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Thread: Politics: Bangkit 112 - Ambiga BERSIH 2.0 Message

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Saturday, 12 January 2013 17:46

    Organisers of HKR#KL112 rally: Total crowd size was 500,000

    Written by Maria Begum, Malaysia Chronicle

    Organisers of the mammoth #KL112 rally held in Malaysia's historic Stadium Merdeka have estimated a crowd attendance of at least 500,000 - less than their one million target but more than enough to send a shiver through Prime Minister Najib Razak's government.

    "This show of strength is a real warning to the Umno-BN. If they continue to cheat at the general election, the Malaysian people won't stand for it. They will come out to the streets and demand justice," Hishamuddin Rais, a prominent activist who sits of the #KL112 organising committee.

    Hishammuddin also sits on the steering committee of free and fair polls movement BERSIH.

    Police fudging the numbers?

    The official figure released by the HKR#KL112 committee makes Saturday's rally the largest ever in Malaysia, topping last year's BERSIH 3.0 which drew more than 250,000. Those present at the Stadium are not surprised at the number.

    However, what was shocking were the estimates furnished by the police and used by the government-controlled media. These ranged from a paltry 50,000 to 100,000 and can easily debunked as within the stadium itself and its immediate compound, there would have been at least 150,000. Including the crowds that met at the 8 designated meeting points and along the way to the Stadium, there were tens of thousands more.

    But apart from possibly fudging the numbers, police who were out in full force were on their best behaviour, helping to control the crowd which was remarkably disciplined and well-behaved.

    "Malaysians are well-known to be a docile and modest people. This is why when the violence broke out in BERSIH 3.0, the police and umno-BN were blamed for planting provocateurs. I am glad it didn't happen again this time," said Hishamuddin.

    10-point declaration

    The #KL112 rally, also called the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat or the People's Awakening Rally, has 10 major objectives. They are:

    1. A call for clean, fair and transparent elections with a free and independent press
    2. A call for the prestige, image and reputation of FELDA to be saved by guaranteeing its agricultural role in the economy and the land ownership of the settlers.
    3. Fair treatment and allocations to Sabah and Sarawak vis-a-vis Peninsular Malaysia
    4. 20% of oil royalty to be returned to the producing states
    5. To raise professionalism, assure welfare and protect the future of civil servants including teachers and the armed forces
    6. A call for a green environment that is clean and wholesome
    7. A call for the national language to be supported, vernacular language to be preserved and standards of English to be raised in the education system, with free education for all Malaysian citizens.
    8. A call to free all political detainees who have been unfairly imprisoned
    9. A call for all traditional villages and places of heritage to be preserved, protected and defended
    10. A call for a better lifestyle for women as promised in the Agenda Wanita Malaysia (The Malaysian Women's Agenda)

    Malaysia Chronicle

    Related Stories:

    LIVE FROM STADIUM: Crowd size exceeds Bersih 3.0, it may be too late for Umno-BN!


  2. #12
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    Oct 2008

    Participants break the fear barrier

    3:28PM Jan 13, 2013

    Despite repeated warnings and threats by the authorities, some 100,000 people defied orders not to participate in processions towards Stadium Merdeka for an opposition rally.

    Many protesters interviewed said that their act of civil disobedience was necessary because they had to exercise their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and show Malaysians that they have to overcome the culture of fear instilled by the authorities.

    Chew Lai Ching, a 35-year-old mother, decided to ignore police instructions not to bring children to the rally.

    Instead, her whole family came along, including a three-year-old and a six-month-old, all dressed in green which has become symbolic with Malaysia's rapidly growing environmental movement.

    “I need to let my children know that we are fighting for them and for their future,” she told Malaysiakini when met during the march.

    Chew said she had wanted to join earlier rallies but was unable to do so as she needed to take care of her children.

    “This time, however, I knew it will be a peaceful rally,” she said.

    Celebrity endorsement
    Echoing Chew was Suzilawani Mohd, 32, who brought a child to the rally together with her husband Naveed Ghalam Rasool.

    “Previously I might have been afraid because of the tear gas and water cannons,” said Suzilawani.

    Gerak Khas actress Abby Abadi, a mother of three, was also spotted among the supporters of the Royalti movement, which is a group demanding that the federal government honour an agreement to pay the Kelantan government oil royalty.

    Dressed in a purple headscarf, she took photographs with the movement members at the KLCC area and was a popular target for photographers.

    Abby told reporters that she hoped there would be no repeat of trouble seen during the Bersih 3.0 rally.

    “From what I can see, everybody wants to change, including the police and civil servants, whose eyes are now open.

    “Everybody wants change in a good way. We need to use our power to choose well in the coming general election,” she said.

    Marginalised groups

    Unlike previous rallies, there were a sizeable number of disabled people in attendance.

    One of them was Abdul Hakim Fauzi, 20, who was brought to the stadium by his family.

    His father Mohd Fauzi Jalil (in orange T-shirt), 49, explained that his son was hit by a motorcycle in Kluang on the eve of Bersih 3.0 last year is was unable to speak.

    Many senior citizens were also spotted among the crowd.
    One of them was Osman Mamat, 65, from Maran, Pahang who said he is happy to be part of the rally as he wanted to demand for justice.

    “For the sake of justice, it doesn’t matter how far I have to walk. I am not feeling unwell. I am truly here for the cause.”

    Some participants flew all the way from Sabah and Sarawak to make sure that their community was represented at the event.

