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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scorpene: The Great Malaysian Robbery

Imej polis rosak, Najib, Hishamuddin perlu bertanggungjawab

Tangam did not breach any laws, claims lawyer

The gentleman’s club: Teen mutilates ex-boyfriend after he breaks up with her

“The girl’s brothers and father held his arms and legs while she cut off his genitals,” alleged Sajjad’s lawyer Bhatti.

KARACHI: A teenager and her family have been charged with mutilating the private parts of a man after he decided to marry someone else.

On Wednesday, a Malir court granted the young woman, her two brothers and father interim bail and called them for confirmation on May 5.

According to 19-year-old Farea’s lawyer, Irshad Ali Sher, she and 24-year-old Muhammad Sajjad were dating and were allowed to visit each other regularly but this stopped when Sajjad was about to get married to another woman.

In Farea’s version of the story, Sajjad came on to her. “After his nikkah, Sajjad went to Farea’s house and tried to persuade her to sleep with him but she refused,” alleged her lawyer. “Farea, who has polio and used to be a nurse, felt that she was being used. However, Sajjad kept insisting and did not back off. She felt threatened and used the knife in self defence.”

According to the lawyer, when Farea’s father, a shopkeeper, came home, he saw Sajjad bleeding on the floor and called an ambulance to take him to Jinnah hospital.

Sajjad’s lawyer Riaz Ahmed Bhatti has called this version of events ridiculous. He told The Express Tribune that Sajjad broke up with Farea because he suspected that she was cheating on him. In February, Farea texted Sajjad and had asked him to come over and return the gifts they had exchanged.

“The girl’s brothers and father held his arms and legs while she cut off his genitals,” alleged Sajjad’s lawyer Bhatti. “They thought he might die which is why they took him to Jinnah hospital.” Farea’s family registered FIR No. 62/12 under section C76 for attempted rape but they could not prove anything medically, added his lawyer.

A second FIR was registered against Farea’s family at Sharafi Goth police station where they were charged under section 334/34 for cutting off a body part. The bail was set at Rs50,000 each.

According to Sajjad’s lawyer, it was not possible for one person to commit such a crime alone and it was probably planned. “Sajjad is alive, but not really,” he said. “This is bigger than murder.”

Sajjad’s cousin Nawaz told The Express Tribune that surgery had been performed and the doctors were hopeful that everything would return to normal. But in order to reverse the damage, Sajjad would have to go under the knife again for an implant but it was an expensive procedure and they could not afford it.

NOTE: Names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.

Bangladesh teacher 'burns' legs of girl pupils

Burn marks on the leg of one of the madrassa pupils
Burn marks can clearly be seen
(BBC) Police in Bangladesh are looking for a teacher from a Muslim religious school who allegedly placed burning hot iron rods on the legs of her students for failing to offer prayers regularly.

They say 14 girls, aged between eight and 12, received burn injuries.

The school has been temporarily closed following the incident, while the "hellish experience" of the girls has been widely reported in newspapers.

Their injuries are not thought to be serious.

The Bangladeshi government banned all corporal punishment in all educational institutions, including religious schools - or madrassas - in 2010.

"I was shocked to see the burn injury of my daughter," Jumur Akhter, mother of one of the affected students, told the BBC.

The girls were learning Arabic and Bengali at the Talimul Koran Mahila madrassa at Namashyampur in Dhaka. The incident is said to have happened on Tuesday.

"It was the first day of the madrassa after our holidays. Our teacher got angry when she heard that we were not offering regular prayers during our vacation," said Ferdousi Akther, aged eight.

"Then she asked her servant to heat up the rod and then she pressed it on our legs. The pain was unbearable."

Pupils say that the teacher asked the students whether they knew the severity of the fire in hell.

They were allegedly told that if they did not offer prayers regularly, they would experience a similar punishment.

The neighbourhood of small businessmen, day labourers and garment factory workers is shocked over the incident.

"This is... human rights violence on children. The government has been trying to stop this kind of violence against children, especially in educational institutions. But the implementation is weak," Rasheda K Chowdhury of the Campaign for Popular Education said.

Police are investigating the incident following complaints by parents.

"We have registered a case against the madrassa teacher following a complaint by the father of a girl. The teacher and her husband have gone into hiding. We are still searching for them," Shafiqul Islam, a police officer in charge of the Kadamtoli area of Dhaka told the BBC.

Parents, meanwhile, say that they are reluctant to carry on sending their children to the madrassa.

"If we had a government school in the vicinity then we would send them there. But the nearest government school is far away," said Sumaiya Begum, mother of another student who received injuries.

"That is why we have to send our children to this madrassa."

Bangladesh has two types of madrassas.

There are more than 16,000 state-sponsored Alia madrassas across the country teaching more than five million students.

Apart from Islamic studies, students in these institutions learn English, maths and science.

The second type are Qaumi madrassas, which are independent and run by donations from people inside and outside Bangladesh.

They focus mainly on Islamic studies.

Almost every village in Bangladesh has a Qaumi madrassa. People from poorer communities tend to enrol their children in them when there are no government-run schools in their villages.

Bar to hold EGM next week on Bersih 3.0

Lim labelled as “incomprehensible” the police force’s failure to take stock of its previous mismanagement of public assemblies. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 4 — Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee today called for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) next Friday to discuss the storm of issues surrounding last Saturday’s Bersih 3.0 rally for electoral reforms, two days after accusing the authorities of human rights violations and widespread brutality.

Notice for the May 11 EGM was issued on the Malaysian Bar’s official website earlier this afternoon, to discuss a motion “in relation to the events of and surrounding the public rally on 28 April 2012 organised by Bersih 3.0, and matters in connection therewith”.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier today labelled last Saturday’s demonstration an attempt by certain quarters to overthrow the elected Barisan Nasional (BN) government, as he hardened his administration’s position towards the electoral reform movement.

Lim had previously said that the Bar’s monitoring team found more instances of police brutality compared to last year’s July 9 Bersih event.

He previously said the authorities failed to take heed of criticism and recommendations outlined by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) with regards to police conduct during Bersih’s first two rallies, and lamented on how “little has changed.”

“It is incomprehensible, if not a reflection of the sheer incompetence or arrogance of the police force, that it has not learnt from its past mistakes in the management of assemblies of people exercising their constitutional right, so well documented and analysed by Suhakam in its two reports and the pending ongoing inquiry.

