Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An historic 12th.Parliament

Can our MPs rise up to fulfill their oath

The 12th Parliament,the first after the polical tsunami of March 8 was officially opened by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin on April 28 2008.The King called on MPs to use parliament to further the interests of the people and not use the House for their individual political gain This warning sets the tone of the seriousness of the current parliamentary session that promises to be a very lively one with 99 new members eagerly waiting to get into action.

The 12th parliament is a historic one in many ways. It is the first time the Barisan National(BN) does not have the 2/3 majority in the 222-member august house. It the first time there is a record number of 82 opposition parliamentarians. It is the first time all three opposition parties have formed a united coalition, the Pakatan Rakyat, to take on the BN. It is also the first time the Opposition Leader comes from the fairer sex. Above all it is the first time the opposition coalition is claiming to mount a serious challenge to the ruling party by announcing its readiness to form the next federal government.

These new changes which were beyond the imagination Malaysians just a few months ago have become a reality due to the will of the people. The people’s will expressed on March 8 has resulted in the formation of the Pakatan Rakyat that appears to pave the way for the creation of a two-party system of parliamentary democracy. These are positive changes that augur well for the future of the nation.

Well the campaign and elections are over and its time to get down to serious work. The people have voted an ideally balanced parliament with 140 members from BN and 82 from Pakatan.Although the BN does not have a 2/3 majority, it has enough power to formulate the right policies that benefit the rakyat.At the same time a stronger opposition should ensure the ruling party does not abuse the power vested on them.

With this scenario, it is time for all parties to compete with one another to serve the people better. Political parties may differ in their ideologies but should be united in their ideals – working for the rakyat.They can differ in the ways they choose to serve the people but should not differ on whether or not to serve them. Politics of hate and discrimination of the past should make way for politics of cooperation for the common good of all the people.

They must ensure the reforms promised related to the judiciary, fighting corruption and press freedom are carried out without delay. Other areas that need serious attention are the escalating cost of living, abolishment of repressive laws, promoting greater harmony among the various races and religions, developing a more people-oriented civil service and police and adopting a fairer socio-economic system based solely on merit, not race, creed or political ideology.

Parliamentarians regardless of their political ideology must quickly get together to address and implement these reforms demanded by the people who sent them there. The voters have been awakened and are watching closely the performance of their wakil rakyats.This would be made easier with the live telecast of the parliamentary proceedings.

The people expect a high level of competence, integrity and morality in exercising their duties in parliament. Can our legislators rise up to the occasion and live up to their oaths of office? Our wakil rakyats may have rules and regulations to guide and check them but the most important compelling force should be their commitment to their constituents.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hisham apologises for keris act

Hisham apologises for keris act(Malaysiakini)

Finally reality has struck Umno and its Youth Chief, Hishamuddin,that he is living not just among Malays but Chinese,Indians and others as well.They need to respect the sensitivities of these other races as well.The recent elections had a positive effect on them that could not be achieved by any other means.

The keris may be a symbol of the Malays,that was not what was resented by the non-Malays.Hishamuddin can use it however he wants.It was the way it was used to threaten them that was repulsive and causing tremendous anxiety among them.

Moreover despite indicating in no uncertain terms of the offensive nature of waving the keris,he and Umno were oblivious to the pleas of the non-Malays.Non-Malay politicians and even ministers were threatened into submission for trying to raise the issue.

The non-Malays are willing to accept your apology but please do not resort to such racist ways to gain support.The non-Malays are here to stay and they pose no threat to the Malays.In fact the younger generations of Malaysians are becoming colour blind and are beginning to accept each other as comrades and not enemies.

It is time to discard the ketuanan Melayu and adopt the ketuanan rakyat concept which is coming to be accepted by all races.Soon it may be in-cooperated into the Rukun Negara.No citizen should be the tuan for other by virtue of his color or creed.They all share the common brotherhood(ketuanan rakyat) of our beloved nation.

It is timely for Hishamuddin to revisit the noble ideals of Umno's founder,Onn Ja'afar, to allow Umno to open its doors to all races to form a new multiracial BN.May be he will be able to succeed where his grandfather failed.It may be also timely for him to join the ranks of his father who was a symbol of unity for all Malaysians.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Political appointees must have the people’s support

People's will must prevail always

Datuk Lee Kah Choon, former Gerakan deputy secretary-general’s decision to accept the posts of director of Penang Development Corporation(PDC) and chairman of the executive committee of Invest-Penang has been the in the headlines over the last few days. His appointment has created much debate and controversy that has finally forced him to resign from Gerakan, the party on whose platform he almost became the Chief Minister of Penang. Walking out of his party, of which he was a senior member, in favour of the posts offered by the Opposition government, speaks volumes of his loyalty and credibility.His aims may be noble so must be his ways to achieve them.

Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary Lim Guan Eng, defended his appointment of Lee, describing him as the right man for the job. However not many, including his predecessor, Tan Sri Dr.Koh Tsu Koon, agree with him on that. The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says Lee’s acceptance of the posts by the Pakatan Rakyat’s government is against the BN spirit and he rightly lamented that Lee accepted the posts without conferring with his party’s leadership.

Political opponents cooperating in working together is good and should be encouraged as it augurs well for our democratic system. Political parties may differ in their ideologies but united in their ideals – working for the rakyat.They can differ in the ways they choose to serve the people but should not differ on whether or not to serve them.

It is time to discard the politics of hate that we were so accustomed to all these years and enter into an era of cooperation between the BN and Pakatan Pakyat at the state and federal levels.Instead of expending their energy and resources to run down and destabilize each other it would be better for them to pool their resources to improve their services to the rakyat.

The opposition has an equally important role to provide the check and balance to the ruling party. Patriotism is not the sole property of the ruling party. Members of the opposition parties are equally, if not more patriotic to the nation as those from the ruling party.

While encouraging closer cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties, care must be taken in picking the leaders for the various portfolios. The selection should be purely based on merit, not on race, creed or political believes. However they should not only be capable but also have the support of the people. In this regards it is hard to justify the reasons for picking Lee after his defeat in the recent elections. I am sure there are many among the elected opponents who are not only capable but at the same time have the undivided support of their constituents.

Chief Minister Lim should be commended for being courageous to break from tradition to recruit members from the BN to serve in his government controlled institutions. However it would be wrong to appoint to any high position, someone who has been rejected by the people. It may be part of a political game but whatever the reason may be, the people’s will should always override all other considerations, otherwise the new government will not be any different from the old.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Selecting the right people to fight graft


Corruption is an evil that must be eradicated

The reforms to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) initiated by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi are a major breakthrough in the fight against corruption. It is a very timely first step in the right direction steering the nation towards greater transparency, accountability and integrity.

Malaysians laud the setting up of the Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption (MCAC) which will come under the jurisdiction of Parliamentary committee on the prevention of corruption and guided by the Corruption prevention advisory board. The establishment of these bodies will go along way to make the MCAC independent and accountable. The enactment of new laws to protect whistle blowers and witnesses is another encouraging development in this combat against graft.

In general Malaysians are extremely pleased with the promised reforms of the judiciary, ACA and the media. These have created an unprecedented sense of hope and euphoria among the people. Furthermore the reassurance by Abdullah himself that he will not interfere with the functioning of the MCAC is very refreshing.

The people have very high expectations and we hope they will be not disappointed. We hope the initiatives taken by the Prime Minister will be acted on by all the relevant authorities to implement these reforms without delay.

