Sudah 49 Tahun Bersama Malaysia, Tapi Masih Cerita Tentang Keperluan Asas – Timb. Ketua AMK


Dari KeadilanDaily

18 November 2012

49 tahun merdeka tapi Sabah masih cerita pasal tiang lampu

SABAH 18 Nov: Sekalipun merdeka sejak 49 tahun lalu tetapi Sabah masih berdepan masalah kekurangan intrastruktur asas, kata Timbalan Ketua Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK) Pusat, Khairul Anuar Zainuddin.

“Saya sedih. Hampir setengah abad merdeka tapi Sabah masih bercakap soal tiang lampu, jalan raya, air, tanah dan kemiskinan. Patutnya, kita bincangkan soal kualiti hidup.

“Inilah akibatnya apabila kerajaan Umno BN korup,” katanya depan 300 rakyat di Kampung Pelantong, Beluran semalam.

Beliau antara pimpinan yang menyertai Siri Jelajah Tuntutan RM40 Juta Hak Rakyat Sabah kendalian AMK ke seluruh pelusuk Sabah bermula dari Tuaran dan berakhir di Labuan pada 19 November ini.

Antara pimpinan AMK yang ikut serta ialah Ketuanya, Shamsul Iskandar Mat Akin; Pengarah Strategi AMK, Ahmad Zaki Yamani; Naib Ketua AMK, Mohd Nazree Yunus; Timbalan Ketua Penerangan AMK, Rozan Azen Mat Rasip dan Exco AMK Pusat, Dr Natassia Sarah.

Beliau turut menempelak kerajaan Umno BN yang gagal mengatasi kemiskinan rakyat.

“Statistik menunjukkan 40 peratus rakyat cuma berpendapatan bawah RM1,500 manakala di Sabah masih ada yang diberi gaji hari.

“Ini kerja gila, kerja zalim. Gaji dan sumber pendapatan isi rumah terlalu rendah sedangkan kos sara hidup makin naik,” katanya.


— Keadilandaily

Lagu Kebangsaan: Tarik Balik! – AMK


Kenyataan Media
Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) Malaysia

3 Ogos 2012

Tarik Balik Lagu Tema Sambutan Kemerdekaan 2012

Tidak pernah berlaku dalam sejarah negara usai 55 tahun kemerdekaan, inisiatif kerajaan dalam meraikan sambutan Hari Kemerdekaan menjelang 31 Ogos tiap-tiap tahun, menimbulkan kontroversi yang berterusan.

Pada tahun ini, kerajaan melalui Kementerian Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan (KPPK) di bawah pimpinan menteri Dr. Rais Yatim, mencetuskan kontroversi secara pakej: melalui tema, logo, dan lagu tema. Tema ’55 Tahun Merdeka:Janji Ditepati” berterusan dipertikaikan rakyat di samping jeleknya logo dan lagu tema yang mengiringi tema sambutan hari kemerdekaan tersebut.

Angkatan Muda Keadilan Malaysia (AMK) berpandangan kontroversi ini tercetus berikutan terdesaknya Umno-BN untuk memaut sokongan rakyat secara paksa dengan memainkan sentimen ‘membalas budi’ ke atas pemerintahan Umno-BN di atas nikmat kemerdekaan yang dikecapi selama 55 tahun kemerdekaan. Ini berikutan betapa terdesaknya mereka memastikan rakyat ‘termakan budi’ seterusnya mengundi Umno-BN di dalam Pilihanraya Umum Ke-13 yang dijadualkan akan diadakan pada bila-bila masa selepas sambutan Aidilfitri.

Jika diteliti, saban tahun terdahulu, kelompok karyawan diraikan melalui pertandingan mencipta logo ataupun lagu tema bagi sambutan Hari Kebangsaan. Tetapi, ternyata Rais Yatim terbukti tidak meletakkan dirinya di ‘era moden’ ini, dengan membuat keputusan sehala tanpa mengambil kira pandangan khalayak.

AMK berpendapat, setelah kerajaan Umno-BN menarik balik logo sambutan Hari Kebangsaan berikutan protes rakyat, maka sudah sampai masanya kerajaan menarik kembali lagu tema yang menyaksikan gubahan lirik yang sangat jelek.

