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Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Choice

We, the GetanMP-PJ Utara, held back as long as we could. We felt Chew Mei Fun deserved a fair listening by the rakyat, and we wanted to provide that fair platform - we offered her a joint forum with her opponent Tony Pua. All this while we never took sides; even refrained from posting anything that skews the favour toward the DAP.

(Like linking Tony's ceramah in SS2 Monday night)
(Like Haris Ibrahim's rock star reception at the same ceramah)

All that changed Wednesday evening. Chew Mei Fun turned down our offer. How is it that a candidate who wishes to represent a constituency in Parliament refuses a forum organised by the very people she hopes to represent? Tak masuk akal.

This makes our choice a no-brainer. It is unequivocal. We, the GetanMP-PJ Utara initiative, wholeheartedly support Tony Pua as Member of Parliament for P106 Petaling Jaya Utara.

We also support his colleagues at the DUN level:

  • Edward Lee for N34 Bukit Gasing
  • Lau Weng San for N35 Kampung Tunku,
  • Dr Cheah Wing Yin for N36 Damansara Utama, and
All come under the DAP, which has endorsed the People's Declaration along with PKR, PAS, PSM, MDP, and Pasok. They are part of the civil society-driven Barisan Rakyat. And as a civil society movement, we shall help them get into the positions to help us.

As the campaign heads into the final week, GetanMP-PJ Utara will channel our resources to ensure this team wins. We'll have BN out of PJ, just you watch.

p.s. But one big request, Tony and gang: When you do eventually take your seats in Parliament and the Selangor State Assembly, we ask that you join us in lobbying for Chew Mei Fun's appointment to Local Councilor in MBPJ. All said, she has done a really fine job in that arena. For to quote Dr Azmi Sharom:
"Issues such as street lighting, land development, road condition, drainage etc are the responsibility of the Local Authority. They are not the responsibility of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen."

'... this soil which we call Malaysia today is in fact the birthplace of all our collective cultures'

Cyber-journalism is definitely it! Malaysia Votes, run by three former MSM journalists, carries this wonderful interview with Farish Noor. Jacqueline Ann Surin is having a ball of a time. Some stirring lines:

The keris was really the product of a global age when the people of Southeast Asia were globally connected to the cultures of India and China, and when we were the product of a shared Hindu-Buddhist-Muslim heritage, and therefore it is a hybrid object with many meanings.
Much, much more.

Farish, who also runs The Other Malaysia, will be speaking at the Central Market Annexe tomorrow (Saturday), 3pm on this topic. i personally enjoy such insights by solid academics and civil society groups more than any ceramah. It is through this where we are educated. And it is through education that we are free.

We only hope more will stand up. To quote the man again:
One can, and must, be objectively academic and publicly so at a time when history is being politicised. To sit quietly and do nothing: that is being passively partisan and even more dangerous.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

PJ Utara Forum Rakyat cancelled

(Bold heading digitally superimposed)

We really wanted this to happen. We wanted this for Democracy.

We believed PJ Utara was ripe and we still do - a sophisticated and discerning voting population, a high literacy rate, well-traveled, internet-enabled - that such a Forum Rakyat, by the people and for the people, could begin to pave the way for more open dialogue nationwide.

Yup, P106 PJ Utara has the perfect setting. MCA's Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, the popular incumbent sharing the same stage as Oxford-trained Tony Pua of the DAP; sparring ideas, clarifying misconceptions, pitting visions. It's one of the hottest-watched seat this side of the peninsular.

And so as of Nomination Day, we slogged to get the idea of a forum fleshed out. We worked on the format and agenda, and took great pains to ensure it was as fair as possible to all parties; no cheap shots, no mudslinging:

What's the best format?
If it's for the rakyat, why not a Q&A?
How do you prevent freaks from showing up drunk and rowdy?
Make it a by-invitation-only affair. People have to register earlier.
How do you control the quality of the questions?
Get the audience to write down their question rather than an open mike format. Yes, we'll lose some spontaneity but it's more prudent. Get auditors to vet through the questions. Allow both sides to appoint two of their own representatives with powers to veto any unfair question.
What if they keep picking on longkangs and stuff, y'know, dig some dirt?
Look, we'll stay away from the past. The 11th Parliament was a washout, bygones; let's look forward to the 12th. Keep discussions only about the road ahead. What can they offer, where do they stand on certain issues, how will they fight the good fight on our behalf?

Formal invitations were delivered yesterday. Even before that, members of the group had called and met up with both candidates' staffers to explain about the forum. Both sides were very receptive. But when it mattered most:

Tony Pua said Yeah, let's do it! Chew Mei Fun said No, I can't.

