Saturday, March 2, 2013

A report from a PEMANTAU briefing

This is a report submitted by one Pei Ting Tham.

I recently attended a briefing by Pemantau. It was my first event of this kind beyond Bersih, and I went because I wanted to do something more besides casting my vote.

I wanted a neutral platform where I can take a more active part in the election process. Here is a brief summary of what I have learnt in this short session:

On election day, there are three separate roles that can be taken up by civilians - Pacaba, Pemerhati and Pemantau.


Short for polling agent, counting agent and barung agent. These are people working inside the classroom itself cross-checking identities, checking votes, counting votes, etc.

You will be representing a candidate hence you will have to take a side. Nonetheless you will have the most direct power to intervene in any infractions or misdemeanors during the voting process.

The one apolitical group that provides the platform in training and facilitating the process in becoming a Pacaba is Tindak Malaysia.


These are members of civil society that are not affiliated to any political parties. They are registered with the SPR and have legit passes to be inside the polling station (school), but not the polling classroom.

They are observers of the election process, recording and reporting any infractions or misdemeanors of election laws. They have no legal powers to police or intervene, but their presence could serve as a deterrent.

Only selected civil society groups are accredited by SPR to send representatives to serve as Pemerhati. Any registered voter can sign up with these civil society groups to become a Pemerhati.
Some of these groups include Merdeka Centre, Ideas, etc.


They do very similar things as Pemerhati, ie as observers of the election process. The caveat with Pemantau is that they are not allowed within 50m of a polling station (school), they are not accredited by SPR, and they don't have any legit passes to enter polling stations (as Pemantau).

However a lot can be done and observed even outside polling stations, such as illegal campaigning, bribery, treating, etc etc. And the role of Pemantau starts from the campaigning period up to election day.

Their job is to record and report any infringements of election laws in any form or way, for example illegal posting of banners, violence during ceramahs; even providing free food/snacks during the campaign period is considered illegal.

Pemantau has set up a very systematic reporting process, and part of it involves reporting matters to the police.

But the ultimate goal of Pemantau is to record in writing any infringements being conducted at anytime by any party, in the hopes of a future where these can be used as evidence to take any kind of legal action against a certain party.

Essentially, anybody with a smartphone or camera can competently function as a Pemantau. Again I stress that as an observer you are not obligated to confront or police any offenders. The role of an observer is always neutral.

Quoting the presenter during the briefing, during the recent general elections in the Phillipines, there were a total of 100,000 election observers on the ground.

In the country of Georgia, with a population of 5-6 million, there are 50,000 election observers.

Pemantau's recruitment target for this GE - 10,000.

Voter education and awareness is very low in Malaysia. I was definitely enlightened and educated during this briefing. Fact is - these groups are formed to maximise powers accorded to us as participants of a democratic system.

They are a necessary part to ensure the integrity, fairness and legality of the process. And they sorely need the publicity, and the support from the general public. And most definitely they need the numbers to exude a significant influence.

Here is what's very obvious to all of us - this is going to be one of the most important elections in Malaysia's history. It is also going to be a very dirty election.

We've all heard of the tactics and tricks that have been used, or still being used, by certain parties to gain the upper hand.

There were some examples that I thought were unbelievable or just hearsay. But after attending the Pemantau briefing, I am convinced they happened.

Here are also some facts that are right in our faces - our country is facing serious problems.
I am sure that in conversation with any groups of Malaysians, it will eventually lead to a lament, or complain, or venting of all the various issues that we face, many of which we encounter every single day.

And I target this to the peers of my generation - some of us are still in school, most of us are working.

By and large, we are doing okay in our jobs. We have some cash to spare for the weekends to have a good time, and occasionally upgrade our smartphones. Perhaps some of us too are working well enough to finance a new car.

And now (fortunately or unfortunately, your choice) we've reached the age of marriage and family planning. How are we to afford a home to call our own?

Are our earnings justified to the hours and expectations being imposed on us in our jobs? Is this the quality of life that we desire, and is there all there is to it?

The problems - of the economy, of education, of transport, of minimum wages, of taxes and governance, of illegal immigrants and cheap labour, of the wanton destruction of our natural resources; they are all interconnected, and any changes will need to be systemic and holistic.

An overhaul is going to be very very messy, and it is going to take a very long time.

We have reached the point of needing to think and prepare for our next generation. So if we do not start these changes now, then when? Another five years?

No I am not into politics. However, I pay taxes; I drive on public roads; I attended government schools; I use electricity, water and petrol - I have to be political.

Ultimately, I can only speak for myself. I am not campaigning for any sides or any party. I have my own personal ruminations which I will express in this single vote that I am entitled to.

I do, however, support Bersih, because I believe we are entitled to a free and fair election. I attended Bersih in Hong Kong in April 2012 because I could.

And lo behold those of you who know of my nomadic lifestyle will understand this, but I so happen to be here for this coming elections, and I am going to vote.