Tidak pernah berlaku, dalam mana-mana lagu patriotik khususnya untuk sambutan Hari Kebangsaan, gubahan liriknya secara langsung mengaitkan dasar one-off atau dasar berterusan kerajaan seperti yang dilakukan sekarang dengan mengungkit perihal BR1M, KR1M dan Klinik 1Malaysia. Ini hanya menunjukkan sindrom ‘hilang idea’ sehingga terpaksa mencedok isu-isu tidak berkait untuk membangkitkan semangat perpaduan di kalangan rakyat.

Dengan pendedahan terbaharu di ruang maya yang menyaksikan wujud persamaan melodi lagu tersebut dengan lagu sambutan keagamaan si gereja di Indonesia, maka ini memperkuatkan lagi dakwaan bahawa kerajaan bukan sekadar semberono mempropagandakan lagu tema Hari Kebangsaan, tetapi turut menciplak karya lain.

AMK mendesak kerajaan, tanpa sebarang kompromi, menarik balik lagu tema tersebut, dan memanggil karyawan muzik di Malaysia melalui Seniman misalnya, untuk kembali menggubah lagu tema baharu yang lebih menepati jiwa dan semangat kemerdekaan tulen.

Umno-BN harus berhenti mempropagandakan segala benda yang berada di bawah kawalan mereka, kerana selagi mana mereka meneruskan tabiat jelek ini, selagi itulah penolakan rakyat akan diperlihatkan tanpa kompromi.


Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin
Ketua Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK) Malaysia

RM 100 juta Dana Belia Hanya Gula-Gula Politik – AMK


Dari Keadilan Daily

19 Julai 2012

Dana RM100 juta untuk belia gula2 politik Najib – AMK

KUALA LUMPUR 19 Julai: Dana RM100 juta yang diumum kepada belia hanya sekadar gula-gula politik kerajaan dan ia tidak mampu mengurang beban ekonomi golongan itu, kata Ketua Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK), Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin.

Beliau berkata, orang muda mahu kerajaan menumpukan isu utama iaitu menyelesaikan masalah kos sara hidup yang tinggi.

“Apa yang Pakatan Rakyat boleh berikan? Kita janji untuk turunkan harga minyak. Kita juga janji berikan pendidikan percuma, pemansuhan Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) dan meningkatkan peluang pekerjaan yang lebih baik.

“Perkara-perkara asas ini tidak mampu dilakukan Umno BN. Tetapi perkara inilah yang orang muda mahu kerana dapat mengurangkan bebanan hidup,” katanya dihubungi.

Beliau berkata, pengumuman itu tidak lebih gula-gula politik Najib untuk meraih sokongan belia menjelang Pilihan Raya Umum ke 13 (PRU 13).

Namun beliau yakin, golongan muda tidak akan terpengaruh dengan ‘bantuan segera’ sebaliknya akan berbalik kepada persoalan asas iaitu menyelesaikan masalah ekonomi.

Ahad lalu, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak mengumumkan dana RM100 juta bagi menerajui program 1Malaysia Untuk Belia (1M4U) kononnya untuk memupuk semangat sukarelewan di kalangan belia.

Dana Sukarelawan 1Malaysia (Dre1M) itu akan diuruskan satu pasukan tugas khas dengan pentadbiran dan pengagihan peruntukan dilakukan secara dalam talian.


— Keadilan Daily

RM 5 juta Untuk Lompat Masuk BN


Dari Malaysiakini

27 Jun 2012

MP PKR: Saya ditawarkan RM5j untuk sertai BN

Ahli Parlimen PKR Indera Mahkota, Azan Ismail mendakwa beliau telah ditawarkan lebih RM5 juta untuk lompat parti menyertai BN pada tahun 2010.

Beliau bagaimanapun, tidak mahu mendedahkan butiran lanjut mengenainya.

Azan memberitahu pemberita hari ini bahawa ia berlaku pada 27 Januari 2010 di sebuah hotel lima bintang di Kuala Lumpur di mana “ejen terbabit telah mengatur satu siri pertemuan”.

Beliau mendakwa, mereka mewakili seorang pemimpin yang sangat dihormati, yang pernah memegang jawatan tinggi dalam kerajaan.

Ahli Parlimen PAS Shah Alam Khalid Samad berkata Azan adalah “saksi utama” untuk membuktikan bahawa sememangnya ada operasi rahsia untuk memujuk ahli parlimen PKR melompat parti.


— Malaysiakini

Syed Mokhtar Mahu Miliki Bangunan BB Plaza, Yayasan Selangor?


