Aids Awareness | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonrulkensIn conjunction with Law Awareness Week form 9 October to 16 October 2010, our Posters and Articles Committee was asked to cover various activities held by the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre (LAC). The first activity was a Dialogue session with people living with HIV positive.It was held on a late Saturday morning. I made my way to the Centre having been informed by Chitrah , the legal aid centre coordinator for this activity that the centre is located next to the Sony Building and it is near Tune Hotel. I took the monorail and alighted from Chow Kit monorail station and walked for 10 minutes till I reached Tune Hotel. I turned left at Tune Hotel and found Sony Building, only to be further lost.Alas, I turned into a small lorong and found where I had to be. The walk in Centre is tucked inside a small lorong next to Sony Building. No one would notice the entrance until you explore the neighbourhood in detail. I was greeted by Ms Pramo, a lawyer specializing in Family and Divorce Matters. She smiled a wide smile while sitting on a couch, waiting for the participants of the dialogue session to turn up. I told her I got lost finding the centre, she quipped, "Me too". Soon, we began chatting about our profession and when did we started volunteering. I asked where Chitrah was and Pramo told me she was in the room.I found Chitrah, with Siti, a full time staff who assists in the day-to-day running of the centre. Another volunteer lawyer, Matthew Lee joined us.The objectives of this dialogue with people living with HIV positive is to create awareness amongst the HIV po! sitive w alk-ins of their rights as "rakyats". HIV infection is a taboo in this country. You are ostracized and segregated. However, not many are aware the basics of how the infection is spread/contracted. It is through sharing the same needles, unprotected intercourse and a HIV positive mother contracting it to an unborn child. The dialogue session started at one oclock. We had about 20 participants with two children under the age of 10 years old accompanying their parents and three lawyers facilitating this dialogue. Hands Into Shadow | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/huntzChitrah started off the session by introducing the lawyers present and the purpose of the dialogue session. Many of the participants were skeptical towards our presence if not for Siti who strongly reassured them that we are genuinely there to help. There was a somber atmosphere to the crowd that came in that afternoon. Siti started the ball rolling by telling her experience living with HIV positive and some of the challenges she faced as an employee. Soon, other participants began to open up.A lethargic looking male participant named Hussin* shared his experience that happened 2 weeks ago. He told 19 people were arrested for suspicion of drug abuse at Chow Kit. They were brought to Balai Polis Dang Wangi and were remanded for 12 days in total without being brought for a remand hearing. They were held up until their urine test results could be provided by the lab. Out of the 19 people, three were tested positive for drug abuse. Obviously, Hussin, our male participant, was one of the three people.However, Hussin produced a letter from his doctor confirming that he is under "Stocrin" to the police officer. This is a drug used to treat HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection to reduce the amount of virus in the blood. It is used in combination with other appropriate medicines used to treat the HIV virus. The police officer that arrested him ignor! ed the l etter and kept him in remand for a few more days until LAC came and intervened in the situation. In the dialogue, Hussin* shared with us that the medication has to be taken once every 12 hours. It highlights the need for better informed police officers to be aware of such drug treatmemnt for HIV patients.In this instance, I proposed to have dialogues with the police officers to be held at every balai polis. Chitrah informed that this has been done. I further suggested that perhaps a circular of the drugs used to treat HIV/Aids could be circulated to the police departments so that duty officers are aware of such treatment using Stocrin, Methadone or other related HIV/Aids medication. Chitrah noted and concurred that further dialogues need to be held in various balai polis and suggested whether some participants could volunteer their time to participate in this dialogue with the police. Hence in future this could prevent unneccessary remands.A participant then asked, "Can their employer perform HIV/Aids test on their employees without their employees knowledge?"Pramo, one of the senior lawyers answered, "Doctors can take the test (HIV/Aids) but cannot reveal the results to the employers. They (doctors) would need firstly the authorisation or permission from the patient/employees."Having said that, there is still a lacuna in the law for HIV/Aids affected employees. Better employment law enforcement and protection is needed to protect the prospective employers and employees. A typical example is employers in the food/catering and food manufacturing industry. It is common practice to obtain a medical check-up on the potential employee before he/ she takes up employment. How can employers be protected without discriminating the HIV/Aids positive employees? Credit: PT FoundationThe dialogue ended at 14:15pm with lunch being served. The volunteers from the female sex workers prepared lunch. Aft! er lunch , I took the chance to visit the thirdand fourthfloor of the Pink Triangle Foundation premise. The third floor was occupied by female sex workers and fourth floor is occupied by the transgender group, while the fifth floor is occupied by people living with HIV/Aids positive and Directly Affected community.Each floor is neatly kept and decorated with posters and banners about the centre. The centre opened in 2007 and is opened from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Friday close on public holidays and weekends. More information on what the Centre do and their objectives can be found at http://www.ptfmalaysia.org/index.php.The Centre accepts walk-ins from People Living With HIV (PLHIV) and directly affected community such as PLHIVs spouse, partner and family and provide para counseling and peer support group to share their experiences that they encounter as female sex workers, transgenders or PLHIV living with HIV/Aids positive.The Centre is known as Pusat Bantuan Khidmat Sosial (PBKS) PT Foundation and it is a Smart Partnership between Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and PT Foundation. PT Foundation also is one of the Partner Organization under the Malaysia AIDS Council.I managed to have a chat with Rozana, the Drop In Centre coordinator for Sex Workers programme. Pleasant and approachable lady, she briefed me how the centre works, the type of people who volunteers at the centre and shared stories of how some of their clients became volunteers of the centre. University students, students doing their internships and psychology students are the main type of people who volunteer their time at the centre. But the best news was of former clients who frequented the centre for counseling are now permanent volunteers of the centre.After the chat, I complimented the chefs who prepared the lunch for us at the dialogue and went back to the fifth floor where the dialogue session was held. I said my "goodbyes" to Siti, Chitrah, Matthew and Pramo and the participants at the dialogue and l! eft abou t three oclock.Sun blazing, me sweating in this humidity, now I have a report to write and to do justice to this Centre.* names have been changed to protect identity of the personThis is Elenas first article on LoyarBurok. Applause! She tries to be an environmental activist and advocates government transparency. She contributes by writing to the papers and selling environmental awareness car stickers. Tags: Elena Shim, HIV virus, HIV/AIDS, kuala lumpur legal aid centre, LAC, Law Awareness Week, people living with HIV positive, PT Foundation Malaysia, sex workers, stocrin This entry was posted on 1 March, 2011 at 5:00 pm and is filed under I Need My Pill. