Archive for April, 2012


Bersih says will pursue EC chief, deputy’s resignations

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Bersih will focus on removing the current Election Commission (EC) leadership, claiming that the government must “listen to the people” after tens of thousands rallied for free and fair elections yesterday.

The electoral reforms movement said today it will “reconsider its position” against holding another rally if the government fails to commit to further electoral reforms, after claiming that yesterday’s sit-in drew a crowd of 250,000 to city streets.

The coalition of 84 civil societies said that once it had dealt with the immediate concern of alleged police brutality, it would pursue the resignation of the Election Commission (EC) chief and his deputy as well as the cleaning of the electoral roll it asserts is rife with fraudulent voters.

“A responsible government would now say we will listen to the people. We will focus on the EC (resignations),” Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan (picture) said of the duo who recently admitted they were once and possible still are Umno members.

“If there is no action, we will have to reconsider our position,” Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said less than 24 hours after tens of thousands were dispersed with tear gas and water cannon in chaotic scenes that led to open battle between some rally-goers and riot police.

Its repeated call for EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, to quit gained further momentum recently when PKR claimed that the duo were still members of Umno.

Both individuals admitted they were once members of the senior party in the ruling coalition but insisted they were no longer active, that the memberships were from long ago, and they could not remember if they were still members.

Bersih says will pursue EC chief, deputy’s resignations
April 29, 2012 – TMI


Excessive Force Used to Disperse Peaceful Protests – Human Rights Watch

The use of water cannons and teargas against peaceful protesters shows the Malaysian police were out of control, not the demonstrators. The government should stop patting itself on the back and promptly investigate why unnecessary force was used and punish those responsible.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government should impartially investigate alleged excessive use of force by police to disperse tens of thousands of peaceful protesters in Kuala Lumpur calling for election reform, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch observed police using teargas and water cannons against peaceful participants on April 28, 2012, at a mass rally held by Bersih (“clean”), the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, after a small group attempted to breach a police barricade.

Police subsequently arrested at least 471 people, and dozens were injured by beatings or in confrontations with the police. The police on April 29 announced that all arrested have been released, but warned that some demonstrators could be charged in the near future.

“The use of water cannons and teargas against peaceful protesters shows the Malaysian police were out of control, not the demonstrators,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should stop patting itself on the back and promptly investigate why unnecessary force was used and punish those responsible.”

In the early afternoon of April 28, tens of thousands of Bersih supporters, many dressed in canary yellow T-shirts, marched towards Kuala Lumpur’s national landmark Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). Because the authorities had obtained a court order barring Bersih from gathering at Dataran Merdeka, rally participants marched to the edges of the barricaded square for a planned sit-in at 2 p.m.

Around 2:30 p.m., Bersih leader Ambiga Sreenevasan and parliamentary opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim announced the rally had succeeded in its goals and called on the crowd to disperse. Some participants slowly began to depart, but many did not. Around 3 p.m., a small group breached the barricade to Dataran Merdeka. Police responded by firing dozens of teargas rounds not only at those who crossed the police line, but also at the peaceful crowds who were nowhere near the barricaded square. Human Rights Watch observed the police using teargas and water cannons against demonstrators who were running away and groups of people far from the square; this continued until about 7 p.m. The police set up roadblocks and shut down train services in the vicinity, making it difficult for people to leave expeditiously.

A Bersih participant, Lau Ming, 25, told Human Rights Watch in Kuala Lumpur that: “I was very happy today. We were marching peacefully together and then the police used tear gas to intimidate us. We had not done anything wrong.”

Malaysia: Excessive Force Used to Disperse Peaceful Protests
April 29, 2012 – Human Rights Watch


Bersih 3.0 – The Day I Lost Respect For The Government

Pepper Lim describes his first time at a Bersih rally to his little daughter and what he thinks of the government afterwards.

We walked down this street and that as a large group. Marshals ensured we walked towards the corrected direction. It seemed to me that the crowd was trying to make its way towards Dataran Merdeka. By 3pm, I was tired from all the walking and waiting under the hot sun. I found myself a step to sit on and chatted with a retired pakcik from Penang who came with his ustaz. We talked about politics and the elections.

Someone told us tear gas had been fired at Masjid Jamek but we were too far away to see it or smell it. Later, I read uncle Marcus van Geyzel‘s tweet that he was caught in that tear gas.

