Tag Archives: politics

Sadness


And so Malaysia’s 13th General Elections came to and end on Sunday the 5th May 2013.  The day started early for LGS and many Malaysians as they went early to polling stations and queued to go in to vote.  The polling stations were open from 8 am until 5 pm.  After that, many of us stayed glued to our TVs or followed the counting of the votes and the announcements of the results on the internet news sites, social media and also from reports tweeted, sms-ed or whatsapp-ed on our smartphones.  And the results did come in slowly through the night and into the next morning.

When all the smoke had cleared, it seemed that the ruling Government Coalition (Barisan National or BN) had retained power for another time (they have ruled since independence in 1957).  They won 133 parlimentary seats as compared to 89 won by the Opposition coalition (PR).  This result would seem rather surprising if one surveys the sentiment shown and support given by the vast majority of Malaysian on the internet.

The result also did not reflect that the PR opposition had garnered 52% of the popular vote.

So how would you describe the Malaysian 13th General Election?

How would you describe an election in which………..

  • through gerrymandering the ruling party needs far less than 50% of the popular vote to form Government.?
  • little effort was made to ensure the integrity of the electoral roll?  ( a survey of the electoral roll reveals a) cases where scores of voters are registered to the same house but clearly don’t live there and never had, b) some voters are named after vegetables and fruits and c) some people who have never registered to vote already have their names on the list)
  • postal and early voting votes uniformly show support for the government candidates with a ratios like 8 to 2 even though the general voting show more support for the opposition?
  • people are openly offered between USD 15 – USD 300 to vote for the ruling party and as high as USD 500 in certain key constituencies?
  • the indelible ink meant to mark the fingers of those who have voted so that they cannot vote more than once was found to be not indelible and the Election Commission’s explanation is that the ink may not have been as strong as those used in other countries because it had to be “halal” for Muslim voters?
  • many foreign migrant workers were given special, limited period,  citizen identity cards which enabled then to vote?
  • buses of foreign migrant workers appear close to the end of the voting at key polling stations and try to get them into the polling stations….often under police escort and protection?
  • local residents caught many voters  who cannot speak our national language, cannot sing our national anthem and cannot even name our Prime Minister?
  • Election Commission staff do some strange things like trying to get independent observers to leave the polling station, illegally copying down lists of those who had already voted and not checking the identity of the voters?
  • unexplained additional ballot boxes arrive hidden in government vehicles and on one occasion in a taxi after the votes have already been counted but before any official results are announced (some were stopped by local residents but others got through with police escort)?
  • a number of vote counting stations at key constituencies all suffered power blackouts in the midst of the counting?
  • a PR victory with a majority of over 1,000 votes in a key constituency is overturned when the BN candidate asked for a recount and giving the BN candidate a majority of several hundred even though an immediate vote recount is not allowed under election regulations?
  • when the Election Commission announces that the government BN coalition had won control of one of the states even though the final total votes announced contradicts the simple addition of votes from individual polling stations which indicate the Opposition had won? (after this was pointed out, the Election Commission still has made no comment even after 4 days).
  • some constituencies won by the BN party recorded as much as 30% new voters which is so much more than the national average of 11%?
  • some constituencies won by the BN party recorded as much as 99% voter participation?

 

So how would you describe such and election?

The answer : “the Stolen Election

 

LGS will willingly accept commiserations for Malaysia.

 

Capture the Flag


I woke up last Sunday to a wonderful sight in my neighborhood.  A local traffic roundabout had been transformed into a beautiful sea of color and motion by the planting of some 18,000 little flags by local residents.  Landscape architect, Ng Sek San, came up with the idea of a “Malaysian Spring” campaign for political change.

Now Malaysia is gearing up for its 13th General Election in the first week of May.  Since independence, there has only been one ruling coalition in government, Barisan Nasional, but with increasing discontent over a spate of corruption scandals, it is believed that this election will be a close one.  There has been also a lot of concern about fairness in the electoral process which had led to a number of mass demonstrations for electoral reform in the last few years and there has been a push for polling agents to monitor the elections to prevent fraud.

And so, last Sunday, there were blue flags, white flags, red flags and yellow flags.  The blue and white colors represented one of the main partners of the Opposition coalition while red was the color of another opposition coalition member.  Finally, the yellow represented the BERSIH campaign for fair and just elections.  Together they formed a riot of color.  It was amazing.

Colorful roundabout
Colorful roundabout
The Incumbent Opposition MP with the Man with the idea for "Malaysian Spring"
The Incumbent Opposition MP with the Man with the idea for “Malaysian Spring”

However, late on Sunday evening, just before dusk, officers from City Hall came in a van and started to pull out the flags. Local residents came out and asked them what they were doing. The officers said that the flags were illegal and a danger to motorists. The residents challenged this noting that political posters were allowed legally in the run up to an election. The officer in charge then claimed that the flags were not political posters but put up illegally by an NGO.  However, the resident’s were able to furnish proof that the flag campaign was protected under the auspices of one of the opposition political parties.  All this time, the city hall officers were pulling and removing the flags.

