Friday, June 29, 2012

If Ambiga should be hanged who can be spared?

  Fear of losing brings out the worst from BN

At a time when the world is calling for the abolishing of the death penalty even for hardcore criminals, a lawmaker from the ruling party in Malaysia is calling for that sentence for a woman who led her fellow citizens in demanding clean, fair and free elections.
The call by Umno MP for Sri Gading, Mohamad Aziz for Bersih 3.0 co-chair S. Ambiga to be hanged for treason is the most uncivilized and irresponsible behavior of an elected representative. All peace-loving Malaysians regardless of race and political affiliation must condemn it. It reflects the real fear within the ruling party in facing the coming general elections, being willing to resort to whatever means available to it stay in power, does not matter whether it is right or wrong.

If Ambiga should be hanged for leading Bersih to demand for clean, fair and free elections, what should we do to those who siphon billions of ringgit belonging to the people, blatantly abuse their power to detain people without trial and causing hurt and even death of those who oppose them and those who pit one race against another for political survival?

The vast majority of Malaysians salute Ambiga for her brave and uncompromising stand in the call for clean and fair elections, for her courage to stand up to the powers that be and those who chose to intimidate and insult her. Being a member of a minority group she is fully aware of the powers of the forces arrayed against her but that did not deter her from standing up for justice. It is unfortunate that instead of praising her courage and patriotism, she is being victimized for the very virtue that many, even the top leaders lack.

The quick retraction of his statements is an indication that Mohamad Aziz is well aware that what he said was wrong. He may just be a member of parliament but coming Umno his statements have a far-reaching implications. It reflects the inner thinking of Umno regarding the state of non-Malays in the country whom they regard as ‘pendatang’. It could imply a deep-seated anger and hatred towards these perceived “pendatangs” and the unfounded fear that they are going to lose their political power and wealth to them.

This is really regrettable, occurring after 54 years of independence and self-rule by the BN. More disturbing is the fact the top leadership of the ruling party fail to condemn such irresponsible behavior of their own members, let alone acting firmly against such perpetrators.

The BN has repeatedly failed to protect the interests and rights of its citizens, in particular those of the minority communities. However its leaders continue to court them for their support in the coming elections, which to my mind is absurd. Why should the people support them when they are being continuously insulted, abused and their constitutional rights trampled upon?

With every passing day, the BN is losing its credibility among the people as the protector of their legitimate rights and the guardian of their hard earned money. The BN in particular Umno, the dominant partner, must have a hard look at what they have been are doing to the people, the country and its economy over the last four years after the people in no uncertain terms told them to change or be prepared to be changed.

The coming 13GE has brought out the best and the worst in the major political parties and their leaders.At a recent ceramah by PAS,it was so heartening to see speaker after speaker from PAS affectionately referring to Amiga as "Kakak Ambiga"  and it was most reassuring to hear them say "Ambiga adalah saudari kita" whereas Umno considers her a traitor who should be hung for waging war against the king and country.Who would  the people vote for in such a situation?

Monday, June 11, 2012

A little background on Datuk Ambiga

Datuk Ambiga has been known for her push behind the Bersih movements. But very few know of her background and that of her family's, and what they all did for the nation they love called Malaysia.

Yet , some racial bigots amongst us have taken the liberty to request
the cancellation of her citizenship, threaten her life, waive their
butts at her, and serve beef burgers in front of her house an offense
to one who considers herself a vegetarian Hindu.

What were these ones doing 40 years ago, when Ambiga's father was setting up the nation's first urology unit? Did they even pause to think what this family has done for the nation of Malaysia as loyal citizens, when they went on to denigrate them as pendatangs who didn't belong here?

How many women among us Malaysian were recognized in the USA by the most powerful women there ... Mrs Clinton and Obama, for being a leading woman in today's society?

View the link below:

Ambiga between Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama

US first lady Michelle Obama (right) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hand Ambiga the Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage, on 11 March 2009 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America, Source: Zimbio)

DATUK Ambiga Sreenevasan’s reference point for how aware Malaysians are about issues is the taxi driver. The respected lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president is no stranger to being scolded by taxi drivers while she is dressed up in her courtroom garb.
“‘Aiya, this judiciary, can buy,’ one told me,” Ambiga says. “They are very critical, and are very clear on what is right and wrong.”

The Malaysian taxi driver is one of her gauges of public awareness, and the senior lawyer is convinced that nobody should underestimate the Malaysian public’s understanding of issues.
Indeed, Ambiga’s seen quite a lot in her own life. The Nut Graph talked to her on 26 May 2009 at her office in Kuala Lumpur about growing up through 13 May 1969, watching the 1988 judicial crisis unfold, and the changing attitudes of Malaysians.

We are all pendatangs. Where are you from?