Establishing the various agencies per se will not by itself bring about the intended reforms to eradicate corruption. Besides amending the existing laws to legalize these changes, there is the bigger task of picking the right people to head these bodies. There is also the need to change the people’s mindset to regard corruption as evil and therefore totally reject all such practices, however trivial they may appear.

Every organization is only as good as its leaders. It is of utmost importance that the right people are selected to lead the MCAC, Parliamentary committee and the advisory board in order to bring about this process of reformation in the fight against corruption. They must consist of people with high credibility and integrity and from all political parties and who have the passion and commitment to carry out the tasks entrusted to them without fear or favor. Most importantly they must be seen to be absolutely clean themselves. It would be ridiculous to entrust the fight against graft to corrupt leaders.

The country has enough of such capable people who are eagerly waiting to do their bit for the nation. Selection must be based purely on merits not race, creed or political alignment as the latter practice would only exclude many credible people, which would be a discredit to the nation.

Graft eradication is an arduous task that needs the concerted efforts of all, the government, politicians and the people. It is important that leaders, both political and government must set the example and must be seen to be clean and incorruptible. Unless we get such people the fight against corruption will only be futile.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, April 21, 2008

Promote a free and independent media

Free media essential for democracy

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s decision to approve the permit to allow an Opposition party to publish its own newspaper is a positive sign for more press freedom in the country.Syed Albar is absolutely right in saying that we need press freedom in order for us to have a check and balance of the Government. In this regards it is timely for him to review the Printing Press and Publications Act and boldly implement his plans to issue the license only once upon application and do away with the annual renewal of a permit.

Apart from giving permits to political parties to have their own newspapers it is also important for the mainstream media not be owned or controlled by any political party. The mainsream media is the media of the masses. They should be allowed to be truly independent so as to enable them to be run professionally and ethically without undue harassment by their political masters.

Their reports must be based on real facts and not one-sided, favoring a particular party. The recent elections had shown how grossly lopsided reporting by the mainstream media had brought defeat instead of victory for the ruling party.

The mainstream media should be not be a one way channel for the government to get its message across to the people but it should also be an important channel for the people to provide their ideas and feedback to the government. These feedbacks, especially the critical ones, should be encouraged so that the government is kept aware of its shortcomings and the real situation on the ground.

The government can have all the sophisticated statistical indices to measure its successes but the most important is the satisfaction of the people and the best way to gauge that is through the feedback from the them. The mainstream media should play its rightful role in transmitting the true feelings of the people without bias.

With the tremendous advancements in Information and Communication Technology, the people today readily have the access to the alternate media such as the internet,E-mail, blogging and SMS. These are not only cheap but dissemination of information through them is almost instant. We have reached a stage where we can contact anybody at anytime without any hassle.

These alternate means of communications have become the more important means of obtaining news for the younger generation and they are going to replace the mainstream media as the provider of accurate and unbiased information if the latter does not rise up to their expectations.

The government should not exert absolute and indiscriminate control over the media, mainstream and alternate, but use them positively so that all citizens can use them as channels to contribute their ideas and feedback that are so essential in nation-building. A free and independent media is essential for the proper functioning of democracy.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Abolishing ISA,Pakatan's first priority

Referring to "Pakatan MPs' joint motion to abolish ISA " (Malaysiakini)

Syabas to Pakatan Rakyat for taking the fight against ISA as its first priority when parliament convenes for the first time.It is an issue that transcends all barriers - racial,religious and social.It goes against the basic human values of freedom and rights that are the values propagated by all religions.The BN should have no excuse not to support the motion to abolish this law.

If only Pakatan can succeed in abolishing this inhumane law,there is no reason why the people will not support it to form the next Federal Government.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, April 18, 2008

Honouring the towering judicial personalities

Time to write a proud new chapter

I refer toGovernment moves to strengthen judiciary” (Star,April 18).


The night of April 17 was a memorable one for the former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and his colleagues whose honour and integrity were restored by the humble gesture of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.His words of praise for them were carefully selected, meaningful and expressed with sincerity. The only drawback is that it should have come soon after his land-slide victory in 2004.

Furthermore admitting the mistakes of the past in front of a crowd comprising the disgraced judges and their families, Bar Council members, lawyers, important personalities and more so opposition leaders is an indication of Abdullah’s humility in willing to listen and act according to the verdict of the people on March 8.

It was the most gratifying moment in Abdullah’s five-year rule. His bold move to restore the trust of the people in the judiciary and paying tribute to the disgraced judges, whom he described as "towering judicial personalities" were most commendable.

His admission that “It was a time of crisis from which the nation never fully recovered,” is very apt. In fact the crisis of confidence in his leadership today is just a continuation of that and many debacles of the past which he has not been able to undo. It is still not too late for him now to firmly act to deliver the nation out of the many crises it faces.

Restoring the judiciary to its past glory is the responsibility of all parties. This is an area where all parties, political and non-political, government and non-government, could work together for greater benefits of the rakyat.In this respect it was heartening to see all present at the event, including the opposition members and other critics of the government, joining hands in giving support to the Prime Minister in his endeavor to strenghten the judiciary.

We hope with Abdullah’s bold move to undo the wrongs in the judiciary; he has set the trend for a comprehensive overhaul of his administration in keeping with the demands of the people for better governance in all areas. There should be more conscious attempts to develop greater accountability and transparency, fighting corruption, greater freedom of expression, abolishing repressive laws, greater racial and religious integration and ensuring a fairer socio-economic system for all Malaysians.

As Abdullah says the time has come to write a proud and new chapter in the history of our nation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Judicial Reform

Atonement, 2 decades later, for 6 'towering personalities'

Malaysian Insider,April 17, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tonight called the six judges who were sacked or suspended in 1988 "towering judicial personalities" and said that the nation never fully recovered from the judicial crisis 20 years ago.

There was no apology in his speech but it did not matter. The regret and the admission of wrongdoing on the part of the executive were evident from the choice of words and the manner of delivery.

"For many, the events of 1988 were an upheaval of the nation's judicial system. Rightly or wrongly, many disputed both the legality and morality of the related proceedings. For me, personally, I feel it was a time of crisis from which the nation never fully recovered," he said.

The Bar Council, which had waited and fought two decades for this day, greeted the speech with robust applause.

Looking on stoically were the judges and family members. In the audience was former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, who was sacked in 1988 after a tribunal convened by the government found him, Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman guilty of misconduct.

Seah is ill while Wan Sulaiman was represented by Puan Sri Siti Nurhayati and his son Wan Noor Azli. Three other judges were suspended in 1988. Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin was present tonight but Tan Sri Wan Hamzah was absent. Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdolcadeer was represented by his granddaughter Brenda Lim and her husband.

"For me and for many other Malaysians, these towering judicial personalities represent a very different era for the nation's judiciary. Many felt that the judiciary then was a venerable institution which could be trusted to deliver justice. Some even hailed Malaysia's judiciary as a model for other countries – independent and credible," said Abdullah.

The PM said that the 1988 episode had been debated for many years but felt that judicial reform was only possible if a line was drawn under the event and everyone moved on.

"Let us move on. I do not think it wise or helpful to revisit past decisions as it would only serve to prolong the sense of crisis – something our nation can do without. The rakyat wants movement and progress, not continuing strife," he said.

He said that the government wanted to put on record the contribution of the six judges to the country and their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured.

"For Tan Sri Eusoffe and Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and their families, I know this sentiment is made too late. For Tun Salleh Abas, Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah and Datuk George Seah, although this acknowledgement is 20 years too late, it is made with much hope that a measure of the pain and loss may yet be healed," he said.

Abdullah said that in recognition of the contributions of the "six outstanding judges", the Government has decided to make goodwill ex gratia payments to them.

