A tale of 2 “protest” bills

I have never envisaged that one day I would see a more progressive Myanmar than my own country.

While we are debating the new Restriction Peaceful  Assembly Bill (which are full of restrictions of freedom), Myanmar has passed a law which is more progressive than us. That is from a regime which is touted as one of the most repressive states in the world.

If they are now still repressive, what makes us?

To hold a protest, the Malaysia Myanmar authority needs to be informed ONLY 5 days in advance (Malaysia new bill: 30days). While in Malaysia, protests are not allowed in so many places that I just cannot recall the whole list,  in Myanmar  only 4 locations are not allowed for protests:  government buildings, scholls, hospitals and embassies. Notice that they did not ban street protests, as that is perhaps one place where you do not need to spend a hefty sum to stage your protest.  Just compare yourself and make your own inference.

This is from Yahoo news: (click here for the original version)

Myanmar parliament passes protest bill

Myanmar’s military-dominated parliament has passed a bill allowing citizens to protest peacefully, a lawmaker said Thursday — the latest in a rapid series of reformist moves in the isolated country.

The bill, which needs to be signed off by President Thein Sein to become law, requires that demonstrators “inform the authorities five days in advance,” said upper house member Aye Maung, of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party.

Protesters would be allowed to hold flags and party symbols but must avoid government buildings, schools, hospitals and embassies, he told AFP.

The bill came before parliament this week, four years after a mass monk-led protest known as the “Saffron Revolution” was brutally quashed, with the deaths of at least 31 people and the arrest of hundreds of monks, many still locked up.

Myanmar’s new parliament, dominated by army proxies, opened in January after nearly five decades of outright military rule following an election in November — the first in 20 years — that was dismissed by many observers as a sham.

The new leaders of the country, which is subject to Western sanctions, have surprised observers with a number of reformist steps in an apparent move to end international isolation.

They have freed and held direct talks with long-detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, halted work on an unpopular dam project that was backed by key ally China, eased media censorship and passed a law giving workers the right to strike.

The government also held peace talks at the weekend with ethnic minority rebel groups who have been waging a violent insurgency for greater rights and autonomy for decades.

By way of diplomatic recognition for the promising gestures, Myanmar last week won approval to chair Southeast Asia’s regional bloc in 2014.

It also received a nod from US President Barack Obama, who said he would send Hillary Clinton to Myanmar next month to encourage reform — the first US secretary of state to visit in 50 years.

A senior White House official said on Tuesday that Clinton would look for progress on human rights but it was “premature” to discuss lifting sanctions.

In a further overture, Japan said on Thursday it would send officials to Myanmar to discuss resuming development aid, suspended in 2003 over Suu Kyi’s detention, following recent political developments.

The Japanese delegation will discuss the possibility of resuming construction work on a hydropower plant, an official in Tokyo told AFP.

Suu Kyi’s opposition party announced its return to the official political arena last week after it boycotted last year’s polls.

The freeing of all of the country’s political prisoners, whose exact numbers remain unclear, remains one of the major demands of Western nations.

A small group of monks risked a rare two-day protest in Myanmar earlier this month, calling for the prisoners’ release as well as freedom of speech for monks and an end to conflicts between the army and ethnic minority groups.

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Concedes one step but moves 2 forward!

While I welcome the enacting of the Peaceful Assembly Bill in principle,   I was disappointed with the many restrictions in the Bill, which would curtail freedom of assembly even more than before.

The most serious flaw is of course disallowing street protests. Street protests do not equate  riots or chaos. It can be very orderly as seen so often overseas in many of the democratic countries. People can protest  anything they do not feel comfortable. It is up to the police and the authority to facilitate such protests and make sure that the disruption to street traffic is minimal.

I agree that the authority needs to be informed in case of a protest, not because any permission is needed , but mainly to make sure that the authority takes steps to facilitate such protests — including protecting the protestors and ensuring the success of such protests, as the people’s freedom of assembly is enshrined in our Constitution.

  Notice however, should be just hours in advance and not days. I am sure if the police force is efficient, it can easily muster a few policemen to help in the process of ensuring smooth conduct of such protets. Since police presence is to ensure smooth conduct of such protests, it is just nonsensical to ask for an advance notice of 30 days as proposed .

Sometimes need to protest arises within short notice, such as certain increase of certain food prices or certain announcement of nonsensical policies, and asking the protesters to inform the police 30 days ahead makes no sense at all.

There are just too many restrictions in the new Bill, and this actually undermines what was promised by the PM some time back that freedom of assembly would be respected.

