Saturday, September 22, 2012

Election Commission Should Prove Its Credibility

EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claims the Selangor government’s voters audit exercise is insincere, done with the agenda of discrediting the EC by labelling genuine voters as dubious voters.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution had alleged that a small hut in Sungai Pusu, Gombak, was the registered address of 13 voters.

Abdul Aziz said an inspection by EC officials showed that the hut is not a residential house but a parking place for motorcycles.

The address provided by Saifuddin is that of a coffee shop that is used by residents of several houses in the locality as their corresponding address because it is located beside the main road.

Abdul Aziz that the EC was the only body empowered, under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, to administer the electoral roll.

“We have never agreed to let any individual or institution to inspect or audit the electoral roll.”

He also reiterated that once the names of voters are registered in the electoral roll and gazetted, the roll cannot be questioned or changed by anybody except by the voters themselves.

This is where the danger lies - the roll cannot be questioned or changed. EC was created by the constitution to protect the sanctity of electoral process in order to ensure that the process of selecting the next government is clean, transparent, democratic and credible.

There must be a check-and-balance mechanism to ensure that the EC is operating above politics at all times. It does not sound very credible and convincing if the EC does not make any effort to cement its credibility and impartiality.

Any party that doubts the credibility and accuracy of the electoral roll has the right to demand for a disclosure. EC is responsible to conduct regular audits to ensure that the roll is clean and accurate.

Aziz is quick to point that the commission can make mistakes too. Hence, he should keep an open mind to queries and doubts. His role is to rectify any weaknesses and mistakes. 

This is not the first time EC has been informed about discrepancies in the electoral roll but the commission under Aziz has not responded favorably to the complaints.

If Aziz cannot do the job, he should step down and let others who are more capable to take over from him; instead of crying wolf over the Selangor government audit of the electoral roll. It does not take the Selangor government audit exercise to discredit the commission. Aziz's leadership of the EC has caused enough damage to its reputation. 

What has EC accomplished on Sabah's Project IC, phantom voters, postal voters, overseas voters and other significant suggestions on electoral reforms?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Legal Action Against Suaram is Going to Unite NGOs and Civil Society Against the Regime

The Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) said today it will recommend to the attorney-general to bring charges against Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, the vehicle for human rights group Suaram.

“We are initiating legal action based on the company’s reporting of its accounts, which is confusing,” Ismail Sabri said.

Asked what he meant by confusing, he replied: “All kinds of things. It is misleading. We are building a case, we cannot expose all the details now.

“They do one thing and report another,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said CCM was still looking at other possible charges against Suara Inisiatif but has confirmed at least one charge against it under section Section 364(2) of the Companies Act 1965, which carries a jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of RM250,000 or both.

The other sections under which Suaram was still being investigated are Section 166A(3), Section 169(14), Section 167(1), Section 167(2) and Section 132(1) of the Companies Act 1965.

Asked if one of the other possible charges was for receiving funding from the Open Society Foundation, which was founded by business magnate George Soros, he replied: “No, It doesn’t concern funding, that is beyond our jurisdiction.”

Ironically, who would believe Ismail Sabri's denial that the prosecution of Suaram is not related to either George Soros or Scorpene investigation in France? UMNO leaders have been attacking the NGO for receiving foreign funding. They alleged that Suaram has become a foreign tool and being an irresponsible social critic.

Suaram has initiated an investigation into the shoddy Scorpene deal. This may be bad and irresponsible to the government but Suaram has done the Malaysian public a good service by putting a possibly mega corruption case through the strictest scrutiny.

We need to know why more than RM500 million can be paid to a company owned by a Minister as coordination and consultancy fee for arranging the purchase?

It is a shame that the government has decided to pick on an NGO has barely RM500k to its account and annual budget. Anyone looking for riches would not stay anywhere close to this organisation.

A lack of priority and consistency in its enforcement is going to render CCM another tool of the regime. It is going to further dent PM Najib's image as a reformer. 

By taking on Suaram, the BN government risks taking on NGOs and independent activists like myself. 

Between the government and Suaram is this case, the choice is quite obvious. We shall stand united with Suaram and help to ensure that we defeat the autocrats. 

It is a dark day for Malaysia. The government can take whatever action it sees fit but it must be ready to face the repercussion.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Putrajaya Should Focus on Crime and Bad Governance Symptoms & Not Homosexuality

Yes, Putrajaya has gone bonkers! It should focus on rising crime rate and bad governance rather than homosexuality. Investors are worried about rising crime.  International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed has just chaired a meeting with a group of foreign investors on security situation in the country.

