Friday, 19 October 2012

Letter from Johore NGOs to the Johore people: Unite! People of Johore, Realize 3 Pressing Demands; Smash UMNO Hegemony, Form a Democratic United Front! [Updated: Comic & News]

Letter from Johore NGOs to the Johore people

Unite! People of Johore
Realize 3 Pressing Demands


Smash UMNO Hegemony
Form a Democratic United Front

Comic: BN Belongs to Dustbin of History!Created by: Ah Pei

Representatives from Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF MAKKAL SAKTHI) (Johor) and Friends of SUARAM (FOS) Working Committee (Johor) took a picture together after holding a press conference in Kelab Akhbar Cina Johor Selatan today (19 October 2012).
From left to right (front row - sitting): Stephin Micheal, Y. Mohan, Yong Siew Lee, Chen Xin
From left to right (standing): M. Suba, Kumaradevan a/l Muthusamy, Thirunavukkarasu, Segaran. S, Choo Shinn Chei, Goh Chee Horng


Introduction

The 12th General Election delivered a severe blow to BN. BN lost 5 states (namely, Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Kelantan, and Perak) to the opposition, and also lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, though still holding on to the federal government. (The Perak State was subsequently snatched back by BN through manipulating the defection of Pakatan turncoats.)

The BN regime under Najib rolled out various political and socio-economic transformation programs with a view to prolonging its hegemonic rule that hinges on institutionalized racism. Under Najib’s BN, the laboring masses continue to be ruthlessly oppressed and exploited, while the ethnic minorities are subject to forced assimilation, or are excluded from enjoying the fruit of development, thereby sending the ethnic minorities to the depths of despair. The Indian community and the minorities in East Malaysia are cases in point.

Over the past 4 years, the broad masses of the people are still suffering under the BN’s hegemonic rule, corruption and abuse of power, ever rising cost of living, and marginalization in culture, education and religion of ethnic minorities.

Only when a general election is looming would the BN regime allocate meager sums as a sweetie, for the development of culture and education of ethnic minorities in order to assuage their widespread discontentment, and at the same time allow MCA, Gerakan, SUPP, MIC and PPP to claim credit for the allocations, in the hope of fishing votes and prolonging their political rule.

From the nasty experience of more than 50 years’ rule by BN, the oppressed ethnic minorities, especially the Indians in the peninsular Malaysia as well as the Dayaks, Kadazan-Dusuns and others in East Malaysia, have finally awakened.

Within the Chinese community, (except for those bigwigs with vested interests in the ruling regime and the upper strata of the community) wide-spread discontent towards UMNO-led hegemonic rule has never been more intense.

The Chinese primary schools and the Chinese independent secondary schools were established and have been maintained with huge sacrifices made by the forefathers of the Chinese community. The broad masses of the Chinese community have witnessed the gradual changes in character of these schools. They have learnt well of the true colours of MCA leaders and their cronies, who would not hesitate to sell out Chinese education for their personal gains and position.

People of all ethnic groups have realized that any democratic reform can only be brought about when various communities of any class, political party or religion do not entertain any illusion about the deceptive transformation programs of the BN/UMNO clique indulging in hegemonic rule. They must not harbour any illusion about the upper echelon of BN component parties’ intention to safeguard the interests of the various communities.

The people of various ethnic groups must unite, regardless of class, political party or religion, and be prepared to consign UMNO and BN (including its main component parties) to the dustbin of history, so that the popular aspirations for any democratic reform will become a reality.

For the coming 13th General Election, NGOs from various sectors have put forward “Civil Society 13GE (20) Demands” following discussions based on equal and democratic principles. These demands represent the common aspirations of people of all ethnic groups as well as their concrete requests in the light of current political, economic, social and cultural situation in Malaysia.

These demands constitute a reform agenda for a fairer and more democratic country, proposed by the non-partisan civil society to all democratic political parties and independent candidates. It is hoped that such demands will be agreed upon by all democratic political parties and independent candidates.

As a member of civil society striving for democracy and human rights, we, Friends of Suaram (FOS) Johor, will spare no effort to promote this reform agenda in the State of Johore. We are of the view that though the 20 demands represent a set of General Election demands, they are more akin to a “working agenda” of civil society for the next 20 to 30 years, as it covers far and wide the various aspects of life.

We feel that it is necessary to apply the spirit of these 20 demands to the concrete conditions of the State of Johore, since the people of Johore will constitute a democratic force in the southern part of Johore, aimed at capturing the stronghold of UMNO which regards Johore as its frontline.

Within the next 5 years or so, from the eve of the coming GE13 to the eve of the next following General Election, we propose to realize at least basically or partially the pressing Johore Demands.

