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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bersih: We'll try to get as close as possible to Dataran

Bersih 3.0: The storm gathers

‘Child rapists’ still on the loose

FAISALABAD: Police on Thursday failed to arrest any of four men suspected of raping of child a week ago in Khurarainwala.

A medico-legal report from Jaranwala THQ hospital concluded that the girl had been sexually assaulted.

In her application to police, an Athiyal village resident said that she had been at a mehfil-e-milad last Thursday when her daughter left home to visit her but she was was abducted by Rab Nawaz, his brother Arshad, Aashiq and Shah Nawaz. “She was taken to the house of Zakir Husain and sexually assaulted,” she said.

She said that the men fled the scene after the child fainted. “She returned home in tears around midnight.”

She said that the men were influential in the village and no one was willing to help her because she was a widow.

She said that she was being threatened with eviction from the village if she pursued the case.

Khurarianwala SHO Atif said the compliant was lodged four days after the incident. He said a police team had raided the houses of the suspects. “They locked their homes and have apparently left with their families,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2012.

UAE: 65-Year-Old Muslim and youngest wife have sex 6 times a day to reach goal of 100 kids

Daad Murad, the most productive man on earth, revealed that he has sex with his youngest teenage wife six times a day. The one-legged baby producing machine grabbed global media attention, after Emirates Today featured him on the front page.

EMIRATES  Speaking to the website, Daad said the countdown to reach his ambitious target of 100 children is well on the way. The last baby girl born in the family is just nine months old, and the 94th child is expected by November/December 2012.  He hopes that by 2013, he would have 100 children, a world record and then he will stop marrying and fathering children. 
“The countdown has started with my 93rd baby.Fifteen of my children are already  married and have their children. The total family members now number 140. The seven lucky ones will be born this year or next year,” he said.
A retired truck driver turned soldier could not recollect the names of his recent  children and promised to return with the correct details.
“My last marriage was to a Baluchi girl, who is just 19-years old. She is very  beautiful. ”I enjoyed life with two other Baluchi wives. One is already retired and at 50 years,  she is busy bringing up her four children.
“Majida, another wife from Baluchistan, is currently enjoying the warmth of my love. At 25, she is also good, but I spend most of my time with Nadia now days because she is young, newly-married and there is no children to disturb us,” he said.
The six bedroom sessions with his 19 year-old wife stretch from early morning to  midnight. He said the best time that he prefers to be with his wife is early morning.
“I have a good time with Nadia, and I take her out to Al Dhaid, Muscat or Dibba and  there is no disturbance because she has no children yet. If I take my other wives  out, sometimes I need a bus to carry all the children and there will be lot of  disturbances,” he said.
“We spend a lot of time together because there is no disturbance from children. When I am with other wives, sometimes children start crying or making noise.
Here I am getting 100 per cent attention on Nadia. She too enjoys it and I have reduced my visit to other two wives,” he added.
Daad takes a natural mix of honey and quail bird meat, dried in sunlight. “I don’t believe in taking any natural sex additives like Viagra and thanks to God, I have the stamina to satisfy all my wives.
“I go to three of my current wives, who are legally allowed under Shariah and I don’t  go to other wives, who are retired. Even if I feel like going back to one of them, I cannot do it because I strictly follow the Shariah rules.”
His third wife is an Emarati woman, Arifa, aged 30 years with six children. Daad  married her in 2003. “My youngster daughter, nine-month old Moza, is very cute and  when I take her to the emigration department or hospital, everybody adores her. She  is very cute and resembles me,” Daad said.
“Delivery is an expensive affair for other people, but for my wives, it is a free gift from the UAE Government. I have the Tandook Zawag, Marriage Home Book, which gives free access to the facilities in government hospitals and offices.
I am getting two new houses from the Abu Dhabi Government and Nadia will be accommodated in one of these homes. I also got support from the Abu Dhabhi Government to waive off a loan of Dh600,000 from various banks and now I am free to spend more time with the family,”Daad said, adding that his plans to get married in Jaipur did not materialise.

EC heads should have declared Umno ties, says Bersih

Ambiga said Wan Ahmad’s (left) remarks illustrated the EC’s lack of independence. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar should have disclosed the fact they were Umno members when they were first appointed to the Election Commission (EC), Bersih said today.

Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the admissions by chairman Abdul Aziz and his deputy that they were once and possibly still are Umno members, were “shocking”.

She said what was “telling” were Wan Ahmad’s remarks made during a Sinar Harian interview published today, in which he had said he considered himself a “government servant.”

“He really thinks he is still a government servant. That’s our problem with the EC; it is supposed to be independent.