"Gentlemen, I do not presume to equate your contributions, pain and loss with mere currency, but I hope that you could accept this as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what has been," he said.

Samy: Racist mindset drowned BN

Samy Velu's comments that racist mindset drowned BN has come a bit too late.This was not the Indians were unhappy with and complaining all these years but he and his MIC refused to accept.He kept insisting that all is well with the Indian community.

Indians were denied places in the universities,in civil service,police and armed forces but he denied there was discrimination against them.The dwindling number of Indians in civil service did not cause any alarm to him and the MIC because the MIC-putras were taken care of.Why bother about the majority of Indians who are unemployed?

When crime rate among Indians was escalating,Samy blamed the Indians for resorting to gangsterism and alcoholism.The root cause,unemployment was not talcked.When the estates disintegrated what opportunities were provided for the Indians?

Samy Vellu now says while the government is not discriminatory, those in the civil service are.Who forms the government?The BN of course.Why doesn't the BN government check these errant and racist civil servants?Isn't he ashamed to admit that "some of them don't consider us (non-Malays) as Malaysians".What did the MIC and MCA do?

The inaction on the part of the MIC and BN resulted in the birth of 'Makkal Sakthi' that caused the political tsunami on March 8 2008.

The recent elections have opened the eyes of many except those in BN particularly Umno.Racial politics must make way for a more multiracial approach.This is not the opinion of Indians but the Malays and Chinese as well.

The people may not have loved PKR,PAS or DAP when they voted but now they are beginning to love them because they have put aside all the differences between them to unite to serve the people regardless of race or religion.They have realised that is what the people want and they are willing to put the people's interests above their party's.


Dr.Chris Anthony



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's move foward

Stop bickering and move forward

I refer to NST says: Get on with the job” (NST,April 26)

It is already more than a month since the general elections. The people have voted in the Barisan Nasional (BN) into power but with a smaller majority. We have an ideal situation in parliament with BN forming the government but with a stronger opposition to provide a more effective check and balance of the ruling party.

The other significant demand of the people is to do away with race politics as demonstrated by the unprecedented success of the Pakatan Rakyat which stood on a multiracial platform and pledged to champion all races. The people could not tolerate the arrogance, high handedness, abuse of the power and race politics that was so prevalent. In short the rakyat rose above racial divide and voted for change, a change for better governance. Are the parties responding rightly to the demands of the people?

The opposition alliance seems to have responded positively to the demands for change. It has recognized the aspirations of the people in wanting all the races to work together and has gone all out to forge that inter-racial cooperation among them. Despite the vast differences in ideology among them, they have come together because that was what the people wanted. They have set up a common platform, the Pakatan Rakyat, to implement in unison all their pre-election pledges. Whether their unity will stand the test of time is yet to be seen.

On the other hand there is a great deal of chaos in the BN camp. The MCA,MIC,PPP and Gerakan have suffered severe losses and are at the verge of becoming irrelevant. They are desperately calling for a merger to form a multiracial BN as they foresee their demise if they continue with their communal politics. Their fate to a large extent depends not themselves but on Umno,the dominant partner in BN.

Meanwhile there is turmoil within Umno with a free-for-all struggle for power. The damage done at the polls appears to be minor compared to that being done by the various factions trying to topple its leadership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whom they blame solely for their defeat. Ironically even his predecessor, Dr Mahathir - who was largely responsible for laying the foundation for BN’s defeat - has become the fiercest critic of Abdullah.

The various factions in and outside Umno are bent on forcing Abdullah to step down .They are demanding, at times rather rudely, that he step down immediately. Abdullah’s assurance that he is willing to hand over power to his deputy, only after he sorts out the chaos in his party should be appreciated by all. It would be wrong and irresponsible of him to push over the problems of his doing to his deputy like the way the problems of his predecessor were thrust onto his shoulders which he is still unable to undo.

The losses at the recent elections have humbled the Prime Minister into accepting the blame for those losses. His admission that the public perception of BN today as ‘a party that is arrogant and corrupt’ is a sign of that humility which should be an example for all politicians. Unfortunately the election losses haven’t had much effect on many of his party members and stalwarts who are still not willing to accept the people’s verdict. They are bent on changing the leader instead of actively striving to introduce the much needed reforms in the party and government as demanded by the people.

Now that he has said he wants to defend his post as Umno president, he should be allowed to do so and not forced to step down now by any quarters for their own interests. Anybody wanting to challenge him should be free to do so in accordance with the party rules. It is only right that the party members be allowed to elect their president at its Annual General Assembly in December.

While waiting for the peaceful transfer of power, Pak Lah should be serious and waste no time in implementing the badly needed reforms for better governance; greater accountability and transparency, fighting corruption, judicial integrity, freedom of expression, a professional police force, abolishing the ISA and other repressive laws, revamping the education system, greater racial and religious integration and ensuring a fairer socio-economic system for all Malaysians.

The nation has been without a proper government for too long.If this is not checked quickly the nation will have plenty to lose.All parties must stop their bickering immediately and work to fulfill the desires of the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Act fast to implement reforms

Multiracialism is the way foward

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s advice to Barisan Nasional (BN) elected representatives is very clear - Stay clear of racist remarks, don’t be corrupt or arrogant and serve the people well.Pak Lah must make sure that he means business by ensuring all his men heed his advice and implement what he says.

Despite calls for him to step down immediately Abdullah has shown that he is willing to fight to stay on to complete his mission of democratization before he steps down as Prime Minister. His assurance that he is willing to hand over power to his deputy, only after he sorts out the chaos in his party should be appreciated by all. It would be wrong and irresponsible of him to push over the problems of his doing to his deputy like the way the problems of his predecessor were thrust onto his shoulders which he is still unable to undo.

The losses at the recent elections have humbled the Prime Minister into accepting the blame for those losses. His admission that the public perception of BN today as ‘a party that is arrogant and corrupt’ is a sign of that humility which should be an example for all politicians. Unfortunately the election losses haven’t had much effect on many of his party members and stalwarts who are still not willing to accept the people’s verdict. They are bent on changing the leader instead of actively striving to introduce the much needed reforms in the party and government as demanded by the people.

Now that he has said he wants to defend his post as Umno president,he should be allowed to do so and not forced to step down now by any quarters for their own interests. Anybody wanting to challenge him should be allowed to do so in accordance with the party rules. It is only right that the party members be allowed to elect their president at its Annual General Assembly in December. That is what democracy is all about.

Abdullah must be commended for not resorting to the race card to gain support despite the mounting pressure from various quarters to step down. Instead even at this time of severe crisis, he has called on his wakil rakyats to refrain from racist remarks and work for all regardless of race.

The race-based politics of the BN, where each communal party only champions the interests of its own race, was a cause of their dismal performance as the people were sick and tired of such communal line of politicking which did not promise a bright future for anyone community. On the contrary it was only deepening the inter-ethnic conflict. On the other hand Pakatan Rakyat’s multiracial approach seemed to have greater appeal to the people and so the vote for change.

This change in the attitude of the people is a very encouraging sign that augurs well for our multi-racial and multi-religious nation. The BN and Pakatan Rakyat should capitalize on this favourable environment that currently prevails among the people to forge an era of multi-racial politics. They should not let this opportunity to elude them for selfish political reasons.

Umno should give Abdullah some time so that the democratization process that he had allowed to take place, consciously or otherwise, will be more secure before he steps down. He should seriously consider transforming the BN into multiracial party whose leaders should be able to effectively serve not just his community but others as well and whose members will not be identified by his race or religion but his loyalty, patriotism and contribution to the country and the people.