But then as I have vented this point already to a few of you, the strength of my vote is only 1 in 50,000, and I feel somewhat discouraged and deflated by this fact. I felt that surely there is more that I can do.

I have worn yellow t-shirts, changed my Facebook profiles, and even joined a rally. But I want to do something more substantial to affect real change.

And so I have signed up to become a Pemantau, because I have the ability to do so. I have a smartphone, I like taking pictures and I see things that annoy me every day.

During election day, I will go and vote, and I will probably have nothing much else to do for the day except to watch the results.

So I might as well use that day and work as a Pemantau, and do my part in preventing as much shenanigans as I can. (Actually I have signed up to train as a Pacaba, and I intend to volunteer as a Pacaba once I have done so. But this is not a definite fact yet)

Please, I am not at all trying to sell myself as a martyr or hero of any kind. But I am relating all this to you because I think people of our generation need to do all that we can to affect change.

At a rough glance, the room was full at the Pemantau briefing, but less than half of the crowd was my age or younger. And yet we have the most at stake during this election.

It is really not at all about bravado or foolhardiness. It is just a matter of exercising our full rights as citizens of this country.

You might have commitments, you might have reservations, you might have limitations, I am not here to judge you. Or maybe you are already doing more; so then I salute you.

But I guess I just want to ask - can you do more, and will you do more? If you do, click on any of those links above to find out more.

I really think any one of us is capable to be a Pemantau. If you're game for more, try Pemerhati or Pacaba.

And if nothing appeals to you, then I hope this little write-up has served as a little bit of voter education for you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The truth about Ridhuan Tee

Ridhuan Tee Abdullah’s drivel in Sinar Harian incensed a MIC leader to the point of threatening to call on the Indians to vote for the opposition if the authorities failed to act against him.

Now, S Vell Paari was both shocked and horrified to learn that the Muslim scholar was assigned to teach ethnic relations to this nation’s future military leaders.

Ridhuan’s colleagues from the National Defence University, who met the MIC strategy director at his residence yesterday, claimed that the associate professor was preaching ethnic cleansing instead.

“I was told that there had been complaints from his students, including Malay students, about the sensitive things he mentions during lectures.

“This man’s views threaten racial harmony. Someone should lock him up in a dungeon and throw away the key, let alone give him a teaching job,” Vell Paari told FMT.

Accused of plagiarising

Furthermore, he said there was also the allegation that Ridhuan plagiarised the works of other academics in seeking promotion.

“This is a serious allegation. I was given documentary evidence about this. Ridhuan is accused of copying word for word of one Dr Airil Sametok on the topic ‘The Importance of Research’.

“In his paper, Ridhuan claimed that it was his original work,” he added.

Vell Paari said if the allegation was true, then it was disappointing that a Muslim preacher and a recipient of the Maulidur Rasul award would stoop to such a level.

“For someone who appears on television talking about Islamic values, this is nothing short of cheating and being a fraud,” he added.

The MIC leader also said that he was informed of how Ridhuan managed to obtain the associate professor title in just three years.

“I was told that it takes between five and seven years, and the person’s publications and international reputation are also taken into account.

“So I am wondering if Ridhuan is a genius of sorts,” he added.

Vell Paari said Ridhuan’s colleagues considered him an embarrassment to the academia and a liability to the university.

Apart from this, the MIC leader said he also found it disturbing when told that Ridhuan, a Chinese Muslim convert, was hostile towards his Chinese colleagues and staff.

“The picture painted of him is that of a zealot, a new convert, who is attempting to be more Malay than the Malays themselves. As I said before, the ‘Petaling Street Malay’ syndrome.

“If these allegations are true, then the government must seriously consider sending those responsible for putting people like Ridhuan in universities, on television and in government-related functions for psychological evaluation,” he added.

Vell Paari said he would not budge from his earlier stand as mentioned in his open letter to MIC president G Palanivel.

He also reiterated that he was sick and tired of racial and religious bigots.

Suspend him pending probe

Given the seriousness of the allegations against Ridhuan, the MIC leader stressed that the Higher Education Ministry should initiate a probe and suspend the academic until the investigation was completed.

“If found guilty, he must be sacked and not be allowed to appear on television or grace public functions.

“And for goodness’ sake, stop this man from teaching ethnic relations,” said Vell Paari, adding that he would raise the matter with Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin.

Meanwhile, FMT learned that Ridhuan was close to a Cabinet minister, who is also a senior Umno leader, and therefore complaints against him went unheeded.

Contacted later for his response, Ridhuan, in a text message, replied: “Do you dare publish such a report? Why target me?”

Commenting on this, Vell Paari said he accepted the dare. “Go ahead and sue me. You are being targeted for being a racist,” he added.

The scholar ruffled feathers when he penned an article for Sinar Harian regarding the temporary ban on Tamil movie “Vishvaroopam” due to being sensitive to the Muslims.

He had criticised MIC for pushing for the ban to be lifted and made disparaging remarks about the Thaipusam festival in Batu Caves.

[Source: FMT]

Monday, February 25, 2013

To the murderers of Altantuya, watch it, P I Bala is back!

