So It Ends at Lahad Datu?


sulusoldiers-642x453

(Just look at the fire-power in the back. Why it took so long to end this conflict? It is clear that these men were ready to defend their intrusion to the end and had push the authorities to back off until their demands are fully met. Why now? Why the sudden armed the intrusion after the Sultan getting payments from Malaysia for years now? Image source: http://news.abnxcess.com)

It has been almost 3 weeks and after the country’s sovereignty was molested by a couple of armed men and forced our mighty and well trained security forces to do “jaga” work – you know, the usual patrolling the perimeter to keep the unwanted media out whilst the armed men and his old Sultan continue to make undue demands on Sabah, it finally ends (well it is not the end of the armed men in Sabah though but rather the end of the passive treatment from the authorities – unfortunately no thanks to the armed men making the first move) today:-

The Prime Minister has confirmed that two police personnel were killed and three others injured during the clash between Malaysian armed forces and Sulu gunmen in Tanduo village near Lahad Datu, Sabah. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the armed Philippino group had ventured 1.5km from their holed up area and opened fire at the Malaysian security forces.

“I have given the full mandate to the ground commanders, namely the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar and the Armed Forces Chief Tan Sri Zulkefli Mohd Zin to take necessary action deemed necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Lahad Datu, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib told reporters that 12 Sulu gunmen were killed in the clash between Malaysian General Operations Force members and the gunmen. The number of injured among the Sulu group is unknown.

(Source)

Since the waiting has ended and unnecessary blood (at Malaysian side) have been spilled, I hope that the authorities would not waste any more time sweeping up / kill off the rest of the intruders and tighten the borders to avoid future incursion from remaining rebel members in Philippines who may now hold grudge against Malaysia. It may not be the end but could be the start of more armed conflicts with the rebels in South of Philippines and who now have a reason to create trouble in Sabah as well.

It is unfortunate that we had 2 of our men died in the conflict and they will forever be remembered for their heroic action defending the country. We probably could have prevented this tragedy if we had acted earlier and with a larger and stronger show of force with aerial and artillery bombing first before the military instead of the police move in to finish off these intruders – the use of mortar bomb by the intruders seems to be suggest a change of tactics and use of the military (with a couple of PT91 MBTs leading the way)  instead of the police would have been better option but it is too late to discuss about it now.

Of course, in the meantime the pro BN blogs are trying hard to do some damage control on the inaction of their politicians over this intrusion of national sovereignty.

One conveniently linked the armed intrusion with some mumbo jumbo conspiracy theory that implies the involvement of the US and get this, some fellows from PKR (ya, why not – general elections is around the corner) mingling with the CIA and some hidden hands making Sabah Ground Zero. Perhaps it is true but it does not explain inaction to use the military and the passive treatment by the Government for the past 3 weeks and of the various extensions of the deadline that was given to these armed men that expired with no positive outcome. If the rebels did not start the shooting, who knows, another extension of the deadline would probably been thrown for the pleasure of the armed men and time would have passed by with a part of Malaysia in the hands of foreign rebels.

Another said it is a good “PR” work and any move by the armed forces would cause massacre of “old and starving men and women” and that would be bad for protection of human rights in this country. Huh? Are we supposed to take pity on the armed intrusion just and abstain from any action just because there are old and starving men and women in the rebel group who not only cross into Malaysia heavily armed but also demand their share of this country? Or are we suppose to defend our country at all cost and show that Malaysia is not a place where anyone can simply walk in and poke their finger at the sovereignty of the country, no matter what their excuse or mission may have been. No one negotiates with terrorists and so remains the same here. The moment they walked in the country with arms and claim a stake on it – it is an act of war.

Certainly with the end of the initial fire-fight, there is no longer the question of granting the intruders more time and extensions of deadline to leave the country – rest assured, that one would have gone unheeded and died a natural dead too. In the meantime, the world is laughing at us for leaving our front doors open and do nothing when a group of armed men enters and refused to leave and claim a stake on the place. It’s time to get tough all around and ensure that it does not happen again. Sovereignty of this country cannot be taken for granted for anyone – in or out of the country.

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The Crime Statistics Folly


(How safe you are feeling when you are out these days? Sorry, let me rephrase that – how safe you are feeling when you are out these days considering that the statistics shows a lower crime rate? Image source: http://www.pemandu.gov.my)

Do you believe that the crime rates have dropped drastically over the last few months?