An assistant of Tony emailed GetanMP-PJ Utara late last night to express Tony's keenness in participating in the Forum. They requested that it be held on Sunday afternoon, the weekday nights being reserved for ceramahs. Cool, we thought. Real cool.

This morning, a member from the GetanMP-PJUtara group called up the MCA side to get a response. Mr Ch'ng, a key aide to Chew Mei Fun, said the incumbent apologised but could not afford the time for the event. We negotiated, offered them the choice of a best-time slot. Think it over, please discuss, we'll call you back. Called back, the answer was the same. Negative.

Yet another dedicated member decided to plead with Chew Mei Fun directly. He reached her on her cell-phone. The gentle but firm answer was again No.

It's not our business to reveal details of the conversations, but be assured that Chew and her aides were well-mannered and cordial at every interaction. Nevertheless, our road ends here - in disappointment. We had expected more. And fine manners aside, we deserved more.

Given the scenario, we the GetanMP-PJ Utara group will make a common stand on the Candidates in the hours to come. We'll keep you posted.

Addendum: If you're interested in the agenda we formulated for the Forum, we're posting up jpg files for your reference. Want the softcopy? Just email us. i think any other constituency wanting to pursue this further ought to just carry the torch and invite YOUR candidates to a Forum Rakyat. Lembah Pantai? Subang? Pandamaran? Rembau? Kepala Batas? Anywhere! Ask for a People's Forum. Let it spread.

Let the Rakyat's call be heard. Let them know we're not just sitting back on our asses waiting for their speeches. We can take the mantle, and we can set the pace. We hold the votes, we're the boss. They will serve us yet.

PJ Utara seeks a Forum Rakyat

Sorry about the silence. We, the Get An MP-PJ Utara group, have been busy with some rakyat-driven plans.

We're in the process of organising a forum for our PJ Utara MP candidates - MCA's Chew Mei Fun and DAP's Tony Pua - to meet and elaborate on their respective action plans for the coming 12th Parliament.

We believe such a tradition of candidates sharing a common stage addressing issues from the public can only lead to a better democracy. And if RTM refuses to play that role, we will.

Invitation letters, along with the agenda, were delivered to both parties Tuesday afternoon.

This forum is adapted largely from a Town Hall format, ie the Question-and-Answer session will be the main feature of the event. It will be open to the public, although you will have to register beforehand. The actual date and venue have yet to be finalised, but will most likely be held in a private college's auditorium or lecture hall.

More details will be announced as soon as we have confirmation from both parties.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Farish and the Keris

This from

Kicking off what we hope will be a semi-regular (well, sort of) series of public lectures, the team at invites you to a free public lecture by Dr. Farish A. Noor on the theme:

Revisiting the Keris:
How We Betrayed Our Ancestors

To be held at 3.00 pm on 1st March (Saturday)
at the Annexe, Central Market,
Kuala Lumpur.

The talk is free and open to all.

The Other Malaysia wishes to thank the Annexe Gallery for hosting the event.

i like Farish Noor; i actually feel i've learned something after reading his pieces. He actually broadens perspectives by lifting the veils of politics and fear. Want a clearer view of ourselves? - mark that date in your diary.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yellow Friday, People's Saturday

Read Malaysia Today's Let's Demonstrate Malaysian Solidarity. There is a gelombang swelling like no other and you wouldn't want to miss it.

1) YELLOW FRIDAY: BERSIH will hold a rally in Batu Burok, Kuala Terengganu tomorrow, Friday, 22 Feb 08. That's after all efforts to book a stadium in the Klang Valley failed (what's new?; yet another lie by the snoozer AAB). Those who can't make it there, let's show it by donning yellow. At 3pm, step out, stand up, and show we're against unfair elections.

2) THE PEOPLE'S SATURDAY: The People's Declaration will be formally launched at the Blog House on Saturday, 11am. Your voice has ink. Come by. Blog House is at No 66, Lorong Setiabestari 2, Bukit Damansara.

Lingam's Devil Curry

This is really good. Compliments to comedycourt.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Groan... quit the longkang shots, Madam MP

Story in The Star, Metro Central. Photo credit: The Star

Dear Chew Mei Fun,

Perhaps a refresher course is due. Role of MP101 can be found here, courtesy of Dr Azmi Sharom.

But if you want to hear it from our lips:
No, please do not spend any good time making sure our drains flow. It's NOT your job. We, the people, will hound MBPJ ourselves, thank you. We have bite. We will pound on the doors of our local councilors and make them account for poor maintenance.