“Police brutality this time around has been magnified; there is more police brutality (compared to last year.) There was arbitrary use of tear gas, water cannons,” Lim told a news conference last Tuesday.

The lawyer said that last weekend’s events showed an “urgent” need for the police force to undergo a “transformation programme”, to be changed by force of statute through the establishment of the recommended Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

He said the Bar’s interim report on the Bersih 3.0 rally had found that the rally was peaceful until around 3pm when the police unleashed water cannon and tear gas on the crowd; the use of force by the police without any obvious provocation or cause, was far worse, indiscriminate, disproportionate and excessive; and police brutality more widespread.

It also noted a concerted effort by the police to prevent and stop any recording of their actions and conduct. Such actions included firing tear gas directly at the crowd and in such pattern as to box in the participants rather than allow them to disperse quickly.

According to the council, this was found to elicit pockets of retaliatory behaviour by some participants of the rally. The police were also observed taunting and mocking the crowd. When items were thrown by some of the participants at the police, the police responded in kind.

Lastly, the report highlighted that not all police personnel were wearing and displaying their police identification number on their uniforms.

Lim also said that the authorities had disregarded provisions within the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (UNBPUFF), the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (UNCC), and Amnesty International guidelines.

The Bar EGM will take place at the Sunway Putra Hotel (formerly the Legend Hotel) in the city at 3pm next Friday.

‘Polis, jangan berat sebelah’

Wakil Suaram menggesa agar polis yang mengganas bertindak diluar etika juga disiasat dan mereka perlu dihakimi dengan adil.

KUALA LUMPUR: Kumpulan Pro-Mahasiswa hari ini menafikan penuntut yang menyertai perhimpunan Bersih 3.0 mencetuskan kekecohan, sebaliknya kekecohan itu datang daripada polis.

Kumpulan itu sebaliknya bersedia memberi kerjasama tampil selepas polis mengeluarkan 49 gambar peserta yang disyaki mencetuskan kekecohan.

Ini berikutan respon Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi menggesa 22 penuntut yang gambar mereka disiar polis berhubung Bersih 3.0 Sabtu lepas tampil bantu siasatan polis.

“Kita akan bersama mahasiswa menentang apa jua pertuduhan yang akan dikenakan terhadap mereka termasuk menyediakan bantuan guaman,” kata wakil Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) Ahmad Syukri Razab.

Beliau bagaimanapun mahu polis bertindak adil dengan mengenakan tindakan tegas terhadap anggota yang bertindak ganas terhadap peserta Bersih 3.0.

“Siasat juga polis yang mengganas bertindak diluar etika dan mereka perlu dihakimi dengan adil. Polis jangan berat sebelah,” katanya kesal.

Sementara itu, beberapa pelajar mewakili kunpulan Gerakan Menuntut Pendidikan Percuma (GMPP), Kelab Mangsa PTPTN, Gamis, Dema, SMM akan mengeluarkan satu modul menuntut beberapa perkara supaya pendidikan dapat diberikan secara percuma dan memansuhkan PTPTN (Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional).

Antaranya mendesak supaya mengharamkan penglibatan pegawai tinggi kerajaan dan menteri menjadi pengarah kolej swasta, selain mahu pembinaan kolej swasta baru dibekukan.

Pengerusi SMM Safwan Anang berkata pihaknya berusaha untuk memperoleh sokongan beberapa kumpulan mahasiswa lain seluruh negara sebelum diberikan kepada kerajaan dan pembangkang untuk diteliti.

“Ini konsensus kami. Kalau tak terima kita akan lawan balik,” katanya yang tidak menolak kemungkinan akan mengadakan demonstrasi lagi sekiranya suara mereka tidak didengari.

Nayati asked kidnappers for chicken rice

MyKad brawl victim to fight on

S Murali's cheek bone is broken, but not his spirit. The PKR man says he will still pursue B Reshina's case.

SUBANG: The beating that Puchong PKR division chief S Murali received at the hands of MIC Youth members may have broken his cheek bone, but not his resolve.

The former bodybuilder stressed that once he recovered from his surgery on Monday, he would take 17-year-old student B Reshina to the Prime Minister’s Office again to demand that she be issued a MyKad.

When met at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre here, Murali, a former MIC man himself, recounted what happened on Wednesday morning outside the PMO in Putrajaya.

Murali, whose face is still bruised from the attack, claimed that he was set upon by the MIC Youth members when he attempted to defend Reshina and PKR vice-president N Surendran.

‘They are my brothers‘

Describing the experience as “gruesome”, the PKR man however said that he would not seek revenge on his attackers.

“I know all of them [the people who assaulted him] very well. Despite us being in different political camps, I still consider them as my brothers because we are fighting for the same cause [the betterment of the Indian community],” he added.

Murali said that he would let the police investigate the incident, which had tainted the image of MIC Youth.

However, the PKR man claimed that he believes someone higher up had given the MIC Youth members the order to launch the attack but declined to elaborate on this.

“The policemen present had ignored the fight and allowed the MIC Youth members to attack us and at the same time, nobody was arrested. I am shocked that the policemen just stood and watched. Furthermore, it happened in front of the PMO,” he said.

‘She needs her MyKad’

As for Reshina’s case, Murali vowed that whatever happened on Wednesday would not deter PKR from helping her secure a MyKad.

On the contrary, he added, the incident had only made them more determined.

“Despite the school giving Reshina the green light to sit for the SPM examination, our objective is to ensure that she gets her identity card. What can she do with her SPM result without a MyKad? This girl’s future is at stake,” he added.

Murali also stressed that MIC Youth was wrong if it thought that it could break PKR’s spirit with a few punches.

“We are much stronger than that,” he added.

The clash erupted when the MIC Youth delegation came face-to-face with the PKR members who had gone to submit a memorandum to the prime minister regarding Reshina’s case.

MIC Youth had denied that its delegation wanted to attack Surendran and Reshina, and accused Murali of hurling vulgarities and throwing the first punch.

Surendran, however, called it a premeditated attack.

Yesterday, MIC disciplinary committee chairman KS Nijhar took the MIC Youth to task for resorting to violence and vowed that an inquiry would be held.

Can good looks win votes?

The MIC president believes good looks will give an edge to candidates, but the experts say while it does to a certain extent, other qualities are more important.

By Kisho Kumari Sucedaram

KUALA LUMPUR: Should good looks be a major criterion to garner votes in the 13th general election (GE)?