No doubt that the police are doing their very best in combating crime (with breakthroughs like this, this, this and this) but it is also clear (if you have read the news in the last few days) that it does not matter if you are an-ex Chief Minister or a Police Chief or just happen to be within the vicinity of the state police headquarters, you can still get screwed by the criminals:-

The house of former Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik was broken into by burglars who took away cash and a pistol. All the occupants of the house were out for a wedding in Malacca during last night’s break-in.

At about 9pm, one of Abdul Rahim’s family members came home but he did not notice anything amiss. However, sources said that after taking a shower, he realised that the master bedroom had been ransacked. When the family returned home and checked their belongings, they discovered that several items and valuables were missing.

“Three rooms were ransacked. The burglars took cash, jewellery, valuables and a pistol,” said a family member.

(Source)

And this:-

The multi-purpose vehicle belonging to the Sentul district police chief was found 12 hours after it was stolen at his home in Taman Chandan Puteri here.

Kuala Kangsar district police chief Superintendent Abdul Gaffaar Muhammad said police found Assistant Commissioner Zakaria Pagan’s Toyota Estima at 3pm yesterday in Pasir Puteh, Ipoh. “Zakaria realised his car was missing when he wanted to go and buy breakfast at 8am.”

(Source)

And this:-

A money changer was robbed following a daring heist by a group of armed robbers just opposite the state police headquarters here.

According to a nearby saloon employee, who wanted to be known only as Joyce, 35, the robbers had used two vehicles to carry out the robbery at around 10.15am along Jalan Harimau Tarom on Tuesday.

(Source)

And in recent spate of robbery and attempted abduction in shopping centres against lone women and multi million ATM robberies (damn, we used to deal with Indonesian and Nigerian criminals but now South American and Middle East criminals are getting in the act too), the question now raised is whether we have been looking at the wrong side of the statistics.

Tony Pua of DAP writes:-

We call upon the Government to stop the spin on the crime situation in the country. There is absolutely no question that the people do not feel safe in the streets regardless of the many “feel good” selective statistics the Government has released to the public.

Datuk Idris Jala claimed that “we as in the police (PDRM), Home Ministry (KDN) and Pemandu have been very transparent in acknowledging that there are 157,891 index crime cases reported in 2011”.

However, if the Government is so confident of its crime fighting achievements, why is it refusing to provide detailed statistics by districts (e.g., Petaling Jaya, Klang, Serdang etc.) or by type of crime (e.g., murder, kidnapping, snatch theft, robbery, armed robbery etc.)?

And the same echoed by PKR’s Dr Wan Azizah:-

In 2010, Malaysia’s Special Branch, according to PKR, spent three times more resources spying on its citizens than it has fighting crime. PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail revealed figures from the 2012 Budget, showing that the police produced 733,237 spy reports and security checks in 2010. In comparison, the number of investigation papers under criminal investigation opened that year was 211,645.

“All in all, the police’s Special Branch produced 733,000 reports on its citizens, spying on roughly 4.3% of the adult population of Malaysia,” said Wan Azizah.

She expressed irony at this, hinting at the rising spate of crime in the country, especially where violence against women was concerned. She said that instead of focusing on crime, the government chose to focus on statistics.

For 2012, the Government has posed the following crime reducing rate and given the recent measures undertaken by the Government in combating crime (like the very assuring Ops Payung especially at commercial areas and more street patrol) and the past results from 2011, I am confident that we can achieve a good part of the said targets (if they are not busy with non-criminal policing work on the oppositions or not being too busy with road blocks & fortification of the Dataran Square for another Bersih-like rally):-

1. Reduce 5% of Crime Index against the year 2011.
2. Reduce 45% of Street Crime Index against the year 2009.
3. Reduce 45% of people who fear of becoming victim of crime.
4. Increase 25% of PDRM charging rate.
5. Increase 65% of public satisfaction on police services.

(Source)

But then again, statistics are at the best is just an indicator and not necessarily reflect the actual crime rate as the computation of the reduction in crime rate is also dependant on other factors like the increase of the population overall and by types and severity of the criminal act. The reliance of statistics alone gets worse if the statistics are manipulated to show better rates as this finding on NYP’s crime statistics shows:-

An anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 retired officers found that the manipulation of crime reports — downgrading crimes to lesser offenses and discouraging victims from filing complaints to make crime statistics look better — has long been part of the culture of the New York Police Department.

The results showed that pressure on officers to artificially reduce crime rates, while simultaneously increasing summonses and the number of people stopped and often frisked on the street, has intensified in the last decade, the two criminologists who conducted the research said in interviews this week. Mr. Browne said the summary’s conclusions drew on respondents’ perceptions, which were not supported by the facts.

