Jun 052012
 

Originally published:

http://malaysiakini.com/news/197771
http://malaysiakini.com/news/197826

Facing Violence in GE 13

Winter is coming.

This 13th of May will not see a solemn observation of one of Malaysia’s darkest moments – it will instead feature, shockingly, the finale of a two week long Umno carnival celebration of its anniversary.

“Nightmare” is the first word that comes to mind.

Over two parts, this article will analyze the following: the landscape going into the 13th general elections, how we can expect both Pakatan Rakyat and Umno linked interests to act in the coming weeks and months in light of this landscape, some increasingly likely scenarios for election day and its aftermath including the possibility of violence, and what we can do to prevent any disasters.

The background

Bersih 3.0 defines a large part of our current sociopolitical landscape.

Especially relevant to this discussion are the massive turnout of hundreds of thousands of people and the now available videos of “protester violence”.

Beyond the events of the 28th of April, there is the rapid disintegration of public confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.

Put quite simply: barring significant electoral reforms, a very significant proportion of Malaysians will – and I will be generous enough this time to add ‘rightly or wrongly’ – doubt the integrity of the results of the next General Elections if Barisan Nasional wins.

Taking advantage?

Before examining Umno, let’s take a look at the other side of the fence.

This article is largely about worst case scenarios, so let’s employ the same approach for Pakatan Rakyat.

To put it extremely crudely (with apologies), some might say that seeing the immense masses turn up on the streets for Bersih 3.0 would give some leaders a serious hard on.

Some might go so far as to think: “Hmm, if these many people are willing to go down to the streets because they believe elections will be unfair…….”

Before long, some will start imagining the ‘glory days’ of Reformasi times. After all, if this many protest the possibility of electoral fraud, how many will come out if they can be persuaded that an election was indeed stolen?

They may even ask – how many can I persuade to come out on the streets demanding that Pakatan be declared winners of the election?

(To be fair, I doubt those leading Pakatan would be so foolish as to pursue such an agenda. We merely examine for the sake of thoroughness these worst case scenarios.)

Besides the considerable number of party supporters, I think another sizeable chunk of Malaysian society will not be hard to persuade, especially – and this is a very, very real possibility – if the election was in actual fact, stolen.

Signalling an intention to cheat

Some ten days before Bersih 3.0, legislation was surreptitiously passed in the dead of night that actually makes it easier for the ruling party to cheat and steal an election.

This was perhaps one of the most under-discussed controversies we faced, and remains an alarming signal that the authorities are not fooling around with their intentions to cheat.

This was not a haphazard, to maybe be used “in case of emergency” type of thing. Some very bad people sat down, and put in extremely meticulous, careful thought about how an election can be stolen.

Of course, we now learn that the amendments have been repealed due to public pressure.

We note Minister Nazri Aziz’s statement that the government was just a “postman”, and unaware of the content of the amendments they sent to be passed as law.

If this is our government’s attitude towards the laws that define our nation, then they are quite frankly even more incompetent than I thought. What sort of fool sends a bill to parliament without knowing its contents?

Next they’ll be carrying suitcases full of cash or worse through airports, saying “Oh, what’s that in there? Goodness me, I had no idea, some guy just asked me to carry this through as a favour. Terribly sorry, old chap.”

The men who plan the nightmare

Let’s examine now the BN reaction to some of the scenarios above, especially if there is evidence of a stolen election, and attendant street protests.

Some will wonder whether PM Najib Razak is capable of the nightmare scenarios I will describe below.

In answer to this, we need only consider a profound, if simple, idea that Tolkien articulated: we do not control power, power controls us.

Should there be a change of government, many very prominent, very powerful, and very entrenched elements fear a loss not only of standing and wealth, but of livelihood and their very ability to walk the streets as free men.

Imagine someone having spent a lifetime robbing a country blind; or actually having blood on their hands from all the dirty deeds you have done.

I am thinking here of a whole bunch of formers: Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers, Inspectors General of Police, CEOs, the list goes on.