Around 3.40pm, I saw a group of friends who told me they were going to have a drink at Central Market and to get out of the heat. I did not know it at that time but hell was about to break loose on the crowd.

We walked past the Bar Council and saw more friends. The crowd was blocked by a line of police vehicles at the Loke Yew building. Some chanted, “Bersih-Bersih!” but most were just chatting and posing for photos in front of the police vehicles. Then I heard a bell sound, “Tongggg!” It made my heart skip a beat. The crowd who knew what that bell meant, booed and jeered.

One police vehicle reversed away and the crowd cheered. Could it be? Has the police been told to stand down?

No. A red FRU truck took its place. And before my unbelieving eyes, it started to spray chemical water at the people! I ran for it. My assumptions of a peaceful afternoon were shattered. I scrambled to insert my phone and wallet into a plastic bag. I ran back to the steps where I was chatting with the pakcik and watched as the FRU truck sprayed the crowd. It reminded me of a scene from Godzilla. The crowd jeered at this awful scene. Those closest to the water ran helter skelter.

I could not open my eyes to take my photo after being tear gassed. | Photo by Pepper Lim for LoyarBurok

The next moment, I heard people shouting behind me. I turned and saw thick white smoke. Tear gas! I ran, following the crowd. There was no time to check the wind direction!

“Run, you fool!” I told myself. In the next instant, my eyes could not open. It felt as if there was chilli in my eyes, nose and mouth. I scrambled to take out my towel from my bag, fumbling to wet it with water to wipe my eyes. They stung badly.

I poured the rest of the water on my face while running. The screams from the crowd around me were chilling. I heard men and women screaming in pain; running in fear.

I reached behind Kota Raya and, for someone who rarely cusses, found myself calling out, “F*ckers! They are f*ckers! Such f*ckers!”

My eyes could barely open from the effects of the tear gas.

Nearby, a drinks vendor let the victims use his supply of water to wash their faces. Overhead, the police helicopter flew past a few times; possibly directing the police to the whereabouts of the fleeing protesters.

More shouts were heard. We ran again. Should I run to Tung Shin Hospital where tear gas was fired into at Bersih 2.0 or run towards Masjid Jamek where FRU trucks sprayed chemical water during Bersih 1.0? I was scared and did not know what to do.

I ended up at Ancasa Hotel. I saw some people there recovering from the effects of the tear gas. They too complained bitterly at the police for firing tear gas.

“Why did they fire the tear gas?” one lady victim asked.

“We were about to go home already!” another said.

“We were peaceful,” a Malay man said. “If we were rioters, we would have broken the shops to get water!”

Dear Paprika: Bersih 3.0 – The Day I Lost Respect For The Government
30 April 2012 – loyarburok


‘Maggi mee’ and ‘roti bun’ while kids of BN leaders are millionaires in their 20s

The on-going PTPTN issue is really very telling. In all probability it will be like the proverbial fourth stone that broke the camel’s back for BN.

Just take cognizance of the Tun Dr Mahathir’s statement. He says that it was saudara Anwar Ibrahim who put the education loan system in place when DSAI was the deputy prime minister.

Now any unschooled silly would retort, “Then what the hell were you doing when you were the boss then? Couldn’t you have stopped it for heaven’s sake”

If the Tun Dr did not lift a finger to throw Anwar Ibrahim’s idea to introduce the PTPTN, then does it not mean that the then PM is more guilty of this unjustified burden on our young and their families?

Tycoons let off but not students

Students are not wrong in asking why is it that the BN led government can let tycoons and cronies get off scot free from multi-billion ringgit scandals and mismanagement whereas a poor graduate with a merger starting-salary of RM1,500 is punished without mercy for non-repayment of a few thousand ringgit loan.

Students are asking where are all the mega bucks from the oil money going to. They are asking how come the Tun is still having a palatial and premium office for himself at the PETRONAS Twin Towers when he is no more employed as the prime minister. They want to know where is the rental coming from, let alone the maintenance of his private office.

They are asking this question because they cannot enjoy even a single ringgit as relief for fees whereas so many ministers are living a high-flying lifestyle.

Children of the BN leaders millionaires in their 20s

Students are angry because they read about sons and daughters of who is who in town within the power barricades of BN, enjoying a lavish lifestyle, driving exotic cars and becoming millionaires in their twenties whereas the tens of thousands of students have to borrow to study and end up paying through their noses to settle the loan.

