Genuine democracy must provide meaningful space for the people to express their views and to participate in various processes of daily administration and not merely to voting once in five years. All interest groups must be allowed to present and debate their views. Information will be free available subject to strictly defined restrictions. To that end, we will take the necessary measures to ensure and safeguard the freedom of the press and the rights of peaceful assembly, expression and organisation, by amending the appropriate acts and laws and RTM will be corporatised and subject to an independent Broadcasting Commission – Clause B.1 of the People’s Declaration, which was endorsed by the three Pakatan parties on 23rd February, 2008. You can read about this HERE.
Six minutes into this video clip, you will catch RPK driving home his point that come next GE, if BN wants to remain in power, it will have to depend on the Malay votes.
I think RPK is spot on.
Anwar, in an interview with Malaysiakini, acknowledges that there is much work to be done by Pakatan to reach out to the Malay voters in the Malay heartland.
“We need to do much more in the Malay heartland. We have to address the issues like the small-scale economy, poverty, unemployment, and identifying with their faith as Muslims…We admit that we did not put in enough effort to be with (the Malay voters). We go to the urban and suburban areas, and we can articulate issues that the urban folk are comfortable with, like the judiciary, social justice and human rights” , Anwar is reported to have said.
Anwar also conceded that ‘there are forces working against them, saying that logistics in the kampung will be a perennial headache’.
“It’s difficult to get space. Unless we have a private space like a Markas PAS (PAS centre), where can we (find a place to) ceramah in Felda areas? Sometimes we are barred outright (by locals)” , Anwar is quoted as saying.
The Malaysiakini reporter opines that ‘PKR will have to find a way to placate Malay voters by changing the perception that the party is not doing enough to fight for Malay rights, while at the same time keeping the traditionally fickle and issues-driven Chinese voters happy.
I think she is right.
However, I think it is not only the responsibility of Pakatan.
Each of us who is better informed bears the responsibility of correcting this perception.
What’s creating this perception nightmare for Pakatan Rakyat, and for us?
We’ve just seen the culmination of the Bumiputra Economic Comgress. Malaysiakini reports that it ‘became the arena for NEM-bashing as experts slammed the New Economic Model for sidelining of Malay interests’.
Academician and panel chairman, Kamaruddin Kachar, is reported to have urged speakers to rip through the the NEM because the congress was about defending the “natural rights of the Malays”.
“This is our country, pioneered by our ancestors 2,000 years ago, and defended with their blood in countless battles against invaders. Why should we be afraid? The sultans are our protectors. The Royal Malay Regiment is for the Malays. Should we be afraid of Samy Vellu’s son? Don’t let Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh belittle us. The Malays are not weak” , Kamaruddin is reported to have said.
Honestly, I believe that these lies and historical untruths are deliberately uttered at these events to provide fodder for the mainstream and electronic media to seize, spin them into alarmist messages of Malay rights being under siege and to deliver the same into the Malay homes in the heartland.
By now, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and the TV channels would have done their dirty deeds.
The “Melayu Bangkit” programme, originally planned for 13th May, is now slated to take place on 14th June.
We can expect more of the racist lies and historical distortions, followed by news reporting of the most dangerous kind.
The minds of the Malays in the heartland are being poisoned on an almost daily basis!
Are we helpless?
Wong Chin Huat and I do not think so.
Shortly after the 12th GE, Chin Huat caught up with me and drew my attention to section 25(1) of the Printing Press & Publications Act, 1984.
It blew my mind.
Section 25 (1) reads : “Nothing in this Act shall extend to the publication or making of any documents or periodical by or for the Federal or any State Government or any statutory body”.
In plain language, what it means is that any or all of the Pakatan state governments, then numbering 5, could publish a daily newspaper without the need of a permit from the Home Ministry, such as is required by Utusan and all the other newspaper publishers.
On 21st April, 2008, Chin Huat wrote in his blog that “Many people wonder if Section 25(1) of PPPA can allow a newspaper exempted by a state government to be circulated nationwide. I believe the answer is yes”. You can read the rest of his posting HERE.
I share Chin Huat’s view.
I ran this proposition by several senior lawyers, all of whom concurred in this view.
Chin Huat and I, independent of each other, have informally proposed a Pakatan state daily newspaper, the task of publishing being outsourced to a third party, to several people of some seniority in the Pakatan parties.
Chin Huat informed me that the response was less than enthusiastic, the concern voiced being that the task of printing and publishing resting with a third party, the state government might be open to all sorts of claims should anything go wrong, such as defamation law suits.
The simple solution to that : an all-risk insurance policy taken out by that third party making the state government the sole benefactor.
More alarming, though, was the reason proffered to me by one of those Pakatan people that I spoke to.
The state government would want to have a say in the editorial policy of the newspaper, I was told.
In other words, Pakatan might not be so keen on a wholly independent newspaper, lest they, too, along with BN, get hammered.
My response : that would be in breach of the undertaking by the Pakatan parties to the rakyat, when they endorsed the People’s Declaration, to “take the necessary measures to ensure and safeguard the freedom of the press”.
To renege on this now would be tantamount to having defrauded the rakyat.
This, I said, we would not forgive.
People, Pakatan Rakyat owes us this.
We must call on this pledge they made to us two years ago.
A Malay daily affords us the best chance of getting the truth of what BN has been doing to our nation these last 40 years directly into the Malay homes in the heartland.
Chin Huat’s overseas right now, but he’s putting together a working paper on a proposed state daily newspaper that we want to take to the Pakatan leadership. I’m expecting to receive his paper round about the 13th of next month.
Whilst waiting for that working paper, I think it would be useful if we garnered enough signatures backing this effort so that the Pakatan leadership will take it seriously.
To this end, I am working on a petition to be hosted online.
I will need your help to get everyone you know, and even those you don’t know, to sign the petition.