These are not men who give a rat’s ass what Najib is willing or unwililng to do, or what he is strong enough or not strong enough to do. These are men who will effortlessly pull the strings of a Prime Minister that was weak to begin with, to ensure their own survival.

Observe some recent developments – firstly, Mahathir Mohamad comments that BN needs a strong government to bring back the ISA, his favourite symbol of unchallengable, supposedly “Malay” power (a tool which, among many absurd things, is necessary to prevent the formation of a Communist government with the return of Chin Peng. I must say this fearmonger needs a better, more up to date, script writer).

Secondly, in a move that is just as mind boggingly illogical, Najib appoints former Inspector General of Police Hanif Omar to oversee the investigation into violent incidents on April 28th.

Once again, we have cops investigating their brother cops. The bullshit the government wants you to buy: “Conflict of interest? What conflict of interest?… Nolah, where got?…”

I can hardly imagine a clearer signalling that the old guard seeks to return to power than this recent tale of two Tuns.

The men I imagine and their associates are not men who will willingly face any type of genuine justice. These are men who will protect themselves and their power, at any cost – any cost whatsoever.

Replacing the carrot with the stick

These are not men who balk at violence either. These are men to whom other men are but pawns.

They would steal an election without batting an eyelid; they would do far worse without batting much more.

No one knows what will happen, but let’s say Pakatan leaders decide to react to an election with clear signs of fraudulence by taking to the streets, bringing as many of the rakyat with them as they can.

What do you think will happen next?

I very much doubt the powers that be will capitulate. I think they will retaliate.

Warm ups have already begun. With the May 13th Umno celebrations this year, it is becoming increasingly clear that those around Najib are pushing a very simple message: For 4 years you tried the carrot. It didn’t work. It’s time for the stick.

Incidents such as described by Chang Lih Kang recently seem to increasingly be the norm – where the fires of racism and hatred are openly fanned by civil servants who are supposed to be neutral (a condition not entirely fulfilled by, say, the Election Commission chiefs). The underlying message is as simple as it is crude: behave and yield to our dominion, or we will beat the shit out of you.

*

Resisting Violence in GE13

Violence has a tendency to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In part one of this article, we looked at how the crisis of confidence in our electoral system sets off a chain of events that ends in a situation wherein the powerful will have many temptations to employ violence as a means to retain power. Today, we start by examining how violence may be engineered.

My feeling is that plans are already in place to use extremely selective video footage from Bersih 3.0 in an attempt to incept into people’s minds the notion that voting against BN will lead to violence on the streets.

Possibly both before and after the elections, with one hand the powers that be will release the Malaysian equivalent of the Nazi brownshirts – gangsters who specialise in intimidating political opponents (a group that has had much practice and warm up exercises in anti-government political ceramahs throughout Malaysia recently, targeting the likes of Nurul Izzah) – into the public, instigating mass violence, and brutal clashes with any street protesters challenging fraudulent electoral results.

With the other hand, they may thereafter send in the men with guns – the police and perhaps the military – to ‘restore order’, possibly paving the way for another Emergency declaration (after all, was that not the backdrop to the rise to power of our current PM’s father?).

Should this come to pass, God forbid, blood may run in the streets, while fear runs rampant in society.

Given how our media is severely restricted and unquestionably biased, public opinion will be divided sharply over who is to blame.

What can we do?

Faced with the possibility of this nightmare, the question then becomes: what are citizens of conscience to do?

When I first started reflecting on this, the dilemma seemed very real.

On the one hand, one does not want to be the pawn of any political party – much less so if it will result in falling into a trap of violence set by the powers that be.

On the other, it is equally unjust to allow our very country to be stolen from underneath our noses.

A moral strategy

Far and away the best possible outcome still within reach is for the government to overhaul the electoral system before the next general elections.

We’re talking here about replacing the entire leadership of the Electoral Commission, appointing truly independent individuals to helm the commission, and postponing the elections until Bersih’s recommendations can be implemented.

If we can ensure free and fair elections, the nation will be spared the terrible fate it may otherwise have to face.

Should we find ourselves with a clean system, then all parties must commit fully to accepting the results of the election, one way or another.

