Thursday, 28 August 2008

[information] Where are the principled Politicians & Activists?

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of Suaram, 26 August 2008

Dr Chandra Muzaffar the champion of justice has, of late, assumed the visage of a hydra, speaking out against the Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in perfectly timed executions. Just before the March 8th general elections, he, like most other Malaysians had no inkling that the political tsunami was coming and he came out with his badly mistimed denunciation of Anwar. It left no one in doubt that this once strident critic of the BN government had now become its slickest apologist.

As if that embarrassment wasn’t enough humiliation for him, Chandra came out again with another denunciation of Anwar during the Permatang Pauh by-election: “Undesirable Short Cut on the Road to Power” (NST 9.8.08). As in the first case, Chandra clearly thought that he could influence the outcome of the elections by casting doubts about Anwar in the voters’ minds. The results have proven otherwise…

But this article is not about Chandra Muzaffar. It is about his taunt at the “principled politicians and committed human rights activists around Anwar” who condone the “despicable politics… of trying to enter Putrajaya through the back door.”

Unlike Chandra, I try to avoid giving the BN any benefit after their fifty years of misrule and racist policies. But now that the Permatang Pauh byelection is over, I would like to take up this issue with the “principled politicians and activists” around Anwar who seem to have compromised their principles for “real” politics. I believe committed democrats need to look at the new Malaysian politics with their eyes and their minds wide open.

What’s People’s Democracy got to do with it?

Firstly, what has the crossover by BN MPs to PR to do with democracy and progressive politics? Have they forgotten the sickening revulsion felt by the people when the PBS state government was undermined by the BN in 1994? Are BN MPs interchangeable with PR MPs like Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola? Is it ethical for politicians to betray their electoral stand to their voters? Why does Anwar have to be PM by September 16th?

Our “principled politicians and activists” do need to answer Chandra and not skirt the issue.

It’s the Issues, Not Personalities

It is pathetic that our “principled politicians and activists” now fall for the personality factor instead of focusing on the issues before the people. Thus Anwar’s agenda has now become their agenda. They should tell us how our lives are going to be different if and when Anwar becomes the PM on September 16th 2008. Are these issues confronting the people being discussed in the crossover talks or do they involve the usual horse trading around who gets which plum office?

Furthermore, was there no hope in this country when Anwar was in UMNO? This sudden lapse of democratic and socialist principles among our erstwhile activists due to the “Anwar factor” is truly astonishing.

Men’s Candidature Initiative

I am also surprised that the principled women activists can keep silent while Wan Azizah gives up her seat for her husband in Permatang Pauh. I know my companera Toni Kassim would not have approved!

After so much hard work to get more women leaders to step forward to take office, what a let-down that the leader of PKR has to give up her seat for her husband! It is also downright patronizing to the voters of Permatang Pauh. Of course, the male apologists will say, “But Wan Azizah herself wanted to resign, she is a reluctant politician…”

As usual, when it’s a male reluctant politician, he would still stay in office until struck down by a terminal illness. It would have made more sense for either Khalid Ibrahim or Lim Guan Eng to give up their seats for Anwar because they have enough work on their hands in their respective states and there is just no democratic justification for a person to be a state representative as well as a federal representative.

Malaysia is probably the only country in the world where politicians can get away with such lame excuses for holding state and federal posts. Do these politicians really believe that they are indispensable or do they take Malaysians for dummies?

The men in politics should not shout about democracy or political principles if they cannot relinquish their privileges to run for multiple offices or they fail to accept restrictions on the holding of any high office. On the latter principle, they can take a leaf from backward MCA or imperialist USA which restricts the term of their Presidents!

Co-opted Activists

I am truly surprised that the activists of yesteryear can accept appointments as local councilors after shouting for years that there can be no democracy without elected local governments and that appointed “representatives” (sic) including senators are basically failed politicians. In fact much more unflattering language has been used to describe appointed “representatives” in the bad old days when the BN held the roost in every state.

Has PR appointed the best candidates to the local councils or are not most of these appointments merely “jobs for the boys”? Where is the accountability? So what’s the difference with BN appointees?

Committed activists should be working harder than ever to reinstate elected local government in this country since Pakatan Rakyat is committed to this policy and not be tokens of PR. Leave the appointed posts for others who hanker for such things. The local councils are not going to flounder because you are not in them!

Last Call for Committed Activists!

The actions of the various PR-run state governments since the last elections show that they are more interested in populist politics and are not about to introduce substantive political change without constant shoving and shaming by committed and consistent democrats.

The move to offer free water is a retrogressive step for the water lobby that has always called for responsible demand management. All the car fetishists who wash their cars everyday should be made to pay dearly for their fetishism. I am surprised those activists involved in opposing the Selangor dam and the Kelau dam have not come out to denounce this populist move.

Now, more than ever, committed and principled activists are needed to lead the peoples’ struggles.

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通告 Notification

人民之友 对我国下届大选意见书
(华 巫 英)3种语文已先后贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在今年9月24日对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的“意见书”,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!

这篇意见书的英文译稿(标题是:Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!)已于10月22日张贴在本部落格。马来文译稿(标题是:Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!)也已接着在11月13日在此贴出。

此外,人民之友也将通过电子邮件、微信、WhatsApp等方式,尽可能向全国各民族、各阶层、各行业、各宗教的团体和个人,传送我们的这份“意见书”供参考。我们欢迎跟我们对下届大选的立场和见解一致的团体和个人,将这份“意见书”传送到更多的人手中去!

我们希望,我们在意见书内所表达的对下届大选的立场和观点,能够准确而又广泛地传播到我国各民族、各阶层的人民群众中接受考验,并接受各党派在这次全国大选斗争和今后实践的检验。


Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU akan datang telah diterbitkan dalam tiga bahasa (Melayu, Cina dan Inggeris)

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! " (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)dalam Bahasa Cina pada 24hb September 2017.

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut yang bertajuk Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”! telah diterbitkan dalam blog kita pada 22hb Oktober 2017 manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu telah diterbitkan pada 13hb November 2017.

Selain daripada itu, Sahabat Rakyat juga akan menyebarkan kenyataan ini seluas mungkin kepada pertubuhan dan individu semua bangsa, strata, profesyen dan agama seluruh Negara melalui email, wechat, whatsApp dan pelbagai saluran lain. Kami amat mengalu-alukan pertubuhan dan individu yang berpendirian dan pandangan sama dengan kami untuk turut menyebarkan kenyataan ini kepada lebih ramai orang!

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun amalan masa depan.


The Chinese, English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election have been published consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, on 24 September 2017, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!” (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)

The English rendition of this statement entitled "Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!" and the Malay rendition entitled "Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!" had been released on 22 October and 13 November respectively.

Apart from that, Sahabat Rakyat will also make every effort to disseminate this statement as widely as possible to organizations and individuals of all ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life throughout the country via email, WeChat, WhatsApp and other channels. We welcome organizations and individuals with the same position and views to spread this statement to more people!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicity and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

Malaysia Time (GMT+8)