My father was born and bred in Malaysia. My mother was from South India, and my father married her and brought her to Malaysia.
My paternal grandfather was also from South India. I think it was a question of looking for opportunities, for him. He was an assistant commissioner for labour.
My parents have three children. I was born in Seremban, on 13 November 1956; my father, who was a doctor, was posted there.
My father, Datuk Dr G Sreenevasan, was one of our pioneer urologists. He was the main person behind the Institute of Urology and Nephrology in Hospital Kuala Lumpur. I remember him spending longs days and nights planning this.
Ambiga's father and the staff of the Institute of Urology Nephrology on his retirement from government service at the age of 52 (Courtesy of Ambiga Sreenevasan)

Growing up, I remember that my father was very inspired by Tunku Abdul Rahman, and his call for all races to unite. My father had many opportunities abroad, but he decided to stay here; he wanted to build something up in Malaysia. And he did.

All my father’s friends and colleagues were like that. Those people who lived through independence really had the spirit of nationalism in them. The drive that they had — unfortunately we’ve lost that now. Comparing them with Malaysians today, I understand when people of that generation tell me: you don’t know what it is to want to build up our country.

What was school like?

I went to Convent Bukit Nenas from Form One to Upper Six. I remember that my friends and I had a strong sense of “Malaysianism”.
This was after 1969. It’s true that 13 May destroyed a lot of trust. But then there was the Rukunegara, which we all had to learn — seemingly real attempts to bring people together. We were happy to strengthen our command of Bahasa (Malaysia), for example.
It felt as if — in my school, at least, where the student body was mixed — there was a coming together of the races. It was a healing period.

Let’s backtrack. What was 13 May like?

I was 13 at the time. On the day it happened, we got a message from the school authorities: Go home early. My mother came to pick me up.
Father G Sreenevasan and mother Visalakshi (Courtesy of Ambiga Sreenevasan)

Well, we lived in Kampung Baru, at the time. On Jalan Putra — now Jalan Raja Muda 1. This was not far from the then-Selangor menteri besar’s home. We were there because it was close to the General Hospital, so it was easy for my father to get to work. Ours was the last house on the row. My father was overseas at the time, so it was just mother and us children, my uncle and aunt, and the household cook.

At 6pm we saw people running past, wearing headbands. Soon after, we heard screams. Later, there were cars being burnt in the field. The house behind us was burnt. We were always safe, though. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because we had lived there so long, so everyone knew us. Or maybe it was because we were Indian [Malaysian].
When my father got back, about a week after 13 May, he helped out at the hospital, treating people with injuries. He said: “I read about the riots, but I never imagined it would be this bad.”

It was bad. We had never before seen anything like that. For a long time after, whenever I heard fireworks going off, I would feel nervous.

What was university like?

When I went to university in the UK, my horizons expanded and I learnt about freedom of thought and speech — and what these concepts meant in real terms. When I visited the Bar there, I saw how a functioning democracy operated. This time was a very important part in moulding my views on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I came back and joined the Malaysian Bar in 1982. It was a wonderful organisation, even then. Being a young lawyer, I remember being petrified to appear before people like Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader — he would chew you up if you didn’t know your brief. He was so respected because he knew your brief, and the law, and was of the highest integrity and intellect.

Ambiga and Tun Salleh Abas talking
Ambiga and Tun Salleh Abbas
In fact, I’d appeared before all the judges who were later suspended in the judicial crisis.

What was it like, being a young lawyer during the 1988 judicial crisis?

It was a real shock to the system. Our first three prime ministers never touched the judiciary; probably this was because they were lawyers themselves. Our judiciary was a very respected institution.

I remember, as the tribunals were in progress, a group of us lawyers sitting at the back of the courtroom and watching. To see these men, who had so much self-respect, to be treated in that shabby way — we couldn’t believe it.

I remember going home and bursting into tears. It was like someone demolishing your house while you’re standing in it.
Things are getting better since those dark times. But, ultimately, when it comes to the judiciary, it is up to the judges themselves to act courageously, now.

When did you become aware about race?
Ambiga NEP pullquote

Race was always there. We were always aware of it, but it wasn’t as divisive as it is today. The New Economic Policy worked quite well, initially.

Then the abuses started: the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many who actually needed it. And these few became arrogant. Playing the race card suited them, because it solidified their positions.
I think, very frankly, that politicians are responsible for bringing so much racism into our society. I think it suited the politicians to play on our differences instead of what unites us.

But the arrogance that grew with this has been rejected by the people. I’m talking about the March 2008 elections. What we saw was a rejection of racist rhetoric. People were fed up. Previously, the 13 May bogey used to work — but that’s not working any more.

Where do you think we are going, now?

I like to think of Malaysian history as being divided into three phases.
R Gopal Ayer, Ambiga's grandfather (Courtesy of Ambiga Sreenevasan)

The initial years, during my father’s time, when there was this nationalistic feeling, this drive to show the world that we could be an independent and united nation.

Then a long period, during which things became more divisive. A time when we appeared to have economic prosperity, but also had so much corruption and racism.

And now, a third phase: the push for change.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but a lot of young Malaysians now feel no connection with 13 May. They don’t come from that past. There is a disconnect between the youth, and old politics.

My father’s generation adored Tunku. I don’t know whether we will get that feeling again. But you need this generation saying: the world has moved on, so let

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