Dari Malaysian Insider

20 Jun 2012

TCB milik Syed Mokhtar intai BB Plaza, Yayasan Selangor projek pembangunan MRT

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 Jun — Konglomerat hartanah, Tradewinds Corporation Bhd (TCB), telah mengemukakan cadangan untuk memiliki Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza) dan pembangunan Yayasan Selangor sebagai sebahagian daripada pembangunan semula kawasan Jalan Bukit Bintang bagi cadangan pembangunan projek stesen My Rapid Transit (MRT), di kawasan tumpuan beli belah berkenaan, kata sumber.

Pemaju hartanah dan pemilik rangkaian hotel yang dimiliki Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, yang turut memiliki pegangan utama dalam projek bersama MMC-Gamuda turut mempunyai projek pembinaan terowong sepanjang 51km Sungai Buloh-Kajang fasa pertama MRT yang dijadualkan siap pada 2017.

“TCB telah mengemukakan tawaran untuk kedua-dua bangunan namun ia masih lagi dipertimbangkan,” kata sumber kepada The Malaysian Insider.

Sumber lain turut mengesahkan cadangan berkenaan telah pun dihantar kepada kerajaan Selangor, Yayasan Selangor, bagi pembinaan bangunan 12 tingkat di Jalan Bukit Bintang dan Jalan Sultan Ismail, serta pemilik BB Plaza, UDA Holdings Bhd yang mana milik penuh Kementerian Kewangan (MoF). UDA Holdings memperolehi RM25 juta setahun daripada BB Plaza, sementara Yayasan Selangor bercadang untuk menaik taraf bangunannya kepada pembinaan hotel dan kawasan untuk pintu masuk stesen.

Namun, tidak jelas sama ada TCB telah membuat cadangan khusus tentang rancangan pembangunan semula untuk kedua-dua bangunan namun syarikat tersebut baru-baru ini telah memperolehi sejunlah RM510 juta daripada penjualan Menara Tun Razak kepada Tradewinds (M) Bhd. Syed Mokhtar memiliki saham 42.97 peratus, dan 71.48 peratus dalam Tradewinds dan TCB.

Beliau telah menjadi seorang ahli perniagaan ternama selepas memiliki beberapa syarikat termasuk memperolehi pembuat kereta nasional negara, Proton Holdings Berhad awal tahun ini melalui DRB-Hicom Bhd dan juga Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd turut berjaya memiliki projek penswastaan Penang Port Sdn Bhd.

Hubungan politik taikun DRB-Hicom ini juga turut menyaksikan beliau berjaya memiliki perkhidmatan pos di negara ini apabila mengambil alih Pos Malaysia Bhd tahun lalu daripada Khazanah Nasional Bhd, syarikat milik negara, yang juga merupakan pemilik Proton sebelum ini.

UDA Holdings telah terikat selama 40 tahun dengan BB Plaza, yang mana menempatkan ibu pejabatnya dan juga menyediakan ruang kepada masyarakat Melayu di kawasan tumpuan membeli belah utama bandaraya ini.

Sekitar 50 ahli perniagaan mengadakan bantahan di luar pintu masuk pusat beli belah semalam, mendakwa mereka diusir daripada perbincangan antara pemilik, pemilik MRT, MRT Corp Bhd dan Perbendaharaan terhadap nasib bangunan berkenaan.

UDA Holdings menjelaskan mereka masih samar-samar dengan nasib BB Plaza yang dijangka akan dikosongkan tahun hadapan bagi memulakan kerja terhadap pembinaan MRT Lembah Klang.

Pemilik pusat beli belah berkenaan dalam satu kenyataan hari ini menjelaskan mereka tidak memperolehi sebarang notis daripada MoF sama ada BB Plaza akan dikekalkan atau dimusnahkan, atau dimiliki pihak lain. MRT Corp menjelaskan mereka tidak berminat untuk memiliki bangunan berkenaan walaupun mereka akan menggunakannya sebagai besmen, dan laluan bagi pembinaan mereka.

“Bagaimanapun, UDA telah mengeluarkan notis pengosongan bangunan kepada tiga penyewa, Starbucks Coffee, Gloria Jeans dan Hot & Roll, menurut kepada arahan yang dikeluarkan MRT Corporation kepada kami,” kata agensi milik Kementerian Kewangan itu.