This has fast become the norm here. It has also become obvious that this may be a classic Sunzi’s strategy  : conceding one step when resistance seems strong , but move 2 steps forward when everything quiets down.

further reading:

Bar council president’s announcement here.

Cow business is big business!

These days, everyone is talking about cows. Not mad cow disese, but just cow per se. Maybe cows plus condominiums.

In those days when I was a small boy and staying in Ayer Itam of Penang, we would often see one or two cows being shepherded by some  ‘young cowboys’ even along the paved roads.  Some cows would walk in the centre of the road, and motorists had to swerve their vehicles to avoid hitting them. It was also not uncommon to see dung here and there,, and for small boys like us, we were very careful not to step on the dung when going to or  coming back from schools.

Rearing cows in those days was not big business. Most cowboys were poor. Some of the cowboys kept them for milk productions. We sometimes had fresh milk delivered to our house, and i still vividly remember that we needed to boil it before drinking, unlike cow’s milk nowadays, you can just pour out from a tetrapak and drink.

Cows have remained the same. I don’t know about the meat because I do not eat beef, as our family tradition dictates.  Since I do not eat meat, I have not paid much attention to beef prices, but one thing I know.

 Apparently, cow rearing is now big business. It is even bigger than property , and it can also be mixed with property business.

Cowboys nowadays talk in hundreds of millions of dollars  and they do not need to shepherd them through the roads anymore. In fact, cowboys probably  drive luxurious cars to visit their cows.

How to be the new generation cowboys? Easy.

If you know the right person — or rather if you are the right person– you can get a soft loan not from banks but indirectly from the tax-payers via the Big Brother, with very low interest, to start a cow rearing farm. Not a loan of a million or two.  I recall a female minister had once said that a million is nothing nowadays ( you can try search for a post on this in this blog). Going by her advice, you do not want something that is ‘kacang putih’, you want something big!

So the loan would be in the region of more than a hundred millions. There will be certain time for you to reach the targeted number , say 8000 cows. If you find it too tedious to rear them  from wombs, you can actually import them from Down Under to your farm, keep them for a few weeks, and then sell it as a product of your farm. Nothing wrong in that; the Americans are doing the same thing– they are selling American products that are all  made in China.

The beauty of it is that since you are somebody, you can actually use part of the cow money to buy and invest in luxurious condos. It will definitely be cleaner than cow business. Do not buy those apartments that lay men stay (they can be too dirty by your standard), but expensive apartments in the region of almost 7 millions each.

Since you pay cash, you can even get a rebate from the developers for the purchased condos. The funny thing is , this rebate can even be classified as part of the rental earnings. You do not have to be good in accounting, for if you are somebody, you can just list those rebate as income- no one would be so foolish to question you!  By doing that, the condos you purchased would ostensibly give you a very high yield of more than 10% — even though if you strictly take rental alone, it would be in the region of less than 4% (more or less like FDs, but since you are somebody, you probably can stand the higher risks that condos give compared to FDs).

You do not have to worry. Afterall, so many that you know are doing the same things and other funny things too. There are even some who waive a raise in toll increases but get extra income in the long run by  increasing the length of the toll collecting period.

Afterall, this is Bolehland…

…………………………………………………………….

Further readings:

(For the actual yield calculations, please read this excellent article here)

The ultimate sacrifice!

Updated:

I was not surprised by Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s announcement that he will not contest the next election. Contrary to his view, I do not see this as a sacrifice – not to mention ‘ultimate sacrifice’ – but rather as a political reality that confronts him.

In fact, at this stage, he has only the following three options:

1. Do not stand in the next GE and thus slowly pace himself out of active politics

2. Go to contest a parliamentary seat as head of a component party . But looking at the 12 Gerakan parliamentary seats, his chances of winning is slim except perhaps standing in Simpang Rengam in Johore . But if he goes down to Simpang Renggam, a ‘safe’ seat compared to the 11 others, he would have dealt the party image and morale , already low after 308, a killer punch. It would be viewed as placing his own personal interest above party to run away from hard battles and go to a safe seat.

As Gerakan State chairman of Wilayah, he may be able to stand in one of the three Gerakan seats in KL ( Batu, Segambut or Kepong), but looking at the sentiments of urban voters here, his chances of winning is slim.

3. He can of course go back and stand against his nemesis, Lim Guan Eng. This move would actually lift the morale of the Gerakan members and would in a sense help Gerakan candidates standing in other areas. This would in a way erase the ‘backdoor’ minister image as well as prove that he is not the brand of seedless durian that some people have labeled him. His chances of winning in Penang, where his reputation has taken a beating, is almost nil but in taking on Lim Guan Eng, he may help lift the sagging image of the party. This I would actually term it as the ‘ultimate sacrifice’.

