Rabu, 27 November 2013

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Sarawak MP: Why can’t I talk about Malaysia agreements?

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:22 PM PST


(TMI) - Penampang MP Darell Leiking said today he will continue to raise the issue of the 18- and 20-point agreements for Sabah and Sarawak despite warnings from the Home Ministry.

Expressing disgust with Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for warning any individual or politician who raised the issue, Darell said: "Why is he giving warning relating to the safeguards which were created in the first place to protect the interests of Sabahans and Sarawakians?"

Wan Junaidi had earlier this week reminded individuals, including lawmakers, not to question matters relating to the agreements, saying it was a warning to any politician who tried to play with fire regarding the issue of national unity and the formation of Malaysia.

Darell pointed out that the these safeguards were agreed to by the Federal government back then and incorporated into the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

He asked how Putrajaya could say it was illegal for anyone to speak about an agreement which had been agreed upon decades ago.

"If Putrajaya starts to 'gag' these safeguards, then the people of Sabah and Sarawak will be thrown back into the realms of inferiority, in comparison with their counterparts in the peninsula, " he said in a statement.

Darell, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy secretary-general, said without the 18- and 20-point agreements, Malaysia would not exist.

Darell is one of the most vocal MPs on the issue. Other Sarawakian lawmakers have also reacted angrily to Wan Junaidi's warning, saying there was nothing seditious about asking the Malaysia Agreement committee to review the agreements for Sabah and Sarawak.

Darell said a review was due as the agreement was more than 50 years old, and several incidents merited such a motion.

He cited three issues - the recent Allah ruling by the appellate court which saw conflicting views by cabinet ministers, the transfer of judges from East Malaysia that affected the judicial autonomy of the Borneo states and matters concerning oil royalties.

"I understand why the Sabah and Sarawak BN MPs opted to remain quiet when I tabled the motion for the review as they have to protect their interests within Barisan Nasional," Darell said.

"However, people in Sabah and Sarawak have begun to voice their disappointment and anger on social media which has put the BN MPs in a spot." 

Taib’s man to debate Malaysia Agreement

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:20 PM PST


(FMT) - A senior council member of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) party has agreed to an open debate with self-professed Sarawak nationalist groups on the formation of Malaysia despite a warning by a federal level deputy minister not to do so.

PBB supreme council member Idris Buang has accepted a social media open debate challenge made to him by several Facebook groups on the suggestion that Sarawak and Sabah should pull of Malaysia.

Among those who threw the challenge at Idris were bloggers, social media users and administrators of popular Sarawak/Borneo activists facebook group such as Sabah & Sarawak Keluar Malaysia (SSKM), Sarawak Sovereignty Movement (SSM) and The Future of Sabah/Sarawak and the Federation of Malaysia (SSF).

Idris, in accepting the challenge through a Facebook posting,  said the individuals and groups were "inciting Sabahans and Sarawakians to cede from Malaysia' insinuating that they were a 'threat'.

He said the groups had refused to debate with him "face to face" and had instead resported to creating Facebook pages "especialy to debate against me".

"As it is important for the peace and prosperity of Sarawak, and also the country of Malaysia that I love dearly, I accept this challenge on the condition it is going to be managed fairly and  according to Malaysian laws.

"I do not want our people, especially our younger generation to be provoked, tricked and led astray by these groups to be rebellious or to destroy our beloved Malaysia," Idris noted in his Monday posting.

Setting out the rule of the debate Idris said: "I am taking up this challenge of yours. Now, please get all your SSKM, SSM, SSF people and supporters in, and I will get mine too.

"We need them to be in as our "live audience" who can also responsed.

"Secondly, after a substantial number of the audience is already on board, you as proposers must start to put all you points but in brief.

"From that point on, I/We ( my team & I) will thenceforth give my argument, also briefly point by point.

"You may then give your response to my argument also categorically and I/We will exercise the right of the last say as the opposers to your proposition that 'Sabah & Sarawak should pull out of Malaysia'," he said.


After gerrymandering disclosure, Bersih demands EC stop boundary revision

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 07:17 PM PST


(MM) - Elections watchdog Bersih 2.0 today urged the Election Commission to call off its re-delineation exercise as it cast further doubt on the looming revision that has been stained by allegations of gerrymandering.

Bersih 2.0 also repeated its call for the EC clean the electoral rolls and renew its members, claiming the current members of partisan, unethical, and non-independent.