After some discussions and studies, we together with several civil society groups, consolidate the numerous demands into 3 pressing demands. We hope that candidates of all democratic political parties and independent candidates will endorse them. We also urge the Johore people to vote for the candidates who have committed themselves to the Johore demands.

We firmly believe that people of all ethnic groups will abandon and reject the candidates of UMNO and BN component parties. The population has had enough of the bitter experience of 55 years’ hegemonic rule under the UMNO /BN. The Johore demands are concrete. The democratic political parties and independent candidates must honour their promises after winning the elections, to safeguard the interests of the people. We together with other civil society groups in Johore will oversee the performance of the elected state assemblymen, in order to ensure that they live up to their commitment to the Johore Demands.

1. Eliminate racial oppression and work towards equality for all ethnic groups.


Repeal the unequal provision in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution
Facts have substantiated that Article 153 of the Federal Constitution lays the legal basis for the UMNO-dominant BN ruling clique to practise institutionalized racism. It has created two classes of citizens, namely, Malays and non-Malays, resulting in national inequality and disharmony, thereby impeding and damaging nation-building and social development. Thus, Article 153 of the Federal Constitution has to be repealed in order to achieve unity among all ethnic groups as well as social harmony and prosperity of the country.
Abolish NEP and bumiputera quota system
Since 1970s, NEP and its related policies allow the BN ruling clique and its cronies to enrich themselves, and to create a few super-rich and well-connected Malay capitalists. But the broad masses of the Malay community at large remain poor and live in abject poverty.

The quota system favouring bumiputras is a sweetie for the Malay masses, and a tool to disrupt national unity. NEP and the quota system must therefore be abolished to stop brain drain and outflow of capital, so as to encourage inflow of talents and influx of capital instead.

Repeal s.17(1) of the Education Act 1996 and its related policies
s.17(1) of the current Education Act 1996 has been premised upon the “ultimate objective” of “one nation, one language, and one medium of instruction” (Malay) implemented since the 1950s. The existing Education Act and its related policies have led to confusion and fiasco.

In this era of China and India emerging as big powers, any attempt to eliminate totally the education conducted in Chinese and Tamil language in Malaysia (with a population of 6.96 million ethnic Chinese and 2.07 million ethnic Indian) is wishful thinking, and it is the height of absurdity.

Therefore, s.17(1) of the Education Act should be repealed. More Chinese primary schools must be established immediately in areas densely populated by the Chinese community, and more Tamil primary schools should also be established in Bukit Indah, Mount Austin, Kota Tinggi and other areas in Johore. Application for the revival of the Segamat Chinese Independent Secondary School must be approved, and United Examination Certificate (UEC) and the degree of the Southern College University should be fully recognized. Mother tongue education in Chinese and Tamil must be allocated with sufficient funds under the national Budget.

Respect and protect religious beliefs and custom of ethnic minorities
Although the Federal Constitution safeguards freedom of religion, UMNO-dominated BN government has been imposing unreasonable restrictions on this right. As a result, freedom of religion of ethnic minorities has been curtailed; statues and places of worship of minority groups demolished or the construction thereof prohibited. This has caused anxiety and resentment among the community.

The religious beliefs and custom of ethnic minorities should be respected and safeguarded, only then can racial harmony and unity be achieved. The country will then be able to enjoy stable development.

The Indian (Hindu) cemetery at Masai has hardly any more vacant burial land left. The state government should therefore allocate sufficient land for such purpose. This will go a long way to prevent Indian poor families from falling prey to loan sharks who collect exorbitant interest on loans taken for the purpose of defraying high cost of cremation. These poor families can hardly pay back the loans taken, and they are forced to lead a miserable life.

2. Stop “Project M” and eliminate source of corruption in law enforcement agencies

Stop “Project M” - prejudicial to the rights of our citizens
UMNO-led BN ruling clique has through “Project M” (Mahathir’s Project) legalized illegal immigrants in Sabah. Such project is now extended in its application to the peninsular Malaysia by way of legalizing more than 3 million illegal immigrants (according to conservative official statistics) giving them long-term work permits and even citizens’ identity cards.

This is undoubtedly a political ploy used by the UMNO-led BN ruling clique to inflate their votes in the coming General Election. We resolutely oppose such project being implemented in peninsular Malaysia, as it is highly prejudicial to the rights of our citizens. We demand that thorough investigations into this matter be conducted, removing suspicious votes from the electoral roll.

Root out the source of corruption in law enforcement agencies
Despite high influx of foreign workers, shortage of labour force in small and medium industries and the agricultural sector remains a pressing problem as a result of rent seeking and corruption in law enforcement agencies (such as the immigration department and the police) and profit grabbing by middlemen.

While bringing in foreign workers helps propel economic growth, any move on the part of the government and the law enforcement agencies must be monitored by the people, civil society and opposition parties. Employers should be allowed to apply direct to the relevant departments for employment of foreign workers, with a view to curbing corruption and exploitation.

