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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Form a Barisan-Pakatan government of national reconciliation

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:43 PM PDT 

Assuming Pakatan Rakyat is able to topple the BN government via street violence, wouldn't the leaders and supporters of BN retaliate in the same fashion? 

Francis Paul Siah

Today is June 5. It's exactly a month after the May 5 general election, widely touted as the mother of all elections.

Over the past month after GE13, the nation has been besieged with negatives. Nothing seems to be moving or has moved in the right direction. In a nutshell, nothing positive has been achieved.

We could have done so much in one month but we chose to waste it just because things did not turn out the way we wanted.

Yes, we are now a nation badly divided. Politics has torn the people asunder in a way never witnessed before.

GE 13 did not bring about the changes for the better we all seek. Instead, it is slowly destroying everything that is good about the country.

Is there anything good left about politics in this country, given the disappointing and worrying events of the past 30 days? Honestly, I can't think of any.

Over the past month, we could not sit down and talk anymore. We had to use the media to get our messages across or to badmouth each other.

Worse, we now seem to be a people who enjoy taking part in street demonstrations and public protests. Why, do we seriously believe we can create an 'Arab Spring' here in Malaysia? Come on, people. Let's get real. We are still Malaysians.

Assuming Pakatan Rakyat is able to topple the BN government via street violence, wouldn't the leaders and supporters of BN retaliate in the same fashion?

So we will have more demonstrations and street protests. If we continue to go down that alley, where do you think that route will lead us?

What has become of us, Malaysians? Shouldn't we be ashamed of ourselves? Our behaviour of late is not something we can feel proud about.

True, Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan colleagues have every right to challenge the election results and express their dissatisfaction over electoral discrepancies. 

But I honestly do not think going to the streets will resolve anything.

Najib Razak committed a mortal sin with his "Chinese tsunami" statement soon after the elections. It was something painfully sensitive coming from a prime minister who is of a different race.

The PM should have just accepted that the Chinese voters were not supportive of his BN government but preferred Pakatan. Why must that be so hard to swallow?

Najib has erred and I like to believe that he has realised his mistake for he has not repeated it. That is well and good.

Like many Malaysians, I made a choice during GE 13. My conscientious decision was to campaign for good men and women to helm a caring, responsible and transparent government that will lead the people and nation towards greater heights.

I had gone on public record with a press statement five days before the May 5 polling day urging my fellow Sarawakians to bury Sarawak BN so that corruption, cronyism and nepotism could also go under as well.

But the May 5 results were a disappointment – to both sides. While Pakatan failed to make it to Putrajaya, BN suffered its worst defeat ever. But the ruling coalition still managed enough seats to retain power.

So where do we go from here? Do we allow the two political divides to continue their never-ending squabbles and bickering? Or do we tell them "enough is enough, we elected you guys to work and govern the country; please get down to the job".

We, the majority of Malaysians who are not politicians, must take a stand and make a decision.

This is mine and I would like to share it with all my fellow Malaysians.

At a time like this, I reckon I have to trust Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim to do the right things for the people and nation. These are the two political leaders who matter in Malaysia today. I expect them to be around the next 10 years at least.

I don't have a choice really. I'm stuck with them. So it only makes sense to ensure that they give their best to the country over the next decade.

Together, let us, the people of Malaysia, help them to focus on the tasks and responsibilities at hand.

We can do that by not partaking anymore in anything negative, either through words or deeds, coming from both sides similar to those of the past one month.

We must demand that they and their cohorts stop their public mudslinging, their accusations and counter-accusations at once. We must let them know that we have enough of their nonsense over the past month. 

I want to believe that both Najib and Anwar mean well and that they want the best for the nation.

Both men have come a long way in politics and they knew each other only too well. They should know what each is capable of, being the political animals that they are.  

Now, they must do what must be done quickly on two fronts. First, restore national understanding and help promote national unity using the resources they have at hand. Two, get rid of the animosity and antagonism between their parties that have poisoned the political atmosphere for so long. With their supreme party positions, they could easily lead the way by example on this front.   

Today, let me urge these two loyal and patriotic sons of Malaysia to put their differences aside and work together. This is what Malaysians want.

Sit down as a team and seriously start thinking about joining forces to form a "Government of National Reconciliation".

Let's make one important thing clear. This is not about PR joining BN. This is about PR and BN coming together to form a new coalition government as partners.

I sincerely appeal to Najib and Anwar to lead Malaysians on the journey towards national reconciliation. Let the "Politics of Conscience" be the guiding light and cast aside the politics of pride and ego.

The details and intricacies of the new government such as the cabinet appointments can be sorted out but at the outset, perhaps key positions could be organised in this manner.

Najib is to remain as prime minister with Anwar as senior minister, holding the finance portfolio. Muhyideen Yassin is DPM 1 and can continue at education. Lim Kit Siang is DPM 2 and also anti-corruption minister. DPM 3 is Hadi Awang who is also in charge of Islamic affairs.

The other portfolios will be organised in a manner that where a BN representative is a minister, the deputy will be from PR. The same guideline follows vice versa.

The 'Politics of Conscience' charter which I propose will get rid of emotional charges entwined within the guilt of association or trial of accusation that have been prevalent among the two opposing parties.

It will also prove that our political leaders in BN and PR have not lost all sense of reasonableness and that they can have honest differences of opinions without being charged with mental deficiency or treason.

I doubt we could go far wrong if the process is guided by the principles of  parliamentary democracy, constitutional monarchy, diversity, upholding the Constitution and the rule of law.

Let all those who have been elected to public office from both sides wake up and realise how imperative it is for them to get rid of adversarial politics, transcend partisan loyalties and focus on where it matters most – the well-being of the people and nation.

This is my sincere and earnest appeal to Najib and Anwar to show and lead the way towards the change and transformation that we, Malaysians, had hoped and prayed for.

Finally, let me end this with a few lines from this hymn, which I feel personally gratifying that it's titled "Prayer of St Francis".

"Make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

And where there is sadness, joy."

God bless Malaysians and Malaysia. Let's return to the way we used to be.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS)


Insulting the Rulers, UMNO-style

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:32 PM PDT 

Francis Bacon once said: "The zeal which begins with hypocrisy must conclude in treachery; at first it deceives, at last it betrays", but obviously UMNO has done it the other way around, first betraying the rulers, now (deceitfully) defending them. 

KTemoc Konsiders

TMI - MCMC: Woman detained for insulting King on Facebook

Malaysiakini - Facebook user held for allegedly insulting Agong 

HM Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia
nice bloke, very punctual in his official schedule
very caring for his personal staff

RPK of Malaysia-Today said in his post Criticism is mandatory in Islam:

I feel His Majesty the Agong should pardon that woman who was arrested for insulting His Majesty in the spirit that Muslim leaders and rulers are not exempt from criticism. I know I said that insults are not criticism and that there is a difference. 

Nevertheless, let this be a lesson to all Malaysians that under Islam criticism of leaders and rulers is allowed as long as you know the difference between a criticism and an insult.

What that woman did was an insult to His Majesty the Agong. The problem is most Malaysians do not understand the difference between criticism and insult. And they think that freedom of speech means freedom to vilify and disparage. Maybe with this latest episode they can become a bit wiser. If not then expect a few more arrests and this time with no pardon.

Sweetie, there's obviously a mighty and probably painful difference between insulting Michelle Yeoh and HM.

sweetie Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh

Be that as it may, please flash back to 10 December 1992.

On that day, in Parliament, Dr Affifuddin Omar, an UMNO man from Padang Terap, no doubt given the imprimatur by his party leaders, said this:

Dr Affifuddin Hj Omar

"How can we continue to uphold rulers who are known to be robbers, adulterers, drunkards and kaki pukul (thugs)?" [...]

"They (the rulers) must be made to realize that they do not own this country. They are not Superman but placed on their thrones by the people."

"The real power did not lie with them, but with us - the representatives of the people."

"The 'syndrome of religiosity' associated with the Rulers was only to cloud the people's view of who the Rulers actually were."

Which 'non' could have said that and got away? None!

Only UMNO and UMNO alone could have gotten away scot-free with its abuse of the raja whom they claim to defend today.

Then in that same parliamentary session, when the UMNO-led government tabled a motion to amend the Constitution to strip away the Rulers' immunity from prosecution, the Rulers Conference rejected (but of course, what did you think?) that amendment (but which was achieved in a subsequent parliamentary session in January 1993 via a motion tabled personally by the PM Dr Mahathir), Wan Hanafiah Wan Mat Saman (UMNO-Kota Setar) preferred the Malay Rulers to be treated the way the Indian Maharajas were treated.

Read more at: 

No Thanskgiving for Turki: Islamism, individualism, and the internet

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:20 PM PDT 

The idea of an "Islamic state" as an alternative to the "secular state" that seemed appealing to Islamists seems to be under fire and has lost its appeal, as we see in the Arab Spring that sprung everywhere these days, somewhat finding a Tantric-yoga-like peacefulness in the anarchism of the hundreds-of-cities-strong Occupy Movement.

Azly Rahman
Interesting things are happening in the land of Istanbul Express re:the challenge to Islamism as ideology. It seems that even if Islam is used as a political ideology and rhetoric to install the post-modern state especially circa "Arab Spring" in MENA (Middle East and North Africa), after two decades or so it will still be subjected to a Kondratieff Cycle of bloom and decay. It will still be forced to go through the Khaldunish (re: Ibnu Khaldun's historiography) paradigmatic shifts of rise and fall. It will still have to go through a Marxist cycle of dialectical materialism: that thesis-antithesis-synthesis ideological karma.

From Tianamen to Tahrir to Taksim -- the trigger for mass protests might be different by the theme of renewal is the same. The technology used and how the culture utilizes it as a tool of transformation may be different but the threats to authoritarianism presented by "the masses composing of individuals" is the same: leaders that lead by the lethal power of laissez faire and the leit motif of religiosity are forced to go when individualism is threatened and when the internet rules.

The idea of an "Islamic state" as an alternative to the "secular state" that seemed appealing to Islamists seems to be under fire and has lost its appeal, as we have been seeing in the Arab Spring that sprung everywhere these days, somewhat finding a Tantric-yoga-like peacefulness in the anarchism of the hundreds-of-cities-strong Occupy Movement.


FOR UNITY - Do not separate our children, please!

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:17 PM PDT 
But today the majority of our children are growing up in housing, in schooling and playtime apart from each other. And we complain they are not united? 

Anas Zubedy

When I was three years old, my father moved his family to a Chinese residential area in Fettes Park, Penang. We were the only Malay family living there. There were children who refused to play with me and there were those who refused to play without me. At a young age, I learned that there are no bad races, just bad people.

At home we were a Malay family. Outside, I grew up like any other Chinese boy. I was an odd sight - a skinny Malay kid chattering in Hokkien. Just five minutes' walk towards the market was the Malay kampung where I spent time with Malay friends and agama lessons.

Our immediate neighbours were Eurasians. They welcomed me and my siblings into their homes, allowing us to learn about their beliefs and the English language.

Read more at: 

The Government Will Shoot Themselves In The Foot If They Censor The Online Media

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:08 PM PDT 

If the reformation Najib is spewing every week is anything, then he should heed the advice of people, not around him, but those who did not vote for him.

Jay Jay Denis, Student  

When THAT line is crossed too often, there will come a time when it will cease to exist and it will become second nature for 'trampling' to take place. This is in light of Minister of Communications and Multimedia's comments yesterday on the possibility of the government mimicking Singapore to put a blanket on news portals.

Just last week, opposition-based news-weeklys were snapped up and later banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, headed by none other than the ever-brilliant and gung-ho Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. The online media then, seems to have been the only alternative for people to get news from what may seem unbiased, if anything. The printed media is brilliant where you have newspapers getting away with 'daylight lies' and at times, it does feel as though they do not have proof-readers, looking to jump the gun more often than not.

According to the Printing Presses and Publications Act, "The Minister may in his absolute discretion grant or refuse any application for such licence or may at any time revoke or suspend such licence for any period he considers desirable." What this actually means is there is no consistency regarding decisions made by that ministry as at any given time, the decision is up to his or her discretion.

On September 18th 2011, PM Najib Razak stated that he intends to make Malaysia the world's best democracy. A year and a half later, people can judge for themselves on whether his statement was all talk and no walk or otherwise.