The "No/No/No" response spreads to Malacca

At least Najib had the grace to give up after Penangites gave him a 3-No response at the Psy Concert.  In Malacca, Yen Yen insisted that the crowd should say "Yes/Yes/Yes" to the questions posed by her.  What a thick skinned politician she turned out to be.  The writing is clearly on the wall and she still couldn't see it.

After Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen has engaged in a 'Yes-No' battle with a stubborn crowd in Malacca that was determined to humiliate the minister with repeated shouts of "No! No! No!"

NONEAccording to Nanyang Siang Pau, the battle of words exploded as Ng (left) was giving speech during a Chap Goh Meh public celebration on the heritage Jonker Street in the city last night.

She said the BN government would organise a bigger Chap Goh Meh celebration if it won the coming general election, and asked the crowd to concur with her by saying "yes".

However, the Chinese-majority crowd responded with a clear shout of "No! No! No!"

Unperturbed, the MCA vice-president tried to convince them.

"You have to wake up. The facts are there. You have to say 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'," Ng said, but her call was met with louder shouts of "No! No No!"

The minister did not give up.

She compared Malacca with her home state of Kelantan, which banned the celebration of Valentine's Day and lotteries under the PAS rule, calling on the crowd to appreciate the developments brought by Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam.

Ng then shouted "Yes! Yes! Yes!" but again, the crowd responded with "No! No! No!"

Appearing a little frustrated, Ng began to raise her voice and said, "Those who said 'no', go and ask others, go ask the hawkers at Jonker Street how much they earn each day.

"Don't sell out Malacca's tourism and economy for politics. (You) should say 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'"

Ng said power was in the hands of the people and they should be able to see and feel which party was working for the people.

Then she again shouted "Yes! Yes! Yes!" but the stubborn crowd still replied, "No! No! No!".

Ng finally gave up and ended her speech with festive greetings to the people.

[Source: Mkini]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

For UMNO, the Lahad Datu dilemma

If Malaysia is clumsy about handling the Sabah standoff, it will have the same problem the Philippine government had when it fought a Muslim rebellion in the South in the 1970s up to the 1980s.

Malaysia is in a no-win situation as a result of the standoff in Sabah.

If it uses deadly force on a small group of armed Filipino Muslims now holed up in the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu town in Sabah, members of the fiercest of Philippine Moro tribe, the Tausogs of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, will retaliate.

If, on the other hand, Malaysia compromises with the armed group purportedly belonging to the Sultanate of Sulu, it will be perceived as a weakling by its neighbors.

Which will Malaysia choose, fighting a rebellion in the Sabah state or swallowing its pride and compromise with the Sultanate of Sulu?

Better to be perceived as a weakling rather than have a bloody civil war in Sabah.

* * *

There is no record of the number of Filipinos, mostly Tausogs, in Sabah.

But a friend of mine who used to be in the Philippine military intelligence estimates that one-third of the population in the Malaysian state is Tausog.

Many of the people in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi have relatives in Sabah, which is just one hour by speedboat from Simunul in Tawi-Tawi.

If the Tausogs in Sabah rise up in revolt against the Malaysian government, their relatives in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will go to Sabah and fight with them.

To the Tausogs, the claim of the group purporting to represent the Sultanate of Sulu that Sabah belongs to the sultanate is legitimate.

The Sulu Sultanate, long dormant and somewhat forgotten because of the war waged by the Tausog-led MNLF against the government, is still revered by Moros in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Tausogs respect the Sultan of Sulu in much the same way Malaysians pay homage to their royal family.

If harm is done to Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram, who ordered the Mudah Agbimuddin to enter Sabah, his fellow Tausogs in Sabah and in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi will take up arms against the Malaysian government.

Filipino Muslims declare a rido or vendetta against people who harm their relatives.

The Rido has set off feuds between families or clans that last for decades.

Most of the Tausogs in Sabah have relatives in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi who are ready to take revenge if harm is done to Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram and his armed followers in Lahad Datu town.

My source in Sulu said that even before the landing of 200 men in Lahad Datu last week, the Sultanate had already sent armed men in small groups to Sabah to escape notice from authorities.
The armed groups are being coddled by Tausogs in the Malaysian state.

The ocean border between Sabah and the Philippines is porous or easily penetrated.

Most of the tens of thousands of Filipino illegal immigrants in Sabah entered through this porous border.

It’s very easy for armed Tausogs to enter Sabah and wage a guerrilla war against the Malaysian government should hostilities break out between the Sultanate group and Malaysian police.

Tausogs love to fight and look for reasons to pick a fight.

If Malaysia assumes a violent stance against the Sulu Sultanate group, the Tausogs will have a reason to fight them.

* * *

When the government was fighting the MNLF in the 1970s through the 1980s, Malaysia was secretly supporting the rebellion in the South.

Weapons coming from Libya and other Middle East countries passed through Malaysia on their way to the MNLF.

Now, it seems the shoe is on the other foot.
The law of karma is being played out.