But knowing the type of ‘gentleman’ personality that he is, I have long predicted to friends and analysts that he would probably choose the number one option. After all, it is just not in his character to fight such a battle, and furthermore he has already been chief minister for 18 years and a minister for 2. There is no more heights for him to scale, so to speak.

This announcement will be the first step for him to go out of the political scene, for the party election which was supposed to be held this year would have to be held in the next 15 months. So in the mean time , he would be the transitional president till the next party election.

He is supposed to name the Gerakan candidate for Penang BN chair today. In reality, whoever takes over as BN chairman has a mammoth task of taking on Lim Guan Eng and Co.

In the next General election, the chances of BN winning back Penang is very slim given the prevailing sentiments. This is not helped by the fact that a few international media houses have published articles praising the present Penang administration.

To change horse at this 11th hour may be a little too late. However, to those people vying to be BN Penang Chairman, which would enhance the person’s claim to Penang Chief ministership in the very unlikely event that BN wins, this is a chance that none of them want to let pass.

Thus there is intense lobbying to be the next BN chairman. Even comrades can become foes. It actually gives a feeling of déjà vu; in the run-up to the last General Election, a few of the eligible candidates were openly fighting -and in the process destroying whatever chance there was for Gerakan– for the Chief Ministership even before Gerakan had gone into battle.

In my opinion, whoever is now chosen to be Penang BN chairman would have too little time to manuever, and Penangites have more or less make up their minds to give LGE & Co another term.

It would indeed take a miracle to change this.

(This article is also posted in Malaysian Insider side view coloumn here).

In Moderation mode

Dear readers,
This blog is evidently under attacks by certain cybertroopers for obvoious reasons.
The commentaries in the guise of personal attacks have made this a battlefield.

I suspect some of them may be presenting  different views ( and attacking each other because of that)  but are from the same cyber team, causing havoc and making use of the freedom that  this blog allows. I noted some of them have more than 10 IP addresses in a short period , which is not the norm for most serious readers/commentators.

I have deleted most of the comments posted in the past 24 hours, by the various persons. ( I may have deleted some comments by serious readers too, and I apologise, but I have to take this step to check the fire that is starting to rage here).

They have taken advantage of the fact that I was not feeling well last 2 days and have not spent as much time on the blog as I wish, and throwing in rubbish..Those deleted included commentaries from various persons.

I may have to resort to banning some of them if this sandiwara of attacking each others  continue. This tactic is typical of the white face-black face” sandiwara that you-know-who would employ”.

THIS BLOG IS NOW ON MODERATION  MODE until further notice and I apologise to the readers of this blog for any inconvenience caused.

An undeniable right

Article 119 of our Federal COnstitution states clearly that every citizen who has attained the age of 21 has a right to vote.

This is the principle of a one-man-one vote system.

So on this principle alone, whether the person is residing overseas or locally makes no difference to his or her right to vote. As long as that person is over 21 years of age, of sound mind and has not committed certain crimes , he or she must be allowed to vote.

The Election Commission is just a vehicle of the people entrusted  to effect that right and thus to oversee the process of election.

So for those Malaysians residing overseas, as long as they are still Malaysians, they should have the same right as those within the country.

There are of course many logistic consideration to allow Malaysians residing overseas to vote. But as other nations have done this, there is no reason why our Election Commission cannot follow suit. It should come out with a procedure to allow these citizens to vote.

A component party made a about turn on this, and now the top leaders said that the objections over overseas voting is the personal view of its representatives. It is indeed laughable, and Malaysians are not that stupid. It is like the No 2 leader blaming the board of directors of a hospital of misleading him when that hospital compound was hit with tear gas and water cannons in the July rally. He made a mistake of denying without getting the fact right, but apologies are beyond our politicians.  ANyway that is how high politicians’ ego can be: they must not be seen making a mistake.

The initial objection of that party must have something to do with the political inclinations of the overseas vote. Most of those residing overseas that I have talked to would have voted for change.

Many of these are students studying overseas, and among them are many who could not get into the courses of their choice and so have no choice but to opt for expensive overseas study;  in the process of studying,  most  would have finished off  all their parents savings.

Many work overseas. AMong them are people who would not have been able to achieve their potentials locally. Many stay behind because they seek the recognition that has or would have eluded them in Malaysia. Others could not get into the fields of their choice. Still others opt for the higher remuneration and better working and living conditions overseas.

ALl these people would have no qualms voting for change. ANd these are a sizeable group. I estimate there are at least a milllion Malaysians over 21 residing overseas.