"The EC is bound by principles set down in the Federal Constitution and international standards in conducting its duties, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union's 1994 Declaration on Criteria for Free and Election.

"The measure of the EC's success is not the victory of any particular political party, but whether their actions can meet these standards," the watchdog's steering committee said in a statement here.

Bersih's comments came in the wake of an admission by Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that the three redelineation exercises during his term had ensured the continued political dominance of the Malays, even as the retired election chief insisted the redrawing of electoral boundaries were carried out in the "proper way".

Rashid was reported to have made the comments after joining Malay rights group Perkasa, during the group's Federal Territory annual general meeting earlier this week.

"Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman's statements lend credence to Bersih 2.0's long-running contention that the Malaysian EC is not an independent, non-partisan election management body," Bersih added.


Anwar slams Putrajaya for tepid response to fresh spying leak

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 05:19 PM PST

(MM) - Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today blasted Putrajaya for what he saw as a cowardly response to allegations that Singapore had helped the United States spy on Malaysia.

He said despite the latest revelation, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman had not reprimanded Washington and Singapore but instead, remained muted in the face of the alleged violation of Malaysia's sovereignty.

"We notice that until now the leadership of Umno is utterly feeble. We must understand this is a matter of the nation's pride, of our sovereignty.

"Where is the firm statement by the foreign minister? And of course the stern statement by the prime minister?" Anwar told a press conference in Parliament here.

Top secret documents leaked by US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that Singapore is a key partner of the "5-Eyes" intelligence group, which was revealed to have tapped telephones and communications networks in Kuala Lumpur.

In a report by Australian media group Fairfax Media today quoting Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, it was revealed that Singapore is a key "third party" providing the ring - comprising the US, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - access to Malaysia's communications channel.

Yesterday, after being summoned over espionage allegations, the Singapore High Commission assured Malaysia that the neighbouring island republic does not intend to harm its allies, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman also said that Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong promised to clarify such claims to Wisma Putra as soon as possible after conveying Putrajaya's concerns to the Singaporean government.

"The High Commissioner also assured that Singapore has no intention to do any harm to its partners," Anifah said in a statement released by his office.

"Singapore also values its excellent ties with Malaysia as evident by active collaboration between the two countries in many areas," he added.

Anifah said that Malaysia's Foreign Ministry secretary-general Datuk Othman Hashim had met Ong today in Wisma Putra and made it clear that surveillance on Malaysia infringes the country's sovereignty, as well as individual privacy.

"Such activities are certainly not done amongst partners and close neighbours like Malaysia and Singapore when both sides are cultivating mutually beneficial strategic and strong partnership.

The reported spying activities have caused considerable anger and disappointment amongst Malaysians," said Anifah.

Singapore daily, Straits Times, yesterday reported Ong as denying knowledge that his country's government had helped facilitate American-Australian espionage in the region.

"We have no interest in doing anything that might harm our partners or the friendship between our two countries," Ong was quoted saying.

But Anwar insisted these lengthy pow-wows on both ends made little sense, demanding instead for an immediate apology and promised guarantee that all spying activities woud stop.

"What investigation? There is a statement of Australia and US involvement. What we want is demands - first: stop the spying, two: apologise and the third: a guarantee that this rude action that taints the good relations and national security will not be repeated," Anwar said.

In August, Fairfax had reported that the Singaporean intelligence is a partner of Australia's electronic espionage agency, the Defence Signals Directorate, to tap the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable that runs from Japan, via Singapore, Djibouti, Suez and the Straits of Gibraltar to Northern Germany.

This access was allegedly facilitated by Singaporean telecommunication operator Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), which is owned by Singapore government's investment arm Temasek Holdings.

According to Fairfax, Malaysia and Indonesia have been key targets for both Australian and Singaporean intelligence even since the 1970s, since most of Indonesia's telecommunications and Internet traffic goes through the island city-state.

Anifah said on Monday Putrajaya is "extremely concerned" about news reports of mass surveillance undertaken by the US, Australia, and now Singapore, on Malaysia.

"The Malaysian authorities have taken appropriate actions with regard to earlier allegations of spying by the United States and Australia. The Malaysian authorities are now investigating thoroughly the latest media report about the involvement of other countries, in particular Singapore, in the spying activities against Malaysia," he said.

Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald reported last month that Australia's intelligence agency was using its diplomatic missions in several Asian countries, including Malaysia, to intercept phone calls and internet data.