“If you have ever been a member of a political party, you should disclose it when you are appointed (to the post),” she said.

Ambiga said the EC duo had to do some serious “soul-searching” and ask themselves whether they were really impartial.

“Ultimately, we are asking for their resignation, and this information has just proven our concerns,” the lawyer added.

PKR has also demanded Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad resign from their posts, and has furnished evidence to show that the two are still Umno members.

Both EC officials have admitted that they could have been Umno members a long time ago, but stressed that it did not affect their ability to carry out their professional duties.

They took great pains to point out that their Umno memberships were from a long time ago and they were inactive members, having not paid any dues or attended party meetings.

The duo have come under intense scrutiny in the past year over claims of fraud in election practices and the electoral roll as federal polls draw near.

The EC was heavily criticised in the lead-up to Bersih’s rally for free and fair elections on July 9 last year in which tens of thousands flooded the streets of the capital in chaotic scenes that saw over 1,500 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier.

Widespread condemnation of the Najib administration’s clampdown saw Putrajaya make major concessions including announcing a bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee to look into improving the electoral system.

During the committee’s six-month tenure, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) accused the EC of not being committed to reforms and eventually rejected the panel’s findings.

Early this month, Bersih, a coalition of 84 civil societies, also announced a sit-in protest at Dataran Merdeka for tomorrow, saying the findings of the select committee were disappointing and did not meet its demands for electoral reform.

Abdul Aziz became EC chairman on January 2009 while Wan Ahmad was appointed in 2007

Reveal exco minutes, CM dared

Lim Guan Eng has been challenged to reveal the exco meeting minutes on Kampung Buah Pala to back his claim that BN is responsible for the matter.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been dared to reveal his executive council meeting minutes on Kampung Buah Pala to prove that he did not rob the village land from poor Indians.

The village residents association chairman M Sugumaran called for the exco minutes to be declassified to substantiate Lim’s claim that it was the previous Barisan Nasional, and not the current Pakatan Rakyat, state government that was responsible for the eventual sale and demolition of the heritage Indian village.

“Lim should declassify the exco minutes to prove that he was honest and sincere in our village issue,” Sugumaran told a press conference here today.

Sugumaran’s family was among the nine Kampung Buah Pala residents who were left in a lurch after their village houses were demolished in September 2009.

The nine received their new double-storey house keys from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Sunday. The Putrajaya administration also gave out another nine double-storey houses in Taman Sejahtera Indah, Teluk Air Tawar, for the nine’s extended families. The houses were given on humanitarian grounds, and not as compensation.

Last October, 24 other families who agreed to a deal brokered by the Pakatan state government with the developer, were handed over keys to new double-storey houses as part of their compensation.

The deal however excluded the nine families who had not accepted the offer.

Under the compensation package for the 24 families, the developer had agreed to the state’s request to share a portion of the land with the residents by offering the houses, each with a built-up area of 1,400sq ft and a 99-year lease. A community hall and a temple are also being built there for the residents.

Kampung Buah Pala, which was known commonly as Tamil High Chaparral due to the population of ethnic Indians, cattle and other live stocks, was demolished to pave way for a posh condominium project, the Oasis, by Nusmetro Venture (Pg) Sdn Bhd.

During the height of the Kampung Buah Pala fiasco in 2009, Lim’s administration only declassified the previous BN exco minutes on the village issue.

Land alienated to cooperative

The previous minutes revealed that the village land was alienated to the civil service cooperative society –

Koperasi Pegawai Kanan Kerajaan Pulau Pinang – for RM3.21 million in 2005 to pave the way for the Oasis project. According the documents, the cooperative had paid RM963,000 as deposit to alienate the land.

The previous government had set a condition for the cooperative to completely settle the compensation issue of the residents to facilitate the transfer of the land title.

The minutes revealed that the remainder RM2.247 million was settled on March 14, 2008 – a week after Lim had become the chief minister.

The land was transferred by the state government to the cooperative on March 27, 19 days after Pakatan captured the Penang government in the March 8 general election. But the transfer was done even though the long-staying villagers’ compensation issue was not settled.

Sugumaran claimed Lim had hatched a fresh land deal with the cooperative after the original BN deal had lapsed.

“Lim should reveal the minutes to prove his innocence,” he dared.

Confusion over Reshina’s student status

A member of the Cabinet Committee on Indian Affairs says no one told her to stop going to school, but her school says the instruction came from the district education department.

PETALING JAYA: B Reshina can go back to school on Monday, even without a blue MyCard, according to a member of the Cabinet Committee for Indians Affairs, N Siva Subramaniam.

Commenting on a FMT article about the 17-year-old’s plight, Siva said no one stopped her from going to school.

