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Peaceful Asembly Act protects rights of all

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 03:41 PM PDT

FMT LETTER: From Thomas Samuel, via e-mail

We are all aware that excess is more often not a choice in dealing with creating unity and providing a fair platform for communities to live, work and stay together in a multi-racial country like ours. This is essentially the spirit in which the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 was presented and gazetted in parliament on Feb 9, 2012.

If we care to read the Act which is available on the internet, you will come to realise that it has more benefits than otherwise. It is an Act that tries to protect the interest of all Malaysians and at the same time provide them a legal avenue to assemble and voice their opinion and/or objection on any matter of interest that they believe in.

It is a fair and responsible Act that in no way deprives anybody of their 'rights'. Anybody intending to assemble in public and voice their objection or opinion can do so subject to restrictions deemed necessary in the interest of security or public order, including the protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons.

Why many of us fail to see the rational on the refusal by the authorities to approve certain assemblies is simply because we are blinded to the rights and freedoms of others who are NOT involved in that particular assembly. The taxi driver, the restaurant owners, the family which is out for a peaceful traffic free shopping, motorist who will be affected by traffic jams and many others who will in one way or another be affected by these assemblies. The authorities have to do a holistic evaluation and ensure minimum disruption to the rights and freedoms of those not involved in the assemblies as well. This is where the conflict occurs!

It is impossible to have an assembly with no disruption to the normal pace of life at any chosen venue. An enclosed or private area like a stadium will be ideal to minimise the disruption to others. Such places also provide the authorities better management of security and safety of the participants. In essence, the Act encourages healthy participation and is also concerned about the safety of the participant's as well non participants.

Why some organisers' insist on having the assemblies at common, high traffic open areas baffles me! Open areas are surely not safe and the chances of chaos and violence are higher at such venues. If the sole intention of the organiser is to put forth their objections or views and show the support they have, then a much safer environment may achieve the same results with reduced possibility of things going wrong. So what is the intention of organisers' who insist of having gatherings in open areas or public roads?

The Act also prohibits children below the age of 15 to participate at such gatherings. However, it is so common to see parents bringing their children below the age of 15 for such events. The Act is there to protect the children but the organisers' are not bothered to enforce these rules. If things go out of hand and the children become victims, fingers will squarely be pointed to the authorities. Again, what is the intention of the organisers' in closing a blind eye to the Act by allowing children to be part of these gatherings?

One of the articles in the Act reads, "The officer in charge of the police district shall take into account all the concerns and objections received for the purpose of imposing restrictions and conditions of any assembly. And inform the organisers of any restrictions and conditions for a peaceful assembly within five days of receipt of the same." Again we see that the spirit of the Act is to encourage peaceful assembly with concerns of all taken into account.

To ensure the rights and freedoms of all involved and affected by the assembly, the authorities may have to provide additional guidelines and conditions that may not be acceptable to the organiser. What the organisers' fail to understand is that these guidelines and conditions are put in place to manage everybody's expectations. The organisers' have to realise that there are as many people who support their cause as there are those who oppose them. The authorities have to maintain a balance so nobody feels discriminated.

When organisers' of such gatherings protest the additional conditions imposed, it just goes to show that they are inconsiderate to other peoples' views. What does this say of such organisers?

Malaysia is a peaceful country and we surely wish it to be the same or better for our children and the generations to come. We should embrace the spirit of the Act and create less animosity and anger among Malaysians. Moderation, respect and compromise are key elements to ensure we continue to enjoy the peace and unity of our beloved country. Let not some idealistic leader or leaders who are self-centred destroy the unity of this country.


Eroded moral values – children not to blame

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 12:45 PM PDT 

Children are exposed to a lot of negative inputs and need more vigilance on the part of the adults responsible for their upbringing and education, but the opposite is happening. 

Ravinder Singh, FMT 

Justice Zamani Abdul Rahim who recused himself from hearing a case in the Penang High Court concerning a young man's insulting behaviour towards the Queen was quoted as having said: "I am worried about the younger generation today…I am worried because the younger generation does not respect older people… The Chinese should respect the Malays, and the Malays should respect the Chinese, the Malays should respect the Indians, and the Indians should respect the Malays and Chinese… Saya risau apa yang akan berlaku kepada cucu saya, cicit saya (I am worried for what will happen to my grandchildren)", (Star, June 15,2013).

Well, I couldn't agree more with the feelings of the honourable judge on the question of the moral values of the younger generation. He is not alone in having these feelings. However, the voices of those who are worried about this problem in our society are very few, and they are not the voices of those in authority to do something about it. So their cries remain voices in the wilderness, even though they are very true.

It is ironical that those who have the power to make changes to bring about the inculcation of moral values in our school children in an effective way are in denial mode of the situation spoken of by the judge, i.e. eroded moral values of our younger generation. They see no discipline problem in our schools. They see no relationship between indiscipline in the schools and indiscipline among the younger generation of adults. So they don't want to hear about it, let alone talk about it seriously.