The report cited information disclosed by Snowden, saying that signals intelligence collection occurs at Australia's High Commissions in Kuala Lumpur and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, as well as at its embassies in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing and Dili in East Timor.

Snowden had revealed earlier a top secret map showing 90 US electronic surveillance facilities worldwide, including in its embassies in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.

No such facilities, however, are located in Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, according to the map dated August 13, 2010. 


Selangor BN seeking PAS support against Comango demands

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 05:10 PM PST

(The Star) - Selangor's Barisan Nasional assemblymen want the state PAS leadership to support them in their stance against Coalition of Malaysian NGOs' (Comango) demands.

"Some of the demands are not reasonable and can adversely effect the special status of Islam in the Federal Constitution and the religious reality of Malaysian society," Opposition chief Datuk Shamsudin Lias told a press conference at the sidelines of the state legislative assembly Wednesday.

He said since the PAS leadership was also against same-gender relationships and unnatural sex, both parties could collaborate on the matter.

Shamsudin and his BN counterparts held the press conference after Speaker Hannah Yeoh rejected the Opposition's motion to condemn the coalition.

Comango has been criticised for making several claims at the United Nations Human Rights Council periodical review of the country's human rights.

Shamsudin said the Speaker had opined that there were more important issues to be discussed although the matter was of public interest, adding the Opposition respected the decision.

Meanwhile, Yeoh told another press conference later that the Opposition had submitted the motion on Tuesday under Standing Order 17 which encompassed urgent matters revolving around public interest.

Yeoh added she rejected the motion because it was not an emergency motion.

She said that her move was not wrong as a similar motion was rejected by Parliament.

"We are still debating the budget. I urge all elected representatives to discuss matter which are of more importance for the people," she said.


Massive salary hikes for Selangor MB, assemblymen

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 05:04 PM PST

(The Star) - Selangor's Mentri Besar, elected representatives, executive council members, Speaker and deputy Speaker will receive massive pay hikes effective Jan 1, 2014.

The amendments to existing laws were made and passed at the Selangor legislative assembly Wednesday to allow the hike.

Monthly salaries for assemblymen have been increased from RM6,000 to RM11,250, an increase of 87%.

The Speaker, who receives RM6,109, will receive RM22,500 and the deputy Speaker whose current salary is RM3,327 will receive RM15,750.

The Mentri Besar's wages has increased by 106% from the present RM14,175 to RM29,250.

The salary for exco members have been given a 231% hike from RM6,109 to RM20,250.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim also announced half-a-month's bonus of for the state's 15,643 employees, which will be made in mid Jan.

He said the raise was timely given the increase in responsibilities in the state.


11 leaders in Sabah quit PKR

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 01:31 PM PST

(Borneo Post) - Eleven Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders in Sabah quit the party yesterday and expressed support for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

They comprise division heads, division deputy heads and division information chiefs from Kudat, Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Sepanggar, Pensiangan, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Batu Sapi, Silam, Kalabakan and Semporna.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told a media conference here that they had lost confidence in the PKR leadership.

He said this was the first wave of PKR leaders quitting the party in Sabah and that more would be following in their footsteps soon.

"With what has happened and is going to happen, it means that PKR in Sabah is about finished and the BN is getting stronger and continues to gain the trust of Sabahans," he said.

The PKR leaders present at the media conference were Akhmain Sabtu (Kudat division chief), Anthony Mandiau (Kota Marudu division chief), Juhani Abd Halim (Silam division chief), Mohd Jun (Kalabakan division chief), Mustapha Tambuyung (Kinabatangan division chief), Lokman Ureh (Semporna division chief), Timothy Lim (Sepanggar division chief), Apandy Sipin (Pensiangan division) and Aris Remigius (Batu Sapi division chief), Angki Addek (Kota Marudu deputy division chief) and Soloh Yuna (Kota Belud Information chief).

The Beluran representative, however, did not attend.

Also present were two Sabah PKR assemblymen who had quit the party on Nov 4, namely Matunggong assemblyman Datuk Jelani Hamdan and Kedamaian assemblyman Jeremy Malajad.

Najib said also joining the other leaders in quitting PKR today were former Bandau Member of Parliament Henry Madatang and the party's candidate for the Papar parliamentary seat in the 13th general election, Jomi Kamadan.

He said that he was also informed that many from among their supporters would also leave PKR and support BN.

"I wish to thank them for their confidence in shifting their support to the BN and this reflects that our effort to make changes and transformation to the nation, specifically Sabah, has gained their trust and confidence.