    Abdul Momin (in sunglasses), 43, said it was the first time he has come to Kuala Lumpur to participate in a rally.

    "I come here because I want to show that Sabahans are part of the cause for change."

    The former Umno member said he has joined Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah led by Beaufort MP Lajim Ukim, who defected from Umno last year.
    Making new friends
    Some participants found new friendship during the rally.

    Eric Chong from Kuala Lumpur and Raymond Toh from Penang, two complete strangers, became friends when they got into a conversation while purchasing the rally T-shirts and merchandises yesterday morning.

    Chong, 60, who works in a factory, is a frequent rally-goer. He said both of them have vowed to attend future mammoth rallies together.

    "We share the same views, we are brothers," said Chong.

    Meanwhile, Toh, 38, a wholesaler, said the two will exchange contacts.

    The duo proudly declared that they were at the rally at their own expense.

    Costumes are also becoming increasingly popular in opposition rallies, and the People's Uprising Rally was no exception.
    One particularly eye-catching costume was donned by Chua Beng Hooi, 47, a fisherman from Taiping.
    He said that his version of a hazardous materials suit symbolised his support for the green movement.

    There were also some people who witnessed parts of the rally from afar.

    One of them was Firdaus Abdul Rahman, who was spotted watching the march at Brickfields.
    He said was unaware of the issues behind the march but still enjoyed the spectacle.
    “It is enjoyable to watch, but I do not know the issues. I am just an observer, it looks like good fun,” he said.
    Brisk business
    Contrary to previous reports that many shop owners were affected by similar rallies in the past, many traders told Malaysiakini that they made a handsome profit from the influx of people.
    A sundry shop owner who just wanted to known as Iskandar was aware about the rally and decided to keep his shop open.

    “I did not close shop today, because they are not disrupting my business."

    Hawkers closer to the stadium had an even better time. For example, Mansur Ahmad, 56, had sold over 500 kebabs when met byMalaysiakini at around 1.45pm.

    "Today, I made RM1,000," he beamed.

    His daughter Faeza Mansor, 28, operated a noodle soup business beside the kebab stall. She said business had been unusually good.

    She estimated that she had sold 1,000 bowls of noodles by lunch time.

    "My sister doesn't even want to mince the beef any more. She is too tired of doing it!" she joked.

    Cops praised

    Contrary to previous rallies where police was blamed for causing chaos and assaulting the public, yesterday's participants were appreciative of the police who had facilitated the rally well.

    Malaysiakini observed that some participants were shaking hands and posing for pictures with the men and women in blue in appreciation of their service outside Merdeka Stadium.

    One rally participant from Sungai Petani was spotted thanking the police before rushing off to take a bus home, and the police personnel replied with a warm smile.

    “The police were good today. They did not disrupt our rally compared to the past,” he said.


  3. #13
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    Oct 2008
    PoliTweet estimates KL rally crowd at 150,000

    By Clara Chooi,
    Assistant News Editor

    January 13, 2013
    PoliTweet estimates the crowd attending yesterday’s opposition-backed Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally at Stadium Merdeka could have hit the 150,000 mark. - file pic

    KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The crowd attending yesterday’s opposition-backed Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat rally at Stadium Merdeka could have hit the 150,000 mark, independent online research house said today in its preliminary study of the event., which tracks social media use in Malaysian politics, wrote on its Facebook page here that the estimate was based on photographs of the rally in the media and shared by netizens online.

    It said that according to visual proof from the photos, the crowd had covered an area of nearly 40,000 square meters inside the stadium (excluding the bleachers) and in the surrounding areas outside the venue.

    “Crowd density varies, but if you take an average of 3.5-4 sq.ft. per person, the total is 10,6037 — 12,1185 people outside the stadium.

    “Including the 30K reported capacity of the stadium, the estimated size of the crowd is: 13,6037 — 15,1185 people,” the research house wrote in its posting, which included an aerial photograph of Stadium Merdeka.

    “Each area will be evaluated separately to determine a more accurate crowd density. Please expect this figure to be revised later this week,” added.

    Police had yesterday placed the rally crowd size at a 45,000 at its peak, revising down its figures from the 80,000 that it had earlier claimed on Twitter by mistake.

    But organisers and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders believe that at least 500,000 attended the mammoth event, said to be the largest that the city has seen in years.

    PR and Barisan Nasional (BN) government leaders have always disagreed on the size of crowds attending rallies they organise, oftentimes accusing one another of massaging the crowd numbers to appear more successful than the other.

    In May last year, Minister of Information, Communications and Culture Datuk Seri Rais Yatim estimated that 22,270 people turned up for the Bersih 3.0 rally, derived from aerial photo shots by Bernama.

    “The idea of glamourising it to be in the hundreds of thousands is not only mischievous but also a big misrepresentation to Malaysians and to the rest of the world,” said Rais at that time. Organisers however estimated 250,000 participants for the Bersih 3.0 rally, while Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim put the figure at 300,000.

    In July 2011, the police force estimated that between 5,000 to 6,000 participants attended the Bersih 2.0 rally, but most media reported close to 20,000 participants. Bersih event organisers estimated that around 50,000 people showed up for that rally.

    The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat mammoth rally at Stadium Merdeka yesterday was organised by both political leaders from PR and non-partisan members of various civil society groups as a final showcase of election issues before the 13th general election is called by June.