Of course, no one is holding their breath waiting for this to happen. Thus, we are compelled to examine other contingencies.

Should there be compelling evidence that the powers that be have stolen an election and refuse to yield power, then the streets must be considered as an option.

Nevertheless, there is more than one way to go down to the streets.

Consistent objective: Clean and fair elections

First and foremost, one must clearly articulate the goal of any street protest (lest we face the problems of direction and achievable goals faced, say, by the Occupy movement). If Pakatan leaders demand that they be declared the winner of the elections, this will give any protest far too partisan a bent, even for my tastes.

In order to keep the battle focused and to dispel any single possibility of moral ambiguity, I posit that the right thing to demand for is for fresh elections to be held under new leadership of the Elections Commission.

The underlying point is this – the government must be elected cleanly in a democratic fashion. As citizens, we must accept any winner of an election, given the crucial condition that those elections are clean and fair.

Thus, it is not our duty to demand that any one party be installed into power; it is, however, our duty to our nation, our children and ourselves to demand that whichever government is elected is elected fairly.

If all involved take the position that fresh elections under a truly independent Elections Commission need to be held in light of proven electoral fraud, then I believe we will gain both the support of the majority, and an unassailable moral high ground.

These two factors are assets that, in my view, make or break a social movement.

Shaping creative, non-violent resistance

Next we must consider method.

How we choose to protest will determine the outcome of the movement.

Our goals should be to find ways to minimise the possibility of any acts of violence that are committed in the name of the movement (note that violence may nearly be inevitable, due to factors entirely outside our control – not least the likelihood that agent provocateurs will be employed).

In addition to traditional methods of protest, should we face the nightmares outlined above, we must also consider less traditional methods.

The sit-in concept of 28th April is a great starting point. What violence can someone commit while sitting down?

To go even further, we need to consider effective ways for people to participate who might otherwise not go down to the streets.

Chief among these that come to mind is a hartal – a general strike.

Excepting emergency services and such, a widespread strike would prove a crippling blow.

No one can be arrested or beaten if he or she decides they have a cold or family emergency that prevents them from going to work.

Should this idea gain traction however – the impact to the nation and its signal as to the illegitimacy of the election cannot possibly be understated.

It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of viable methods, but I provide the above to give a directional idea.

Political solutions

There are various political solutions that could potentially provide some stability in the aftermath of a stolen election.

It is not viable to discuss them all in detail, but they generally pivot on (the somewhat unlikely event of) having sufficient parliamentarians of conscience and may involve the controversial notion of crossovers and such.

In fact, I believe the choice of BN candidates in these elections will pivot largely on an unwavering loyalty to Najib personally – precisely to stave off any such coup situation.

This will be a defining moment for the rest of the BN component parties as well – and perhaps quite literally their very last opportunity in history to redeem what little is left of their honour.

It will be a time where we look deep into their hearts and souls, and see whether they are indeed irreparably ruled by corruption and greed, or whether some iota of decency and sense of duty to a conscientious democracy may yet redeem them.

Facing down nightmares

The days we face ahead of us may be dark days indeed; it will test us all severely, in very many ways – it will probably test those in politics most of all.

For when push comes to shove, the nation and the world will be watching all political actors closely – it is a time when we will differentiate the visionaries from the short sighted, and the statesmen from the politicians.

It will be a time when we too are tested – as citizens, and as human beings of conscience. A fire comes that will forge and define the type of nation we will endure or enjoy for generations to come. In this hour of reckoning,

Jun 052012
 

It seems I start most posts with an apology for silence, sorry! :P

Here’s an old article (original drafts) on Bersih for archival purposes. First published:

http://malaysiakini.com/news/196807
http://malaysiakini.com/news/196921

Objective Bersih

Objectivity and objective oriented thinking are among the first things we should hope to instill in any child, scholar or citizen.

In that spirit, this article will in two parts attempt to examine the following: what matters most about this rally (versus what does not), an analysis of both the police car that ran into protestors as well as the barricade breach incident, and what Saturday tells us about the government, leaders, and people of Malaysia.

