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.

[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.

[Interim] A list of ACTA links

Originally posted by Kangawu at post
Originally posted by cantarina1 at post
Originally posted by electricdruid at The fiasco continues

ACTA in a Nutshell –

What is ACTA?  ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. A new intellectual property enforcement treaty being negotiated by the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan, with Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada recently announcing that they will join in as well.

Why should you care about ACTA? Initial reports indicate that the treaty will have a very broad scope and will involve new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology.”

What is the goal of ACTA? Reportedly the goal is to create new legal standards of intellectual property enforcement, as well as increased international cooperation, an example of which would be an increase in information sharing between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies.

Essential ACTA Resources – 

  • Read more about ACTA here: ACTA Fact Sheet
  • Read the authentic version of the ACTA text as of 15 April 2011, as finalized by participating countries here: ACTA Finalized Text
  • Follow the history of the treaty’s formation here: ACTA history
  • Read letters from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden wherein he challenges the constitutionality of ACTA: Letter 1 | Letter 2 | Read the Administration’s Response to Wyden’s First Letter here: Response
  • Watch a short informative video on ACTA: ACTA Video
  • Watch a lulzy video on ACTA: Lulzy Video

Say NO to ACTA. It is essential to spread awareness and get the word out on ACTA.

Via Tumblr

If you are in the US, the only thing I know of is this petition, which requires 25000 signatures in 30 days for any sort of response: https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/end-acta-and-protect-our-right-privacy-internet/MwfSVNBK

There are only 3000 signatures right now.

I don’t know what options there are in other countries, but again, for the US, I imagine calling Senators would be a course of action. It worked on the surface for SOPA and PIPA, at least, and it at least sends the message that this is not okay.

If you do, though, [personal profile] opusculus notes that it has been signed already so it is probably worthwhile to mention that you know that and are protesting it anyway.

ETA: this tumblr post has more global resources for how you can protest ACTA.

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.

[Geekiness] BRB Headdesking

The geniuses at the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Committee) has decided that the Malaysian Tech Industry needs to be regulated. In fact, they’ve decided to draft a Computing Professionals Bill that requires a computing professional to not just register with them, but that registration will depend heavily on the Board’s whims. (Did I mention that you had to pay to be registered?)

The Bill also has a clause that states you cannot offer skills in which you have not declared for. In other words, if you have registered and declared yourself competent in C++, you cannot then turn around and offer PHP/Java skills, even if you were self taught. You’d have to go back to the Board and re-declare. Thereby more monies!

Erna has a more succinct reading of the Bill here.

To oppose it, Meling Mudin has posted details of the first review of this inane draft. If you can make it, please do. If you cannot make it, poke and prod your MP/ADUN and tell them you are opposed to this Bill.

Thanks to Bytebot for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

PS: Dear Pakatan MPs, DO NOT WALK OUT ON THIS BILL. Even if it’s going to be passed anyway, I would like to ask that you register your vote, so that at least there’s a record on Hansaard that you have opposed this Bill!