 'Reporters Without Borders' stated this year that Malaysia is ranked 145th out of 179 countries in terms of Press Freedom. Being ranked behind countries like Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Libya is not something to be extremely proud of, with all due respect. This points to the influence of the powers that be on the now nearly defunct mainstream media, with the online media taking its place. The propaganda spewed by the likes of infamous dailies, 'The Star' and 'Utusan' have long been way out of line. Such a thing has forced the hands of citizens to hunt for an alternative to get an aspect of what is actually happening.

Nonetheless, social media has also played a great deal in delivering news and the virality it possesses is definitely greater than that of the printed media. Having said that, here we have a possibility that the government is looking to control the news portals that many Malaysians have grown accustomed to when they start their day. It is more likely that people turn on their nifty little gadgets in the morning to get a grasp of the news rather than heading to a newsstand to get a copy of the government-controlled newspaper.

But hang on a minute. That might now be close to impossible if a plan is in the pipeline to put a straight-jacket on people to get access to news which concerns them. The thought of relying on the television, radio and newspapers not only lend the idea of going back to the stone-age but being lied to again? In contemporary period, not many people are going to be at all pleased with such a move by a government who doesn't have the majority support of its people.

Ahmad Shabery Cheek should think very carefully as he's walking a tight rope here. If he leaves it how it is, UMNO/BN will still be lashed by the people if it does not improve. Impose a draconian law and the people will definitely take them to the cleaners. If the reformation Najib is spewing every week is anything, then he should heed the advice of people, not around him, but those who did not vote for him. It may sound ridiculous but Najib has work to do to win back the support from the people because I'm not sure as to how much support he has inside UMNO.

Martin Luther King went around saying that an unjust law is no law at all, started by St Augustine of course. Suffocating people by denying them access to online news portals is akin to shooting themselves in the foot. If the government does not want the Merdeka Square to turn into a Speaker's Corner, listen to the people. Malaysians are peace-loving people.


PKR infighting, Anwar’s heedlessness

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 12:05 PM PDT 

(FMT) - This is the second of a three-part article giving reasons for Pakatan Rakyat's defeat from the viewpoint of grassroots activists.

PKR could have won more seats in the 13th general election if party boss Anwar Ibrahim had paid more attention to infighting in the various states, according to insiders.

"PKR has internal problems in every state, but these are especially serious in Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Terengganu," a source told FMT.

Furthermore, he added, these problems had existed since the conclusion of the 12th general election.

"Anwar knew about these internal squabbles, but he didn't do anything about them.

"He must have thought Pakatan could take over Putrajaya just by riding the wave of change. He apparently didn't think it was important to put his house in order."

Several sources said Anwar often told grassroots leaders not to bother him with issues that could be resolved at the local levels.

"I agree to that 100%," said a divisional leader. "Problems in the divisions should be settled at state level. But then, how do we do that when the state leaders themselves are squabbling?"

Infighting within the states, he added, resulted in inefficiency and poor planning of party activities. "The upshot was that we had no proper election training and we fielded poor candidates."

According to PKR central committee member, many of PKR's losses were due to silent protests over the fielding of parachute candidates.

He lamented that Anwar was continuing to ignore the local problems even after PKR's disappointing showing in the 13th general election.

"He seems not to have learnt from the error of his ways. He's thinking of nothing else but Putrajaya.

Read more at: 

Fight Internet Censorship, Free Your Mind

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 11:59 AM PDT 

Making baseless attacks and ranting do not help our cause. What the government fears and is trying to suppress are intelligent socio-political critiques that provoke readers to think, and alternative perspectives that enlighten the general populace.

Singapore Armchair Critic, The Online Citizen 

It seems that Internet censorship in Singapore (described by the government as a "light-touch" regulatory framework) mostly depends on a combination of access controls (such as requiring political websites to register for a license) and legal pressures (such as defamation lawsuits and the threat of imprisonment). The intention is to prevent people from posting objectionable content (source, p. 81).

Singapore's prominent bloggers and alternative news websites have concertedly launched a petition to urge the Media Development Authority (MDA) to rescind the licensing requirement for "online news sites"; a protestis also slated to take place this Saturday, 8 June at Hong Lim Park.

Bloggers and activists have explained why we should all care about this new ruling which has taken effect from 1 June 2013, barely a few days after it was announced to the public.

However, if we go by past experience, I daresay the likelihood of our government revoking this new licensing framework is close to nil.

Just look at its response to the opposition to the controversial Population White Paper.

Despite the strong backlash from the society and reservations expressed by people in the PAP camp, our leaders did not succumb to public pressure. There was only a symbolic concession in re-pitching the 6.9 million population "target" as but a "worst case scenario," after which paper was bulldozed ahead in the PAP-dominant parliament, resoundingly endorsed by all except 13.

So in all likelihood that the government will not backpedal on the new ruling, what else can we do besides petitioning and protesting?

Bearing in mind that this is a government that is experienced, adept and ruthless at clamping down on dissidents and critics, are we, ordinary Singaporeans who have just found our voices on the Internet, fighting a losing battle?

Internet Censorship vs. Self-Censorship

When it comes to censoring online political content, there is a fundamental difference between our government's approach and that of other states, say China.

According to a Harvard expert, China uses three key technical means to curb online content it deems politically-incorrect: (1) IP blocking; (2) DNS hijacking; and (3) keyword content inspection/filtering. All these methods work by blocking access to websites (details here).

In contrast to China's formidable firewall, Singapore shies away from using technology to curb online content. Some may recall that MDA has blocked access to 100 websites, but this is chiefly a symbolic move targeted at content such as pornography that offends our "core societal values." As this source points out,

The Singapore government implements a limited filtering regime, relying mainly on nontechnological measures to curb online commentary and content relating to political, religious, and ethnic issues. The purported purpose of these measures is "to promote and facilitate the growth of the Internet while at the same time safeguarding social values and racial and religious harmony."

The truth is, as a regional financial hub and an aspiring IT hub, Singapore simply cannot afford to put up a Great Firewall like China and risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Instead, it adopts a far more efficacious and target-specific means to weed out unwanted political content: the instilling of fear.

Our government hits directly at the source/content provider, instilling fear through the threat of fines, lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

This is highly effective and efficient because it root out "problematic" content altogether, inculcating in us an insidious and deep-seated practice of self-censorship that we may not even be conscious of.

And this self-censorship is most conspicuous in the Singapore academia. Academics writing about government policies often mince their words; typically they adopt a servile tone that goes like this: oh you (the government) have already done very well, but you could do better…

I find this couching of objective criticism in subservient language utterly ludicrous. Our political leaders have already paid themselves millions for "serving" the people. Why do we still need to stroke their ego when we point out their shortfalls in governance?!!

Read more at: 

New licensing regime will not limit public discourse: Yaacob Ibrahim

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 11:57 AM PDT 

(Today Online) - Those critical of Govt will not be targeted if they get facts right, says Minister

News reports and comments that are critical of government policies will not be targeted under the new licensing regime for news sites, as long as they are factual and not misleading, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

In his most extensive reply thus far on numerous concerns raised by some, including fears that the Media Development Authority's move last week could be "the first step" towards tighter regulation of the Internet, Dr Yaacob stressed that the Government's "light touch" approach has not changed. "Our approach has been, and remains, that the Internet is not exempt from the rules of society," he added.

Dr Yaacob also sought to clarify the guidelines on restricted content. "Nowhere do the guidelines state that news sites cannot question or highlight the shortcomings of government policies, as long as the assessments are well-intentioned, and not based on factual inaccuracies with the intention to mislead the public," he said.

On the perception among many in cyberspace that the new licensing regime is an attempt to limit public discourse, Dr Yaacob felt that time would prove this view wrong. "I expect that the sites will continue to operate as before," he said. "In fact, I hope that the activists who are today making this far-fetched claim will be honest enough to admit it when the time comes."

Yesterday was the second time in the space of a few days that Dr Yaacob had moved to address concerns over the new licensing scheme. Last Friday, he took to Facebook to address the online backlash , but many within the online community were not convinced, and a group of bloggers said they would be organising a protest on Saturday against the new requirements.

The debate on the new requirements carried on last night, when Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin appeared as a guest on Channel NewsAsia's Talking Point programme and fielded phone-in questions from several callers.

The new licensing regime, which kicked in last Saturday, affects websites which have "significant reach" — defined as having 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore each month over a period of two months — and publish an average of at least one article a week on "Singapore's news and current affairs" over the same period.

Operators of these news sites will be given 24 hours to remove content deemed objectionable by the MDA, and are also required to put up a "performance bond" of S$50,000. If they defy the order to apply for a licence, they can be fined up to S$200,000 or jailed up to three years or both.

Read more at: 

Isu perpaduan kaum: belum ada pihak yang memulakan perjuangan itu

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 11:51 AM PDT 

Keuntungan dipihak DAP masih lagi tinggi sekarang ini kerana anak-anak muda yang dinyanyikan dengan lagi 'multiracial' itu masih memainkan isu itu walaupun pada hakikatnya isu perkauman itu hanya menguntungkan kepada parti yang memainkan isu perkauman ini dengan begitu 'smart' tadi sahaja. 

Aspan Alias 

Setelah lama selesainya pilihanraya ke13 yang lalu, isu yang paling besar selain dari isu rasuah dan salahguna kuasa, ialah isu perkauman yang dimainkan oleh kedua-dua belah pihak. UMNO menakutkan orang Melayu yang jika Pakatan Rakyat menang orang Melayu akan diketepikan dan bangsa Cina akan mempengaruhi situasi politik negara.

Baik PKR mahu pun DAP membalas dengan menghentam BN yang isu menakut-nakutkan orang Melayu. Itu, kata DAP dan PKR menunjukkan yang BN itu adalah parti yang 'desperate' kerana menggunakan isu 'sensitive' ini bagi mendapatkan sokongan orang Melayu. BN menyedari yang orang-orang Cina sudah membelakangkannya.

Isu ini amat laku terutamanya kepada yang muda-muda dan BN kehilangan banyak sokongan walaupun tidak mencukupi untuk dikalahkan oleh pihak Pakatan Rakyat seperti yang kita lihat dari keputusan PRU ke 13 itu. Apabila selesai pilihanraya barulah ramai menyedari yang isu perkauman itu sesungguhnya memberikan impak besar yang 'negative' terhadap BN. Di sebaliknya ia memberikan kesan yang baik pula kepada PR terutamanya kepada DAP.

Akhirnya kita jelas terlihat yang DAP seperti juga parti Gerakan, walaupun di khabarkan sebagai parti berbilang kaum tetap dikuasai oleh kaum Cina juga. Baik dari penguasaan pimpinan di peringkat CEC nya mahupun dari perwakilannya dalam barisan pemilihan ahli-ahli Legislatifnya. Kaum Cina hampir seratus peratus menguasainya.

Bak kata perbilangan 'blood is thicker than water', mana-mana kaum pun belum lagi memulakan semangat penyatuan kaum yang sebenarnya. Ia masih lagi sebagai 'indah khabar dari rupa' sahaja. DAP begitu 'smart' sekali dalam pendekatannya kepada kuasa kali ini. DAP memahami perasaan orang Melayu dengan baik. Parti itu memahami orang Melayu mempunyai sentimen yang tinggi dari semangat perkauman seperti orang Cina juga.

Itu sebab orang Melayu apabila di tunjukkan perhatian yang lebih sedikit oleh DAP mereka yang muda-muda terus sahaja memberikan sokongan yang besar kepada DAP terutamanya di P Pinang dan Selangor serta di Johor. Dalam penjelajahan saya keseluruh negara sebelum pilihanraya kerana undangan berceramah, isu keprihatinan kerajaan P Pinang diberikan penekanan besar. Peruntukan berlipat kali ganda kepada Majlis Agama Islam negeri itu menjadi isu yang sangat laku bagi orang Melayu.

Read more at: 

Motorway middle-lane hoggers to face higher fines

Posted: 04 Jun 2013 11:47 AM PDT 

(The Guardian) -  You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past. 

[Malaysians, on the other hand, hog not just the middle lane, but the right-most lane when there are no other cars ahead of them. - MTadmin]

Drivers who needlessly hog the middle lane on motorways face fines of £100 as well as three penalty points under new government measures designed to crack down on careless motoring.


Fines for a number of other offences on the road – including using a handheld mobile phone while driving, or jumping traffic lights – are also expected to be increased from £60 to £100 after the unveiling of the package on Wednesday.


Traffic police will decide when motorists are considered to have been hogging the middle lane and issue on-the-spot fines to offenders.