According to the summary, for example, a majority of respondents indicated that they lacked confidence in the accuracy of the Police Department’s crime statistics, which reflect an 80 percent drop in major crimes since 1990. Many of the retired officers who participated in the survey said they believed crime had declined since 1990, but “not to the extent claimed by N.Y.P.D. management,” the summary said.

(Source)

As I said, statistics are at the best is just an indicator. There is no point praising the statistics if petty theft crime rate had decreased but armed robbery crime have increased at the same time (Tony Pua’s contention that the current statistics does not detailed statistics by districts or by type of crime) and if the necessary follow-up action have been done. The Government no doubt must continue to evaluate the measures already taken to bring down the crime rate (even though the statistics may show good figures) – what works must be continued with more vigour, commitment and frequency and what does not work should be shelved and replaced something more effective.

We have commenced the biometric registration for the foreign workers but how effective it is considering that we continue to have criminals in disguise of students from Nigeria (“students” from Iran is another time-bomb waiting to blow – just wait and see) to continue to come over to this country to create trouble and commit crime (although the authorities have closed the gap) and now having South American & Middle Eastern criminals doing high profiled crimes in the country – how long it is going to be before things gets worse and foreign criminals start running the show in this country?

And have we started to look into the legal loopholes and stiffer punishment for the repeated hard-core criminals? How many of them have come out and committed the same crime, perhaps with fatal consequences?

Someone who I know was robbed just a couple days and when talking to the policemen who were very helpful, understanding and determined to solve the case, we heard the sheer frustration from the men in blue. They lament on how they put in the hours (on top of other cases to be solved with pressure from the top, the politicians and the public) and pull in the resources to catch the criminals only to see these criminals back on the streets (committing more crimes) due to loopholes in the law and legal procedures. And when some people die in the act of pursuit and arrest, the police are often blamed as being too aggressive and trigger happy whilst the common criminals elevated to a hero status (read Durai’s excellent “Funeral of a Macha” post for a take on this).

And since we are very concerned on the trend and ease of foreigners (who according to the police are professionals) committing crimes in this country, we should re-look into how the current law addresses crimes committed by these foreign criminals. Just like how foreigners have to pay more for health services and petrol in this country, I think they should “pay” more for their crimes as well. The prison terms or the number of whipping that is provided under the normal law should, automatically and mandatory, be doubled (or tripled) if the criminal charged is a foreigner (of course in due time, high penalty should apply for all criminals – local or foreign).

At the end of the day, we just want to be safe, not only for the citizen of this country but also for foreigners who are here on legitimate reasons but at the same time, the law of this country and the enforcement of it should be so severe and swift that the last thing anyone want to do in the country is to commit crime.

Read these too:-

Hishamuddin Sleeping On The Job

Defenders of traffic criminals vs our fight against crime

Drug Traffickers And Criminals. Is Malaysia A Magnet ?

Snipers & Helmet-less Idiots


I am not sure whether further toughening of the existing traffic laws would make any difference to the current statistics without a proper follow up with the enforcement of the said laws (or by some miracle, a change of attitude).

Read this:-

The maximum fines for three traffic offences were proposed to be increased because such violations caused many road deaths, said the Road Transport Department (JPJ). JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said Tuesday the three traffic offences – driving without a licence, exceeding the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals – also resulted in many cases of injuries and damage to public property.

The Bill also proposed for a minimum fine of RM300 to be imposed for the three offences, as well as for failing to display a vehicle registration number according to specifications.

However, he said traffic offenders can be hauled up to court if they repeat violations as often as three times in two months. The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2012 seeks to increase the maximum fine from the current RM1,000 to RM2,000. The proposed amendment also seeks to increase the maximum speeding fine from RM1,000 to RM2,000. It proposes to increase the maximum fine for those who ignore traffic signals from RM500 to RM2,000.

(Source)

Last weekend I had to pass through the fucked up Kampung Medan to meet up someone and I will be going again this week (you see, I have no other choice – there are still good people living in this area) and despite the road safety awareness campaign on the media and call for stricter laws, there are too many idiots on the road riding around without any helmets and some of them riding on the wrong side of the road as well (most of them are young, foolish as usual with their equally idiotic parents allowing them to do so).

