance of course – that’d be stupid), when a good friend from Suaram, Lih Kang, ‘came to my rescue.’ He (and someone else maybe) pulled me back and things seemed to calm down from then on (thanks Lih Kang!).

*

Anyway. I really couldn’t help but have the impression that cops like Proton Yellow and Round Orange were really just itching for a fight. We certainly weren’t willing to give them one, but it seemed so strange.

I mean, do I prefer that people with violent tendencies are working with the cops rather than being gangsters on the streets?

You know, I really don’t know….

Round Orange was particularly vexing. This guy was like a kid! You should have seen this ridiculous grin on his face when things started going down and when he was trying to push everyone around and worsen the situation – from behind, most dishonourably.

I swear, it was like they were all getting hard-ons from their righteous anger :P :(

*

Anyway, so they packed away 5 people in their little meat wagons. The protest leaders decided to do a little sit-in inside.

The Star says we disrupted things. In trying to be objective, I do regret any inconvenience caused to shoppers or tournament participants. I would venture to speculate that if the cops had just let us say our piece for one short hour, alllll off that could have been avoided.

The Summit people kept warning parents to keep their kids close :| But check out the videos and everything. Did you see a single protester acting violently? If kids needed to be kept safe, was it from us or from the cops?

*

And then at last there was the police station. We waited, chanted, and prayed (in front of the police Light Strike Force) while our friends were inside. Young daughters alternated between screaming for their daddy’s release and playing football in front of the LSF.

 

 

(That’s Proton Yellow behind the football match, btw – with his LSF buddies nearby. Round Orange was hanging around too)

Took a heckuva long time, and the cops seemed to enjoy blaring their sirens every now and again. It was so silly – kononnya show of strength, jadinya macam disco :P

And Come On. If so many squad cars (with cops inside) were busy playing dance music for us, who the hell was patrolling the streets?!?! >:( Could this account for the four snatch thefts that have happened to people close to me so recently?

Sigh. But on a lighter note, when we saw a cop with sirens on on the way home, Remy said: ah, belum puas hati ni – hahaha.

Eventually they let them all out :)

(note: the round orange above is not to be mistaken for Round Orange :)

Now, let me ask you this. If taking people in and then releasing them at night is the standard Modus Operandi (and it is, trust me), where the police right in taking them in in the first place??

Are these the people the cops really should be so concerned about? Are we the ones inflicting harm and robbery on normal Malaysians? Just ask your local snatch thief.

*

Sigh, what’s with all this repression? What is the government so afraid of? I’m still pondering this over…

*

Super duper special thanks to politikus for her most indulgent patience in sticking with me throughout the ordeal! *muacks!* :)

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Plugs: politikus, Eli :)

Feb 262007
 

null

I’ll confess that I didn’t know anything about this until last night (fireworks, dad and aunt) and today (KTemoc), but it’s a pretty darn interesting story (the corny rainbow is over a sugar cane field, apparently :)

Also just wanted to let the world know that this Hokkien lang was still alive :P Sadly though, I’ll still have to beg for your patience as I’m not quite ready to go back to full time blogging the same way I’ve been doing.

Will probably be looking for new directions, and will provide ample info and requests for feedback – by this week hopefully. So sorry once again!

Enjoy the rest of your CNY! :)

*

Can’t resist say two quick points tho:

- the first is a great chance to get involved with what sounds like some truly special work with the differently able. There is a play going up in early April staged by differently abled actors, and they are keenly on the lookout for volunteers – sounds like a truly great opportunity! (since the NST website is so lousy, I have reprinted the article – contact details for volunteering included – in full below)

- second: another shameful case of police abuse down in Port Dickson. I suspect and hope the ever vigilant folks at Police Watch will be on it soon.

One of them claimed he was assaulted in the officer’s room at the district police headquarters while the other said he was attacked at the magistrate’s court grounds.

M. Marimuthu, 32, and R. Mohanasundram, 26, claimed that the officer demanded RM450 from them, failing which he would find ways to arrest them again.

Mohanasundram said he was summoned to the district headquarters on Thursday and was punched in the face and back when he told the officer he could not come up with the money.

(Marimuthu’s) sister Vikneswary, 32, had to pawn her jewellery before they met the officer.

“The officer suddenly deman- ded a few hundred more. He said it was to cover the rental of the car that we were using on the day we were arrested,” Marimuthu said.