Although some commentators have argued that fines are not necessarily the right approach for careless driving because cases are often not clear-cut, motoring organisations have long called for better lane discipline by drivers, which they say could dramatically solve congestion problems.


The Highway Code states: "You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear.

"If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.

"Slow-moving or speed-restricted vehicles should always remain in the left-hand lane of the carriageway unless overtaking."

Read more at: 

UMNO won the most seats because the Malays had no choice – Tun M

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 08:25 PM PDT

(ABN News) - Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said UMNO won the most seats in GE13 not because the Malays still support UMNO, but because they had no choice.

"We may pat ourselves on the back because Umno is still the party that won the most (seats) in the 13th general election. But this was not because Malays still support Umno.

"In fact, Umno's victory in the GE13 is because they had no choice. They feared what would happen if Anwar Ibrahim, won together with DAP," Mahathir said in his latest blog post.

He warned that this trend was unlikely to continue in the next general election.

"If Umno does not clean itself from corruption and self-interest, the Malays will look for other champions," he said.

"Many Malays are angry with Umno, they see it as irrelevant and a party that must be rejected. Why? Because Umno no longer fights for race, religion and country. Umno is seen to fight for the interests of certain people and its members only.

"Umno fights for positions and rank, to enrich themselves, for reward and their own pockets," he said.

He attributed the party's decline to the refusal of its current leaders to rope in fresh talent, who could pose a threat to their position.

"They work to reduce the possibility of them being challenged, to reduce the likelihood that they will be replaced by people who are more qualified.

"There is no need for new members because the existing members need to protect their share of the rewards. If there are too many members, more must be shared and it will be less than before," Mahathir said.

"By allowing only less talented people into the party so that they are not a threat, these people will eventually replace the existing leaders when they retire, thus creating a cycle of decline."

He added that talented people have opted to join the Opposition.


PKR: We are Bangladeshi-friendly

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 07:54 PM PDT

Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani,
PKR leaders said today the party was Bangladeshi-friendly, denying it was attacking the country's nationals and that it was against phantom voters.
PKR was responding to the statement by the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia AKM Atiqur Rahman yesterday, refuting rumours of 40,000 Bangladeshi nationals deployed as phantom voters during Malaysia's 13th general election.
The High Commissioner labelled the allegations "impossible" and mere political manipulation by some quarters.
The party's vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said the High Commission was within its rights to deny the allegations but that should not halt investigations into incidents of electoral fraud and offences in the recently concluded 13th general election.
She said Selangor and Penang, which recently announced a state-level commission of inquiry to investigate incidents of fraud and other election offences, must continue and move forward with their investigations.
"In my opinion, the investigations must continue. We will look at the evidence provided. They (Bangladeshi High Commission) are free to make that statement but the process will have to continue.
"Of course the attacks and hostilities should not be brought against the foreigners… We are not asking the public to hate and so on but we must not let these incidents to be easily forgotten. You have to push and demand that EC and the relevant parties conduct investigations most professionally," she told a press conference at PKR headquarters.
She also called on the High Commission to join the investigations and provide evidence during the state's commission of inquiry.

Zaid: Pakatan should get its act together on leaders now, not later

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 07:49 PM PDT

Sean Augustin,

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim feels that the Pakatan Rakyat coalition needs to address the issue of leadership now, not later.

In his blog today, the former Umno minister said the 'let's-win-first-and-think-later' stance should be done away with. The people, he said, want leaders that can be accepted and embraced.
"It's no use pretending that all is well on this front," Zaid penned, referring to PAS' rumoured link-up with Umno and DAP's lack of Malay membership.
The lawyer turned politician said PAS members needed to ask themselves if they wanted to win the next general election with Pakatan or Umno. The party, he said, has to decide "once and for all," otherwise, they would be better off continuing their preaching.
DAP, Zaid suggested, could implement a PAS-style Supporters Club and work harder to dispel its image as a chauvinistic Chinese party.
"Simply denying it isn't enough, only having substantial numbers of Malay supporters and members is the answer. 
"Perhaps DAP should consider wooing PAS leaders who are clearly non-ulama and probably have no future in PAS," Zaid said, adding that there could be many young Malay leaders in PKR who may be interested in joining DAP.

The night the refugee boat sank: victims tell their stories

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:58 PM PDT 

(The Guardian) - On 21 June 2012 a boat carrying refugees on the 6,000-mile journey from Pakistan to Australia sank with the loss of 94 lives. The Guardian spoke to the survivors and tells the story of international criminal networks and a web of corruption across the far east. Their accounts reveal the plight of desperate refugees forced to pay exorbitant sums

21 June 2012

There was almost no warning. The boat had stopped about 10 minutes earlier. Since then it had rocked gently in the swell, settling lower in the water. Its Indonesian crew shouted to one another, increasingly agitated.

On the roof of the open wooden outsize fishing boat, Mohammed Ishaq was shaken awake by another refugee. "Get up, the boat is sinking," he was told. But even as he stood, the 31-year-old Afghan-born Pakistani felt the deck tilting sharply under his feet. He slid, fell and hit the water.

It was 21 June 2012. The boat was 107 nautical miles from the nearest land. Of the 204 refugees aboard, almost all from Afghanistan or Pakistan, 94 would die.

It was one of the worst of the growing number of sinkings involving illegal immigrants attempting the 6,000-mile journey to Australia from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Only now can the full story be told.

On one level it involves thousands of men, women and children, transnational criminal networks, tens of millions of dollars and a corroding web of corruption across the far east and further afield. On another, it means hundreds of drowned fathers, brothers, sons, daughters, mothers and babies, and thousands of bereaved relatives.

Only a week before Ishaq was plunged into the water, 93 died when another boat making its way to Christmas Island had sunk. There have been many more shipwrecks since, Afghan community representatives in Australia say, in which around 300 men, women and children have drowned. There are others which go unreported. Up to 600 have died in the past two or three years, they say, though they point out that the true figure is impossible to know.

This summer thousands more will attempt the perilous journey.

Officials from the governments of Pakistan, from where most of the refugees come, and of Indonesia, through which most of the refugees transit, privately admit they cannot stem the flow. Australia is trying to discourage prospective asylum seekers with new laws, offshore processing centres and with offers to take more refugees who choose to enter the country legally. But such measures appear to have little impact. The only barriers currently are natural – not man-made.

Read more at: 

Decentralising and Clustering Schools

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:51 PM PDT 

Today, the climate has shifted; the clouds have lifted but not quite. International private schools using English-medium instruction can now enroll the children of the Malaysian elite and this has taken away one of the props from the Malay centrists. 

Dr Kua Kia Soong

The recent discussion to bring back English-medium schools has to be considered in the context of decentralizing and clustering the different language medium schools in the country.

First of all, we should celebrate the cultural diversity that has evolved through the efforts of all our peoples through the years for, as the French say, "Vive le difference"…


English-medium schools as the integrating institution?

Being a product of the old "Government English School" myself, I can testify to the positive effects on inter-ethnic relations that we experienced in these schools where Malay, Chinese and Indian students mingled and mixed harmoniously. But after UMNO decided on its "ultimate objective" of making Malay the main medium of instruction in all schools (Razak Report), this was implemented with the National language Bill coming into effect in 1967. Today, Bahasa Malaysia is the dominant medium of instruction in national schools and there is really no danger of its supersession by English-medium schools. The rest is history…

During the acrimonious episodes over the National Cultural Policy during the 1980s, I remember it was our literary spark Salleh ben Jonid who was audacious enough to suggest that maybe English-medium schools should be introduced as an integrative institution instead of BM-medium national schools. His daring dream met its fate in a climate in which Malay centrist fervour was at its height.

Today, the climate has shifted; the clouds have lifted but not quite. International private schools using English-medium instruction can now enroll the children of the Malaysian elite and this has taken away one of the props from the Malay centrists. But even before this leak from the BM-dominated national education system, the Malaysian (including UMNO) elite had been sending their children to elite schools in the West! Also, private colleges using English as a medium of instruction have been allowed since the Eighties more as a safety valve to plug the unhappiness of Non-Malays who could not gain admission to public sector institutions than through UMNO's liberality. The glaring inability of new Malaysian graduates to use the English language to compete in an increasingly globalized world has further brought English-medium schools into the spotlight.


Right to Mother Tongue Education

But while I am a product of the "Government English Schools" and belong to a middle class background, it does not detract from the fact that the vast majority of Chinese Malaysians send their children to be schooled in their mother tongue, ie. Chinese-medium schools and a sizeable number of Tamil-speaking parents send their children to Tamil-medium schools. In fact, the Chinese schools of Malaysia have existed since 1819 and thus represent a Malaysian heritage that is unique in the world. I have described their history as a "protean saga" in my 1985 title.

 The periodic calls by misconceived individuals to do away with Chinese and Tamil schools in this country in order to forge integration ignore this heritage and the more crucial fact that the right to mother tongue education is recognized as an international human right. There is even an International Mother Tongue Day which falls on February 21 every year. Having served in the Chinese education movement since 1983, I would advise that any attempt to do away with Chinese and Tamil schools in this country is misconceived and is doomed to failure. For the sake of the nation's progress, we would be wise to build on this heritage.

In the context of mother tongue education, English-medium schools can be justified by the fact that in some middle-class Malaysian families (Malay, Chinese, Indian and even East Malaysian communities), the English language is their mother tongue. Therefore, there is no reason why in areas where they are needed, English-medium schools cannot be built.


Local education authorities and elected local government

Although there was much heat generated by GE13, I wonder how many Malaysians noticed that the question of elected local governments was missing from the manifestoes of both coalitions. Apart from the principle of democracy at this third tier of government, how many Malaysians see the issue of elected local governments being inextricably linked to the building of new schools?

This is not some idealistic idea borrowed from the West. Local education authorities existed at Malaya's independence in 1957 until elected local councils were done away with in 1965 under the pretext that there was the Indonesian Confrontation crisis. Thus, with elected local government, the building of new schools and the maintenance of existing schools becomes decentralized and will no longer be politicized and radicalized. New schools and financial allocation for schools are simply awarded according to need of the rate payers in the area.

The standard operating procedure for the local council is to do a survey to find out how many Malay, Chinese, Tamil or English-medium schools are needed by residents in the area. Thus, there could well be English-medium schools needed in areas such as Petaling Jaya, Subang, Penang, Malacca, Johor Baru or even the main towns in each state.

Is this a huge burden on the country's coffers? Ponder this fact – the cost of our two submarines  (more than RM7 billion) is enough to build 7,000 schools! And to think that during the recent general election, there was such a fuss created by the fact that the BN government allowed 1 Chinese-medium school (which also has to offer the SPM) to be built in Kuantan to be financed by the Chinese community! I have reminded Malaysians many times already that we have fewer Chinese (1285) and Tamil (555) schools today compared to what we had at Independence in 1957 (1350 and 888 respectively) when our population was half what it is today.

The existence of local education authorities is especially meaningful to me because I studied at Manchester University (1972-75) with a grant from the Inner London Education Authority. I was entitled to it because I had been living and working in Inner London for three years from 1969 to 1972. This brings into focus also the issue of free education for tertiary education that was derided by the BN during the GE13. I would add that an education grant has to be means tested, ie. students from higher-income families are entitled to a lower grant and only students from low-income families get a full grant to go to college.


Clustering schools to foster integration

Elsewhere, I have also proposed that different medium schools should be clustered in "Education Precincts" in order to promote opportunities for inter-ethnic activities. This is a step further from the "common extra-curricular activities" proposed by the education ministry during the eighties but that were not carried out although they had been agreed to by the Chinese and Tamil schools.

Thus, in these "education precincts" where Malay, Chinese, Tamil, English-medium schools are located, there would be common state-of-the-art facilities including stadiums, libraries, theatres, IT centres and even food courts. Students from the different streams can take part in common cultural performances, sports and games, oratorical and debating meets, etc. There is no reason why this concept cannot also be applied to existing schools with new common state-of-the-art facilities built for the interest of students from all the different medium schools and common activities organized for students from the different language streams.

I must stress that this concept is different from "Vision Schools" which was opposed by the Chinese and Tamil school lobbies in that the autonomy of each school is strenuously guaranteed.

I sincerely believe that this proposal for decentralizing education through elected local councils; building new schools in the medium needed by rate payers; means tested education grants for tertiary education, and clustering schools with state-of-the-art facilities to foster inter-ethnic integration is the way forward for Malaysian education. I would welcome a response not only from the Malaysian government but also from the Chinese and Tamil school lobbies.


