September 24, 2008

Putting up laws online

Posted in Outside Malaysia at 5:15 pm by egalitaria

Obama if voted into the White House, will be making all bills available online for the public, before they are passed. This is something that we need to do in Malaysia as well!! See his full speech here – where he talks about the current financial crisis hitting the US.

I’ll make our government open and transparent so that anyone can ensure that our business is the people’s business. As Justice Louis Brandeis once said, sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. As President, I will make it impossible for Congressmen or lobbyists to slip pork-barrel projects or corporate welfare into laws when no one is looking because when I am president, meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. No more secrecy.

When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it. When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we will put as many as possible online for every American to watch. When there is a tax bill being debated in Congress, you will know the names of the corporations that would benefit and how much money they would get. And we will put every corporate tax break and every pork-barrel project online for every American to see. You will know who asked for them and you can cast your vote accordingly.

We must learn to make similar demands of Parliament and government – to put up proposed legislation online – and make sure that public’s views are being heard and taken into consideration.

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Race Relations Act

Posted in Malaysia, Tricia's Writings at 11:44 am by egalitaria

Further thoughts on the Race Relations Act proposed by the home ministry in Malaysia recently, published in The Nut Graph.

Race relations: Acting and reacting
24 Sep 08 : 9.00AM

By Tricia Yeoh

AHMAD Ismail is now a familiar name: his remarks about the Chinese in Malaysia resulted in his three-year suspension from Umno politics. The arrest and subsequent release within 24 hours of Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for accurately reporting Ahmad’s statement also sparked a nationwide outcry. It is within this context that a proposal was made by MCA Youth Chief Liow Tiong Lai for a Race Relations Act “to govern racial relations, encourage greater unity and avoid discrimination among races in the country.”

This proposal seems to have taken on a life of its own, leading to the cabinet’s approval to formulate the Act, as announced by home minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. He said the home ministry and the ministry for unity, culture, arts and heritage will be working together to gather information to draft the Act.

The proposed Race Relations Act has elicited a range of responses, mainly positive, from those in government. Unity minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said fundamentals of the Act were aimed at ensuring peace and harmony among the different races — the end goal of which is difficult to dispute.

To read more, click here.

September 23, 2008

Things Fall Apart

Posted in Literature at 2:45 pm by egalitaria

Two books I studied for Lit. a long time ago always reemerge in my head. Especially of late when thinking hard about the situation Malaysia is in.

It seems the Man, the protagonist in Ayi Kwei Arma’s book, “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”, would have much in common with any freedom fighter in Malaysia presently. The corruption, the patronage, cronyism. In the end, the Man receives vindication for his resilience and no-nonsense approach to bribery. I wonder which of the nation’s present leaders can compare themselves to such a gleaming touchstone.

Chinua Achebe’s book “Things Fall Apart” paints an appropriate picture of how systems unravel to a point of irretrievable gloom. It ends in terror, with little to redeem. My heart panics at the thought of Malaysia falling in such horrid fashion. Achebe quotes from W.B. Yeats’ poem to prelude his book.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

September 22, 2008

Life Goes On

Posted in Music, Personal at 3:59 pm by egalitaria

Amidst the madness, life still goes on I suppose.

A weekend of weddings, good friendships and fellowship. Congratulations to my dear friends who took the plunge and got hitched.

One of my favourite Billy Joel songs is, “Vienna waits for you”. Dedicated to all the heated politicians in a big mad rush to the top. And maybe to a lot of us folk too, rushing around like equally headless chickens.

Slow down, you crazy child
you’re so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you’re so smart, tell me
Why are you still so afraid?

Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You’d better cool it off before you burn it out
You’ve got so much to do and
Only so many hours in a day

But you know that when the truth is told..
That you can get what you want or you get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even
Get halfway through
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

Slow down, you’re doing fine
You can’t be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it’s so romantic on the borderline tonight
Tonight,…
Too bad but it’s the life you lead
you’re so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you’re wrong, you know
You can’t always see when you’re right. you’re right

You’ve got your passion, you’ve got your pride
but don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

Slow down, you crazy child
and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize,..Vienna waits for you?
And you know that when the truth is told
that you can get what you want or you can just get old
You’re gonna kick off before you even get half through
Why don’t you realize,. Vienna waits for you
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

Blame Game on Malaysiakini, now?

Posted in Malaysia at 3:55 pm by egalitaria

See the way Utusan is spinning the story:

Teresa dakwa makanan diberi ‘lebih baik sedikit daripada makanan anjing’

22/09/2008 3:07pm

SHAH ALAM 22 Sept. – Ahli Parlimen Seputeh, Teresa Kok Suh Sim hari ini mendakwa makanan yang diberikan kepadanya ketika ditahan di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) adalah `lebih baik sedikit daripada makanan anjing’.

Beliau menafikan pernah menyamakan makanan yang disediakan kepadanya ketika ditahan pada 12 hingga 19 September lalu ‘seperti makanan anjing’.

Beliau menyalahkan Utusan Malaysia yang didakwanya memutarbelitkan kenyataannya berhubung perkara itu.

Utusan Malaysia sebelum ini hanya memetik kenyataan Teresa mengenai perkara tersebut daripada laman web Malaysiakini. – Utusan.

The Blame Game begins. Utusan is now pointing the finger at Malaysiakini, saying that it first reported the issue on Teresa’s azan incident. It is trying to save itself.