Mereka juga turut menambah, penyewa yang lain, yang masih beroperasi di dalam bangunan tersebut boleh meneruskan urusan perniagaan mereka sehingga notis dikeluarkan.

The Malaysian Insider telah melaporkan awal bulan lalu rancangan oleh MRT Corp untuk mengosongkan penyewa BB Plaza menjelang 2013 bagi memudahkan urusan pembinaan stesen terbesar, yang dijangka bermula dengan foyer bangunan tersebut dan bangunan Yayasan Selangor.

BB Plaza menempatkan majoriti peniaga Melayu, dan peniaga Cina menjalankan perniagaan mereka di Sungei Wang Plaza kawasan premis perniagaan berhampiran.

Apabila dihubungi, Pengerusi UDA Holdings Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed berkata kepada The Malaysian Insider perbincangan masih dijalankan sama ada BBP akan dijual kepada MRT Corp untuk dibangunkan.

MRT Corp telah berunding berkenaan pemilikan tanah untuk projek berkenaan, namun tergendala di kawasan pemilik Jalan Sultan dan Jalan Bukit Bintang. Bagaimanapun, kata putus dijangka bakal diperolehi di beberapa kawasan seperti di Jalan Imbi.

The Malaysian Insider pada 21 Mei lalu melaporkan, penangguhan di kawasan Jalan Bukit Bintang telah memaksa Kementerian Kewangan untuk memanggil MRT Corp dan beberapa pihak yang berkenaan untuk mengahadiri mesyuarat tergempar, untuk mempertimbangkan projek insfrastruktur mega negara ini akan beroperasi menjelang tarikh tamatnya pada 2017.


— Malaysian Insider

UNISEL: Kerajaan Selangor Akan Bantu Mangsa Kezaliman Umno-BN


Dari Malaysiakini

7 Jun 2012

Beku PTPTN: Unisel cair aset bantu pelajar terbabit

Kerajaan Selangor memandang berat kesusahan yang dihadapi pelajar baru Universiti Selangor (Unisel) yang menurutnya teraniayai ekoran tindakan kerajaan persekutuan dan menteri pengajian tinggi membekukan Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) kepada pelajar di universiti tersebut.

“Sebagai tindakan jangka pendek, UNISEL akan menggunakan asetnya untuk membantu pelajar yang dalam kesukaran meneruskan pengajian.

“Aset ini merupakan hartanah seluas 500 ekar yang diperolehi hasil penyusunan semula hutang TALAM,” kata Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim dalam satu kenyataan petang ini.

Kerajaan Selangor, katanya, telah selesai menyusun semula hutang tersebut di mana tanah seluas 500 ekar itu telah menjadi aset Unisel.

Khalid berkata, kerajaan negeri akan membantu Unisel mengapungkan hartanah tersebut di pasaran untuk mendapatkan wang tunai.

“Dianggarkan sejumlah RM30 juta boleh diperolehi hasil usaha ini. Sebahagian wang ini akan digunakan untuk membantu pelajar yang teraniayai akibat dari tindakan kerajaan BN membekukan PTPTN,” katanya.

Bagaimanapun, katanya, bantuan kewangan ini hanyalah berbentuk sementara sehingga penyelesaian konkrit dicapai.

“UNISEL akan memperincikan bantuan yang akan diberikan kepada pelajar-pelajar teraniayai ini dalam tempoh terdekat.

“Kerajaan Selangor sangat kecewa dengan tindakan Kerajaan Persekutuan khususnya menteri pengajian tinggi yang mengaku bertanggungjawab mengarahkan pembekuan PTPTN kepada Unisel.

“Tindakan tidak bertanggungjawab dan membelakangi semangat Federalisme ini bukan sahaja menganiayai pelajar-pelajar baru, malah telah mengecewakan ibu bapa yang menaruh harapan tinggi terhadap anak-anak mereka,” katanya.

Khalid mendakwa Barisan Nasional telah menjadikan pelajar Unisel dan ibu bapa mereka yang sebahagian besarnya Melayu sebagai mangsa hanya kerana perbezaan dasar politik antara Kerajaan Selangor dan Pusat.

“Hal ini jelas menunjukkan BN sanggup melakukan apa sahaja untuk melaksanakan politik sempit mereka hatta menganiaya dan menggadai masa depan anak-anak muda di negara ini,” dakwanya.