What matters most

While I cannot resist commenting on the two incidents analysed below, I would like to agree with commentators who observe that harping on these issues are a distraction from what really matters.

What is a distraction is spending hours trying to interpret hand signals. What really matters is electoral reform.

The fundamental principle of democracy is that people should have the full power to decide how their lives are run. When all is said and done, this and only this is the objective of Bersih.

With an electoral system that is dirty and getting dirtier with amendments passed a few weeks ago that actually makes it easier for the ruling party to cheat in an election, citizens are being deprived of the very essence of liberty and freedom.

In short, you no longer control who controls you.

Without a clean and fair electoral system, the powers that be have obtained ways to remain the powers that be forever.

After the rally last Saturday, I made my way to KLCC for dinner with my loved one.

Business was going on as usual, nothing seemed particularly out of place, despite the mayhem on the streets a few hours earlier.

Should the government continue to cheat its way into power, I think that on the surface, most of Malaysia would look more or less the same, just like it did in KLCC.

The insidiousness of the authorities are such that they find ways to cheat, plunder and abuse the powerless while continuing to feed their opiate to the masses, hoping they won’t notice.

Bersih is about not letting this happen – and that’s what matters.

Violent Bersih supporters?

That said, we are already experiencing no end of spin about how violent these Bersih people are, how the opposition wants to plunge the nation into violent chaos just to gain power, and so on.

In the face of overwhelming video and eyewitness evidence however, lies are exposed, and the truth is laid bare.

In the aftermath, the truth behind two incidents in particular seemed unclear. Again, while mindful that we shall not fall into the government’s trap of getting caught up in red herrings and missing the bigger picture mentioned above, let us just for a moment attempt to objectively examine what happened.

An important note: where people cannot or have not been identified, I maintain an open view as to who any one individual may be – a genuine Bersih supporter, a party member, a hooligan along for the ‘fun’, an undercover policeman, and so on. Without concrete evidence, one cannot as of yet say for sure – thus they shall be referred to merely as individuals.

I came across three videos documenting the incident where a police car smashed into some protestors and ran into a wall.

At first, some of us were suspicious about the confusion that reigned in the immediate aftermath. Some even asked if it was a staged event of some sort, designed to make the protestors look bad.

Only one video shows an aerial view of the moments before the crash. Here, individuals can be seen jumping up and down on the car, and things are thrown continuously at the police vehicle.

It appears that this is in angry response to heavy handed police action the crowd had been experiencing just prior. In my view, attacking the police car as seen just before the crash is still a reprehensible act, whoever the perpetrator.

The police car then swerves off the road to the right, running down what appears to be two or three individuals, and slamming into the wall. The individuals hit fly into the air like bowling pins, one of which can later be seen unconscious lying on the ground to the right of the vehicle, in an area where blood can be seen on the floor.

The crowd rushes to the car, including an individual in a grey t-shirt, shorts, motorcycle helmet and video camera. I am fairly certain this is cameraman Azri Salleh, who works for Al-Hijrah.

Azri is often mistaken as the driver of the car, but careful examination of the video footage clearly shows him running towards the car after the crash.

Piecing together the different video angles, it appears Azri approaches the driver’s window, at which point another individual dressed in yellow approaches from his left to do the same.

It is extremely unclear whether this second individual has good or bad intentions. What we can see however is that Azri is for whatever reason extremely agitated and reacts violently, shoving the man in yellow aside angrily.

This seems to set off the surrounding crowd who then proceed to assault Azri briefly, during which he falls to the floor and is beaten and kicked for a few seconds, after which the individuals doing so seem to stop. Azri is then seen walking away slowly completely unaccosted.

The video then shows two more individuals (one of which was later interviewed in a video by Free Malaysia Today), approach the car, open the door, and then carefully escort the single policeman driver inside away to safety. The policeman is identified as Mohamad Kamil Paimin.

Throughout this incident, there is someone off screen who is screaming repeatedly that there is someone trapped under the car. The nearby individuals then decide to turn over the car, which shows that there was in fact no one underneath.