I suppose it is also trying to score brownie points by playing up the fact that Teresa mentioned “dog food”. Since the saliva of dogs (or any fluids from a dog) is considered to be haram to a Muslim, it is deemed as being insensitive to the culture perhaps?

Who knows, these days…

September 19, 2008

Teresa Kok is released from ISA

Posted in Malaysia at 1:31 pm by egalitaria

Teresa Kok has been released from the ISA as at 1pm, says her lawyer S. N. Nair.

She should not have been detained in the first place.

What a sandiwara show Malaysia is.

September 18, 2008

Vigil for Sheih Kickdefella

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause at 3:54 pm by egalitaria

It is strange that there has not been equal hue and cry about the arrest of Sheih Kickdefella, who was taken in yesterday under the Sedition Act. He is a regular blogger, one of us in a sense. He was arrested because he called for the upside down flying of the Malaysian flag.

Whilst our friends being detained under the ISA are suffering, I’d like to draw attention to Sheih as well, who also works for the Kelantan Government. PAS has condemned his arrest. If this arrest can take place, which other blogger will fall prey?

Here is a way to express yourself. A candlelight vigil is being organised tonight at the CCID building, and here is more information at Nat’s blog. He says:

The CCID is in the government complex behind Bank Negara. It is the same building in which I, RPK, Penarik Beca, Jeff (no word from Jeff on this arrest?), and others were all interrogated.

I’ve been in brief contact with Sheih’s brave wife. The latest: Sheih is being transported from Kota Baru to KL. This morning, the cops obtained a one day remand order, which we suspect will be sought to be extended longer in KL.

Anwar calls for Emergency Parliament Meeting

Posted in Malaysia at 2:56 pm by egalitaria

In the Press Conference this afternoon, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, leader of Opposition has called for the Prime Minister to convene an Emergency Parliament meeting to discuss the motion of no-confidence against his leadership. This should be done no later than Tuesday 23rd September 2008 – and in accordance with the Standing Order 11(3), which goes:

11(3)
If, during an adjournment of the House, it is represented to Tuan Yang di-Pertua by the Prime Minister that the public interest requires that the House should meet at an earlier date than that to which the House was adjourned, Tuan Yang di-Pertua shall give notice thereof forthwith and the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice. The business set down for that day shall be appointed by the Prime Minister and notice thereof shall be circulated not later than the time of meeting.

He said that it was impossible for the cross-over MPs to come out publicly because they would be harrassed, and they have themselves asked Anwar to only announce it at the right time, lest they are not granted special protection. He also said the ISA would not be used against him, since the PM has already said that there would not be any more ISA arrests…

The Undoing of Gerakan

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause, Tricia's Writings at 10:37 am by egalitaria

My article in the Sun which appeared today. It’s a review of Khoo Kay Peng and Neil Khor’s book, “Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia”. The review seems rather passe during exciting times such as this, but nevertheless one that is important as we try to make sense of racial vs. non-sectarian politics in the country. Let’s sit back and reflect on the ideals of Gerakan’s original leaders.

The undoing of Gerakan
by Tricia Yeoh


A BOOK
tracing the history of non-sectarian politics in Malaysia, and particularly that of Parti Gerakan (Gerakan) emerges at no better time than this, as the component party of Barisan Nasional contemplates its options post-March 2008 elections.

Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The Case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia by Neil Khor and Khoo Kay Peng paints an appropriate context for Malaya dating back to post-1957 and the early years of independence, reflecting the realities of inter-ethnic communal living back then; thereafter speedily comparing episodes and specific incidents of elections and the life (and death) of political parties over the span of the next several decades, leading to the present.

This rather academically written set of historical notes serves as a stark reminder and lessons for Malaysia.

Immediately following March 8, numerous quarters have heralded the beginnings of what they believe as non-sectarian politics in Malaysia. Indeed, that people voted across ethnic lines, crossing traditional party barriers, was catalyst enough to provoke such a response. The idea was that a Chinese or Indian would now vote for PAS, a Malay for DAP was foretelling of a potential future electorate. Nevertheless, Khor and Khoo succinctly point out that instead, non-sectarian politics has had a long history in our country. Ideals have been enshrined in the consciousness of individuals but due to circumstances at different times, they materialised only temporarily. Cultural identity, for example, was one of the hotly debated topics in the 1960’s, and as the book points out, the Umno approach was to advocate for Malay ethnic culture to be the basis for a national culture. Gerakan instead argued that “rigidly defined Malay, Chinese and Indian identities … would harden into caricatures of themselves, instead of being allowed to fuse through social and economic interaction.”

Read the rest of this entry »

True or False: Teresa Kok’s ISA Arrest

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause, Tricia's Writings at 10:31 am by egalitaria

My latest article in The Nut Graph, which can be viewed in full by clicking here:

True or false
17 Sep 08 : 9.00AM

By Tricia YeohAMID the barrage of political news surrounding the average Malaysian, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. We are thrown with news feeds by the hour, and e-mails and SMSes flow in regularly throughout the day, resulting in a big bagful of information to be made sense of, stuffed with every imaginable conspiracy theory. Under such circumstances, citizens must be watchful in distinguishing fact from fallacy.

Such vigilance is of great urgency, so as to avoid being manipulated into falling into the same old trap of racial and religious politics.

Teresa Kok’s arrest is a perfect case in point where facts are being mysteriously twisted. The plot here seems to be: construct a scene, plant this scene as real and true in the minds of all Muslims, and use this as a reason to instigate fear and insecurity, thereby justifying the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

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