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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Today, Malaysians revisit Bersih 2007

JULY 9 — Despite Putrajaya’s best efforts, the authorities failed today to prevent a repeat of the first Bersih street rally four years ago that was credited for shrinking Barisan Nasional’s (BN) voter support in Election 2008.

The Najib administration appears to have taken a massive punch to its gut as thousands thronged the city’s streets in the afternoon downpour in support of Bersih 2.0’s call for electoral reform and ignored the government’s description of troublemakers intent of sabotaging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership.

Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan coolly kept her equanimity and remained open to discussions with Putrajaya but the BN government’s move to clamp down on her and the grassroots movement she represents turned the veteran lawyer into an icon of dissent.

The clearest thing this rally has showed is that the middle class and civil society are more willing than ever to stand up and act when faced with a government that does not listen when engaged in civil discussion, not even hesitating to pull out all stops and employ public institutions like the police to act against the public.

Even when Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin made a rare intercession to bring both sides to the negotiating table.

International news coverage of the Bersih affair today showed the world armed police personnel launching tear gas and chemically-laced water into thousands of unarmed civilians. It was the same in 2007 when Bersih first marched.

Today’s show is more likely to rejuvenate the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact’s march to claim Putrajaya, a near impossible task in a country where the incumbent controls all levers of the state.

Najib’s reputation worldwide is likely to suffer some damage as he has been styling himself a modern, moderate Muslim leader able to effect government and economic reforms to ramp Malaysia into the upper levels of high-income nations.

A Barisan Nasional (BN) deputy minister lamented today the failure of the ruling coalition to discuss terms with the outlawed Bersih 2.0, whose supporters have amassed in the city by the tens of thousands despite a police lockdown of the federal capital.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah told The Malaysian Insider that the government “should have discussed the proposal on how to address a peaceful assembly” as recommended by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).

“In terms of political communication, we have lots of repair to do,” the deputy education minister said.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said a total of 1,401 people, including 13 children, were arrested, but would all be eventually released after investigation, even as he tried to downplay the crowd turnout, claiming only 6,000 took part.

Despite the arrests of Ambiga and other top Bersih 2.0 leaders, the movement managed to gain ground today under the stewardship of national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said who called the rally a “great success” as an estimated 50,000 people turned out in support of their movement.

Counter rallies planned by its critics Umno Youth fizzled out with less than 500 turning up while strident Malay national group Perkasa failed to show for all its thunder.

“I have never seen all the races in Malaysia so united for one cause before,” Samad said.

The soft-spoken poet also said the supporters of Bersih 2.0 were more multiracial this time compared to its previous incarnation in 2007 as Bersih.

It is something that Najib will have to ponder as he moves to stamp his mark with his 1 Malaysia idea and New Economic Model (NEM) programmes to revive Malaysia’s prosperity and get a popular mandate to continue ruling this country of 28 million people.

Protest claims one life

The husband of a PKR branch leader died when he collapsed while fleeing from the tear gas fired by the police.

KUALA LUMPUR: The husband of a PKR branch leader died after collapsing at KLCC when the police fired tear gas at a group of Bersih 2.0 protesters.

According to party leader Latheefa Koya, the deceased had been identified as Baharuddin Ahmad, 59.

His wife, Rosni Malan, the PKR Setiawangsa chief, was at Stadium Merdeka when the incident happened.

According to Latheefa, Baharuddin ran when the police fired tear gas and he had tripped over another person.
He was then rushed to Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where he was pronounced dead.

Latheefa is currently checking with the family to determine if a post-mortem should be conducted.

Bersih Photo Galerry

Ambiga and Hadi freed, claim victory for democracy

Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang were released at 6.30pm today after giving their statements to police at the Kuala Lumpur Contingent Police Headquarters (IPK KL).

azlanSpeaking outside of the IPK KL, Ambiga congratulated Malaysians for turning out in force.

“What I can say is, again, syabas rakyat Malaysia, we were not intimidated.

“This is no longer just about electoral reform. What we have achieved today was the rakyat's wish to have a sophisticated democratic process. It has opened the rakyat's eyes, that is what has been achieved,” she said.

She was the first among the seven who are detained at the KL headquarters to be released.

The seven were Ambiga, Hadi, Bersih steering committee members Maria Chin Abdullah and Jude Rubis, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim's younger daughter Nurul Iman, and two others.

KL CID chief Ku Chin Wah said that all detainees will be released by tonight.

“We hope to release all those in Pulapol (Police Training Centre) in stages by 6.30pm today and by 9pm for those at Jinjang and IPK,” he said.

Ku said that those in Pulapol will be taken back to where they were arrested and released there.

Bersih 2.0 - 9 Julai 2011

Bersih 2.0: Early scenes of Kampung Baru

Live – Bersih 2.0 gathering

Live updates from the Bersih 2.0 gathering in Kuala Lumpur to campaign for clean and fair elections. - By Anil Netto

Police fire teargas at protesters, 321 held

The police are expected to make arrests in the coming hours.

KUALA LUMPUR: Police fired teargas at protesters at Dataran Merdeka here today as the lock-down of the federal capital goes into full swing.

The riot police fired the teargas rounds at the protesters gathering at Dataran Merdeka in preparation for the march to Stadium Merdeka scheduled for 2pm.

The number of those arrested has also increased drastically to more than 321.

Most of them were picked up near Masjid Jamek, Masjid Negara and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. They have been transported to the police training centre (Pulapol) in Jalan Semarak.

The crowd of Bersih supporters appeared to be swelling at these locations prompting police to swing into action. The largest gathering was at Masjid Negara with some 300 to 400 Bersih supporters chanting the “takbir”. They had been told to disperse but have yet to do so.

The police are expected to make arrests in a couple of minutes. The Bersih supporters are at the old KTM building beside the national mosque.

Meanwhile, the police said they have the situation under control. Contacted at noon, acting city police chief Amar Singh told FMT that everything is in order and the city is “very safe”.

However, he declined to comment on the number of people arrested so far, saying that the figures will be revealed at a press conference later in the day.

Police have mounted roadblocks at all major roads leading to the city while LRT passengers are being checked since early this morning.

FMT reporters on the ground report that there was heavy police presence in the city, especially in “hotspots” like Dataran Merdeka, Masjid Negara, Jalan Tun Perak, and Jalan Raja Laut, just to name a few.

Late last night police “raided” small hotels in the city to flush out outstation Bersih supporters who have come to the city for the rally.

Police have also been using helicopters to monitor the situation since this morning.