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Hands Into Shadow | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/huntzChitrah started off the session by introducing the lawyers present and the purpose of the dialogue session. Many of the participants were skeptical towards our presence if not for Siti who strongly reassured them that we are genuinely there to help. There was a somber atmosphere to the crowd that came in that afternoon. Siti started the ball rolling by telling her experience living with HIV positive and some of the challenges she faced as an employee. Soon, other participants began to open up.A lethargic looking male participant named Hussin* shared his experience that happened 2 weeks ago. He told 19 people were arrested for suspicion of drug abuse at Chow Kit. They were brought to Balai Polis Dang Wangi and were remanded for 12 days in total without being brought for a remand hearing. They were held up until their urine test results could be provided by the lab. Out of the 19 people, three were tested positive for drug abuse. Obviously, Hussin, our male participant, was one of the three people.However, Hussin produced a letter from his doctor confirming that he is under "Stocrin" to the police officer. This is a drug used to treat HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection to reduce the amount of virus in the blood. It is used in combination with other appropriate medicines used to treat the HIV virus. The police officer that arrested him ignor! ed the l etter and kept him in remand for a few more days until LAC came and intervened in the situation. In the dialogue, Hussin* shared with us that the medication has to be taken once every 12 hours. It highlights the need for better informed police officers to be aware of such drug treatmemnt for HIV patients.In this instance, I proposed to have dialogues with the police officers to be held at every balai polis. Chitrah informed that this has been done. I further suggested that perhaps a circular of the drugs used to treat HIV/Aids could be circulated to the police departments so that duty officers are aware of such treatment using Stocrin, Methadone or other related HIV/Aids medication. Chitrah noted and concurred that further dialogues need to be held in various balai polis and suggested whether some participants could volunteer their time to participate in this dialogue with the police. Hence in future this could prevent unneccessary remands.A participant then asked, "Can their employer perform HIV/Aids test on their employees without their employees knowledge?"Pramo, one of the senior lawyers answered, "Doctors can take the test (HIV/Aids) but cannot reveal the results to the employers. They (doctors) would need firstly the authorisation or permission from the patient/employees."Having said that, there is still a lacuna in the law for HIV/Aids affected employees. Better employment law enforcement and protection is needed to protect the prospective employers and employees. A typical example is employers in the food/catering and food manufacturing industry. It is common practice to obtain a medical check-up on the potential employee before he/ she takes up employment. How can employers be protected without discriminating the HIV/Aids positive employees?
Credit: PT FoundationThe dialogue ended at 14:15pm with lunch being served. The volunteers from the female sex workers prepared lunch. Aft! er lunch , I took the chance to visit the thirdand fourthfloor of the Pink Triangle Foundation premise. The third floor was occupied by female sex workers and fourth floor is occupied by the transgender group, while the fifth floor is occupied by people living with HIV/Aids positive and Directly Affected community.Each floor is neatly kept and decorated with posters and banners about the centre. The centre opened in 2007 and is opened from 10am to 6pm from Monday to Friday close on public holidays and weekends. More information on what the Centre do and their objectives can be found at http://www.ptfmalaysia.org/index.php.The Centre accepts walk-ins from People Living With HIV (PLHIV) and directly affected community such as PLHIVs spouse, partner and family and provide para counseling and peer support group to share their experiences that they encounter as female sex workers, transgenders or PLHIV living with HIV/Aids positive.The Centre is known as Pusat Bantuan Khidmat Sosial (PBKS) PT Foundation and it is a Smart Partnership between Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and PT Foundation. PT Foundation also is one of the Partner Organization under the Malaysia AIDS Council.I managed to have a chat with Rozana, the Drop In Centre coordinator for Sex Workers programme. Pleasant and approachable lady, she briefed me how the centre works, the type of people who volunteers at the centre and shared stories of how some of their clients became volunteers of the centre. University students, students doing their internships and psychology students are the main type of people who volunteer their time at the centre. But the best news was of former clients who frequented the centre for counseling are now permanent volunteers of the centre.After the chat, I complimented the chefs who prepared the lunch for us at the dialogue and went back to the fifth floor where the dialogue session was held. I said my "goodbyes" to Siti, Chitrah, Matthew and Pramo and the participants at the dialogue and l! eft abou t three oclock.Sun blazing, me sweating in this humidity, now I have a report to write and to do justice to this Centre.* names have been changed to protect identity of the personThis is Elenas first article on LoyarBurok. Applause! She tries to be an environmental activist and advocates government transparency. She contributes by writing to the papers and selling environmental awareness car stickers.
Tags: Elena Shim, HIV virus, HIV/AIDS, kuala lumpur legal aid centre, LAC, Law Awareness Week, people living with HIV positive, PT Foundation Malaysia, sex workers, stocrin
This entry was posted on 1 March, 2011 at 5:00 pm and is filed under I Need My Pill. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
The Durex Condom company in its advertisement regarding the ineffectiveness of sex education at schools reported that around 50% of Malaysians "didn't learn about conception" and 71% "weren't taught about sexually transmitted infection".
While lauding their social concern about the above, I feel that Muslim and non-Muslim NGOs must put their heads together and find out whether Malaysians know about the nature of family relationships. Do they know the meaning of the name or designation of what is a father, mother, brother, sister, father's elder brother, father's elder sister, mother's elder brother, mother's elder sister, father's elder brother's wife, sister's husband, etcetera?
And the same for the mother. And the same for the wives and husbands of his or her own brothers and sisters and son and so on...
Most Eastern cultures and religions put a lot of emphasis on the matter of relationships and to upkeep their integrity and not let them get violated.
NGOs should find out by doing a survey just like that done by Durex to find out what Malaysians know about family relationships, then make neccesary recomendations to the Education ministry to come up with a syllabus for a subject called Family Relationships Education.
This Family Relationships Education should start at pre-school level and the family tree should be a part of it.
At higher levels they should be taught about single mothers, such as why a mother is known as a single mother, for example, her husband may have eloped with another woman, and the same goes for single fathers whose wives may have eloped off with another man and so on.
At even higher level, education on prostitution should be introduced, such as what is really a prostitute. In her essence, a prostitute, if female, is actually someone's daughter, someone's sister and even a mother. It should be taught how females can get caught up in prostitution. We also should not forget male prostitutes or jigolos.
The subject of teenage! sex can also be brought up as now there are reports of sexual relationships amongst school-going children.
I feel that the idea of Sex Education should be transformed into Family Relationships Education which will give a truer picture of reality to our growing children.
Yahya, who had escorted Anwar that night along with investigating officer DSP Jude Pereira, said that that the PKR defacto leader was given a government standard-issue toothbrush, towel, toothpaste and a small bar of soap. The police officer, who works in the serious crimes unit also said that Anwar had been allowed to bring a plastic mineral water bottle and two big towels. There was no one else besides Anwar in the cell (that night). He was received in good condition, said Yahya upon examination by deputy public prosecutor Hanafiah Zakaria.