Students are not wrong is demanding answers when they witness sagas like cow-gate, anak-gate, toll-gate, aman-gate and numerous other gates raking in benefits and bonuses and extravagance whereas the students have to eat magie mee to see through university.

‘Maggi mee’ and ‘roti bun’ while kids of BN leaders are millionaires in their 20s
Written by J. D. Lovrenciear
16 April 2012 – Malaysia Chronicle


Police response during BERSIH 3.0 rally disproportionate and excessive

Press Release: Police response during BERSIH 3.0 rally disproportionate and excessive

The Malaysian Bar is appalled at the abuse of the legal process and grotesque use of force by the police in connection with the BERSIH 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, 28 April 2012.

The crowds that had gathered for the BERSIH 3.0 rally reflected a broad cross-section of Malaysian society, and were peaceful. The police were initially restrained, although they did try to stop people from reaching various pre-announced meeting points. However, the attitude of the police underwent a sea-change at 3:00 pm that day. The reported breach of police barricades in some areas does not justify the police unleashing the full force of their arsenal upon crowds that were peaceful. The police have shown in this incident that they do not have the maturity, discipline and restraint required of a professional force. In this regard the Malaysian Bar strongly disagrees with the Minister of Home Affairs’ assertion that the police acted professionally.

The court order excluding members of the public from Dataran Merdeka is arguably defective in law due to a lack of specificity. Given that the BERSIH 3.0 rally had been announced on 4 April 2012, there was no need to have obtained the order ex parte. There had been ample opportunity for the relevant parties to be heard before deciding if such an order deserved to be issued. In addition, the order was obtained with respect to a situation of the authorities’ own making, by their unjustifiable denial of access to Dataran Merdeka. It is important to bear in mind that the Minister of Home Affairs had previously announced that the BERSIH 3.0 rally was not a security threat.

Nonetheless, having obtained the exclusion order, the police proceeded to disrespect the order by unilaterally closing additional roads and restricting access to other areas not covered by its terms. The terms of the order itself, the closing of the roads and the restriction in access gave rise to a tense situation that contributed to the unnecessary violence that occurred.

As has been done with some other public assemblies in the past, the Malaysian Bar deployed lawyers and pupils-in-chambers to act as monitors during the rally, numbering approximately 80. Our monitoring teams reported witnessing the use of an array of heavy-handed tactics by the police, including the indiscriminate discharging of multiple rounds of tear gas without any obvious provocation, and arbitrary use of water cannons. Police fired tear gas directly at the crowd. They also manoeuvred their firing pattern to box in the participants rather than allowing them to disperse quickly. This is not action to disperse, but is instead designed to attack, a crowd. When items were thrown at the police, the police stooped to return like for like.

The Malaysian Bar does not countenance the belligerent conduct shown by a number of the participants. However, we express deep and serious concern as to how the police responded. The police displayed a lack of restraint and proportionality, reminiscent of their actions at the BERSIH 2.0 rally on 9 July 2011. Instead of displaying action to calm the situation, they instead aggravated it and contributed to the escalation of the conflict. Although organisers of public gatherings must bear some responsibility when things get out of hand due to their action or inaction, this does not and cannot excuse the response of the police.

Press Release: Police response during BERSIH 3.0 rally disproportionate and excessive
Sunday, 29 April – Malaysian Bar


Voices in a BERSIH night

COMMENT It was the night before the Bersih 3.0 storm and I was wandering around Dataran Merdeka attempting to discover (like the many other demonstrations I had attended all these years before) exactly why some Malaysians felt compelled to take their concerns to the streets.

The area was filled with Khairy Jamaluddin’s “anomalies”. And by anomalies I mean those souls who rejected the Umno regime’s divisive policies and ideologies that sought to imprison them in racial or religious cages.

dataran merdeka eve of bersih 3.0 rally 270412 7It seemed that people were not only willing to sit and protest but this night, they were also willing to talk.

And their talk, after a little hesitation, was colour- and religioun-blind. Indeed, what for so long had been confined to the anonymous spaces of the Internet was unleashed on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. There was no worry of ‘sensitive issues’, only a desire to be understood and the recognition of fellowship borne of nervous tension and a determination to see this through.