They have mounted a roadblock at the Sungai Besi toll, checking all cars. The roadblock has caused a traffic snarl for those wanting to enter the city, which, for the time being, resembles a ghost town with hardly any cars on the roads.

Dataran Merdeka, meanwhile, has been completely cordoned off.

Reports from the ground also say that the LRT system seems to be running smoothly but policemen have been placed at all stations.

They were seen checking bags of suspected passengers. At least four people have been arrested at the Masjid Jamek LRT station, while another eight near the Sogo shopping centre at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

There are also reports that some stations like the Jalan Maharajalela LRT station have been shut down for the time being.

Among those arrested at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is a protester who identified himself as Omar Mokhtar Abdullah.

Omar shouted at the police as they were approaching a larger group of protesters to warn them to disperse.

“Don’t worry, (Kelantan Menteri Besar) Nik Aziz (Nik Mat) will be here with many buses, coming to Kuala Lumpur!”

After a few attempts to get him to leave, police then grabbed Omar and led him to a patrol car.

Omar earlier showed FTM an allegedly self-made yellow T-shirt with the words: “Kotor, Dark Justice”.
He said that he chose “Kotor” to refer to the government. “Dark Justice”, Omar claimed, was his nickname.

The Bersih rally is organised to cal for free and fair elections. The government has banned the organisation but gave the go-ahead for the rally in a stadium.

Bersih organisers had suggested Stadium Merdeka as the venue but failed to get approval from stadium management for the use of the historic site.

They had also failed to obtain police permit for the planned event.

At the stadium itself, the situation is calm. The police have mounted roadblocks at Jalan Maharajalela and Jalan Stadium.

About 30 policemen have been stationed at the entrance of the stadium.


Shaykh Safwat Hegazy: "Jerusalem Belongs to Us, and the Whole World Belongs to Us"

In this video, popular Egyptian Shaykh Safwat Hegazy threatens Jews and Christians, and ultimately the whole world, saying, "Jerusalem belongs to us, and the whole world belongs to us." He states the Islamic caliphate will return, and that "every land upon which Islam has set foot will return to us." He makes poignant references to Qurayza and Khaybar, which are clear threats against the Jews, and also states, "we will kill anyone who has polluted the al-Aqsa Mosque."

It is important to note that Hegazy is not some kooky, fringe shaykh with no following. He is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and has been involved with several satellite television shows, including his show "Age of Glory" on the al-Nas television network. He addressed crowds at Tahrir Square in Cairo during the revolution against Mubarak, and could be seen standing directly behind Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi when the latter led between 1-2 million Muslims in Tahrir Square in prayer after Mubarak stepped down.

This was translated from a video clip posted on YouTube 2 Oct 2009. Subtitled video is above, transcript is below:
If they destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque, we will build it again. We will liberate it. Just as the Prophet David did, we will liberate it. As the Prophet Adam built it, we will build it. As the Prophet Jacob built it, we will build it. We will cleanse the rock on which the Prophet Jacob slept. We will cleanse the rock on which the Prophet ‘Isa (Jesus) was crucified. We will cleanse the rock from which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was taken up. We will cleanse this noble, pure rock, and we will build the al-Aqsa Mosque. So what if they raid it--the dust does not matter to us. The rocks and the buildings do not matter to us. Al-Aqsa belongs to us. Jerusalem belongs to us. Palestine belongs to us.
I say to Allenby, General Allenby, that the Crusader wars have not ended. I say unto General Gouraud that the feet of those who come near Saladin’s tomb will be cut off. I say unto them that if you are the descendants of the Crusaders, then we are the descendants of Saladin. I say to him, that in the year 1920, you said, “We have returned, Saladin.” I say to you today that you have left Damascus and Beirut, and your children and descendants will leave Jerusalem. I say unto you that we are the descendants of Saladin, we are the descendants of ‘Umar bin Khattab, we are the descendants of Khalid ibn Walid, we are the descendants of the Prophet of Allah (PBUH). We are the children of Islam, the children of prophecy, the children of ‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.’
I say unto you Gouraud, we will return and we will kill anyone who has polluted the al-Aqsa Mosque. I say unto you that we will return, as the day of Qurayza from long ago. I say unto you that we will return, as the day of Khaybar from long ago. I say unto you that we will return. Jerusalem belongs to us. Al-Aqsa belongs to us. Jerusalem belongs to us, and the whole world belongs to us. Every land upon which Islam has set foot will return to us. The caliphate will return to us, on the platform of prophecy. The greatness and glory of Islam will return. Its justice will cover this land. I say unto you Gouraud, you Frenchman, that the land of Islam will return, and we will pray in Jerusalem.

'Yellow' arrest

Lockdown in KL from midnight

Government cannot stop us, says Bersih

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Bersih has insisted that the government has no right to stop its rally at Stadium Merdeka tomorrow despite last-minute attempts to secure the venue coming to nought.

The electoral reforms movement also called for Malaysians to show their patriotism and stand up against what it called the lack of principle shown by the Najib administration.

“No government agency has any right whatsoever to prevent Malaysians from exercising their freedom of movement and access to our capital city.

“Malaysians have now seen the degree of paranoia and lack of principled leadership that seems to have gripped the government. It is imperative that patriotic Malaysians rise now and take this stand together to save Malaysia from slipping further into this insane darkness,” it said.

In a statement released this evening, the coalition of 62 NGOs accused the authorities of putting “obstacle after obstacle where they only needed to provide sincere cooperation to win the trust and confidence of the people.”

“Half-hearted offers of stadiums, arrogance regarding meetings, denials of permits, arrests, detentions ... we feel that we have done all that is humanly possible to demonstrate sincerity and good faith in dealing with the government — but we have only been met with reversed decisions and stone walls,” it said.

Dang Wangi police told the movement today that it would not allow the gathering to be held at the stadium, a day after city police had obtained a court order barring 14 of its leaders along with 77 others from Umno Youth, Perkasa and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) from entering the capital tomorrow.

Cabinet ministers and the police have told Bersih to take its rally outside Kuala Lumpur despite the coalition accepting on Tuesday the government’s offer to move its street protest to a stadium.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s offer came after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had stepped in on Sunday to defuse tension by advising Putrajaya and Bersih 2.0 to hold consultations over the issue of free and fair elections.

But the Najib administration still considers the movement illegal and the police have continued to make arrests in connection with the rally, most of which revolve around yellow T-shirts with the word Bersih emblazoned on them.