Or, to put it in another way, can an engaging personality coupled with good looks, immaculate dressing and grooming, give the much-needed edge to the potential candidate to win in the GE?

While there is no known research to date — to determine the sure-fire qualities needed for a winnable election candidate — the subject has been bandied, whenever a GE draws near.

Recently, there have been debates on the “beauty or brains” issue as political parties are abuzz over the selection of potential candidates for the general election which is said to be around the corner.

Should or should not good looks be one of the major criteria for winnable candidates?

MIC president G Palanivel said recently, it would be advantageous for the party to offer good-looking candidates, in the hope that they could bag the desired votes in the GE.

Beyond that, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said that politicians certainly must have other more important qualities, such as good leadership, scandal-free resume and be well-respected within the party and the Indian community.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Sivamurugan Pandian notes that being good-looking, to some extent, would be a value-added point in gaining popularity.

However, that alone would not be sufficient, he said.

“Other more relevant criteria for voters in determining their choice of wakil rakyat would be honesty, talent, intelligence, kindness and caring for the constituents.

“Maybe, handsome and beautiful politicians are more appealing to voters in other countries like the United States whose President Barrack Obama is tall, good looking and attractive. Another example is Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who is pretty,” he told Bernama here recently.

However, for Malaysia, Pandian believed that voters were more inclined and looked forward to giving their support to responsible representatives or political parties that could serve them best, rather than those with just good looks.

“What is the point, if at the end of the day, good-looking elected representatives cannot deliver their promises and keep up with the peoples’ aspirations? It’s okay if he/she has good looks and can easily touch base with the rakyat,” he added.

A blend of all things

Meanwhile, former MIC strongman DP Vijandran said physical appearance of politicians should be seen in terms of his or her charisma and leadership.

“Yes, to some extent, good looks are admirable like in the case of President Obama. Yet, charisma plays an important role. A politician should be a blend of strong intellectuality, integrity and commitment to serve people,” he said.

Taking Lee Lam Thye, the former DAP leader who left the party as an example, Vijandran said Lee had all those values expected by the people.

“He is good at making peace and touching base with the rakyat, and became a celebrated leader. He even continues doing social service for the public. This is how a leader should be. It’s all about total impression that we make,” he said.

For school bus driver Mohd Kamarul Ishak, 50, from Tapah, Perak, good looks certainly make a good first impression and easily attract the people to get to know the would-be candidate better.

However, he noted that the people’s judgment would be based more on service delivery.

“If he does not fulfil our needs here, I’m sure no one will vote for him in the next general election. He must be good and caring at heart,” said Mohd Kamarul.

As for housewife Fatimah Yahya, from Klang, pleasant looks help make a “very good first impression” but only for a short period of time.

The real impression, she said, would be based on the amount of time, effort and service above self which the people’s representative offered.

“However, that does not mean that handsome and pretty leaders cannot win the people’s heart, if they are also sincere, hardworking and understand the constituents well,” she added.

Inner qualities important

Concurring with most of the opinions, a psychologist, Associate Professor Dr Arifin Zainal, said good looks played certain roles, especially in shaping perception and readiness by the community to give space to be comfortable with their leader.

“The (good) looks factor always attracts the people and they would feel that the wakil rakyat is more approachable in a way,” said the dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, Open University of Malaysia.

However, Arifin said, it did not mean that good looks could override the inner qualities needed to be a leader, where creating a long-term good impression among the people was especially, vital.

He said the elected representative should be the beacon of the people’s hope and happiness.

- Bernama

HRP’s hat-trick attempt at registration

The political offshoot of Hindraf has filed its third application for a judicial review with regard to its registration as a political party.

KUALA LUMPUR: Human Rights Party (HRP) has filed its third application for a judicial review of the home minister’s decision to reject its application to be a registered entity.

It’s pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar filed the application for a judicial review at the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning seeking a certiorari order to quash the minister’s decision.

In a press statement, Hindraf information chief S Jayathas said HRP, which is Hindraf’s political offshoot, had applied for registration in 2000 through its predecessor Party Reformasi Insan Malaysia (PRIM).

“Why only Hindraf and HRP are singled out when there are 46,871 NGOs and 31 political parties registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS)?” he asked.

He claimed that HRP was the only political party in Malaysia to be denied registration. “Why does the Barisan Nasional-led federal government fear Hindraf and HRP?” he asked.

According to him, HRP had filed its first application for a judicial review with the high court on April 6 last year.

“The judge Rohana Yusof on May 6 ordered the ROS to reply to HRP’s formal application (to be registered) dated Nov 25, 2009 and denied HRP a mandamus order to be registered as a political party. HRP’s application was dismissed with RM5,000 cost,” he said.

The second high court application, which was also rejected, was filed on Oct 11 last year.

He added that HRP’s applications were always rejected on the ground that it was not in order, without specifying what was not in order.

Jayathas said that the registration was important since the general election was around the corner.

It is reported that HRP is eyeing three parliamentary and four state assembly seats in Selangor.

Eight police reports over police abuse

Eight Bersih 3.0 participants who claimed to be assaulted by the police on Saturday lodged reports on the matter.
PETALING JAYA: Eight participants of the recent Bersih 3.0 rally lodged police reports today claiming they were assaulted by the police during the rally.
The victims, accompanied by Suaram’s executive director E Nalini and Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) coordinator Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, lodged the reports with the Petaling Jaya district police headquarters.
On Saturday, the police dispersed the crowd gathered at the nation’s capital using tear gas and water cannon after protesters breached the police barricade near Dataran Merdeka.
Several journalists were also assaulted along with other protesters.
Speaking of his ordeal, 25-year-old Mohd Faizal Nurhakim Mohd Esah said he was beaten by two police officers.
The engineer also said that the attacks happened without provocation.
“While they were taking me to Dataran Merdeka for detention, police officers stationed at the surrounding area sprayed water on me and beat me up as well,” said Faizal.
He said the assault had left him with several injuries on his back and a swelling on his right shoulder.
“I can’t sleep well now and I suffer pain whenever I try to move my shoulder,” said Faizal who added that he had yet to receive his medical report.
Another victim, Lau Chee Sun,41, claimed that a tear gas canister was shot directly at his left shoulder on that day.
“I was heading from Jalan Tun Perak to Jalan Raja when I saw two tear gas canisters being shot from a LRT track above me,” said Lau.
However, he did not see police officers aiming the canisters at him.
Lau said that he fell unconscious for a while after seeing his left shoulder bleeding. “It was the thought of my family that kept me going,” added the tea trader.
Legal action against cops mulled
Meanwhile, Jashamsulnizam Md Jani, 26, alleged that he was assaulted and thrown into a drain.
“It was chaotic after the cops shot tear gas at us. As I was running, three policemen caught me from behind,” said the lecturer at a private college.
He claimed that he was later assaulted repeatedly before being thrown into a drain near the DBKL office.
“I climbed out of the drain myself and walked all the way to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment,” he added.
Although he was not detained, Jashamsulnizam suffered a bone fracture on his right hand and dislocated his right knee cap due to the abuse.
In a related matter, Fadiah said LFL was still in the midst of documenting more complaints on police abuse during Bersih 3.0.
“We also considering filing a legal suit against the authorities,” she said.