PKR stands by phantom voter claims, blames EC for xenophobia

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:48 PM PDT

A member of a Malaysian opposition party shows a video recording of a man he says is not a Malaysian showing his finger marked with indelible ink after casting his vote.  

(TMI) - They have refused to probe so it strengthens the perception that there are phantom voters from overseas 

PKR has stood by its allegations that foreign nationals of Bangladesh origin had voted illegally in Election 2013 despite the denial made by the country's High Commissioner here yesterday, insisting that it has proof to back its claims.

The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party added that the Election Commission (EC) should also take full responsibility for the hostilities shown towards Bangladeshi migrant workers since its failure to deal with complaints of phantom voters had strengthened accusations that the government had won the May 5 polls through fraud.

"We accept their statement, that is their right but you have to ask this question: if majority of our people have been talking about it for a long time, I don't think your normal Malaysians would go and create news out of nothing and more importantly the integrity of an election is sacred and so important to our country.

"The way I look at it is that if there are any allegations about phantom voters whether they are Bangladeshis, Indonesians, Filipinos… what is more important is the authorities and the parties responsible for it which is the EC must take it seriously and investigate fully.

"But they have refused to probe so it strengthens the perception that there are phantom voters from overseas," PKR strategic director, Rafizi Ramli, told a press conference at the party's headquarters here.

Read more at: 

Wanita didakwa hina Agong dalam Facebook ditahan

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:47 PM PDT

Polis turut meminta individu bernama Weennee Tan, Shuh Chien Loo, Hun Keat Wong dan Carol Tay untuk tampil membantu siasatan.

(Bernama) - Seorang suspek wanita yang dikatakan menghina Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah di laman Facebooknya, ditahan polis hari ini.

Timbalan Ketua Polis Kuala Lumpur Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh (gambar) berkata wanita berumur 32 tahun itu ditahan di Taman Nirwana, Ampang di sini pada 9.30 pagi.
Tangkapan dilakukan bersabit dengan siasatan mengikut Seksyen 4(1) Akta Hasutan 1948, katanya dalam satu kenyataan.
Polis turut meminta individu bernama Weennee Tan, Shuh Chien Loo, Hun Keat Wong dan Carol Tay untuk tampil membantu siasatan.
Terdahulu, Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) dalam kenyataan berasingan berkata wanita berkenaan ditahan hasil kerjasama suruhanjaya itu dengan Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersial Polis Diraja Malaysia.
"Dia dipercayai menyembunyikan diri setelah beberapa laman blog menyebarkan identitinya," kata suruhanjaya itu yang turut meminta rakan-rakan suspek tampil membantu siasatan.
Siasatan dijalankan mengikut Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 dan suspek juga boleh didakwa menurut Akta Hasutan 1948, kata SKMM.
SKMM menegaskan suruhanjaya itu memandang serius penyalahgunaan media sosial untuk memuat naik kandungan serta komen berunsur menghina terutama melibatkan institusi diraja Malaysia.
Beberapa laporan polis dibuat selepas komen yang dilihat menghina Tuanku Abdul Halim tersiar di laman Facebook dan Twitter susulan titah Seri Paduka melalui televisyen sempena hari keputeraan ketua negara itu pada Sabtu. 


Khalid dakwa Malaysiakini sensasi artikel pelantikan Exco S’gor

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 06:02 PM PDT

(Bernama) - Timbalan Pesuruhjaya III PAS Selangor, Khalid Abdul Samad mendakwa portal berita Malaysiakini mensensasikan artikel yang ditulisnya dalam blog berkaitan pelantikan anggota Exco kerajaan negeri Selangor.

Khalid menafikan beliau ada mengeluarkan kenyataan mengenai kelewatan pelantikan anggota Exco kerajaan negeri oleh sebab untuk memenuhi kehendak Sultan Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

"Dalam artikel saya (pada 20 Mei lepas), saya tidak tuduh Istana atas kelewatan dan saya tidak salahkan mana-mana pihak," katanya pada sidang berita di sini hari ini.

Beliau berkata tulisannya itu hanya menjelaskan mekanisme pelantikan Exco kerana ada yang mendakwa Pakatan Rakyat bergaduh dalam menentukan siapa anggota exco kerajaan negeri.

"Kami tidak tergesa-gesa (dalam pelantikan Exco) kerana Pakatan Rakyat sudah menang selesa pada pilihan raya umum ke-13 baru-baru ini. Ini Malaysiakini sengaja nak sensasikan menyebabkan pihak Istana mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa saya telah menyalahkan Istana," katanya.

Sehubungan itu, Khalid yang juga anggota Parlimen Shah Alam berharap Setiausaha Sulit kepada Sultan Selangor, Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani membaca artikel asalnya dalam blog beliau bagi mendapatkan kebenaran mengenai kenyataannya itu.

Dalam blognya 'Khalid Samad', beliau menyatakan bahawa pihaknya difahamkan Sultan Selangor ingin melihat anggota Exco terdiri daripada enam Melayu dan empat bukan Melayu berbanding pada 2008 anggota Exco terdiri daripada lima Melayu dan lima bukan Melayu.

Pada Khamis lepas, Mohamad Munir dalam kenyataan media menjelaskan bahawa kelewatan pelantikan anggota Exco kerajaan negeri Selangor ialah  kerana Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim mendapat perkenan Istana selepas kembali daripada rawatan di luar negara.

Justeru itu, kata Mohamad, tohmahan kononnya kelewatan pelantikan Exco ialah bagi memenuhi kehendak Sultan Selangor adalah tidak benar, dan beliau mengingatkan semua pihak agar tidak mengheret pihak Istana dalam hal ehwal politik bagi mengelakkan salah tanggapan rakyat terhadap Sultan Selangor.


Criticism is mandatory in Islam

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 05:41 PM PDT

I feel His Majesty the Agong should pardon that woman who was arrested for insulting His Majesty in the spirit that Muslim leaders and rulers are not exempt from criticism. I know I said that insults are not criticism and that there is a difference. Nevertheless, let this be a lesson to all Malaysians that under Islam criticism of leaders and rulers is allowed as long as you know the difference between a criticism and an insult.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In The Age of Faith, Will Durant says, "Mohammad had appointed no successor to his power, but he had chosen Abu Bakar to conduct the prayers in the Medina mosque. This mark of preference persuaded Moslem leaders to elect Abu Bakar the first Caliph of Islam. Abu Bakar was simple and abstemious, kindly but resolute; attending personally to details of administration and judgement, and never resting till justice was done; serving without pay till his people overruled his austerity; and then, in his will, returning to the new state the stipends it had paid him."

According to Islamic history, when Prophet Muhammad died, the local Medina tribes wanted to appoint one of their own as the successor to the Prophet. This led to friction between the Medinan 'converts' and the Meccan 'immigrants'. Finally, after a debate and a consensus, it was agreed that Abu Bakar, a Meccan 'immigrant', would become the successor. (Actually, the story is much longer and more complicated than that).

There were some, however, who did not agree to Abu Bakar's appointment. And it is said that they questioned him as to how could they be sure that he would be a just, fair, honest, noble, etc., leader. It is reported that Abu Bakar then took out his sword and placed it in front of him and replied that if he were to deviate from his duties in any way then they were to take his sword and cut off his head.

The first Caliph of Islam not only invited criticism, he invited the rakyat to use his own sword to cut off his head. Hence was the example set by the First Caliph of Islam that rulers, even 'divinely appointed' rulers such as 'Rightly Guided Caliphs' the likes of Abu Bakar, are not exempt from criticism. And mind you, Abu Bakar is one of the four whom Muslims regard as 'Rightly Guided Caliphs' -- meaning they are guided by God.

So this is the proper Muslim way. The rakyat can tegur (criticise) their leaders and rulers. It is not wrong. It is the Islamic thing to do. In fact, Abu Bakar asked the rakyat to not only tegur but to cut off their heads if they commit a sin against God or a crime against the rakyat.

Taking this principle of Islam as the backdrop, should Malaysians be allowed to criticise their rulers and leaders? I would say yes. It is okay to criticise our rulers and leaders. But it must be proper criticism, and probably done with civility as well, and not insults as an excuse for criticism. This is how we draw the line between criticism and insults.

The news report below is another interesting issue. I have always criticised the PAS Youth Leader, Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi, for his silly and narrow-minded statements regarding shows and whatnot. In this case, however, I have to commend his. I mean, praise should be given whenever it is due as should criticism be given whenever it is due.

Basically, Nasrudin said he invites criticism and will accept any criticism. If this is the official stand of PAS then PAS certainly practices what Islam preaches. I just wish PKR and DAP were more Islamic in their ways and invite and accept criticism just like PAS and not vilify and disparage those who criticise them. As it now stands, criticising Pakatan Rakyat is akin to insulting Islam and criticising any of the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat is treated as if you are insulting Prophet Muhammad.

I feel His Majesty the Agong should pardon that woman who was arrested for insulting His Majesty in the spirit that Muslim leaders and rulers are not exempt from criticism. I know I said that insults are not criticism and that there is a difference. Nevertheless, let this be a lesson to all Malaysians that under Islam criticism of leaders and rulers is allowed as long as you know the difference between a criticism and an insult.

What that woman did was an insult to His Majesty the Agong. The problem is most Malaysians do not understand the difference between criticism and insult. And they think that freedom of speech means freedom to vilify and disparage. Maybe with this latest episode they can become a bit wiser. If not then expect a few more arrests and this time with no pardon.


Terima kasih kerana kritik PAS

(Free Malaysia Today, 29 May 2013) - Sebagai sebuah Gerakan Islam, kami senantiasa terbuka dan bersedia untuk dikritik dan diaudit, kata Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi.

Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Malaysia (DPPM) Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi hari ini mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua pihak yang memberi perhatian kepada PAS lantas sudi mengkritik PAS dan pemimpinnya.

"Saya selaku Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Malaysia menyambut dan menerima apa jua kritikan yang dilemparkan.

"Kalian semua secara tidak langsung adalah agen yang membangun dan mendewasakan PAS dengan kritikan dan teguran yang dihulurkan," kata beliau yang juga Ahli Parlimen Temerloh dalam tulisannya hari ini.

Ujar beliau, "sebagai sebuah Gerakan Islam, kami senantiasa terbuka dan sedia untuk dikritik dan diaudit serta meletakkan kami pada situasi sebagaimana yang diajar oleh Allah swt iaitu bersedia mendengar apa jua perkataan lalu mengikut apa yang terbaik daripadanya. 

"Namun terbuka dan bersedia menerima kritikan bukan bermakna kami mesti diam membatu atau bungkam membisu dalam menerima kritikan tersebut," katanya. 

Katanya, memberi jawab balas, menangkis serta membuat pencerahan semula terhadap kritikan adalah sebahagian dari kaedah mengurus dan menangani kritikan yang normal.

Kaedah ini dibenarkan sebagaimana uslub biasa digunakan oleh al Quran al Karim sewaktu menjawab kritikan pelbagai pihak terhadap Islam dan syariat yang dibawa oleh Rasulullah saw, utusan Allah swt.

"Apatah lagi jika sesuatu kritikan itu dibuat secara terbuka. Ia boleh mencipta prasangka dan mencetus persepsi masyarakat awam, justeru itu mahu atau tidak, jawap balas mesti dikemukakan terhadap kritikan tersebut bagi meluruskan persepsi dan memurnikan prasangka.

"Contoh apabila pelbagai tuduhan yang tidak berasas dilemparkan kepada Presiden PAS, sememangnya menjadi tanggungjawab pemimpin dan ahli PAS membuat pencerahan dan mempertahankannya," kata Nasrudin.

Ketika berlangsungnya Kongres PKR ke 9 di Petaling Jaya, hujung minggu lalu, Ketua Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin mengkritik Presiden PAS Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang berhubung isu pertindihan kerusi pada Pilihan Raya Umum yang lalu.

Shamsul yang juga Ahli Parlimen Bukit Katil dalam ucapannya menyalahkan Hadi kerana kekalahan PKR di kawasan-kawasan bertindih terutama di dua kerusi Dewan Undangan Negeri Selangor, Kota Damansara dan Semenyih.


