The unsung heroes in Bukit Gantang

How did Nizar win Bukit Gantang when UMNO was expected to win a slight majority of the Malay votes and the polling day on Tuesday prevented many Chinese who had returned for graveyard visit (Qing Ming) from staying on?

This was perhaps the answer. Most Malaysians who do not read Chinese may not have seen this advertisement which appeared on the local section of the major Chinese newspapers on April 4 (Qing Ming Day, Saturday).

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BERSIH: Abdul Aziz should resign as EC Chief

EC Chairperson Abdul Aziz met representatives from both the BN and PR. However, no substantial issues on electoral reform have been discussed. It was very much a waste of time.

This was BERSIH’s press statement issued on April 22, which was not reported by many media, the exceptions are The Nut Graph, Malaysiakini and Merdeka Review:

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) warns the Election Commission (EC) Chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof that his position would be untenable if he continues to act like a Barisan Nasional (BN) election agent.

BERSIH reminds Abdul Aziz that he is constitutionally duty-bound to ensure free, fair and clean elections, his job is not to prevent elections and by-elections especially when it looks like BN cannot ensure victory.

As elections — including by-elections — are core to a representative democracy, EC must not propose any changes to deprive voters of their right to decide who they want to represent them.

If the principle of “no taxation without representation” is violated, a government which collects tax revenue will be reduced to nothing but a mafia outfit which extorts protection money from the people.

BERSIH urges the EC to instead push for the lifting of Article 48(6) which bars an elected representative from re-contesting for five years after resigning from the seat.

Elections are like job interviews. An employee has the right to resign and seek reappointment under different conditions. Whether or not s/he would be employed should be left to his/her prospective employer.

BERSIH demands that all state officers observe administrative neutrality. If Abdul Aziz cannot control his partisan behaviour, he should just quit his job. He can then work full-time as a BN election agent or lead a lobby group advocating for the abolition of elections.

Abdul Aziz’s earlier statement that he will study the possibility of not having a by-election in Penanti — right after Najib gave the excuse of by-election fatigue — shows that the Election Commission is a parrot that echoes BN’s opinions.

Also, the Election Commission’s insistence on studying and deciding if a seat is vacant rather than accepting the Legislature Speaker’s judgment, in Perak and now in Penanti, is both partisan and malicious.

Lastly, Abdul Aziz’s earlier comment that the voting pattern in Kuala Sepetang was worrying was also gravely inappropriate and uncalled for. The EC’s job is to administer elections, not make patronizing, partisan and unsolicited advice on the outcome of elections.

Brian Yap: Change at grasstroot level needed

Brian Yap wrote a wonderful piece reminding us that elections should begin at the grassroot level.

“APRIL 23 — There’s little doubt that Malaysians are far more politically conscious today. We regularly discuss political developments, we’re up to date on the latest scandals, and we’ve all sent or received text messages or e-mails that touch on Malaysian politics, solicited or otherwise. Plus, it seems as if a new blogger is coming on board every single day, from teenagers to retired old uncles, writing about the many issues that affect the nation.

These are all good things. They offer a glimmer of hope for the nation, and reflect the patriotism of Malaysians better than a million mini-flags on cars ever could.

Yet, at the same time there’s also a sense that for all our heightened political awareness, our everyday lives have remained largely the same. We read about the changes taking place more than we actually feel or see them….. more

It’s important that we feel changes are taking place in our daily life.

Being empowered must be felt, not just understood or believed.

I see what happened at Bukit Lanjan as a fantastic sign, but more are needed.  We need new political culture of participatory democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency, citizen initiatives, civil disobeidence ……

Democratization needs bridging social capital, and cannot depend on a few political elites. I feel uncomfortable recently listening to a popular opposition politician telling people what they should do but keeping his own cards close to his chest.

Why Elections?

War-making and state-making [are] organized crimes. – Charles Tilly.

We have been told once and again, elections are disruptive and wasteful, and now, bad for economy!

Why are elections a must?

Why must we have elections to decide our governments?

Why can’t we opt for horse-trading amongst lawmakers, palace coup, the rule of judges, military coup, police mutiny, bureaucracy mutiny or mob rule ala Thailand’s People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) as alternatives to topple and install governments?

Provided the people do not protest, these methods may well be much more smooth, efficient, peaceful and attractive to certain types of investors.