  4. #14
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    Oct 2008

    The winners and losers in KL112

    7:13PM Jan 13, 2013

    For the past few decades, the authorities had placed numerous obstacles for opposition parties to gather en masse, citing security concerns and traffic as the usual reasons.

    The People's Uprising Rally (KL112), in keeping with its revolutionary theme, saw the authorities essentially giving opposition parties free passage to do almost whatever they wanted.

    Obviously, there was a political gamble at play in view that the 13th general election is around the corner. Malaysiakini examines who had most to gain from this high stakes gamble.


    Pakatan Rakyat
    Even before the rally was concluded, photographs of an overflowing Stadium Merdeka had gone viral over the Internet, proving to undecided voters that the coalition does enjoy mass public support and is a legitimate candidate for Putrajaya.

    What Pakatan needs to do now is to take advantage of momentum and spread the central message of the rally - the eight point declaration - throughout the country.

    Civil society

    Several key civil society movements, especially for environmental causes, have grown exponentially in strength over the past years and command a sizeable following, which was displayed during KL112.

    Evolving from the initial not-in-my-backyard (Nimby) philosophy, Malaysia's various green movements have now gone national as people begin to recognise the importance of civil society in shaping the nation.

    Ismail Omar
    In the run up to KL112, the police released several statements in an accommodating tone, to the extent of promising that they had set a ‘zero casualty' target.

    The whole time, inspector-general of police Ismail Omar didn't say a single word, leaving the talking to his subordinates.

    Had things turned sour, Ismail would have taken the rap as usual. But now, he will be remembered for the fact that his men stayed true to their word.

    Traders near Stadium Merdeka
    Save for one stall owner selling gas masks, traders who set up shop around Stadium Merdeka were all smiles because they were enjoying brisk sale of T-shirts, drinks and food.

    Previously, one group of traders claimed Bersih 3.0 had cost them great losses. Perhaps they should sharpen their eye for opportunities.


    Najib Abdul Razak
    In the past, Pakatan wasn't able to fill half of the 25,000 capacity MBPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya. Was the prime minister hoping for the same this time round, so he could ridicule them later?

    Internally, Umno die-hards are probably curious to know why their president allowed the event to proceed when it could have been dealt with, by many old and proven methods.

    More importantly, the public will also be questioning Najib and his party on whether they can pull off a similar spectacle without paying the participants.

    Umno and BN

    From sodomy to a Christian conspiracy to eroding Malay rights, Umno and BN component parties have slung mud in every shape and size at Pakatan since 2008.

    If the turnout was an indicator of reputation, nothing appears to be sticking.

    Mainstream media organisations
    Save for Sinar Harian and all the Chinese media organisations, thefocus was not on turnout nor the message of the rally but the various infractions chalked up by the rally organisers.

    Unfortunately for them, videoclips and photographs - in particularly an aerial shot by AFP capturing the scene in and around Stadium Merdeka - are being widely circulated online, helping the public to have a clearer understanding of what transpired.


  5. #15
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    Oct 2008
    Myth of ‘Umno is Malay; Malay, Umno’ forever shattered! — M. Bakri Musa

    January 15, 2013

    JAN 15 — While Umno apologists and sycophants in academia, blogosphere and the mainstream media quibbled over such minutia as the number of participants at last Saturday’s massive KL112 (January 12) rally, two facts are indisputable. First, that peaceful and largely Malay demonstration, the largest the nation had ever witnessed, forever shattered the myth that Umno is Melayu, and Melayu, Umno. Second, given a modicum of respect by and without provocation from the authorities, Malaysians are quite capable of partaking in peaceful rallies.

    On this second point the authorities, specifically the police under its new leadership, are finally learning that water tankers, personnel with anti-riot gear or tear-gas canisters and other crude displays of power often precipitate rather than prevent violence. Bersih 3.0 demonstrated that very clearly.

    The size and orderliness of the rally, together with the bravery and determination of the participants, was reminiscent of the transformative event of over 66 years earlier, the opposition to the Malayan Union Treaty. That altered the course of our history. Insha’ Allah(God willing), last Saturday’s rally too, will.

    The power imbalance between those demanding change and those in power back in 1946 was enormous. Then it was mostly illiterate and unsophisticated Malay peasants facing the much superior and more formidable colonial authorities. Yet in the end, right won over might, and justice prevailed!

    Today, while the Umno government is detested to the same degree as the old colonials, it is nowhere as sophisticated a wielder of power as the British. Meanwhile, those clamouring for change are far more worldly, more committed and in far greater numbers than their adversary, Umno and its supporters. More importantly, unlike the colonials, today’s Umno government is crippled with corruption and incompetence while also being crude wielders of power. All the more we should expect that right and the truth, as well as justice, will again prevail.

    National Laureate Pak Samad’s stirring reading of his poetry “Di Atas Padang Sejarah” (On This Field of History) last Saturday at Merdeka Stadium prompted me to make that comparison with the anti-Malayan Union movement. He is old enough to remember and may have even participated in that historic protest.

    Di atas padang sejarah,” Pak Samad asserted in his poetry, “pantang kita mungkiri janji.” (We must not renege on our promises.). Today, the successors to those who brought us Merdeka over 55 years ago have betrayed that great promise.

    While Pak Samad’s gray hair and rousing poetry lent an air of history and gravity to the moment, the Blue Gang’s Ito Mohammad and his “Ubah Sekarang” (Change Now!), specifically composed for the occasion, gave the gathering a certain hip! There was no mistaking however, the seriousness of his message.