However, an official of Gombak’s Chong Hwa Chinese Secondary School confirmed today that the school, acting on instruction from the Gombak District Education Department, had told her to stay away until she had secured her blue MyKad or received permission from the department to attend classes as a foreign national.

According to Siva, Reshina (photo, in uniform) is registered with the Malaysian Examination Council and can therefore sit for the SPM examination this year.

Yesterday, Reshina’s sister Gowre told FMT she stopped going to school two weeks ago.

“Although some of her teachers protested, the school could do nothing as it was a directive from the department,” Gowre said.

Siva said he consulted the school yesterday and found out that it had been telling Reshina’s family to get her a blue MyKadfor the past five years.

“But it seems the father never bothered to even turn up at the school to sort the matter out.”

Siva said he was at a loss to explain why she stopped going to school. “Malaysia is a signatory of a United Nations treaty for the right of education,” he said. “Her claim is untrue. All she has to do now is get her MyKad.”

The Chong Hwa official said the school started increasing pressure on Reshina last March to get the MyKad to avoid complications.

“I told her to use the March school holidays to get her card,” he said. “When she came back after the holidays, I personally asked her about the applications status. But she broke down in tears and said she had already informed her father but that he had not done anything.”

Rude reaction

The school called the father for a meeting and pressed him to get the card as soon as possible.

“He told me he had already applied but had yet to receive a reply,” said the official. “I told him not to let the matter rest and he must work harder to get the matter sorted out.”

The official said he and his colleagues also spoke to Reshina’s sister, but he claimed they were rudely told off.

“The sister told me it was the school’s job to get Reshina her blue card.”

The official said he also told Reshina to apply with the district education department to let her study in the school as a foreign national.

“It is a temporary measure until she gets her MyKad. There were even generous donors who contributed nearly RM200 for her application.”

On April 10, according to the official, Reshina’s family finally made an application with the department and officials there told her to give them two weeks to process it.

“I told her family to ask the department whether she could come to school during the two weeks. But then, she just stopped coming.”

The official said the school had done all it could to help Reshina, including issuing a support letter for her.

“Her teachers even went to the education office and made appeals on Reshina’s behalf. What else can we do?”

Court order and barriers won’t stop Bersih

However, its co-chairperson S Ambiga hopes the authorities will remove the barriers at Dataran Merdeka and waive the court order in good faith.

KUALA LUMPUR: Electoral watchdog Bersih will not be discouraged by the court order barring the public from gathering at Dataran Merdeka tomorrow.

Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga said the protesters would gather at the six designated meeting points located close to Dataran and from there, march towards the iconic square.

“We are asking the authority to show good faith to lift the barriers and waive the court order ex-parte,” she told a press conference here.

“We will gather at the meeting points, we will make our way to Dataran in the hope that the barriers will be removed. We will not break the barrier or breach the order, we hope the authorities will lift the barriers and allow us to use Dataran which belongs to the rakyat,” she added.

Ambiga said the protesters would sit peacefully at the stroke of 2pm wherever they are and begin their protest.

Barricades had been erected at Dataran following an order from KL Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail whereas since 6am yesterday, all roads leading to the square had been closed until 6am on Sunday.

Late last night, the police obtained a court order to ban Ambiga, Bersih organisers and the public from entering the Dataran area.

The court order was served this afternoon on Ambiga who received it under protest.

Six meeting points

Bersih is of the view that the six meeting points – Masjid Negara, Masjid India, Pasar Seni, Kuala Lumpur

Convention Centre (KLCC), Brickfields and Jalan Sultan – are not included in the court order.

According to a map which accompanied the court order, Dataran Merdeka and Jalan Raja (which circle the square) are off-limits to Bersih 3.0 participants and the public.

The court order states that “urgent action” needed to be taken to prevent any behaviour which will affect public order or be hazardous to the people.

“Therefore, this order is needed and is issued ex-parte as the gathering will take place tomorrow,” the order stated.

Commenting on the legal aspect of the Bersih gathering, Ambiga said that there were three laws regulating the sit-in protest.

“They are the Peaceful Assembly Act [which came into force on April 23], the Local Government Act and the Federal Constituition,” she said.

The former Bar Council president added that under local by-laws, the mayor does have discretion to disallow protests or activities from taking place at any venue under the care of the city authorities.

“Under Section 8 of the local by-law, the mayor does have the discretion to allow assemblies and gathering… but to us, the Federal Constitution prevails over all these laws,” she said.

‘No permit needed’

Bersih 3.0 and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) have been locking horns in the past week over the staging of the event at Dataran Merdeka.

DBKL rejected Bersih’s application to hold the rally at the historical site as the gathering was not considered a “national event” for the benefit of the country.