DNA profiles have so far been obtained from the good morning towel, the toothbrush and the mineral water bottle. Government chemist Nor Aidora Saedon testified last week that graph results showed that there were two main DNA profiles on the evidence samples- that of Male Y and that of an unknown DNA profile. She had already testified on February 23 that the DNA profiles found on the said items matched that of an unknown Male Y, whose sperm extracts had been found in Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlans anus earlier.
The prosecution will likely attempt to make a link between the items found in Anwars cell and the DNA profiles obtained from the said items. The officers on duty at the time locked the cell to not let anyone enter, after Anwar had left. I saw in the lockup- towel, bottle, toothbrush (which was on the floor), said Ya! hya.
Amidon, ex-crime scene investigation (CSI) chief of KL police department testified that once Anwar had left the lockup, he had gone in conducted a forensic examination. Upon examination, Amidon said that he found a strand of hair, a toothbrush, a good morning towel and a Cactus brand mineral water bottle. All item were tagged and marked. I was briefed to take away evidence exhibits. I was ordered by OCCI Datuk Khoo Chee Hwa, said the witness.
Amidon said that he had led a CSI team on June 30, 2008 to analyse two units in Desa Damansara Condominium, where Saiful had alleged to have been sodomised by Anwar. A single strand of hair was obtained in unit 11-5-1, while a Chinese silk carpet and blanket duvet were taken for DNA profiling.
Pereira was present with Amidon when the forensic analysing of the condominium units took place. Items were taken to make DNA profiling, and were given to IO (Pereira) before leaving (the)crime scene, said Amidon.
The trial will resume this afternoon.
'Bulu antara barang dirampas dari lokap D9'
From Lawyers for Liberty
Lawyers for Liberty is gravely dismayed over the Federal Courts decision on Feb 28 to throw out K Selvachs appeal against the dismissal of his habeas corpus application by the High Courton Dec 12, 2010.
The Federal Court affirmed the decision made by the High Court dismissing Selvachs appeal by ruling that the High Cour thas no jurisdiction to hear Selvachs habeas corpus application which was fixed for hearing on Dec 12, 2010.
Selvach was challenging the legality of his detention order under Section 3(1) of the Dangerous Drugs (Preventive Measures Act) 1985 as it has become academic since the home minister had issued the two-year detention order under Section 6(1) of the same Act on Dec 13, 2010.
The Federal Court had failed to address the issue of contempt of court committed by the home minister who had maliciously proceeded to issue a two-year detention order pending hearing of Selvachs habeas corpus application in the High Court.
The Federal Court also failed to appreciate the argument advanced by Selvachs counsel that the long adjournment granted by the High Court upon the application made by the respondent had given the home minister the opportunity to maliciously issue the detention order so as to frustrate the hearing of the habeas corpus application which was still pending in the High Court.
The court had failed to uphold the established principles that enunciate that habeas corpus applications must be heard expeditiously as it is regarded as the highest constitutional safeguard accorded to an individual whose fundamental liberty has been infringed, particularly by draconian preventive laws which license detention without trial.
The Federal Courts refusal to uphold this established principle had conveniently allowed the home minister to resort to malicious tactical maneuver of issuing the two-year detention order even though he was well aware of the fact that! the hea ring to challenge the 60-day order was still pending in the High Court.
The Federal Court had failed to consider the fact that the detention order was made based on the allegation that Selvach was involved in drug trafficking activities in 2007 but when he was arrested in 2009 he was released on the same night of his arrest and was never charged with any offence.
The Federal Court therefore failed in its duty to uphold that thebasis for Selvachs detention is tainted with mala fide as it had failed to show that it had reasons to believe that there are grounds justifying the detention of Selvach under Section 3(1) of the Act which resulted in illegality of the two-year detention order which was subsequently issued by the home minister under Section 6(1) of the Act.
In the course of submission by Selvachs counsel, the Federal Court made a regressive remark in response to the reference made by Selvachs counsel to the development of the law in relation to habeas corpus applications in other jurisdictions, in particular the United Kingdom by stating that there is no necessity to refer to the position of the law in other jurisdictions as it is considered as other stories.
The court, being entrusted to uphold justice and fundamental liberties has time and again failed to discharge its constitutional duties to uphold established principles of the law on habeas corpus as it has once again failed to carefully scrutinise the application of the abusive preventive laws in the hands of the home minister in ensuring that the power given by law to detain must be construed strictly and in cases of doubt, favour should be given to the person whose fundamental liberty has been deprived..
The Federal Courts refusal to look into the development of the law in other jurisdictions, for instance, in the United Kingdom amounts to a regressive step towards law reform in the area of human rights.
This regressive approach taken by the highest court of the land in construing! the pow er to detain a person poses an irreversible threat to ones personal liberty which is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
Continued disregard of the importance of upholding ones fundamental liberty will result tremendously in the erosion of the principle of freedom, liberty, justice and humanity.
By Bruno Manser Fund, Basel / Switzerland
Anti-Taib protests are spreading to the United States - US government asked to investigate allegations of the late former Taib aide and whistleblower Ross Boyert
SEATTLE / SAN FRANCISCO (US) The global campaign against Sarawak's billionaire Chief Minister-cum-illegal logging tycoon, Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"), is gaining further momentum. Yesterday, human rights groups and environmental campaigners in the US announced a picketing campaign outside Taib properties in Seattle and San Francisco. Similar protests will be held next week in the UK and Canada.
The Seattle protest (on Thursday 3 March) will be particularly embarrassing for the US authorities. It is being held outside the Taib-owned Abraham Lincoln building in downtown Seattle, a property held through Wallysons Inc, which hosts no less than the FBI's Northwestern Regional Headquarters! What a shame that the FBI, an institution set up to uphold the fight for justice and against corruption and money-laundering, is renting its premises from a well-known Malaysian criminal kleptocrat!
Wallysons' chairman is Taib's son, Sulaiman (Rahman) Taib, while Taib's Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray, is its president. Taib is one of South East Asia's most corrupt politicians and the chief culprit for the destructive logging of several hundred thousand hectares of Borneo rainforest. Last week, the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund published a blacklist of 49 Taib companies in eight countries which are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars.
The San Francisco protest (on Wednesday 9 March) is being held outside the Citibank branch at 260 California Street in the city's historical centre. The building is the seat of Taib's Sakti International Corporation, which used to be headed by the late Ross Boyert. After having been dismissed by the Taibs, Boyert filed legal action against Sakti at a San Francisco court in early 2007. In September 2010, Boyert was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel. In an interview with Sarawak Report given weeks before his death, Boyert said he and his family had been harassed and terrorized by Taib agents ever since he had filed the case.