They are blind to the fact that what behaviour children are allowed to practice in school is the behaviour they will practice in adult life. For how long are they going to keep on bluffing themselves that there is no discipline problem in our schools, and trying to make the nation believe their bluff? The Education Review Blueprint that was prepared by so-called experts last year does not say a word about the prevailing discipline situation in the schools, why it happened and how to remedy it. Why this total avoidance of a problem that lies at the root of character development in early childhood, that determines the character of children entering adulthood, that determines the character of a nation? Who is to blame for this situation? How did the erosion of the good moral values of the 50s and 60s happen?

The erosion did not happen like a landslide and the children did not bring it upon themselves. So children, even those who have grown up and become indisciplined adults, must not be blamed because they have not known better behaviour right from childhood.

Some 20 years or so ago a case was reported in a local newspaper of a teenager who told his crying parents in court that they should not cry for him but for themselves. He had been found guilty of being violent and causing bodily injury to someone, and sentenced. He told his parents that he had grown up to be violent because they had not corrected his violent behaviour when he was small. In other words, he was saying that as a child he did not know it was wrong to hit someone, but when he was doing it they had failed to stop him and help change his behaviour. So he grew up doing what he had been doing as a child and believing that was the way to live life.

These words must have hit the parents like a bolt, but they were very true words. In another case, there was this 20 something, big sized young man who had got into a teacher training college. The first time he entered a certain lecturer's class, he was wearing very dark sunglasses. The lecturer asked if he was having sore eyes. He answered 'no'. Then why was he wearing dark glasses? Nonchalantly he said he had always been wearing them for the past 3 years at his previous workplace and no one had said anything. Where was he working? Supervisor at a construction site.

The lecturer told him that that job was under the blazing sun while now he was in an air-cond room with dark tinted window glasses and curtains. It was rude to be wearing dark glasses in a class unless he had sore eyes. He took off the glasses, but with resentment. It was observed that after this the student only took off the glasses in this lecturer's class and not in the others' classes. Reason: the other lecturers' had not bothered about this guy sitting in their classes with the dark glasses on. So much for inculcating moral values in our institutions of learning!

If you do not teach a child to know right from wrong from a very young age, the child will absorb whatever is around him as he simply does not know right from wrong. He does not have a built-in filtration system that will keep the bad out and allow only the good to pass through and be absorbed. Repeatedly practicing what he has picked up, be it language or physical behaviour, internalizes it in him. Once internalised, it is very difficult to change. So the bad must be recognised by the adults as soon as the child starts showing it and removed immediately, even if need be by a smack or two. The adults who should do this are the parents and teachers.

Read more at: 

Pakatan's seats allocation conundrum

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 12:18 PM PDT 

Forming a single unit of Pakatan campaign managers is crucial for the pact to remedy what had happened prior to GE13 on matters of seat allocations. 

Kuo Yong Kooi  

What has clearly emanate through before GE-13 to a political observer was that the component parties of Pakatan Rakyat were squabbling over their "territorial seats". Once the seats were allocated to that particular component party, the task of allocating the right candidates for the squabbled seats were then given to their own party boss(es).

In a situation where there are disputed seats between component parties, last minute meetings was held to remedy a situation where there are not enough time to print election leaflets and campaign materials, let alone do the campaigning. This is a clear case of lack of cohesion amongst the top brass of the component party members on deciding over the seat allocation matters.

PKR meetings with PSM over those disputed seats was dragged till the last days before nomination day. This process and practice of seat allocation need to stop immediately.

Forming a single unit of Pakatan campaign managers is crucial for the pact to remedy what had happened prior to GE13 on matters of seat allocations.

The questions of who is the right candidate to run at a particular constituency should be dealt with in a total "free and frank" atmosphere amongst the "Pakatan seat allocation strategists". 

Potential candidates should be chosen and agreed upon by the "team" as early as possible to allow time for the potential candidates to immerse themselves in their electorate. This is to avoid the parachuting candidates practice which can cause backlash from disgruntled potential local candidates and their followers. Parachuting candidates might be acceptable in urban electorates but is a disaster if applied to the rural constituencies because the "Balas Budi" culture is still strong in rural areas.

Eric C Thompson in his article GE 13 and the politics of urban chauvinism;  noted that in rural district of Selama, Perak, voters rejected a PAS candidate whose main qualification was that he was the son-in-law of the PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. He had been nominated by PAS amidst significant protests and at the expense of a local PAS leader with deep local roots. Hadi's son-in-law lost by a little over 600 votes. 

The same can be said when Pakatan sidelined PSM in the Jelapang and Semenyih seats. Although Pakatan has the upper hand in decision making, their actions caused a fatal rippling effect on the election result elsewhere. 

PSM do have members around the country. No matter how small they are, every vote counts. BN won a paper thin margin of 80 votes in the seat of Cameron Highlands. PSM has got a local member working at the Cameron Highlands constituency for many years. I am sure some PSM members and sympathisers there did not turn up to vote or at worst voted against Pakatan because of what Pakatan did to PSM during the seat allocations negotiations.

Giving the individual component party boss(es) the overriding power of allocating candidates on the squabbled territorial seats is a "disaster waiting to happen". The particular party boss(es) have the potential to act according to their personal interests above the party's and national interest.