The police have also promised that they will act against any Bersih-related activity, even up to Saturday’s rally as long as it was still not a legally registered outfit.

“The Bersih 2.0 leadership reiterates our own unyielding commitment to our shared cause, and to being at Stadium Merdeka at 2pm tomorrow. We will meet at the car park, and trust that the doors will be opened for us,” Bersih added.

Only King can declare Emergency, says constitutional lawyer

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Constitutional lawyer Tommy Thomas assured the public today that only the King has the power to declare a state of Emergency as speculators claim the federal government will deploy the armed forces to control demonstrators ahead of Bersih 2.0’s electoral reform rally tomorrow.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein pledged earlier today that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government will not send out military personnel to the city’s streets for the Bersih rally tomorrow, nor will Internet services be disrupted.

But the police’s steps to increase security around the city with a court order banning 91 individuals linked to Bersih 2.0, Umno Youth and Perkasa from entering Kuala Lumpur’s business and shopping districts are fuelling rumours of an impending Emergency that may allow martial law and a curfew to be imposed.

Thomas said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin has limited powers as a constitutional monarch under Articles 32 and 39 of the Federal Constitution but still has a role to play in declaring a state of Emergency and in any order involving the army, navy and air forces as he is the supreme commander of the armed forces, as spelled out in Article 41.

“The Agong acts on the prime minister’s advice, but he has a role to play in declaring Emergency. While the prime minister is a key player, he cannot force the King to sign the Proclamation of Emergency which is a document to declare a state of emergency,” the prominent lawyer told The Malaysian Insider.

To support his case, he cited Article 150 (1): “If the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making therein a declaration to that effect.”

The former Bar Council secretary said further that even though the Federal Constitution provides that the King must act on advice from the prime minister, the nation’s highest law also prescribes exceptions to the rule as can be seen in Articles 40 (1) and (1A).

“Although the prime minister recommends an Emergency, the issuance ... the signing of the document is by the King. The Proclamation of Emergency is a document that has to have a signatory and that signature has to be the King’s and not anyone else’s. The prime minister cannot sign the document,” he said.

“So he can say whatever he wants but the signing matters and the role of the signatory cannot be undermined, otherwise there would be a constitutional impasse,” Thomas added.

He noted that since Independence on August 31, 1957, at least three Emergencies have been declared.
He listed a regional emergency in Sarawak in the mid-1960s over the controversial appointment of Tan Sri Stephan Kalong Ningkan as the state’s first chief minister, adding it had triggered a constitutional impasse.

Another regional emergency was declared in Kelantan 11 years ago over the arms heist in Sauk by terrorist group, Al-Maunah, that ended when the nation’s security forces, including the army’s special forces, 22nd Grup Gerak Khas and the police’s VAT 69 Pasukan Gerakan Khas, were enlisted.

But by far the most famous incident was when national Emergency was declared over the May 13, 1969 riots.

The veteran lawyer acknowledged that some quarters believe that since the proclamation was never officially revoked, the country is still in a state of Emergency despite the lapse of 42 years since the incident.

“Nonsense! Forty years have passed and normalcy has returned,” Thomas said, adding that several general elections have also been carried out, which would not be possible if the country were still in an emergency.

“Of course, it was never formally revoked but the reality is that Malaysians are no longer living under a grave condition. We can travel. For practical purposes, that Emergency has come to an end,” he said.
“What it means is that if they want extraordinary powers today, they would have to declare a new Emergency under Article 150,” Thomas said. - TMI

Running Scared in Malaysia

A clean and fair elections would mean the end of Najib and his ruling coalition, says John Malott.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former US ambassador John R Malott believes Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s “is running scared” given his guile handling of Bersih.

Malott, who was Washington’s envoy here from 1995-98, in an opinion published in the Wall Street Journal today said a clean and fair elections in Malaysian would mean the end of Najib and his ruling coalition.

“Bersih’s main issue is not freedom of assembly but the fairness of Malaysia’s democratic process. Bersih’s backers ask how anyone can be opposed to free and fair elections.

“It’s an easy question to answer. The United Malays National Organisation (Umno), of which Najib is president, is the longest continuing ruling party in the world, and it is running scared.

“Many observers of Malaysian politics believe that electoral reform will lead to the ruling party’s defeat, and that is why Umno is afraid of Bersih,” he said.

Malott also accused Najib of undermining the authority of the King when he backpedalled on his promise to provide a stadium for Bersih to hold its July 9 rally if it agreed to call of its planned street protests.

“Najib has undermined the authority of the king, who gave Bersih and its concerns credence by meeting with its leadership and calling for a negotiated solution”.

King’s advise was of peace and harmony

Despite the gravity of Yang Di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s advise, that Najib’s government and Bersih dialogue on electoral reform, he now appears disinterested in fulfilling his promise, telling Bersih that it would not be allowed to hold its rally anywhere within the capital city.
Malott had described the King’s intervention as wise and done in the spirit of peace and harmony.

Najib seems to be cleaning his hands off the calamity by passing the buck to the police, giving them full discretionary power to decide if Bersih could hold its rally tomorrow in a stadium.

Najib’s cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also appeared to have ignored the King’s call for peace and refused to revoke the ban on Bersih.

Its status as an “illegal organisation” remains with the police threatening arrests on any one displaying the Bersih insignia openly.

More than 250 arrests have been made in relation to the planned rally. The majority of them were arrested for simply wearing yellow Bersih tees or badges.

Bersih, a coalition of 62 registered NGOs, said they were dismayed by Najib’s drastic turnabout, saying he had reneged on his promise.

This led them to decide on the historic Stadium Merdeka as the venue for the rally with or without a permit tomorrow.

The police yesterday issued a banning order on 91 people. The ban includes Bersih chairman S Ambiga and notable opposition figures like Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim and DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and right wing group Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali have also been barred from entering the city for their attempted move to hold counter-rallies.

Malaysian elections unfair

Malott said Bersih’s demands for electoral reform is valid despite the government’s attempt to negate accusations of a flawed election system by pointing to the opposition’s 2008 election gains.

“Najib and his allies say that the opposition’s gains in 2008 prove that Malaysia’s elections are free and fair. Impartial observers disagree. Academic studies have enumerated how the Election Commission gerrymanders electoral districts to benefit the ruling party.

According to Malott, the US State Department’s human rights report states that opposition parties in Malaysia are unable to compete on equal terms with the governing coalition because of restrictions on campaigning and freedom of assembly and association.