3. The Johore people's interests must be protected from wanton land acquisition ("enclosure" operation) in the name of Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) project.

20% of the total profits derived from PIPC project and petrochemicals integrated development project under RAPID, should be used for the purpose of economic development and health care services in the state of Johore.

The government should minimize the environmental pollution in the process of producing petrochemical products. Pengerang residents adversely affected by the development project should be given adequate compensation, and should be appropriately resettled. The issue of relocating Chinese cemetery and Malay cemetery must be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

We are against groups well connected to the powers-that-be making huge profits from land acquisition ("enclosure" operation).
The government should ensure that the acquisition of land from Pengerang residents should be for public purposes only. The government should also prevent any group well-connected to the powers-that-be from making huge profits through resale of land acquired in the name of implementing development projects. The land acquisition process should be open and transparent, and above suspicion, to be monitored by civil society and opposition parties.

The people of Johore, Unite!
Form a Johore democratic united front, and overthrow the UMNO hegemonic rule

It is the highest aspirations of the populace to reject UMNO hegemonic rule - a prerequisite for realising the democratic reform in our country. We call upon all political parties, NGOs and individuals opposed to the UMNO hegemonic rule, to form a democratic united front in the State of Johore.

This democratic united front includes the three parties in Pakatan Rakyat, i.e. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) as well as all parties, including Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM), Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Human Rights Party (HRP), etc., NGOs and individuals from all walks of life who are opposed to the UMNO-BN rule.

Besides, we also welcome the higher echelon of leaders from BN component parties to pull out from BN, and all grassroots leaders and members from the BN component parties to spurn or reject BN if they are opposed to the corruption and the racist hegemony of UMNO-BN, and join the democratic united front.

We sincerely call upon all Johoreans from all walks of life to unite!
Together we put an end to the UMNO racist hegemonic rule, and form a democratic coalition government in the State of Johore!


This letter was jointly released by Friends of SUARAM (FOS) Working Committee (Johor) and Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF MAKKAL SAKTHI) (Johor) on 19 October 2012.

For any organisation that wishes to endorse, please contact:
Y. Mohan (019-710 2895)
Ang Pei Shan (013-770 8320)


For more information, please visit hindraf.org or sahabatrakyatmy.blogspot.com.




Updated news:
"Johor Demands" was officially handed over to leaders of 3 Pakatan Rakyat parties

Representatives from Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF MAKKAL SAKTHI Johor)("HINDRAF") and Friends of SUARAM (FOS) Working Committee Johor ("FOS") handed the "Letter from Johore NGOs to the Johore people" over to leaders from 3 Pakatan Rakyat parties at the dinner organised by DAP at Sutera Mall, Skudai on 28 October 2012. They accepted the memorandum with pleasure and took a group photo with us.
Front row (from left): Steven Choong [Deputy Secretary General of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)], Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (former UMNO Supreme Council and former Cabinet Minister), Boo Cheng Hau (President of Democratic Action Party (DAP) Johore), Er Teck Hwa (DAP Member of the Parliament of Bakri constituency)
Back row (from left) : Liang Peck Kuan (FOS representative), security officer of the program (name is unknown), Yong Siew Lee, Goh Chee Horng (both are FOS representatives), Kumaradevan a/l Muthusamy (HINDRAF representative), Mohammad Sabu [Deputy Chairperson of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)] Stephin Micheal (HINDRAF representative), Ang Pei Shan (FOS representative)
Lim Kit Siang, Chairman of the Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission DAP delivered a speech on the podium in front of the VIP table. After his speech, Kumaradevan a/l Muthusamy and Stephin Micheal (HINDRAF representatives) as well as Yong Siew Lee and Ang Pei Shan (FOS representatives) officially handed over the "Letter from Johore NGOs to the Johore people" to him and Lim Guan Eng (DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister).
On 19 and 20 October 2012, HINDRAF and FOS representatives also handed over the Letter to Steven Choong and Boo Cheng Hau respectively.

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通告 Notification

人民之友对下届大选意见书
英巫文译稿将在此陆续贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在上个月对即将来临的第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,将在近期内在本部落格贴出。马来文译稿将在下个月内贴出。敬请关注!

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。


The English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election will be published here consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, 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!”

The English rendition of this statement will be published in our blog in the near future whereas the Malay rendition will be published next month (November). Please stay tuned!

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 ethnicities 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.


Akan datang: Penerbitan penterjemahan pendapat Sahabat Rakyat mengenai pilihan raya ke-14 dalam Bahasa Inggeris dan Bahasa Melayu

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 akan datang yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! "

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut akan diterbitkan dalam blog kita dalam waktu terdekat manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu akan diterbitkan pada bulan hadapan.

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 masa depan.

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