    Ubah sekarang,” Ito belted out in his trademark rhythm and blues beat to the cheers of thousands, “Kita cari kebenaran! (We seek the truth!) Ubah sekarang/Teggakkan Keadilan(Institute justice!)” Then to the roar of the crowd, he added, “Ubah Sekarang/Send-off Barisan!”

    Ito is a talented performer and a committed crusader with a definite mission, in the mould of Bono. Ito is for truth and justice, to give meaning to Merdeka, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. One thing is certain: Ito is no carma (cari makan — hired hand) artist!

    The anti-Malayan Union movement was led by the charismatic, farsighted and savvy Datuk Onn; so too KL112 in the person of Anwar Ibrahim. In many substantive ways Anwar is a far more formidable and superior leader. Onn meekly obeyed the commands of his Sultan in the sycophantic manner of Hang Tuah, and was banished to Singapore; Anwar in the chivalrous tradition of Hang Jebat had the courage to take on a man far more powerful (at least then) than the Sultans or King — Mahathir. Anwar paid greatly, physically and in many other ways, for his defiance but in the end, unlike Jebat, Anwar prevailed. Last Saturday was proof of that victory. Meanwhile his old nemesis Mahathir was left to rant in his blog.

    Far more important than leaders are the commitments of their followers. Umno could not have organised a rally a fraction of the size of KL112 without resorting to bribes, outright giveaways, or having their carma artists, academics and journalists singing high praises for its leaders.

    There was a pathetic attempt, no doubt by a bumbling Umno operative, at a Facebook posting, calling those rally participants to collect their fees! That posting bombed as it was immediately exposed for the hoax that it was. Those Umno hired hands were not even sophisticated enough to pull a cyberstunt!

    Anwar commits to 10 goals, the top being free and fair elections. Elections must not only be fair and free but, more importantly, be seen as such. Our Election Commission lacks credibility, both in conducting elections as well as maintaining the integrity of the electoral rolls.

    It is too late to change the personnel at EC. Besides, that would not make any difference. They have been indoctrinated to believe that their agency is just another electoral instrument of Barisan instead of an independent agency answerable to the King and thus the citizens. The only credible way to ensure fair and free elections would be to invite external observers.

    Free and fair elections should be the priority. The responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the electoral process extends beyond the EC and Election Day.

    We must never let or tolerate the 2008 post-election fiascos of Perak and Selangor to recur. In Selangor, the hooliganism and vandalism of the staff of and condoned by its outgoing Umno Mentri Besar Khir Toyo stood in marked contrast to the civility and orderliness in the transfer of power between Gerakan and the DAP in Penang. This being Malaysia, the races of the main protagonists at both events did not escape notice. In Perak, the permanent establishment including the Sultan, which should have been the stabilising and buffering elements, were themselves hopelessly entangled in the mess. They did not shine; they were the problem. Khir Toyo, now convicted of corruption, epitomises Umno’s rotten core.

    We must also never allow the prostituting of government agencies and departments into Barisan election machinery. I have no problem with the New Straits Times and Utusancontinuing as Umno newsletters and their “journalists” as Umno propagandists; after all both are owned by Umno. I take issue when taxpayer-financed agencies like Bernama, Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), and Biro Tata Negara (National Civic Bureau) do the same.

    Ito’s rhythmic ubah sekarang is not, as Umno leaders would like us to believe, changing horse midstream rather letting an old lame and tired one to pasture. Our culture is kind; we do not send old horses to the glue factory.

    A second into midnight on August 31, 1957, at the same Merdeka Stadium, Tunku Abdul Rahman declared Merdeka for our new nation. He brought home from England our Declaration of Independence. More importantly, he gave us hope to all the promises implied with our new sovereignty. Today, Tunku’s successors in Umno Baru (New Umno), through their venality, have betrayed that solemn covenant. They have, in Samad Said’s poetry, mungkiri janji. It is time we reclaimed that promise and our dream.

    Last Saturday, when Anwar repeated “Merdeka” seven times in the manner of the late Tunku, he had begun that process of reclaiming. Tunku brought the document of declaration of Merdeka; Anwar will give meaning to its words in our everyday lives.

    Ubah sekarang! Tolak mereka yang memungkiri janji! Change now! Remove those who have betrayed us! —

    * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    PKR tells AG, cops to stop hounding protesters

    Goons are goons. Bullying is the only action they know of.

    • 12:23PM Jan 16, 2013

    PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has called on the police and the attorney-general (AG) to look at the new realities of the country having more democracy, instead of hounding protesters who attended the mammoth rally last Saturday.

    Anwar (right) said police action in investigating the organisers and protesters was in bad faith, especially as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had thanked the opposition for conducting the rally peacefully.

    “We have followed all the conditions set. I was even told by the police not to march out, which I complied with. We also ended the event at 5pm, another that we complied,” he said.

    When asked about the authorities investigating three violations during the rally, Anwar said: “At first Umno said 'do not have it', (then) Najib said 'thank you', while Hishammuddin (Hussein) asked us to 'go to the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil' and the Information, Communications and Culture Minister (Dr Rais Yatim) called this 'an illegal gathering'.

    “I feel that this is enough. Stop it. The image of the police in the eyes of the public is different now (as a result of what they are investigating.

