Najib’s fear campaign — Bridget Welsh

Source: New Mandala

The Malaysian Prime Minister’s ruthless tactics to hold onto power at all costs demonstrate that he is the one who is most afraid while his people are willing to fight on, Bridget Welsh writes.

bersih

Picture taken from New Mandala

This week Najib Tun Razak is beating the Malay chauvinist drum at his party’s annual general assembly (AGM). Meetings of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) have regularly followed this mode, but the use of racism and paranoia have taken on greater intensity in the face of its leader’s eroding political legitimacy.

For the past two years, Malaysia’s Prime Minister has been beleaguered by the 1MDB scandal that has involved not only nearly $700 million going into Najib’s personal account but also raised issues of criminal money laundering, embezzlement and economic mismanagement involving over $3.5 billion. The case is being investigated and prosecuted in over six jurisdictions, most notably by the US Department of Justice.  The scandal featured centre stage in last month’s Bersih 5 rally in which thousands went to the streets to protest corruption, economic mismanagement and systematic inequalities in the electoral process.

Despite public discontent, Najib has adeptly used a variety of tactics to stay in power, which is crucial if he is to avoid international prosecution. The most obvious of these involves a crackdown on political opponents. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed in 2015. Since then more than 10 opposition politicians have faced a variety of charges from sedition to challenges to ‘parliamentary democracy’. Last month whistleblower and parliamentarian, Rafizi Ramli, was convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act for releasing evidence associated with 1MDB. This week’s UMNO meeting has called for continued no-holds barred attacks on the opposition. Read more

Systematic thuggery on the rise in Malaysia — Zan Azlee

Source: Asian Correspondent

Riot police standing guard as they made sure to prevent the red and yellow shirts from clashing during Saturday's rallies. Pic by Zan Azlee for Asian Correspondent.

Riot police standing guard as they made sure to prevent the red and yellow shirts from clashing during Saturday’s rallies. Pic by Zan Azlee for Asian Correspondent.

IT looks like political thuggery is fast becoming legit and commonplace in Malaysia. The perception that state-sponsored thuggery is starting to proliferate is on the high side among many citizens in the country and you can’t blame them.

There have been many cases where groups that are known to have links with the ruling party, mainly Umno (United Malays National Organisation), resorting to violence to counter any ideas and opinions that go against theirs. Here are some of the more recent ones that have been in the media. Read more

High Court: Duty of police to prevent clash between Bersih 5, Red Shirts

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Land mass data can be used to justify the size of constituencies that have undergone resizing by the Election Commission, says Bersih 2.0. Pic taken from FMT News.

Justice Nanthan Balan pointed out that the police must redirect any counter-rallies if they knew that clashes were imminent. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The High Court today pointed out that the police are legally-bound to ensure the Red Shirts movement holds its counter-rally at a different location to prevent clashes with Bersih 2.0 supporters this Saturday.

Justice Nanthan Balan in reading out his ruling rejecting an application for an injunction to prevent Bersih 5 and a counter-rally from taking place in the capital city said Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act stated that the police must redirect any counter-rallies if they knew that clashes were imminent.

“Section 18 of the PAA acts as a safety valve to diffuse any potential conflict therefore it is the duty of the police to prevent a clash or conflict should there is a possibility that it would eventuate,” he told the High Court here.

Justice Nanthan said the application, filed by three city Malay trader groups, failed, among others, to provide a credible explanation as to why the suit was only filed at the eleventh hour when Bersih 2.0 had already made it known that the Bersih 5 rally was to be held within the Dataran Merdeka vicinity since September this year.

He also agreed with the argument presented by Bersih 2.0’s lead counsel Gurdial Singh that no private citizen or groups should use the court to prevent any organisations from exercising their constitutional right to assemble. Read more

Malaysian Protest Rally to Go Ahead Despite Threats

Source: VOANews

FILE - People sell umbrellas to supporters of pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 30, 2015

FILE – People sell umbrellas to supporters of pro-democracy group “Bersih” (Clean) near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 30, 2015

A leading Malaysian campaign for political and electoral reform is pressing ahead with a major rally this month despite pressure from the government and threats and violence against rally supporters.