DBKL and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein offered Bersih four alternative sites – the stadiums in Cheras, Titiwangsa, and Bukit Jalil and Stadium Merdeka.

Bersih, however, is hell-bent on Dataran for its convenience and historical value.

The electoral watchdog also said that by the time the alternatives were offered early this week, it was too late to inform its supporters of the change in venue.

“Given such short notice, people will turn up at Dataran,” Ambiga said today.

“In fact, if we were to hold it at Stadium Merdeka, people would still turn up at both locations [the stadium and Dataran].”

Taking the police to task, Ambiga said that they have acted not in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA).

On Monday, the police disallowed Bersih to continue with its rally, citing “safety” concerns.

Ambiga said today that according to the PAA, the organiser need not obtain a police permit to proceed with the assembly.

“According to Section 14(2), the police have no power to deny the assembly. It can go on as proposed if there are no conditions set by the police.

“There were no conditions set by the police. Therefore, by our reading of the law, we can proceed… in fact, the police have breached the provision,” she said.

Ambiga also added that there was a sense of deja-vu in the manner in which the authorities have moved to clam down on the assembly.

“But this time around, we are not seen as a security threat by the government. There is also admission that it is our right to assemble.

“The only dispute this time around is the venue of the gathering which is the easiest (issue) to solve,” she said.

A signpost to Bersih 3.0

There have been some noticeable differences between Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0, but what really can we expect to see tomorrow?

PETALING JAYA: Are you going for the much-hyped Bersih 3.0 sit-in rally at Dataran Merdeka, or would you rather spend your Saturday afternoon at home?

Whatever the case is, here’s a list of things to look out for tomorrow:

The crowd

The Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9 last year drew a big crowd of protesters, and a small army of policemen.

Media reports put it at between 10,000 and 15,000 protesters. The police counted 5,000 to 6,000, while Bersih claimed to have hit the 50,000 mark.

This time, Bersih 3.0 announced a target of 500,000 people, which analysts have described as “ambitious and unrealistic”.

However, the organisers told FMT that Dataran Merdeka can only accommodate up to 70,000 (sitting) and 100,000 (standing).

Bersih 3.0 co-chairperson S Ambiga told FMT yesterday that about 100,000 are expected to turn out for the rally. Her steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said today: “Maybe even more.”

Ambiga also said said Himpunan Hijau 3.0, which would march from KLCC, would have another 20,000 people at least.

However, it is learnt that police estimate the crowd at around 20,000 to 25,000.

So it is possible that fewer than half a million will turn out though many, according to the idealistic Bersih, will be there “in spirit”.

There are also those who say this time, there seems to be an apparent lack of “yellow fever” or enthusiasm (though many would still argue that the force is still strong).

Perhaps the government’s change of attitude toward the rally has also changed the scenario somewhat.

Last year, in the build-up to Bersih 2.0, the situation was tense: there were numerous reports of government threats and warnings, of weapons found, of people clad in yellow T-shirt arrested. Even the King himself stepped in at one stage.

So, would we see a sea of yellow, green and blue this year? We would only know in the aftermath of the ‘mathematics’ might tell us.


Last year, police arrested 1,667 people or so, including a small number of women and minors. Ambiga, along with several opposition leaders, were also hunted down and detained.

Asked what would happen tomorrow, Kuala Lumpur police chief DCP Mohmad Salleh told FMT: “No comment, no comment, no comment” (though he held a press conference today saying protesters can rally outside of the Dataran site).

Keeping mum has been the standard police line on the Bersih 3.0 rally, which is a huge contrast to the Bersih 2.0 protest.

Last year, the police held press conferences on a daily basis; updated its Facebook page on the number of police reports lodged against Bersih 2.0 (more than 2,000); and even posted video interviews mainly condemning the event.

This year, the silence was deafening – a new strategy of “look and see”. This, it is believed, was a directive from the top.

Last year, police launched a pre-emptive strike, arresting those selling Bersih T-shirts as well as Parti Sosialis Malaysia members who were dubbed the “heroic EO6”. On July 9, special “arrest squads” moved in and police were filmed using excessive force against those hauled up. One policeman even admitted to FMT after that it was wrong to beat and kick protesters.

What about this Saturday (tomorrow)?

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail has warned that DBKL can take action against protesters. He also told FMT that DBKL officers can arrest if they wanted to, though it is unclear whether it is a “citizen’s arrest”.

Ahmad Fuad said DBKL could use at least four different laws – the Local Government Act 1976; the Local Government (Dataran Merdeka) (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws 1992; Street, Drainage, and Building Act 1974; and even the Penal Code if anyone obstructs the officers from carrying out their duties.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also said yesterday that police would take “necessary measures” to stop the rally should “stubborn” organisers proceed with their plans at Dataran Merdeka.