Back to basics: opinions

If you were to read carefully what I have written this whole week, which is a hell of a lot, you can detect that in some parts I state facts, some parts are reports about what others said or did, and some parts are my opinion or interpretation of events. If you want to respond to what I said, you must first distinguish one from the other. And this appears to be where we have failed to communicate properly.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I have written about 20 pages with a word count of probably 10,000 words or so since the beginning of this week. I thought that means I can now take a break but it looks like rest would have to wait for another day. There appears to be still some issues that we need to resolve.
Some of you probably noticed that your comments were not posted. The problem is if I do post them then I would have to reply to them because those comments were totally off the mark. And since those comments were harping on points I have already addressed it would mean I would have to repeat what I have already said in the article. Hence it is no point repeating in the comments section what I have already said in the article. 
Furthermore, some of those comments were scolding me for what I reported regarding what others said. If you disagree with what, say, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said, that is fine with me. But why scold me for what Najib said when I was only reporting what he said? Don’t kill the messenger if you don’t like the message.
My conclusion is that some of you are still vague about the difference between an opinion and a report. You do not understand the difference between facts and views. You regard everything as opinions or views. Thus we may need to go back to basics and take a lesson on the difference between opinions, facts, testimonies, reports, dogma, beliefs, evidence, science, etc. And there is a difference so let me run some examples by you to demonstrate what I mean.
Say you make a statement saying that Jesus was crucified and was resurrected three days later and that this is symbolic of God sacrificing his son to save mankind, meaning Jesus paid for our sins so that we can be guaranteed heaven when we die.
You take that as fact. That is not fact. That is dogma. That is what you have been told. That is what someone else reported and you are just repeating what someone told you had happened. You were not there. You did not see this happen. You read in a book that this was what happened or someone told you in Sunday school or in church that this was what happened.
I consider that as your belief. Okay, your opinion is this did happen. You believe this to be true. But it is still not your opinion in the real sense. It is the opinion of the church. And you believe that the church is right. You share that opinion.
Say you believe that mankind has existed for 6,000 years because this is what the church tells you and you believe what the church tells you. And, say, I disagree with you because I believe that mankind has existed for more than a million years based on carbon dating. Hence my opinion is that the church is wrong and the scientists are right.
Clearly we have a difference of opinion here. You hold on to religious dogma and believe that the church is right. I reject religious dogma and believe that the church is wrong. Hence we do not share the same opinion.
You have your reason for holding on to your belief. And your reason would be because you have faith -- and because you have faith you accept religious dogma. I, on the other hand, do not share your faith so I would have a different opinion to yours.
So what do we have here? We have the report about the incident of Jesus. We have the faith that makes you believe in the incident. Then we have different opinions about whether this incident and the dogma as the basis of our faith being correct or not.
At this point some of you staunch Christians are going to disagree with me. You will then quote passages and verses from the Bible to support your argument. And you are going to present this as facts.
You regard the Bible as a book of facts and hence whatever is in the Bible, which you quote to me, are facts. To me those are not facts. It is your opinion that they are facts. My opinion is the Bible is not yet the evidence of all this being facts.
Hence whatever you may have to say about what the Bible says is still your opinion. More accurately, it is someone else’s opinion, which you have accepted as a fact. You cannot prove what the Bible says. So you are unable to prove what you regard as fact. That means it cannot be a fact. At best it is your opinion that this report, which you were told and did not witness, is true. My opinion would be you are wrong and in any court of law what you say would be classified as hearsay and, therefore, inadmissible as evidence.
I know this sounds very complicating but I hope this demonstrates the difference between facts, reports, opinions and whatnot. You can’t treat everything as facts or everything as opinions and respond to what is being said as if they are all one and the same.
If you were to read carefully what I have written this whole week, which is a hell of a lot, you can detect that in some parts I state facts, some parts are reports about what others said or did, and some parts are my opinion or interpretation of events. If you want to respond to what I said, you must first distinguish one from the other. And this appears to be where we have failed to communicate properly.
For example, the Bersih 3.0 rally did happen. There is no dispute here. So that is fact. Furthermore, the Bersih 3.0 rally ended in violence. There is no dispute here as well. So that too is fact. Hence do we need to argue about this matter? This should be an area of no contest.
Now, with regards to how many people took to the streets last Saturday, we may disagree here. There was no roll call or attendance taken. Hence we need to estimate the crowd turnout. Your opinion could be 300,000. Another person feels it was 150,000. Then someone else may think it was only 30,000.
Since there is no evidence and it was based merely on estimation, the figure would depend on the method you applied. Hence whatever figure you quote is not fact but your opinion. Hence also, I am free to disagree with you if I think that your basis for arriving at the figure is wrong.
If, however, you had asked everyone to sign an attendance sheet and the number of names and signatures come to 300,000 then I would have to concede that you are right and I am wrong. Since it is my word against yours and based on each other’s methods applied at arriving at the estimated figure then we would have to agree that this is merely our opinions and that we have a difference of opinion.
But is this a reason to scold each other just because we cannot agree with the final tally? We both do not have tangible evidence. We are both using estimates or intelligent guesses at best. So we can agree that we disagree and leave it at that. There is not reason to scold and curse because your estimate differs from mine.
I am just using this argument as an example. I never quoted any figures in any of my articles because I do not have any basis for coming to any figure. I just looked at the photographs and videos and I am not able to scientifically calculate the number of people who turned out based on just this.
What I can do is to report what others said. The police quoted a figure of 25,000. Some news agencies said 30,000. Others said 80,000. Then there is the figure of 150,00. Anwar Ibrahim announced it as 250,000. Some PKR leaders said it was 300,000. Nobody explained what basis they used to arrive at their estimation. Hence I would rather not talk about the figure because I really do not know who is right and who is wrong.
However, because I would not ‘endorse’ the figure, some of you get angry. You make all sorts of allegations as if I am trying to ‘report negatively’. By not giving my opinion as to what the figure was some of you take that as an unfavourable report. How do I confirm who is right and who is wrong? When the discrepancy is 25,000 to 300,000 that is too large a variance. And I don’t even know how everyone came to these estimates because they never told us.
When I said that the plan was to turn Bersih 3.0 into the Malaysian Spring by first occupying Dataran Merdeka that was not my opinion. I reported what some PKR people said plus what the Prime Minister, Umno, the police, etc., said. Then I explained why the police was so adamant that no one is to cross the police line and step foot on Dataran Merdeka. Those are all facts. Those are not my opinions so don’t scold me for saying that.
Now, let us talk about the part that is my opinion. My opinion is that the police act under orders. Is that not what all of you say as well -- that the police are the tool of Umno? So, my opinion is that it is the Minister or the Prime Minister who ordered the police to make sure that no one jumps over the barricades.
The police did not say this, neither did the Minister or Prime Minister. Hence that is my opinion. But I have a basis for coming to this conclusion and I explained in great detail the basis I applied. Then I gave my opinion as to why the police were given that order, in that Najib was scared he would be ousted if Bersih turns into a Malaysian Spring.
I then quoted what many people such as Tun Dr Mahathir, Najib, the Minister, the police, etc., said to support my suspicion that this was what they were worried about. I may have just been giving my opinion but I support my opinion with events and statements. I did not just pluck this from the top of my head.
Have I read the whole thing wrong? Maybe I did. Maybe I misinterpreted the events or misunderstood what these people said. But then since this is merely my opinion I may be wrong or I may be right. You may not share my opinion. That is natural and quite understandable. But this does not give you a blank cheque to scold me just because my opinion differs from yours.
Anyway, I will stop here for now. I just hope you now better understand how opinions work and the difference between opinions and facts. When I write opinion pieces they are just that, opinions. However, being the cheong hei person that I am, I always go into detail about what happened and who said what before I present you with my opinions. And you are always free to counter my opinions with your opinions if you think I am wrong.