The Bruno Manser Fund, together with an international NGO coalition against Taib timber corruption, is asking the US authorities to freeze all Taib assets in the United States and to investigate the former Taib aide and whistleblower Ross Boyert's allegations against the Taibs and the circumstances of his death.
- Ends -
Details of planned anti-Taib street campaigns in the United States:
Seattle: Thursday, 3 March 2011, 12:00 p.m. outside the FBI Northwestern Regional Headquarters at 1110 3rd Avenue (corner Spring St)
San Francisco: Wednesday, 9 March 2011, 10:00 a.m. outside Citibank at 260 California Street
Phone contact for the United States: Brihannala Morgan, The Borneo Project, Berkeley, California Tel. +1 415 341 7051 www.borneoproject.org
International campaign coordination: Bruno Manser Fund, Basel, Switzerland +41 61 261 94 74
Sources used for this release: www.sarawakreport.org; research by the Bruno Manser Fund.
Follow our campaign on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bmfonds
MERLIMAU The temple on private land cannot be expanded because the Malay community has raised objections.
Attracting both Hindus and Taoists, the Sri Mathurai Veeran Raja Karaimariamman Tuah Peh Kong temple in the Malay-majority Kampung Simpang Kerayong, Jasin, would have well been a 1Malaysia success story.
NONEFounded about 40 years ago, the temple sits on private land on the border of the Merlimau and Rim constituencies.
A plan to put up a proper building to accommodate the large number of devotees who come to observe religious festivals has, however, been put on hold.
This is due to objections from the local Umno division and the village security and safety committee (JKKK), that claim to represent almost all of the Malay community.
NONE"We first met with the penghulu (village head) who said it is not his role and that we should meet with the YB (assemblyperson),” said temple official and priest K Ganesan.
“The YB (Rim assemblyperson Mohd Yazed Khamis) said he supports our plans, but we have to get the approval of the JKKK and penghulu, so we've been going around in circles."
A letter dated Dec 14, 2010, from Mohd Yazed, displayed on the temple wall, states that the assemblyperson has no objections to the expansion "granted that there are also no objections from JKKK Simpang Kerayong, Simpang Kerayong Umno and local residents".
Ganesan claimed that five families object to the expansion as they are "worried that a bigger temple will disturb the peace".
NONE"They worry that the sound of bells and the smell of incense will reach their houses," he said.
Temple committee member N Visvanathan claimed that despite the JKKK and Umno's claim, only about five families have objected to the expansion, and those families live about 1.6km away.
"I live just behind the temple and I don't hear or smell anything. The lorries (from the surrounding oil palm plantation) are more of a disturbance," he said.
Chief minister's backing
According to Visvanathan, BN component parties MIC and MCA are on their side. Representatives of the parties have visited them many times, and have even given cash donations to the temple, which has proudly raised several BN flags and an MIC flag.
NONEBut no one has managed to broker a deal with the Umno branch to allow the expansion which Fauzi Muhammad (left), who runs a sundry shop across the road from the temple, believes is supported by "85 percent" of the multi-ethnic residents there.
"The bell that they worry about is not a constant. It is rung at specific times so it's not a nuisance. This is a matter of religion, so they must follow their own rules too... even in Islam we have the azan, which may disturb some people, but we must be mature and respect each others' customs," he said.
NONEThis is an argument that is not getting through to those villagers who object to expansion. Even Malacca Chief Minister and state Umno head Mohd Ali Rustam has been unable to convince them, although the state government has approved the expansion in principle.
"I have met with the JKKK, some approve (the expansion), some don't. I am in a difficult position. If I approve the temple, then Umno members people will say the chief minister supports Chinese and Indians and won't vote for BN. But if I don't, then DAP will attack me.
"So I hope we can have more discussions and try to get to a solution,” Mohd Ali said at an event near the temple on Saturday.
"Umno and JKKK were angry with me when I converted the land to temple land but I said the temple has been there for 40 years so what's the problem? We have waited for 40 years, I am sure we can wait a little longer.”
NONETemple head Ng Hong Wah said he welcomes the chief minister's hands-on approach on the issue and is happy that Mohd Ali has visited the temple and is willing to host a dialogue between the parties involved.
And although campaigning is in progress for the by-election, Ng and his committee members are unwilling to turn to the opposition to air their plight, as they do not want it to be politicised.
Ng's concern is just to get the plan off the ground, as the temple committee has spent more than RM100,000 on preparations, including purchasing the land, installing the piping and covering the swamp land.
'Bell disturbs sleep'
According to Umno Simpang Kerayong division head Hasnol Abu Wahab, the state government and its agencies had, at a meeting with the division and the JKKK, agreed in principle to relocate the temple.
"You know how these people are, they tie a red and yellow cloth somewhere and it becomes their deity. I don't think the temple has been there for 40 years... we have located a piece of land less than 1km from the (current site and), which is near another temple and is more appropriate," he said when contacted.
NONEState exco member R Perumal, who is heavily involved in the negotiations, however, denied that the state has any intention to relocate the temple.
This will not sit well with the JKKK. Kamaruzzaman Salleh, a member, lamented that the exco did not even consult the villagers before approving the expansion plan.
He said that just about all the Malay residents are against the temple because it is too close to their homes and only about 500m from the mosque.
"We are not objecting to the existence of the temple and we respect their right to pray, but the location is unsuitable," he said.
There is also an issue of access, as there is only one road leading to the houses behind the temple. The villagers have complained about congestion whenever there are festivals, as the temple is popular with devotees outside Jasin as well.
He said that residents, in a complaint letter to the JKKK, had said that the temple bell disturbs their children's sleep.
NONEThis, however, has left the temple officials baffled. They only use a hand bell and said they always wait for the azan to finish before ringing the bell.
"When we pray, we ask for the safety of the whole kampung too," said Ganesan.
About 50 non-Malay families live in Simpang Kerayong, some of whom will vote in the Merlimau by-election on Sunday, in the Jasin Lalang and Chinchin polling districts.
PAS garnered about half of the votes in both polling districts in the 2008 general election.
Chief minister says he he will only accept if there is strong evidence the state has grabbed NCR lands from owners.
Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud will only accept Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian's challenge to a public debate if there is a strong evidence the state government has grabbed native customary rights (NCR) lands from the owners.
“He will have to submit the proof first before I can accept the challenge on the debate with the NCR land as the topic," Taib said.
azlan“At this moment, his allegations are without proof - unless he can come up with one. Or is he only trying to argue for the sake of argument?” Taib told reporters after the opening of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party's (SPDP) eighth annual general assembly in Bintulu yesterday.
Responding to Taib's conditional acceptance of the debate today, Bian said: “We thank the chief minister for accepting our challenge to debate.
“We hope the truth will finally be made known to the public through such a debate.”