Azmin Ali allocated seats to all his henchmen and discarded PKR president Dr Wan Azzizah is a classis example of how the seat allocation strategy adopted by Pakatan has failed us. If a team of Pakatan election strategists is involved, the team has to agree (unanimously or by majority) that Dr Wan Azzizah is definitely a winnable candidate. It does not matter which Party she belongs to, a seat is to be allocated for her on that merit alone is a clear way out of this conundrum.

The team of election strategists effectively acts as a buffer to a potential concentration of a power block lead by an individual who oversea the seat allocation matters. 

If blogger Raja Petra Kammaruddin assertion is true about Azmin Ali's possible defection to the BN camp then Malaysia will be in deep trouble because BN might just have the two third majority needed to sail through the delineation process due at the end of this year. 

To Azmin Ali's credit, this has not happened yet but that do no strike out the plausibility of future defections lead by a high profile Pakatan leader with his/her team over to the BN camp. That thought alone send shivers to the spine of Pakatan supporters.

There are no legislation against party hopping in place at the moment. That gives further impetus for Pakatan to reconsider their seat allocation strategy.

On hindsight if a Pakatan "war room" team existed long before the GE-13, Azmin Ali would need to convince the team that Dr Wan Azizah is not a winnable candidate. Azmin Ali would also need to discuss with the team on S Arulchelvan's candidacy in the Semenyih seat. The team would have easily decided on choosing Arulchelvan on the basis that he is 100% defection proof. He was and still is loyal to the Pakatan cause. Unfortunately Azmin Ali had shown to defy this logic.

PAS President Hadi Awang would not have been able to act unilaterally to field his own favoured candidate in Kota Damansara which forces a three cornered fight and cause a Pakatan seat loss.

The tussle of who's right to nominate the Selangor Mentei Besar is another example indicative of Pakatan's need to form a cohesive collective unit to deal with matters electioneering.  The Menteri Besar matter would have settled by the team long before the campaign commences. The decision were made collectively based on merits not based on which party wins the most seats.

Kuo Yong Kooi 

Listen! Listen! Listen! ; MCA, MIC and Gerakan parliamentarians

Posted: 17 Jun 2013 12:16 PM PDT 
Dear MCA, MIC, and Gerakan Parliamentarians,

Reference : This may be your last chance to stay relevant.
Your political parties are now gasping for some extra oxygen and are lying on the death bed. All dying souls have to go through the process of flashes of images of our past experiences in this life. Our conscience will come and haunt us, we will be asking many questions; "Have I lived a good life?". "Why there are so many people abandoning me in my hour of need?" or "What have I done to deserve this?"

If I were in your shoes, I will act according to my conscience to redeem myself so that I can die a good death with a clear conscience. What is the best thing that I can do now to revive my fortunes? Is there anything that I can do for the national interests, instead of personal interest?.

Yes MCA, MIC and Gerakan parliamentarians this is probably your last big chance to stay relevant. When the parliament convenes, you can cross the floor of our Parliament and support or help the "rebel" East Malaysians block in tabling a motion of no confidence on the current Prime Minister Najib Razak. If there is no motion of no confidence tabled, initiate one and you might be a hero. This is the only way to teach the Najib administration to put a lid on UMNO's mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali, Mahathir Mohammad and Zul Nordin. Their racial slurs have gone too far and for too long. 

The Najib administration will start to take you seriously if you decide to vote according to your conscience on bills tabled on the parliament. They will have to consult you and will start to give you some respect.

You might be able to change your fortunes if you are willing to cross the floor and support the opposition on some matters. The community you represent will be happy to see that you've finally turned over a new leaf. They might even come back to vote for you in the next general election.

Central committee MCA member Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan was quoted to have said "Since we are aiming to change and win back the support of the younger generation, we should elect younger party leaders who can better connect with them".

Mr Ong is barking at the wrong tree. Getting support back from the younger generation by electing younger party leaders does not necessarily give new life to MCA. If you behave the same way as before you might as well consult a Taoist priest to set a funeral date for MCA.

Doing the right thing for the national interest is one possible way to salvage the party from oblivion.

MCA Young Professional bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong has been quoted, "I urge all the NGOs and parties to stop making accusations and snide remarks. All of us should work together with the Government in its efforts to enhance nation-building and reconciliation plans. Education should not be used as a weapon for one's political interests."

You guys with big job titles have always been saying the right thing ever since I was old enough to read newspapers. Listen! Listen! Listen! head has gone bald now, when are you going to do the right thing for the national interest? Najib Razak has been saying the right thing on national reconciliation and one Malaysia for the last four years. Has he done anything on national reconciliation yet?

Make some gutsy moves in the parliament. If after the motion of no confidence on Najib Razak sails through, support the motion to elect Tengku Razaleigh as the Prime Minister. Listen! Listen! Listen! that is the definition of "doing" the right thing for the national interest.

Continue to give unconditional support to your political master UMNO will hasten your death. That was the main reason why you are near your death bed in the first place. Giving conditional support might be a possible avenue for you to turn the situation around. 

You are to head towards a possible electoral annihilation anyway come GE14. You might as well leave with a bang or would you prefer to leave where people come out to celebrate your passing?

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