Melayu mungkin cari ‘jaguh’ baru jika Umno tidak bersihkan parti, kata Dr M

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 04:39 PM PDT

Ida Lim, TMI

Umno menang Pilihan Raya 2013 kerana merupakan satu-satunya parti Melayu tetapi rakyat mungkin akan mencari "jaguh" baru untuk mempertahankan, kaum, agama dan negara jika pemimpin parti berterusan dalam menjaga kepentingan mereka sendiri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad memberi amaran hari ini.

Dalam tulisan diblog bertajuk, "Umno dahulu dan sekarang", bekas presiden Umno itu mengatakan kemenangan tipis gabungan Barisan Nasional (BN) dalam pilihan raya umum ke-13 (PRU13) tidak boleh dikreditkan kepada peningkatan sokongan orang Melayu tetapi kerana orang Melayu takut kehilangan hak dan kedudukan istimewa mereka jika Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim mengambil alih kuasa persekutuan dengan rakan kongsi parti majoriti Cina, DAP.

"Seburuk-buruknya Umno, ia masih berbau Melayu, masih lebih mungkin memelihara kepentingan orang Melayu. Justeru itu tidak ada pilihan bagi orang Melayu jika tidak sokong Umno.

"Namun demikian dalam PRU14 Umno tidak boleh harap keadaan ini berterusan.  Jika Umno tidak bersihkan dirinya dari rasuah dan kepentingan diri, orang Melayu mungkin mencari jaguh yang lain," tulis Dr Mahathir di

Dr Mahathir yang berumur 87 tahun itu dilihat masih berpengaruh dalam parti tulang belakang BN, memberi amaran kepada pimpinan, Umno ditubuhkan pada 1946 dengan asas untuk mempertahankan kaum Melayu, Islam sebagai agama dan negara dari penjajahan asing.

Ini adalah sebab-sebab utama menyebabkan orang-orang Melayu dari negeri-negeri berasingan dan Raja-Raja yang berbeza berjuang bersama-sama, katanya dan menggesa mereka untuk kembali ke asas Umno.

Beliau mengatakan pemimpin-pemimpin Umno dahulu telah berjuang dengan rakyat menjadi keutamaan dan bukan kepentingan diri sendiri menyebabkan mereka dihormati oleh orang-orang Melayu, ramai yang menyertai parti dan memainkan peranan aktif tidak kira tahap pendidikan dan taraf sosial.

Tetapi, Dr Mahathir berkata, parti itu sekarang adalah berbeza dan ramai orang Melayu telah "meluat dengan Umno" yang telah menunjukkan dirinya hanya berminat untuk jawatan berpangkat tinggi dan memperkayakan poket mereka sendiri, dan sebab itu parti ditolak kerana tidak ada lagi wakil kepada mereka.

Beliau juga menuduh pemimpin-pemimpin Umno di peringkat cawangan menyekat kemasukan orang Melayu lebih berbakat daripada mereka ke dalam parti itu kerana takut kedudukan mereka akan diambil, menyebabkan kumpulan pemimpin-pemimpin yang berkelayakan semakin mengecil  di peringkat parti, serta dalam pemilihan calon-calon pilihan raya.

Langkah itu, katanya, akhirnya akan membawa kepada kepimpinan lemah dalam kerajaan.



Gerakan ready to merge with MCA and Umno

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 04:34 PM PDT

Opalyn Mok, TMI

Gerakan is ready to merge with the MCA or even Umno as long as the parties change their constitution to open membership to all races, said Gerakan national speaker Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng.

"MCA can change to Malaysian Citizens Association instead of Malaysian Chinese Association or Umno can be United Malaysians National Organisation," he said at a press conference this morning.

Stating that Gerakan has been a Malaysian party open to all races from the start, Chin revealed that the party had contemplated merging with the MCA if the latter was willing to change its party constitution to allow other races to join the party.

"We can't ask our non-Chinese members to join other parties so MCA has to open to all races before we merge with them," he said.

Commenting on a proposal for Barisan Nasional (BN) to become a single party, Chin felt that it was time that BN changed when the younger generation was asking for change.

"BN may even need to change its party logo from the 'dacing' to something else or its blue party colour to another colour like green.

"It is time that we changed to follow the aspirations of the people to be relevant at this time," he said.

He said Gerakan was formed with the intention to be a Malaysian party so merging all BN components into one is an eventuality that will be good for the coalition especially when the younger generation wants a change.

However, Chin felt that it would be difficult for BN to merge into one party now as there are going to be challenges and differing opinions by different groups.

"If it is easy, it would have been done a long time ago so that's why they need more time to study and mull over it," he said.



Listen to the King, Anwar told

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 04:25 PM PDT

BN men tell the opposition leader to cancel the June 15 rally.

Lisa J. Arifin, FMT

Barisan Nasional leaders have urged Anwar Ibrahim to heed the King's recent speech, in which he called on Malaysians to accept the May 5 polls results.

They were reacting to the Pakatan Rakyat leader's insistence on going ahead with a rally in Kuala Lumpur on June 15 to protest against the alleged rigging of the 13th general election.

Anwar alleged yesterday that the Prime Minister's office prepared the text of the royal address,   which was broadcast on the eve of the official celebration of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's birthday.

"Pakatan must respect the King's speech and recognise the GE13 results as determined by the rakyat," Kedah Gerakan youth chief Tan Keng Liang told FMT.

"Pakatan should accept the King's advice that if there is a difference in opinion, they need to use proper channels to resolve their issues as stated under the Federal Constitution and the nation's laws.

"If they still go ahead with their Black 505 rally on June 15, then their action will be seen as challenging the King's remarks and treason against the throne.

"Pakatan should not sow doubts and provoke the rakyat using the results of GE13. They should instead help build the country and promote peace for the nation's stability."

Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin said Anwar should adopt the attitude taken by PAS and "accept the rakyat's decision".

He was referring to a statement last month by PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali that the current government was "formed by the winning side" and that the election results were "balanced".

Labis MP Chua Tee Yong accused Anwar of dismissing the King's advice in pursuit of a selfish interest.

"He just wants to be PM regardless of whatever method used," Chua said.

He said the King had only the good of the country at heart.  "I believe the King mentioned the fact of accepting the results for the sake of the nation's stability, peace and security."


Singapore bloggers to protest Internet restrictions

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 03:18 PM PDT

(AFP) - Singapore bloggers are planning a rally and an 'Internet blackout' this week to protest controversial new rules they say will muzzle freedom of speech, organisers said yesterday.

A coalition of 34 prominent bloggers called 'Free My Internet' will stage the rally on Saturday, a week after the surprise regulations kicked in on June 1 requiring news websites — including one operated by US-based Yahoo! — to obtain licences from the city-state's official media regulator.

The bloggers will also replace their homepages with black screens featuring the words 'Freemyinternet' for 24 hours on Thursday.

"There is a need for this physical protest because numerous dialogues with the government over the last five years about liberalisation and deregulating the Internet have actually concluded in the opposite," said Choo Zheng Xi, a spokesman for the group.

"We want the government to know that the people need to be consulted, and that parliament needs to be consulted before sweeping changes are made to legislation," said Choo, the co-founder of popular political website The Online Citizen.

Volunteer-run blogs have gained popularity as an alternative news and opinion source in Singapore, where the mainstream media is widely perceived as pro-government.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) last week sought to allay fears that the new rules were aimed at the city-state's feisty blogging community, pointing out that blogs were not considered news portals.

"The licensing framework only applies to sites that focus on reporting Singapore news and are notified by MDA that they meet the licensing criteria," the regulator said Friday.

Choo however said the authority's public assurances did not tally with the broad powers of the new rules.

"If they wanted to limit the impact of the new regulations, they would have passed something that is limited in its scope," he said.

Under the new rules, websites that have at least 50,000 unique visitors from Singapore every month and publish at least one local news article per week over a period of two months must obtain an annual licence.

Websites granted a licence will have to remove 'prohibited content' such as articles that undermine "racial or religious harmony" within 24 hours of being notified by the authorities.

Licenced websites will also have to put up Sg 50,000 (US$39,500) as a 'performance bond' that can be forfeited if the regulations are not followed.

Choo said the organisers expected many ordinary Singaporeans to join Saturday's protest, but declined to comment on their expected turnout.

Protests in Singapore are restricted to a free-speech park called Speakers' Corner in line with strict laws against street demonstrations.

Two major rallies against the government's immigration policy held earlier this year in the officially designated protest zone garnered crowds of more than 3,000, making them the country's biggest protests in decades.


‘Tanda Putera’: Let the public decide, say legal activists

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 03:14 PM PDT

Tan Yi Liang, The Sun Daily

Show the movie Tanda Putera and let the public decide – as to do otherwise would amount to stifling freedom of speech, say legal activists.

Asked about the decision to allow the screening of the controversial movie, Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights coordinator Edmund Bon told theSun that on principle, free speech should only be prohibited under two circumstances – if it incites hatred or war.

"Barring those two exceptions, free speech should be upheld and a right of reply should be given," said Bon.

He had been asked about the announcement by Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek that Tanda Putera would be released in Malaysian cinemas on Aug 29 – two days before Merdeka Day.

Ahmad Shabery told reporters that the screening was previously postponed due to certain controversies at the time. Thus, the cabinet decided not to run the film for a while, he said.

As the controversy had ended and the elections are over, he said the film should be screened.

"I think Tanda Putera is a product of our filmmakers which should be seen from the perspective of art. On the question of how people view (that) perspective, it is based on their interpretation. Most importantly, we want more local films screened in this country, and (see) whether they could be marketed outside the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Bar Council Human Rights Committee chairman Andrew Khoo echoed Bon's sentiments when he said: "As a matter of freedom of expression, I do not recommend a ban. The movie only depicts the position of the writers and director as to what happened."

He said that all films should be shown, and the audience left to make up their own minds about the accuracy of events.

Tanda Putera, directed by Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, revolves around the events of the May 13, 1969 riots.

He called on the Malaysian government to use the opportunity presented by the screening of Tanda Putera to release all information related to the riots – information that is currently protected under the Official Secrets Act.

"This is so that Malaysians can know the truth," said Khoo.

The RM4 million movie on Malaysia's second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman which carries a PG-13 rating, was produced by Persona Pictures Sdn Bhd in 2011.


Free passage idea mooted even for VPs

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 03:08 PM PDT

The enlarged voter base of 146,500 (instead of 2,500 delegates previously), makes for an interesting Umno elections this time.

The Umno elections, to be conducted for the first time under a new format, begin at the protracted branch level next month (an estimated 18,000 branches), followed by voting in the crucial 193 divisions from September which would ultimately decide on the standings of the party's main office-bearers, including the top five.

By Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, FMT

Contest or no contest? Practically everyone is asking this of the momentous and defining Umno elections coming our way so soon after the rather stormy national vote.

Latest we heard there are moves to press for a no-contest ruling for the top five positions in the party — president, deputy and the three VPs. Is that good or bad? Or potentially double-edged like many political steps of late?

The Umno elections, to be conducted for the first time under a new format, begin at the protracted branch level next month (an estimated 18,000 branches), followed by voting in the crucial 193 divisions from September which would ultimately decide on the standings of the party's main office-bearers, including the top five.

This will culminate in the main event, the general assembly, the date of which has yet to be fixed. But possibly in late October or November.

The outcome of the 13th general election last month has brought forth all kinds of opinions and comments regarding the Umno polls and the position of its top officials, one of which is that there should be no contest for the top posts including for the three VPs so as to "strengthen the party."

The argument is that GE13 had become too divisive for the whole country and to some extent even for Barisan Nasional (BN). So Umno, as the pillar of the BN, must restore the strength by remaining solidly united — and that means avoiding contests for the main positions in the party elections.

Overall, BN floundered in GE13, winning only 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats, seven less than in 2008. In addition, there was a clear decline in support from the urban communities, causing Chinese-based BN partner MCA to decline representation in the government.

Statistically, Umno on the other hand recorded an improvement in the number of seats won, both at state and federal levels, hence the asssertion by some that Umno should remain steadfast and go for status quo.

This appears to be a hard bargain, firstly because while it has become quite common for the post of president or, to a lesser extent, deputy president, to be declared a no-contest zone by consensus, the fight for the three VP seats have over the years always been tough and trying, through a vote.

In the last round for instance, there were eight contenders but the ones who finally got elected were Hishammuddin Hussein, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Shafie Apdal.

It is hard not to see the same propensity for a keen contest again this time.



Former exco Xavier Jeyakumar cast off

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:58 PM PDT

Thus I can say that Anwar blaming HRH for dropping Xavier is irrelevant because with or without HRH's approval, there was no more exco position for Xavier.