While waiting for the peaceful transfer of power, Pak Lah should be serious and waste no time in implementing the badly needed reforms for better governance. These include:

1. Restoring judicial integrity and independence - establishing a judicial commission

2. The fight against corruption at all levels

3. Promoting greater accountability and transparency in all government dealings

4. Release all ISA detainees and repeal the all other repressive laws

5. Allow more freedom of expression and move towards a more liberal media.

6. Adopt a friendlier attitude towards states under the Pakatan Rakyat

7. Encouraging more genuine racial and religious integration

8. Establishing a fairer socio-economic system for all Malaysians.

9. Revamping the education system to make national schools more appealing to all races.

10. Ensuring a non-partisan civil service and police force

These reforms may not bear fruits immediately but at least the people must see the genuine signs that they are being implemented. This is a vital challenge for Pak Lah which he cannot afford to lose. The clock is ticking and he does not have much time. If he can succeed in this mission before his retirement, not only will he be able to win back the hearts of the people and retire in grace but he will go down in history as the Father of Democracy.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat for Ketuanan Rakyat

It is indeed another historic day for the nation.The dawn of the new era of 'Ketuanan Rakyat' is near at hand.It is a victory for the people,a victory for racial unity, victory for freedom and democracy.


People of all ages,races and faiths gathered to hail their leader,Anwar, who has rekindled their hopes for a more democratic Malaysia.


Kampung Baru hails 'Ketuanan Rakyat'

Azreen Madzlan Malaysiakini,Apr 15, 08 2:42pm

Kelab Sultan Sulaiman in Kampung Baru once saw Malay nationalists gathered to fight for independence from the British in 1946.

More than 60 years later, another mass gathering took place at the 99-year-old club last night when some 20,000 people of all walks of life defied police ban to welcome Anwar’s return to active politics following the expiry of his ban.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 23And this time around the rallying cry made to ‘awaken’ the gathered crowd was not ‘Malay supremacy’ as in 1946 but instead one which called for ‘people’s supremacy’.

“All of you will witness this tonight. We will not talk about Malay supremacy but the supremacy for all Malaysians,” said PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to the cheering crowd.

In his fiery one-hour speech, the charismatic Anwar assured the crowd - the majority of whom were Malays - that while he and his Pakatan Rakyat would champion for the rights of all Malaysians, they would nevertheless continue to protect the constitutional rights of the Malays.

At a press conference later, Anwar said that it was time for new politics to take over this country from the single dominant ideology of Umno, which only fought for the Malay rights.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 16“We are here to counter the massive propaganda campaign by Umno leaders, who are talking on Malay supremacy.

“And giving clear definitive answer in reply of this, to say that what we want, what we desire for is a new Malaysia is supremacy for all Malaysians.” he said.

Also in the crowd was PKR president and Anwar's wife Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, daughter Nurul Izzah, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, PKR vice president Azmin Ali and Batu MP Tian Chua.

‘I owe it to you’

At the rally, Anwar also attacked his nemesis, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and accused him of abuse of power.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 12Once seen as the heir apparent to long-time leader Mahathir, Anwar was subsequently convicted on sex and corruption charges and spent six years in jail, before storming back to prominence in March elections.

“He claimed that under his time, the media is free to report anything. He also claims that under his time, the judges are fair and clean.

"Listen Mahathir. The ‘correct-correct-correct’ lawyer was under your administration!” he said, followed by a huge laugh from the crowd which spilled to the brim of the club’s main gates.

Anwar also managed to elicit a pin-drop silence from the crowd when he emotionally reminisce his six years in jail and the five-year political ban that followed. The ban expires today.

“When people asked, what do you feel most satisfied after your release from prison? The judge’s verdict? No. But it’s when the people make the decision to release me.

“I owe it to the people. Because of me, some of you were beaten by the police, were thrown in jail, lost your jobs (during the reformasi). I owe it to you.” he said to the loud applause from the crowd.

Azizah as Prime Minister?

Back at the press conference later, Anwar said it was not his priority to contest in Parliament for now.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 09He added the priority was to ensure that all the states under Pakatan government were well administered.

“We will see whether there’s a possibility of moving in now (to form the federal government), and promoting a candidate, maybe (Opposition Leader) Azizah (as the new prime minister) if we can reach a consensus among the Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

“Alternatively we wait until I’m able to contest in the by-election,” he said.

Anwar also touched on the issue of party-hopping, saying that the Pakatan Rakyat has received enough support from BN elected representatives from all over the country. However, he assured that no money was involved in enticing the party-hopping BN MPs.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 22And to this, he promised that if Pakatan formed the next federal government, Sabah will get up to 20 percent of royalties from petroleum and timber for the development of the state.

Anwar reiterated that Pakatan had already secured the number of MPs but Pakatan wanted to form a government with a strong majority. However he said that any decision made by Pakatan would be done through consensus.

“Do we want to become a government with a two-seat or five-seat majority? There’s also a decision that’s got to be agreed upon by Pakatan.

“My personal view is we come in strong, at least with a comfortable majority to be able to initiate changes. We are talking about vast changes.” he said.

Speech interrupted

The crowd had started filtering in to the venue since 5pm, fully filling up every available place in the club’s field by the time Anwar took the stage for his speech.

This was his first public speech since the Pakatan Rakyat achieved a remarkable victory in the March 8 general election.

The police, including the Federal Reserve Unit and Light Strike Force, patrolled the area but people were allowed to move about freely. There was also a large foreign media presence, including television crew.

anwar ibrahim april 14 kg baru event 150408 25After speaking for an hour, at 10.30 pm, the police came on stage to interrupt Anwar from finishing his speech on the grounds that he has no police permit to hold a rally.

The police have previously said that the gathering was illegal as it has no police permit.

In response, Anwar said he would show a "good example" by ending his 60-minute speech and told the crowd to disperse.

Organisers claimed a crowd of about 40,000 had attended the rally. The crowd dispersed peacefully by 11.30pm. Many agreeing with Anwar that they had witnesses a historic rally that night.

The change is near at hand

Yesterday 'Black 14', today 'White 15'?

By Debra Chong,Malaysian Insider



The crowd of Anwar loyalists in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur ready to celebrate
Monday night. — The Malaysian Insider picture by Choo Choy May



KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 – In the past, supporters of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and its founder, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, would greet the date of his incarceration for corruption and ban from politics with fresh tears and a whole new load of fears. Not this year.

This year marked the end of his ban from active politics. And they greeted it with elation, jubilation and not a little impatience.

From the onset, the celebratory mood was apparent. Jalan Dewan Sultan Sulaiman in Kampung Baru was lined with a parade of hawker stalls offering steamed corn, steamed nuts and party gear – one enteprising fellow had set up stall right outside the gates of the Sultan Sulaiman Club selling LED devil horns that lit up – which the hungry horde gobbled while waiting for their leader to arrive.

In the club compound, the organisers had set up a giant projection screen atop the clubhouse showing video clips of the early, heady days of the Reformasi

movement. It certainly helped move time forward for the antsy crowd.

At 9pm, upon the arrival of Anwar at that historic bastion of freedom fighters, the 10,000 strong crowd burst into thunderous applause and cheers of “Reformasi!”

While mindful of the presence of the police, backed up by an army of Federal Reserve Unit and Light Strike Force personnel, they were not shy of showing their exuberant support for the former deposed Umno No 2, the man they have all but crowned head of government.

They followed through with a particularly spirited rendition of the national anthem. The crowd comprised an astonishingly mixed following that cut across all sections of society: young, old, male, female, pregnant, not, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Bidayuh, Iban, Kadazan, Mat Salleh, Eurasian.