Marimuthu, Mohanasundram and Vikneswary then went and sat on a bench outside the court room when the officer came out and kicked his leg.

“My sister shouted but the officer said I deserved it because I was a thief,” Marimuthu alleged.

At this juncture, a witness, R. Plaindran, confronted the officer.

“I was upset. The officer had no respect for the family. He challenged us to lodge a report.”

So cocky. Can’t stand this culture of impunity! IPCMC now!!

Continue reading »

Feb 132007
 

PKR’s Dep Sec-Gen Dr. Xavier Jeyakumar had white paint splashed across his house by unknown assailants in the dead of Monday night. Dr. Jeyakumar staunchly believes the attack is politically motivated. This infruriating act of cowards will not deter those who fight for what is right!

On a more positive note, Tian Chua writes (with pics too) on how friends and neighbours helped clean the house up, despite the late hour. Hope and warmth amidst darkness.

*

Suhakam bravely calls for a public inquiry on the Simpang Renggam assault case – in spite of (“I’m no bad boy”) DS Samy Vellu’s assurance that all is ok. Good on them!  However:

 When contacted, Suhakam commissioner N Siva Subramaniam said a special team from the commission will draw up the terms of references to get to the bottom of the matter. “It will deal specifically with the assault. We are not going to dwell on other issues,” he added.

= not touching the EO? :( Strategic engagement blablabla and credit where it’s due, but this is a bit of a in-denial attitude. But even if they can afford to sidestep the true root of the problem, damn well doesn’t mean we should.  Stop draconian laws!!

Also: one warder is arrested for pushing drugs on the inmates. Just one sacrificial scapegoat for what is most likely a widespread abuse? Let’s hope not. Also see thoughts from faithful anti-EO crusader The Malaysian.

Suhakam will also be looking into one case of bonded slavery.

*

After being long quiet, DS Nazri Aziz bursts back on the scene with characteristic swagger in all the wrong places. On corruption:

“The government has done everything it can think of to fight corruption,” Nazri said.. “To this day, people do not believe the government is going strong in its fight on corruption,” he added. 

Everything it can think of? Think some moreLAH!!!!

Also, if the government has exhausted its mental capacities while failing to make a significant dent, as the rakyat rightfully believes, did DS Nazri thus just call the government a stupid failure?

On toll secrets:

“The Cabinet is not worried about declassifying the documents. The concessionaires are the ones making the money, not the Government. There is nothing to hide,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said.

Nothing to hide? How about the fact that the government is standing like a make donno voyeur while the rakyat is being gang-raped by highway companies?!?!

Eee, cannot tahan the government’s “it’s not our fault!” lame-o line. As I’ve preached many times before, that is the single worst thing a leader can say – especially an elected one. Take responsibility you wussies!!

Feb 022007
 

I don’t believe differently abled trader Murugan Rajoo kena again >:( After the Selayang Municipal Council promised they would help him get his licence, I assume the usual ‘delays’ prevented this. He then went back to his business, but got picked up by MPS officers for illegal trading.

So how? Is Mr. Murugan and his four kids supposed to starve after MPS is still refusing to give him a licence after THREE years?

Not only did they grab his belongings rudely and without explanations:

Among those with Murugan was Gurdip Kaur @ Rina, her husband Francis Siva – who heads the Independent Living and Training Centre – and their daughter Harveen.

In the struggle to prevent a female officer from taking away a piece of equipment, Gurdip was slapped on the left side of her face.

Kurang ajar these enforcement officers. Just like MPAJ in Kampung Berembang.

I’m willing to hear all sides of the tale, but as it is, it sounds like their just devoid of human compassion and decency. Does it really take that long to approve a trader’s licence? Can we not make things a little easier for those who already have it so hard in life? Sigh..

Jan 252007
 

Malaysiakini:

Some 3,000 residents of Kampung Baru Bukit Koman in Raub, Pahang, are questioning a state agency’s decision to allow the use of cyanide in a gold-mining operation in Bukit Koman.

A statement released yesterday by the residents’ committee pointed out that serious health and environmental hazards are associated with the use of cyanide.

They claimed that the Pahang Mineral and Geoscience Department had issued a letter of authority to the developer, Raub Australian Gold Mining Sdn Bhd dated Aug 21, 2006 permitting cyanide use to mine gold.

