Saturday, May 25, 2013

The unsung heroes of GE13

The 13th General Election is over and the result showed that majority of Malaysians wanted to “Ubah”, that is, to see change. Many who have worked hard for it are disappointed with the outcome but we realise that we must move on and prepare ourselves for GE14.

We salute the tireless efforts of politicians and civil society leaders at the forefront of this push for change. Many of them travelled the length and breadth of this country, keeping an insane schedule for the past few months just to make themselves heard at the hundreds of ceramahs or rallies across this nation. It was almost a superhuman effort. Though they have lost the battle to take Putrajaya this time, they are still heroes of this struggle for a better Malaysia.
But this struggle is not theirs alone. Throughout these last few years and especially in the last few months in the run-up to the 5th of May, it has been my absolute privilege to have served together and to have known ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life who shares a common passion for this country. To me they are no less heroic in their efforts and their sacrifices are no less significant. I want to sing the praises of some of these unsung heroes of GE13.
  • Felicia is a Malaysian who has lived in Singapore for many years, never registered and never voted before. Just after Parliament was dissolved and election called, she checked her voting status at the SPR’s website and found herself registered not only as a voter but as an advance voter in Putrajaya. Not wanting anyone to cast her vote on her behalf, on 28th April, the day advance voters were supposed to vote, she got into her car very early in the morning and drove the 340km from Singapore to Putrajaya to cast her vote by 9am and then turned around and head back to Singapore.
  • I met Boon at the campaign office of a candidate. He has volunteered himself to help out with some of the administrative stuff there and we got talking. I found out that Boon and his family have been living in the UK for many years but have keenly followed the political developments of Malaysia and decided to fly home with his wife to cast their votes, for the very first time.
There were probably thousands of folks just like Felicia and Boon, Malaysians who live and work overseas who came back to vote. Some thoughtless individuals might have considered these overseas Malaysians unpatriotic but I challenge them to find me more committed people than these, who came home at great personal expense to cast their one vote. For them it was more than a vote but a stake in the future of this country, a country they love.
  • When the call went out for volunteers to serve as polling and counting agents, literally tens of thousands of Malaysians came forward to be trained and deployed on Polling Day to do their part for a clean and fair election. Many came out with no expectation of payment and if they received any allowances for their services, they donated back these allowances. Money cannot buy such people and they can’t be bought, they are priceless.
  • Thanks to the news of foreigners being flown in to vote in our election, thousands of citizens came forward to volunteer as election observers or as “ghostbusters”, standing guard under hot sun or rain outside polling stations. At several of the polling stations I visited that day, I saw between 30-50 residents standing outside their own polling stations until polling ended and for some, they followed the ballot boxes all the way to the main counting centres. All this they did on their own accord without anyone telling them what to do.
  • Ariff and his friends were one of those who stood guard outside a main counting centre. At around 10.30pm they saw a taxi bringing in additional ballot carriers with a uniformed but unnumbered policeman in it. They stopped the taxi and challenged the legality of such last minute additional ballots. The taxi turned around and sped off with them in pursuit by foot.
  • In the early hours of May the 5th, a factory manager in Johor found out from his HR manager that 100 of his foreign workers were not turning up to work. They told the HR manager that their agent was coming to fetch them to collect ICs so that they could vote. The factory manager rushed to the police station to make a report and with the report he managed to stop the workers from voting. But he didn’t stop there. He made copies of the police report and pass it to as many election observers as he could find so that they would be on the lookout for foreign voters. A true patriot!
  • Ben and his wife went to cast their votes early and decided to stay back to help those who were queuing up to check their salurans (channels) number. They told those who already knew their numbers to go straight to join the queue at the saluran so as to save some time. But their efforts to help were not appreciated by the SPR officer-in-charge who insisted that all must check for their salurans before queuing again to vote. They were ordered to leave but they remained outside the school gate to continue assisting those coming to vote till the end of polling at 5pm.
  • I know of a young man whose life was miraculously saved from the burning wreckage of his car seconds before it exploded on 8th April. He was hospitalised for more than 3 weeks and still suffered serious spinal injuries when polling day came. He insisted on casting his vote and was wheeled from the hospital to the polling station to cast his vote for change. A life spared, a vote counted.
  • Then there were the probably hundreds of ordinary citizens who became social activists after the previous election in 2008. Many of these post-GE12 activists willingly made huge sacrifices to organise others to be involved in new voters education, polling and counting agent trainings, organised and participated in various protests and forums and did street ceramahs. For many, their business and work suffered and marital relationships strained. They are not household names but they are heroes to those whom they have served and led.
The above true stories are just a very small representation of the many unsung heroes strewn all across Malaysia and the globe. You would have many stories of your own to tell and of people you know. We salute them all.
There is no doubt in my mind that with the highly questionable way Barisan Nasional has won this election and subsequent divisive statements by Najib, his ministers, and UMNO loyalists, and the unjust crackdowns on Adam Adli, Haris Ibrahim, Tian Chua and Tamrin Ghafar, we can expect to see even more citizens rising up to play a direct and active role in the political process of this country.
To me, this is the true Malaysian Spring, the uprising of ordinary Malaysians who are determine to have a  say in how our country is run and to hold elected officials accountable for their service. Like a tsunami, It is an uprising that is unstoppable,  and irreversible, it is an uprising that will eventually achieve its intended purpose – Ubah!