— Malaysiakini

BBC: Malaysia police fire tear gas at protesters


Dari: BBC

29 April 2012

Malaysia police fire tear gas at protesters

Malaysian riot police have fired tear gas and used water cannon on a crowd of protesters who had converged on the centre of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Thousands of protesters marched on a central square in the city calling for changes to the electoral system.

They believe the current arrangements will benefit Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition in forthcoming elections.

The rally is one of the largest in the country in the past decade.

A police spokesman estimated there were about 25,000 demonstrators at the protest, but some Malaysian news organisations put the numbers as high as 80,000.

Police had sealed off the city’s historic Merdeka (Independence) Square with barbed wire and barricades and began firing tear gas when these were breached by the demonstrators.

At least 20 people were reported to have been detained by the authorities.

The demonstration was organised by an opposition-backed reform group, Bersih. Police said the group had no right to use the symbolically important square.

Malaysia’s parliament approved a series of electoral reform measures this month, but activists say these do not address the main issue of electoral fraud which they maintain has kept the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in power since independence.

Activists have alleged that the Election Commission is biased and that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent voters.

“I’m here because I’m a Malaysian and I love my country,” one protester, information technology manager Burrd Lim said. “There’s no election that’s perfect, but I want one that’s fair enough.”


— BBC

REUTERS: Peserta dan Polis Bertembung, Kemungkinan Pilihanraya Tangguh


Dari: Reuters

29 April 2012

Malaysian police, protesters clash, raising poll doubts

(Reuters) – Malaysian police fired tear gas and water cannon in clashes with thousands of protesters demanding electoral reforms on Saturday, raising the risk of a political backlash that could delay national polls which had been expected as early as June.

Riot police reacted after some protesters among the crowd of at least 25,000 tried to break through barriers, in defiance of a court order banning them from entering the city’s historic Merdeka (Independence) Square. They fired dozens of tear gas rounds and chased protesters through nearby streets.

Protesters also battled with police at a train station nearby, throwing bottles and chairs at officers who responded by firing tear gas rounds. A police car was overturned by angry protesters after it hit demonstrators. Most of the protesters had dispersed by early evening but sporadic clashes with police continued.

“They (the police) asked the crowd to disperse but did not give enough warning,” said Aminah Bakri, 27, with tears streaming down her face from the gas.

“They do not care.”

The police reaction could carry risks for Prime Minister Najib Razak if it is seen as too harsh, possibly forcing him to delay elections that must be called by next March but which many observers had expected for June. Najib’s approval rating tumbled after July last year when police were accused of a heavy handed response to the last major electoral reform rally by the Bersih (Clean) group. It has since rebounded to nearly 70 percent.

Some media sites put the number of protesters as high as 100,000, which would make it by far the biggest since “Reformasi” (Reform) demonstrations in 1998 against then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The protest posed a delicate challenge for Najib, who is anxious to attract middle-class voters ahead of an election that is shaping up as the closest in Malaysia’s history.

But Najib must be mindful of conservatives in his party, wary his moves to relax tough security laws and push limited election reforms could threaten their 55-year hold on power.

Human Rights Watch was quick to condemn the police action.

“By launching a crackdown on peaceful … protesters on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian government is once again showing its contempt for its people’s basic rights and freedoms,” said Phil Robertson, the group’s deputy Asia director.

WATERSHED FOR NAJIB

Malaysia’s Bar Council’s Legal Aid Center said around 200 people had been detained, far less than the more than 1,600 who were held in last July’s protest.

“Police acted with utmost restraint and efficiency,” Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Twitter, adding the situation was now under control.

Bersih, an independent movement whose goals are backed by the opposition, has a history of staging influential rallies as Malaysians have demanded more freedoms and democratic rights in the former British colony that has an authoritarian streak.

Many of the protesters on Saturday were younger Malaysians who have become more active in recent years, chafing at political restrictions and cronyism in the racially divided Southeast Asian nation.

“The younger generation, especially my generation, want to be involved,” said 19-year-old university student Chan Mei Fong. ‘We cannot be quiet.”

The July protest was a watershed moment for Najib, prompting him to promise reform of an electoral system that the opposition says favors the long-ruling National Front coalition.

The National Front is trying to recover from its worst ever election result in 2008 when it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament, giving the diverse, three-party opposition led by former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim real hope of taking power.

Najib has replaced tough security laws – ending indefinite detention without trial – relaxed some media controls, and pushed reforms to the electoral system that critics have long complained is rigged in the government’s favor.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee set up by Najib this month issued 22 proposals for electoral reform, including steps to clean up electoral rolls and equal access to media.