Geez. So greedy for gold that you’d poison the rakyat? :(

*

Malaysiakini:

The Police Watch and Human Rights Committee (Police Watch) said it would boycott all current and future inquest proceedings as it has lost confidence in the Attorney-General’s (AG’s) Chambers.

Legal advisor P Uthayakumar said the AG’s Chambers have not been serious about initiating and attending such proceedings.

He said families whose members had been shot dead been police or who had died while in custody would also withdraw from on-going proceedings.

The decision comes on the heels of a walkout staged today by the relatives of V Vikines during an inquest in Seremban.

Backing the decision, Uthayakumar claimed that the AG’s chambers often delays inquests, on some occasions for up to six years; that the sequence of events is not followed when calling witnesses; and that different standards are applied in prosecuting police personnel.

There is so much cynicism, skepticism that stems from despair already as it is :( I don’t really blame these guys for losing faith.

People are being tortured and killed by agents of the government (read the rest of the article), and none of the authorities seem to take it seriously >:( This, by the way, is the same AG’s Chambers that has swallowed the IPCMC – making it an abettor in the crime of blocking something the rakyat needs to protect ourselves from wanton assault and abuse.

*

Bernama and Malaysiakini:

Abdullah … also said he will continue to run the country.

Responding to a question, he replied: “Well I think so (laughing), I think so. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Abdullah was asked whether he has the appetite for the job and would like to run again in the next election.

Err….. ha.. ha?

Clear sign of insecurity. Who the hell assumed that he *wouldn’t* continue to run the country? :| Which of the PM’s own internal fears/insecurities was her referring to with such a weird statement?

*

A Bernama article highlighting the PM jumping on the Phantom Menace bandwagon also had this blurb which I couldn’t help but notice:

The Prime Minister also witnessed the presentation of a 50,000-pound sterling (RM350,000) donation to the nearby London School of Economics (LSE) from four Malaysian ex-students of the prestigious university.

The four donors are Malaysia Airlines chairman Datuk Dr Munir Majid, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes, businessman Datuk Azman Yahya and Carmen Chuah who gave 10,000 pounds sterling (RM70,000) each and the other 10,000 pounds sterling from the LSE Alumni Society of Malaysia.

The donation will be used to set up a teaching room named Malaysia Room at the university.

Malaysia Room? What about Malaysia floods? :(

Are we so desperate for an international profile that RM 350k is better spent to have some room named after our country in London than on flood victims who have no rooms or roofs in/under which to live? :(

I’m a big believer in letting people spend their money in whatever way they see fit the vast majority of the time, but I thought this might have been in poor taste, given the circumstances :(

Jan 232007
 

mohd-firdaus.jpg

Mohd Firdaus Azizan (pic) has cerebral palsy. Despite being unable to perform basic functions to care for himself, he makes an honest living selling souvenirs in the tunnel between KLCC and its LRT station.

However, Malaysiakini, while covering the launch of the Malaysian Coalition Against Discrimination of the Disabled (Madd, a group I wish the very best) reported that

KLCC Urus Harta managing director Mustafa Awang said that ‘beggars’ along the tunnel portray a negative image about Malaysia.

KLCC Urus Harta took over the tunnel from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) on Jan 1 and has given its ‘squatters’ till Jan 18 to vacate.

Failing which, Mustafa reportedly warned that enforcement officers from the DBKL and Welfare Services Department would be summoned to remove them.

Mohd Firdaus is no beggar. If I were him, I might not have the heart to get out of bed each day, much less run a business.

This everday triumph of spirit, courage and dedication to an honest living (so painfully lacking in many of our rich and powerful) is a shame to KLCC and the country??

What is shameful is that we are so obssessed with tourist money and creating a world where we ignore those with deeper challenges than deciding if the KLCC or 1 Utama megasale offers better differently-abled-free-zones along with better deals :|

Does the sight of anything remotely different from ‘normal’ freak out our comfort obssesed sensibilities so much? It’s not even as if Mohd Firdaus was going around accosting people and trying to do direct sales. He was born physically unable to!! Geez, if it scares you so much, don’t try to bury it under a sharp rock – learn more about it.

Mustafa Awang is not necessarily wrong to think about the image of our country; but (esp seeing how we already mistreat foreigners) perhaps he should ask his good self whether the image he wants to portray of KLCC and Malaysia is that of a society who feels that those who don’t ‘look’ normal should be marginalised, denied an opportunity to do honest work, and kept out of sight because they are nothing but abhorrent eyesores?

Sampai hati :(