But then, they came to take away the flags
But then, they came to take away the flags

When confronted with the fact that the flags were part of a political election campaign and therefore protected by law, the officer then tried to argue that it contravened instructions on how political posters were to be put up. He said, “Rule 1 – it cannot be on lamp posts; Rule 2 – it cannot be on trees….” Immediately the residents pointed out that the ruling government election posters were all clearly on trees and demanded that those be removed first. The residents continued to argue that the flags should not be confiscated and that if there was to be a fine for planting the flags then they would gladly pay the fine. By this time, more people have started to arrive and join the protest. At the same time, passing motorists were also blowing their horns in support.

Finally, the city hall officers relented and allowed the crowd to retrieve the confiscated flags.  The crowd then helped to replant the flags and celebrate their victory in the fight for their flags.

Taking back the flags
Taking back the flags
Coming together to replant the flags
Coming together to replant the flags
Flying high again
Flying high again
Sweet Victory
Sweet Victory

What can I say! I am so proud of my neighborhood.  I used to be disappointed by Malaysians’ apathy in the face of political and social injustice and corruption.  But it seems that time has passed.  I am proud of Malaysians again even for the small victory at the Battle of Flag Roundabout for it showed a unity and integrity that crossed race and religion and is a sense that we are one people who love our country.

(Photo Credit: Ng Sek San)

Incomprehensible Gaza


A few days ago, my wife and I was enjoying our year end holidays. We woke up to a beautiful morning, totally relaxed. As we lazed about and had breakfast, we watched some TV news. The big news was the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.

As we watched, we saw videos of the nervous Israeli troops as they wait impatiently at the border before they crossed into Gaza. We listened to the Israeli spokesperson explain so logically why Israel had to go in to stop the Hamas from firing rockets at her citizens. In between mouthfuls of cold cereal, we were next shown some early photos of the human casualties in Gaza.

What a contrast! Even as we were enjoying our Sunday morning in safety and peace, we felt for the people of Gaza. I could imagine how different that Sunday was for them. Instead of lazing around, I imagine so many families were cowering in fear. I could imagine parents virtually crushed under the weight of worry and fear as they wonder what they could do to protect their children. I tried to understand what it would feel like to face the threat of an invading army with no place to run.

I can understand why the Palestinians are so desperate and why they might support an extremist group like Hamas. What is there left to resort to if all you have known is injustice, humiliation and hopelessness for your family?

I don’t agree with Hamas’ terrorism, extremism and hatred. Yet, I can understand why many do.

I can understand why Israel feels righteous in taking action against Hamas to protect her citizens.

But children are dying. Good, innocent people are dying. Is this what Hamas wants for its people? What are they fighting for if not for their people? Then, how can they maintain their futile arrogant stance when it costs their people so much? Do Israelis really believe their children have more rights to live compared to Palestinian children?

Children are being killed, being allowed to be killed and the world is not taking any steps to stop the slaughter. This I cannot ccomprehend.

Let not the sins of the fathers be suffered upon the children.

Grumble…..Grumble……Grumble


Meet Grumbles…….

Grumble….grumble…..grumble. I am grumbling. Why am I grumbling? I am grumbling because of………..

a) Rising Food Prices: – All around the world the price of food and especially staples like rice has been going up in price. In some parts of the world, the price of rice has gone up threefold in the last year. The reason for this price hike may be due to a number of complex issues but it has mainly been due to greed and mismanagement. Reasons such as the loss of agricultural land to industrial development, decades of impoverishing farmers by fixing staple food prices at too low a level to benefit city dwellers, food crops diverted to better paying biofuel production, shortages within food producing countries due to dealers smuggling grain out to sell at higher prices in foreign markets. In Thailand, there is talk of joining forces with other rice producing countries too take advantage of the rising prices by forming a Rice Cartel so that they can force higher prices on importing nations. The Thai Prime Minister asks Thais to eat less rice so that they can profit more from selling the rice. Greed. Greed. Greed and now a global food crisis.
(This is what my meez is protesting about).

b) Military Juntas:- Like the government of Myanmar who show little concern for their people even in the face of a natural catastrophe like Cyclone Nargis. With a death toll climbing into the tens of thousands and an estimated one million without shelter, food or safe water for almost a week, the government is still holding up the entry of international aid by insisting on lengthy negotiations before allowing permits and visas for rescue workers. One report claims that an aid agency was told that financial aid in the form of hard currency could be handed over to the government official but the aid workers and relief supplies cannot enter the country. The military and there soldiers seem to be largely missing from relief efforts. In some villages, the soldiers have not come to help but instead the Buddhist monks that they have been persecuting are the ones on the ground rendering aid and clearing debris.

c) Monsters:- They exist. I refer to those men who prey on helpless children and sexually abuse them. In an update of the sad and tragic story of the Austrian woman who had been sexually abused by her father since she was 11 years old, imprisoned in a cellar for 24 years and forced to bear him seven children, the father has since claimed that he is NOT a monster. He argues that if he was a real monster, he would have killed his daughter and all seven offspring, burned and disposed of all the bodies and he would not have been caught. Instead, he points out that it was he who decided to let her and the children live and therefore, he is not a monster but responsible for sparing their lives! And then there is the pedophile that Interpol is searching for who is believed to have been sexually exploitingcountless young children and having the incidents recorded on the internet. Monsters.

Sorrrrry for being so negative but it seems like its been a bad week around the world. Grumble….Grumble…..Grumble.