“As for his request for proof and evidence, we would like to inform him that our evidence is ready, but it cannot be revealed now, or else there will ot be a need for the debate."
Baru said PKR was however happy to draw his attention to the overwhelming mountain of evidence already submitted in court for more than 200 NCR cases that are pending, about which the state attorney-general was fully aware.
“We will also be bringing additional supplementary evidence on top of the evidence already submitted to the court to the debate to further support our case about natives' loss of NCR lands,” said Bian.
“This is not an old issue. We hope he is not pretending to be ignorant of the evidence as an excuse to avoid or evade the debate.”
'Up to Taib to determine time and venue'
“Since he has accepted our challenge, we propose that the debate be held either on March 5 or 6 or 10,” he said, adding that it was up to Taib to determine the time and venue of the debate.
“We suggest that Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Social Science academicians, who are informed on NCR issues, be appointed to chair the debate.
NONEBian said it was appropriate to have the public debate in a large venue like the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or the Stadium Perpaduan at Petrajaya so that members of the public could have free access to listen to the views to be expressed by the chief minister and himself.
On Taib's statement that the state government accepts the decisions of the court on the NCR land cases, even if it did not favour the government, Bian urged the chief minister to withdraw all government appeals against NCR cases won by the natives immediately.
“The court has decided in favour of NCR landowners but the government still insists on appealing against these cases.
“Will the chief minister direct the state attorney-general to withdraw these appeals immediately and keep his word, or was his statement at the SPDP annual general meeting merely lip service to deceive the people yet again?” asked Bian.
He had last Saturday extended an open invitation to Taib to a public debate on NCR lands.
He gave Taib two weeks to reply, failing which he would write officially, through his legal firm, to extend the invitation.
Bian had said hat if Taib had no time, then he should delegate his senior ministers having a deep understanding of the NCR land to take part in the debate.
The debate should be on whether the state government has been grabbing the NCR lands and whether the NCR land is an old issue.
He said he was fed-up with Taib and his ministers, especially Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, for harping that the NCR land was an old issue just to counter the claims by the opposition and civil societies groups that the chief minister and state government have been grabbing NCR lands from the natives.
“To me, the NCR land issue is crucial, on-going and current. It is certainly not an old issue as claimed by Awang Tengah and Taib,” Bian had said.
A stage set up by DAP for an major event on March 4 beside the party's operation room was torched this morning.
A stage set up by DAP for an major event on March 4 beside the DAP Merlimau operations room was torched this morning.
According to Merlimau DAP chairperson Shelley Fook, the landlord of the vacant land where the stage stood noticed smoke at about 6am this morning.
merlimau dap stage arson 280211"He went to check and found that there was an arson attack. He also found an empty bottle with traces of petrol," she told Malaysiakini.
However, only the carpet on the stage was destroyed as the stage is made of steel.
Fook said the party will not be lodging a police report as they believe that the police will not take any action against the perpetrator.
The stage was meant for a major dinner-cum-ceramah event to mark the tail-end of the DAP campaign. Among others, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was scheduled to speak at the event.
Fook refused to speculate on a motive behind the arson, as she is worried that this might be used by DAP's rivals.
"DAP rented this vacant land from PAS supporters to organise a campaign dinner. The grand dinner would be on March 4, two days before polling."
Fook said this incident would not stop DAP members from campaigning and organising the dinner, but party members will be more alert.
Meanwhile, DAP Bandar Hilir state assemblyman Tey Kok Kiew believed, this was an effort to threaten to voters and them from showing up at the ballot box.
Along with the several questionable leaflets being distributed - one which called the Chinese traitors and another featuring doctored photographs of Pakatan Rakyat leaders in the buff - this incident, he said shows that the opposition coalition's rivals were indulging in dirty campaigning.
"There was another incident happen a few days ago, where someone threw firecrackers at a DAP ceramah," he added.
When Malay-rights group Perkasa keeps making racist remarks, does it translate to all Malays’ being racist? If not, then what made the Barisan Nasional (BN) government think that all Indians out on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday were “criminals”, all because Hindraf decided to hold a rally?
The police in their bid to halt the rally to protest Umno’s racial discrimination, turned up at Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar’s residence, handcuffing and taking him in for questioning.
On what grounds did the police handcuff Uthayakumar? Is he a criminal just because he organised a rally without police permit? If he is, then equally guilty are the people who demonstrated when the non-Malays complain about the loud call for prayer made by mosques.
Just as guilty are those Malays who cold-bloodedly severed a cow’s head, spit and stomp on it. And the biggest cuplrit would then be Perkasa whose founder Ibrahim Ali keeps threatening non-Malays to shut up and not question Malay rights.
Have the police taken any action against them? No and it seems the police never will.
The “Solidarity Against Umno’s Racism” march, organised by two ethnic Indian groups, the Hindu Rights Action Force and Huma Rights Party at Kuala Lumpur on Feb 27 was to protest against the government’s decision to ignore the Indian community’s strong objections over the disparaging contents in the novel “Interlok” which is a compulsory reading material for Form Five students.
On Feb 24, the Dang Wangi police rejected a formal request made by W Sambulingam, national coordinator of Hindraf, to hold the rally.
Granted that such rallies cause great inconvenience to the public and temporarily paralyse the city’s activities but what prompted it in the first place?
To keep warning the people to stay away from such rallies and not challenge the police authority is nothing but an act of bully. Is it a coincidence or deliberate move to target the Indians all because they are unhappy over the discrimination they have been putting up with? The move by the police to nab any Indian found walking on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to teach all Indians a lessons is not going to place Umno in the good books of this community.
When national laureate Abdullah Hussain goes and portrays the Chinese and Indians in a degrading manner in his book Interlok, what should be done to avoid racial conflict? Would it not be best that such a reading material be withdrawn due to its contentious nature? Instead, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, showed no empathy and decided Interlok would remain as a reading material for students but with alterations.
Rallies a last resort
But then Muhyiddin’s reaction was not a surprise since it was he who proudly claimed that he is “Malay first” and then a Malaysian.
Life always presents us with options and in Hindraf’s case, it could have decided to not go ahead with its rallies. But it did. Why? Is the purpose solely to gain political mileage? Looking at the state-of-affairs affecting the Indians, the rallies appear as a last resort to get the government to “wake up” and treat the Indian community with respect.
Yes, the rallies pose a headache to the lay person but then this seems the only way to get the “powers that be” to sit up and realise their folly. Also, unlike the cow head carried by Muslim protesters, Hindraf demonstrators did no such thing – all they ask is for their grouses to be heard and addressed in a fair manner.
How would the Indians have felt when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that this country belongs to the Malays by virtue of it once being called “Tanah Melayu”?
The country achieved independence 53 years ago but racial discord among people of different faiths is still going strong. Why?