After narrowly missing hitting a helmet-less idiot on a motorcycle who was riding on the wrong side of the road (and who had the cheek to horn me to move away from my legal lane), I expressed my disappointment (and anger) on the enforcement agencies that seemed to have conveniently missing from the “scene of the crime”. My wife wondered the same – where are the police and RTD officers manning road blocks, confiscating the motorcycles and throwing these idiots into the windowless detention cells? Where is the enforcement? After all, these idiots would not have been too brave to be riding around with heavy traffic all around wearing shorts & flip-flops and not wearing any helmets if there has been a serious crackdown from the enforcement agencies in this area.

(Wearing the right gear and riding responsibly is what makes the difference between a good sensible motorcyclist and an idiot on a killing machine. Not having enough money to buy the right gear is not an excuse and unfortunately the Government too have been rather lax in enforcing motorcyclists to wear the right gear when they are on the road – a typical 1st class facility, 3rd world mentality. Image source: Google Image)

Perhaps enforcement by the police & RTD has been done but it is clear that it is not enough and more importantly, is not done on a regular basis. Perhaps the enforcement agencies have done all they can and have despite everything they have done, nothing much have changed. So even though the Government is proposing to increase the fines for traffic offences, without proper and regular enforcement (or other stronger measures in place), there is nothing much, they can do in getting the road users to abide by the said rules. The Automated Enforcement System may be helpful in some areas but we have yet to see the effectiveness of the system and unfortunately it does not cover all types of traffic offences (including traffic offence of not wearing a helmet).

What else can be done? We see helmet-less idiots in other places as well and they remain stubborn as ever and continues to be a nuisance and dangerous to other road users.

As I was driving back feeling angry and frustrated as these idiots continue to weave in and out in front of my car, an interesting (or rather a very nasty) idea came to my mind. If I had the powers, this is what I would do – it is simple really:-

Just get the army’s top 5 snipers and place them hidden around the area with a simple instruction – pick any idiot who is on the motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic and without any helmets and take them out with one clean shot to the head.

And they should be doing this the whole day until no idiot is left to be riding around without any helmet and everyone has wise up and start wearing the helmet. A couple of days later, unannounced, the whole process should be repeated again (because by now some idiots would go back to their usual ways thinking the enforcement have stopped). Trust me, after a couple of unannounced sniping, no idiot would dare to venture out on motorcycle without any helmet – a long outstanding and nagging problem solved immediately.

And once this has shown its immediate “success” in the lawless Kampung Medan, such programs should be be expanded to others areas (namely residential areas) where idiots on motorcycle is a norm. And over a very short time, seeing an idiot on the motorcycle weaving in and out of the traffic without any helmets would be a very rare thing.

In the end, it is just a wishful thinking – it will not (I won’t say never) happen of course but we need to do something serious about people who break traffic rules on a regular basis and without any care or thought on other road users [read here on what I think the Government can do to ensure motorcyclists keep themselves and others safe whilst on the road]

I have seen people riding around without any helmet in many places including my residential area but it seems to be at worse scale in Kampung Medan and the surrounding areas (if you drive through this place, you will know what I mean). And I am only making it as an issue because I have drive through the same place in recent times and in both occasions I nearly knock down an idiot on the road even though I kept to my lane and followed the prescribed speed. I don’t really care whether that idiot in the end dies or seriously maimed for life (which probably make my day) but I do not want incur unnecessary repairs cost, time and nuisance  due to other people’s stupidity and recklessness.  You don’t want the same, I am sure.

So, now how soon we can deploy those snipers?

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too 2


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

Oh dear, is it another “brilliant” conclusion that I see on the horizon?

(What we need more stringent enforcement instead of just enforcement – it is high time the police get tough with hardcore traffic law abusers. Image source: http://lagunamerbok.blogspot.com)

Read this first

I guess it does not take an extensive post mortem to come to this conclusion:-

An increase in the number of vehicles on roads throughout the country has been identified as the main reason for the failure of Ops Sikap 24 to reduce accidents and fatalities during the festive season from Aug 23 to Sept 6.

Kuala Lumpur Traffic Chief ACP Rusli Mohd Noor said apart from the attitude or behaviour of motorists, an increase in the volume of traffic had contributed to an increase in the number of accidents and fatalities

(Source)

What a revelation!

So, can we say that Ops Sikap will be highly successful if everyone keep their vehicle at home and start walking back to their home town?

