Random Links on Malaysia #328

Is there too much of Umno in Hindraf?

I haven’t sat in a variety of meetings lately almost side by side within a day, One from a more religious orientation, another one more secular.  And the tendency to only think of “us” more than “ALL” is so prevalent.  It’s a blindness that needs healing!

Freedom of Information Act for Selangor by year-end

Substantial changes for the whole society progresses when efforts like this is on the move! Would having a number of states government by the Pakatan Rakyat would set into motion a competition towards better policies?

The Selangor state government has taken the lead again. It is hoping to pass a Freedom of Information Act by the end of the year.

“For a country that practises democracy, oppressive laws like
Printing Presses and Publications Act and Official Secrets Act used to keep media in line and prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their full rights to access information, should not be allowed to remain in Malaysia,” said Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim in a statement this evening to mark World Press Freedom Day.

Acknowledging that the powers to abolish such draconian laws lie with the Federal Government, he said the Pakatan government in Selangor has tried its best to promote Freedom of Information (FOI).

More worries about liberalisation of services

I’m not so well versed in these matters so I rely on interacting with what I read from Anil Netto and a very insightful comment by Charles Santiago at a forum on 1 May 2009 along these lines.

It is disconcerting to see neoliberals in both Pakatan and the BN whole-heartedly welcoming Najib’s liberalisation of services. The DAP, MCA and Gerakan want liberalisation to be extended to other sectors; the MCA even mentioned national security and defence.

No one is saying there shouldn’t be competition in certain sectors. But we are proceeding with liberalisation when some of the regulatory mechanisms are not in place. For instance, health care regulatory mechanisms to cover areas such as laboratory services that were promised a long time ago are not in place.

Working for Malaysia’s future

It’s good to hear from the younger voices in the political arena. Nurul Izzah and Nik Nazmi are definitely ones to watch.

Both of us became involved in the party when the Reformasi broke out, though under different circumstances.

Izzah, who was a 17-year old university student then, was forced into the public eye as she was Anwar’s eldest daughter. Nazmi, who was a year younger and still in school, was reflecting on how the forces that were unleashed could somehow offer something new to Malaysian politics that had atrophied under Dr. Mahathir. As Izzah travelled the country giving ceramahs not only to defend her father’s innocence but also increasingly to articulate the meaning and significance of the Reformasi movement to ordinary Malaysians, Nazmi attempted to explore the possibility and meaning of a new politics for the younger generation as a writer in the alternative media.

We became acquainted in 2001, as part of a group of young Malaysian professionals finding ways as to how we could contribute to change in our country. In spite of the party’s small presence then, we were all excited and idealistic to be part of the cause to lay the foundations of a truly progressive Malaysian political party.

Three years later, the party was dealt a blow when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hijacked our message of reform and won an overwhelming victory in polls conducted under dubious circumstances. The party was left with a solitary Parliamentary seat. Soon however, Anwar was released and engaged in a conversation with those inside and outside the party. He charted a more multiracial agenda, against the advice of many. Some were clearly discomfited by this development, and left the party. They either could not accept the shift or felt that no matter how idealistically attractive this paradigm movement was, it spelt political disaster.

But like many young members of the party, we felt that this was the right path to take, the logical extension of Reformasi. Nazmi, in particular decided to take the next step by working for Anwar after completing his studies. We were joined by experienced professionals such as Ibrahim Yaacob and Din Merican, along with talented young Malaysians such as Harvard graduate and blogger Nathaniel Tan as well as UTM student leader and Silicon Valley engineer Sim Tze Tzin.

As the 12th General Elections loomed, both of us along with Sim and Ibrahim were considered as possible candidates for seats. We were reluctant at first, but as many others refused to run under Keadilan’s banner-feeling that the party would surely be defeated- we decided to do it. Izzah was 27, and Nazmi, 26, making us among the youngest candidates in the elections.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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