A number of things surrounding this incident appeared odd at first viewing. Some of us poured over it trying to understand what was going on, and whether there were hidden hands at play.

Having watched the videos multiple times and reading the accounts that later appeared from those involved, I am personally satisfied that there is no conspiracy behind what happened here.

My view is that Mohamad Kamil most likely lost control of his car after it was attacked. For reasons manifestly unclear, Azri Salleh got into a fight with and was beaten by individuals around him. The car was overturned because people thought there was someone underneath.

Chaos always leads to confusion, and in times of tension and high strung emotion, things play out in unpredictable ways. I feel there is little more to be said about this incident, an incident that is regrettable all around.

The Barricade

The incidents moments prior to the breach of the Dataran Merdeka barricade seem equally unclear.

The question on most people’s minds seems to be: who was it that was directly responsible for the first few people breaching the barricade?

The theories range from: the police themselves who surreptitiously opened the barricades in an effort to entrap the protestors, Azmin Ali and or Anwar Ibrahim, and random people in the crowd.

I have watched videos, I have read testimonies, and my conclusion is, well, inconclusive.

Political circles now fervently debate the meaning of hand gestures, conspiracy theorists insist the cops planned this all along, and people less than fond of Pakatan Rakyat insist this was hijacking and/or instigation to unruly behaviour.

While it’s certainly possible, I am not optimistic we will get to the bottom of this. Proving it was a police trap will be difficult, and Azmin and Anwar have both explained that they made no instigation for the crowd to breach the barricade.

In Anwar’s case, there appears to be clear documentation of him asking the crowd to disperse. As for the rest – there are things I perhaps might not put past certain people, but this is really not the same as saying we know for sure that X did Y.

Not having been made in some established sign language, we cannot interpret hand signals for sure. Not having clear evidence of who it was exactly that opened the barricades, whether police or Bersih supporters, we cannot say for sure one way or the other.

At the end of the day, it basically comes down to who you believe is telling the truth, and who you believe is lying. I myself tend to find that whether we believe someone is truthful or not probably tells us more about how we feel about that person than it does about whether that person is telling the truth.

People do love to speculate, I’ve certainly been guilty of that myself. After the dust settles however, and when most of the evidence that is likely to emerge has emerged, we must try to take an objective view of things. Thereafter, we conclude for ourselves whatever is fair to conclude, and admit uncertainty where the evidence is contradictory or insufficient.

Having taken a microscopic view, the second part of the article will return to the bigger picture – What are the implications of violence, whoever the perpetrator, for future rallies? How does it reflect on civil society and/or Pakatan Rakyat? And my personal favourite, what the hell was Najib Razak doing all this time?

*

Bersih & Najib, Our Francesco Schettino

Videos of the police car being overturned during the Bersih 3.0 rally must have been a wet dream come true for BN spinmeisters the likes of Tan Keng Liang.

What can we say objectively about the violence at the rally?

Some posit that all the “violent protestors” were in fact agent provocateurs planted by the powers that be.

This is of course entirely possible, but it cannot be confirmed or denied entirely at this point, based on available evidence. I deem it probably unlikely that every single person who exhibited violence at the rally did so at the secret behest of the authorities.

If there were indeed supporters of Bersih who turned violent at the rally, what does that tell us about Bersih?

I posit: very little indeed.

The people who turned up at the rally are not Bersih “members”. There is no such thing.

A rally like this attracts all sorts. I would estimate 99% in attendance (not counting policemen or saboteurs) are fervently committed to a culture of non-violence. Then there is the 1% who, as Batman’s butler tells us, “just want to watch the world burn”.

In terms of proportions, saying rallies should be banned because violence sometimes occurs would very much be like saying we should ban motorcycles because snatch thieves use motorcycles (although, sometimes the behaviour of some motorcyclists on the road get me thinking this may not be such a bad idea).

Room for improvement?

Could there have been better crowd control on the part of the organisers?

I think the simple answer is yes. I take this view partly because I always believe there is room for improvement. There are very few exceptions indeed to this.

I understand and appreciate the severe constraints and challenges the organisers faced.