    “I think the AG and the police must first appreciate the new realities of the democratic transition. The AG should spend his time focusing on abuse of power and corruption cases in the country.”
    Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo (left), who represented Anwar in his defamation case in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today, said he had heard the authorities now wanted to press charges against the participants.

    “Let me say this to the AG: give democracy a chance. This is the first time that we have successfully held an event like this, and thousands of Malaysians have shown that they are mature enough.

    “I think the AG should promote this culture (of freedom to assemble peacefully) among Malaysians rather than take an aggressive approach to investigate or prosecute people. I do not think there is a necessity,” said Gobind, who is from the DAP.

    Crowd numbers revised

    It was reported that the police are investigating the rally organisers for three violations: the crowd exceeding 30,000 people in Stadium Merdeka, parents caught bringing children to the rally and the presence of banners with seditious words at the event.

    Meanwhile, think-tank Politweet today revised its initial estimate of the number of participants to a more modest range of between 63,976 and 78,193 people.

    This is about half of Politweet’s preliminary estimate of about150,000 participantsduring the peak of the rally, which it derived based on photos in the press and those shared on the social media.

    On Sunday, Politweet, a research firm that analyses Twitter usage, said the crowd had occupied an area of 424,149.14 square feet, not taking into account the stadium's seating capacity.

    That figure too was revised to 275,532.03 square feet, it was revealed today.

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  7. #17
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    Oct 2008

    Rally was to 'overthrow' gov't in GE13, says Mat Sabu

    • 1:23PM Jan 16, 2013

    The Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat (People’s Uprising Rally) was aimed at ‘overthrowing’ the ruling government, but in the coming general election, says rally organising chairperson Mohamad Sabu.

    “We did indeed want to ‘overthrow’ the government in the coming general election,’ joked the PAS deputy president, who is more popularly known as Mat Sabu.

    Mohamad said this at a press conference this morning when responding the accusation of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    Mahathir claimed that last Saturday’s mega rally at Stadium Merdeka was organised as an attempt to topple the BN government.

    He said that Pakatan Rakyat had tried to emulate the revolutions in the Middle East because they knew they cannot win during the next general election.

    "So, they are trying to overthrow the government now by emulating Arab countries. But Malaysia is not like those countries.

    Balance channeled to warchest

    "We don't have a dictatorship. The government is chosen by the people," he said, according to Bernama.

    Meanwhile, Mohamad announced that a total of RM268,802.10 was collected during the rally. RM75,000 was paid as rental and RM20,000 was paid as deposit.

    He said the balance would be channeled to Tabung Impian Rakyat Malaysia (Tiram), which is Pakatan's official election warchest that was launched last August.

    Mohamad said the public can still donate to the fund, which aims to collect RM20 million.

    "The fund will be used for (Pakatan's) publicity (effort), welfare and mobilisation to bring democracy to Malaysia," he said.

    VIDEO l 2.48 mins

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  8. #18
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    Oct 2008
    Letter to Hisham — Gobind Singh Deo

    January 12, 2013
    JAN 12 — Tens of thousands of Malaysians gathered today at Stadium Merdeka. Contrary to what the Minister of Home Affairs would like to believe, there was no unrest, no chaos and no violence which would go down in history to yet again mark this day with the likes of earlier demonstrations in the city.

    The police were not required to assemble in thousands in the city. They did not have to stand in line in the sun up against their own fellow Malaysians. The water cannons didn't have to be used. Not only that, there were no arrests. There was no makeshift police station specifically set up to house the thousands of people arrested. There was no need for the police to send out teams of investigating officers who would need to work tirelessly taking down statements from all those arrested.

    There was also no need for lawyers to be lined up outside these stations all night waiting for access to those detained. There was no need for the families of those detained to worry about their safety not knowing their whereabouts or what was to happen to them next.

    There were no incidents in which anyone was injured. There was no overturning of cars, no scenes of persons being shot at by water canons or running in fear or being chased or beaten by the police.

    There were no scenes of people, old or young, drenched with chemically laced water, with their eyes swollen, having difficulties breathing. There were no reported incidents of people dying on the streets.

    All in all there are no news reports published to the rest of the world wherein we the people of Malaysia are depicted as criminals who run riot in our own country in need of attack from our own police.

    There were no scenes of drenched streets, closed businesses and destruction of public property.

    It wouldn't be out of place to say that today, we the Malaysian people proved the Home Minister and his government wrong. We proved to him and the rest of the world, that we are peace-loving and that we are mature enough to hold demonstrations peacefully in our own country.

    This is a serious embarrassment both nationally and internationally for Home Minister, Dato Seri Hishamuddin Hussein. And it is evidence of the fact that the government has all along underestimated the capabilities of us Malaysians and has failed to change with the times. It has failed to recognise that Malaysia has indeed changed and is in further need of change in particular with regard to government mindset.

    The government was convinced that we Malaysians were a rowdy lot, that we wanted unrest and that the sole purpose of gatherings of this nature was to overthrow it with the use of force. It failed to listen to us and to accept our demands to gather peacefully as guaranteed under the constitution.

    Despite the threats, violence, persecutions and even loss of life, Malaysians nevertheless pushed on with the reform agenda and today proved Hishamuddin and Barisan Nasional wrong.

    Hishamuddin must be a man. He must accept that he has been sorely wrong, that what he put Malaysians through in the previous gatherings were totally unnecessary, a total waste of public funds and an unnecessary use of force and violence upon us.