“News of the opposition,” the US says, is “tightly restricted and reported in a biased fashion.”
The department also reported that despite the many election irregularities during the 2008 election, “most observers concluded they did not substantially alter the results” but Malott said “unless the electoral reforms that Bersih is calling for are made, we will never know”.

The former US ambassador to Malaysia also encouraged Malaysians to “exercise their constitutional rights”

“Tomorrow’s protest represents a brave step in what Malaysians but also the international community should hope will begin the country’s transition to full democracy.

“Najib should display courage and ensure that a peaceful rally that seeks the fundamental rights of democratic peoples everywhere does not turn into a bloody confrontation.”

Khalid, Chegu Bard tetap sertai Bersih esok

Kedua-duanya memberi alasan tidak mendapat dokumen daripada pihak polis yang melarang mereka memasuki Kuala Lumpur esok.

PETALING JAYA: Dua pemimpin pembangkang – Khalid Samad dari PAS dan Badrul Hisham Shaharin dari PKR – mengesahkan akan menyertai perhimpunan Bersih di Kuala Lumpur esok.

Khalid adalah Ahli Parlimen Shah Alam manakala Badrul Hisham atau CheguBard adalah Ahli Majlis Tertinggi (MT) PKR.

Kedua-duanya memberi alasan tidak mendapat dokumen daripada pihak polis yang melarang mereka memasuki Kuala Lumpur esok.

“Saya tidak faham mengapa larangan tersebut dikeluarkan walhal pihak penganjur berkali-kali memberi jaminan bahawa himpunan itu akan berlangsung secara aman.

“Saya pun tak faham di mana logiknya, seperti yang diulang berkali-kali, Bersih ini bukan bertujuan mahu mencetuskan huru-hara tetapi kita ni perhimpunan aman, jadi jangan samakan Bersih dengan Israel.”

“Bersih ni bukan pertubuhan haram, ia satu program anjuran 62 buah badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang sah yang berdaftar. Ia merupakan program dan bukan pertubuhan, lalu saya tak faham apa alasan dan hujah pihak polis dalam perkara ini,” katanya hari ini.

Semalam, polis berjaya mendapatkan perintah mahkamah untuk menghalang 91 individu merangkumi pemimpin NGO, Pakatan Rakyat, Pemuda Umno dan Perkasa, daripada memasuki Kuala Lumpur esok.

Pemangku Ketua Polis Kuala Lumpur Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh berkata, pelanggaran perintah berkenaan merupakan satu kesalahan di bawah Seksyen 188 Kanun Keseksaan.

Manakala Badrul Hisham menegaskan beliau masih tidak menerima apa-apa dokumen rasmi daripada polis dan tetap akan menghadiri himpunan esok.

“Dokumen rasmi menghalang beliau dan 90 individu lagi daripada memasuki kawasan Kuala Lumpur esok sepatutnya dikeluarkan lebih awal bagi membolehkannya memberikan maklum balas.

“Secara undang-undang teknikalnya, saya tak pasti saya dapat ke tidak, kalau ada perintah mahkamah dia (polis) harus hantar kepada saya, perintah mahkamah tak boleh beritahu melalui media, saya pun sibuk dan saya tak tahu apa yang dilaporkan oleh media,” katanya.

Najib should postpone his trip

Our Prime Minister is abandoning the nation at its most crucial time, says Charles Santiago.

COMMENT - Free Malaysia Today
The censorship of memory is a clear mark of a dictator. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is no exception.

Not only did he flip flop on his decision to meet with Bersih 2.0 representatives, the premier also cleverly denied them access to hold a peaceful rally in Stadium Merdeka this Saturday.

If this is not embarrassing enough, Najib is set to leave the country tomorrow.

His official engagements in the UK and meeting with the Pope in Vatican City cannot be put on hold.

Any leader would stay in his country during the time of a political turmoil. Our Prime Minister is abandoning the nation at its most crucial time.

Every Malaysian is aware of the tension in the country over the last two weeks.

The nation has been besieged by arbitrary arrests, detentions and harassment against activists.
Najib’s cowardly act is of no surprise. We have seen the same during the time of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He was nowhere to be seen when the Operasi Lalang was carried out by the police on Oct 27, 1987.
A total of 106 opposition leaders and social activists were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial. The publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh, were revoked.

When Mahathir returned to the country, he blamed the former police chief Hanif Omar for the arrests.

Shameless behaviour

Are we going to see a repeat of government crackdown on Friday?

Will Najib leave, only to pave the way for more arbitrary arrests under ISA? Will his absence be used to declare a state of emergency in Kuala Lumpur?

Nothing that the government does would surprise Malaysians anymore. The ruling Umno/BN leaders have proven over and over that they would not hesitate to abuse their power to keep their positions intact.

This is shameless behavior.If Najib cares two hoots about the country and people, he will stay put.
Otherwise, he will only be too happy to get on the flight with his packed bags, leaving his cabinet ministers and police to do the dirty work for him.

Tomorrow, we would know the true calibre of this man Charles Santiago is DAP’s Klang MP.

Emotional blackmail won’t wash, Najib

Najib forgets that many of the people who are disgusted with his rule are the young

COMMENT - Free Malaysian Today
Why is Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak reminiscing about his father, Tun Abdul Razak? Is it because he wants to remind us of the past in the years after Merdeka or is he savouring the moments before Malaysia undergoes its most defining moment in her history since Independence?

Najib should be aware that very few of the older generation care for the way he (Najib) has led Umno/BN and that few of the things most of us valued since Merdeka, like justice, equality and respect, have been upheld by BN.

Najib said of his father, “Among the things I learned from him was on how to be patient and not to be too power-crazy.

“My father told me that he was afraid of absolute power. He was willing to make way for others to lead Umno after Datuk Onn Jaafar resigned as Umno president as he felt that he was not ready to be the number one in the party at that time.

“I don’t think such values are practised now as there are many power-crazy people who do not mind undercutting others, just to stay above the rest.”

Najib must be living in cloud cuckoo land. All he does has been about remaining in power. What does he call the Perak debacle when he allegedly paid various people, including VVIPs to do his bidding?
There are the other states too; the civil service appointment in Selangor was supposed to topple the state goverment, the Sarawak state elections and more.

Today, Najib talked about how his father taught him patience. But how many of the old are listening? Many of those who still remember his father, Abdul Razak do not have fond memories of his involvement and careful manouevering of the May 13 incident.

They may praise Abdul Razak for Felda, but it is his son, Najib, who has reduced this organization to a pitiful version of this once mighty outfit.