1. Sunday’s Bersih 3 demonstration is no doubt the biggest and the most violent in the series. It is likely that future Bersih will be even bigger and more violent.

2. The stated objective is to demand that elections be cleaner and fairer. But is this the real objective? I think not. Malaysian elections have been more clean than those in the authoritarian countries where results have always been obviously fixed. There would always be 99.9% of the votes going to the Government party or the President. If at all the opposition were to win, it would get at best 10% of the seats contested. After that the opposition would be prevented from taking their places in the legislature.

3. But in Malaysia there has never been an election, whether at State or Federal levels when the opposition had not won a substantial number of seats. In fact whole states may be lost to the opposition. And no matter how the Government party tried, it just could not wrest Kelantan from the opposition.

4. At different elections throughout Independence different states were won by the opposition. Kelantan voted for the opposition in 1964 and 1969. In 1974 when PAS joined the Barisan Nasional, Kelantan was won by BN but continued to remain under PAS. It was lost to the BN only in 1978 but reverted to the opposition in subsequent elections.

5. Penang went to the opposition in 1969. In that election Perak and Selangor could not form Governments as neither the opposition nor the Government party had a clear majority.

6. Sabah was also lost to the opposition in one of the elections.

7. The worst result for the Government Party i.e. the party controlling the Federal Government was in 2008 when BN lost five States and one federal territory.

8. At the Federal level although the Government party never lost, but its majority was not constant. In 1969 it virtually lost, winning with an unworkable majority. In other elections the margin were sometimes above two-thirds and sometimes below two-thirds. In 2008 it won such a slim majority that there was real possibility that it would fall because a significant number of BN members of Parliament were expected to switch to the opposition.

9. The lack of consistency and absence of any pattern in the results of the elections showed that the elections were not fixed or manipulated. There were the usual accusations of foul play from both the Government party and the opposition and some of these went to the courts. The courts also did not show special favour for the Government party through their decision. There was no proven case of Government manipulation or hanky-panky in any of the cases.

10. All indicators point to reasonably fair conduct of the elections by the Election Commission. The Government could not rig or influence the EC.

11. Compare this with the advanced democracies and it would be very clear that the results are quite similar to them. The margins are never extreme one way or another.

12. It is absolutely certain that in the 13th General Election the opposition would win a fair number of seats in the State and Federal elections. Almost certainly Kelantan would go to PAS. There would be great difficulty for BN to win back the States it had lost.

13. So why the demonstrations and the demands for the elections to be clean and fair? Well should the opposition lose in the States or at the Federal levels, then one can safely assume that the opposition will claim that the Government had not conducted the elections fairly, that the Government cheated.

14. There would then be more demonstrations, perhaps bigger and more violent. Demands would be made for new elections to be held, or for the Election Commission to be disbanded and a new Commission set up.

15. Seeing how repeated anti-Government demonstrations have brought down Governments in the Arab countries, Nik Aziz of PAS now declares that over-throwing the Government through demonstration is ‘halal’. Obviously PAS is already contemplating Bersih-type violent demonstrations as a way of seizing power if it loses the 13th General Elections. The country will then suffer from violent demonstrations frequently. This will affect business and growth. Already Nik Aziz considers the present Government as oppressive and dictatorial and it is right to overthrow it.

16. The attention of the world would be sought and the Western Press would be co-opted to paint as black a picture as possible of the people’s opposition to the democratically elected Government. The support of foreign Governments and NGOs would come in as we see in the Arab countries. Their agenda would be different but they would see opportunities for pushing their regime change, for putting their candidate in power as Prime Minister.

17. This possibility is not far-fetched. The average Malaysian always think what happens in other countries will not happen here. But the Bersih 3 demonstration shows it can happen here. We know that almost every demonstration in Malaysia has been organised by Anwar. Now he is teaming up with Nik Aziz. Both see much to be gained by seizing power through unconstitutional means.