What would the police do?

The men-in-blue now have the power under the new Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 to use “reasonable force” to disperse protesters.

However, “reasonable force” is very subjective, according to criminal lawyer Joshua Sambanthan, who said it is something that be “easily abused”.

Another criminal lawyer noted: “Whatever it is, I am sure the government is going to spin it, and whatever is being done, the organisers will be blamed. That’s just typical [of the government].”

However, police sources say that police will try not to use excessive force this time around. “The instruction is to use minimal force.”

But it was learnt that the same operating procedures will be used: the arrested persons will be brought to the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) on Jalan Semarak or to Jinjang.

One police source said: “Police are taking a step back and won’t do anything unless the crowd gets out of hand. Maybe it would be like the last time – we arrested them, gave them dinner and released them.”

So should a protester expect to be arrested tomorrow?

Going by last year’s record, it would be a “yes”. But expect police to be more restrained. Ambiga has simply this advice: “Be prepared.”

Anti-riot FRU + tear gas + water cannons?

Will the normal anti-riot gear – the shield-toting FRUs, red water cannon trucks, and tear gas rifles – be used?

While Ambiga doubts that the government and police will be “stupid enough” to risk negative publicity again, her colleague Andrew Khoo says that nothing can be discounted.

One police source said that the police are “prepared for the worst” and would naturally have the trucks and anti-riot personnel on stand-by though, perhaps, out of sight.

Last year, the police had a lot of explaining to do when tear gas and chemically-laced water were allegedly fired into the compound of a maternity hospital. Some tear gas canisters were also allegedly fired at opposition leaders.

You can bet that, this time around, if the police use tear gas, they would be careful not to lauch them blindly.

A police source, who attended a briefing this morning, confirmed that the use of water cannon trucks has been “banned”. Another source says that at least 2,000 personnel have been deployed and more have been brought in from other states. “We’re prepared for the worst, but we hope for the best.”

So it is most likely that police will try their best to play nice.

Seeing that this would be a test case for the Peaceful Assembly Act, and its controversial definition on “street protests”, it will be interesting to see how the police will react tomorrow.

Blockages, roadblocks

DBKL has declared “ground zero” (Dataran Merdeka) off-limits for 48 hours starting 6am today. The court has also issued an order barring the public, including Bersih 3.0 leaders, from entering the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka tomorrow until May 1. The order includes sealing off the roads leading to the iconic landmark and its surrounding areas.

Last year, roadblocks were mounted even before the rally started. Police said the move was to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the city (which appeared to have been justified when explosives and knives were found leading up to the Bersih 2.0 rally.

A court order was also issued the last time, barring 91 targeted individuals from entering the city. Police also reportedly carried out random checks to look out for any Bersih 2.0 paraphernalia as Bersih 2.0 had been declared “illegal”.

The entire city was locked down. On the morning of July 9, the city looked like a “ghost town”.

Tomorrow, expect roadblocks and jams as police would try their level best to minimise traffic flowing into the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka.

So far, DBKL says that it will try to only block roads leading to the historical site, and not lock down the whole city like it did last year.

The authorities have also yet to officially announce the list of roads that they will block.

Jams are expected and the authorities have advised everybody, not only protesters, to stay as far away from Dataran Merdeka as possible.

The people

Last year, Umno Youth members calling themselves “Patriots” also entered the fray in support of the Election Commission. Perkasa also announced it would hold its own rally but cancelled it at the eleventh hour when it could not book a stadium. Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali announced that his members would take a stroll at Titiwangsa instead.

However, this time, Umno Youth has announced that it will not take part in the rally, while Perkasa said that it will have a gathering on Sunday.

But the main focus tomorrow will be on the people who actually turn up.

Expect to see some interesting characters, like Aunty Bersih, or just colourful and creative artistic individuals who may be inspiring or downright weird.

Expect also that some groups may act as agent provocateurs and start a fight, though this was not reported or seen during Bersih 2.0

So how different is Bersih 3.0?

Said Khoo, a Bersih 3.0 steering committee member:

“The response from the government smacks of an intention to confuse the people. It is reminiscent of its approach last year. Different people tell you different things. It is just sleight of hand.

“The Home Minister says the government is not threatened by Bersih 3.0, but then it is trying hard to move the rally out of the city centre.

“The government says that Dataran Merdeka is operated by DBKL, but the Federal Territories come under the federal government. It is disappointing. It shows that the government has not really learnt from the past. It is simply pretending and trying to give you the impression that things are different. But a tiger cannot change its stripes.”