Saturday July 9 will be Malaysia’s defining moment. By and large, we are a peaceful nation and we do not spill over onto the streets just because we are displeased with something.

If anything, we are very reticent about revealing our true feelings and would rather take the ‘tidak-apa, sabar lah’ attitude, rather than talk rationally and discuss with those who have courted our displeasure.

Perhaps this is our failing – the failure to properly engage with others around us. Is this because of our culture? Or our upbringing? Or is it the Asian values which we are proud of and which we practise in our daily lives which are the complete opposite of those ‘westerners’ whom we feel hold nothing back? Why is it that when we protect our ‘face’, we are prepared to be trampled on or trample on others?

Malaysians versus political thieves

Malaysia does not have her own Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian student who had to peddle fruit and vegetables in the streets in order to feed his family. Boauzizi died after his desperate act of self-immolation and became a hero, not just in Tunisia but also across north Africa and the middle east.
No we do not wish anyone to be harmed or to harm others or for property to be damaged or that people are inconvenienced.

What we do demand is for acknowledgement and the right to be heard. As individuals, we may not achieve much but at least the authorities will realize that people are not prepared to keep silent or tolerate injustices or human rights abuses any longer.

As a collective, we realize that our requests might be heard. That is where Bersih comes in. But our leaders are too vain or too arrogant to realize this. Perhaps that is why they have been able to continue with their ways at our expense.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has compared the Bersih march to a clash between Malays and non-Malays. He is wrong.

It is a clash between Malaysians and political thieves like himself who have stolen our rights and who have used race and religion to divide us.

Prime Minister Najib, in the remaining hours before he departs for the United Kingdom, is panic stricken and an ineffective leader.

His deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin has passed the buck to the police to deal with the demonstration on 9th July. What sort of a leader is that?

He said, “I leave it to the IGP (inspector-general of police) to decide what are the appropriate actions that should be taken, I don’t want to assume.”

After days of arrests and intimidation, is this the Malaysian cabinet in action? One flees the country, one absolves himself of responsibility whilst the Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein just bans everything in his sight.

After dragging royalty into the political limelight, Najib then retracted on earlier promises about holding the rally in a stadium or meeting with Bersih and he wonders why the people are angry.

Earlier, Najib had told the crowds at Universiti Teknologi Mara in Bandar Tun Abdul Razak that lessons should be learnt in history so that mistakes will not be repeated. It appears that history is not one of Najib’s strong subjects.

In the final hours as Malaysia faces its most crucial upheaval since Merdeka, the Umno/BN government has again failed its people by refusing to engage with the rakyat.

Enough is enough

Najib forgets that many of the people who are disgusted with his rule are the young. How many of our graduates are jobless? How many are denied scholarships?

How many of the rich and well-connected are given study loans, scholarships and places at university? How many Malays does he think he can give civil servant jobs to?

He must know about the endemic corruption, the rising prices, the waste of taxpayers’ money. Does he care?

We loathe politicians who have made our lives a misery whilst they grow rich and abuse their power, at our expense.

How many of us would have predicted the democracy march of July 9? We have long been seen as a stable country, a moderate Muslim state whose people were seemingly happy with the way they are ruled.

How many foreigners who pass through realise that it is a land of unemployment, corruption, repression, arrests without detention and divisions created by race and religion?

Tomorrow, Malaysians will wake up to a better future and tell each other, that ‘enough is enough’.

Mariam Mokhtar is a local political observer and an FMT columnist. She is presently in Geneva looking for a Bersih rally to attend.

'BN acting like a person told by doctor of impending death'

(Harakah Daily) - As police stepped up roadblocks at major roads leading to the capital late this evening, causing miles of traffic congestion, PAS has called on prime minister Najib Razak not to further burden the force.

Najib had earlier said that the government would leave it to the police to determine how to handle the Bersih rally, contradicting an earlier statement that he would give his cooperation to Bersih if its rally was held in a stadium. The police have however so far rejected all attempts to give a permit.

“Why must the burden be put on the police, when Najib should issue a clear directive to allow the rally proceed in the stadium.

"Who leads the cabinet? The police?” asked PAS information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (pic), echoing an earlier statement by DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang slamming Najib for being "insincere" and "irresponsible" by passing the buck to the police.

Lim had also questioned Najib's decision to leave the country on the day of the rally.

“He should not do so but should be in the country to ensure that the Bersih 2.0 stadium rally on July 9 as agreed upon as a result of the wise and just intervention of the Yang di Pertuan Agong and with his concurrence is held in a smooth, peaceful and orderly manner,” he added.

'Lives affected even before rally'

Tuan Ibrahim meanwhile said it was a telling sign of the weakness in the government's argument that street rallies would disrupt businesses and cause traffic chaos, pointing out that the police had already caused such a situation even before the rally.

"So with all the road closures and the restrictions into Kuala Lumpur, will they not affect traders?” he asked.

Giving an analogy, Tuan Ibrahim said the government's reaction in the run-up to the rally was like a person who has been informed by the doctor that he only has few months to live.

“The people are laughing at UMNO-Barisan Nasional’s reaction. Their panicky response is as if they (UMNO-BN) can be destroyed by a clean and fair election,” he said.

Whose nadir?

By Farida Jivamala Ibrahim

Najib, you had hoped, you and your minions, that the atrocities committed against ordinary, decent  and innocent people would bring them to their nadir – their worst moment, their moment of least hope. But it’s backfired on you.

It is your nadir, Najib. Not ours. The more abuse you allow hurled at the rakyat who want a good government, the more those divisive slurs, the stronger the rakyat become. The more you allow freedom of speech and action to be stifled, the more they will speak out and do what is necessary for oppression to end.

Ethnic groups are coming together like never before. People are closing their eyes to status, race and religion and opening their hearts to one another. They have learnt to trust again, realizing the real party that has been shredding the fabric of unity and respect all this time.  The walls you allowed to be erected are fast coming down.

The internet blossoms now with new and fervent writers, many of them so young,  whose openness, passion, steadfastness and writing gifts this nation should be proud to acknowledge and applaud.

Freedom has finally found its voice. Courage has finally found its people.

Everywhere, people are awakening – teenagers, adolescents, young and old. I keep hearing of 18-,17-,15-year-olds wanting to step forward. They have  found new dreams. They see in the distance the fruition of  a better country and are willing to give their all for reforms to be birthed.

It will come – a free and fair country –  where we can stand tall among the nations and know  there is a future for all.