18. And when they are in power we can kiss goodbye to peace, stability and economic growth in this beloved country.

Book Review: A Thai Prostitute's Depressing Story

Don't dig too deep
Don't dig too deep
Only 13: The True Story of Lon by Julia Manzanares and Derek Kent. Bamboo Sinfonia Pulications, Bangkok, Thailand. ISBN 978-974-8418-01-8. Paperback, Available through Amazon
For anybody who has ever been in a Bangkok girlie bar, what the smiling and giggling women in their spangles and bare skin have given up to get there remains hidden and out of sight. But these women, many of them no more than children, have faced lives almost before puberty that has annealed them into hardened and calculating individuals whose life is dedicated not to the befuddled westerners asking them to lap dance but to survival and finding money. It is kept well hidden, under the surface, beneath the smiles.

It is a story of exploitation on a savage and depressing scale. It has been told before, but is told again by a young woman whose name at birth was Bountah, born in the impoverished northeastern region of the country, called Isaan. Only 13: The true story of Lon, is told by authors Julia Manzanares and Derek Kent as autobiography.

Beaten repeatedly as a child, Bountah was forbidden from going to school because the family only had enough money to send the boys. She ran away from home at age 11 because her grandmother refused to let her go to school even though she had earned the money herself to go by cleaning houses in a nearby town. A troubled, rebellious child, she set out for Bangkok 500 miles away, only to be returned home. She ran away twice more before she fled to Bangkok to take a job as a waitress – at the age of 12, working from 5 am to 7 pm for Bt1,500 (US$48.50) a month.

Frequently jailed as a runaway, confined briefly in a psychiatric hospital, she fights off a would-be benefactor at the age of 13 who tries repeatedly to rape her. Finally returned to her home in Isaan yet again, she discovers her father had died in a car accident while searching for her. Her family blames her for his death. Heartbroken and overcome with guilt, she was given Bt300 by her mother and told never to return.

Thus began her life in Bangkok’s sex industry, first as a full-time cleaner in a Patpong go-go club. Changing her name to Lon, she discovered that at the age of 14, weighing 34 kg, 1.44 meters tall, she could make Bt30,000 by selling her virginity to a 50-year-old Swiss national who had come to Thailand hunting for a child – 20 times as much as she was making as a cleaner. The choice, terrifying as it was, made depressing economic sense to her.

“Why would sweet young girls want to go to (the bar where she sold herself)? “The reason is simple,” she said. “They are the result of Asian poverty – and they are not alone. Their behavior is the direct result of the low value placed on women in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia. Even now, in this 21st century, six baby girls are abandoned every day in Bangkok. In my case, my family’s poverty, and my need to win back their love were more than enough motivation.” Terrified, she walked down the street hand-in-hand with the man, a foot and a half taller than she was. Nobody stopped the couple, including in the hotel where “the clerk looked at me,then at him, then at me again, and said nothing., A very young girl – really just a child with a grown man – must not have been too unusual a sight for her to see.”

Sadly, in Bangkok and other Thai cities and indeed throughout Asia, it is not too unusual a sight at all. “There are roughly 30,000 Thai girls in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai who seek the tourist trade, Manzanares and Kent write. “There are tens of thousands more in the Philippines, Indonesia and Cambodia; they are the ones who have been ‘fortunate’ enough to see foreign men instead of locals. There are about 400,000 prostitutes in the brothels in Thailand, and millions more in other Southeast Asian countries who see local men for pocket change or simply to pay off family debt plus the massive interest charges that accrue.”

That began a long and depressing story. “Some clients have told me that people in Thailand are poor because they are lazy,” Lon says. “At the age when they were playing Little League, going to football games, or having wet dreams over their favorite cheerleaders, I was sleeping with GoGo customers to help support my family – for which I paid the ultimate price, the loss of myself. “

Lon would become a top go-go dancer, making a small fortune – for Thai women anyway – in the sleazy resort town of Pattaya, which, as she says, “is different from the rest of Thailand, with the exception of the tourist areas of Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, and the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket. It was built for and thrives on sex tourists. ..Everyone in the city knows their livelihoods are dependent upon the Isaan-born bar girls attracting tourists. The unkempt beaches are littered with garbage, plastic, and animal waste; the polluted bay and the poor quality of infrastructure offer little to the tourist who seeks a tropical paradise.”

Eventually she caught the gold ring – marriage to another Swiss national and a move to Europe. It didn’t work out. Little worked out for her in fact. It is a depressing and sad book. But it illuminates a life that typifies far too much the fate of young, pretty, poverty-stricken women in too many parts of Southeast Asia.

A share of the proceeds from sale of the book is donated to organizations dedicated to aiding young girls at risk for, or who have become involved in the sex trade. If that will help to save some of them from Lon’s ordeal, it is worth buying this book.

The minimum wages - Senator S. Ramakrishnan

Senator S. Ramakrishnan, 3/5/2012

The much delayed minimum wages was finally announced by PM the main stream media still hotly debating the consequences of Bersih 3.0. Minimum wages for workers in Peninsular Malaysia has been set at RM900 a month while for Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan is RM800 per month. The minimum wage would cover workers in all sectors of the economy, except for the domestic help service or maid, gardener and similar employment categories. The minimum wage will take effect six months from the date the minimum wage order is gazette. Seem to be a half hearted plan that may not take off. Selangor state implemented minimum wage of RM1500 for state and state GLC employees while Penang government RM1100.

The announcement comes as another sweetener for workers before the 13th general election. It’s an election goody and a knee jerk reaction in response to the workers protest on 3rd November 2011 against the amendment to employment act 1955. The PM wants to win over workers to support BN in the coming general election. The debate on the acceptable level of minimum wages will go on for some time to come.

PM implemented the 10th Malaysia plan in 2009 to become a high income nation by 2020. It took 3 years to announce a minimum wages plan. A minimum wage of RM900 will only attract more foreign workers. Malaysian workers cannot survive on such a wages. Foreign workers will displace the unskilled Malaysian workers in low paying jobs keeping Malaysian workers earning below poverty level. Wages alone is no longer a major determinant of competitiveness but in Malaysia it is deliberately kept low through large and unfettered recruitment of foreign workers by employers and crony agents through very exploitative production system. Foreign workers are already 40% of work force.

Workers rights eroded over the years under the BN regime. Labour laws have been amended to allow sub contractors to employ workers for hire in factories and officers. Forming in house unions have become impossible. Existing unions are weakened systematically and lowering job security. The close relationship between government and employers have breed in corruption, kick backs and big lucrative deals for UMNO goons. The civil service policy makers and implementers are clueless on stimulating and reinvigorating the stagnating productivity and efficiency of public sectors. This is stifling the private sector growth and expansion. Institutionalized racism and corruption have hampered and blunted the drive for increased productivity and efficiency. Workers can be made more productive and efficient with equality and meritocracy.