"Hopefully, with this, BN will be able to serve the people of Sabah more effectively," he said.

Najib also denied claims that the BN had influenced the leaders to quit PKR.

"Not possible, it is because they have lost faith in the party, that is the bottomline," he said.

He added that PKR would try to regroup in Sabah but the real strength of the party actually lay in the leaders who quit today and the others who would be leaving. 


More to quit Sabah PKR?

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 01:07 PM PST

(Bernama) - Matunggong assemblyman Jelani Hamdan claims that at least 20 to 25 Sabah PKR leaders from their respective divisions are expected to quit the party in a second wave of resignation.

Sabah PKR is simmering with widespread dissatisfaction following the 13th general election.

Jelani, together with  11 Sabah PKR divisional have thrown their support behind Barisan Nasional, claiming too much interference from national PKR leaders.

"We've lost confidence in the PKR leadership at the federal and state levels. Although Sabah PKR was given the autonomy, ironically, the authority comes from an individual," he told reporters after their resignation from the PKR was announced by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak here yesterday.

Among those who quit were 10 division chiefs and one division information chief.

Jelani, who was their spokesman, said the autonomy proclaimed by the PKR leadership was never practised, including in the appointment of opposition chief and State Leadership Council members.

Jelani claimed that PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim meddled in the party's state administration.

Jelani and Kadamaian assemblyman Jeremy Malajad left the party earlier on Nov 4.

Jelani also dismissed Anwar's claim that Malajad and him were bought over by the BN as the coalition had won a two-thirds majority in Sabah in the last general election.

Asked about this, Jelani said, "From his (Anwar's) text message, he's disappointed. It's normal. He says we've got a better offer from another side."

Jelani pledged the group's support for the BN, but was still undecided whether to join any BN component party or form a new party.

On the proposed amendment to the PKR Constitution that one of the three PKR vice-presidents must come from either Sabah or Sarawak, Jelani said:

"You can make amendments, but whether they are implemented is another matter.

"Maybe just on paper. This is happening at the state level."


Netizens slam ‘traitor’ Junaidi’s treason threat

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 11:28 AM PST


(FMT) - Sarawak netizens voice anger and disbelief over the deputy home minister's recent warning, calling him a Malaya lackey

Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar's warning to parties questioning the legitimacy of Malaysia has shocked Sarawak netizens, who've dubbed him 'a Sarawak traitor'.

Affronted users of the social media maintained that Sarawakians have the fundamental right to question and ask for a review of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and that it was not seditious.

Junaidi had on Sunday reportedly warned politicians "playing around" and raising the Malaysia Agreement-related issues. He said it was 'treason and seditious'.

"The issue can disrupt unity between West Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Raising the issue is an act of treason. The Malaysia Agreement should not be raised anymore," he said.

A posting of Junaidi's contentious comment on the Sarawak Sovereignty Movement (SSM) Facebook page drew 58 wide-ranging comments with hundreds of likes within a day.

User Skidz Chai screamed "Pengkhianat Sarawak (Sarawak's traitor)!" while another Penan Murum posted: "This fellow is (Prime Minister) Najib's (servant) and is brainwashed by Malaya. A Negara Sarawak traitor!"

SSM regular Morshidi Abdul Rahman posted: "We are not playing around about the Malaysia formation issue.

"We are questioning the legitimacy of the Malaysia establishment when there are facts showing the Sarawak nation (Negara Sarawak) had been tricked by the British and Malayan leaders in the early sixties.

"Most Sarawak leaders (then) were inexperienced and not highly educated to know what the actual Malayan agenda was.

"Only now we (Sarawakians) can see ourselves their agenda to enrich Malaya and drain off as much oil gains and taxes as possible for the benefit of Malaya only.

"As our people are not 'smart lawyers', cannot we ordinary citizens know the truth?" he asked.

Malaya's lackey

His views were echoed by another user Walter Gregory Ripon, who said: "All agreements of course must be reviewed from time to time to ensure there is no deviation from the foundations of the agreements.

"As an educated minister, please do not make statements like an uneducated person."

Read more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/11/27/netizens-slam-traitor-junaidis-treason-threat/ 


The Lone Ranger rides again, sans Tonto

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 10:32 AM PST


(fz.com) - So why then is he throwing his hat into the ring when the odds seem harder than 2010, where he garnered 578 votes to Dr Chua's 901 and Ka Ting's 833 votes.  