Instead, we wanted you to matter in Parliament; to speak for us. We wanted action on the IPCMC. We wanted you to push for accountability in the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone. We wanted you to check on Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's BN promise of an all-out war on corruption. These, and many other legislative issues, are what should be on your report card. Not the drains. Not the playgrounds. Believe us, we the members of GetAnMP-PJ Utara will grade you in the days to come; and fairly we promise.

And above all else we will ask this: Did you matter as a Member of Parliament?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The People's Alliance

If you haven't yet realised, history was made on Saturday when PAS signed the People's Declaration /Deklarasi Rakyat. They joined DAP, PKR, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), PASOK, and the Malaysians Democratic Party (MDP) on this citizens' platform for a better Malaysia.

A new alliance has been formed. Watch for new developments at Malaysia Today and The People's Parliament. For the first time in this country, an allegiance has been pledged among all key opposition parties forged from the heartbeat of the people. The People voiced; they listened, and now they have vowed.

People, we are One.

When One - one heart, one soul, one people - meets the gruff, honkin' Machinery, who do think will win? Me, i smell a once-forgotten fragrance in the air - the smell of Merdeka.

Pearls of wisdom

SV Singam provided a lucid perspective on the history of our nation's governance. In a nutshell: what do you get in a half-century of practically 2/3 majority rule.

The article has been carried widely across the Malaysian so-po internet scene, stirring healthy discussion. SV Singam penned a follow-up today, and it's making its rounds even as this is being written.

If you've not read the two pieces by the gentleman, look to your right, under MUST READS. Indeed, we feel.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In Malaysia, this is a gesture of extremism

So said the Great Leader.

a) Bernama reports
b) Malaysiakini reports (subscription required)

picture credit:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An MP's role - jaga longkang, settle saman?

By Dr Azmi Sharom
Associate Professor
Universiti Malaya

The Role of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen

Government is divided into three parts. The Legislature which makes law; the Executive; which administers the country according to the law; and the Judiciary which judges any legal conflicts that may arise. The Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are separate from one another so that they can act as a check and balance. By making sure that power is not in the hands of just one body, a dictatorship can be avoided.

The role of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen are similar to one another. They make up the Legislature at Federal and state level respectively. In other words they are the law makers. Members of Parliament make Federal laws and State Assemblymen make state laws. The areas that Parliament can make laws and the areas that the State Legislative Assemblies can make laws are determined by the Federal Constitution.

In order to fulfill this role, their primary duty therefore is to debate and vote on the proposed laws (known as Bills) that are put to them. The debating of Bills is an essential one because only through intelligent discussions are the best possible laws made. It is important therefore that Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen are well informed about the Bills they are discussing.

Another role that Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies play is that of a check to the powers of the Cabinet which is the Executive wing of government. They do this by questioning the Ministers about their activities during question time. In this way Ministers are under constant public scrutiny.

Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen should also be critical with the way that government policy is made and implemented. This is important because policy is not law and therefore is made totally within the discretion of the Executive. If they do not check on government policy, then the Executive will be unaccountable and abuse of power a possibility.
Every now and then, Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen may wish to raise a matter which is of concern to their constituency. Such matters can be discussed and legislated for or simply brought to the attention of the Executive. They are after all the main link between the citizens and the decision makers of the country.

Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen have to carry out their duties in a way that befits their position, as representatives of the people. They should not resort to uncouth behaviour and debate ought to be conducted with a degree of civility. They also must remember that in their oath of office, they have sworn to uphold the Constitution.

A Member of Parliament and a State Assemblyman who represents the wishes of his constituents, debates Bills intelligently and courageously questions Executive activities is one who can be said to be doing his job well.

The Role of Local Government Councilors
Local Municipal Councils are the lowest rung of government. They are in charge with the management of districts, towns and cities.

Together with the President of the Council, Local Government Councilors make up the Local Authority. Local Councilors are appointed by the state government. They are not elected.
The job of the Councilors is to assist in the management and the decision-making process of the Local Authority. They do this by making by-laws and by sitting on committees with specified tasks.

The functions of the Local Authority are fundamentally to take care of: local environmental matters, licensing of activities, public health, cleanliness of public areas, public amenities, social services and land use planning.

Issues such as street lighting, land development, road condition, drainage etc are the responsibility of the Local Authority. They are not the responsibility of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen.

Because Local Councilors are involved in such important matters in the daily lives of citizens, they should be elected so that there can be accountability to the people.


