Monday, May 29, 2006



A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government - Edward Abbey

There are some Malaysian patriots that are willing to speak out fearlessly about the failings of this Barisan Nasional government under the leadership of premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but unfortunately the government and its police force are too just too immature (or just too intolerant) to allow freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, the right to dissent and the right to peaceful assembly in Malaysia.

It was yet another depressing day, when the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, through the police, used water cannons and unreasonable force to curtail freedoms and rights of about 500 Malaysians who gathered in front of Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers to protest the almost 20% fuel hike and the 12% increase in electricity tariffs that is affecting the majority of Malaysians. 20 persons were arrested and 3 of them suffered serious head injuries.

A picture in the Malaysiakini (28/5/2006) report entitled “Brutal end to anti-fuel hike demo” showed a policeman using the butt of his tear-gas canister launcher to hit the head of a protester is shocking, and the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) must and should have investigated this incident of unreasonable and brutal conduct of this police officer – but alas we still do not have the IPCMC which our premier promised us.

Maybe SUHAKAM could look into this – but then to date none of SUHAKAM’s reports and recommendation have been debated and considered by Parliament. So, who will investigate this matter – and history has shown us that it is of no use to get the police to investigate the misconduct of their own officers. To date almost no police officer has been charged in court for torture, assault, battery, abuse of power or for killing for the numerous incidences of torture, deaths in custody and the shoot to kill incidents.

The Malaysian Barisan Nasional government under the leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must listen to the people, and not forget that we are a democracy – not a dictatorship.

Listening to the people means the giving persons the freedom of expression and opinion, and this must also include the right for these expressions and opinions to reach the Malaysian people who can consider differing opinions on matters of concern. It is thus sad when we see that there has apparently been a “black-out” in the local mainstream media of Sunday’s KLCC event.

It is wrong, no a sin, for the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to suppress peoples’ voices of dissent and just use the mainstream media to propagate his and his own government’s position and viewpoints. For, many Malaysians, who only get information via the mainstream media only, are being misled into believing that our new Prime Minister is a loving, caring and humane individual but incidents like what happened on Sunday at KLCC shows his true colours.

We must not forget that one of the limited means of expressions remaining in Malaysia is the right to peaceful assemblies and demonstrations.

Mainstream media are controlled by government and many of them are just too fearful to even publish comments and opinions critical of the present government.

Barisan Members of Parliament are gagged as they cannot function as peoples’ representatives and express the opinions of their electorate when it goes against a government decision, position, policy and stance – and if it was first raised by an Opposition, they cannot even say that their constituents share similar sentiments. With regard the about 15 Opposition members in Parliament, the limitations in the current Parliamentary procedures and system makes it near impossible for them to raise anything – and even if they do, the BN Members of Parliament will be required to oppose it blindly as this is what is expected by them according to our Prime Minister.

One wonders why persons resort to terror tactics – and many believe that this comes about when peaceful means of expression are just lacking or is suppressed by the state. We do not want persons to resort to terror tactics in Malaysia, and as such fundamental rights of peaceful assemblies, protest and opinion, and press freedom must be recognized and respected at all times.

Many Malaysians are against the fuel hikes, the increase in electricity tariffs and the ever increasing toll rates. Many Malaysians are disturbed about the way the government wastes the peoples’ money to bail out certain companies and utilize it for unnecessary matters.

Barisan Nasional’s handling of the countries development is also most disappointing when Malaysia is now embarrassingly one of the countries with the highest income disparity between the rich and the poor in Asia. The richest 10 percent in Malaysia controls 38.4 percent of the country’s economic income as compared to the poorest 10 percent controlling 1.7 percent.

Malaysia, which has the largest gap between rich and the poor in Southeast Asia, where the top 10 percent is 22.1 times richer than the poorest 10 percent. Malaysia’s income gap is higher than Philippines (16.5), Thailand (13.4), Indonesia (7.8) and Vietnam (8.4). We also recall in late 2005 when The Education Minister revealed that out of 4,036 national schools, 794 were without electricity, and 1,555 without toilet facilities. There can be no other government save the Barisan Nasional government who have been in power all this while.

Repent Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and remember that you and the Barisan Nasional government is there to serve the people of Malaysia, not merely yourselves, some selected companies and personalities. What is important is the welfare of the individual Malaysian not just the “national economy”. Almost 48 years have lapsed since our independence, but the government has miserably failed in ensuring prosperity, freedom and rights for the ordinary Malaysian.

Charles Hector
Petaling Jaya
29TH May 2006

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