I would nonetheless humbly recommend expanding considerable effort in vastly improving the lines of communication from organiser to participant. When hundreds of thousands of people gather, they are looking for firm decisions to be communicated firmly to everyone.

Chaos and confusion are after all always attendant to the absence of clear lines of communication, command and control.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

While we cannot yet say for sure who is responsible for the violence that appears to have been perpetrated by people in yellow shirts and such, there is no doubt regarding extensive video footage of police brutalising unarmed, often helpless citizens.

In many instances, a pack of policeman descend upon an individual who had been separated from the crowd, and beat him mercilessly, without any reason at all. The sight of it curls the stomach, and shows the very worst excesses of people abusing their power and their uniform.

If and when a more systematic collection of this visual evidence is compiled, I believe what we find will be extremely damning.

A measure of last resort

In conclusion to this part of the discussion, two fundamental things:

Firstly, there appear to be no recorded incidents of violence prior to the police firing tear gas and water cannons upon the crowd. A popular theory posits simply: If they had just let us in, none of this would have happened. I generally believe this to be true.

(Of course, if you believe the conspiracy theory about the barricade, then we were “let in” precisely for this to eventually happen).

Secondly, we must examine the hyphothesis: had there been no rally, there would have been no violence.

Indeed, empirically speaking this may seem irrefutable.

At the same time, I think there is no doubt that had there been no rally, there would be even less hope for electoral reform – paving the way for the nightmare of a democracy stolen from the rakyat.

Without resistance, the unjust will always reign unchallenged and supreme.

I have always said no one likes going out in the dead of the afternoon to face tear gas and water cannons (ok, almost no one); but Malaysians will not sit by and watch their fundamental right to chose their own government fairly heinously usurped. That is the simple truth of it.

Seeing how all other measures have so clearly failed to result in meaningful action or reform, hundreds of thousands of Malaysians saw no available alternatives left to ensure the government took notice.

In the end, ordinary Malaysians went out there and risked their all because they believed a line has to be drawn somewhere – and together as one people, we drew that line at Dataran Merdeka.

What was Najib doing?

The government handled Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0 very differently.

In the former, every minister and his/her mother came out to condemn Bersih. This time, the evidence suggests a complete gag order.

Only Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was sent to do the dirty work, and he didn’t seem to have a clue what he was really saying – a feat he seems to have successfully extended post-Bersih.

The other peon sent to the lonely and dangerous front was KL Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail. While last year the Prime Minister was at the forefront of discussions about Bersih, this time he sent someone not at the federal level, not at the state level, but at the municipal level.

Who then is responsible for the police violence?

In cases where dogs attack humans, we hold their owners legally responsible.

Equally, I am of the school of thought which believes that when something goes wrong in a ship, there is no point in going after the sailors – ultimately, the captain must always bear final responsibility.

In this respect, Najib’s captaincy in this situation most resembles that of Captain Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia – the man who refused to return to his sinking ship after he abandoned it, despite being ordered by the Coast Guard to do so to help with the rescue efforts.

This spectacle gave rise to the meme, Vada a bordo, cazzo!, which translates roughly to “Get back on board, you !#$@!”

Imagine the scene.

On the same day that hundreds of thousands of Malaysians went down to the streets and faced tear gas and water cannons to demand clean and fair elections as their fundamental democratic right, the Prime Ministers sits and thinks about an appropriate course of action.

He ponders.

He wonders.

He decides: “I know, I should go to Bukit Tunku and get a hair cut.”

Has our Prime Minister gone mad? Does he fancy himself a Nero amidst a burning Rome? Vada a bordo, cazzo!

Having learnt from Bersih 2.0 that the more they tried to suppress Bersih, the worse they looked (a classic case of being trolled), the government – and especially Najib himself – chose to remain utterly quiet this time.

Of course, someone had to be fed to the lions. Hishammuddin, Ahmad Fuad, and the Inspector General of the Police all probably found themselves facing the firing squad with dead silence from the top. I can’t imagine how much they must resent the Prime Minister’s cowardice.

The trickle down effect of cowardice

This absence of leadership goes a long way in understanding how things happened on the 28th of April.