But Bersih has complained it is unclear if the steps will be in place for the next election.

The government says it has already met, or is addressing, seven of Bersih’s eight main proposals for the election, which will see the first use of indelible ink to cut down on fraud.

Bersih says the proposals do not meet most of its key demands, including lengthening the campaign period to at least 21 days from the current seven days and international observers at polling stations. Bersih and opposition parties say they have unearthed multiple instances of irregularities in voter rolls, including over 50 voters registered at one address.

(Additional reporting by Angie Teo and Siva Sithraputhran. Writing by Stuart Grudgings, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Ed Lane)


— Reuters

AL-JAZEERA: Police violence marks Malaysia reform rally


Dari: Al-Jazeera

29 April 2012

Police violence marks Malaysia reform rally

Malaysian riot police have fired tear gas and used water cannon on a crowd of demonstrators who staged one of the country’s largest street rallies in years, demanding fair rules for national elections expected soon.

At least 25,000 demonstrators swamped Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, hoping to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition – which has held power for nearly 55 years – to overhaul electoral policies before polls that could be held as early as June.

Malaysian police said in a statement that 222 people were arrested. Lawyers said most were expected to be released soon after having their details recorded, but it was not immediately clear if they would be charged later with any offense.

Officials said three demonstrators and 20 police were injured.

Authorities insist the elections will be free and fair, rejecting activists’ claims that the Election Commission is biased and that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent names.

“The independent Elections Commission has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the next elections are free and fair and meet the highest international standards,” Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, minister of home affairs, said in a statement.

Demonstrators wearing yellow T-shirts, waving banners and chanting slogans poured into downtown Kuala Lumpur, massing near the city’s historic Merdeka (Independence) Square that police had sealed off with barbed wire and barricades.

Authorities had refused to allow Bersih, or Coalition for Free and Fair Elections – the opposition-backed pressure group that organised the rally – to use the square, a nationally renowned venue that hosts parades and patriotic celebrations.

The demonstration remained peaceful for several hours, prompting organisers to declare it a success and ask people to head home.

But when a small group appeared to suddenly breach the police barriers, authorities began firing tear gas and water laced with stinging chemicals at the crowd.

A federal police spokesperson estimated there were about 25,000 demonstrators, but many witnesses and some Malaysian news organisations said there were between 80,000 and 100,000 protesters at the rally.

Police action ‘unjustified’

Kuala Lumpur’s police said in its social media statements that authorities were forced to move against the protesters, but opposition leaders and rights groups said the action was unjustified.

Defending the police, the minister of home affairs, said: “I would like to commend the police for their professionalism and the restraint they have shown under difficult circumstances.”

“A group of protesters tried to provoke a violent confrontation with the police, but overall at this stage it would seem this afternoon’s protest passed off without major incident,” he said.

“Despite opposition claims to the contrary, the government fully respects peoples’ right to peaceful protest, which is enshrined under Malaysian law.”

The rally’s organisers have also sought longer election campaigning periods and changes to ensure citizens living abroad can cast ballots, as well as international observers for the polls and fairer access for all political parties to the government-linked media.

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said: “As far as the protesters are concerned, the government haven’t met their demands. They want a series of improvements to the electoral system. They are calling for better electoral role. They also want the electoral commission, which runs elections this country, to be entirely reformed.

“The protest was not what both sides [government and protesters] were talking about. They were talking about peaceful protests. Ideally, the protesters wanted to protest inside Independence Square.”

Saturday’s gathering follows one crushed by police last July, when 1,600 people were arrested.

That rally for clean elections prompted a police crackdown with tear gas and water cannon.

A resulting backlash prompted Najib, Malaysia’s prime minister, to set up a parliamentary panel whose eventual report suggested a range of changes to the electoral system.

But Bersih and the opposition are demanding a complete overhaul of a voter roll considered fraudulent and reform of an Election Commission they say is biased in favour of the governing coalition.

Najib has launched a campaign to repeal authoritarian laws in a bid to create what he called “the greatest democracy”.

His ruling coalition had a dismal showing against the opposition in 2008, and Najib is under pressure to improve on that


— Al-Jazeera

The Wall Street Journal: Malaysian Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesters


Dari: The Wall Street Journal

29 April 2012

Malaysian Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesters

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Police fired tear gas and chemical-laced water at thousands of protesters demonstrating for cleaner elections, potentially undermining Prime Minister Najib Razak’s efforts to present himself as a political reformer with elections months away.

