Hong Kong Occupy Central Rally


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(The first night of the protest was bad with tear gas & pepper spray on the protestors and this prompted a greater support for the rally but it is not something new here. Image source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk)

Well thing for sure, my trip this time has been screwed up big time and need to be rescheduled. There’s plenty of work need to be done and the last thing I need now is for a prolonged public protest and plenty of uncertainty.

Couple of days before my departure, I managed to get my watch fixed and change the “leather” strap to the original strap that I had ordered online. Finally it was comfortable wearing my chronograph. The flight from KL was good as usual and this time, I even had plenty of space to my side, thanks to the flight not being that too full (I opted for a seat at the back and managed to lose the crowd in the process).

I was not aware of the protest and thought it will be the usual breeze reaching my apartment after I had landed in Hong Kong but thanks to a friend who had been keeping tab on the protest and the traffic situation, he managed to inform me of the latest situation and I had to ditch the idea of taking the taxi from the Hong Kong MTR station and instead had to change train to another station where the roads were not blocked and outside the protest areas. It was not easy taking the my heavy luggage bag up and down the escalators. It was even worse when doing it in a station packed like sardine (many probably missed their bus or could not get a taxi). My friend who just happened to be outside visiting another friend was also caught in the chaos and had problem getting taxi or bus. We decided to meet up at the last train station and get the taxi from there (where the queue was long as well).

As Malaysians, we are no stranger to street protest having seen Hindraf and Bersih rallies in the past but we did not cause major disruption to others’ daily routine for more than 1 day (other than perhaps, the usual police road blocks few nights before). And to ensure that we do not disrupt our weekdays too much, we usually have it on the weekends where a majority of Malaysians are happily resting at home. Getting prior notice of the expected traffic jam and road closures from the organisers and the police helps a lot too. And when it comes Monday, everything goes back to normal with hardly any evidence of the street protests on the weekend, other than on Facebook pages and blogs. For that alone, I guess we need to salute Malaysian street protestors.

In Hong Kong, the protests that crippled the financial district is coming to almost 2 weeks now and there is no definite date for the end of the protest even though everyone involved is very tired of the protest. Given the fact that some seems distrust the Government, some even saying that it will be weeks or months before things go back to normal. Bus service have been badly affected and in a country where people rely very much on public transportation to get from Point A to B, a lock down of a key road in the island has been very damaging. Some temporary arrangements have been made but the bus services have yet to come back to a more normal level.

According to the administration, top officials were still working from other locations because of safety concerns. Courier service for internal documents and office supplies remained suspended, off-site meetings were cancelled and disabled staffers were still unable to get to their workplaces.

The police reported at a press conference that at 8:45 am, there was a whopping 9-kilometer-long line of traffic backed up along the coastal highway from the piers at Central to the Shau Kei Wan area in the east.

Traffic blockages have been most acute on the Hong Kong Island, but commuters in Kowloon also suffered badly. Some were stuck in a 7-kilometer-long standstill as vehicles attempted to reach the harbour crossing. Others were stranded in a 6-kilometer traffic jam on the Mongkok-bound thoroughfare.

With 30 kilometers of heavy traffic lining up on trunk roads in the morning rush, the Transport Department concluded that traffic conditions on Monday were the worst since the protests broke out eight days ago. It warned that the situation could worsen as more businesses resume operations during the week.

(Source)

And despite the long hold up by the protestors (who mainly consists of students), there are some things that one could only see in Hong Kong (and no where else) as this compilation from BBC clearly shows:-

Doing your homework
Perhaps it isn’t actually anarchic but it is definitely one of the biggest protests in Hong Kong for years. And yet students – some of whom were at the vanguard of this movement – find time to sit down and do their homework.

Apologising for the barricade you put up
An entrance to the Causeway Bay MTR station was barricaded and emblazoned with signs shouting out for democracy. In the middle was a small cardboard sign – also written by the protesters: “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Concern for how fragrant fellow protesters are
Hong-Kong-based journalist Tom Grundy tweeted a picture of a protester proffering free shirt-fresheners. At times the temperature has been sweltering and amid the crowds things are bound to get a little bit sweaty.

Shirt freshener anyone? And while on the streets with the protesters, the BBC’s Martin Yip witnessed volunteer armies spraying people with water to keep them cool and fresh.

Keeping off the well cut grass lawn when asked by a cardboard sign
A picture on the live page of the South China Morning Post showed a sea of protesters who it noted had parted for the grass courtyard where Hong Kong’s cenotaph is located. Protesters still obeyed signs telling them to keep off the grass at the monument, putting the “civil” into civil disobedience.

“Despite the crowds around the war memorial in Central, not one person is standing or sitting on the grass. There’s a new cardboard sign over the usual sign telling people not to go on the grass,” the Hong Kong-based paper wrote.