They didn't mind that they had to park their butts on the damp, grassy – and at times, muddy – open air field. But they minded when the police sought to interrupt Anwar's speech just as he was about to wrap it up.

That Anwar could contain their wrath with just a few words testified to the strength of support accorded to PKR in these new and somewhat uncertain times. That Anwar could avoid a potential volatile situation between his loyalists and the police from blowing up signifies a refreshing mindset.

Black 14 ended earlier than expected, but perhaps April 15 will see the dawn of a clean slate for everyone.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sins of commission versus ommission

Who's worse: Dr M or Pak Lah?

Ong Kian Ming and Oon Yeoh Malaysiakini Apr 12, 08 11:09am

Currently there is much heated debate over whether Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is more to blame for the various woes that afflict the country.

Our perspective is that Dr M's misdeeds were sins of "commission" while Pak Lah's were that of "omission". The former caused much institutional damage but the latter failed to fix the mess he inherited although he was given a huge mandate to do so.

abdullah ahmad badawi pak lah bashfulMany people recall, perhaps with some fondness, the rapid economic development that occurred during Dr M's time as PM, especially in the early- to mid-1990s. However, the institutional damage which can be traced directly to Dr M far outweighs his many economic
accomplishments.

The systematic dismantling of a once fiercely-independent judiciary; the convenient acceptance of rampant corruption within Barisan Nasional in general and Umno in particular; the muzzling of mainstream newspapers, reducing them to little more than unofficial mouthpieces for the government; and the centralization of power in the PM's office. These are but a few examples of what Dr M was directly responsible for, the effects of which are still strongly felt today.

So, while it must be acknowledged that Dr M did some good things, there was simply too much bad thrown in with the good.

Dr M's attacks ring hollow

Granted, Pak Lah had neither had the time and opportunity to inflict further damage on national institutions. Perhaps given time, he could have one day matched Dr M's ability to bend every major institution to his will. To Pak Lah's credit, he didn't try to do so in his first term – it could be argued he didn't do much of anything in his first term – certainly, not in the same manner as Dr M.

But Pak Lah came into office with a message of reform. He was the alternate "Reformasi" candidate who promised to eradicate corruption, to reform the civil service including making the police force more efficient and transparent, and to be an inclusive PM for all Malaysians. He achieved none of that and instead squandered the historic mandate given to him in the 2004 general election.

He allowed ethnic extremism to rear its ugly head within his own party, Umno. He tried to table a watered-down police oversight bill to Parliament. He launched his own version of mega-projects in the form of regional corridors. And, it was business as usual in Umno –
meaning patronage and money politics were the order of the day.

mahathir khir toyo kmu forum 010408 05But as weak and ineffective as Pak Lah has been during these past four years – and still so, in many ways – the recent attacks by Dr M ring hollow once they are taken apart and examined.

While Dr M's stinging barbs are great fodder for bloggers and political pundits, they are examples of hypocrisy at its most audacious. Dr M conveniently forgets that it was he who instituted the quota system for Umno's internal elections and that no one was able to challenge him after Tengku Razaleigh's failed bid in 1988.

Dr M also forgets that the Cabinet was as pliant under his premiership as it is now and that he too was surrounded by yes-men who didn't dare contradict him. That is, after all, the culture of Umno – which he cultivated over two decades as its leader.


No credible suggestions

Even now as he calls for Pak Lah to resign, Dr M does not offer any credible suggestions on how to reform Umno or the BN in the face of the unprecedented losses suffered in the recent polls.

All he has to offer is unreserved, uninhibited, unconstructive criticism – good for media sound bites but useless when it comes to helping the party get out of the morass it's in.

Pak Lah might not last long enough to even make it to the Umno polls in December but he can at the very least be credited for gracefully accepting the will of the voters and not resorting to dirty tactics to "alter" the 2008 election results.

There was no trouble in the streets as many people had feared would emerge if BN were to ever lose its psychologically-critical two-thirds majority in Parliament. Can anyone seriously say with full conviction that this would have been the case if Dr M were the PM?

Those who are cheering on Dr M's assault on Pak Lah – and this includes a couple of the most well-known bloggers in this country – would do well to remember that the good ol' days of Dr M were actually not all that good.

It's not difficult to see where we stand on this debate. As disappointing as Pak Lah has been, Dr M is by far the worse of the two PMs.


ONG KIAN MING is a PhD candidate in political science at Duke University and OON YEOH is a writer and new media analyst. You can listen to both of them discuss this topic in their Realpolitik podcast (www.webmobtv.com)

Friday, April 11, 2008

The people's trust is beyond politics

Pakatan Rakyat should continue to win the hearts of the people

I refer toPakatan Rakyat will not push for no-confidence vote, says Anwar”(Star,April 11).

It was a relief to be reassured by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that Pkatan Rakyat will not push for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the coming sitting of Parliament. Instead it would give greater priority to building up an effective and credible Pakatan Rakyat and ensure that its five state governments work hard to deliver on their promises to the rakyat.


Anwar: “Building up an effective and credible Pakatan Rakyat

is far more important for now’


He was absolutely right in saying that the people had placed so much hope and trust on them to bring change, a change for the betterment of all. This trust goes beyond politics and it would be a grave mistake for them to betray them now that they are in power. The people have sent a stronger opposition to parliament with a hope it would strive to form a more credible and effective check and balance to the ruling party.

The people are eagerly looking forward to DSAI going into parliament but we agree with him that he should not rush to get back into the fray. He has very important and more urgent issues to address as the undisputed and influential leader of PR. The coalition is in a very infant stage and it needs his full attention to secure the bonds of unity among its members so as to bind them into a force that will not be separable by any external forces.

The real test will come when their initial euphoria of election victory is finally over and are confronted with the hard issues that emerge in a multi-racial and multi-religious country. This is particularly so in a country that has been so accustomed to politics along communal lines all these years. That is the time we need a leader who is non-partisan whose advice will be respected and acceptable to all, and at this stage of the PR there no doubt it is Anwar.

The task may be arduous but at least we have taken the first step now and our hopes for a better Malaysia have been rekindled. With Anwar at the helm, a committed and united Pakatan Rakyat and above all, with the support of the people, I do not see why we should fail to achieve what others have succeeded.

Anwar may be the ‘glue’ holding the Opposition together now but as he says it should transcend him in the final run. The lasting ‘glue’ that binds the parties together must be the people, who should compel them to work together. His supporters must act rationally so as not make Anwar an indispensable political icon. Others with talents and caliber must be groomed given the opportunity to take over at the appropriate time. In fact the PR must work to limit the duration of its leader to not more than two terms. This will go a long way to deny the emergence of authoritarianism in the party.

Accepting defected legislators from other parties to form the government could have been a standard practice but to my mind it is morally wrong and should be discouraged. If the PR governments in the five states under its control carry out their promises to the people, and if their MPs function effectively in parliament, there is no reason why they should not be able to form the government the next time around. In fact dy doing so the moment for that may come sooner than expected.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One month after the historic verdict

Can BN deliver the reforms promised?

It is already more than a month since the general elections. The people have voted in the Barisan nasional(BN) into power but with a smaller majority. They have opted for a stronger opposition in parliament to provide a more effective check and balance of the ruling party. They want a government that is more responsible, accountable and transparent in all its dealings.

The other significant demand of the people is to do away with race politics as demonstrated by the unprecedented success of the Pakatan Rakyat which stood on a multiracial platform and pledged to champion all races. The people could not tolerate the arrogance, high handedness, abuse of the power and race politics that was so prevalent. In short the rakyat rose above racial divide and voted for change, a change for better governance.

