[Politics] Eternal Vigilance

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” – John Philpot Curran.

There are many good posts and updates on Facebook about yesterday’s results. I will not repeat them here. However, I think everyone should think long and hard about this:

The next five years, my fellow Malaysians, will be the dirtiest we have seen. It will be the ugliest. UMNO, and by extension, Barisan Nasional, will depend on the “us vs them” rhetoric to shore up their support in the rural areas. In fact, Najib, the leader of UMNO, has already fired the first salvo yesterday by claiming it was a “Chinese Tsunami” that threatened its dominance and reduced its majority in Parliament further.

They will attempt to create an emotional response and use that to blind and break us every time we question, resist, or protest their schemes, ideas and projects. Sometimes they will use it even to hide their own shortcomings. It will be one of those “storm in a teacup” moments, where everyone will forget all about the main issue and focus on only that one small thing (anyone remember that “leaking” remark made by Bung Mokhtar which lead to a massive outcry? Yes? Do you remember what prompted it, without referring to Google? No?* I thought so).

Democracy is not just the event of throwing our votes every 5 years. It is a journey of nation-building. It is hard, ongoing, and consistent work. If we want to build a better Malaysia, then we must be prepared to work for it.

Question. Listen. Understand. Agree to disagree.

That is what democracy is.

* If you DO remember what the issue is, I salute you!

Lahad Datu Conjectures

ALL THIS ARE MY OWN OPINIONS AND THOUGHTS. THEY ARE NOT FACTS. PLEASE UNDERSTAND BEFORE YOU RUN OFF YOUR ROCKER.

So sometime in February, armed invaders landed in Sabah and attempted to claim east Sabah as their own. They called themselves the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo” and said that east Sabah belonged to them. The Malaysian BN Government surrounded Kampung Tanduo (or Tanduo Village in English) and gave them two weeks to leave the country, but did not specify what would happen if they chose not to.

The invaders chose to stay put.

According to some local sources, on the 17th day of their “stay” in Sabah (aka March 1, 2013), a small group of their fighters attempted to leave the cordoned area. They fired at the security forces around that area, killing 2 policemen with mortar fire and injuring another two more. There was a short gun battle that apparently ended with 10 dead on the Sulu side, and 2 on Malaysia’s.

That was what happened on Friday. Bear in mind, this is what we have been told so far. There is apparently a gag order on the media about this. Wiki does have a pretty good link to the story.

After that happened, these thoughts ran through my head:

  1. There are a lot of illegal immigrants in Sabah. Nothing has been done about them over the years despite the pleas of Sabah.
  2. A large number of them are Tausangs, who are apparently Sulu people. Some say about 8,500 of them
  3. It would be completely realistic to expect the Tausangs to “rise up” in retaliation for their comrades being killed.


Yesterday, March 2, 2013, there was a gun fight in Semporna, about 150km from Lahad Datu. Some sites claim that the people who fired on the policemen were actually on their way to attack the Lahad Datu police station. However, the official news report says that the gun fight was unrelated to what is happening in Lahad Datu, because our boys in blue were carrying out an operation to find and confiscate illegal firearms.

OPINION AND IDLE SPECULATION BEGINS HERE

Anyone who’s read political thrillers and the like can take a conjecture as to what is happening next. The chances of there being a full out invasion in Sabah is very high, aided by “sleeper” agents who have entered Sabah over the years. Considering that both the Philippines and Malaysia have elections scheduled for this year, there is speculation that this incident was also orchestrated to embarrass certain parties.

From a reddit thread I read yesterday, there is speculation that this was orchestrated by an opposition component (Philippines is scheduled to have elections in May). In Malaysia, there is wide speculation that it was orchestrated by the BN government to delay General Elections, which must be called in the next few months, barring an Emergency.

So what do I think may happen?

The invaders may rise and overwhelm the Sabah population. War is declared. Elections are delayed for Malaysia, continue as scheduled for Philippines. The war may spread to Sarawak. Indonesia may take the opportunity to reclaim Sarawak.* Borneo Brunei (thanks for spotting this, N4vin!) decides that West Sabah belongs to them and stakes a claim.