And that glorious future can include you, Najib – if you can get out of your time warp and Hitlerian mentality, and get  Perkida,  Wataniah,   Mat Rempit army,  Perkasa,  silat groups etc  to see reason.
You know, I went to court the other day about 8.30am, to give support to Murugan  – the ‘last man’ standing. I was surprised at the number of Malay youths present at the complex, almost a hundred, I would say. They were giving support to the Datuk T trio, holding placards which proclaimed they loved them. Love porno-video makers?

I could not stay for Murugan’s session which was rescheduled to take place at  11.30 am. I walked out of the court complex at about 11am and saw those youths still there,  a few possibly even as young as 13 or 14. They were standing around,  sitting on the steps, doing nothing. I also saw ‘a sea’ of gleaming motorbikes in the parking lot.

I wanted to ask some of them why they weren’t in school or college or working at that hour. I looked at one youngster, wondering whether it was he I should speak to. He looked back at  me, and there was something in his eyes that made me keep my silence.

That day I had many troubled thoughts. All I could think of  was the waste – the waste of young potential, the brainwashing of gullible minds, perhaps even the poison of money doled out?
Why have these youths been brought down to this state of idleness?

Who in the end will rescue our young Malays from their wayward ways and dependency syndrome and give them something fresh and real and true to hold on to, something  that will help them gain self-respect and esteem and worth?

Truly, no one has done a greater disservice to the Malay community, damaged the young, fed them insecurities, robbed them of self-esteem and self-respect than those who want an eternal perpetuation of their own position and power.

Please  let our young grow  before it is too late and they lead permanently damaging lives.

I am sure there are some   people in the police force, on the bench, in the MACC, in SB,etc. whose conscience  bothers them – because they see the atrocities and think they cannot do anything. They are decent, they understand and want a better nation but they live in straitjackets, needing their jobs.

The time is now, if they should ever want things to get better. There is a choice, albeit a hard one. To say, ‘No more’…or continue to be dominated and be devalued as people, having the humanity in them slowly stripped away.

Najib, you bungled big-time. All you should have done was agreed to the Bersih rally, the Perkasa rally, the Khairy rally – because that is democracy, never mind the purposes of each.

Instruct that each march occur at different times, and don’t forget Bersih set their date  and time  and venues before the others. Have the police on hand to protect the marchers and apprehend any agent provocateur bent on disturbing and disrupting the peace, and when July 9 comes to an end, positive things would have been said about you. And you would have taken that first small step towards redemption.

Instead, you get the   police to carry out your unreasonable orders and they get the bad name. I feel sorry for the police, so many good people there having to do bad things for you.

I’ve ceased being angry with  you, Najib. I’ve ceased feeling disdain for Khairy, Hishamuddin, Rais, Muhyddin, Mahathir, Ibrahim Ali, Nazri and others recruited to spread hate and cause fear.
Why? We often hear this saying, “If you do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results, that’s insanity.”

Look at where our nation has been heading down the years? See what you have been allowing – directly or through your minions! The rakyat are bullied, threatened while you  just rail and rant. The rakyat are constantly intimidated while you twist innocent words and actions, having the media print falsehood to raise the racist and religious temperature to new obnoxious highs.  You allow the police to arrest Bersih individuals for merely wearing those t-shirts but Umno and Perkasa with their  threats of violence, bloodshed, arson and  unlawful behaviour get off scot-free.

And now, what is most incomprehensible is that in your total fear of the rakyat whom you are required to defend and protect, you make Yellow, the colour of  royalty, a kotor concept.

You do these over and over again  and yet expect different results? You do these  over and over again and think somewhere along the way people will grow to respect and love you, obey and applaud you? If that isn’t insanity, what is?

You have a choice.  Call off your police and FRU and the army and SB. If they have orders to shoot, the bloodshed that flows is not that of an enemy of the state but of innocent people who want a future for our country, the citizenry of this country! That is betrayal of the highest order!

Why is it so difficult for you to comprehend that Bersih 2.0 is not about taking over government but  about free and clean elections? That is so clear. The more you resist, the more we suspect so much of unethical moves are being done in preparation for GE13 and so now because you are being stalemated you have to resort to bestial and barbaric ways. Thus the fury.

In days of yore, many kings walked out of their palaces to sit in the public square to meet their subjects, hear cases and deliver judgment. That has drastically changed today.  Walls and guards keep people away from their King and walls and guards keep their King inside.

Subjects want to meet their Ruler. Subjects want to  hand over important matters for the Ruler to consider. Kings are not just figureheads. They have a crucial role to play in nation-building. And no one has the right to stop subjects who want to appeal to their King.

Najib, you may go on in this incomprehensible, reprehensible way. That’s your choice. But in the end there is always the day of reckoning for each of us –   each of us have to be finally accountable to our Creator.

For now, as July 9 looms, know that people are not afraid.

Here is a likely scenario I hope you will read and think through with compassion:
In his little village,  75-year-old Pak Mat rises from his prayer mat and steps out onto the veranda. He looks out to a dawn that is breaking and reflects on the significance of the day.  In  a few hours he will be there to march  for free and fair  elections. .

Mak Su joins him and he sees the tears before she hastily wipes them away. “Don’t go,” she says imploringly. “What if they beat you up, break your legs, detain you…?”

“I have to,” he replies sombrely. “It’s gone too far. If I don’t do something now,  there’ll be no hope for our country and our children’s future. It is my duty to stand up against all the wrongs.”

Pak Mat slips into the bedroom where  his five-year-old  grandchild sleeps. He brushes the little one’s  cheek gently with a feathery kiss and hurries out to the veranda again.

He puts on his sandals , picks up his walking stick and looks at Mak Su. She is weeping.
“What if they shoot you … what if you are killed?” she says brokenly, her weeping giving way to heart-wrenching cries.

Pak Mat takes his wife’s hands in his, and  with hope and faith in his heart says, “I will be back. God is on our side.” 

Malaysia braces for pro-democracy street protests in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian police line up near water cannon trucks in a Kuala Lumpur street
Malaysian police line up in front of water cannon trucks near Independence Square in 
Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Photograph: Vincent Thian/AP
Tensions mount as hundreds of thousands of activists expected in capital for Arab spring-style rally against 'dirty politics'
Malaysia is bracing for an Arab spring-style stand-off on Saturday, when activists angry at "dirty politics" are expected to rally in Kuala Lumpur despite draconian government efforts to nip the movement in the bud.

