Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick update after a long hiatus

My apologies for not writing in such a long time (as if my blog is read by so many people...hahahah!), but I had simply become lazy and have no idea what to write. Of course, the political scenario of our country is becoming more and more exciting since the days of March the 8th, but most of us would have been able to read about the multitude of events, as well as analysis of them, in various other blogs and news site.

As for myself, I have sort of eased back into the normal, boring, working life after being involved in 2 weeks of hectic campaigning. Our elected reps are working their butts off, and it's difficult to catch up with them compared to before...not because they want to be unreachable, but simply the work and time expected and required of them to serve effectively as elected representatives makes even making time for themselves seem impossible! That is not exactly a life the majority of us would envy, I guess...heheh!

After the initial boo-boos and stutterings, the Pakatan Rakyat state governments in the states of Penang, Selangor, Perak and Kedah seem to have found their feet. I would assume you already know about the various scandals and massive mismanagement of the previous BN governments unearthed by the new PR governments. Not surprising, but nonetheless shocking when you consider the scale and size. Clearing out of the EXCO offices (including PCs, stationeries, etc.) makes one wonder what those guys are trying to hide if they were really as clean as they claimed to be, especially that fella Khir Toyo who is now the opposition leader of the Selangor State Assembly.

Though finding out the scale of mismanagement, and drawing a clear line between the previous BN government and the current PR government, is important, what is even more important and crucial is for the PR governments to show to the rakyat that they can govern well, and govern better than the BN. The expectation is heavy, and in some cases unrealistic. But this is the one and only opportunity for PR. Failure, like what Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang, has said, is simply not an option. Fail and we'll definitely be kicked out next round. Govern well, the rakyat will at least look at our governing record, and could give us another mandate.

Of course, there are plenty of talks now about whether Anwar really has the numbers required to form the Federal Government by September 16th this year, or just playing a psychological game with an already shaky and directionless BN. I'm ambivalent about party hopping, but definitely against any law that restrict or violate a citizen's constitutional right to freedom of association. The arguments for and against party hopping vary from one extreme to the other, showing just how complex this issue is and not as simple as black and white as most people think. Just as some think it is morally indefensible for one to leave a party for something else, especially during a time of uncertainty for a weakened party, it can also be argued it is morally indefensible to continue to prop up a government which has lost all credibility, directionless, visionless, and seem intent on sabotaging the economy of the various states instead of working for the greater good of the nation. Like many other issues affecting society and mankind, it is never really as black and white as many would like it to be. More often than not, issues are really coloured in grey, and various shades of grey at that.

So much for a short and quick update. As for me personally, I am trying to draw the attention of party leaders to the need for a more systematic talent management framework internally. This is more crucial now than ever considering we need to have a pool of competent technocrats to help the party govern well. With access to more opportunities in various state agencies, companies and statutory bodies, a system which mirrors the management trainee programs of reputable large MNCs could help create that needed pool. But much remains to be seen as there are more urgent tasks to be completed. In the mean time, I am back at work, still keeping a close eye on the political on-goings, and hoping for the best.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Reflections on 12th General Election

I still couldn't sleep well last night. Not from worry, but more from euphoria and the feeling of pride for my fellow Malaysians. For the first time for so long I actually felt extremely proud to be Malaysian. Following from these feelings of pride, hope, and joy, a few things came to my mind.

The first was my daughter. She will be 2 this May and I felt this would be the best birthday present ever to her. I have played my part as much as I can within my constraints during this defining event of our country's history, and now I can see she will have a future as a fully empowered citizen of this nation, proud to be Malaysian.

Secondly, Adlan Benan Omar. I've never met this man, only read about him and his brilliance and dedication to the cause of a truly multi-racial and united Malaysia. Just reading about the accolades and respect heaped upon this exceptional young Malaysian made me feel hopeful of the youth of Malaysia being great leaders of tomorrow. He died on 22 January 2008 age 35, just missing the opportunity to see the fruit of his labour blossom on 8 Mar 2008. His comrades I am sure will dedicate this momentous event to him.