Being the tidiest protesters on the block
The BBC’s Saira Asher reports on how diligently the protesters cleared up after themselves. “The morning is being spent mostly removing rubbish left over from last night’s huge crowd. Students are picking up cigarette butts and plastic bottles, others are distributing breakfast buns. That is why those on the street are being called ‘the politest protesters’ by some on social media.”

Recycling has also been organised by those on the streets. Many agree that the world hasn’t seen organised and tidy protests quite like this before.

There were even photos of the protestors shielding the policemen who been manning the barricades from the rain and there are also photos of the policeman helping out protestors hit by tear gas.

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(Helping each other during the protest – It is something we can deploy in the next BERSIH rally which I expect will happen before the next general elections. We had not seen any improvements in governance since the last general elections. Images: Google/AFP)

But still, continuing to protest on something that will not happen is going a bit too far.

Unlike in Malaysia, where street protests in the past had dented the creditability of the Government and had seen them losing valuable votes in the general elections, there is little that the protestors in HK can expect to achieve, more so when it is not a free country on it’s own.

Look it from the Chinese Government point of view – to accede to the protestors’ demands now would be to open the Pandora’s box and it is something that the Chinese Government is not willing to accept for the time being. The fear that once the Government gives in due to protests, it will cause similar protests in other side of China. And the those who are protesting in HK knows this all too well.

Sadly, Occupy Central is doomed to fail. The Chinese government will not accept the protesters’ demands.

Beijing has already made it clear that it views free and fair elections in Hong Kong to be a threat to one-party rule in the country. At most, it will allow Hongkongers to select one of the candidates that it pre-approves.

It has also deemed Occupy Central illegal. In other words, the Chinese Communist Party views the issue as one of its “core interests,” and it hasn’t stayed in power this long by compromising on issues that it views as threats to its survival.

(Source)

Protestors know this would be the ultimate outcome of their week long protests and it is time to end it quietly and peacefully. They have made their point loud and clear and if they hope that the Chinese Government will ponder on this, enough room must be given without pushing them to a corner, forcing them to respond with drastic measures.

Businesses have been suffering from huge losses and must be allowed to get back on their routine business before they lose more and goes  bankrupt. Some sense of normalcy must return as well. In Malaysia, we too protests passionately on what we think is the right thing to do but not to the extent it causes huge losses or inconvenience to others on a long run. And do it in a way where the Government has enough lee-way to introduces some small changes to appease the protestors without giving in too much and knowing that if not much is done, they can expect more protests and this ultimately will come to haunt them in the near future.

 

Preparing for BERSIH 4.0


UPDATE 1: From theSun –  KUALA LUMPUR (July 24, 2012): The High Court today quashed the declaration of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on July 1 last year declaring Bersih 2.0 an unlawful society. In her 30-page judgement, Rohana ruled that the decision to declare Bersih 2.0 unlawful was made without taking into account some relevant facts or by taking into account some irrelevant facts.

Back to the original post

Just a quick one…

(Out of the many images of BERSIH 3.0 that I have seen (including the overturn police patrol car), this has to be one of the most moving one – a Malaysian lying down in front of the police water cannon truck to stop them. It reminded me of the lone protestor who stood in front of the tanks during the Tiananmen Square. Image source: Lim SK @ Flickr)

We had BERSIH 1.0 in 2007 which was unprecedented (together with Hindraf rally), 2.0 in 2011 was better and forced the Government to appoint PSC to look into the electoral reforms and last week, we had 3.0 which saw the police getting some beating from the protestors (and a larger number of protestors and reporters getting the same from the police) and you can be rest assured that if the electoral reforms are not implemented in time or with the right and sincere thrust, we will have BERSIH 4.0 and more.

Whilst we all agree that there seems to be some kind of steps taken by the Government to address the electoral shortcomings and come up with a list of reforms, it means nothing if these reforms is not implemented in time before the next general elections especially when BN is just too eager to wrestle back the state of Selangor and Penang. Look at this way – election reforms passed by the Parliament is not something that the current Government is too eager to implement and if it is not for BERSIH 1.0 and 2.0, we would not even come close to any kind of electoral reforms. So, when the Government announces PSC to look into the electoral reforms last year, we were not sure whether it was to silent the calls for electoral reforms (the usual wayang kulit) or if they were indeed sincere to make the positive change (but it is a long shot indeed).

Thus BERSIH 3.0 was mooted because it was evident that many of the recommendations cannot be implemented soon. If the general election is indeed called in June, there is no way for the EC to implement all of the PSC’s recommendations in time. And if EC indeed proceed to implement the reforms sometime in the future, it may be too late. So, it is possible that we have not see the end of BERSIH rallies but hopefully if they have the next one, the organizers should look for a better solution on crowd control (whatever happens, the last thing we need is for the ordinary people to be fighting the police on the streets) and ensuring that political parties do not hijack the rally.