The above document is a gem by the good doctor. Dr Azmi kindly agreed when The People's Parliament asked for a simple, clear definition of the scope of an MP, a State Assemblyperson (ADUN) and a Local Councilor.

It is an urgent piece of information which fills the void and confusion about what a Parliamentarian or State Assemblyperson does.

Too many have evaluated an MP based on how well he/she has tackled neighborhood matters like your clogged drains, your quit rent, and your parking summons.

And all this while, these very same MPs sit in shameful silence while bad, oppressive laws are rammed through in the House. They have betrayed the people they truly serve, resigned to the silly notion of a Party Whip. They are rubber-stamps, when they are called to be leaders and thinkers and shapers of culture in this land.

We, the people, need to realise the boundaries of an MP, ADUN this coming elections. We needed a clear criteria. And now you know - when you have a longkang problem, shake your Local Councilors' tree. Your MP has a national-level role to play - he/she makes sure your values are represented in the highest law-making office in the land. He/she is expected to debate, to fight for your cause.

ps And who's Dr Azmi Sharom? Remember this? And this.

Thank you, Dr Azmi. With your permission we'd like to extract the gist of your work here and make flyers for distribution.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dialogue I

The People's Parliament has written to DAP asking for a meeting on behalf of the various Get An MP initiatives. The copy of the letter can be viewed here.

Needless to say, we're all looking forward to this event as a means to clarify outstanding matters on candidacy etc. Details will be posted here as soon as they are available.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kota Kronibaru

On January 29, PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC). The program aims to turbo-charge Sabah's economic pulse with a four-fold increase in GDP to RM63.2 billion by 2025. As usual, the hype is rosy and full of promises.

But sift a little; you'll find the foundations of the program sitting on family sewage.

One highlight of the Sabah Development Corridor is the Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront (KKCW). It's a collaboration between Waterfront Urban Development Sdn Bhd (WUD) and the Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu (DBKK).

Reports the New Sabah Times:

The Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront is an integrated mixed seafront development situated on the waterfront of Kota Kinabalu city centre along Jalan Tun Fuad Stevens. Expected to be completed by 2010, KKCW will feature a key attraction the 2km-long boardwalk, built using eco-friendly materials rising above the sea on stilts. It is set to be a thriving waterfront pedestrian walkway that will seamlessly connect a variety of retail, lifestyle, residential and hotel establishments.

But let's leave the merits of the project for now, and ponder upon this.

WUD's managing director is Reymee Mohamed Hussein. He will be 32 years old this year. He's in the news every so often.

Quite recently he (right in pic) was reported as the chief festival director for the Live & Loud 07 held in late November. Reymee has music in his roots; he is/was a member of the local R&B band Innuendo. His dad was a member of the Strollers, a local band back in the 70s. But for more interesting background, you need to go here.

Some facts:
1) Reymee is the nephew of PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The relationship works this way - Reymee is the son of Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood. Noor Asiah is PM Abdullah's sister-in-law; she was Endon's sister. Even more curious, Asiah's brother, Osman was once married to Jeanne Abdullah, current wife of the PM. Your antenna tingling yet?

2) Remember the Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal? Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, then Deputy Prime Minister, was shown to have signed letters of recommendation on behalf of a few local companies. One of these companies is Mastek Sdn Bhd.

And who owns Mastek? From Malaysia Today's archives (Title: How to make more than RM11 billion with just one letter):
Mastek Sdn Bhd is owned by Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd and Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood (Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s sister-in-law). Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd is in turn owned by Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood plus three others of the same surname and living at the same address as Noor Asiah. Therefore, Noor Asiah Binti Mahmood owns Mastek Sdn Bhd directly, as well as indirectly through Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Mastek has two directors. It is a mother-and-son team: Noor Asiah and yes, Reymee. But please, you read the report for yourself. You join the dots. You decide.

All we know is, there's a RM500 million animal called the Kota Kinabalu City Waterfront that's set for completion by 2010. And by some very strange coincidence, it's bound quite tightly to the inner family circle of the current Prime Minister of Malaysia.

It's become a predictable pattern, don't you think. So how: Five more years?

Picture credit:
Topmost - The Star
Above - NST

Friday, February 8, 2008

Seasons greeting... with a catch

A kind visitor sent this to us. Turns out, we too have our Little Birds! :)


Wow, a greeting card complete with Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda label; that makes it official government business under the Service of the Yang Dipertuan Agong.

It also features the stamp of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. Stylo-mylo.

Thoughtful greeting.

And personally too, from Dato' Seri Shahrizat, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development. And then your antenna tingles... the last line begins to give it away.