The third is my father. He is dead for 17 years now, and can't be considered a successful man career and material wise. But he left a very deep impression on me on the importance of right and wrong, on justice, as well as the plight of the poor. I still remember him ferrying me and my siblings into the estate labour quarters in the rubber estate where he worked, showing us their plight as well as their feelings of hopelessness. I still remember seeing him sneaking into a narrow alley next to a restaurant, slipping some money into an Indian man in rags, sleeping on the floor, oblivious to what is happening around him. It is this strong sense of right and wrong, and justice, which caused me to believe Malaysia should, could, and must have a better government that can look after each and every citizen according to their needs.

Fourth, whining Malaysians. I hope and wish that from now on, Malaysians will stop whining that they can't do anything about the sorry state of the nation caused by a rotten BN government, that they don't see any hope of change, that their votes don't count, and the only way out is to migrate to supposedly greener grass on the other side. Malaysians have shown, in an act of unity, on the 8th March 2008 that it is definitely possible for each and every one of us to effect change for the better in this beloved country of ours. Now is the time to work together and build a stronger, more united, and more prosperous and competitive Malaysia in which, in the words of Raja Nazrin, every Malaysian will believe he/she has an equal place under the Malaysian sun.

Finally, my wife. We had a few quarrels over my chosen involvement in politics. Which wife would want to risk his husband being sent to jail (of course, I'm just a small fry which the police couldn't be bothered with...hahaha!)? But I guess after this defining event, things will be slightly different ;-) since now she would be able to see that there is no futility in what I have chosen to do. Hopefully, she will become more supportive :p

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Malaysians Have Waken Up After 50 Years!!!

Thank you Malaysians! We have all finally waken up from a very bad dream of 50 years. Malaysians of all creed and colour decided that on the 8th of March, 2008, enough is enough! We dare to push the country in a new direction, dare hoping that there is no time to loose anymore. It's a matter of survival, and now we have done it! Denying BN 2/3 win in the Parliament as well as winning 5 states (unofficial yet) of Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and Selangor is totally unexpected. Yes, we felt a wave of change was sweeping the nation, but never in our wildest dream that it was to be a tidal wave. But the time to rest is not now. In fact, the hard work has just begun. Now we must prove to all Malaysians that their hopes and faith are not misplaced. We must now prove that we can do a better job in all the states as well as prepare Malaysia for a better Malaysia, and to win in 2013. Indeed, a new dawn for Malaysia is upon us. A new dawn of hopes, dreams, and opportunities. A new dawn for a truly strong, united, prosperous "Bangsa Malaysia" Malaysia.

To all my personal friends who believed in walking the talk...I salute and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Personally, all the years of lobbying in internet forums, telling my friends and families the importance of change, starting a blog, as well as the last 2 weeks of hectic campaigning, it was well worth every bit of my time. This is the best birthday present I could give my kid!

Daulat Tuanku! Hidup Rakyat! Hidup Malaysia!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

12th General Election

Finally, the wait is over. The flip-flop PM who said "I work very hard, you know" told the press on Feb 12 that Parliament will not be dissolved on Feb 13. Barely 24 hours after that he announced on Feb 13, 12.30pm that the YDP Agong has consented to his request to dissolve the Parliament. Well, nothing to be surprised of considering this is not his first, nor last, flip-flop.

The Election Commission is having a press conference now, and the nomination date is on 24 Feb, with polling date on 8 Mar (other sources: The Star, NST). I will be taking leave to help out my party in campaigning and whatever else I could do. This is my small part in trying to effect a change for the better in this nation of mine. Better than sitting around bitching about things but not doing anything about it. DAP PJ is looking for volunteers, including polling and counting agents. If you're one who puts his/her money where your mouth is, please contact ericahew@gmail.com, or call/sms the DAP PJ Hotline at 016-2208867. We will get back to you soonest! All of us can, and should, make a difference, no matter how small. If not us, who else? If not now, when?