Millions of skilled and highly educated Malaysians go overseas seeking job opportunities. Our lost is other countries gain. UMNO/BN must dismantle the racial quotas and discrimination to increase efficiency and productivity. Structural transformation is compulsory and prelude for socio economic and political changes. Malaysia truly Asia should the pervading spirit in nation building and not just a tourism sloganeering.

Chandra Muzaffar - who are you to call others 'frauds' and 'hypocrites'

Friends have asked me what prompted the extraordinary hatchet job that Dr Chandra Muzaffar attempted on the Bersih 3.0 movement and its leaders in his recent article misleadingly titled ‘Bersih and the Quest for Human Rights’ published in various media.

What was in the article that could be of academic or scholarly value to warrant any close reading? Those attracted by the title may have expected an article on how the quest for human rights in Malaysia may have taken on fresh urgency given the police manhandling of the demonstrators and media, and the many instances of violation of democratic rights.

In the internet and mainstream media, the issue of police brutality has become the main focus and memory of demonstrators and the Malaysian public. That could have been a topic that Dr Chandra – in defending the status quo – could have brought fresh insights from a human rights perspective.

However, he chose not to do so. Instead he churned out a propagandistic piece praising the political reforms undertaken as well as aimed at demonizing the Bersih leaders and its supporters from the opposition.

His reminder about the “degree of integrity in the electoral process” and the fact that there is no electoral process in the world that is totally free of blemish is quite a turn-around. The Chandra of old that I remember was lucid, scathing and critical of the lopsided electoral playing field in favour of the Barisan Nasional and the formidable array of dirty tricks, including mal-apportionment and gerrymandering, it used to win elections.

A real U-turn

This includes control of the mainstream mass media that is now unsurprisingly keen to publish any piece that Dr Chandra provides – certainly a far cry from past practice when he was with Aliran or the opposition.

In my numerous conversations with him during the 16 years that we were friends and colleagues at Universiti Sains Malaysia, we talked and shared similar views of the unfair and un-free electoral process and also of BN’s manipulation of the system that enabled it to hold on to power indefinitely.

Today, Dr Chandra seems to have changed his view on the ruling party and many issues in the country, including that of the state of civil liberties. According to him, “[I]t is an irrefutable fact that through these legislative reforms [Peaceful Assembly Act, ISA repeal, etc] the space and scope for the expression and articulation of human rights has been expanded and enhanced as never before.”

That “irrefutable fact”, as Dr Chandra terms it, is not irrefutable. It needs the passage of time and confirmation from the ground to ascertain what has been gained and whether the reforms are substantive or simply cosmetic to pre-empt regime change. Sweeping or grandstanding statements such as the one above made by him are premature and smack of political partisanship.

Should Dr Chandra, after conducting rigorous social science research – publish the results of his work confirming this “irrefutable fact”, it may perhaps help convince sceptics that there has been “far reaching changes to political and civil liberties.”

Less than convincing compared to other accounts

In the meantime, his pronouncements on the changes in the country are less convincing and less thoughtful than the one below, which could have come from the pen of the Chandra of old.

Excerpts from Muaz Omar: ‘Claiming back our freedom’ (The Malaysian Insider, 3 May 2012)

As the nation and its people developed and progressed, Umno has dragged its feet, not wanting to accept that the social and political fabric has changed.

They are trapped in their old ways continuing their archaic doctrine of oppression, rampant corruption and abuse of power as well as propagating religious and racial tensions.

Half-hearted and watered-down transformation policies by Prime Minister Najib Razak failed to diminish the desire of Malaysians for a better deal.

The people are not impressed by the lack of political will.

This resulted in the resounding success of Bersih 3.0 on April 28 in Kuala Lumpur and 80 other cities around the world.

Hundreds of thousands, mostly young, of all races attended the gathering in Kuala Lumpur peacefully until the riot police took action.

Ordinary Malaysians were beaten up and tear-gassed. Even local and foreign media personnel were manhandled, some with their equipment destroyed and confiscated.

This black mark on Malaysian democracy reaffirms concerns that Najib lacks the desire or the will to reform.

His much-touted Peaceful Assembly Act did not provide any democratic civil rights to the people but is used to forcefully maintain the hegemony of his own party.

In short, Najib continues to engage in repressive and authoritarian tactics of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The tenacity as well as desire of Malaysians for substantive change was evident during the rally.

As Najib and Umno-BN leaders try to downplay and dismiss this demand by shifting blame and pointing fingers, Pakatan Rakyat needs to listen closely to Malaysians and not misread or take for granted their desire for change.

The people swarmed the capital with the intent of claiming back their freedom; they are tired, they are fed-up, and they are angry.

Who are you to call others 'frauds' and 'hypocrites'

My final problem with Dr Chandra’s article is its unprecedented attack on some of the Bersih and opposition activists as “frauds and hypocrites without any sincere commitment to freedom and democracy.” According to him, “[t]hrough their politics of deceit and duplicity, they continue to manipulate mass sentiments for their own diabolical agenda.” These are strong accusations, going beyond even what the BN leaders have said.

Who are these people that he describes as frauds and hypocrites? It is unethical to hide under the cover of generalization in making these allegations.

Besides the requirement of naming them, Dr Chandra should realize that as a social scientist he must provide evidence to prove his argument that they are frauds and hypocrites. What actions have they engaged in to deserve such demonizing from a senior social scientist holding the esteemed position of Noordin Sopiee Professor of Global Studies?

Has he conducted any interviews with the Bersih leaders to get them to explain their positions? Or has he found them guilty without bothering to speak to them?

Is this the view of key independent respondents such as those who took part in the rallies? Or is this the view of the larger population? Or perhaps is it the view of some of the BN leaders?

These and a myriad of other questions need to be answered by Dr Chandra. Otherwise he will be seen as another BN mouthpiece out to score cheap points and using the cloak of academic position to bolster his politically biased opinion.

Dr Lim Teck Ghee is the director of the Center for Policy Initiatives

Suhakam must initiate panel: Bar

The Sun Daily

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) must take the first step in establishing an independent panel to probe the allegations of police brutality during Saturday’s Bersih 3.0 rally.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee told theSun that in the absence of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), Suhakam is the next best body to undertake the responsibility of an unbiased and thorough investigation.

