Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Good on you, Malaysiakini!

Mar 4, 08 2:52pm

In view of the country's going to the polls on Saturday, Malaysiakini has decided to make its website free beginning today.

From 3pm today, readers will be able to access all Malaysiakini reports and articles without having to log in. The site will be locked again on March 10, two days after the general election.

As compensation to Malaysiakini’s existing subscribers, one additional week will be added to their subscription periods.

"We hope that voters will be able to access independent news so that they can make an informed decision on polling day," said Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran in announcing the decision.

Our Bahasa Malaysia section went free last week, and now with campaigning into its final lap, we’ve decided to make our articles in the English and Chinese language sections free as well."

Chandran said the move is in line with Malaysiakini’s vision, which among others include the support for ‘the development of freedom of speech, social justice and democracy in Malaysia’.

"Democracy is about voters acquiring sufficient knowledge to make an informed choice. By making Malaysiakini available to all, we want to play our part in helping Malaysians exercise their democratic right," added editor-in-chief Steven Gan.

During this free period, Malaysiakini will allow its ‘news and views’ to be re-posted in blogs and other websites as well as to be printed and photocopied for distribution.

Read the rest here.

Now here are a selection of items from Malaysiakini that caught my eye...

Dean Johns | Mar 5, 08 1:55pm

Democrats of other races can kick, scream, demonstrate and vote all they like against the Barisan Nasional robber-barons and their minions, but let’s face it: Malaysia will never get rid of this indolent, incompetent and corrupt regime without the enlightened militancy of the Malay meritocracy and its increasingly numerous supporters.

I’m all too conscious that I’m venturing onto shaky ground here, aware as I am that BN jealously guards the topics of race and religion as its exclusive preserves, the more powerfully to manipulate sectarian passions and prejudices to its advantage. And also, as a total outsider, I’m woefully ignorant of many of the subtleties and nuances involved in these perennially sensitive subjects.

But still the point has to be made. Malaysia will never be rid of BN, or achieve true democracy, or reach its social and economic potential, without the opposition of the Malay majority.

Read the rest here.

Andrew Ong | Mar 5, 08 2:36pm

As campaigning entered the crucial final lap, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim blazed through Perak yesterday to rally voters.

At every stop, large crowds waited for hours to greet the former deputy premier, who started his tour in Tanjung Malim in the morning before making his way up north through Bota, Bidor, Tapah, Gopeng, Sungai Siput and finally Bagan Serai.

The crowds were wooed by his populist messages which included reducing fuel prices, providing free education and the release of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

By about 7pm, Anwar had arrived at Simpang Pulai, Gopeng, where he was greeted with a hero’s welcome and rapturous chants of reformasi from a racially mixed crowd of more than 2,000.

Despite spending the entire day on the road, Anwar showed no signs of fatigue and rallied Gopeng voters to back PKR candidates Lee Boon Chye (Gopeng), Chan Ming Kai (Simpang Pulai), Chang Lih Kang (Teja) and PAS candidate Radzi Zainon (Sungai Rapat).

He also launched a scathing attack on the Election Commission for aborting the use of indelible ink at the eleventh hour. He lamented that "phantoms" would now roam on polling day.

"Barisan Nasional (BN) is scared of losing. That’s why they aborted the use of indelible ink," said Anwar to loud cries of "betul (correct)!" from the crowd.

Read the rest here.

KJ John | Mar 4, 08 8:16pm

I have three politicians, I consider my heroes. The first is the late Tan Sri Dr Tan Chee Khoon (left), father of the now retiring MP for Segambut. The father, like the son, always spoke the truth, always spoke in love and always spoke with grace and hope. For the father’s long and unflinching service to the people, even the then government of Malaysia recognised his services and awarded him a PSM which carries the title of ‘Tan Sri’.

The second is the late Datuk Dr Syed Hussein Alatas (right), the former UM vice-chancellor who passed away recently. In a discussion before our 4th Integrity Congress, he advised me that the fight against corruption must be a peoples’ fight; it does not belong to the government. He explained how he was ‘removed’ as VC some years ago because he stood up for some perennial principles related to credibility and integrity.

The third person is a faithful but not-so-‘successful’ grass-roots politician - my father, a founder member of the Kedah MIC and community worker in Sungai Petani, our home town where he was popularly known as ‘Pak John’. He was a sincere politician but not a cunning enough one to make it big in politics; and therefore his advice to me was always to stay out of politics. I followed his advice for 27 years and then one day asked him at the age of 49, ‘Dad should I consider getting involved into politics?’

He looked towards my younger brother, and said, ‘I suppose now he can!’ But now that I have been involved in my own style of ‘non-partisan politics’ my father is still not sure, because I have started to speak and write against all those whom I believe lack integrity; the same principle I expect from of all my good friends who choose to criticise my views as well. I really believe that one’s credibility and integrity are a very good basis for all types of politics and an equal principle for integrity in our lives; for our every human action, and non-action.

Therefore, on July 6, 2000, I decided to opt out of public service. I wrote to the then chief secretary and the then public services head, and gave my many reasons for an optional retirement. One of the primary reasons, I argued, was that the Public Services Department was no longer interested in serving the public interest. It had lost its neutrality and had become blindly biased towards the Umno agenda...

Read the rest here.