It seems the only clear instruction to the police from the IGP was: don’t do anything unless they breach Dataran.

A number of things: Firstly, this could be why the protesters were “allowed” to breach the barricades, if that was what indeed happened. Secondly, there does not seem to have been clear instruction as to what to do after action began to be taken.

Reviewing the videos and eyewitness accounts of violence, I find myself thinking of a popular song by the Baha Men.

On Saturday evening, I spoke to someone on the train to KLCC who told of how the police were breaking the peace and forcing their way into restaurants, roughing up anyone in a yellow t-shirt (video evidence has since emerged of such instances). They were chasing Malaysians around town late into the evening, for no apparent reasons whatsoever.

As seen by the way they fired tear gas after people were already dispersing, their motivation seemed to be one of vengeance – vengeance devoid of any real purpose or leadership.

Too long have we endured a culture of police brutality, and too long have we abided those who are truly responsible.

Najib’s cowardice in failing to deal with the entire Bersih matter maturely is nothing short of disgusting.

The wise thing to do would have been to let the people gather peacefully at Dataran Merdeka, listen to what they have to say, and then let them disperse peacefully.

If he thought he could happily let some other fall guys take the rap while he shut up for weeks, and then crawl out of the woodwork to whine and spin after the fact (after, of course, his ‘urgently needed’ haircut), he has another thing coming.

Courage in our final lap

Ultimately, all this is about nothing more and nothing less than the right to choose our leaders fairly.

It was on the last day of parliament that the government – in a move that can only signal truly malicious intent – enacted amendments to electoral laws that actually make it easier for the government to cheat and steal an election.

Some ten days before Bersih (either arrogance or pure desperation), and literally in the dead of night, amidst stopped clocks – they eroded yet another fundamental liberty that is the human right of every Malaysian.

Not until that moment did I realise how serious the ruling party is about cheating, how close they are to the edge, and how desperate they are not to fall off.

One way or another, I feel we are in for some truly challenging months ahead. It may not be long before we can be compared to the worst tyrannies and dictatorships in the world.

Nevertheless, I refuse to let my fear restrain me from taking a stand against injustice.

On the 28th of April, the 9th of July, and the 10th of November before it, Malaysians came together and said Ya basta! Enough is enough.

No more power through corruption, no more apathy through ignorance, no more oppression through tyranny.

The powerful will use every last measure at their considerable disposal to corrupt the democratic process, and we, the rakyat, will have to use every last measure of our considerable strength to resist it.

If ever you despair, you remember that commitment and resolve that was written on the face of every one of your brothers and sisters that came out to walk with you that scorching Saturday afternoon. You remember and you take heart.

Remember, and know this – it may take days, it may take a lifetime; but armed with nothing but our integrity and our conscience, believe me, we shall overcom

Jan 072012
 

Humble thanks to all who had kind words about my article.

Allow me to once again offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to The Malaysian Insider for being the first ever to host my column – it’s been a great relationship, they’ve been very good to me, and I bring with me many positive memories.

I’m also feeling good about the move to Malaysiakini, and look forward to walking down some meaningful roads together :)

*

Around the time my article was published, RPK also published what he said was proof of corruption in Selangor. True to RPK style, it contained quite lurid detail.

Since its publication, I’m glad to note that just about all of the accused have stepped up to set the record straight.

Now, I’m all for weeding out corruption, especially in Pakatan held states. But for corruption to be weeded out, first it has to be true :P

I can’t comment much right now on this Johan Taharin matter, as I have never heard of him. I’m not sure what use being Azmin Ali’s brother in law would be though, since Azmin holds no official posts within the Selangor state government structure. Those familiar with PKR politics would probably also doubt his ability to exert undue influence over the current Menteri Besar. If the following accusations are anything to go by, let’s just say it gives plenty of reason to doubt the credibility of the first one.

(ps- I see that Malaysia Today gallantly publishes all sorts of articles and blog posts, even those that are critical of RPK. Great! I wonder if they could also publish my Malaysiakini article and this blog post? No reason not too, right? Thanks!!)