Maria Chin, chairperson of the Bersih 2.0, a coalition calling for for free and fair elections in Malaysia, says the campaign has included a nationwide convoy launched on October 1 to promote the rally and calls for reform ahead of November 19.

But several violent incidents have marred the Bersih convoy with attacks and scuffles on supporters by so-called pro-Malay “red shirts.”

Violent incidents

Maria Chin along with Ambiga Sreenevasan, president of the National Human Rights Society and Mandeep Singh, a staff member of Bersih, all received death threats in October. Read more

Denouncing ‘Red Shirts’ treatment of the media — Gerakan Media Merdeka

Source: Malay Mail Online

whatyouthink-new-logo_200_200_100NOVEMBER 6 — Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) expresses our regret over the roughshod ways in which supporters of Umno-linked ‘Red Shirts’ had treated the media that covered their protest outside Malaysiakini’s office in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Geramm received several complaints and a video which showed how a journalist was harassed by a red shirt protestor who covered his face.

During the demonstration, several protestors also blamed the media whom they accused of blocking their march towards the police line.

Geramm in our struggle is consistent towards upholding the rights of all media practitioners to perform their duties and we urge all parties to do the same. Read more

Media freedom on back foot in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Bangkok: A journalist has been sacked from a key Myanmar newspaper after writing about security forces allegedly mass raping villagers, as press freedom comes under increasing attack across south-east Asia.

The English-language Myanmar Times dismissed Scottish-born Fiona MacGregor, the paper’s special investigations editor, after public condemnation of her reporting on Myanmar’s western Rakhine State by the President’s Office and a complaint from the Ministry of Information.

The state is under military lock-down following deadly attacks last month on police border posts which have been blamed on Muslim Rohingya insurgents. Read more

Strong police presence as Red Shirts protest at Malaysiakini

Source: The Star Online

Police maintaining watch outside the Malaysiakini office where Red Shirts supporters had gathered to protest. Pic taken from The Star Online.

Police maintaining watch outside the Malaysiakini office where Red Shirts supporters had gathered to protest. Pic taken from The Star Online.

PETALING JAYA: There is a strong police presence outside the Malaysiakini office off Jalan Tandang where Red Shirts have gathered to protest.

Police were seen on standby in and around the area before protesters began turning up at 1.30pm, Saturday.

The crowd built up significantly at 2pm, with more Red Shirts arriving. Read more

‘Duty of cops to protect rights of Bersih, Red Shirts’

Source: FMT News

Suhakam Commissioner Jerald Joseph says police should allow peaceful demonstrations, even if they are held at Dataran Merdeka. Pic taken from FMT News.

Suhakam Commissioner Jerald Joseph says police should allow peaceful demonstrations, even if they are held at Dataran Merdeka. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: A Suhakam commissioner has reminded the police that it is their duty as custodians of the law to protect the public’s rights, including the right to assemble at a public place such as Dataran Merdeka.

“The authorities should not find provisions in the law to disable any right,” said Commissioner Jerald Joseph in response to Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar’s criticism of Suhakam’s decision to defend the rights of Bersih and the Red Shirts movement to hold the demonstrations they have planned for this month.

Khalid, citing the Peaceful Assembly Act, had said the two groups’ chosen venue, Dataran Merdeka, could not be used since Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had refused to give its permission.

However, Jerald said any group of citizens wanting to use public spaces as venues for peaceful demonstrations should be allowed to do so.

“Public spaces are managed by public institutions as custodians,” he said. “Those institutions are not the private owners of these public properties.”

Nevertheless, he added, he believed Bersih would respect the decision to declare Dataran Merdeka off limits.

Read more

DBKL bars Bersih 5, Red Shirts rallies at Dataran Merdeka

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Participants shout slogans during a past rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih 2.0 near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic

Participants shout slogans during a past rally organised by pro-democracy group Bersih 2.0 near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has rejected both applications from Bersih 2.0 and the Red Shirts movement to hold protests at Dataran Merdeka.

Mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said the reason the applications were not approved was the same as for previous rallies, but didn’t elaborate.

“We also didn’t give any approval for the previous rallies.

“Police and DBKL will control and set up barricade, we will cooperate with the police,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today. Read more