The Opposition alliance seems to have responded positively to the demands for change. It has recognized the aspirations of the people in wanting all races to work together and has gone all out to forge that inter-racial cooperation among them. They have set up a common platform, the Pakatan Rakyat,to implement in unison all their pre-election pledges. The various parties have amicably ironed out the distribution of seat allocation at the various state assemblies, the post of Opposition leader in parliament and even agreed to appoint,Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the leader of the coalition without much hassle.

The people at large are happy with the Pakatan Rakyat so far but whether this happiness will continue to hold is yet to be seen. The real test will come when their initial euphoria of election victory is finally over and are confronted with the hard issues that emerge in a multi-racial and multi-religious country. This is particularly so in a country that has been so accustomed to politics along communal lines all these years.

The task is not easy but as Confucius says "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." At least we have taken the first step now and our hopes for a better Malaysia have been rekindled. With a committed Pakatan Rakyat and the support of the people I do not see why we should fail to achieve what others have done so.

Over at the BN’s camp everything seems to be going haywire. They have yet to accept the verdict of the people. The MIC was given a fatal blow by ‘Makkal Sakthi’ and has been made totally irrelevant with its leader still refusing to step down despite calls from his own members. So are the Gerakan and PPP.The MCA is struggling to remain relevant by trying hard to revamp its organization but with little success so far.

These parties are desperately calling for a merger to form a multiracial BN as they foresee their demise if they continue with their communal politics. Their fate to a large extent depends not themselves but on their,Umno. Is Umno in a position to come to their rescue? Is it ready for multiracial politics? With its own internal turmoil can Umno find the formula to connect to their Chinese and Indian partners in the coalition?

Umno meanwhile is in crisis, undergoing a serious struggle for power. The damage done at the polls appears to be minor compared to that being done by the various factions trying to topple its leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whom they blame solely for their defeat. Ironically even his predecessor, Dr.Mahathir, who was largely responsible for laying the foundation for BN’s defeat has become the fiercest critic of Abdullah, descbring him as being shameless and even referring to him as “Sultan Abdullah Shah”.

The main problem with Abdullah was his failure to initiate radical reforms since he took office in 2003.The people gave him an overwhelming majority in 2004 but he failed to capitalize on that mandate to introduce that badly needed reforms. He allowed the ills of the Mahathir rule to continue into his. He failed the people miserably by his inaction to make changes. He continued with the policies and the leaders of the previous regime that were detested by the people.

The people expected him to introduce changes to strengthen the judiciary and make it truly independent, fight corruption, resolve inter-racial and inter-religious disputes and make the government more accountable and transparent. Not only he failed in these but he also failed to check those who were abusing the system for their benefit and the benefits of their cronies.

The people want change and reforms and the BN should implement them without delay. Abdullah should get a new team that is more dynamic and professional and start working on these reforms if he wants to survive the onslaught by his critics from within and without his party. He should go down to the grassroots, meet the people in all states including those controlled by the opposition and put forward his plans for radical change. It may take time for reforms to take effect but he must be seen to be reacting to their demands.

He can start by offering an apology, on behalf of the government, to the former Lord President and his colleagues who were humiliated. He should act fast to form a judicial commission, give full autonomy to the Anti Corruption Agency, grant more freedom to the media to highlight the people’s plight, form a high level task force to look into ways of eradicating poverty regardless of race, release all ISA detainees and take steps to repeal the draconian law, actively promote racial integration by being fair to all and act against the ‘little Napoleons’ who are out to sabotage government policies.

It is sad that instead of getting together to make amends for the losses and consolidating the party,Umno is bent on changing its leader. Instead of giving Abdullah a time frame to set things right and step down they are demanding he do so immediately. Will the departure of Pak Lah overcome the problems of Umno and the BN?

If the present squabbles in Umno continue I am afraid that it will not be able to continue leading the coalition effectively and there is real fear that its partners will be forced to leave.Umno must get its acts together to rejuvenate itself and the other partners if its coalition if wants to remain relevant to the new generations of Malaysians. It is timely for Abdullah and his Umno to seriously consider forming a multiracial BN that would pave the way to create a two-party system that will benefit all Malaysians.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fostering better inter-faith understanding

Inter-Faith Council for greater unity

I refer to “Goodwill body to be set up(Star,April 9)

It was very encouraging that Penang will set up an inter-religious goodwill council similar to the inter-faith council proposed earlier at the federal level.Penang’s Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng must be commended for initiating the establishment of the council that will go a long way to resolve the bitter experiences of numerous inter-faith conflicts in recent years.

We were pleasantly surprised at the supportive attitude of PAS president,Datuk Seri Abdul Awang Hadi, reiterated that such a council will pave the way for the promotion of fairness among all races and creed. Furthermore it would also ensure that religious and racial issues are not exploited by any groups for political mileage. In fact the recent goodwill gestures shown by PAS representatives, in visiting churches and temples, have helped to reassure and gain them the respect of the non-Muslims.

The different religions may differ in the rituals they adopt in their worship but they are all similar in their aims – to instill good human and moral values to their members. Their differences are just in form not in substance. In fact all religions have more similarities than differences. It was unfortunate that all these years, only the differences among the religions were emphasized which led to the increasing inter-religious tension among the people.

Disputes due to misunderstanding will undoubtedly arise from time to time especially in a country with diverse religions and cultures. These conflicts can only be overcome amicably by the willingness by all parties to dialogue in a civil manner and never by threats and confrontation. History has shown that the latter only results in violence and bloodshed which are the last things the founders of the various religions would want have wanted.

All religions teach their followers to love fellow humans. It is important for us to reflect to see whether we are truly following these teachings of our respective religions. Fairness, respect for human rights, fight against oppression, corruption and ethnic equality are propagated by all religions, so are virtues like humility, charity and compassion. Why shouldn’t these be common platforms for people of all races to unite?

The voting pattern in the recently concluded polls has shown that Malaysians have risen above racial and religious divide which is unprecedented in the history of our nation. They have shown that they are ready for greater cooperation and integration among the races and it is the onus of the politicians to fulfill their dreams for a more racially united and harmonious Malaysia.

The establishment of the Penang inter-religious goodwill council would be a good start in that direction. It would also be more appropriate and timely for the government to review the stalled Inter-Faith Council at the national level in the wake of the people’s verdict in the recent polls. It should be one of the top priorities in the reforms being considered by the BN government.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Judicial revamp urgent !!!

Raja Nazrin calls for 'judicial renaissance'

Raja Nazrin is very right in calling for "judicial renaissance".Total revamp of the institution is needed very urgently.The BN government should stop their internal squabbles for power immediately and get onto to carrying out the much needed reforms without any further delay.

It is already more than a month after the polls and the country seems to be in a standstill.Who is leading the country,Pak Lah or Dr.M?

If Pak Lah wants to stay on he must start cracking fast otherwise the government in waiting will take over very soon.The people want action and that has to be fast.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Islamic state not on Pakatan agenda

PAS vice president's reassurance is most welcome,Husam: Islamic state not on Pakatan agenda

The greatest surprise at recent elections was the total change in the attitude of PAS.It has completely changed from a ultra Islamic to a more tolerant non-Muslim -friendly party.