Yesterday, a local singer Eric Lim's car was stolen and driven away by two men in Puchong. 

Yet, the central government would rather spend our limited resources on something like coming out with a list of symptoms on homosexuality.

Putrajaya has endorsed a list of identifiable gay and lesbian traits to schools and parents to prevent the spread of the phenomenon among teenagers, especially students, according to media reports. 

The list published today by the Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily says that gay men have muscular bodies and like to show off by wearing V-neck and sleeveless clothes, prefer tight and light-coloured clothing, are attracted to men and like to carry big handbags similar to those used by women. 

Lesbians are said to be attracted to women, like to eat, sleep and hang out in the company of other women and have no affection for men, according to the report, which quoted the guidelines published by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.

Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said few people understood or knew the early “symptoms” of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to prevent its spread. It is a shame that Puad has chosen to spend his time to admonish the LGBT community rather than using his position to help improve the quality of primary and secondary education.

LGBT community are entitled to their rights too. It is not for us to say if such tendency is right or wrong. It is even more ridiculous for Putrajaya to try to label certain traits and individuals as gays or lesbians. 

Maybe Puad should start the identification process with his own coalition/party leaders and their family members. 

Just when you think things cannot so sillier, there is always another joker trying to outdo the record. Welcome to 1Funny Malaysia!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Lynas Receives TOL; Barisan Nasional Makes a Mockery of Its People's First Pledge

Despite widespread national protests over the Lynas plant and its radioactive residue, the government has given a temporary operating license to the Australian company. This decision makes a mockery of the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia pledge to put the People First. 

It appears that the government is still keen to practice selective listening. The government is only keen to listen to praises and adulations. This decision; to issue Lynas Corp a TOL to start operating its rare earth plant; is going to prove very costly for the ruling regime. 

Australia’s Lynas Corp said today it has received a temporary operating licence for its long-delayed US$800 million rare earths plant in Malaysia, enabling it to start production as early as October.

The Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) issued the permit following an earlier recommendation from a government committee.

Clearly, several issues have yet to be addressed:

1) Where are the residues and industrial waste going to be stored? 
2) What is the safety buffer zone recommended by international experts?
3) What is the government going to do to address the mental anguish of Gebeng and Kuantan residents?
4) Why didn't the government conduct a poll to determine if the locals are receptive to hosting a rare earth plant in the vicinity and neighbourhood?

A number of BN leaders who supported the plant are going to face serious repercussions in the next GE.

Straight Talk opposes the AELB decision to grant Lynas Corp a TOL. Concerned Malaysians must take their displeasure to the ballot box. Perhaps, this is the only way to mark our displeasure.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

National Flag Fiasco & Politics for Dummies 101

Malaysia has a serious problem; apart from other major problems we are facing at the moment. This problem is the root cause of all evils, issues, distortions and malaise. What is it? It is OVER POLITICKING!

Political parties from both sides of the divide are taking a no prisoner stance in their fierce political battle. However, sometimes their behavior and action borders stupidity and resulted in serious repercussion to the innocents and to the nation.

Politics and politicians in the 21st century should bear heavier responsibility over their action and behavior. They should put their action in the context of nation building and general well-being of the public.

We would like to see political contest and debate over policy making, governance and leadership. We should detest politics of character assassination, gangsterism, violence, racism, religious bigotry and other negative elements. 

However, supporters from both sides of the divide have stepped out of their boundaries of decency and civility. Political discourse in the country has descended into a shameful act of vulgarism, a lack of respect for individuals and violence.

Two-party system should be welcomed. However, competitive politics should be conducted with the aim to achieve better accountability, governance and policy making. 

The desire for power should not override these responsibilities.

The national flag fiasco is an example of poor judgment and irrational politics. Changing the national flag or flying an alternative flag during the Merdeka celebration is not going to help making Malaysia a better place than what it is now.

We need a change of mindset, culture and attitude. It must start with the politicians.

PKR's youth chief Shamsul Iskandar maintained that there was nothing wrong in flying the flag, also known as the Sang Saka Malaya, during the Merdeka eve gathering.

While it is not a crime, the action should not be applauded too. Shamsul should condemn such act and not trying to defend the perpetrators. Should those flying the Sang Saka Malaya flag be punished? No, they should not but they should be told to respect the national flag. Regardless of who is leading the country, its symbols (flag, constitution, institutions) and identity should not be tarnished and belittled. 

Malaysia is above any political parties. All politicians fighting for a mandate to rule the country must take a sacred oath to ensure that this country is governed responsibly