I have been accused of being a “classical pseudo multiracialist” and in the telling of this tale I will make no attempt to mask the racial make-up of those I encountered.

It is comforting for those who champion the cause of their ‘own race’ to continue seeing the ‘other’ as the antagonist, but this night all our racial preoccupations were mixed-up and the reality that was coalescing for Malaysians that night was that what they wanted was the same even though what separated us was the regime’s corrupting influence that affected us all in different ways.

Retired Malay civil servants

The first group I encountered was a regretful mélange of retired Malay senior civil servants. A former diplomat bemoaned the fact that a cigar-chomping political crony with an “alleged charge of molestation” against a waitress besmirching his reputation was posted as an ambassador to the most powerful country in the world – the same ‘diplomat’ who made racial slurs against Indian students before his appointment as ambassador. To think, he mused, we used to have a fairly reputable foreign service.

Or how about the cacophony that spewed vitriol against former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for turning the civil service into a tool for the Umno regime and poisoning whatever multiracialism that existed in the service.

You would be surprised at the anger and deep frustration that this group displayed towards Umno policies like the BTN (Biro Tatanegara) and the way how it affected their children. And of course, the issue of the way Islam was being used to manipulate the civil service came up and these retirees were adamant that any new government should tackle this issue head-on if any legitimate change was to be instituted.

Voices in a BERSIH night
S Thayaparan
Apr 29, 2012 – Malaysiakini


Malaysian Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesters – WSJ

Bersih 3.0 - Teargas

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water at thousands of protesters demonstrating for cleaner elections, potentially undermining Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to present himself as a political reformer with elections months away.

Riot police took action on Saturday when some of the tens of thousands of demonstrators began encroaching on the historic Merdeka Square in the center of downtown Kuala Lumpur, despite police and government warnings to keep away from the area. Some groups of demonstrators lingered in the area for hours, and at least 388 demonstrators were detained, police said. Rally organizers criticized the police response as unnecessary and disproportionate.
Clashes in Kuala Lumpur

Last year, police broke up a similar rally with tear gas and water cannon, and briefly detained about 1,600 members of the Bersih activist group, whose name means “clean” in Malay. That earned Mr. Najib’s government international condemnation and prompted him to move forward on a series of political overhauls, including ending the Southeast Asian nation’s Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite, warrantless detention.

Protest leaders earlier Saturday said they would march up to the heavily guarded perimeter of Merdeka, or Independence, Square, where Malaysia first hoisted its national flag after independence from Britain. There they held a sit-down protest in the surrounding streets, joined by opposition politicians including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Among other things, the yellow-clad Bersih supporters are demanding that the country’s electoral rolls be cleaned up to prevent fraudulent voting and that alleged biases within the country’s election agency be removed. In addition, they want international observers to monitor polls and also ensure that all political parties get similar access to government-controlled broadcasters and newspapers, which dominate the media in Malaysia. The protesters also want to enable Malaysians living overseas to be able to cast ballots. The next elections must be called by March 2013.

“Today is our day. No one can take it away from us,” Ambiga Sreenevasan, one of the co-founders of the Bersih group, told a crowd before beginning a march toward Merdeka Square. “Today we speak with a clear voice: We want clean elections.”

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal earlier, Ms. Sreenevasan said, “today we have reclaimed our public spaces.

“The atmosphere is simply amazing,” she said. “The camaraderie amongst everyone is unmistakable.”

Malaysian Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesters
April 28, 2012 – WSJ


“Kerajaan Zalim!”

At about 1.40pm, the crowd began to move forward led by Ambiga and other leaders of Bersih and we were joined by others along the way. From my vantage point, I could see that there were plenty of people all the way from Pudu Sentral up to the junction of Tun Perak/Tuanku Abdul Rahman Junction and there were more along the major side roads.