The increase in the volume of traffic no doubt would contribute to the increase of accidents and fatalities – that is called the law of probability – the more cars you have on the road, chances of accident would be higher. That is not rocket science by any measure. With increase of population and ease of purchasing new vehicles in the coming years, the volume of traffic is likely to keep increasing. Is this means Ops Sikap in the coming years will fail too? Based on the conclusion that the police have brilliantly deducted on the reasons for the high fatality, that seems to be the case (unless a miracle happens – those idiots on the road change their attitude overnight)

Thus, the reason – “increase in the volume of traffic” does not hold water as to why there was more fatality this year. Just take a look at what the newspapers reported last week:-

An express bus travelling at 130km/h, a container lorry at 125km/h, a Mercedes Benz at 220km/h, a BMW at 240km/h, a Honda Accord at 190km/h and a Perodua Myvi at 180km/h. These were the astonishing speed of vehicles captured by the traffic police’s speed detection cameras on Malaysian expressways recently. No wonder the death toll in each Ops Sikap keeps increasing and show no signs of coming down.

(Source)

It is obvious that Ops Sikap failed not because there are more vehicles on the road. It failed because there was a lack of enforcement. When it comes to safety on the road, it starts with the right attitude and behavior but when that fails, then tough enforcement of the law must swiftly come in. And this is where it failed in the recent Ops Sikap 24.

Instead of blaming volume of traffic and attitude, this is what the authorities should do. The authorities should launch a major operation that runs not during holidays but throughout all year long and on highways, federal roads and all streets to enforce the law on all forms of abuse of traffic rules. For those stubborn criminals on the road, they should take one step by banning these idiots on the roads from being able to use any vehicles on the road. And they should do with without any favor or fear and then you will start to see the reduction of fatality on the road. And yes, bring back the need to slap the stubborn and regular law breakers with a higher fine (remember the idea of increasing the fine to RM1,000 which was dropped after some criminal-loving politicians made noise?).

So, do you still want to say that it is not right to point fingers at the authorities for the failure of Ops Sikap 24? The abuse of traffic rules happens because those drivers know that they can get away with it and even if they are caught, the punishment at the end of the day seems trivial. It is high time this changes.

Will we finally see a difference in Ops Sikap 25?

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

(It looks like a plague, idiots on the road without helmet creating nuisance and endangering others – the worse ones even have young kids on the motorcycle. Image source: http://drhanie.blogspot.com/)

This was not a big surprise:-

The number of road accidents and deaths recorded under Ops Sikap 24 during the Hari Raya season was the highest since the operation was launched a decade ago.

A total of 289 people died in 19,606 road accidents during the 15-day operation which ended on Tuesday. Motorcyclists and pillion riders made up 179 or 62% of the fatalities.

There was an 18% jump in fatalities compared to 244 during last Hari Raya and a 16.5% rise in the number of accidents compared to 16,817 last year.

According to police who issued 133,808 summonses for various traffic offences during the operation, more accidents occurred on federal roads than on highways.

(Source)

Let me tell you about my experience when I was in the vicinity of the “lawless” Kampung Medan last week – it was a holiday, so we decided to visit someone here.

I was driving along the main road near Taman Sri Manja around lunch time – traffic was not so bad (due to the holidays) but I noticed something rather common on these roads – there are more motorcyclists riding rather dangerously (and oblivion to on-coming traffic) without helmets than those with helmets on. A large number of these motorcyclists, who been riding around without any helmets, are young. I am pretty sure a number of them are riding their father’s or uncle’s motorcycle possibly without any license or consent too (you still remember this idiot who was shot dead by the police last year?).

I encountered one idiot on the road – a lady with her brand new Hari Raya Baju Kurung with a lady friend as her pillion rider, both not wearing any helmet and busy chit-chatting while riding in the middle of the road, causing a mini traffic jam at the back. Such idiots without helmets whilst on the main road were not the first I encountered along the road. There were many more. Damn, what these idiots are thinking? That they are riding on some back lane in some remote village? That their soft skull is strong enough to withstand a strong impact on the hard pavement? That nothing will happen to them when they fall under wheels of a car?

I then exited the main street and cut into a smaller lane where I saw at the front, another motorcyclist, once again without helmet, weaving in an out of the two lanes. Even as I neared him, he was rather ignorant of the traffic around him and continued to weave in and out. Despite knowing all too well, I did something that often irked similar idiots on the road – I pressed my horns long and hard. It did the job – the idiot quickly moved over and I was able to overtake him safely. As I passing him, I saw him – another young kid (probably in Form 1 or 2) – no helmets, wearing a simple T-shirt and a short pants, flip-flops. He looked back at me, looking rather annoyed that his weaving in and out on public roads has been short-lived.

After I overtook him, I noticed him speeding up to catch up with me (being in the vicinity of Kampung Medan, I was expecting for a gang fight on the street). He overtook me and sped up and then continued with the weaving in and out of the two lanes. But because he was a bit far from my car (and thus no risk of an accident), I decided to let go this idiot to continue with his folly, postponing the “inevitable” for another day.