The nation’s oil and gas company, Petronas, takes great pride in splashing money to build mosques throughout the country. But for the non-Malays, they have to work hard at getting funds to construct their places of worship. Why this discrimination?
When issues concerning Malay rights assured under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution are raised, the Malays are quick to threaten the non-Malays, to the point of willing to kill those who question privileges enjoyed by the Malays. Is there no decent way to react apart from threats of bloodshed?
It is no exaggeration to say that the plight of the Indian community has long been ignored. It is bad enough that the MIC failed to champion the welfare of the Indians, resulting in entities like Hindraf taking shape. Why did MIC not protect the rights of the Indians and what was holding MIC back from doing so?
These days you hardly get to see an Indian face at government departments. All the top government posts are occupied by the Malays. Whatever happened to the non-Malays? Because of the discrimination and no prospect for promotion, non-Malays have moved to work in the private sector where they do get some recogntion for their efforts.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia concept is hardly of concern to the fast-food chains who lack non-Malay faces at their premises. And the fact that some Malays like the residents of Section 23 in Shah Alam who refused to let a Hindu temple take shape in their neigbourhood speaks volumes of the failure of 1Malaysia.
Dead in custody
There have been several cases of Indian men caught by the police ending up dead while in custody. Why is this happening and who is looking into this matter to ensure it does not happen again?
Detainee A Kugan died in police custody and the policeman said to have physically abused him was declared a free man by the court. Why?
Malaysia’s refusal to allow the Hindraf rally to take place is an act of arrogance and disrespect. Even the call made by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to respect Malaysia’s international and legal obligations and allow Sunday’s Solidarity March Against Racism to proceed was ignored.
HRW’s deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, said: “The Malaysian government’s opposition to peaceful marches results in three big losers: the rights to free expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.”
“The Malaysian government’s commitment to diversity and development is betrayed when it refuses to permit peaceful criticism of its policies and programmes.
“Banning this march makes a mockery of the principles the government pledged to uphold when it assumed its seat on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council,” Robertson said in press statement.
Hishammuddin had earlier said that Hindraf would not get a police permit to march.
“It is a banned movement… It doesn’t have locus standi to ask for a permit,” he said.
The government banned Hindraf after it staged a massive demonstration in Kuala Lumpur in 2007. Meanwhile, HRP has applied for registration and its application is still pending.
Post-2007, has the government become so insecure and afraid of the Indian community’s anger that it quickly started a crackdown on the HRP’s right to peaceful assembly?
On Feb 13, barely two weeks before the scheduled march, HRP initiated a grassroots information and recruitment drive in several states, dispatching convoys of cars loaded with activists wearing the group’s distinctive orange T-shirts and carrying posters, banners, and assorted promotional materials to various locales.
Police, however, stopped the convoys at roadblocks and diverted participants to police stations, where many were detained.
The police arrested at least 59 people on various grounds. In one instance, participants were held for driving in a convoy without a permit. In other instances, police charged the activists with illegal assembly, interference with on-duty officers, obstructing traffic and moving in a large group in a busy area.
Some participants, held overnight, were offered their freedom if they gave up their orange T-shirts, but when it became clear they would not do so, they were released on bail.
On Feb 20, police in three locations broke up HRP forums designed to explain the group’s concerns about certain issues and to continue membership recruitment. The police claimed that permission to hold the forums had been denied.
HRP leaders were among some 59 arrested and eventually all were released on bail. In a further pre-emptive move, M Gobalakrishnan, the person named on fliers as the contact for further information in Hulu Selangor, was picked up at his home by six plainclothes officers and detained hours before the local meeting was to begin. Police also sealed off the forum site. Gobalakrishnan has since been released.
In November 2007, between 10,000 and 30,000 people participated in the first Hindraf-organised demonstration.
The then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reportedly said that Hindraf leaders undermined national security by threatening racial and religious harmony.
Following the protest, the government detained five Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and banned Hindraf.
From Rahman, via e-mail
A good show by the Indians. If Umno cannot handle a simple issue like the half-baked Interlok, they deserve the protest by the Indians. They don’t deserve to run the country. Let PAS takes over. The Indians and their ancestors did not live on trees and they were clothed long, long time before others.
They are not incestous, they don’t rape their daughters or stepdaughters, marriage is sacred to them. Indians are proud that many so-called Malays in the country have Indian blood in them.
This includes Mahathir and many others. They have a strong culture. They are proud of their culture and the locals have inherited a lot from this race – from language to traditions.
Instead of being grateful to the Indians Umno is demeaning the poor Indians. The divine power will see that justice prevails. Just wait and see.
From 1Sabahan, via e-mail
I refer to report, ‘Campaign to stop ‘mother of all threats’’. At least something concrete is being done by whoever, whatever and wherever instead of shouting on top of the voice. The issue is not the monopoly of any political party to pursue but all and every Sabahan who has the long term of interests at heart.
The illegal immigrants’ issue has been the ‘mother of all evils’ in Sabah for some time and Sabahans, regardless of their racial origin, religious preference and political leaning, have the sacred duty to voice out their concerns and bring pressure to bear on the federal authorities to take immediate action to resolve the issue, however difficult it may be.
Without a doubt, the federal authorities have been playing deaf and dumb on the issue for reasons best known to themselves but it should not preclude us from being persistent and resolute in protecting our rights.
Take hard lessons from the bravery, persistence, and resolve of the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan peoples in pushing their authorities to the limits in their demands for change.
Sabahans have been too naive and gullible in the past, it’s time that we learn from our past and move forward wiser. The issue has far reaching implications on the political landscape, the shape of the state government, the economic prospects and the living conditions of the state.
from Free Malaysia Today » Nation by Zefry Dahalan
They are hearing the same promise again in the campaign for the March 6 by-election.
“Enough is enough,” said N Ghandirajan, Malacca DAP’s vice-chairman.
He told FMT he was not impressed by the ground-breaking ceremony that Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin conducted two weeks ago, saying it was 12 years too late.
He spoke in the presence of several companions who claimed to be representatives of the local Indians.
He said BN first made the promise in 1999, and again in 2004 and 2008, each time changing the proposed location of the school.
“Now, for the by-election, they are promising it again. The only difference is the ground-breaking ceremony was Feb 14.”
This time the proposed site is a football field belonging to Sime Darby.
The Merlimau Tamil School currently operates from a temporary building belonging to a secondary school.
Ghandirajan noted a discrepancy in recent announcements about the cost of the proposed school. Muhyiddin said on Feb 14 that it would be RM4 million, but a week earlier, Malacca executive councillor R Perumal said it would be RM6.1 million.
He challenged Perumal and MIC vice-president S Subramaniam to ensure that the construction of the school begin within 100 days of the ground-breaking ceremony, which both of them attended.