So, why must you guys, the so-called liberal democrats and constitutional monarchists, protest?

The answer, in a nut shell, is elections distinguish a government from a mafia or triad.

For my full argument, read

Mahathir should just run in Penanti!

Instead of offering himself to lead the BN campaign in Penanti, Mahathir should simply offer himself as the candidate.

What better venue to show that he is still relevant than a state seat under Anwar’s Permatang Pauh?

What bigger humiliation can he cause Anwar Ibrahim?

After all, he has never really retired from active politics. Even if he has said it before, that’s fine, he can flip flop again.

So, come on, Dr M, show Najib what real leadership is.

Change your address to Penang tomorrow.

Let’s take the bull by the horn. It will be the return of the King indeed!

Is every by-election a referendum?

Reporters have been asking this question: Is Penanti another referendum?

My take is this: elections become a referendum only when a decision on personnel transform into a decision on issue.

In other words, it must be dominated by a single issue, and arguably one of national significance.

While real referendums can have more than one question on the ballot, a metaphorical referendum cannot. If you can interpret the outcome in many ways, you can’t call it a referendum.

However, referendum or not, by-elections are “mid-term” elections, like “mid-term examinations”. They can always serve as a barometer of the popular mood even if they dont begin as a referendum.

Just dont think we should over-use certain words.

Malaysia needs two more by-elections, in Perak!

It’s Najib who needs no more by-elections, not even for the PR-held seats which offer a chance for BN to recover lost ground. Why?  He does not have confidence of his own chance.

Money politics no longer works. Threat no longer works.

But Malaysia needs two more by-elections. To be precise, two by-elections for BN-held state seats in Perak. Here are the list of the seats that you can choose for:

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The King Breaker!

Forget about who are the King Makers.

The King Breaker has declared his arrival.

“I am no old newspaper!”

Even his boy Matthias has just issued a warning to Najib.

For the first time, I feel pity even for Najib.

Now I wonder if Muhyiddin’s ultra-Malay stunts, echoed by Utusan, are directed by the God Father.

Balik Mengundi / Go home to vote – April 7 2009!


“I  still remember that day. We can really bring about change.”

Post this link on your blog. Email it to everyone you know. It’s a battle for the most precious thing in public life – our ability to bring about change.

The Zambry syndicate stole it from us in Perak. His partners-in-crime tried in vain in Selangor and Kedah. We must get the message loud and clear to them: We will crush you in poll, traitor of democracy! criminal

Bukit Gantang: A referendum on more coups

A key to democracy is the loser’s willingness to concede defeat.

The outgoing PM Abdullah and the ousted Penang CM Koh Tzu Koon will therefore be forever remembered as democrats for they did not attempt riots or palace coups as some of the lowlife creatures in their parties would or had.

The challenge for Malaysia is that we may soon face another trial moment like March 8, not least because of UMNO and BN’s own work.

By fanning Malay ultra-nationalism, UMNO may be able to recover some lost grounds in the Malay heartland but it is also destroying fast whatever remaining goodwill UMNO and BN still enjoy amongst the non-Malay and liberal Malay electorate.

What if come next elections UMNO and BN win 55% of Peninsular Malay votes but only 20% of the non-Malay support? Compared to the 2008 result (see chart below), this may well mean a slight improvement of BN’s victory in Malay super-majority seats from 45 to 55 but also a reduction of BN’s mixed seats from 25 to 20 and a complete wipe-out in the non-Malay majority seat.

This means a total of UMNO’s 75 seats against Pakatan Rakyat’s 90 seats in Peninsula.

Would UMNO be willing to concede defeat? Or will it insist to dominate the government because it enjoys the bare majority of Peninsula Malay support?

If UMNO Sabah and PBB manage to keep their 28 seats, while PR grabs the rest or orchestrates the defection of other component parties, PR will be leading UMNO and PBB at a smaller ratio of 117:105.

Would UMNO be willing to hand over the power peacefully? Or would it take whatever means to “restore the Malay dominance”, the first and foremost justification of the coup in Perak for UMNO members?

The Bukit Gantang by-election is therefore about democracy or more coups. It’s not about Najib’s new job. It’s about our jobs and if we want to find them in a democratic and economic ruin.

It is a referendum. Would you choose to punish the coup-plotters? Or would you vote for more coups?

See the full and non-technical version of this article in later this morning.