    Hishamuddin's handling of the previous gathering also put Malaysia in extremely bad light in terms of international publicity.

    He must now apologise to all Malaysians and step down honorably as Minister of Home Affairs. He has not only failed us. He has, to my mind, also failed Malaysia.

    * Gobind Singh Deo is the MP for Puchong.

    * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

  9. #19
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    Oct 2008
    KL112 and a new Malaysian identity?


    The symbolism of the Malaysian peoples uprising on January 12, 2013 or KL112 cannot be underestimated for its importance in myth-making. In facilitating this ‘peoples uprising’, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has not only created new myths that would solidify its presence in the memories or ‘imagery‘ of Malaysians in a positive manner, but more importantly, PR has also moved decisively in dismissing myths created by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its subordinates in the Barisan Nasional(BN) that have been the grand narrative/s in Malaysia for the past 55 years.

    Myths – stories, memories and symbols – provide the basis for the narratives that create, forge or reaffirm identities. These are especially crucial in periods of critical transformation and/or when societies are undergoing a crisis of identity. Jose Luis Borges noted that the past and the future inhibit the present. In the context of the KL112, PR is representing the present by connecting to a more glorious Malaysian past and the promise of a more glorious future.

    But why is PR now the purveyor of hope, a realm that was firmly in the hands of UMNO with visions of grandeur and Malaysians, Malays and Muslims being world beaters. The reasons are multifaceted and many are known with incompetence, mismanagement and corruption by the ruling regime being often touted as the main reasons. It could also be that Malaysia and Malaysians are undergoing an identity crisis.

    This crisis of identity came to surface with the twin economic and political crisis: the East Asian Financial Crisis (EAFC) of 1997/98 and the political and social fall-out as a consequence of the sacking and the subsequent brutal and humiliating treatment of then Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. While the May 13, 1969 pogrom scarred Malaysians in the way the different races – especially between the [older] Malays and Chinese – related to each other, many Malaysians, especially Malay-Muslims saw UMNO and the government in a different light after these twin crises. The popular Deputy Prime Minister who was to many Malay-Muslims, an icon of how Islam (and Muslims) can co-exist, even thrive in and with modernity felt terribly bitter in the manner he was treated. To the Malays, it was argued that a sacred feudalistic social contract had been breached. More importantly and tangibly, the EAFC brought down to earth UMNO and Malay-Muslim pride that were then running on a can-do attitude captured through slogans such as ‘Malaysia Boleh‘, ‘Melayu Baru’,'Melayu Korporat’ and rising bank balances (let alone the sole right to lead Malaysia). A cataclysmic crisis to an artificially created race that was always insecure and unsure of themselves.

    Difference between opposition public demonstrations and BN’s and the creation of identities

    Several simple but important observations can be made of the public demonstrations by PR in contrast to the ruling regime.

    A united message – While the BN is in disarray with its 1Malaysia slogan that has lead to a series of debacles, ridicules and outright rejection at the highest levels of administration, PR through a series of broad based public demonstrations either in supportive or leading roles, have been instrumental in forging a new identity focusing on what is wrong in Malaysia. What this identity is precisely remains unclear and subject to different interpretations, but nevertheless it is bringing Malaysians genuinely together, united in opposing the regime.

    People and issue focused – Another important difference is that the mass gatherings manufactured by the BN are always about support of or for its leader/s and its leadership. The public demonstrations organised by PR and civil society are about issues that matter to Malaysians. Personalities do matter, but primary importance is to the issues. Malaysians are not spending their money, braving retribution from the government, risk limbs and livelihoods just to hear leaders of PR and/or civil society talk – they are there to make a point about issues that matter to them. And these issues are serious enough for Malaysians often characterised as docile and lackadaisical to come out of their comfort zones.

    A sense of purpose – this is possibly the most important point in the creation of identities. While BN organises events which do not have any meaningful sense of purpose for its participants, the public demonstrations are driven by a sense of purpose. This is critical in validating the myth. Broad sections of Malaysians – whole families, young and the old, workers and students, blue and white collar, Peninsular and East Malaysians, conservatives and progressives, leaders and followers – all have a sense of purpose. And when they’re sprayed with chemically-treated water, tear-gassed or baton-charged, there is now a badge of courage, a shared myth, ridiculed by the mainstream media and elected leaders, a story is to be told. The story becomes a myth and a shared identity. It does not matter if they are a Keadilan, a PAS, a DAP, a PSM supporter or the various civil society and grass-roots movements, or the different races, or Malaysians making a stand on a myriad of issues. There is a story – a same story to be told.

    No BN member has anything that comes close. The last time was in 1946, when UMNO marched against the Malayan Union.

    A nation of equals – And remarkably, there is an air of egalitarianism. Among the speakers at the KL112 other than the political party leaders, were two women from minority races, representative from East Malaysia and grassroots leaders. The time given for each speaker were almost equally distributed. PR leadership did not have exclusive rights to the speeches but was shared with civil society and grassroots leaders. There was no emphasis on any particular party – PAS, DAP, PKR or PSM had almost equal time, with Anwar Ibrahim of PKR, designate Prime Minister, having the last word. BN’s events in turn are always focused on the leaders and on one particular individual (and often on his wife). Whether it’s a walk-about, or a teh-tarik session, or a mass rally – it is and always is – about the leader.