You get to the last leaf and then... boom!

Mixing up official Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda with your Party agenda, Shahrizat? There is an ethical and legal line, you know. And who footed the bill, Shahrizat? Was it Lembah Pantai's BN funds you used? Or rakyat money allocated to your ministry? Could you explain, please?

While she's the same person, Shahrizat the MP of Lembah Pantai is different from Shahrizat the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development. If she chooses to wear the hat of a Cabinet Minister, she is representing all Malaysians. If she is representing all Malaysians in that capacity, she has no right to toot the BN horn.

And my goodness, certainly no right to abuse the auspices of the Agong.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The People's Declaration

Somebody's been watching, feeling, probing. Somebody has caught your distress signals, distilled your concerns, cogitated, and made a damn potent brew. They call it the People's Declaration. It is made from the marrow of Malaysians.

Raja Petra Kamarudin and Friends have put together this living document as a blueprint to true nationhood. Ours. It's a mammoth endeavour, undertaken with such commitment and creativity; honestly, it could only have been fueled by love. There are no slogans; that is for another time. It is the substance that matters. And if substance is an encapsulation of values, you can sense how much deeper the People's Declaration reaches compared to the flaky 9th Malaysia Plan announced by AAB back in 2005.

Check it out for yourself. Read slowly, deliberately; and before too long you will hear your own voice speaking.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Who's gone overboard?

The Dato' Seri is pushing for punitive action against the few Bersih leaders who tore up pictures of Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

“We should take action if there are laws that provide for punishment for such an action," said PM Abdullah.

"They’re rude and disrespectful. There are other ways to air their disapproval."

Aiyo, this PM ah.

In the course of his four-year term, thousands of memos have been written addressed to the PM and his working Cabinet. People thought he was serious lah. After all, his sales promo four years ago was "Work with me. Not for me." The courtesy of a reply? Heehaw.

What does this say about the boss? Basically this - he doesn't think you're worth it. Instead he goes around tooting Pemudah, Pemudah, Pemudah. Pemudah will solve our woes. That and a certain Hadhari deal. And errr, by the way: “I have big ears.”

Well, Pemudah ain't working; it's just as complicated getting a licence for anything this side of Planet Bolehwood. And Big Ears is all waxed up.

But never mind. The people will try communicating via other means. There's always the Parliament route, a once-noble institution. Except that just about everytime something of national interest is brought up for debate by the tiny opposition, the Speaker or Deputy Speaker declares: “Not urgent. Motion denied.” Not that Cabinet Ministers and their underlings even care to show up most times. But of course Kinabatangan, Jerai and Jasin are always present in case of fire.

And when backed into a situation, there's always the Official Secrets Act.

Now, failing to get any proper response from those responsible, some folks decide to take their message to the streets. They follow protocol. They apply for police permits. Each time, such permits are denied.

“National security lah. You'll cause bad business, disturb the peace, create traffic jams etc.” Or even worse: “You applied for permit? Where? We have no record.”

And when the rallies take place anyway, tears gas is fired like it was Hari Merdeka, water cannons sprayed. Dozens are arrested; some even with the curious charge of attempted murder dangling over their heads. And next day, the MSM will say: Only 4,000 showed up. And that man Nazri will say: They're the minority. We don't listen to the minority.

Lately, the police have even begun using court orders to keep people away from certain planned events. Then they arrest you even though you are outside the restricted area. Minum teh also kena. Tsk tsk tsk.

Naturally, all this is drawing international attention. Aisey, bad for business; must do something.

In trying to save face, this PM pens an Op-ed in the Asian Wall Street Journal in December last year saying citizens needn't take to the streets.

Dato' Seri wrote: “In the case of two recent demonstrations, the Malaysian police had offered the chance for the organizers to hold their protests in stadiums or other alternative venues. Instead, they chose to take to the streets, disrupting people’s lives and putting themselves and others in harm’s way.”

Oh really ah? Never mind that no such offer was ever made then – PM dan polis mudah lupa – but since this PM now writes to the freeworld telling them stadiums can be used, of course the people won't turn down such an invitation no?

So Bersih tries to get a stadium for a February event. Guess what – go fly a kite was the essential response.

So, Big Ears, how lah?

We write memos, you senyap. We take it to Parliament, you kasi sapu under the carpet. We apply a permit for rally, you deny. People go for the rally, you arrest them. Then you lie to the international audience.

And now when your key ampu's picture gets torn up, you muram.

"There are other ways to air their disapproval".... Like how? Take it to RTM?