Basically, widespread chaos.

But hey, what do I know, right? I’m just a keyboard warrior.

Who is utterly pissed and feeling frustrated at what is happening in Sabah. I have friends there, damnit!

Additional points:
Badí‘ Yee Tzyypirng aka ‏@badiyee on Twitter points out that there is a 5 Defense Pact for Sarawak. Should Indonesia attempt to annex Sarawak, they will be smacked.

Leadup to Bersih 3.0

Bersih 3.0 is a rally calling for clean and fair elections in Malaysia. So far they have had 3 rallies. The second one was last year, and it presented 8 demands to the government:

  • Clean the electoral roll
  • Reform postal voting
  • Use of indelible ink
  • A minimum campaign period of 21 days
  • Free and fair access to mainstream media
  • Strengthen public institutions
  • Stop corruption
  • Stop dirty politics

What followed after last year’s massive rally was a Parliamentary Select Committee that was supposed to address the concerns Bersih had made. The report made it to Parliament, where they refused to allow a dissenting minority report to be entered, along with the main report. There was also no time frame stipulated to implement the recommendations.

What happened after that was far more sinister. A “stop the clock” motion was granted for the first time in years to allow Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition with a slim majority, bulldoze 8 motions through Parliament. One of the 8 motions removes the safeguards to preventing electoral fraud and AIDS dirty politics. Here, have a read for yourself:

What this means is that the demand to clean the electoral roll wasn’t just ignored. It was brutally spat upon by the Elections Commissions. By the way, the heads of the Elections Commissions have admitted they are part of UMNO, the lead of Barisan Nasional.

And the response, as you can see in the report linked, is that “that’s not a big deal. They’re still doing their job without bias.”

Which is rather sickening when you consider that the gerrymandering and malapportionment is well and alive in Malaysia today.

Which was the reason why I marched yesterday.

Poverty and Baba Nyonya

As it happens while I am driving, this question popped into my head:

If poverty is an economic state, and if it afflicts* everyone regardless of race, how can Malaysia thus justify distributing aid and measures to help these people by race?

A poverty-stricken Malay is still a human being.

A poverty-stricken Chinese is still a human being.

A poverty-stricken Indian is still a human being.

A poverty-stricken Orang Asli is still a human being.

How can you thus justify distributing aid according to race?

I can understand distributing aid according to area. For example, creating specific and targeted programmes to help the poverty-stricken in Pekan, Pahang, or Miri, Sarawak**. If there are poverty-stricken Malaysians in those areas, aid should be distributed to all regardless of race. For instance, a family of 5, no matter the race, still needs to eat. It doesn’t make much sense to give rice only to the Malays in a single neighbourhood and then transport the leftover rice to be redistributed to the next neighbourhood when you can feed the Chinese, Indians, and everyone else in that neighbourhood.

I cannot understand this obsession with race. Especially not for something as straight forward like this.

And there’s something else that’s even weirder.

Historically, it is said that the Baba Nyonya group were here before the Eurasians (as far as I know, Eurasians, especially Portugese Eurasians like me said to descend from the Portugese invasion in the 1500s). In our history books, they are held up as a symbol of Malaysia being the melting pot that she is, in that they are Chinese people who have married the Malay culture with their own.

Yet Eurasians are considered bumiputra (aka we have special rights) while these Baba Nyonya don’t. And I have been told bumi status is awarded to those whose race has been around longer.

So how come Eurasians are bumis but Baba Nyonya are not?

* Afflicted may not be the best word. If you can suggest something else, please do.
** I do not intend to mean that these places are poverty-stricken, just that they are the first non-Klang Valley names that popped into my head.

[Politics] Uh… what?

When it comes to financial matters, unlike my mother, I’m rather clueless. I understand certain procedures and the like, but finance, on the whole, has bored me. That said, I am extremely protective of my monies. It comes from being told as a child that I cannot do what I like unless I have money, so when I place my monies in other people hands, I generally expect it to be returned to me.