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat was not his usual self when met at his office at the Bakti Nusa foundation in Pandan Jaya yesterday.

He seemed distant, deep in thought and was distracted by the numerous phone calls that kept interrupting our conversation.

"I'm so sorry," he said as he responded to his sixth text in five minutes.

"So many are calling to offer support … even the non-Chinese and those who had abandoned me," he laughed.

He was referring to his surprise announcement on Tuesday that he was going to run for MCA president again.

Ong's lack of focus on his guest can be forgiven. His thoughts were on the fight ahead, but he was also anticipating what his preferred running mate Datuk Gan Ping Sieu would be announcing at the latter's press conference the same afternoon.

Gan, of course decided that he too would be a strong candidate for No.1.

If some of the party's 2,385 delegates and analysts have it right, then Gan's running mate would be Datuk Chua Tee Yong – son of current president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The two youngest senior party officials will be offering youth and vibrancy, against the combo of experience presented by deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and vice president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.

So now Ong finds himself in a familiar spot: all by himself!

"I want Gan.  I was hoping I will get him but he too wants to go for No.1. He should build up some credentials first."

So who will be his running mate?

"Well, I'm a Lone Ranger or singles player like you always say," laughed the 57-year-old.

But even the Lone Ranger has Tonto.

"Yes, so I want Gan, but he has his own path to follow and I respect that," Ong relented.

While acknowledging that he and his No.1 nemesis, the elder Chua had formed an understanding, it was far from a kiss and make up session.

Too much water had gone under the bridge with both leaders publicly going at each other's throats since the bitter extraordinary general meeting and polls of 2010 which ousted Ong as president.

"There's no such thing as a peace deal because anyone can always throw a spanner in the works," he said, alluding to Dr Chua's mastery of political chess and influence he holds over the delegates.

However with a new batch of delegates who do not necessarily listen to party elders and divisional chiefs, Ong feels he has a good chance, in this period of MCA's life which seems to be a free-for-all.

Even then when he defended his presidency, Ong did not offer a running mate, while Dr Chua had Datuk Seri Kong Chor Ha and Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting paired up with Liow.

That EGM only served to further split an already divided party.

With his candidacy for the Dec 21st presidential election, Tee Keat will face similar accusations of putting his ego before the party.

Read more at: http://www.fz.com/content/lone-ranger-rides-again-sans-tonto 

Lawyer sues AG, former IGP and eight others

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 10:29 AM PST


(Bernama) - A lawyer has filed a multi million civil action against the Attorney-General, former Inspector-General of Police, Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner and seven others for malicious prosecution.

Rosli Dahlan filed the suit involving more than RM47 million on Friday at the Civil High Court here through Messrs Kumar Partnership.


He named Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, the MACC, Malaysian Government, Royal Malaysian Police, three deputy public prosecutors, a MACC investigation officer and a police officer as defendants.


In his statement of claim, he said the defendants conspired to arrest and charge him in court for a MACC case.


He said he was acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Dec 20, 2010.


Rosli is seeking punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages totalling RM47 million, special damages of RM750,000, costs and other relief deemed fit by the court.



UK governments blocked investigations into Malaysian massacre cover-up

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 10:11 AM PST


Relatives of Batang Kali massacre victims outside the high court in 2008. The court of appeal has heard how two UK governments tried to cover up Scotland Yard investigations into the killings of 24 civilians. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images 

(The Guardian) - Appeal court hears of Tory interventions in 1970 and 1990s over police probe into troops killing 24 civilians at Batang Kali in 1948

British governments blocked two police investigations into the covering up of the killing by British troops of 24 unarmed rubber plantation workers during counterinsurgency operations in Malaysia nearly 65 years ago, the appeal court heard on Tuesday.

Relatives of victims who died in the massacre of Batang Kali in December 1948 were in court to hear how soldiers of the Scots Guards had admitted murdering the plantation workers.

The government intervened to stop a Scotland Yard investigation in 1970 after the soldiers' confession. The police officer in charge subsequently complained that the issue was "politically flavoured from the outset". The investigation was stopped because of a "political change of view" when the Conservatives came to power in 1970, the officer said.

The Ministry of Defence said: "If no reaction is forthcoming, the matter will probably now remain buried in the public mind … and quietly forgotten."

An investigation by the Malaysian police in the 1990s, after fresh evidence emerged, was also blocked following intervention by the British government, the appeal court heard.