“If they fail to do so, this will be another classic example on how the MIC and BN leaders simply take Indians for a ride and are never serious in helping them to gain proper and quality education,” he said.
“I urge the Merlimau voters – not only the Indians, but other races as well – to learn from the empty promises of BN.
“During the Bagan Pinang by-election in October 2009, they promised to build a new Tamil school, but till today nothing has happened there.”
from Free Malaysia Today » Nation by Joseph Tawie
Baru Bian said Taib must keep his word and direct the attorney-general to withdraw the appeals.
He was commenting on Taib’s speech during the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party’s (SPDP) annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday.
Taib has reportedly said that he would “concur with any court decision (in NCR cases) even if it does not favour the government”.
Said Bian: “Our response (to Taib’s pledge) is loud and clear: withdraw all government appeals against NCR cases won by the natives immediately.
“The courts have decided in favour of NCR landowners but the government still insists on appealing against these cases.
“Will the chief minister direct the attorney-general to withdraw these appeals immediately and keep his word?
“Or was the statement at the SPDP AGM mere rhetoric and lip service to deceive the people yet again?”
According to Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chief, there are already some 200 NCR cases still pending in court which the A-G is fully aware of.
Land issues have been a prominent issue flagged by the opposition in Sarawak.
Yesterday, Taib reportedly accepted Bian’s challenge to a public debate on allegations that the state government had seized NCR land on condition that Bian showed evidence to support his claim.
Bian said he had a “mountain” of evidence to show Taib.
“As for the chief minister’s request for proof, we would like to inform him that our evidence is ready.
“The evidence cannot be revealed now or else there would not be a need for a debate.
“We are happy to draw his attention to the overwhelming mountain of evidence already submitted in court,” he said.
Bian said he hoped Taib was not pretending to be ignorant of the evidence as an excuse to avoid or evade the debate.
Thanking Taib for accepting the challenge to debate, Bian said: “ We hope the truth will finally be made known to the public through such a debate.”
“Since the chief minister has accepted our challenge, we propose the following dates: March 5, 6, or 10. The time and place will be determined by him. Chief Minister, please choose one,” said Bian.
He also suggested that Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Social Science academics who are well-informed of NCR issues be appointed to chair the debate.
He also proposed that the public debate be held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or the Stadium Perpaduan at Petrajaya.
from Free Malaysia Today » Nation by FMT Staff
State Land Development Minister James Masing, who Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, warned that the “threat” to these seats was real and urged his BN colleagues to be wary.
“If the leaders are not respecful and sensitive to the Dayaks and ignore their wishes, then they will get angry.
“And angry Dayaks will lead to a second front and a loss of seats in the rural areas,” said Masing, a Dayak.
Masing’s “second front” was in reference to the Sibu wave which took the BN by surprise in the May 2010 parliamentary by-election.
BN lost its 24-year-long grip over Sibu when it failed to defeat the DAP in a tightly fought battle that saw political luminaries such as Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng and Karpal Singh grace the campaign runup.
The loss, many observers agreed, was fuelled by resentment among the Chinese against Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s policies and their anger towards a “spineless” and “arrogant” Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
Masing said the same resentment and dissatisfaction among rural voters would cost BN to lose its “fixed deposits”.
Masing, it is learnt, was taking swipes at several of Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) leaders who had irked the Dayak community with their cocky behavious and failure to bring promised infrastructural development to their respective constituencies.
“Dayakism” is facing a major revival in Sarawak and is greatly supported by NGOs and the opposition.
Speaking to reporters ewsmen yesterday, Masing said he was confident of winning all the nine seats allocated to Dayak-majority PRS, under the coalition deal.
The nine seats are Belaga, Balai Ringin, Batang Ai, Tamin, Bukit Begunan, Kakus, Baleh, Ngemeh and Pelagus.
Masing said the party was retaining all its incumbents except for the Ngemeh and Pelagus seats.
“For Ngemeh and Pelagus, we already have our candidates. The two young professionals have been working the ground,” he said.
Currently, Ngemeh is held by Gabriel Adit. Adit, who won the seat by a slim 549-vote majority, is now the chairman of Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM). He has held the seat for the past three terms.
In 2006, he won the seat as an independent. He later joined PKR but that too did’t work out for him. He then quit PKR to join PCM.
The contentious Pelagus seat is held by Larry Sng.
Sng, who won the seat on a PRS ticket, is now party-less after Masing sacked him for insubordination two years ago.
Although Sng has hinted his interest in returning to PRS, Masing and his leaders have adamantly refused to take him back.
PRS has also refused to release Pelagus seat on any term to any of its coalition party members.
It has also expressedly stated its stand against other coalition party members, within the BN, accepting Sng into their fold.
from Free Malaysia Today » Nation by Luke Rintod
KOTA KINABALU: In a bid to bolster his own position as champion of state rights and Sabah autonomy, United Borneo Front (UBF) leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, is organising a ground-breaking inter-party dialogue on Sabah problems.
The dialogue, which is open to participants from both sides of the political divide, also aims to promote UBF’s Borneo Agenda for a freer and autonomous Sabah and Sarawak.
Slightly more than three hours have been allocated for open discussion during the seminar, scheduled for March 5, which the organisers hope will pave the way for inter-party dialogue.
Organising chairman, Guandee Kohoi, confirmed that invitations had been sent out to political parties in Sabah, but so far only opposition party Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) had confirmed sending a 15-member delegation.
SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, a lawyer, would present a paper on “State-federal relationship and state autonomy”.
SAPP deputy president, Amde Sidek, will also be a panellist.
The other panellists include social activist and author of “Lest We Forget”, Dr Chong Eng Leong, and the two co-founders of UBF, lawyer Nilakrishna James and economist Zainal Ajamain.
Jeffrey, who quit PKR two months ago, and is said to be ready to form or join a political party this month, will present a paper on “A way forward for Malaysia”.
Meanwhile, Sarawak National Party (SNAP) president, Edwin Dundang, who was initially slated to present a paper on “Sarawak’s experience on state-federal relationship”, has indicated that he might not able to make it due to the impending state election.
According to Guandee, there will be about 150 participants from various districts and backgrounds. But it is understood that they will mostly be supporters of UBF’s Borneo Agenda.
Component members of the ruling Barisan Nasonal (BN) like PBS, Upko, PBRS, LDP and Umno have all been invited to send officials to the dialogue along with PKR and DAP.
Also included are smaller parties like Sabah People’s Front (SPF), and Setia, the party many believe Jeffrey has targeted as his political vehicle.
LoyarBuroks weekend-long retreat revealed that LB is not simply a blawg, or loosely bound group of activists. It represents a larger and more concrete mission, which is to educate the voters of Malaysia and encourage civic engagement, in the hope of promoting accountability within the political process.