My own graduating medical class in 1977 had 88 Malaysians out of 120, in the then University of Singapore. Only a handful came back. MAny have remained in SIngapore, and many moved to UK,  AUstralia, US and NZ. We are still in touch via emails. Most have become citizens of their residing places but there are still some who have remained loyal and are still Malaysians, even though they hold PR status of their residing countries. The same applies to my many high schools classmates who have stayed overseas many years but are still citizens.

Then there are those who started residing overseas in the  2000s. Among them are my children and most of these are still Malaysians, and most of these come back often to Malaysia during their holidays.

I have spoken to many of my children’s classmates, and as i have blogged before, none of them have come back, ( this may be peculiar to medicine, but I think few from other fields came back too). BUt most of them come back annually for holiday and most of them keep in touch with online media on what is happening in our country. Most are loyal citizens who have no choice but to work overseas. So who are we to deny them their rights when the right is enshrined in our constitution?

We cannot deny them this right to vote  just because this group has a higher tendency to vote for change. It is up to the government to court them and try to change their thinking, just like what the government should do with local voters.

The politics of rollercoaster

My stand on PPSMI has been very clear. It has been stated many times previously in this blog so I am not going to go into it anymore.

What i want to post today is the interesting observation on why there is such a sudden change in decision of the No. 2.

We all know the Old Horse has been perceived to be ‘playing both cards” or some of you may like to use the term ‘playing both sides”. The British has a nicer term ‘divide and rule”. When you divide and rule, you get both sides trying to please you and you get the best of both worlds, so to speak. You can also choose the one willing to make best deals with you.

Of course, people like me and most of you out there would not be able to play divide and rule. You need a certain status and stature  at least, and you must be able to  command support from a big proportion of members in order to be able to play such game.

The last Chief was not even in Old Horse’s book to play. He pushed him out outright, and many people thought it was because of the cancellation of the crooked bridge and so on.

But the present chief has been quite astute. He has also been treading on a very careful line so as not to step onto you-know-who’s toes. But at one time, his policies were deemed to be nott to the liking of the conservatives ( especially initially his stand on NEP), hence the outsourced organisation P  was formed and Old Horse became some sort of ‘patron’ . By using this outsourced organisation, he was able to check many of the otherwise-would-be-more-liberal policies, causing many flip flopping like you see in an acrobatic show. The new economic model was toned down, many u-turns were taken .

It has also given rise to the perception/rumours  that the Old Horse is behind No.2  and the right wingers associated with him and that there is an undercurrent waiting to push NO.1 out.

The right wingers were seen to be on the ascendancy especially after the “Big Rally July” debacle. Even though the right wingers are against the rally , they used the mishandling to portrait  No 1 as being weak and indecisive. Then the precious stone incident came out ( who but those in high positions can get those documents?) That was the low point.

But as the Cantonese ( I am not but I think they have lots of wisdom) says: a person will have “sam soi lok wong”, meaning a person will have 3 downs and 6 ups in his life. After experiencing downs, there will  definitely be ups.. This is usually used to motivate someone who is down, but in life, very often this turns out to be true.

No. 1 after experiencing the low, decided that he could not be either here or there, trying to please both liberals and right wingers , but in the end pleasing none.  So he came out with some of the biggest decisions in his life, repealing certain laws that the liberals have been pushing for it.. Without the Big Rally July”, it would not of course happen, but if we delve into it deeper, this was because of his own very survival is at stake.

The No. 2 ‘s announcements the last few weeks sounded like the death of PPSMI has already be cast in stone and there is no more hope for those pushing for an option of using it.

Just imagine if you are in form 3 now and all these while you are using a certain language to learn maths and science and suddenly they are telling you that next year when you are in form 4 , you have to use another language, and then in a few years’ time, when you enter college, you will have to revert back to using the former again, how confusing and depressing can this be?

But just  when all the lights seem  to be out for PPSMI, a voice that belongs to none other than the Old Horse suddenly spoke up against the abolition of this, and he  was even quoted as asking  No 1 to overturn No 2’s decision, and there was even a report quoting him as saying that NO 1 could replace No 2 as the person in charge of this. I must admit this is one of the few times that I feel like giving him a hug.

After he spoke, the whole board game seems to have  changed. The option remains. The form 3 student i spoke about can continue using the same language he has been using all this while    next year..

The perception now is that from the trough, NO 1 is slowly but surely rising , and maybe this time he may reach the crest. The flip flop in announcement was bad for No 2 politically. But do not write him off yet!

Politics is like roller coasters. One moment you are up, next you will be down. When you are up, do not be too arrogant. When you are down, do not feel despair. Whether you are up or down, there will come a moment that you have to leave the wagon and stand on level ground eventually!

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