KTemoc Konsiders

FMT - Xavier's supporters gather outside Anwar's house

... six people led by Selayang councillor George Gunaraj and Suaram co-chairman K Arumugam had the meeting with Anwar.

It is believed that during the meeting, Anwar explained that it was the Selangor palace and not the party that wanted Xavier to be dropped.

Xavier was appointed as the state exco in the Pakatan Rakyat government after winning the Seri Andalas state seat in 2008.

Despite the dentist retaining his seat by defeating MIC candidate T Mohan with a bigger majority this time around, he was dropped from the exco list for unknown reasons.

Okay, say HRH did not mention dropping Xavier, would PKR have included him in the exco?

And I wonder how PKR would be able to, considering they had already deprived DAP of one exco position, announced by Khalid Ibrahim in the f* usual PKR way, via his public tweet and without informing DAP.

The stolen exco position was for Khalid's fave, Eli Wong.

Thus I can say that Anwar blaming HRH for dropping Xavier is irrelevant because with or without HRH's approval, there was no more exco position for Xavier.

It's the same PKR bull that blamed HRH for the 6:4 ratio, because even if DAP were properly and correctly allocated the 4 exco positions as agreed, there would be still be 6 Malays comprising 4 from PAS and 2 from PKR, namely Rodziah Ismail and Daroyah Alwi, apart from the MB being a PKR Malay too.



Did Anwar Ibrahim tell the Truth? – BERNAMA Interview with Hamid Awaludin

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:56 PM PDT

Stop the Lies

1. Anwar Ibrahim claims it was Jusuf Kalla who approached him whereas Jusuf Kalla said he was approached by Anwar. Which is true?

Hamid Awaludin:
I was present during Jusuf Kalla's discussions with both Anwar and Najib. It was Jusuf Kalla who accepted Anwar's request to mediate. He did not take the initiative and approach Anwar. Jusuf Kalla does not have any political and economic interests in Malaysia.He is busy with his affairs in Indonesia. So why would he take the initiative and approach Anwar? It isn't logical.

Jusuf Kalla considers both Anwar and Najib as good friends. He wanted to help because they were competing fiercely with one another. That is how he saw this.

2. Anwar claims there were several "preconditions" in the agreement e.g. free elections, fair media, etc. Can you outline any preconditions?

Hamid Awaludin:
I am very sure that there were no preconditions discussed between Jusuf Kalla and Anwar. For me, a deal is a deal. And there was a deal that both parties – Anwar and Najib – agreed to.

Some people always try and find a loophole after the event, or an excuse not to deliver on their promise. Some people are different in character to others.

3. Anwar now claims PM Najib didn't sign the agreement and it was therefore not valid. Jusuf Kalla says the PM did give his verbal agreement and therefore the deal was agreed by both parties, and was valid. Is Anwar correct or is Jusuf Kalla?

Hamid Awaludin:
Anwar knew that Najib did not sign the agreement. Najib had very reasonable, political reasons for not signing the agreement and Anwar understood and accepted it.

But Najib gave his word that he would honour the agreement. He consented to the agreement. Basic morality teaches us that a man's word is more important than his signature. And deeds are more important than any declaration. Najib delivered on his promise. He called for national reconciliation during his election result acceptance speech. Najib's deeds matched his word.

4. On Election Day, do you feel that the agreement was still in place? Had anything happened before Election Day to invalidate the agreement?

Hamid Awaludin:
I am very sure that nothing jeopardized the agreement in the run up to the election or on Election Day. The agreement still stood. Things changed after Najib was declared the winner. Even the day after Najib's victory, I was personally optimistic that a deal is deal, and both sides would abide by the deal. But Anwar broke the deal. Perhaps he was unable to manage his followers, especially because the DAP had won more seats than Anwar's own party. Anwar found himself in a difficult position. But a leader must lead, not be led.



Why the big fuss over Mary not knowing Mandarin?

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:47 PM PDT

Sarala Poobalan, The Star

I CANNOT understand the fuss created by the Dong Zong group with regards to Datuk Mary Yap's inability to converse in Mandarin. My question to the Dong Zong group is – So what?

They have communicated with the Prime Minister as well as the Deputy Prime Minister. Can both of them speak Mandarin?

This is Malaysia and all official communication, be it government or private sector, should be conducted preferably in Bahasa Malaysia or English.

We want to move away from the race-based leadership in this country.

We want high-calibre leaders. We do not need leaders to speak in vernacular languages only, especially in a formal setting.

While I agree that it can be a plus point, it should never be part of the criteria to choose a leader.

As citizens of this country, we should all be able to communicate in Bahasa Malaysia. Insisting that a person must be able to communicate in either Mandarin or Tamil just because of his race is a racist assumption. This is my opinion.

Moreover, it shows the lack of historical knowledge of the unique culture in this country.

You just need to walk the streets of Penang and Malacca to understand what I mean. You may meet with a Chinese or an Indian who is unable to communicate in Mandarin or Tamil.

Do not be surprised it they speak Malay with each other. This unique group of people are the Peranakan and Chitty descendents.

After all, MCA was founded by a man who could not speak Mandarin and he is Sir Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

Language does not make a person, manners do. It is more ridiculous if you assume that a person who is not able to communicate in his or her mother tongue does not understand the plights and the culture of his or her community.

Our leaders should stop thinking along the racial lines and be a leader for all Malaysian.

When that happens, I believe even a group like Dong Zong will stop such ridiculous race-based demands and look at the leaders professionally.

Let us all move towards 1Malaysia and move away from a race-based thinking. Appreciate the unique melting pot of the multiracial composition we have today.

Enjoy the existence of vernacular schools and do not demand that your language is more superior than Bahasa Malaysia or English.

You may speak and communicate in your vernacular environment but do not demand that people should do so in a formal setting. That is basic manners.


Social media in Malaysia

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:41 PM PDT

Martin (third from right) moderating the Cafe Latte Chat with (from left) Shahid, Niki, Zara, Kavilan and Syahredzan.

In this Cafe Latte chat, we bring together lawyer Syahredzan Johan, digital strategist Zara Kahan, senior social media strategist Niki Cheong, senior asset management analyst Kavilan Nakaswaram, and ex-private secretary to Datuk Seri Idris Jala, Shahid Shayaa, to discuss social media in Malaysia and whether it has gone overboard after the 13th general election. The chat was moderated by Star Online news editor Martin Vengadesan.

The Star

Martin: After 2008, one of the Internet's biggest social media influences were bloggers. Since then, Facebook and Twitter have become major players. Is social media use at its peak, or will it become even more influential? Has the impact been a positive or negative one, and should people like Papagomo be able to say whatever they want with unrestricted freedom?

Zara: In the past, restrictions upon freedom of speech were very political in nature. I don't think that anybody can be allowed to say whatever they want. The boundaries that I would support are, for instance, hate speech. But there must be a healthy debate regarding the restriction of freedoms, There shouldn't be a top-bottom approach where one authority decides what limitations to put on freedom of speech and then protect people from said information. As to whether social media has gone too far - I think analysing social media as if it's a sentient animal is erroneous. A lot of political parties say 'Social media is being bad to me.' and treat it like a conglomeration of people. But social media is a reflection of society, not a tool in itself. People have always thought these thoughts. The difference is that now we actually have avenues to speak out and express ourselves.

Niki: We have to look at social media as individuals who are speaking and look at the culture of how people behave when using this technology. Although these are thoughts that people are voicing out, it's human nature to have certain barriers when talking to others in real life. But once we go online, it's a different avenue with different rules. This goes back to MIRC (Microsoft Internet Relay Chat) where there was so much anonymity, and we've taken those elements without realising we are so much more public in our profiles now, and I think that's what's making the difference.

Martin: Has the establishing of social media improved communication in Malaysian society?

Niki: Finally, everyone has a platform to speak up. As someone who grew up in the 80s, we were brought up in an environment where we were not encouraged to speak up. There weren't a lot of platforms to do so back then. Suddenly, we had blogs and everything changed. People finally feel that they can actually say things. In my opinion, people haven't adapted to using social media yet. We know how to use all its features and how to fill our time with it. But I don't think we've thought about how we're using it and the impact it's making.

Shahid: With social media, we need to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. It's a polarity to be managed, not a problem to be solved. Social media encourages you to voice opinions. But suddenly, you have an overload of information and everyone becomes an expert overnight. The problem with information overload is that there's a high chance of false information. Sometimes we get excited and just keep sharing. In a mature democracy, you don't have this kind of herd mentality. As a responsible citizen, check the facts before sharing any content. Let's look at content in terms of white, grey, and black. Many of these hardcore political bloggers are playing on the black (such as sex videos etc). But most people gravitate to grey, which is a bit of fiction and a bit of fact. But not entirely white - which can be information on the GTP, ETP, etc - because it can be very boring.

Martin: So is there a sitting on a powder keg situation here, where social media could be playing a dangerous role?

Kavilan: I think social media is self-regulating. If you give false or wrong information, someone out there will correct you. Then you either learn from it or reject it outright.

Niki: For my Master's dissertation, I looked at 10,000 tweets from Bersih. The most retweeted picture was one where the whole city was yellow - even Dataran Merdeka, which was totally cordoned off, and everybody could see that the picture was fake. It got almost one thousand retweets. Though the original tweeter was told it was fake, he said someone else sent it to him. But others still retweeted it and the misinformation continued. If he was self-regulating, he should have removed it or tweeted an apology for the fake picture. So I disagree when you say it is.

Kavilan: People will respond. I didn't mean that the person would be self-regulating. I meant the whole entity of social media - the people around you and your community would evolve and become self-regulating.

Zara: Social media is made to seem like it's a really harmful tool, which scares people unnecessarily. But before you start restricting social media, there is the burden on you to prove the harm. If we can prove there's actual harm, there are already laws in place - such as slander and defamation. But within society itself there will always be a spread of misinformation. The only problem we should be concerned with is social listening. How we read social media, rather than how people use social media.

Syahredzan: To me, social media is a good thing. If you ask me whether it's gone too far, I'll say "Maybe!", but I wouldn't have it any other way. With social media, the state's monopoly on information has been broken forever. We may come to point where it might go a bit too far but we will deal with it as we go along.

Martin: So you will not support any form of regulation to curb hate speech?

Syahredzan: Regulations with certain barriers. For instance, I have a problem with Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. It basically says whoever posts anything which annoys people online can be an offence. When you have that kind of regime, it's far too restrictive. The only thing where the Act holds water, is to protect from things like animosity between races. It can't measure up against current democratic norms. Even then, you can argue that it's provided for in the Penal Code. To me, the Sedition Act needs to go.

Kavilan: If something is indeed seditious or defamatory, then the law should be there to take action. We can't put a blanket ban to prevent it from happening because that would curb freedom of speech. I should be able to speak my mind, but it is up to you whether you want to listen.

Zara: The problem with sedition law currently is that it's a bit too general. We have to discuss what the terms of hate speech are. And Syahredzan, if we introduced hate speech legislation here, would we have to craft a new act?

Syahredzan: I'd say our Penal Code would suffice. You don't need a specific media council or a specific minister to censure it, because you've currently got laws to do that. It's a normal criminal penalty.

Martin: Does social media lead to a disconnect from reality?

Zara: The problem is when people use social media as a gauge to judge something. In the context of government, GLCs etc, they don't really connect or tend to have distorted view of how social media works or why people tweet a certain way. For example, I heard from a lot from the Barisan side saying Pakatan controls social media! But no one can control social media. No one can buy it, no one can own it.

Syahredzan: I actually followed the Barisan Twitter account during the campaign period. Pakatan doesn't have one. I wanted to go to a Barisan ceramah and Barisan's Twitter didn't provide me that information. People think just having a Twitter account is all there is. But all we want is information.

Kavilan: Print media is one-way communication. If I don't agree with you, I can't respond or rebut. On social media, people can go against any argument and discuss it. Some think they can blare out propaganda 24/7.

Shahid: Take the Himpunan Rakyat for example - some 103,000 tweets were generated over 24 hours from 25,000 people. When you look at the data points, it's the same sort of people i.e. those who are in Bersih. They have integrated the on the ground campaign with an online presence. Kavilan: It goes back to politicians themselves, not the party. For example, Nurul Izzah and Khairy Jamaluddin engage people.

Niki: They're organic users of social media. They know how to use it, and they know what to say and the right time to say something.

Martin: What about advertisements on social media?