(edit: I have just been kindly informed that the reason this is so is because Malaysia Today cannot run articles by Malaysiakini, which is perfectly understandable. Thanks and apologies!)  

Allow me to reproduce the rest of the accusations and responses:

This next case is regarding some scams involving the amount of legal work dished out by the legal department of MBPJ. This work is being given exclusively to a group of lawyers who are all PKR leaders.

This large amount of legal work to these chosen few has caused immense unhappiness amongst the other Pakatan Rakyat council members in MBPJ, who have chosen to remain silent for the sake of ‘party unity’. They feel that if they speak out that may jeopardise Pakatan Rakyat’s chances of retaining Selangor in the next general election.

The principle characters are lawyers Derrick Fernandez and Lateefa Koya, who are also both MBPJ councillors and PKR leaders, the Member of Parliament for Subang, R. Sivarasa, and the newly-minted Vice President of PKR, N. Surendran. Lateefa is also employed by Daim and Gamany, Sivara’s legal firm.

A good chunk of the legal work in MBPJ has been diverted to the firms of Sivarasa, Surendran and Derrick through the influence of Lateefa Koya and Derrick. After all, this is a PKR-controlled council. Is this not corruption, or at least a conflict of interest?

Anwar Ibrahim is fully aware of this but does nothing about it. And Anwar does not need me to provide any figures or documents because the accounts can be procured from the MBPJ.

MBPJ has to be transparent and reveal the exact amount of work given to these three firms and the total fees paid over the few years that Pakatan Rakyat has ruled Selangor.

Daim and Gamany has moved from their humble office in the ‘slum’ Masjid India area to a new swank office near MBPJ. Surendran, on the other hand, is no longer the poor lawyer he used to be. He used to travel around in a beaten-up Proton Saga begging for work. Now, he is chauffer-driven in an expensive continental car. Talk about rags to riches in the blink of an eye.

Let’s start with Derek – not Derrick – Fernandez, who wrote in an SMS, quoted verbatim:

Sallam, raja petra has written in his web site today that i get legal work from mbpj in article on his blog. The statement is a lie and false. Neither I nor my firm have ever done any legal work for mbpj . This can be verified with the mayor or en mutallib the director of the legal department in mbpj. My firm has never ever been on the panel of mbpj. An examination of the list of laywers on the panel will confirm this . Furthermore the is no such firm as derrick fernandez and co . My name is also wrongly spelt. This guy must have his facts wrong . i dont know whats his grouse .frm Derek fernandez ,Cc datuk bandar, mutalib

As for Suren:

“Raja Petra Kamarudin in making that allegation is an absolute and utter liar,” he told reporters at PKR headquarters. “I have never received any kind of legal work from the PJ City Council or Selangor government, or any government department.

“In fact, since I took up public activism in 1998, I have never received a single sen for any kind of legal work, political work or activist work that I’ve done in 13 years.”

“It’s very indicative of the kind of person Raja Petra is that he’s capable of repeating these kinds of complete lies in a public manner,” Surendran said.

Referring to one of the blogger’s allegations, he said he did not receive an “intercontinental car” after becoming a PKR vice-president, but had bought one with his own money before he entered public activism.

Now, calling someone a liar is quite a strong thing. In the event that someone has said something that is untrue however, regardless of all the other true things he may or may not have said, the term must be said to be technically correct.

I think I can personally vouch for Suren’s fervent dedication to very pure ideas about activism and keeping one’s hands clean. (In fact, I was amazed he took up the vice presidency – clearly proving he’s one willing to make sacrifices for the bigger picture I was going on about)

As for Daim & Gamany?

This firm helped me out a bit after my arrest in 2007. If I recall correctly, I went to their office then, which was quite stylish (and not, to my recollection, anywhere near the Masjid India area). I’ve also recently seen where they’ve moved to currently – which RPK rightly pointed out, is not too far from MBPJ, and is very close to my favourite chicken rice shop (Satellite) on Jalan Gasing.

This is what it looks like:

Swanky? Yeahhhh…..

You can try to fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

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