Riot police took action on Saturday when some of the tens of thousands of demonstrators began encroaching on the historic Merdeka Square in the center of downtown Kuala Lumpur, despite police and government warnings to keep away from the area. Some groups of demonstrators lingered in the area for hours, and at least 388 demonstrators were detained, police said. Rally organizers criticized the police response as unnecessary and disproportionate.

Last year, police broke up a similar rally with tear gas and water cannon, and briefly detained about 1,600 members of the Bersih activist group, whose name means “clean” in Malay. That earned Mr. Najib’s government international condemnation and prompted him to move forward on a series of political overhauls, including ending the Southeast Asian nation’s Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite, warrantless detention.

Protest leaders earlier Saturday said they would march up to the heavily guarded perimeter of Merdeka, or Independence, Square, where Malaysia first hoisted its national flag after independence from Britain. There they held a sit-down protest in the surrounding streets, joined by opposition politicians including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Among other things, the yellow-clad Bersih supporters are demanding that the country’s electoral rolls be cleaned up to prevent fraudulent voting and that alleged biases within the country’s election agency be removed. In addition, they want international observers to monitor polls and also ensure that all political parties get similar access to government-controlled broadcasters and newspapers, which dominate the media in Malaysia. The protesters also want to enable Malaysians living overseas to be able to cast ballots. The next elections must be called by March 2013.

“Today is our day. No one can take it away from us,” Ambiga Sreenevasan, one of the co-founders of the Bersih group, told a crowd before beginning a march toward Merdeka Square. “Today we speak with a clear voice: We want clean elections.”

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal earlier, Ms. Sreenevasan said, “today we have reclaimed our public spaces.

“The atmosphere is simply amazing,” she said. “The camaraderie amongst everyone is unmistakable.”

Malaysia, a major global exporter of computer parts, energy and palm oil, still is a conservative country where many voters and political power brokers are fearful of large street protests despite the rapid growth of the Internet and a proliferation of independent news websites, which often are critical of the government.

While a parliamentary committee is considering changes to Malaysia’s election laws and the government has agreed already with some of Bersih’s proposals, authorities appear unhappy that the protesters wished to assemble in the historic heart of the city. Speaking in Kuching, Mr. Najib said only the square is an unsuitable venue for political protests. He said national and city authorities had offered alternative venues, including a nearby stadium.

“We have built this country. We have made sacrifices to bring Malaysia to where it is today. We must defend the country while at the same time allow them their basic right to assemble,” Mr. Najib said, according to state news agency Bernama. He also denied that Malaysia’s electoral system was rigged against the opposition.

In a statement, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government respects people’s right to protest and added that he “would like to commend police for their professionalism and the restraint they have shown under difficult circumstances.”

There was a palpable tension throughout much of Malaysia’s commercial capital Saturday. Some businesses, especially around the busy central market, opted to pull down steel shutters. At Merdeka Square, police armed with tear gas had been preparing to repel protesters since cordoning off the area Friday morning.

When a group of protesters began to move toward Merdeka Square amid loud chants, police acted quickly, launching tear gas and firing water cannon, sending large groups of protesters running up city streets to avoid the acrid fumes from tear-gas canisters. Outside the Sogo department store, protesters overturned a police car, which allegedly had hit two protesters, while volleys of tear gas penetrated deep into the crowd.

“I was hit by tear gas. It was not very pleasant,” Sen. Nicholas Xenophon from Australia, who is leading an international fact-finding mission on electoral overhauls, told The Wall Street Journal. “There is an Arab Spring. This is the Malaysia Spring. There is an unstoppable desire for reform.”

Mr. Najib’s reformist credentials likely will be undermined by the police action, which march organizers described as disproportionate to the threat posed. Yet some political analysts said Saturday’s protest might not necessarily hurt him or the ruling National Front coalition in an election.

James Chin, a political science professor at the Malaysian campus of Australia’s Monash University, who attended the demonstration, said many protesters were looking for a confrontation and that this might play into Mr. Najib’s hands if he calls an early election. “The reforms will still be on,” Mr. Chin said. “But the core of the regime will remain intact.”
—Shie-Lynn Lim and Jason Ng contributed to this article.


— The Wall Street Journal