    Myths created, question and shattered

    Operasi Lalang catalysed civil societies in Malaysia but it was Reformasi that provided Malaysians opposed to the ruling regime with a shared myth that was different from the existing grand narrative. While many Malaysians lost their innocence (or belief) in UMNO, BN and their government, many Malaysians were also given the opportunity to work together to form a new ‘identity’ against the existing narrative.

    This grand narrative is two-fold: that Malaysians due to their racial and religious differences are incapable of managing themselves; and that only UMNO through BN can manage these differences.

    Since the time of Alliance, even the much loved Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s Father of Independence, had used this narrative. Many Malaysians believe in this myth, and to a large extent, the BN had delivered on this myth – not only managing competing racial and religious demands, but delivering growth, peace and stability.

    Edward Said remarked in Culture and Imperialism that, ‘neither past nor present…has a complete meaning alone’ but that they ‘inform each other, each implies the other.’ By choosing the Merdeka Stadium, the site where Independence was declared, and by chanting the words of Malaysia’s ‘Father of Independence’, PR and especially Anwar Ibrahim has linked the present to a romanticised past that lingers happily in the memories of Malaysians. Anwar Ibrahim can now take on the mantle of Malaysian leadership from BN in delivering this myth (of growth, peace and stability).

    In hailing Merdeka seven times, replicating the call made by Malaysia’s much loved ‘Father of Independence’, Tunku Abdul Rahman on Independence Day in the very same location, could not have been more symbolic. The grand narrative – that it was UMNO and Tunku Abdul Rahman (among the Malaysian Independence leaders) -who secured the independence of then Malaya from the British – the brutal colonisers – and delivered prosperity to Malaysians have now been appropriated by PR. KL112 went further and rewrote the narrative with PR and Anwar Ibrahim promising to free Malaysians from their new brutal colonisers, UMNO, after 55 years of misrule and delivering prosperity – once again.

    Another component of the grand narrative, that only BN knows how to ‘share power‘ to the satisfaction of all communities was also questioned. In successfully organising this public demonstration including forcing the government to accept most of its terms and conditions, sharing stage with civil society and grassroots leaders, and more importantly, providing clear evidence that the opposition coalition were prepared to take over Putrajaya in a responsible manner to the satisfaction of all communities, PR has set the stage for the final push towards elections.

    The final potent myth that has ensured the continued dominance of UMNO was that only UMNO can provide stability to Malaysians and to the international community. To many non-Muslims and Muslims – particularly from the older generation, and especially those who lived through the May 13, 1969 pogroms – UMNO was the best hope of protecting the interests of the minorities (non-Muslims and progressive Muslims) from the intolerant and excessive demands of the conservative elements of the Malay-Muslim majority. In recent years – especially since the 2004 general elections but in the most pronounced manner since the 2008 general elections – it has been UMNO that has become the vehicle for intolerant and excessive demands.

    The KL112 sealed in the conscience (or imagery) of Malaysians, that Malay-Muslims in general, but especially through the Malay-Muslim dominated [Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)] or Malay-Muslim exclusive parties [Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)] and civil society organisations [Solidariti Anak Muda (SMM) or Persatuan Anak Peneroka FELDA (ANAK)] are capable of being moderate and articulating the interests of all Malaysians – a departure from the behaviour of present day UMNO and its sponsored right wing groups (such as PERKASA). More importantly, it demonstrated that when Malaysians focused on issues (and not race and religion), they were more than capable of managing themselves.

    The international community is also possibly sleeping better knowing that their long held view that in Malaysia, only UMNO with its secular and capitalistic (although ethno-nationalistic) values would provide a bulwark against anti-capitalists and anti-Western forces such as communism and Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism can now be rethought. The demands raised at the KL112 were focused on the democratic rights of citizens, workers, minorities, indigenous communities, the environment and good governance are values that in its essence supports capitalism and Western ideals such as the rule of law and democracy.

    However, the question still remains on what this new identity is?

    While the myths that these public demonstrations have created signify a break from the past, only time will tell whether the series of events beginning since Operasi Lalang, heightened by the Reformasi movement, and the events since the Badawi administration have fundamentally changed the characteristics of Malaysians in a meaningful way.

    Greg Lopez is a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Change, and the editor of New Mandala’s Malaysia section, both at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    By Kee Thuan Chye
    Monday, 21 January 2013 14:29

    I love the new spirit of defiance among Malaysians. I think we have come of age in realizing that we must stand up for our rights. And that it’s not wrong to do so.After all, as the American political activist Howard Zinn puts it, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

    I’m not just talking about the defiance shown by already known people like
    Ambiga Sreenevasen and A Samad Said, the leaders of Bersih 3.0, when they stood up and spoke up or fought against the authorities to point out that the latter were wrong. I’m also talking about the courageous acts of ordinary people who despite having no organization to back them up did what they felt needed to be done, not just for themselves but for a larger cause.

    A video grab of Universiti Utara Malaysia UUM student K S Bawani (L) and Sharifah Zohra Jabeen during the controversial forum held at UUM in Dec 8
    The recent act of speaking up at a forum of dubious intent held at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) by the university’s student K S Bawani is such a case. Despite the attempt by the forum’s moderator to humiliate her, she stood tall.

    She has since taken it further to demand an explanation from her university as to why it allowed a forum that seemed aimed at brainwashing students to be held at its premises. Although the university has claimed that it had nothing to do with the forum and merely provided the hall for it, Bawani claims the university made it compulsory for many students to attend it.