Zara: Facebook advertisements can be effective if they reach the right people. Facebook has some very smart filters in place.

Niki: What annoys me more are sponsored posts. The problem goes back to what Barisan did with ads on social networks. Syahredzan: If it was a Facebook election, PR would have won hands down. The momentum translated into the popular vote. To me, whatever on-the-ground sentiments we all had were accurate. It's just not widespread.

Niki: Take "Ini Kali Lah" (a Sabahan term) - I don't think Pakatan came up with that. It suddenly grew and became the slogan on posters. Because it came from the ground, it's organic. There's value in ads, but social media is organic and works better.

Martin: Speaking of social media management, most of you here were @twt_malaysia curators. Can you share the kind of engagement there was?

Niki: It was fascinating, and a totally different audience from what I have on my own Twitter account. The followers are slightly younger, and a bit more earnest. If you look at the things that are shared, such as Bersih, the number of Malay blogposts that were critical of it were getting a high number of retweets. That made me think there's a whole other element that we're not seeing. But I think there's something else happening somewhere else, especially with different languages.

Syahredzan: Once, I moderated a forum with three other hijabsters and each of them had more followers than me! They don't tweet on politics, because it's not good for business, which some of them have. They tweet more about their lifestyle. This is another aspect of social media, because we are tuned into this one.

Niki: In Malaysia, the Malay market is huge. Look at urban English-language bloggers - 30,000 hits a day. And then Hanis Zalikha straightaway gets 128,000 hits.

Kavilan: The political issue in social media is very young, and I think it's a fad. Give it four months after the elections, and the popularity of political posts will wane. Then after three years, it'll rise again.

Zara: I don't think it's just popular culture or a fad. Interest in politics grows with how people are invested in their country, in their democracy. The amount of users now shows people are vested in Malaysia. It's shows the people and their perception of politics in Malaysia have changed.

Martin: Closing thoughts on your own social media use and the scene in Malaysia?

Shahid: It takes up a lot of your time. It's good to have panels like this to have closure. Online debates don't really have closure.

Kavilan: My online interaction evolved into face-to-face interaction. I met a lot of friends through Twitter. We've met and talked and disagreed on politics for two to three hours. It's information sharing, and social media was the catalyst. I was also off Twitter for a fortnight by choice before the general election. I had threats from people who disagreed with me, who said I did too much damage talking for the Opposition. But I came back. What I thought is my opinion and mine alone. Whether someone else follows my line of thought is the other person's issue. It's not my prerogative to tell him how to think. I can only share my opinion, discuss and learn from someone else.

Niki: I don't live in the 'virtual world' but I've always seen social media and technology in general as an extension of myself because I grew up with it. I've become so reliant on it, but I don't see it as an addiction. I love the diversity of opinions and making friends. It's become a convenient communication tool as well.

Syahredzan: Social media, to me, is a godsend. Tweeting is not just something you do because you want people to hear you. I use it because I want to get information. I'll scroll my timeline to see what the biggest issue is. It's an extension of myself.

Zara: This is why I like social media and will fight against any form of regulation against it, because social media exposes me to a diverse range of opinions. When I was a teenager, I thought Malaysia was a one-note country where everybody agreed with one another. Now, Malaysia has become a more exciting place for me because of social media.

Niki: The magnitude of impact that social media has on the expansion of social ties is quite fantastic. Human beings are all so grounded in a physical way by geographical boundaries. You don't get new information from your bunch of friends because they're all talking about the same thing. But social media has allowed us to break free from clustering. Last time, to get information, you need to find one link. But now, this link exists in so many different forms. It's not just in an acquaintance, but in a tweet, a hashtag, a search. That whole social ties concept makes social media so fascinating.


Special panel a diversion in an attempt to deflect the public’s attention, says Pakatan

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:36 PM PDT

(The Star) - Pakatan Rakyat has branded the Government's announcement to set up a special panel to oversee the Election Commission as "a diversion from the EC's failings".

PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali alleged the suggestions made to improve the EC now were an attempt to deflect the public's attention from what it claims was a fraudulent general election.

"Just settle the matter of fraud first," he told reporters after the Pakatan Leadership Council meeting here yesterday.

However, Mustafa stopped short of saying they would boycott the panel.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Saturday that the Government would form the special panel and that representatives from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan would be invited to sit in it.

On the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's call for everyone to accept the general election results, PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who also attended the meeting, said that while he appreciated the King's concerns, he claimed that the speech was written by the Federal Govern-ment.

"The King's speech is normally written by the Prime Minister's Department and cleared by the Prime Minister himself for the consideration of the King.

"We are considering writing to him directly to explain our situation," Anwar said.

Anwar also said that Pakatan would organise another rally to protest against the EC, this time in Kuala Lumpur on June 15.

He said the rally's venue would be decided later.


Apa lagi kaum India dalam PKR mahu?

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:25 PM PDT

Uthaya Sankar SB, TMI

Salah satu "keunikan" yang sering dipromosikan oleh Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) khasnya — dan Pakatan Rakyat (PR) amnya — adalah tentang ahli pelbagai kaum serta penolakan terhadap sentimen perkauman dalam parti politik berkenaan.

Pada 31 Mei 2013, saya sedang minum bersama-sama seorang rakan di sebuah restoran di Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam dan berpeluang mendengar (baca: mendengar tanpa masuk campur) perbualan sekumpulan ahli PKR.

Untuk berlaku adil dan objektif serta tidak menjatuhkan hukuman terhadap sesiapa, saya paparkan intipati perbualan mereka berdasarkan catatan yang saya buat semasa sesi minum teh itu.

Kumpulan berkenaan ternyata tidak berpuas hati kerana Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Seri Andalas, Dr Xavier Jayakumar Arulanandam "tercicir" daripada senarai Anggota Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri Selangor (Exco) yang diumumkan sehari sebelum itu.

Umum mengetahui bahawa sebelum ini memang ada kempen besar-besaran oleh sekumpulan "orang dalam" yang tidak mahu Ketua Cabang PKR Kota Raja dan Ahli Biro Politik PKR itu memegang jawatan Exco bagi penggal kedua.

Menurut laporan media (15 Mei), kempen itu diterajui Dr S. Streram (Petaling Jaya Selatan), P. Maniam (Hulu Selangor), S. Murali (Puchong), Anthony Dass (Kota Raja), P. Krishnasamy (Klang), Dr Neduchelian (Kapar), M. Jayabalan (Lembah Pantai), S. Balan (Subang) dan P. Thiagarajan (OMS).

Sekumpulan penyokong tegar Xavier yang saya temui di restoran itu pula ternyata mempersoalkan mengapa Naib Presiden PKR, N. Surendran dan Ahli Biro Politik PKR, Sivarasa K. Rasiah yang juga Ahli Parlimen Subang berdiam diri apabila Xavier tidak dilantik sebagai Exco.

Mereka turut mempersoalkan mengapa tidak ada Exco kaum India dari PKR. Saya begitu teringin untuk masuk campur dan bertanya berapa ramaikah sebenarnya ADUN kaum India daripada PKR di Selangor. Bagaimanapun saya memilih untuk berdiam diri sahaja dan terus mengikuti perbualan mereka yang amat rancak dan bertenaga.

"Punca utama semua ini berlaku adalah kerana perpecahan dalam kalangan kaum India dalam PKR. Ada kumpulan yang terang-terangan tidak mahu Xavier jadi Exco. Hujah pihak tertentu bahawa pemilihan Exco dibuat berdasarkan formula 6:4 yang dikemukakan oleh Sultan Selangor hanyalah alasan untuk menutup hakikat sebenar," kata seorang peserta dalam perbincangan itu.

Perbualan mereka terus melompat sebentar kepada isu pelantikan pengerusi Persatuan Hindraf Malaysia (Hindraf), P. Waythamoorthy sebagai Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri. Mereka berhujah bahawa seorang "pengkhianat bangsa dan negara" dilantik oleh Perdana Menteri dan pelantikan itu mendapat perkenan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

"Bayangkan kalau PR telah menang majoriti dalam Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (PRU13) dan Anwar Ibrahim bakal jadi Perdana Menteri. Kalau Agong tidak mahu perkenan, apa yang akan berlaku? Tapi sekarang, dalam isu Xavier, dengan mudah sahaja orang beri alasan bahawa ia ada kaitan dengan Sultan Selangor," kata seorang pemuda.

Kumpulan yang rancak berbual sambil makan dan minum di restoran itu berulang kali menyebut nama Surendran dan Sivarasa. Memang kedengaran amat sinis apabila mereka berhujah bahawa kedua-dua peguam itu tiba-tiba sibuk setiap kali ada pemuda kaum India mati di dalam lokap tetapi hanya membisu dalam isu Xavier tidak dilantik menjadi Exco.



SKMM tahan suspek hina Agong di Facebook

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:16 PM PDT

Mohd Farhan Darwis, TMI

Suspek yang dipercayai menghina Yang di-Pertuan Agong di laman sosial Facebook kini disahkan telah berjaya ditahan, kata Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM).

SKMM dalam satu kenyataan ringkas awal hari ini berkata pihaknya dengan kerjasama Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM telah berjaya menahan suspek yang merupakan seorang wanita bagi siasatan lanjut.

"Suspek yang merupakan seorang wanita telah ditahan untuk membantu siasatan.

"Beliau dipercayai menyembunyikan diri setelah beberapa laman blog menyebarkan identitinya," kata Timbalan Pengarah, Komunikasi Strategik SKMM Rahayu Abdul Aziz dalam kenyataan tersebut.

Agensi berkenaan turut berkata wanita berkenaan akan disiasat di bawah Seksyen 233 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998, dan jika disabitkan kesalahan boleh didakwa dibawah Akta Hasutan 1948.

SKMM turut menggesa rakan-rakan suspek tampil bagi membantu penyiasatan mereka.

"SKMM sangat memandang serius terhadap penyalahgunaan media sosial untuk memuatnaik kandungan serta komen-komen yang berunsur menghina terutamanya institusi DiRaja Malaysia."

Pemuda Umno juga melalui ketuanya, Khairy Jamaluddin semalam menggesa SKMM bertindak tegas terhadap individu yang menghina Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah di laman Facebook.

Khairy berkata perbuatan menyalahgunakan kebebasan untuk menulis dalam media sosial itu tidak boleh dikompromi dan tindakan perlu diambil kerana ia melampaui batas.

"Pemuda Umno memandang serius beberapa 'posting' yang telah dibuat dalam media sosial terutama dalam Facebook. Yang terkini adalah 'posting' dalam Facebook iaitu kenyataan-kenyataan yang menghina kedudukan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

"Walaupun saya selaku Ketua Pemuda Umno menyokong kebebasan bersuara tetapi ada batasnya dan sikap bertanggungjawab," katanya



Anwar, Azmin blamed for PKR losses

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:06 PM PDT

Grassroots leaders say the party could have done better if the two had not dominated candidate selection.

Free Malaysia Today

As Pakatan Rakyat prepares a legal challenge against some of the results of the recent general election, there is a feeling at the grassroots that the pact's top leaders should accept some blame for Barisan Nasional's continued control of Putrajaya.

In interviews with FMT, PKR figures at state and divisional levels said the top leaders of the three parties in the pact all made some blunders, but they reserved their harshest criticism for their own leaders, specifically party supremo Anwar Ibrahim and deputy president Azmin Ali.

Most of these informants were candidates in the election. Some of them won and some lost, but all of them said it would have been futile for them, as lower-rung leaders, to point out to the top leadership the errors they were making in preparing for the election.

They said the main reason PKR lost many promising seats, including those it won in 2008, was that the process of choosing candidates was dominated by Anwar and Azmin. Azmin chaired the party's election committee, which had final say in the choice of candidates.

As a result, they added, the candidates they recommended were dropped in favour of the two leaders' cronies.

"They even overruled the party president," said one source.

"It's okay if a candidate proposed by a division is rejected because he has some bad record or has never worked in the constituency identified for him.

"But many of the rejected candidates were clean and had worked tirelessly for the party. They had brought in new members and done all the other things that an aspiring candidate should do. Furthermore, they were well received by PAS and DAP at the respective constituencies."

According to the sources, PKR could have won at least 10 additional parliament seats if the party had accepted the candidates proposed by the respective divisions. These are Bayan Lepas, Kulim Bandar Baru, Langkawi, Tanjung Malim, Bagan Serai, Pasir Salak, Hulu Selangor, Setiawangsa, Johor Bahru and Labuan.