When it comes to the EPF, I am of the opinion that as long as the money is there when the time comes for me to retire, I don’t really mind about the lack of interest. I come from a family where it is always prudent to invest in more than one scheme. That and a belief that savings is really, really important. I also admit that I am lucky that I still have money for savings.

That said, I am not very happy with what is happening with my EPF money. For those who do not know, the EPF is a mandatory contribution fund for Malaysian workers. The idea behind the EPF funds is that it forces workers to save money for their retirement, with the funds being released at the age of 55 to the worker. However, depending on the user’s needs, a certain amount may be removed from the EPF accounts for emergencies and betterment, such as purchasing a new computer under the IT guidelines, housing loans and/or in case of disabilities or death (please correct me in the last).

The Federal Territories Minister has come up with a “brilliant” plan to provide housing loans for some 20,000 renters who are, for various reasons, unable to get a commercial loan to buy houses. Some reasons include having retired and/or unable to guarantee a steady income. On the surface this may seem like a great idea, but I can’t help but be skeptical and very worried about the entire scheme for one reason, and one reason alone:

Why is the EPF lending directly to these borrowers instead of going through a third party like the Bank Rakyat and the Malaysian Building Society? The main comment and question being asked in all articles I’ve read so far is that if, as Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Minister Raja Datuk Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin insists, that this new housing loan scheme is so profitable, why aren’t the commercial banks snapping up the loans?

Why is it that my monies, entrusted to the government to ensure I have a safe retirement, is being used in such a manner?

Or is this, perhaps, the Federal Government’s way of saying “FUCK YOU” to the middle class, who it left out in the 2012 budget, for voting for Pakatan Rakyat instead of Barisan Nasional?

You know, I wasn’t sure what else BN could have done to lost votes and drive people to Pakatan Rakyat after Bersih and the EO6 saga, but I suppose they seem to be rather insistent on outdoing themselves every time.

SOPA, PIPA, and why you should care

What is SOPA/PIPA and how does it affect Malaysia and the rest of the world?

SOPA and PIPA in the US allows anyone, but in particular the entertainment industry, to shut down a website (even a forum) for posting infringing content. At the same time, it also allows these same companies to stop services like Google and Wikipedia to show links leading to such sites, even if the sites linked have nothing whatsoever to do with the infringing content.

Realistically, this implies that an entire domain, let’s say Blogspot or WordPress.com, could be taken down by Universal Music Group complaining about a random blogger writing in just a single post about how they hate the new Black Eyed Peas single.

If your server is located in the United States, it will be taken offline without warning if it is deemed to be infringing content. The worst part of all is that you, as the user or owner of the domain, have no recourse. SOPA and PIPA are missing something the Americans are very fond of, called “due process”, by which the accused may defend themselves in court.

You don’t have to be a US citizen for this to affect you. This law basically enacts the Great Firewall of America, which would function much the same way as the Great Firewall of China does, with one key exception. You’d be watching private corporations, such as Universal Music Group, censor you for the expression of your thoughts (and when you consider they censor a news show for commenting on an issue they don’t like…). If America does this, what’s to stop the Malaysian Government from doing the same?

So what can you do to stop this?

The good news is: plenty. The easiest is to hit up your American Friends or post on all your Social Media Networks (Facebook, Twitter, G+, LinkedIn and the like, which, ironically, are the same sites that would be subject to such censorship) and tell them about #SOPA and #PIPA.

You can also visit http://americancensorship.org/ to learn more.

The bad news is that only Americans can prevail on their own government to stop this bill from passing. But you can do something. So go do it.

PS: See Wikipedia to check out what would happen if SOPA and PIPA are passed.

[Politics] WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT

So I got this message in my SMS inbox on Saturday. It’s from a 66600 number, which means it was sent by a service. I do not appreciate messages like these, because I’m presuming two things:

– MY tax money paid for this
– I certainly did not give my number to any political organisation.
Especially not to receive text messages like these. I don’t fucking care if you’re the Prime Minister of Malaysia or the President of the United States. I do not appreciate SPAMS like these.