Friday, May 24, 2013

What now, MCA?

The MCA's greatest crisis is, all its members have been in a dispirited mood and got lost after the severe defeat in the general election, as if they are trying to delay the time of death.

Obviously, MCA's leaders are having a depressed state of mind. After suffering the massive setback, party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek should lead the party's central committee members to tour the country to inspire the grassroots and collect views on how to revive the party. After the general election, however, Chua has continued reproaching the DAP, instead of making clear of the party's future direction. He leaves the task of reviving the party to a committee led by party deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and the committee has been given three months to come up with a preliminary proposal. Meanwhile, a group of six young MCA members took two weeks to launch a new movement to overhaul the party, reflecting the slow pace of the current leadership.

MCA organising secretary Datuk Tee Siew Kiong's decision to accept the appointment as a Johor executive councillor seems to have trigger anger but party disciplinary committee has received no complaint so far. Eventually, the central committee decided to leave it to the disciplinary committee.
Is a senator an official post? Is it necessary to resign? MCA leaders do not make a clear decision on it but just let various interpretations be made. Official posts are recommended by parties and appointed by the government. The definition is so simple and the MCA should understand it. The problem is, it has no mood to deal with it.

If Chua is just waiting for the party election scheduled on December 21 so that he can leave and thus, is currently too lazy to start a reviving plan, he should step down immediately to avoid killing the party's morale.

Chua has shifted responsibility by blaming party veterans to have left current party leaders a heavy historical burden.

Indeed, there have been controversies and scandals in the history of MCA. From the leadership crisis involving Tan Koon Swan and Neo Yee Pan in the 1980s, the financial crisis in 1986, the Pan-Electric Industries case, the second leadership crisis involving Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, to the cheating charges against Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, these scandals have continuously tarnished the party's image. Party central delegates should also bear the responsibility for choosing a president with moral stain.

Historical burden is one of the factors, the key is, the MCA has made poor political performances over the past few decades. Just as the group initiated the MCA new movement said, the MCA has been repeatedly absent from political and civic movements.

The MCA refused to participate in civil rallies organised by civil society organisations and took actions against party members who attended the rallies. The MCA has not made active participation in political issues, including anti-corruption, fair governance, economic privilege and environmental hazard, but keen to engage in medical fund and youth loans. The party has been completely out of touch with public opinion.

Even after suffering a landslide defeat in the recent general election, it is still chattering about not joining the cabinet, instead of getting rid of the myth of having Chinese representatives in the Cabinet. If political discussion can really be replaced by public services, it would not have suffered the massive setback.

The MCA new movement suggested that power should be returned to the grassroots so that they can directly vote for new party leaders. It is indeed a right direction. The existing central delegate mechanism leaves leaders an opportunity to control votes. They do not need to propose political ideas but just please central delegates to be voted.

If the MCA loses its ideology, it would be like a body loses its soul. If party asset is the only reason for the leaders to stay in the party, the party election will inevitably lead to split.

The MCA is still distancing itself from the public and like ostriches, its leaders have buried their heads in the sand. Who can save it?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A batch of MyKads found ... at the roadside

What are the possibilities of :

  • An NRIC officer dropped a batch of MyKads while in the course of delivering them to his office?
  • A group of Malaysians who suddenly decided not to become citizens?
  • Illegal voters have no further use of them as the dates on the cards have expired?
  • A tour leader of a group of local tourists, accidentally dropped the cards at the road side while the group members were taking a short break?

Hmmmm ....

Monday, May 20, 2013

Adam's father says it all

Adam Adli being taken away by police for questioning

"If no parents are willing to start it, let my family be the first. We have never stopped him. We have encouraged him. We are only seeking our freedom to speech, we are demanding our rights as rakyat." 

"Democracy goes beyond what we say and what is being written."  

[Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid.  He further added that he was proud of what his son has done].

Zahid, these Malay youths are not happy with the way the GE13 was handled. Are you also going to tell them to emigrate as well?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Star is definitely beyond redemption

The Star must have taken Malaysians for fools when they reported on the statement made by the White House with regard to the GE13.  Now, let' see.  This is what The Star reported ...

The Office of the White House Press Secretary congratulated Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on his general election victory, saying it looked forward to continuing the close cooperation with the Malaysian government and its people to strengthen democracy, peace and prosperity in the region.
"On behalf of the President and the people of the United States, we congratulate Prime Minister Najib on his coalition's victory in Malaysia's parliamentary elections on May 5," a statement from the US Embassy here said.
The general election saw Barisan Nasional returned to power after winning 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats to form the new federal government.
"We also congratulate the people of Malaysia who turned out in record numbers to cast their votes as well as the parties of the opposition coalition on their campaigns as a vibrant opposition is a foundation of democracy," the statement said.
Check the link here.
And this is the press statement made by the White House ...
On behalf of the President and the people of the United States, we congratulate Prime Minister Najib on his coalition’s victory in Malaysia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday May 5.  We also congratulate the people of Malaysia, who turned out in record numbers to cast their votes, as well as the parties of the opposition coalition on their campaigns, as a vibrant opposition is a foundation of democracy.  We note concerns regarding reported irregularities in the conduct of the election, and believe it is important that Malaysian authorities address concerns that have been raised.  We look forward to the outcome of their investigations.  The United States looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with the government and the people of Malaysia to continue to strengthen democracy, peace, and prosperity in the region.
Check the link here.