    This appears as if Bawani is engaging in lawan taukeh and reactionaries will say she is kurang ajar, but her demand is justifiable and students do have rights, including questioning the university’s administration. UUM is accountable for approving a forum that treated students like lemmings, and featured a moderator named Sharifah Zohra Jabeen who sported a condescending attitude towards Bawani and behaved like a fascist (“This is my forum… When I speak, you listen!”).

    Worse, she went on and on haranguing Bawani and blustered about irrelevant things like animals having problems, after she had used a line on the latter echoing the jibe often used by BN politicians – if you don’t like things the way they are, get out of Malaysia.

    It was most improper coming from the president of Suara Wanita 1Malaysia, whatever that is. Although Sharifah Zohra looked Indian, her taunt at Bawani came across as racist. And her lowly behavior earned her the ire of thousands of Netizens of all races who promptly crucified her on social media.

    Bawani has since shown herself to be the wiser and more enlightened person, saying that an apology from Sharifah Zohra is not important even though Netizens have bayed for Sharifah Zohra’s blood. Bawani is also telling everyone to focus instead on the real issues of free expression for students and free higher education in Malaysia.

    The support she is now getting from fellow students and student organizations is a welcome sign that Malaysian youths are becoming a viable force. Unlike those at the UUM forum who applauded like sheep even when Sharifah Zohra waxed about the problems of sheep and sharks, the enlightened ones know what’s right and wrong and want to play a role in the determination of their future. They have regained their voice, suppressed for decades by the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA). To them, Sharifah Zohra is a representative of the oppressive Establishment, so they have now challenged her to face Bawani in a debate on free education.

    Will Sharifah Zohra take up the challenge? My guess is she won’t, but I hope to be proven wrong. She would surely find it a daunting prospect facing the audience at such a debate. She would be inevitably booed and heckled, probably from the time she stepped onto the stage.

    Such is the reality now, given the temper of the times. Malaysians have been bursting out in anger after years of being oppressed, deceived, manipulated by the ruling regime that has also disappointed for failing in many aspects of governance.

    The number of street protests in the last few years attest to this. Despite the warnings of the police and the Government to take action against the protestors, the people have not been cowed. The reason is clear: They have no more respect for authority. After all, the holders of authority are rotten and do not deserve respect.

    The protests culminated on Jan 12 with Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat at which Malaysians disgruntled with the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) turned up to show support for the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat. At least 100,000 people were there.

    Some pundits had predicted that there would be fewer participants this time than there were at the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28 last year, but the fears were unfounded. The event started at 2pm, but by 2:30pm, the stadium was completely packed. People filled the terraces and the whole field. Despite the blazing heat of the afternoon sun.

    I sat on the terraces where I could see the entire crowd. I’d say there were at least 50,000 people inside the stadium alone, although my friend Hafidz Baharom thinks there were about 70,000.

    Another friend, Azmi Sharom, later told me that when he left the stadium just before 3pm, he saw many, many more people outside. These were people who couldn’t get in. It took him a while to squeeze his way through the crowd. Another friend, S B Toh, confirmed this.

    Azmi said that altogether, there were enough people at the rally to fill two stadia.

    Sasterawan Negara A Samad Said, who read a poem at the rally, said he had dreamed of one day seeing a sea of people coming together for a common cause; he was happy that this dream had now come true. There was indeed a sea of people before him – in yellow, green, red and other colors.

    The crowd was multiracial, with Malays making up the majority. And they came from all over the country. If this doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of BN leaders as they gear up for the 13th general election, which must be held within the next few months, they must be made of sterner stuff.

    On the way home in the LRT, I sat next to a young man who had come all the way from Kedah. A college student. In fact, many students attended the rally although their universities banned them from doing so. They didn’t care. The young man from Kedah said change is a must; that’s why he came to support the gathering.

    Since then, the university authorities don’t seem to have taken any action against the students. Perhaps they don’t dare.

    They, too, must surely realize that defiance is on the rise and change can’t be far away.

    As it is, in whatever small way concerned Malaysians can show their defiance or their disagreement with authority, they will do it. Like the group of parents in Seremban who wore yellow Bersih t-shirts when they recently went to collect the RM100 handout for students from the Government.

    One of the parents, Wong Chai Soon, said, “I wore the Bersih t-shirt to make a point to the powers-that-be that the gift of money won’t necessarily make us bow down and agree with them.”

    The parents wore yellow also to remind the authorities that without a clean and fair general election, Malaysia would not be truly democratic.

    Heroes and heroines are emerging like never before. We had Anne Ooi a.k.a. Aunty Bersih in Bersih 2.0; student Adam Adli who refused to apologize to Umno President Najib Razak for lowering the latter’s flag at Umno headquarters; 19-year-old Ong Sing Yee who was handcuffed for stomping on Najib’s picture during the Janji Demokrasi rally; 71-year-old Aunty Mei who demanded an apology from Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob for a callous remark he had made; bank clerk Johar Mohamad, the alleged whistleblower in the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal; the men and women who took part in the anti-Lynas Green March from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur, led by Wong Tack.

    Young and old, of all races, they have stepped up to the plate. For them, and for a lot of other Malaysians, there is no turning back. They want change and reform, and the ruling regime can’t provide it. This could result in its downfall. And that downfall might come quite soon.
    *Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, available in bookstores together with its Malay translation, Jangan Kelentong Lagi, Kita Semua Orang Malaysia. The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer.

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