It is willing to accept all races as equal and allows freedom of worship to all religions.Its members have entered mosques and temples to meet people of other religions.There was no qualms whatsoever in those actions which we never would have expected from Umno members.

i think their actions are sincere and genuine and we need to trust them for any lasting relationship with them.Such a trust is utmost if we need to built a strong and united Malaysia.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, April 07, 2008

Defections: Why Pakatan should wait

Pakatan should be different from BN

People in general have voted Pakatan for their ideals that are different from those of BN.
If Pakatan wants to establish its rule by adopting crossovers from BN,it would be betraying the trust of the voters.It would be no different from the BN which thrived on such immoral practices.

Instead the state governments under Pakatan and its elected representatives must prove their worth by trying to bring the changes they promised.The people must see these changes taking shape.The initial stages appear be quite encouraging but the real tests for the Pakatan have yet to come.Will it withstand the the trials and tribulations that it is going to encounter in the coming weeks and months?We are anxiously watching and we hope the members of Pakatan will not let us down.

Dr.Chris anthony


Defections: Why Pakatan should wait


Ong Kian Ming and Oon Yeoh Malaysiakini,Apr 7, 08 10:44am

comment
With the uncertainty within Umno increasing by the day, speculation is rife that the de facto leader of the newly-formed Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim, is ready to pounce and entice a sufficient number of BN MPs to allow the Pakatan to form a new government.

pas pkr dap pc barisan rakyat coalition 010408 02While such a development might be welcomed by those who have been longing for the BN to finally lose power, such haste is not a wise move for a variety of reasons.

Asking BN MPs to cross over to Pakatan sets a bad precedent for democratic accountability in Malaysia. Voters in Malaysia, by and large, vote for the party rather than the candidate and it is highly unlikely that they would approve of their candidate switching camps after being voted into office.

To the BN’s credit, it did not ‘incentivize’ any PAS assemblymen from the state of Kelantan even after PAS’ majority in the state assembly was decreased to just one following BN’s capture of Pengkalan Pasir in a by-election in 2005. This, despite the fact that taking back Kelantan was an important goal for the BN.

More recently, it was speculated that some Opposition state assembly representatives in Perak would be approached to switch camps after the Opposition won the state by a thin majority. As it turned out, the DAP-PKR-PAS alliance was allowed to form the government in that state.

Some may argue that in both Kelantan and Perak, nothing happened because the BN was simply unsuccessful in enticing the opposition politicians to cross over. There’s no way of knowing whether this is indeed the case, but the fact is the phenomenon of party hopping has not happened. It has not been a feature of politics in Malaysia for some time now and that’s a good thing.

Seducing politicians to party-hop now would be reminiscent of what the BN shamelessly did in Sabah after the PBS won a two-seat majority in the 1994 Sabah state elections. This was a time when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister and Anwar was his deputy.

Don’t use BN’s dirty tactics

A mass migration of 30 or more BN MPs today would mean Pakatan could no longer maintain the moral high ground as it would be guilty of employing the dirty tactics used by BN during the Mahathir years. It would also spark a vicious cycle, encouraging the BN to employ similar tactics in the future.

It’s also important to also ask: Exactly what kind of MPs would you be attracting? The progressives? The liberals? The reformists?

parliament 2008 numbers and percentage of seatsThe ones who switch over now would not be doing so because of idealism or because they suddenly have a change of heart over issues like the ISA (Internal Security Act), press freedom, the NEP (New Economic Policy) and so on. They would be doing so because of what they can squeeze out of Pakatan, for example, a cabinet position in a new government.

How would this be received by the rank and file within the Pakatan parties? And how would the voters perceive these former BN crossovers being elevated to senior positions within the new government?

Lastly, party-hopping would go against the grain of an earlier desire expressed by the DAP to introduce an anti-hopping law. PAS has also indicated that it would support such a law. Indeed, it is in the interest of all political parties in Malaysia to introduce a change in the electoral law which calls for a by-election if an elected representative decides to change his or her political allegiance.

It would be much wiser for the Pakatan to concentrate on governing the five states which it currently controls and to show voters that it can govern at the state level effectively. It would give DAP and PKR a chance to gain some experience at governing, even if it is only at the state level. This experience is something which currently only PAS has got.

By playing the role of a loyal opposition, at least for now, Pakatan can find its feet and learn what it is like to work as a united team through the formation of a shadow cabinet, for example. By showing that they can indeed work together as a coalition, it will only increase the voter’s confidence that Pakatan is a government-in-waiting rather than a temporary opposition alliance of convenience.


ONG KIAN MING is a PhD candidate in political science at Duke University and OON YEOH is a writer and new media analyst. You can listen to both of them discuss this topic in their Realpolitik podcast (www.webmobtv.com)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Parliament live telecast a right move

An opportunity for people to gauge their MPs

I refer to “MPs to be live on TV for 30mins” (Star,April 4)

It is interesting to note that Malaysians are in for very exciting times ahead. Thanks to the new Information Minister, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek. It may be one of the reforms that the government is introducing as a response to the people’s verdict in the recent elections.

These new changes are live telecast of parliament sessions and the interview session similar to the BBC’s ‘Hard Talk’. I am sure these changes would be welcome by all Malaysians who are increasingly demanding for more openness and freedom of expression.

Although limiting the live telecast to cover the question-and-answer session alone for 30 minutes may not be adequate and far from ideal, nevertheless it is a good start. It should ultimately cover the whole session of the parliament as practiced in many developed countries. In fact not only parliament but the state assemblies too should seriously consider going live. It is also encouraging that the minister says these proceedings will not be censured. The recent elections have shown that the people are generally mature enough to adopt these live proceedings without any untoward effects.

Uncensored live telecast of parliament sessions will go a long way to ensure our legislators are kept on their toes. It will ensure they do their homework and go prepared to participate in the proceedings. Furthermore the rate of absenteeism among parliamentarians too will be drastically reduced. The people will have the opportunity to have a first-hand knowledge to gauge the performance of their representatives in the august house which is the highest legislative body in the country.Re-election of the wakil rakyats will to a great deal depend on their performance in parliament.

The live interview program that is being considered should not only be restricted to bloggers but also to others involved in the various governmental and non-governmental agencies as well. Politicians both from the ruling and opposition parties should also be given the opportunity. It is particularly important to include those who are critical if the government as their input would be of tremendous help to the administration.

If these “Hard-Talk’ sessions are conducted fairly and professionally, I am certain it would be well received by all parties. The vast majority of Malaysians are mature enough to understand and refrain from issues that are sensitive to certain groups or communities in our country. I am sure most Malaysians are responsible enough to express themselves in a very civil and polite manner.

One of the main causes of the BN’s dismal performance in the recent polls was its monopoly of the media, both print and electronic. The media failed to highlight the real situation on the ground and the plight of the masses. It went on to over-glorify the ruling party for its ‘successes’ giving its leaders a false sense of confidence that all is well. The media must play its rightful role to portray the true picture on the ground which would act as a feedback to the government.

It is time to forget the repressive attitude of the past government on freedom of expression and move forward into an era of openness and dialogue. Unless the government readily provides the means for the people to express their opinion freely without fear, it will not be able to appreciate their problems, let alone trying to overcome them.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dismantling race politics

It is time for multiracial politics

It was distressing that Buntong assemblyman A. Sivasubramaniam, threatened to resign from his party alleging that the DAP did not fulfill its promise of appointing two Indian assemblymen as a Perak state executive council (Exco) member. He may have his reasons for doing so, it may be a way to express his anxieties but such attitudes do not augur well for the tripartite coalition that wowed to dismantle racial politics in the country.

One of the main reasons for the opposition’s victory in the recent elections was the multiracial approach it advocated. The people at large wanted such an approach in contrast to the communal politics that they were used to all these years.