One of those killed, Lim Tian Shui, was said to have been found headless. His son, Lim Kok, who was in court on Tuesday to hear the case, said in a written statement: "The British soldiers committed a great wrong. The British authorities committed another [wrong] in the weeks that followed by branding those killed 'bandits' and 'terrorists'."

He said it was at least as great a wrong to maintain that "untruth" for over 60 years.

Relatives of the victims are seeking a public inquiry into the shootings. The British government argues that the UK has no legal responsibility for the acts of the soldiers at Batang Kali.

Scotland Yard files record summary execution by British soldiers in full view of the villagers, Michael Fordham QC, counsel for the victims' relatives told the appeal court.

"There was available evidence both from the Metropolitan police file and from the Malaysian police investigation, and a combination of both, and witness statements," he told Lord Justices Maurice Kay, Fulford, and Rimer.

The government's refusal to hold an inquiry places it in breach of Article 2 of the European convention on human rights convention enshrining the right to life, and of "customary international law," Fordham said.

Read more at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/nov/26/governments-blocked-investigations-malaysian-massacre-cover-up 

Thailand protesters back on the streets

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 10:06 AM PST


(BBC) - So the government has invoked the Internal Security Act. It is considering emergency rule, which would permit the deployment of the army. It has got an arrest warrant for the protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban. None of these measures will do much to restore its authority, though, without a willing army or police force. 

In almost any other country, the scenes I have witnessed in Thailand the past couple of days would have been unthinkable.

An unarmed crowd of demonstrators, some of them elderly and most decidedly unthreatening, stormed and then occupied the finance ministry in Bangkok.

Later they surrounded the interior ministry. Most of the staff left in a hurry, leaving a few rows of nervous-looking volunteer guards and rolls of razor-wire to prevent it suffering the same fate as the finance ministry.

A protest movement armed with little more than whistles and plastic hand-clappers has been able to mount what comes close to an insurrection against the government, in a middle-income country and economic hub for the South East Asian region.

Thailand's troubles

  • Sept 2006: Army overthrows government of Thaksin Shinawatra, rewrites constitution
  • Dec 2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins most votes in election
  • Aug 2008: Mr Thaksin flees into self-imposed exile before end of corruption trial
  • Dec 2008: Mass yellow-shirt protests paralyse Bangkok; Constitutional Court bans People Power Party; Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power
  • Mar-May 2010: Thousands of pro-Thaksin red shirts occupy parts of Bangkok; eventually cleared by army; dozens killed
  • July 2011: Yingluck Shinawatra leads Pheu Thai party to general election win

But then, they did something very similar before, in 2008.In that year the main government office, including that of the prime minister, was occupied for months, followed by a raid on Bangkok International airport that stranded tens of thousands of tourists.

'Bags of cash'

Thailand seems stuck on a merry-go-round of political conflict, replaying chaotic episodes that were scarcely believable the first time round. Why?

Ask the protesters and the answer is simple. One name. Thaksin Shinawatra.

They are a mix of middle-class city-dwellers and provincial folk from the south, the stronghold of the opposition Democrat party, and they all repeat the same mantras we heard during the last round of "yellow" protests in 2008.

That the former prime minister elevated corruption, always a pernicious problem here, to new heights; that he tried to control everything, and is still doing so from self-imposed exile, through his sister Yingluck, the current prime minister.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (centre) at the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 November 2013Yingluck Shinawatra has called for calm and invoked the Internal Security Act

No-one doubts the hold Mr Thaksin still has over his party, and his sway over important government decisions. He is, after all, his party's biggest vote-winner, despite living abroad for five years.

There is a continuous shuttle of ministers and officials to consult with him in Hong Kong, Dubai, or wherever else he happens to be.

There are also dark rumours of bags of cash leaving the country, though these are impossible to confirm.

But the common assumption has always been in Thailand that government projects allow "funds" to be siphoned off for well-connected people.

This government has embarked on an unprecedented spending spree, including a rice subsidy scheme costing many billions of dollars a year, a massive water management plan following the floods of 2011, and planned infrastructure investments totalling more than $600bn (£370bn).

Mr Thaksin's opponents fear these projects will generate so much slush money that the Shinawatras will be able to buy enough influence to dominate the country for many years to come, at a time when Thailand is quietly bracing itself for the end of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the monarch seen as the spiritual and moral core of the nation.

Read more at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25109420 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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