For those who are going for Bersih 3 tomorrow. We have given our names and contact numbers.
This what we want you to do:
If you see or witness anyone being arrested at your respective place, please send an sms to the number(s) given.
OFFICE NUMBER: 03 77843525 (DIANE)
019 3043159
018 3181179
011 15542640
012 218 7476
016 224 7255
013 384 5740
014 925 4010
You only have to type:
a. Name
b. IC Number/passport number
c. Police station that the person is being taken to or detained
 SUARAM will send the sms to the lawyers as well as to the our person in charge in office. 
You may also call our office and you can talk to Miss Diane and please give details to her. 
Its easy .... Dont panic when you are arrested by the police or stopped by DBKL. All you need to do is CALM DOWN and Call US!

Kuala Lumpur Readies for Confrontation

Just out for a stroll
Just out for a stroll
Electoral reform protests intend to defy police to occupy the city's central square
The city government in Kuala Lumpur has set the stage for an all-but-certain confrontation with electoral reform protesters for tomorrow, having obtained a court order to keep the marchers out of Dataran Merdeka, the city’s historic Independence Square.

Rejecting the permit to march to the square is a gamble on the part of the government that could turn disastrous, as did a similar march in July 2011, with police assaulting marchers with water cannons and tear gas, blocking major streets and arresting as many as 1,600 people. Pictures of people choking on tear gas and being soaked with water were beamed around the world, earning the government international opprobrium from human rights organizations and various governments.

Hardliners in the national government say that the city has been accommodating, offering alternative stadiums to the marchers, including Merdeka Stadium, which the protesters were barred from in the events of last July, and that the marchers are breaking the law. Police Friday said the participants may assemble outside the square but face police action if they try to enter it. Most observers believe the protesters will try to do exactly that.

The hardliners thus hope that the public will see the marchers as breaking the law and generate outrage by disrupting movement throughout the city. However, the hawks seem unable to recognize that using force could well generate more sympathy than outrage.

In any case, workmen early Friday morning placed barriers around the entire square in the center of the city in an effort to keep the marchers out. The city is described as “locked down” in an effort to stop them from reaching the area. Roadblocks were already causing traffic congestion on Friday afternoon as police began to tighten up against out-of-town arrivals.

The march has been called by Bersih, also known as the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, an amalgam of 150-odd NGOs, many of them aligned with the opposition, demanding electoral reform and alleging they have been frustrated by the provisions offered by the government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. They also allege that hundreds of thousands of dubious voters have been added to election rolls in recent weeks as the country readies for what are expected to be national elections in May or June.

This time it was the Kuala Lumpur Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail who ordered the march banned as the national government preferred to try to keep at least some distance from the fray. Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on April 23 that the rally posed no threat and did not require excessive presence of the police, adding that Bersih hadn’t gained any traction at that point. However, the banning of the march is being regarded as a sign that hawks at the national level have overruled those who advocated opting for benign neglect.

The government didn’t help its cause earlier this week by allowing only a single day for debate on eight reforms to the draconian Internal Security Act before pushing it through. Also reformers complained that on April 20 the government had pushed through a 3 a.m. amendment removing the right of electoral candidates and their representatives to observe the registration of voters in polling stations on election day. Reformers have also alleged that hundreds of thousands of dubious voters have been registered in recent days as the country readies for its first national elections since 2008.

The episode is regarded by political analysts as a cat-and-mouse game between the government and the electoral reform group, which is perceived to be closely aligned with the three-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition headed by leader Anwar Ibrahim, who met with foreign envoys and other western observers, complained that the ruling Barisan Nasional had no intention of allowing free and fair elections.

Bersih said it would go ahead with the protest after being frustrated by the refusal of a Parliamentary Select Committee to accede to recommendations to reform the electoral process. Those recommendations included cleansing the electoral rolls, reforms of absentee voting, the use of indelible ink to mark voters’ fingers after voting to thwart repeat voting, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, and fair access to the media – a proposal almost impossible to fulfill, since the three major political parties own all the major mainstream news outlets, all of which have been reporting negatively on the plans for the protest. Election reformers complained that only the indelible ink recommendation was accepted.

They also complained that the government pushed through a 3 a.m. measure in parliament to remove the right of candidates or their representatives to observe voter registrations on election day so that opposition leaders would be unable to spot phantom voters, and removed a requirement that all printed materials bear the name of the printer and publisher from campaign materials.