Yes, we need to keep up the pressure on the Government and on the EC not much on coming up with the list for electoral reforms (BERSIH have done the same way before PSC was appointed) but it should be more on the implementation of whatever reforms that has been proposed. And whilst we do that it should not at the expense of breaching the convention of a peaceful rally and violence against the police and making the rally ending up the oppositions’ rally. If we do that, you can expect that the next BERSIH rally will be more effective than the one we had last week and with a greater participation as well.

I will catch up with you next week…

No Access Lor


This was rather interesting…

In Thoughts

Last Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of Iran’s storming of American Embassy in Tehran and taking 52 people as hostage for 444 days. Apparently this event is celebrated on yearly basis in Iran. However this year, such ‘celebration’ was also used by the oppositions here to protest against the ruling party.

Our driver told us that there will be protest when he came to pick us in the morning. He said that it is a yearly event here in Iran. Then when we were at work, news of the protest getting violent began to filter in.

ABC News reported:-

Iranian protesters took to the streets today as they do every Nov. 4 to mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover.

But this year, opponents of the Iranian regime used the government sanctioned day of street demonstrations to challenge the hard line administration.

We had no interest on Iranian politics but the problem was strange things began to happen.

Mobile phones began to lose its coverage. Access to certain websites like Gmail, Twitter, IM Chat sites and some news agency sites began to be denied. Somehow access to blogs was still allowed but we did not know for how long this access would be allowed.

Mobile coverage came back online sometime late in the evening (depending on which operators, of course)

Whilst we understand why certain websites are being denied access by the Government, what we don’t understand is that why access to our office mails are also being affected. Some flash based web pages are also failed to work. We had a hard time communicating with our colleagues back in Kuala Lumpur on system related issues.

I guess for now we just have to get used to the unannounced web access restrictions whilst we are in this country. We just hope that there are no future demonstrations planned for the next few weeks, otherwise it is going to have serious implications on our communications back to Malaysia.

As at today, the access to certain sites is still restricted….a dreadful thought if this is to happen in Malaysia

Cow Head & Racial Harmony


(Image source: http://www.malaysiakini.com)

When I first saw the image on the net, my initial thoughts was ‘Oh God, don’t tell me that this happened in Malaysia – what these jokers are trying to prove?”

Peaceful protest is good and healthy but these guys got their methods of protest all wrong – there is no need to mess up the area with poor cow’s blood!

But interestingly, seeing a group of people marching in protest with a decapitated cow’s head did not create the “racial” tension that “someone” perhaps had wanted to provoke. Sure politicians from both side joined in the condemnation of the act which and such protests if wrongly interpreted and not controlled can ballooned to a bigger mess (given the right rub by the hidden hands, of course).

And with the BN politicians lead by the PM himself, not hiding their “intentions” to wrestle back the state of Selangor, one can see where this “cow head” protest is coming at.

At the same token, considering that we have recently ‘celebrated’ 52 years of Independence, it is rather frightening read statements that the temple should not be relocated because the Hindus are not the “majority” in the area.

Considering that the non-Malays are already the minorities in many parts of the country, such statements have serious implications and questions such as:-

1. Should the government hunt high and low for areas where non-Malays are the majority and then gazette them so that temples and other items can be relocated without any effect on the majority’s feelings?

2. If there are no areas where non-Malays can claim to have a majority, then what happens to their freedom to practice their own religion and culture? Should their rights be wiped off and be forced to adhere to the needs of the majority?

3. Does this means the country is going to be spilt into controlled areas where minority from one group cannot overlap the majority from another group? Are we going to slice up Malaysia like a cake and divide the country even more?

With such rationale and narrow minded thinking, it will be impossible to unite the country and its people.

But considering what had happened, the question that remains is what will be the next step in the recent ‘cow head’ protest?

1. Enforcement of law and get those will involved (and those hidden hands) arrested and charged with the relevant law for the extreme protest?

I don’t think so – the Home Ministry is already quick to say that the protestors are not to be blamed (he blames the opposition and blogs) and already there are claims that the protest has been hijacked by certain groups claiming to represent the residents

2. Revamp the idea of relocation the existing temple to Section 23 and relook into the whole relocation issue?

Plausible but that would mean the ‘old’ problem at Section 19 will remain unresolved.

Or

3. Continue with the relocation but come up with more guidelines and rules to ensure that the sensitivity of the residents in Section 23 is taken care.

The PR led state government has stated their case on this.

Religion has always been one of the sensitive area in Malaysia and thus, it need to be handled with care.

I for one strongly support the consolidation of Hindu temples in the state and relocate them to a more feasible area. There are way too many temples and given the current sorry state of temples, there is a serious problem that the PR Government needs to look and resolve it without any further delays.

Having too many temples within the same area is also a headache for us Hindus whilst temple committee members continue to stay ignorant of the law and surrounding developments.

At this point, one need to read YB Khalid Samad, the MP for Shah Alam and a PAS member has to say about the issue here and his follow up response to the readers’ comments to the earlier post here.

Protesters who have broken the rules need to be booked under the law but at the same time, let the merits of the protests be heard and a win-win decisions is made to satisfy all parties.

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