Tensions have mounted in this normally staid state, often called "Moderate Malaysia", after a group of 62 non-governmental organisations known locally as Bersih 2.0 proposed a peaceful protest, dubbed the "Walk for Democracy", against alleged vote-rigging and other electoral abuses in a recent state election.

But the government last week declared Bersih – which means "clean" in Malay – illegal, and has warned that anyone wearing the yellow colours of protest will be detained. It has already arrested more than 200 supporters and organisers on charges ranging from the promotion of "illegal assembly" to "waging war against the king". Some are being held for an indefinite period without trial.

Although Malaysia's next general election is not until 2013, polls could take place as soon as this year – with many speculating that the incumbent Barisan Nasional (National Front) may not fare so well.

Headed by the prime minister, Najib Razak, Barisan Nasional has ruled Malaysia since 1955. It suffered a major setback in 2008 when it lost more than one-third of its parliamentary seats to Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance), a coalition of opposition parties.

Despite government accusations that they are actively threatening national security, Bersih's leaders have been adamant that they are pushing solely for electoral changes.

"We are calling for a government through free and fair elections, not street demonstrations" like in Egypt or Libya, said Bersih's chairwoman, Ambiga Sreenevasan.

After calling Bersih illegal, the government assented to a rally in a stadium. Opposition groups expect as many as 300,000 supporters to turn out. Police, however, have refused to grant Bersih a permit for the rally – a requirement for any gathering of five or more people – and have said they will work with the army to disperse Saturday's crowds.

Earlier this week police held a military exercise in which soldiers held up banners reading "Disperse or we will shoot".

Najib threw his endorsement behind local silat – or martial arts – groups, including one that has openly vowed to "wage war" against Bersih. "If there are evil enemies who want to attack the country from without and within," Najib said this week, "you, my brothers, will rise to fight them".

Bersih organisers say they have received death, bomb and gang-rape threats in recent weeks, which they claim police have not investigated.

"It has been challenging personally," said Ambiga. Nonetheless, Bersih "understand our responsibility in holding the line on behalf of all of you who want nothing more than a clean electoral system and a better Malaysia."

While no one is entirely sure what to expect on Saturday, the lead-up has already caused mayhem. Extensive roadblocks have caused near standstills in Kuala Lumpur and many businesses will be closing. Widespread mobile phone and internet disruption is expected.

Despite it being a supposedly peaceful protest, many are expecting violence.

"This is the formula now, all around the world – in Libya, Egypt, it's all the same – there will be violence," said Mohamed Rayak, 32, a hotel manager. "But no one knows if it will be coming from the government or the opposition. If it's from the government, then they can say it all got out of hand, and [the rally] has to be stopped."

Thousands of supporters have aired their views on Facebook and Twitter, with many of them, such as Thomas Chai, tweeting directly to the prime minister. "Beneath this YELLOW there is an idea, Mr Najib, and ideas are bulletproof," he wrote.

Bersih supporters in other parts of the world are expected to hold similar rallies on Saturday in Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, the US, Canada and the UK.

2pm, July 9th, Stadium MERDEKA: Malaysia’s moment of truth

Malaysians from all walks of life have travelled a very long road to reach this defining point in our nation’s history. With less than 24 hours to our intended peaceful gathering, our resolve to walk the last, most difficult mile as one united people in pursuit of clean and fair elections and a better Malaysia for all is firmer than ever.

Our reason for gathering is pure and simple – to demand the electoral roll be cleaned, that the postal voting system be reformed, that indelible ink be used, a minimum 21 day campaign period be instated, free and fair access to media for all be provided, public institutions be strengthened, and for corruption as well as dirty politics to be stopped.

The authorities have put obstacle after obstacle where they only needed to provide sincere cooperation to win the trust and confidence of the people. Having faced half hearted offers of stadiums, arrogance regarding meetings as well as denials of permits, arrests, detentions and so much more, we feel that we have done all that is humanly possible to demonstrate sincerity and good faith in dealing with the government – but we have only been met with reversed decisions and stone walls.

There are no walls however, that will arrest the advance of the cause of peace and justice. Come the 9th of July, we will uphold our constitutional right to converge peacefully on Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.
No government agency has any right whatsoever to prevent Malaysians from exercising their freedom of movement and access to our capital city. No threat or intimidation can overturn this fundamental truth.
Malaysians have now seen for themselves the degree of paranoia and lack of principled leadership that seems to have gripped the government. It is thus all the more imperative that patriotic Malaysians rise now and take this stand together to save Malaysia from slipping further into this insane darkness.

Since the beginning of Bersih 2.0, we have witnessed nothing but the utmost bravery and commitment to peace and justice demonstrated by ordinary Malaysians from every walk of life. Inspired by this example, the Bersih 2.0 leadership reiterates our own unyielding commitment to our shared cause, and to being at Stadium Merdeka at 2pm tomorrow. We will meet at the carpark, and trust that the doors will be opened for us.

This is Malaysia’s single most important defining moment in recent history, and we are fully confident that the rakyat will heed the call to safeguard the principles Malaysia was founded on and together ensure that we pass down to our children a nation that is just, democratic and united in love for one another.

Released by,
Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh dan Zaid Kamaruddin.

Your Rights When Facing the Police

Police Prepared To Approve Permit For Rally Outside Capital - Hishammuddin

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) -- The police are prepared to issue a permit to hold a rally tomorrow if it is held outside the capital, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said it could be obtained quickly and there was no problem with approval.

However, the police had banned assemblies by any groups in the capital tomorrow, he told a news conference here today.

"Since July 3, the police have been preparing for any eventualities and will take stern action against those who are still adamant about having it in Kuala Lumpur," he said.

Hishammuddin said the police had acted fairly in not issuing any permits to hold rallies at Stadium Merdeka, including from Umno and Perkasa.

He advised the public not to listen to rumours, including those spread via text messaging.

"To allay public fears, the police have set up hotlines at 03-21460524 and 03-21460525 for inquiries or information," he said.

Asked if the planned rally had been called off by the organiser, Hishammuddin said he had no knowledge about it.

"We are willing to allow the rally to be held outside Kuala Lumpur. If they accept the offer, it will take the worries off the minds of the people and the police," he said.

Asked whether the armed forces will be involved in maintaining public order, he said the police was still in complete control of the situation.

"However, it will depend on the circumstances," he added.

Meanwhile, the Dang Wangi police today rejected an application for a permit to hold a rally tomorrow from a woman, who identified herself as an officer from the Selangor Community Awareness Programme.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Mohamad Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said the decision was made in order to safeguard public safety.