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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Another Chinese New Year...the year of the Rat

Wow! It was barely a year ago when I was downing cans of beer and glasses of cognac, and munching on dried bbq pork. It's that time of the year again where I get to see my extended family, have drinks, food, and be merry. Hopefully this year the traffic will not be as bad as the last 2 years (I'll drive back tomorrow morning). With election fever in the air, I guess this is also a time for us to rest and relax, and reflect on the year ahead vis-a-vis the years behind, and put our money where our mouths are. Whatever it is, I just want to wish you all a very happy Chinese New Year, and Gong Xi Fa Cai! And not to forget, a safer and more prosperous Malaysia fulfilling all of its great potentials!

DAP's "Just Change It" Campaign Video

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Not so happy New Year 2008

New Year 2008 has come and gone. I have slacked in updating this blog, and not having a New Year post seems unacceptable to me (although it's 14 days too late!). So here is my first post for the year 2008, and I hope it's one which will make the reader think hard.

2007 has been one disaster after another for the Umno led government, and 2008 couldn't have started in a worse manner than the explosive video of Chua Soi Lek, ex-MCA Johor chief as well as ex-Health Minister. Despite preaching safe sex (including being faithful) to prevent the spread of HIV, he was seen in the video having a jolly good time with a 30-something "personal friend", and was like an energizer bunny (according to my friend lah!). I guess he had no choice but to step down (after refusing to do so initially) to save not only MCA, but Umno, further embarassment. Now the talk of the town is that he has been done in by no other than the MCA president. Reason? Chua has become a real political threat to him.

Anyway, my main reason for putting up this post is something else...something which affects me more directly. Last Friday Malaysiakini reported that Christian children books with illustrations of Biblical prophets have been seized by the Internal Security Ministry officers from 3 MPH bookstores in Ipoh, JB, and Senawang. The reason given was that the illustrations of Biblical prophets in the books are said to offend the sensitivities of Muslims. This totally unwarranted and insensitive (yes...have it ever occured to them that sensitivities go both ways?) action came hot on the heels of another controversial religious issue - that of withholding the printing permit for the Catholic publication "The Herald". In case you are not aware, the Umno government has decreed that the use of "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia articles of the publication is banned (same goes for any other printed materials in BM). Nevermind the fact that East Malaysian Bumiputera Christians have used the word since before Malaysia or Malaya even existed, as well as the fact that the Iban language Bible uses the word as well (after a similar ruckus was raised some years back).

The controversy over the Catholic publication was considered closed when the Internal Security Ministry issued the permit with no conditions attached. However, the joy was shortlived when the PM apparently ordered the Minister in the PM's department in charge of Muslims affairs to issue a press statement upholding the restriction on the use of "Allah" for Christian literature. Looks like the Catholic church has no option but to proceed with bringing the government to court over this issue. At the same time, the Sidang Injil Borneo is also bringing to court the matter of their Bahasa Indonesia children sunday school materials being confiscated by Customs officers.

Christians are but the latest religious group in this country to be facing an onslaught by the Umno government in increasingly restricting Malaysian's freedom of worship as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. Anwar has termed the phemonenon as Islamic-puritanism. The Hindus have been facing the problem of erratic demolition of their temples since years ago, as well as recent cases of conversions (Moorthy, Subashini, Revathi, etc.) which caused plenty of anxieties, as well as questions about the impartiality of our court judges. In Sabah, ex-Chief Minister Chong Kah Kiat is fighting a battle against the state government for putting obstacles at every step of the way in his effort to build the tallest Mazu (a chinese deity) statue. Despite meeting the PM himself to resolve the one-half-year issue, nothing positive has come out of it and now he's bringing the state government to court. What is most controversial about the Mazu statue issue is that the state Islamic council allegedly issued a fatwa saying that such statues are against Islam and thus must not be built. And now we have the controversies affecting the Christians in this country.