Other sources said PKR would have found it tough to take Langkawi, Johor Bahru and Labuan no matter who the candidates were.

Silent protest

However, they added, the party should have been able to win Bayan Lepas, Kulim Bandar Baru, Machang, Bagan Serai and Hulu Selangor (all of which it won in 2008) and probably Tanjung Malim, Pasir Salak and Setiawangsa if Anwar and Azmin had listened to grassroots views.

These same sources attribute the loss of Machang, Tanah Merah and Merbok to poor service by the PKR MPs elected in 2008.

Interestingly, PKR secretary-general Saifudin Nasution Ismail, whose service as an MP did not impress many, was shifted out of Machang to the supposedly safe seat of Kulim Bandar Baru. He still lost.

Grassroots leaders and their followers campaigned half-heartedly for the parachute candidates at the 10 constituencies mentioned above.

"It was a sort of silent protest," said an insider.

"Anyway, it would have been difficult to campaign wholeheartedly for them because they had little understanding of the local issues. They could not have plotted a proper strategy, given the short time they had between the confirmation of their candidacy and polling day."



Did Pairin ask for Nurul’s ban?

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 02:03 PM PDT

Tongues are wagging in Sabah that PBS, which had lost six seats to Pakatan Rakyat in the May 5 polls, did not want Nurul Izzah Anwar usurping them with her presence at Kaamaatan celebrations. 

Luke Rintod, FMT

KOTA KINABALU: The use of Kaamatan or Harvest Festival celebration last week as a political football is becoming more and more obvious and less and less defensible.

The ban on Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, who is also a PKR vice-president, from entering Sabah has now been lifted, according to Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib.

However, no reason was given for banning Nurul from entering Sabah and then lifting it.

Questions are now being raised if Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the PBS president who is a Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah, had a hand in the decision by Chief Minister Musa Aman to bar the MP from entering Sabah on the first day of the climax of the Kaamatan celebrations.

The question has become pertinent after the PBS information chief Johnny Mositun came out to explain that the bar order was only for one day, to disallow  Nurul from attending the state-level Tadau Kaamatan or Harvest Festival hed on May 30-31.

Mositun, in saying that PBS fully supported the order, explained: "I believe this is not a total ban, it was for only that day because of the threat to the state's security".

But Mositun's explanation has instead raised speculations that it was PBS who requested the barring for the young MP, who is the daughter of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim who is now leading the opposition.

In the May 5 general election, PBS lost half (six) of its assemblymen to PKR and DAP and it explains how the party came to view Nurul as a threat.

The six seats PBS lost are: Matunggung, Kadamaian, Tamparuli, Inanam, Api-Api and Sri Tanjung. It nearly lost its Keningau and Kota Marudu parliamentary seats too which they won by default after a split in the opposition votes.

Penampang MP Darrel Leiking had invited Nurul to attend the Kaamatan celebration at the iconic Hongkod Koisaan where Pairin happened to be at the same time and her attendance would have detracted from his.



GST: A recipe for economic disaster

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 01:59 PM PDT

To stop fiscal policy disaster caused by GST, the government merely need to stop spending, taxing, inflating and interfering in the market economy

By Medecci Lineil, FMT

One of the great and striking facts of recent weeks is the growing resistance to further taxes on the part of the long suffering Malaysian public famously known as Good and Services tax (GST) or Value Added Tax (VAT).

This article hopefully will represent an Austrian economics analysis which is based on logic and praxeology (human action).

Unlike the market economy, only government acquires its income by coercive imposition of taxes. Refuse to pay your taxes and you will be thrown in jail. Where the government is there is the power to tax, for they cannot rule without taxation.

As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Human Action "The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation" Or as Murray Rothbard put it in Man, Economy and State "…all state actions rest on the fundamental binary intervention of taxes…"

We have too many government activities, too much bureaucracy, too many elective officers, too many ballots, too many politicians, too many laws and too many elections. From these alone I can see the growth of government at the expense of others for their own benefit.

Every income, every activity, every piece of property and every person in Malaysia is subject to a package of taxation, direct and indirect, visible and invisible.

Probably Malaysians do not realise that government has done a wonderful public relation job. They call you the taxpayers, not victims and the taxes are somehow collected, not stolen.

Taxes are also called contributions, as if it had been a matter of free choice. I rather would regard my action to donate some money to my church every Sunday as free choice. And when there are the attacks on tax "loopholes" or "avoidance" when you are allowed to keep some of your own money. As Mises said, "it is through these loopholes that capitalism breathes."

Taxation is the wealth destruction that we are subjected to all year long.

In regard of GST, I feel sad though when the taxpayers "victims" easily become angry with the GST proposal for the wrong reason – they simply hate the ruling Barisan Nasional, that's it. They still love the brutal government and coercive taxation.

At capitalism camp, we have a different view. Nobody really likes paying their taxes. You have a right to what you earn and keep what you earn. Some of them want lower taxes but I believe most of them want no taxes. Real democracy comes with voluntary action not force and coercive action.

The politicians blab about spending cuts, tax cuts, fighting corruption and leakages but it is all lying propaganda in return of GST implementation.

For me, the spending and tax cut debate is more about politics than serious economics. Some say these will raise revenues by increasing economic activities thus providing government with even more money to spend.

Nothing escapes tax

Some say mega projects should be halted and free corruption before the implementation of GST. Others say lowering taxes and spending cut will simply lower revenues and increase deficits. One thing certain is the ability of government to reach in and openly extract funds from everyone's income has reached its political limit in Malaysia.

The GST is essentially a consumption tax, a tax on the value added by each firm and business imposed on goods and services produced and sold and purchased by consumers. It is levied at each step of the way in the production process: on the farmer, manufacturer, jobber and wholesaler.

Essentially, every time a producer of goods purchases raw materials, he must pay a percentage tax. When the producer sells his goods to a wholesaler, the wholesaler pays another percentage.

The GST makes every businessman an agent of Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN). In the end the higher cost of goods is passed down to consumers. So the tax is more politically efficient and insidious.

The only difference is that, before this your dissatisfaction rises and point the finger directly at the politicians in government but now you point the finger at the businessmen and trade unions.

Consumers blame the businessmen for inflation while government escapes the blame and join in to denouncing all of these businessmen for causing inflation. As a result, capitalism again has turned into a dirty practise.

From the perspective of the government, this is a near perfect tax and a revenue generating machine, I believe unmatched by any other form of taxation. Nothing escapes the tax.

It touches every stage in every process from new homes to haircuts and allows the government to keep track of every business's buying and selling. They want to manage the details of business which is impossible.

The GST is a rare and heinous type of government policy that attacks the structure of production; they also attack the time preference rates. When we speak of structure of production, we also must refer to type of goods in production, how they are valued and used, and more important time consuming roundabout method of production for creation of a product.

Every good in a structure of production takes time and involves different sets of individual's role. For how long a period (roundabout) of production is limited by time preference rates. Put another way, the GST has the ability to increase in real terms the prices of every good produced and sold.

Each step of each productive process with each subjective value of good becomes less efficient and in this manner, the GST necessarily decreases the material standard of living for all of a nation's consumers.

Goods are viewed as heterogeneous instead of homogeneous. It means that different goods have varying physical features, uses and attributes to every unique individual.

Products like automobiles, laptops, LCD televisions, furniture that result in consumer goods valued much more highly by consumers than the raw inputs. These products are involved in long roundabout in which businesses and entrepreneurs tend to heavily invest capital and labour. Austrian economics recognises that there is a complex structure of production.

A house, for example, would be a consumer good, in Austrian economics, a good of the lowest order in the capital theory. Numerous goods such as wooden beams, drywall, heavy machines, cement, windows etc must be used in constructing the house.

The goods necessary to produce the wooden beams are hammer, nails and human labour. Without the hammer and nails as necessary goods, there is nothing to produce the wooden beams.

The entrepreneurs meanwhile who involve in long processes roundabout goods would find themselves in very difficult position to stay in competition especially in high living cost and recession environment.

At the other hand, middle and lower income group who wish to demand for these products become less apparent to entrepreneurs, less and less affordable to these groups.



The real reason behind online crackdown

Posted: 03 Jun 2013 01:54 PM PDT

Singapore government is certainly aware that the new regulation will incur the wrath of netizens but that is only a small price to pay than to allow dissent to grow unchecked. 

A new potent political force has emerged which is unprecedented in Singapore history. This force is far more radical, dynamic, reflective of the people's mood, and certainly more threatening to the PAP than all the opposition parties combined.

By Tan Wah Piow, FMT

Lee Hsien Loong in his first national day speech in 2004 as prime minister invoked Chairman Mao's "let the hundred flowers bloom".

He added "… we are going to do is to open up the Speakers' Corner where you can go and make any speech you like and we are going to say, 'Well, if you want to go there and have an exhibition, go ahead."

And now, less than a decade after his speech, not just a hundred flowers have blossomed, cyberspace and Hong Lim Park have merged into one gigantic political force never seen before in Singapore's history. This certainly was not what he anticipated.

If Lee Hsien Loong's 2004 speech was a branding exercise to distinguish himself from his father's knuckle-duster politics, the latest regulatory framework to control news websites signals the end of the liberal pretence.

In essence, independent bloggers carrying news on Singapore can be required to put up a bond of $50,000 if so required by the government when they pass the threshold of readership.

The new regulation would empower the government to impose a fine of S$200,000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years against those who fail to remove offending articles within 24 hours of being ordered to do so.

If there is an example of social control by stealth, this is one. The new framework was presented as an innocuous piece of regulation ostensibly to equalize the playing field between online and offline news.

Of the 10 web-based media notified by the MDA as falling within their criteria for control, ironically nine of the 10 are government-friendly, owned by Singapore Press Holdings, and Media Corp. The exception is Yahoo Sg.

Although the "usual suspects", namely sites such as Temasek Review Emeritus (TRE), The On-Line Citizen (TOC), Public House sg and many others which provide alternative news forum are not immediately named by the MDA as falling within the ambit of their control, they are anxious that these new regulations would eventually threaten their very survival, and financial viability.

They are also concerned that it could curb "fellow Singaporeans' ability to receive diverse news information".

The 21 leading bloggers and websites of Singapore were right when they pointed out in their joint statement that "These new regulations significantly impact Singaporeans' constitutionally protected right to free speech, and they should not be introduced without the most rigorous public debate and discussion."

This latest regulation attracted instant and universal rejection by netizens. But is this simply a stupid decision on the part of a single Minister or someone at the MDA?

Or is it a case that the PAP has not learnt the errors of their way by misjudging the mood of the population?

PAP worried

I believe the answer is "No" to both questions. There are just a thousand days between now and the 2016 general elections.

With the way the public has responded to issues such as AIM, and the Population White Paper, there is no reason for the PAP to feel confident that they could do better in 2016 than in 2011; and the outcome of the by-elections at Punggol East was most worrying for them.

The erosion of public trusts in the PAP, and their elites does not come from any of the opposition parties, or the opposition MPs.

A new potent political force has emerged which is unprecedented in Singapore history. This force is far more radical, dynamic, reflective of the people's mood, and certainly more threatening to the PAP than all the opposition parties combined.

For want of a better expression, I will call this force the Virtual Movement for Democracy in Cyberspace (VMD)

It is a movement without leaders, organisation, or membership. Yet it has a capacity to grow, and is already setting the political demands for change.

The power of this virtual movement lies in its ability to synergise the individual desires for democratic changes in Singapore into real collective political actions.

The energy within this virtual movement comes from the decades of pent up frustrations, as well as the feeling of betrayal of the Singapore cause by the PAP elites who have, over the decades, evolved into a self-serving bureaucratic capitalist class. All of us are now part of this Virtual Movement for Democracy.

It is this VMD which is now setting the political agenda in Singapore. The avalanche of criticisms against AIM, the Population White Paper, and now the control of the Internet are not led by any of the opposition party, but by the uncoordinated collective efforts of individuals in cyberspace.

They include those who write articles, bloggers, those who make comments, those who distribute articles through Facebook and social media.

The VMD would not be a potent political force without a buoyant cyberspace. At the same time, the cyberspace in Singapore would be sterile without the VMD.

It is this symbiotic relationship between the VMD and cyberspace that triggered the need for control, hence the MDA's new regulatory regime.

In the times before 2011, the government could look at those in cyberspace as irritating but tolerable armchair critics. After all, up to the 2011 elections, cyberspace and netizens do not reflect electoral intentions.




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