Now, let’s come back to the statistics of the recent Ops Sikap 24 – the police say that 62% of the fatalities are motorcyclists and there are more fatal accidents on federal roads (the vicinity of Kampung Medan counts as a federal road) than on highways. So, who is to be blamed?

The IGP says that “the main factor which leads to such mishaps is attitude”. I agree that at the end of the day, attitude is the main (if not, the only) consideration when it comes to road safety. Surely if those idiots that I encountered last week had a better attitude, they would have been wearing helmets and abide to the road courtesy and traffic rules. However, there are only certain things you can do to call for a change of attitude before you decide that enough is enough and it is time to take out the thick cane and give one hard on their buttocks.

Seeing idiots on motorcycle without helmet is nothing new especially when it comes to lawless areas like Kampung Medan. But the question is what the authorities are doing about it? I am very certain that if the authorities launches a major operation in this area and nab a couple or two idiots by their neck and confiscate their motorcycles for good, there will be more idiots ending up “seeing the light” and will start wearing helmets and hopefully abide to traffic rules.

The point here is enforcement of traffic rules. We already know that these idiots have attitude problems and despite reminders, safety campaign and strong threats, nothing moved them. Are we just going to resign by saying that “I am saddened by what has happened” and hope for a miracle (that will never come) to happen in the next Ops Sikap 25? I am sure the authorities are much better than that!

It is not enough that we give out summons for a few that was caught in the “net” and even this, does not guarantee that these buggers will not repeat the abuse of traffic rules (remember when things was that bad that the Government even offered some discounts on the summons?). And are we going to only put extra care during the holidays and when we have “Ops Sikap”s? Certainly not!

So, stop pleading for a change of attitude and start enforcing the law. And start with places where the traffic rules are treated worse than dirt. After all, the Government and by extension, the authorities have been “talking” about it since 2005! We do not want the number of fatalities to remain high especially when it involves other law abiding road users.

I say enough of empty talks…it is high time to take out the thick cane. Otherwise, one need to admit that the authorities is also contributing to the statistics.

Bersih 2.0: Reform Cause Torpedoed?


Ya, ya still on Bersih 2.0 rally but this is the last one, I promise…

(The famed stand-off between the peaceful protestors and police who bend on breaking up the rally at whatever the cost. Poster source: Mob’s Crib)

It has been interesting reading everyone’s post rally experiences, opinions and suggestions over Bersih 2.0’s recent rally and there have been gems such as these:-

The iconic image of Bersih 2.0 was refreshing; that of its leader Ambiga Sreenivasan, former Bar Council President, serenely leaving the Istana after an audience with the King. The symbolism could not be overstated, for the Najib Administration had earlier declared her organization illegal! Only those retarded would miss the message, and they are precisely the types we are dealing with here. (Source)

And this

The police formed a human barricade, arms crossed, and barbed wire at the entrance of the road just a short distance from the Stadium. A. Samad Said came and talked with the policemen. Such a frail man, but so strong. We sang Negaraku … and we sang it from the heart. (Source)

And more here, here and here and I must say that it has been very inspiring indeed.

But then on the other side of the coin, there has been more than a handful of blogs that had questioned the legality of the rally and its negative impact on the country (it was no surprise that some of these blogs are run by well known pro BN, pro Najib bloggers). There are also others who claim that the sanctity and independence of the rally has been hijacked by politicians for their own political mileage. Yes, it is possible but then again, where do we mark the line between ordinary Malaysians who want to see positive change to a corrupt system and politicians who may or may not have hidden agendas. Then there is the question of why one needs a street rally to give the demands to the King when the organizers could have slip it in when they met the King, days before the rally (this one probably needs another detailed analysis on the need for publicity in order to make the maximum impact on the cause but not now).

Then I read Aizuddin Danian’s post titled “How Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms?” Aizuddin Danian had always made sense in his blog and it worth the read all the time. Aizuddin Danian makes 3 points as to why Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms:-

1. 50,000 people do not make the majority. As with any large demonstration, they do make a hell of a noise, enough for the international Press to take notice, enough for the nation to be talking for weeks over the issue. But, it is still a relatively small number. How many people who between now and the date of GE13 will change their minds again for whatever reason that might come up. It’s too soon still to tell if the primary impact of the rally yesterday will hold true till the next time voters are asked to visit the polls

2. The rally yesterday was illegal. As much as the Opposition say they want the rule of law to prevail, it seems rather convenient that when the rule of law goes against them, they choose to ignore it, then cry foul when the authorities enforce it. When Bersih asked for the rickety Stadium Merdeka of 30k capacity to be the venue of their 50-100k rally, what would have been the responsible thing to do? It’s almost as though the request for such a small venue was made in bad faith, calculated to be denied so that Bersih could regain the moral high ground after losing some during the King’s surprise intervention.