Being a member of the coalition that came to power on a multiracial platform, it was wrong of Sivasubramaniam to threaten to resign as only one Indian was appointed to the Exco.One of the ideals of multiracial politics is to do away with the practice that only leaders of a particular race can represent his community effectively.

On the contrary any Malaysian regardless of his race should be equally capable of representing the interests of any other community if he really wants to and that is what we as Malaysians must strive to achieve. That is the greatest challenge facing us today – are we prepared to accept each other from different ethnicity as fellow Malaysians?

After being used to politics along communal lines, it may not be easy for us to change our mindset overnight to adopt the new political realities. It will not only take time and effort but above all goodwill and compromise by all communities. Things may appear to be unfavorable to a particular community in the beginning but with perseverance and leaders committed to perpetrate unity, the ultimate result will be a win-win situation for all.

In keeping with the demands of the people, it is also timely for the BN to reconsider its style of communal politics and opt for a broader multiracial approach. People and governments all over the world are saying no to racism, what are we waiting for?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Pakatan Rakyat - dawn for a new era

Pakatan Rakyat : paving the way for two-party system

It’s another milestone in the history of the nation – the formation of Pakatan Rakyat which paves the way for the formation of a two-party political system for the country. Malaysians in general, regardless of ethnicity, welcome this move by the leaders of by PKR,DAP and PAS. It augurs well for the future of the nation as it would provide a check and balance for the party in power.

The leaders of the various parties Lim Kit Siang,Abdul Hadi Awang and Wan Azizah under the guidance of Anwar Ibrahim have taken the first small step that will ultimately lead the nation to greater heights to become a truly united Malaysia, equal to other first world countries. It shows that these leaders with their wisdom and experience have finally put aside their ideological differences to fulfill wishes of the rakyat, who have overwhelmingly voted for change and unity.

Nobody should be allowed to sabotage this agreement for mutual understanding by their narrowed-mindedness and skewed political motives which used to be the practices of the past. The demand for unity among the various races should be cherished by all, particularly politicians. Why should only leaders of a particular race represent the plight of their own community? The problem of a particular community should be considered a national problem and should be tackled as such. It is time to forgo the communal politics of the past and enter into an era of multiracialism where every citizen is equal.

After 50 years of communal politics, it may not be easy for us to change our mindset overnight to adopt the new political realities. The wounds of hate and suspicion will take time to heal, may be even not in our lifetime, but it will in the long run, as long as we do not allow anybody to sabotage the efforts we initiate today. It will not only take time and effort but above all goodwill and compromise by all communities. Things may appear to be unfavorable to a particular community now but with perseverance and leaders committed to perpetrate unity, the ultimate result will be a win-win situation for all.

While things appear to be going right for the Opposition, at least for the moment, the BN is still trying to grapple with its so-called defeat at the recent elections. The BN might have lost significantly, but it is still in power at the federal level and in seven states. It still has the mandate of the people to rule and this it must do with greater care,humilty and wisdom.

It should stop its infighting for posts and start making amends to the damages done. Instead of fighting to change its party leadership, Umno should instead initiate changes demanded by the people. Meanwhile it should allow the democratic process to take its course in the election of its leaders, in the coming party general assembly.

Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan should stop blaming each other, for their worst ever outing in the recent elections but together find ways and means to remain relevant to the younger generation of Malaysians, who are more literate. Umno should remember that being the dominant partner in the BN it is morally duty-bound to lead the coalition to embrace changes for the better of not just itself alone but for all its partners.

In keeping with the demands of the people, the BN should reconsider its style of communal politics and opt for a broader multiracial approach. People and governments all over the world are saying no to racism, what are we waiting for?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pakatan Rakyat : a new hope for the nation

Today is indeed a historical day in the history of the nation,a day when PKR,PAS and DAP have formerly agreed to from Pakatan Rakyat,thereby paving the way for the much awaited two-party system for Malaysia.

Anwar Ibrahim,
Lim Kit Siang and Abdul Hadi Awang will go down in history as the creators of a new Malaysia where racial politics will be thrown out.They will join the rank of Tunku Abdul Rahman,by freeing the nation from the race based BN government.

Let us unite and do our part in the creation and promotion of the new Malaysia,where all citizens are equal.

Dr.Chris Anthony



Opposition forms People's Alliance


Malaysiakini,Apr 1, 08 1:53pm

Top leaders of opposition parties - multiracial PKR, pre-dominantly Chinese DAP and Islamic-based PAS - today announced that they have agreed to form a new coalition called Pakatan Rakyat or People’s Alliance.

pas pkr dap pc barisan rakyat coalition 010408 02At a joint press conference this morning, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said the leaders will now take the proposal back to their respective parties for approval.

Anwar, who was flanked by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, said that the People’s Alliance will hold its maiden conference after the proposal has been endorsed by all three parties.

Also present was the new parliamentary opposition leader, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is PKR president and Anwar's wife.

"Pakatan Rakyat pledges to uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians as enshrined in the Constitution," said Anwar.

He said the governments of Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor would now be known as Pakatan Rakyat state governments.

pas pkr dap pc barisan rakyat coalition 010408 03"The policies of these governments will be conducted in accordance with the policies of Pakatan Rakyat," he said.

"We have developed and strengthened the structure of Pakatan Rakyat by creating under the leadership council - consisting of the leaders of the three parties - a joint secretariat consisting of three leaders from each party.

"This joint secretariat will be tasked with building the foundation and framework of the Pakatan Rakyat for ratification by the leadership council."

Anwar said that a convention of all Pakatan Rakyat representatives to Parliament and the state assemblies will be held on April 27.

PAS and PKR are members of the existing Barisan Alternatif which was formed in 1999. DAP was originally a member, but quit the grouping two years later, due to bitter disagreement with PAS over its Islamic state policy.

'Don't harp on Islamic state'

However, Hadi sought to play down PAS’ Islamic state policy by arguing that this was not part of the party’s constitution.

Despite repeated questioning, neither Hadi, Lim nor Anwar could confirm if PAS would abandon its ambition to form an Islamic state.
“The media should be looking at the (PAS) administration of Kelantan and Terengganu which has been accepted by people of all faiths. They have accepted that we practise fairness and equality without leaving any group behind,” said Hadi.

pas pkr dap pc barisan rakyat coalition 010408 05Anwar stressed that the Islamic state issue has not been raised by PAS for several years now and that the coalition would only deliberate on issues explicitly raised by the three parties.

“Why harp on the issue and provoke them to respond? To be fair, should PAS still make (it) an issue, it is okay for us to respond. But as I see it, they have not made this an issue for years,” he said.

"We never raised the issue of an Islamic state (in the meeting). I must reiterate that this issue had not cropped up in PAS manifesto," Anwar added.

Hadi Awang said his party would not take any action that would create anxiety among Malaysia's multiracial society.

"PAS is an Islamic party. But we have a common ideology and that is we will fight for justice, we oppose corruption and promote human rights," he said.

pas pkr dap pc barisan rakyat coalition 010408 04Lim said the emphasis is to focus on "common principles among the three parties".

He said the alliance was a "logical step forward" following the opposition's stunning gains.

“The message of the March 8 elections is very clear. The people want to see the three parties work together and bring about change... they want to see change in the area of justice, democracy and good governance,” he said.

“The message of the people is not for an Islamic state or hudud law. I think the message is very clear on that. That is the basis of (the three parties) coming together.”

Asked if the three parties are equal partners within the coalition, Anwar said any problems within the three parties would be ironed out collectively.

He dismissed any suggestion that he is the leader of the group, saying he was merely their spokesperson for today’s press conference.

He also said that it was too early to say if the three parties would contest under a common banner in the future.

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