Saturday, 12 May 2012

Malaysians nod for Bersih 4.0

Stanley Koh | May 12, 201
BN’s reaction to Bersih 3.0 appears to strengthen the call for another rally.

It is anyone’s guess whether the government propaganda against Bersih has had the effect it desires on rural folk, but citizens of Kuala Lumpur do not buy it, if a random FMT survey is anything to go by.

Indeed, the sustained BN condemnation of the April 28 rally appears to be strengthening the call for another rally—a Bersih 4.0—because it raises a suspicion that the government is not interested in reforming the electoral system.

“I am not confident SPR (Election Commission) will fulfil Bersih’s demands and I feel that Bersih 4.0 may be necessary. I will support it if they decide to have it,” said Hidayah Ismail, a 24-year-old graphic artist.

This sentiment was shared by Ayie Andrian, also 24 and also an IT professional. “I’ll wait and see if Bersih 3.0’s demands are met. If not, then there should be another rally.”

Engineer Muthiah Maria Pillay, 64, took issue with statements coming from BN leaders that there are no independent election commissions “even in western democracies”. He said this was calculated to mislead Malaysians.

“Even Indonesia has free and fair elections,” he said. “And India too, despite the elections there being a bit messy.

He said “even ordinary policemen” he had spoken to agreed that Berish 3.0 was necessary to call attention to the need for free and fair elections in Malaysia, “but not the higher ranking officers”.

Michelle Cheah, 40, a hawker in Segambut, said she did not take part in last month’s rally but described herself as a member of the “silent majority” that supports Bersih’s cause.

She said three of her nieces were in the rally. “From what I heard from them and the news I have read, I believe this BN government will not change. I have seen the videos of police beating up people. I have no confidence that the government will accept Bersih’s demands.

I will support Bersih 4.0”

Insurance consultant Richard Yap, 53, said he too could not make it to the rally but had read “all about it” on “all the blogs and news portals”.

“The top SPR officials should resign if they can’t meet Bersih’s demands,” he said.

A 70-year-old man who gave his name only as Solomon said he had voted in every general election since he came of age and was looking forward to elections “that are really clean and fair”. He said the government had no valid reason to reject Bersih demands. “If they still won’t, I would say to Bersih, ‘Go ahead and have another rally.’”

These remarks were typical of those coming from the dozen others interviewed for the survey.

But one man differed. William Lim, 57, said news reports gave him the impression that the Election Commission (EC) was trying its best to clean up the electoral rolls. “I would say no to Bersih 4.0,” he said.
Judging from the comments on the news portals, not many Malaysians share Lim’s confidence in the EC or in the sincerity of the Najib administration.

Indeed, these writings seem to indicate that confidence in the ruling regime has sunk to its lowest depths in recent years, which makes BN’s claim of public support for its “political transformation”—as reported in the official media and in controlled publications such as Utusan Malaysia—sound embarrassingly hollow.

The violent handling of people merely demanding honesty in the handling of elections showed up not only the indiscipline and incompetence of the enforcement agencies, but also the regime’s stubbornness in clinging to authoritarian methods when faced with a credible challenge to its power.

To the hundreds of thousands of brave Malaysians who went to the rally—and especially to those who suffered from police brutality—the Bersih event surely must have confirmed their voting choice.

“Natural justice lies in the hearts of men,” says a Chinese proverb. Thus the conscience of the ordinary Malaysian will know right from wrong in all that happened during the Bersih rally and all the events spinning off from it.

1 comment:

  1. No benefit in keeping Pempena afloat
    In September last year, four directors of Pembangunan Perlancongan Nasional Sdn Bhd (Pempena) Datuk Yip Kum Fook (MCA GOMBAK, who is BAD name in Buddhist) Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, Syed Abdul Rahman and Jaigani Jaafar – were served with letters of demand for payment of more than RM12.4 million owed by the company.
    The letters from lawyer Joginder Singh, who was acting for Kah Bintang Auto Sdn Bhd were sent by registered post. On receiving the letter, one of them, Lim, the former deputy toursim minister and current deputy finance minister, contacted the CEO of Pempena and asked him to act on the demand.
    For a good eight months, nothing happened. No effort was made to contact the motor company or negotiate a settlement. Failing to get a response, Kah Bintang published notice of an intended winding up petition in two national newspapers on May 28. The petition was set to be heard on June 13.
    At the hearing, the petition was undefended as neither Pempena nor its lawyers made an appearance. The court allowed the petition and asked that Pempena be given another 14 days to pay up. On June 27, that short lease of life for the company expired and Pempena ceased to exist.
    Yesterday, akin to closing the stable door after the horses have bolted, Malaysian Tourism Board chairman Datuk Victor Wee announced that Pempena would be applying for a stay of the winding up order this week.
    The decision, he said, was made after a meeting with the management of Pempena last Friday. A new solicitor will be appointed to apply for a stay and work out an amicable settlement.
    He was responding to theSun’s front page report which said the High Court had ordered the company to be wound up after failing to pay RM12.4 million for the purchase of 120 units of Hyundai Sonata.
    When asked if these actions and the subsequent embarrassment to the government could have been avoided if Pempena had complied or responded to letters from Kah Bintang and its lawyer, Wee declined to comment, saying: “This is something that only Pempena can answer.”
    So, the questions are: “Why did the Pempena CEO ignore the letters, and the call from Lim who was then a director of the company? Was it incompetency or sheer arrogance or total defiance of a lawful directive? Why did Pempena not act after the notice was published?
    More importantly, where is Pempena going to find RM13 million (including interests and costs) to pay the motor company? Why should it come from the tourism promotion budget when all fingers point to the directors, who by virtue of their positions should be held responsible for this fiasco?
    There’s no benefit in keeping Pempena afloat as it has not contributed in anyway to enhance tourism and related products. In short, it has been bleeding financially and has become a burden to Tourism Malaysia.
    The best option is to dispose the assets, settle the debts and close shop so that it does not lose more money. Throwing good money after bad does not make good business sense.