3. For the Government to agree to the 8 electoral reforms (several of which have absolutely nothing to do with the elections but are more political in nature, some of which the Opposition themselves can’t claim to be free of, see PKR’s recently concluded internal “elections”), would set a dangerous precedent for the future. The moment any Government allows itself to be blackmailed (“do this or else we take to the streets”), it legitimizes the strategy of the mob. Get the mob onto the streets and the Government will give in. That’s just wrong, no matter how valid the demands

As I said, Aizuddin Danian had always made sense and he is entitled to his points, no doubt but here’s why I don’t think Bersih had torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms.

“….50,000 people do not make the majority…”

1. To tell you the truth, we will never know how many Malaysians really backed Bersih 2.0 (at least by actively going down to the streets for rally on 9th July 2011), not with the daily demonization that Government has been spilling on the Government controlled medias and the various threats that has been aimed at potential rally participants for many weeks now by the Government, the police, ruling political party members, that ball-less clown and some martial art Mahaguru. So, if despite all that you get 50,000 on the street, it can be considered as simply amazing and cannot be considered as a small number. Especially when we have also not included those passive supporters of Bersih who did not go down to the streets but agree on the purpose of the rally.

And there is this issue of people shouting at the rallies in support of the oppositions but doing something else when it comes to the actual voting day. It is not new and we have seen it happening at every general election. It is something that Bersih organizer has to work on even though the rally has now ended. They have to be consistent and ensure continued awareness of the election process weaknesses and the need for reforms.

Please don’t wait for Bersih 3.0. Yes, it may be still too soon to tell if Bersih 2.0 has made the positive impact but if nothing is done to keep up the notion of changes for free and fair elections, you can expect the process to remain unchanged for the next general election as well. The ball is in Bersih 2.0’s court now on this matter.

“…the rally yesterday was illegal…”

2. To say that the rally was illegal without due consideration on the Government’s response on the rally would be unfair to the organizers. The power to determine the legality of the rally unfortunately had fallen on the Government and it is simply convenient (and beneficial) for them to label the rally as illegal. We need to first consider if due consideration has been given to the permit application. We cannot ignore the fact that Bersih did attempted several times to obtain police permit. Public order and safety was cited as the overriding factor to deny the application.

This may been valid but the very nature of the Government of strongly opposing Bersih 2.0 from day 1 seems to paint a picture that decision may have been made in a rush and without any viable option for Bersih. If indeed public order and safety was the overriding factor to deem the rally as illegal, then what did police do to allow the rally to proceed whilst ensuring public order and safety remained intact? Was there any suggestion given to Bersih 2.0 (discounting the last minute ditch to offer police permit if the rally was held in PR led state)? Did they provide Bersih 2.0 with a list of rally conditions such as limiting number of people allowed to rally, setting a predetermined location where it is easier for the police to control the crowd and specific time for rally to start & end?

As I recall, there was none, to an extent, after meeting with the King, Bersih 2.0 had to even ask the police to dictate the route of the rally but it was rejected outright as well. Other than simply denying permit which now makes the rally to be illegal, there was no serious attempt to allow Malaysian to have peaceful rally and present their demand to the Government.

The idea of having the rally in a stadium was made only after Najib opened his mouth and implied that police permit would be granted if the rally was held in a stadium. He did not say which stadium but the option of having it in Stadium Merdeka somehow made bloody sense. It is iconic and it is where Proclamation of Independence was done. It was a perfect choice. And once again, the Government and the police could have dictated the number of protestors allowed inside the stadium and work together with Bersih 2.0 organizers to enforce it. But in the end, this did not happen as well. Despite opening his mouth and making the offer for the rally to be held in a stadium, the Government then backtracked and used the police as the front to delay any kind of rallies from taking place.

“…set a dangerous precedent for the future…”

3. Before we can say that by accepting the demands, it sets a dangerous precedent and allows the Government to be blackmailed, we must first consider what the demands are. Were those demands is something critical and more importantly reasonable?