February 26-27, Melaka Driving up the dusty hillside of El Sanctuary, LoyarBuroks commune-like home for the weekend in a kampung 20 kilometers outside of Melakas pusat bandaraya, I silently contemplated the question I soon learned was on the minds of most LoyarBurokkers: what is LB? Is it just a quirky and provocative blawg? Is it a group of defiant lawyers looking for some catharsis? What are its long-term objectives? Or is it merely an innocuous movement looking to bring a little humour to otherwise serious issues, which are typically reserved from irreverence.
What I learned during this two-day marathon was that LB draws its power from all of these qualities and functions, and many more, converging together to create a perfect storm that has the potential for monumental impact. And this change is not solely related to the legal arena or the ongoing human rights discussion, like many people seem to assume; rather, it encompasses a broader goal of civic education and empowerment. Ultimately, it will help nurture a fundamental paradigm shift in the way ordinary citizens view their role in politics, and the options at their disposal to affect change.
The group first convened to set their expectations for the weekend, and similarly their expectations for LBs mission. This process was filled with open-ended questions about the objective of LB and its initiatives to reach this goal. Surely, there were divergent ideas on the role of LB, as there would be with any organisation comprised of such a diverse group, ranging from environmentalists to corporate lawyers, students to NGO folk, and of course, the marginally employed, a title which I reserve exclusively for myself.
But despite these distinctions, everyone is a LoyarBurokker, and consequently attended the training, because of a commonly held frustration: there is something seriously awry with the way Malaysians view their role in politics and how they engage the political process. Sometimes people may feel marginalized and thus lack a motivation to challenge their representatives, other times they may be bamboozled by politicians who emphasize party affiliations and ad hoc election-time promises, rather than substantive issues, and others simply are offered an economic quid pro quo in exchange for their vote. Either way, the end game is still the same. Politicians are only nominally held accountable for their policies and rarely respond to the actual concerns of its constituents. The political trend continues, and the pervasive concept of "futility in civic engagement" persists on in this society.
As the weekend carried on, and workshops manifested themselves into solutions, the LoyarBurokkers started to formalize a coherent go! al of ho w to address this political apathy. Underpinning these plenary groups and brainstorming sessions was a critical conundrum: connecting abstract political principles to the concrete problems facing ordinary citizens. This is the crux of the problem, most LoyarBurokkers concluded. Voter education has to be focused and framed in way that emphasizes tangible issues that everyone in the country can relate to, not simply reserved for the urbanite having an apple martini from his perched view in KLs SkyBar.
It has to be a ground-up campaign, which embraces a collaborative and participatory approach that speaks directly to voters concerns. Without this mindset, the initiative will most likely fail to reach its intended audience - the voters - and be another futile attempt by civil society deemed too elitist.
This relates to LBs second conclusion from this weekend: listen before talking. Often times, NGO campaigns fall short of their goal because they tend to forget the simple fact that people know what they need the most and the problems that are most pressing for them. They dont need outside organisations dictating to them what they need to be worried about, and how they should fix it.
LB understands that prior to embarking on a voter education initiative, you must first know what is plaguing the voters you are trying to reach. It is imperative that this discussion takes place, and that people feel included in the process. What is the point of encouraging civic engagement if you do not first consult the citizenry you are trying to engage? Whether through town hall meetings, online dialogue or fact-finding missions, LoyarBurok recognizes that the people must be heard before they are spoken to.
The third essential part of this equation is the makeup of the army of LoyarBurokkers. Without a committed, experienced and innovative group to spearhead this concept, this campaign is merely a pipedream. But I assure you, LoyarBurok is not beset by this inadequacy. Rather, they have a surplus of diverse and dedicated minions, each bringing their own expertise to the cause. And the LB army was in full force in Melaka this weekend, making it very clear to me that this campaign is for real.
The level of maturity and passion in this weekends discussions, compounded by the diversity amongst the group, was something I had never seen before. It was truly remarkable to be, even for a weekend, a part of this group, and to witness the potential that LoyarBurok possesses. Anytime you can get a Sarawakian advocate collaborating with a Petronas-employed lawyer, you know you got something special.
In fact, this weekends group affected me to the extent that I have actually decided to try and defer my Masters Program in London for a year, and stay here to be a part of LBs movement. I could not imagine having had the opportunity to participate in LBs voter education initiative, and the civic transformation it will surely elicit, and passing on it. Even if LB can harness half of its potential, I think it is surely poised to have a huge impact.
So yes, LoyarBurok is a blawg. It is a group of lawyers and activists looking to provide some comedic relief to lifes ills. It is a platform for advocacy. But it is also something much more encompassing and concrete. It is a movement to help voters make informed and relevant choices about the politicians they chose. It is a drive to return political power back into the hands of its rightful owner - the people - via the power of the vote. It is a campaign that will transform the idea of civic engagement in Malaysia. It is something with which, if you havent already, you need to get involved.
LB: The newly established Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism & Human Rights [aka LoyarBurok Pusat Rakyat Centre (LRC)] will be taking on the voter education initiative via its new centre opening mid-March. A public consultation will be called soon.
Recommended reading: LoyarBurok to Educate Voters for Next General Election
Liam Hanlon hails from the inner city streets of San Francisco, where he served as a full-time Mexican-food aficionado, part-time social activist! , and ev en smaller-time student. After attending UCLA for his bachelors degree in Political Science, Liam moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a year, working for the international legal-rights NGO International Bridges to Justice. During this stint, he co-coordinated the 2010 Asia JusticeMakers Competition, which sourced and funded local legal-rights initiatives throughout Asia. After a two month hiatus scouring the lands of Southeast Asia with his rucksack, Liam moved to KL in October 2010 to begin documenting the work of one of the JusticeMakers Fellowship receipients, Dato Yasmeen Shariff, for her work with juvenile justice. He has since shifted his to time to interning for another NGO Voice of Children, as well as transforming into a LoyarBurok minion.
Tags: @loyarburok, Andrew Yong, Aston Paiva, Azira Aziz, Choo Mun Wei, Cilia Chong, Daniel Albert, David Matthew, Edmund Bon Tai Soon, El Sanctuary, Fahri Azzat, Firdaus Husni, Izmil Amri, June Rubis, Karl Rafiq, Liam Hanlon, Lim Ka Ea, Lingswaran Singh, LoyarBerak, Marcus van Geyzel, Melaka, Michael Loo, Ong BK, Pang Kee Teik, Pusat Rakyat Center, Reshara Chan, Roger Chan, Seira Sacha, Shafiqa Nabeera Shahroni, Shanmuga K, Sharmila Sekaran, Syahredzan Johan, Thean See Xien, UndiMalaysia, Voter initiative, Woon King Chai, Zain HD