It was nearly 2pm and the crowd was waiting patiently along Jalan Tun Perak, as we could not move forward. Shouts of “Bersih” and “Bangun Rakyat” could be heard as well as renditions of “Negara Ku”. I was at the Masjid Jamek station when I heard a popping sound and realised that tear gas canisters had been fired. Chaos ensued. The crowd was not aware that Ambiga had given instructions for the rally to disperse as we were far away and as such, the actions of the police caught everyone by surprise! Suddenly, my eyes began to sting and I could not breathe but it was quite impossible to move forward. There was a mak cik in front of me and she tripped. I managed to catch hold of her because I feared she would be trampled and I managed to move to a side road. By then, I was already in tears due to the chemicals but there were strangers of all races handing out salt and helping others. We helped each other to move further away as the police were continuing to fire more tear gas canisters. I had a 20-something Malay chap begging me for some water and I gave him whatever I had even though I needed it badly for myself. I sat beside a Malay family and an Indian guy and a lady of about 65 said to me this “ Kerajaan Zalim!” I replied in my Kedahan accent and said “ Memang!” We started chatting as a group and the mak cik said something that really moved me: “Encik, kita orang Melayu tidak benci orang Cina atau India, kita semua rakyat negara ini. Yang buat huru hara adalah orang politik dan Perkasa”. I thanked her profusely and moved on to Menara Maybank which wasn’t safe as well as all the exits to join Pudu were locked down and tear gas continued to be fired. Finally, I reached the safety of Chinatown and sat down again for a drink.

Bersih 3.0: An awakening — Cee Kay
April 29, 2012 – TMI


Behind the Barbed-Wire Barricades – Rantings byMM

I got to the front of the barrier where someone had put up a sign that said ‘Welcome to Tel Aviv’. It felt very accurate. The police recognised me and nodded. I asked them, “What is this?” pointing at the razor wire, which has blades on them which can seriously cut you if you get hurled on to them (see close-up pic above). The senior cop there shrugged and gave a wan smile. “This makes me sad,” I said to him. Again he shrugged.

We stood there for a while. Some people started to sing Negara Ku so we all joined in. The senior cop who shrugged at me stood at attention, really the only one who did so. Some people started chanting ‘Bukak, bukak!’ meaning open the barriers. But overall there were high spirits but nothing provocative.

Then suddenly all the cops moved back, away from us. We were puzzled but in a short while we realised why. Several police trucks moved in and headed in our direction. For a moment I wondered if they were simply going to mow us down. Then they retreated again. Next a whole row of police with helmets, batons and shields formed in front of the trucks facing us. Again we wondered if they were going to charge us, which seems silly because they too would have come up against the razor wire.

Someone then told us to sit down. So we did on our side of the barrier while on the other side, about 10 metres away, the police were lined up with their shields and batons. It looked like it was going to be a battle of wills, who would last longer in the heat . We were prepared to sit for the next two hours til 4pm, the appointed dispersal time.

My Bersih 3.0 Experience: Behind the Barbed-Wire Barricades
28 April 2012


Clashes with protesters could delay national polls

Police fired tear gas and water cannon in clashes with thousands of protesters demanding electoral reforms today, raising the risk of a political backlash that could delay national polls which had been expected as early as June.

Riot police reacted after some protesters among the crowd of at least 25,000 tried to break through barriers, in defiance of a court order banning them from entering the city’s historic Merdeka Square. They fired dozens of tear gas rounds and chased protesters through nearby streets.

Protesters also battled with police at a train station nearby, throwing bottles and chairs at officers who responded by firing tear gas rounds.

A police car was overturned by angry protesters after it hit demonstrators. Most of the protesters had dispersed by early evening but sporadic clashes with police continued.

“They (the police) asked the crowd to disperse but did not give enough warning,” said Aminah Bakri, 27, with tears streaming down her face from the gas. “They do not care.”

The police reaction could carry risks for Prime Minister Najib Razak if it is seen as too harsh, possibly forcing him to delay elections that must be called by next March but which many observers had expected for June.

Najib’s approval rating tumbled after July last year when police were accused of a heavy handed response to the last major electoral reform rally by the Bersih group. It has since rebounded to nearly 70 percent.

Some media sites put the number of protesters as high as 100,000, which would make it by far the biggest since ‘Reformasi’ demonstrations in 1998 against then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The protest posed a delicate challenge for Najib, who is anxious to attract middle-class voters ahead of an election that is shaping up as the closest in Malaysia’s history.

But Najib must be mindful of conservatives in his party, wary his moves to relax tough security laws and push limited election reforms could threaten their 55-year hold on power.

Human Rights Watch was quick to condemn the police action.

“By launching a crackdown on peaceful … protesters on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian government is once again showing its contempt for its people’s basic rights and
freedoms,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy Asia director.

Clashes with protesters could delay national polls
Apr 28, 2012 – Malaysiakini

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?