Let’s look at the demands by Bersih 2.0 and see whether it passes the simple test of reasonableness. Did Bersih 2.0 demanded for a statue of Anwar’s grandfather to be erected in the middle of the city? No, that would have been highly unreasonable and the Government would have been in their rights to refuse to such demands outright. Or did Bersih 2.0 request that RM1 million compensation to be paid to each Malaysian like how Hindraf did several years ago? No, because that means good taxpayers money to be wasted on something unsubstantiated and worthless. So, what were the Bersih 2.0’s demands and whether those demands reasonable?

Let’s recap the demands once again:-

1. Clean the electoral roll
2. Reform postal ballot
3. Use of indelible ink
4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
5. Free and fair access to media
6. Strengthen public institutions
7. Stop corruption
8. Stop dirty politics

Take a good look at the list and close your eyes and think – are those demand reasonable or unreasonable. If the demands are reasonable, then why it is not implemented earlier and why when another party highlights the weaknesses and improvements, it is considered as blackmailing the Government? Why the refusal to review the demands without any due consideration? No doubt some of the proposed reforms is political in nature but in Malaysia where fine line of processes being independence from influence of politics is often blurred, reforms (political in nature or not) is still needed for a better Malaysia. The Government simply needs to find the political will to make the changes – if not all, part of them.

Of course, the ruling political party has their reasons not to make the changes to the election process – the loopholes favors them in certain ways, hence the public rally by Bersih 2.0 with plenty of participation from the opposition political parties. And we are not talking about violent mob running loose on the streets with sole aim to create uneasiness and trail of destruction. We are talking about ordinary Malaysians on a peaceful rally requesting for the reforms of the electoral. In that sense, it is not wrong considering how valid the demands are.

The strong participation of Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Bersih 2.0 somehow had clouded the NGO’s thrust for electoral reforms. That I must agree. It however does not mean that electoral process has been too perfect and does not need of any reforms. It does and Bersih 2.0’s demands should form the basis of reforms that the Government and the Election Commission should be considering to ensure that the people’s votes are properly translated to electing the right people to the Parliament and State Assemblies and these elected politicians do their job in the interest of the country and people instead for themselves and the political party that they belonged to. The fact that the Opposition had won some seats should never be used as the yardstick to gauge the how free and fair our elections been.

All we asked for due consideration on something that should been done a long, long time ago. That is all.

Bersih 2.0 – The Paranoia Had Started


Congestion caused by a road accident, Algarve,...
Image via Wikipedia

The real madness have started…

I guess one becomes very paranoid all over when one enters the Home Ministry. But with Bersih 2.0, it has gone beyond the realms of paranoia to an extent where wearing certain colored T-shirts could get you arrested.

Early this morning, as I pass the toll plaza and headed towards the city center, I realized that there was a massive traffic jam just after the toll plaza. It was too early in the morning for a traffic jam so at first I thought there must have been an accident. But when I saw flickers of blue lights, cars squeezing into one controlled lane and several policemen standing by the vehicle, not really watching the traffic, I shook my head and cursed silently at those who manned the roadblocks.

I wonder how the situation would be when the peak hours starts but I know it will be very bad. Basically I am not sure how the setup of roadblocks so early in the morning will help in bringing public order – it only going to get worse. I am not sure how many people is going to get their plans for the morning ruined or delayed getting to their destination or workplace.

Today is just Wednesday – there is still 3 more days before the purported rally day and already we are seeing roadblocks. So, do expect more insane measures and more roadblocks as we move nearer towards the weekend even though the street rally have been called off and the rally will be held in a stadium.

And interestingly the acceptance to have the rally in a stadium have certainly put the Government in a fix as highlighted in Anilnetto’s post titled “Stadium it is…“.

How the Government is going to go about it now considering there has been major crackdown on the Bersih 2.0 in past few weeks? Can people wear yellow Bersih 2.0 without fear now? Najib took the easy way out by leaving that decision to the police. The police informed that despite Bersih 2.0 agreed to have the rally in a stadium, Bersih 2.0 still need to apply for a police permit for the rally.

The interesting question would be – since the Bersih 2.0 had met the King and agreed to follow the King’s suggestions and it was the Government who mooted the idea of having the rally in the stadium – will the police now agree to grant the the permit to the organizers?  Because if the police denies the permit, then it is back to square one for Bersih 2.0.

It will be an interesting to see what the Government (who is also controlling the police) will do in the next few days especially after Bersih 2.0 had toned down on the key location of their rally.

In the meantime, be prepared for the insane roadblocks – things like leaving home early, picking the best routes and having a full tank of petrol in the car would helpful.