The Christians in Malaysia have never been seen as a politically important group, namely because more often than not the churches have chosen to remain quiet regarding injustices perpetrated by the government. However, I see that is changing in recent times. Perhaps younger Christians are not content to just sit at the sidelines while seeing the world go by. The Internet has also opened up channels for them to voice their opinion, as well as question the position taken (or not taken) by the churches. Increasingly as well Christians cannot afford to continue being silent while their rights to worship is slowly being eroded. Christians have great difficulty getting approvals from local councils regarding building and renovating churches since long ago. They've gritted their teeth and depended on prayers. Now we see further more direct infringement on Christian rights, and maybe this time not only must Christians pray in faith, but also put their faith into action. And no better opportunity is there for Christians than now with the 12th general election coming very soon. Christian Malaysians really have to think and reflect hard, as well as pray for guidance, on what to do in the days leading to the election, as well as on the day of election itself.

OHMSI, run by K J John, has recently organized a forum discussing whether Jesus was political in his short earthly ministry. They're organizing another one with the title "The Christian and the General Election: Core Issues" on Jan 26. This is the opportunity for Christians who still think politics should be left out of the realm of their faith to have their assumptions challenged. We simply cannot afford to continue sitting idly while seeing our rights and freedom to worship being eroded by the day. We must never allow the situation to become too late. The warning and danger signs are there for all to see. Just as we need to always be on alert and prepare for the second coming, the same alertness and preparation must be present in facing this onslaught against out faith. Do not allow myopic, narrow-minded extremists hiding behind the veil of Islam Hadhari to destroy the social fabric of our country.

My wish and hope for 2008 is that a paradigm shift will occur in the political mindset and landscape of Malaysia. Do I have high hopes? Not really if I look at past elections as a gauge. But it is not impossible. The closest was in 1999 when the Malay votes swung, but the Chinese decided to play safe. This time round there are indications that a swing will occur for the 3 major ethnic groups. We can only hope and pray that the swing does occur, and that it will be big enough to set a new course for Malaysia - a course which will see Malaysia fulfill its full potential.

Happy New Year 2008.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Thoughts on the ISA arrests of Hindraf leaders

There is an online petition movement to protest against the use of ISA to detain the 5 Hindraf leaders. In a departure from procedural norm, the 5 were sent directly to Kamunting detention center to serve 2 years without recourse to a day in court for an open trial. I've written earlier that I would not be surprised this will happen considering how the entire government machinery (TV, radio, newspapers, etc.) have been mobilized to demonize Hindraf in any way possible, including the ultimate specious claim of their links with the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). One of the leaders, V. Ganabathirau, is a fellow party member whom Tony Pua would vouch for his strength of character and integrity.

If there is anything positive to be gained from the incarceration of these 5 men fighting for the downtrodden fellow Malaysians it would be the awakening, finally, of the Tamil Indian Malaysians from their deep slumber. Enough of the false sense of hope and belief that MIC and Umno is there to help them, let alone be their only hope for salvation. If that has been the case, 30,000 of their fellow citizens would not have braved chemical-laced water cannons and tear gas on that fateful November 25th Sunday morning. Let this serve as a wake up call and alarm that Indian Malaysians need to break the political shackles they've been locked to all this while. Let them realize that their consistent votes for the MIC and Umno all this while has been in vain. Let them realize that it's time to break out and join other fellow Malaysians in supporting and bringing about a shift in the political paradigm to an inclusive multi-racial one. Let them support leaders and parties who have that vision and are the only real solution to the troubles inflicting our country now. If there is any indication of this change, let the recent PKR ceramah in Jalan Kebun last Thursday be that as apparently more than 80% of the crowd were Indian Malaysians (I got this piece of news from the print edition of Sinchew, 15 Dec 2007). But most of all, do not let the sacrifice of the 5 Hindraf leaders be in vain. Indian Malaysians must wake up, unite with other fellow Malaysians, and act together for a better Malaysia for all.

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