If the law is bad, break it

I got a call from a reporter a little while ago to ask my thoughts on the court order obtained by the authorities, banning the Duduk Bantah Bersih 3.0 taking place at Dataran Merdeka.
To explain my point to her, I shared this little episode that took place whilst in I was in London in the 80′s.
Following the Falklands war, information had leaked out that greatly embarrassed the Thatcher administration.
The leaked information was finally traced back to a member of the British civil service, one Clive Ponting.
Ponting was charged with an offence under the Official Secrets Act.
At the end of the trial, the judge DIRECTED the jury, that on the evidence, they must enter a finding of guilt.
I repeat.
The judge DIRECTED the jury to enter a finding of guilt.
What did the jury do?
They found Clive Ponting not guilty of the charge.
And as best as I can recall, no one has since been charged in the UK under the Official Secrets Act again.
What that jury did was to pour scorn on the AG’s decision to prosecute a man for exposing the wrongdoing of Thatcher’s government, the judge for directing a conviction, and the very essence of the Official Secrets Act.
History bears testimony to great leaders who have led men and women to break laws that were unjust.
Rosa Parks broke the law by riding in the front of the bus.
Martin Luther King.
Gandhi broke the British laws that kept the Indians enslaved.
Jesus defied the laws of the day and taught in the synagogues.
Muhammad smashed the idols in Mecca, defying the religious order of the day.
If the law is bad, break it.
If an order or directive, be it of a judge or otherwise, violates our very essence as human beings, defy it.
The tagline of this blog says we are not law-breakers, but we are here to become law makers.
True, but before we can make good laws, we must first be rid of those that serve to subjugate us.

Allow Bersih 3.0 To Go Ahead Peacefully

Concerned citizens call on Prime Minister Najib Razak to allow Bersih 3.0 to go ahead peacefully at Dataran Merdeka on April 28

We the undersigned wish to express our profound disappointment at the numerous obstacles that have been put in place by government agencies, especially the Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) and Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), to prevent the planned peaceful gathering of Bersih 3.0 on 28 April 2012.

We recognise that these agencies are either under the direct control or influence of your government but we are sure that you, as Prime Minister, concur that they should strictly observe and practice administrative neutrality and not be seen to serve the partisan interests of the ruling parties.

It is disheartening and unacceptable to see these agencies behave in a way that is in direct contradiction to your promises of a more open democratic space for Malaysians.

We wish to emphasise that the right to assembly is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. The only limitation is that such assembly must not be a threat to national security or to public order. There is nothing to suggest that Bersih 3.0 will be such a threat.

We also note with concern that various groups have been making threats against this planned peaceful gathering. Recent events in Dataran Merdeka where students engaged in a peaceful demonstration have been attacked by thugs show that such threats are not to be taken lightly.

You have promised a reformist agenda and we expect you to uphold your pledge. Furthermore due to your power over the bodies mentioned above, we wish to assert here that any untoward incidents instigated by any of these bodies shall be held to be your responsibility.

If you believe in democracy and clean and fair elections, now is the time to prove it. Allow Bersih 3.0 to go ahead peacefully.

A. Bakar Sulaiman
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
Datin Marion D’Cruz
Dato Thasleem Ibrahim
Dr Azmi Sharom
Dr. K. J. John
Dr Lim Teck Ghee
Kee Thuan Chye
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar
Prof Zaharom Nain

Reps must think like statesmen

The Star
Putik Lada By H. R. Dipendra

Members of Parliament and Assemblymen can no longer be tribal in their views, and should display the values of duty, utility, and eudemonia.

THE 13th general election is almost upon us. Flags have been hoisted, noises made, slogans exhorted, goodies promised and battle lines drawn.

I am reminded of what George Eliot wrote about elections in her book Felix Holt: “An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”

A lot is at stake and voters are being asked to make the right decision, as a wrong choice of leaders may have disastrous consequences for the state of the nation and Malaysia’s well-being. Or so it seems.

The fact remains that Malaysians get very excited every five years or so. On the eve of every general election, incumbents and challengers do their best to convince voters that they are the right choice to lead them.

I have lamented many a time that many Members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblymen go missing after being elected.

For example, in the constituency where I vote, my MP has probably not visited my local area since 2008 and the assemblyman is, quite frankly, in my view, somewhat bigoted.

The point I am trying to make is that as voters, should we not expect more from our MPs and assemblymen?

Should we be content in only dealing with them once every five years or should we demand that they engage us (and the community) at regular intervals, even if they do not agree with our politics?

It should not just be about cutting ribbons, launching some project here and there or attending a parent-teacher function.

It is more than that. It is about getting the consensus and thinking of the voters for important issues affecting the country.

For example, how many MPs actually take the trouble to ask their constituents how they should go about replacing the Internal Security Act, or the new raft of legislation that were passed in record time recently?