He said according to the woman, about 100,000 people would attend the rally.

Therefore, action will be taken under Section 27 (5) of the Police Act 1967 if the rally was going to be held, he told reporters here today.

"However, the organiser could still make an appeal in writing within 24 hours from the time the application was rejected to Kuala Lumpur acting police chief Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh," said Mohamad Zulkarnain.

He said the Dang Wangi police also rejected an application from Umno Youth to hold a rally tomorrow on the same ground last week.

Jeyakumar and an upside-down world

By Anil Netto,

Of all the 200-odd arrests over the last couple of weeks, none is a more glaring instance of injustice than the cruel detention without trial of Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj.

As a journalist, I have known Jeyakumar for over a dozen years now and have been closely tracking his career, interviewing him on a number of occasions.

We are talking about a man who was once awarded a gold medal by the Malaysian Medical Association for outstanding community service.

Deeply concerned about the poor and marginalised, he raised issues concerning their plight in Parliament on numerous occasions.

Not only did he serve his constituents diligently, he attempted to analyse the root or structural causes of poverty and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

He was especially concerned about neo-liberal economic policies such as privatisation and its impact on the growing gap between the rich and the poor. As a former government medical specialist (a respiratory physician by training), he could clearly see the impact on the poor of the privatisation of health care support services, the introduction of private wings in government hospitals, the trend of ‘medical tourism’, and the mushrooming of private hospitals including those established by government-linked corporations. As part of the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation, he was instrumental in coming up with a People’s Proposal to provide an alternative model of health care financing.

He and his party colleagues championed the rights of the landless and workers and opposed attempts to erode their rights. They pushed for a minimum wage and opposed the introduction of GST. Because of all this, the ruling elite and their corporate cronies must have considered them a threat to their interests.

In the light of the global economic crisis, the soft-spoken Jeyakumar provided a timely critique of the shortcomings and weaknesses of the present economic order and pointed to more people-centred alternatives.

Within his constituency, he highlighted the denial of federal allocations for his constituency, taking the issue to court.

He and his colleagues holding public office showed the way by declaring their assets to the public annually, putting other elected reps to shame.

With sheer persistence and a solid track record of serving the constituency, he took on the MIC giant Samy Vellu in three successive general elections, finally defeating him in 2008. It was a victory for dogged persistence and solid service to the community even in defeat and adversity.

His approach in his constituency was not to create a culture of dependency among the Sungai Siput people by using a top-down decision-making approach. Instead of simply dishing out aid money, he sought to empower the people by encouraging a participatory approach to decision-making so that the people took ownership of the projects introduced. His quiet, determined persistence, away from the limelight, won him new admirers. And he would always be seen in public with an “Abolish ISA” badge pinned on his shirt.

In short, Jeyakumar has been a model Member of Parliament – one of the most ethical, analytical and caring politicians around.

What kind of upside-down world do we live in when such a principled MP of unimpeachable integrity – along with his party colleagues, so concerned for the dispossessed and the marginalised – is treated like a common criminal and cruelly incarcerated under harsh security laws? Meanwhile, the corrupt, the unethical and the unprincipled roam free.

What does it say about us as a nation? Apart from their continuing detention being a gross violation of human rights, shouldn’t we feel totally ashamed about locking up such people?

Crackdown widens, cops comb hotels

(Malaysiakini) The authorities are further tightening the screws on Bersih 2.0 supporters, with checks on several hotels in the Klang Valley.

Thus far, Malaysiakini has been informed of police presence in three hotels.

At the Puteri Park Hotel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, PKR member Vernon Kedit reports that the police conducted inquiries into their party function there.

Kedit said that the event was a training session for polling agents. He said that the police left before midnight but came back at about 1am.

“They are patrolling the corridors,” he said.

Another occupant at the hotel was former Perak Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin.
He said that he was awoken by the police and they took down his particulars, but did not arrest him.
"One female police personnel walked in my room and took a picture of me while I was in my sarong," Nizar said. 

Room to room checks

Meanwhile, at the Swiss Inn along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, lawyer HR Dipendra reports that he saw the police enter two rooms.

“They checked the adjacent rooms but not mine,” said Dipendra, adding that two police personnel were in uniform, while another two were not.

It was uncertain what they were looking for or if anything was confiscated.

Another occupant of Swiss Inn, on condition of anonymity, said that he spotted the police at the reception screening the guest list.

"There was a police personnel taking our photos as we walked in. On the way to our rooms, we saw one of them knocking on room doors. But no one has knocked on ours yet,” he said.
Some forced to flee
Over at Subang Jaya, Ayer Keroh state assemblyperson Khoo Poay Tiong said five uniformed police personnel were checking the hotel guest list.

“So I immediately ordered my men to leave the hotel. We are still outside," he said when contacted.

He does not know whether the police had entered their room.

Over at Lotus Hotel in Medan Tuanku, near Tune Hotel, the several uniformed policemen were seen entering the premisses with what appears to be a list in hand.

Former PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin confirmed to Malaysiakini that the police had tried to arrest him at the Brisdale Hotel, for breach of a restriction order.

However, he said he managed to flee the scene unscathed.

On Thursday, the police obtained a court order, restricting 91 individuals from entering Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. It was supposed to be enforced from 8am onwards.
Eerie calm in KL

Meanwhile, there is an eerie calm in downtown Kuala Lumpur as the usual Friday merrymakers stay away from the city.

Eye-witnesses said that local are avoiding the city's numerous nightspots and the majority of patrons are foreigners.

It is a different story altogether in the city outskirts. Roadblocks are being erected in major arteries throughout the city and some cars are being randomly checked.

A Malaysiakini reader submitted a video footage taken yesterday evening depicts a major crawl due to roadblock along the Sungai Besi highway towards the city.

The roadblock was placed after the Plus Highway toll both.

But such measures extend far from Kuala Lumpur, as the authorities step up efforts to stop people from participating in the Bersih 2.0 rally tomorrow.

According to citizen journalist Dave Kameron, there are roadblocks near the Sungai Petani toll booth near Alor Setar.

“A Canadian academic Dr Adam Tyson who entered Malaysia through Bukit Kayu Hitam told me that he and his colleagues were stopped at the border, ostensibly to be checked for weapons.

“Leslie Daniel, a local councillor, told me that his bus was boarded by the police and some bags were inspected,” said Kameron.

Additional reporting by Abdul Rahim Sabri, S Pathmawathy and Kuek Ser Kuang Keng.