The message reads:

A’kum. Tidaklah dibeda darjat harta, di Baitullah sedunia bersatu jiwa, berkorbanlah apa yang terdaya, berdoa kpd Yang Esa; tidaklah lama sepurnama dua, menjamin nasib anak cucu kita; Salam Aidil Adha menjadi pemula, insyallah Selangor kembali milik kita. Drp Ir Zin Mohamed, Setiausaha UMNO Selangor.

The message is from UMNO Selangor, the main political party in the National Alliance front in Malaysia.

The first part of the message (until Salam Aidil Adha) invites the reader to unite and “sacrifice what they can” (“berkorbanlah apa yang terdaya”) and to pray to Yang Esa (the One God, as DBP translates Esa), to hold fast as in less than two months (“tidaklah lama sepurnama dua”), our childrens’ and grandchildren’s future will be secure (“menjamin nasib anak cucu kita”).

This is because with Aidil Adha as the first greeting, God willing, Selangor will return back to “us” meaning UMNO (Salam Aidil Adha menjadi pemula, insyallah Selangor kembali milik kita).

I have lodged a complaint with MCMC online about this. We shall see what they say. I find such SMSes, especially coming from places where I have never subscribed to, to be offensive. Do not spam my phone with your irrelevant political presence. Thank you.

Stop Policing Women’s Bodies

Dear Friends,

But particularly those in the US. Especially if you’re in Mississippi, which I doubt that most of you are.

Please sign this petition to stop the redefinition of personhood. The Attorney General of Mississippi is proposing legislation that would define personhood to have begun from the moment of conception.

With that redefinition, you’re considered a human being from the moment conception happens. Which means abortion is not an option. Not for rape. Not for incest. Not even if the mother’s and child’s life is threatened by the child in her belly.

In fact, it also means you can’t take birth control pills. Or morning after pills. Anything that might prevent conception. A woman is thereby reduced to being nothing than a brood mare. To be nothing but an animal to receive a man’s sperm and carry that baby to term. Her wishes have no say.

This is not a campaign to define what it means to be a human. It’s a campaign to remove the meaning of being human. It removes choice. It removes the right of women to make their own decision for what happens in their bodies.

This is not about being anti-abortion. It’s about the state saying to women, “You MUST have babies. If you have sex, too bad. You must now carry it to term. If you have a disease that will kill you, too bad, the clump of cells in your tummy must be birthed. If you have been raped, too bad. You must live with the trauma for another 9 months.”

Oh yes. Miscarriage would be considered manslaughter. Miscarriage.

If you feel as disgusted as I do, please sign the petition. And no, it doesn’t matter if you’re from the US or not. A message needs to be sent. Our bodies are our own. The State should not, and cannot, be allowed to have a say in it.

In case you’re wondering, I’m writing this because the thought of having the state, even if the state is not my own, having the state control my body is terrifying. I can’t do much but spread the word, and hope that it gets to the right people.

[Politics] Choose or stay out

So the latest news out of Putrajaya is Najib telling voters that they have to choose between MCA and Pakatan Rakyat. For those who don’t know, MCA is a component party in the National Coalition (Barisan Nasional, aka BN). BN is the ruling coalition in Malaysia, born from racial politics during Malaysia’s birth. The MCA is the component party tasked to look after the Malaysian Chinese interest, hence Najib’s and Chua Soi Lek’s (the MCA president) recent remarks.

Now, if you read the actual newspiece, it’s not half as incidenary or flaming as the Malaysian Insider points it out to be. Basically all Najib and CSL is saying that you cannot expect to have strong representation in the government if you do not choose the candidates put forth by MCA. AKA asking the Chinese to vote for a Chinese candidate to look after their interest. On the surface level, this makes sense. After all, if you don’t have any candidates representing you in the government, then how do you expect to have a voice? Also, if you are voting BN out, then why in the world would you still want a voice in said part?

However, there is a simple flaw in this reasoning. It ONLY works if, and I stress on the word if, the BN government is returned to power. Which is something I hope will not happen. After all, if Pakatan takes over the Fed Govt, then this threat is revealed to be just nothing but empty words.

Ok, time to head home. I have a headache now from last night’s wedding party. Orz.