How many are people-friendly, representative of the minority and all interests or asked their constituents what they felt about the Budget and how it could benefit their constituency, and how decision-making between the voters and the Government could be improved?

I do not think that it is difficult preparing a simple questionnaire detailing these important issues, circulating them among the constituents, collating them and explaining at Parliament and to the party whip that this is the wish list of the constituency.

We no longer live in an age where we can afford to fully depend on our MPs and assemblymen. We need to constantly monitor and check on them every now and then.

We must demand more from them and remind them that they represent our views when dealing with matters affecting the nation.

MPs and assemblymen must accept the fact that they cannot act or behave in isolation or hold only the view of a select few.

Which brings me to my next question: What should we expect from our MPs and assemblymen?

The vast majority of politicians today cannot claim to be guided by the Merdeka or Indepen­dence socio-political movement. This country has moved and forged well ahead. The fact that we keep on reflecting too much on history can be unhealthy as the future to me holds more importance.

The next generation of MPs and assemblymen can no longer be tribal in their views and must not subscribe to strong racial or religious views.

Candidates should display the values of duty, utility, and eudemonia (state of happiness governed by reason) as paramount features of their candidacy.

Those who can transcend all barriers to ensure that Malaysians as a whole are looked after and are happy ought to be voted in.

I want to see MPs and assemblymen who are smart, articulate, and can hold themselves well on issues. I am selfish in demanding that my MP and assemblyman must be able to think well ahead.

This is extremely important because Parliament requires intelligent MPs who can debate complex and critical pieces of legislation.

We should do away with chest-thumping politicians who champion (often nefariously) a very small minority.

More importantly, I would like to see MPs and assemblymen break through racial, cultural and political divides and show dedication to the community at large.

MPs and assemblymen must inculcate a sense of nationalism among Malaysians, and that as Malaysians we all belong to this country. We must never be merely a necessary contemplation every five years.

Malaysians, too, must play their part. They must hold their MPs and assemblymen to a higher threshold.

While some MPs and assemblymen regularly engage the community at large through Twitter and Facebook (commendable indeed), more effort should be put into engaging all segments of society.

And if I can make one personal demand, it is that all MPs and assemblymen demonstrate empathy for animal protection and treatment.

I am confident that with all these considerations in place, we as a nation will prosper, mature and hold ourselves out well internationally.

James Freeman Clarke once said that “a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation”.

We should demand that our MPs and assemblymen act and think like statesmen. And yes, let us all choose wisely come the 13th general election.

> The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society.

Court Grants Restraining Order Barring Entrance Into Dataran Merdeka

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 (Bernama) -- Police will classify the opposition supported assembly planned for Saturday at Dataran Merdeka as illegal if the organisers and the public insist on gathering there.

Police have obtained a Magistrates Court order barring the organisers and the public from convening at Dataran Merdeka until May 1, said Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh.

"Any contravention of the restraining order is an offence under Section 188 of the Penal Code," he told reporters here Friday.

He emphasised that the ban covered not only the organisers and participants but also local and foreign tourists, the public and reporters as well.

Mohmad said however, gatherings at other locations apart from Dataran Merdeka was allowed provided they complied with the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011, which did not allow for any form of procession.

He further informed that following the restraining order, police and Kuala Lumpur City Hall have closed off the roads in the vicinity of Dataran Merdeka including Jalan Raja and Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, as granted by the court.

Police would also close the main roads leading into the capital, if necessary, to maintain public order.

A Bernama survey found Jalan Raja, among the main routes to Dataran Merdeka, closed since noon Friday.

The perimeter of Dataran Merdeka was also fenced with metal barriers and yellow tape to prevent access.

Live – Crowds begin to gather for Bersih 3.0


Selamat Sejahtera dan Salam Hak Asasi Manusia!

Rakan-rakan media dan Sidang Pengarang yang dihormati.

Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Suruhanjaya) akan meneruskan SESI PENDENGARAN AWAM INKUIRI NASIONAL KE ATAS HAK TANAH ORANG ASAL/ASLI DI MALAYSIA pada:

                                 Tarikh:     27 hingga 30 April 2012
                                 Tempat:   Dewan Merak, Kesedar Inn, Gua Musang,
                                                 Jalan Kesedar Inn, 18300 Gua Musang Kelantan
                                  Masa:      9.00 pagi – 5.00 petang

Rakan-rakan media adalah dijemput untuk menghadiri Sesi Pendengaran Awam berikut dan ia terbuka untuk orang awam. Sebarang maklumat lanjut sila hubungi Sekretariat Media Inkuiri Nasional,  Cik Elza Nadiah bt Shaik Sulaiman di talian 03 – 2612 5689 / 010 3447596.

Sekian, terima kasih.