Lim said Suhakam’s functions as set out under Section 4 (1) of Human Rights Commission Act include:

  • promoting awareness and educating the public on human rights;
  • advising and assisting government in formulating legislation and procedures; and
  • inquiring into complaints on human rights infringements.

  • He was responding to the cabinet’s nod to the formation of an independent panel to verify the findings of police investigations.

    Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had on Wednesday said the cabinet has no objections to the setting up of such a panel, as the government’s priority is to be transparent and conduct a fair investigation.

    However, Lim urged the government to demonstrate its commitment by acting upon and following up timeously, all findings and recommendations made by an independent panel.

    “The public were disappointed in the past with the government’s undue delays to follow up with and reluctance to implement the findings of past royal commissions, notably the establishment of the IPCMC.”

    Lim pledged the Bar’s support to any Suhakam inquiry into Bersih 3.0, which he said should be comprehensive – including inquiry on evidence and examination of witnesses.

    Non-governmental organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) also called for Suhakam to initiate the independent panel.

    Its executive director E. Nalini told theSun that while it will assist in all inquiries, Suaram would not be the right organisation to set up or be part of the panel as it is also part of the Bersih coalition.

    “However, we urge for an unbiased report on the events during the rally,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Suhakam in a statement yesterday called on the public, media and relevant authorities to assist in its own gathering of evidence on the events of the rally.

    “Those who had witnessed any act or incident relating to the allegations of human rights infringements during the rally, do submit the relevant information, other documents and evidence to the commission as soon as possible.

    “In the interim, Suhakam will discuss this matter, analyse the evidence gathered and study the reports of its monitoring team in considering its next course of action,” its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said.

    He said Suhakam is deeply disappointed over various allegations of the heavy-handed and arbitrary manner with which the police dispersed the public, and appalled by the alleged harassment of media personnel covering the rally.

    “We also note with great concern instances of unruly and disorderly conduct and behaviour on the part of some of the rally participants. 

    “Nevertheless, the use of disproportionate and unwarranted force against them and the media is unacceptable of the police, whose duty is to maintain public security in a professional manner, more so when handling and facilitating public assemblies,” he said.

    However, Hasmy was unavailable for comment on whether Suhakam will lead the way in initiating the independent panel.

    BN Government Rich In Ideas To Bring About Transformation - Najib

    KOTA BAHARU, May 4 (Bernama) -- The Barisan Nasional (BN) has come out with many ideas and agendas in its efforts to transform the country for the benefit of the people unlike the opposition which has foggy vision and is always flip-flopping, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

    He said in bringing about development for the people, the BN government was always finding new ideas, setting new agendas and planning various programmes.

    "In this 21st century, if we want to compete we have to do it in terms of ideas, agendas and programmes, which we refer back to the people to choose as to which are the best.

    "What are the BN's ideas?... RTC, GTP, ETP, NEM and if these are not enough, the government comes up with BR1M whereby 92 per cent of households in Kelantan enjoyed the (BR1M) aid," he said when launching the Bandar Baru Tunjong RTC here Friday.

    The acronymns stand for Rural Transformation Centre, Government Transformation Programme, Economic Transformation Programme, New Economic Model and Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (1Malaysia's People's Aid) under which households with monthly incomes below RM3,000 are given a one-off cash aid of RM500.

    The prime minister said on the other hand, the opposition's agenda always kept changing and was more prone to instigating the people to do bad things like encouraging them to topple the government through unlawful methods.

    Najib said no government could underestimate the intelligence of the people and must cater to them through good ideas, agendas and sound planning and not teach people to engage in misconduct.

    He said governments must also allow their ideas to be evaluated by the people like what the BN government had done to bring about a huge transformation for the nation and the wellbeing of the people.

    "And this is what we are doing here today, launching this RTC in the hope that it will bring great benefits to the people in Kelantan.

    "This is what I mean by competing in terms of ideas, to show the government has the edge where vision is concerned and it includes the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) as the forming of RTCs involves the cooperation of eight ministries so that people in rural areas can earn better incomes," he said, promising that the RTC which cost more than RM140 million would become a famous centre of commerce and a symbol of appreciation by the BN to the people of Kelantan.

    Blasting the PAS-led Kelantan government for being inconsistent in its struggle, Najib said the setting up of the RTC where the government acted as the middleman between suppliers and buyers, would make it a busy market which provided good returns to both farmers and traders.

    He said the Kelantan governmnet could only change building colours to green apart from issuing edicts (fatwa) calling on the people to bring down the (federal) government.

    "This is a development idea (Kelantan RTC), what is his (Kelantan Menteri Besar's) idea? Painting building greens, not enough buildings, paint the fencing green, still not enough, even the roof is painted green, is this what you call a struggle and if these are the ideas, obviously such people cannot administer the country," he said.

    He said one week before the launching of the centre, more than 4,000 people had visited it in less than two days generating sales exceeding RM5 million.

    The Prime Minister said a special election manifesto would be issued soon for the people in Kelantan to offer them a much better future.

    Themed "One Stop Multi-Service Centre", the RTC has under one roof various government agencies and also participation from the private sector to facilitate wholesale and retail trade of fresh products and financing by Bank Simpanan Nasional.

    It also house the mobile service counters of the Road Transport Department, Pos Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia's Specialist Clinic, 1Malaysia Information Centre, the National Registration Department and Immigration Department.

    Bersih 3.0: Even sardines have more room

    What do you call it when tear gas is fired into a tightly packed crowd with little room to manoeuvre – and when people try and move away, more tear gas is fired, even in areas farther away from Dataran?
    A section of the 200000 crowd at Bersih 3.0 - Photograph: Aliran

    According to rally participants, the crowd was so densely packed that it wasn’t easy to move. The chances of any disorder breaking out would have been minimal if they had been allowed to use Dataran. Witness the scores of peaceful solidarity gatherings held in cities and towns in Malaysia and abroad.

    The KL turnout, estimated at some 200000, was perhaps the biggest display of people power in Malaysian history. The political tremors could be felt across the length and breadth of the land, from the corridors of power in Putrajaya all the way to the banana fritter warongs of Sabah.

    Public awareness of the rot in the system has grown since 2008. If the turnout, along with the sheer diversity of the crowd and the notable presence of the young, is any indication, then a new Malaysia is bubbling beneath the surface, raising hopes for a new era of democracy, social justice, accountability, environmental consciousness and inclusiveness.