Friday, May 25, 2012

Freedom Of The Press? Not Likely!

Lim Guan Eng has come under fire for allegedly threatening to sue reporters if they publish a matter he deems sensitive.

Guan Eng’s action is ironic as he has “all along been for press freedom”.

Yet, he claimed that he would sue them if they wrote anything on the subject of his alleged affair with his curvy female ex-special officer nicknamed “Chai Hong” which means “Rainbow”. That story was carried by the blog “Stop The Lies

The YouTube clip above features a man’s voice, believed to be Lim’s, speaking to reporters in an angry manner.

The man is heard saying: “I’m not going to even respond. I want you all to print first and you see what I do to your paper.”

How can he wear a yellow ribbon for press freedom and then behave like that?  Posing such questions is the job of the press. If the media can’t ask questions, what are they there for? He can just answer yes or no without getting all riled up, right?

Guan Eng however speaks in a harsh tone, threatening reporters rather than giving a press conference. As Chief Minister, shouldn't he be prepared for tough or sensitive questions from reporters rather than get all defensive and threaten journalists who have a duty to ask questions. This is what democracy is all about.

However, it would appear that democracy for Pakatan fellows means that when it involves others, they will shout and scream for democracy but when it involves their own, they will threaten to sue or their godfathers will issue gag orders to stop their members from talking.

Remember this is the same Guan Eng who banned Utusan Malaysia from attending Penang State functions because he does not like what they write about him.

How Now Brown Cow?

I have been busy with the Borneo Jazz Festival and the KL International Jazz Festival lately, but still managed to keep an eye on the news. Things are certainly cooking in the Malaysian political scene and events are turning quite melodramatic as the election looms nearer.

For one, the Government is suing Dumbiga and nine others for RM122,000 over damages to vehicles sustained during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally. The suit claims that 10 cars, three motorcycles and two water cannon trucks owned by the Government were damaged when the rally turned chaotic. It also claims that the vehicles were kicked and pelted with stones, water bottles and rocks by rally participants.

Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, Haris Fathillah Mohamed, K. Arumugam, S. Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon and Andrew Khoo were also named as defendants in their capacity as the rally organizers.

Under Section 6(2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (Act 736), the defendants had the responsibility, among others, to ensure that the rally would not damage property. It was further claimed that the April 28 rally went out of control, turned chaotic and had caused damage to the plaintiff's vehicles.

The suit is set for mention on June 13 before High Court judge Justice Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Secondly, DBKL  enforcement officers are on stand-by in front of Dumbiga’s house in Bukit Damansara to ensure no unauthorized activities take place.

The Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Action Council (KLPTAC) had reportedly planned to set up stalls in front of Ambiga's house in Bukit Damansara in a protest dubbed “Bersih 4.0” supposedly to recoup losses they suffered during the Bersih 3.0 rally.

Apparently the DBKL officers had worked until late at night to paint over the yellow markings drawn by the Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Action Council to demarcate stall lots on the road along her house in preparation for “Bersih 4.0”.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail was reported to have cited the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974, which does not allow people to intrude into other people’s territory, and advised the group not to proceed with its plan. The KLPTAC’s “pasar malam protest” was subsequently called off when good sense prevailed.

KLPTAC chairman Datuk Jamal Md Yunus said they decided to call it off as they did not want to go against City Hall and the police. Jamal, who handed over a memorandum to Ambiga, said the council now planned to gather 150,000 people at the Bukit Jalil stadium on June 23 to express its rejection of the Bersih rallies as well as to promote peace.

“We still want Ambiga to be held responsible for our losses and we don’t want Bersih to organize any more rallies,” he said.

“Malaysians who love peace can attend our rally. They also stand a chance to win a Lamborghini Gallardo and other luxury cars via our lucky draws,” he added. Jamal had previously announced that Internet users could win the Lamborghini Gallardo and a BMW by “liking” the council’s Facebook page.

When asked how the traders could afford such cars, Jamal incredulously said: “As individuals, we will suffer losses. But when we unite, we can afford to give away such gifts, no matter how costly it is.”

Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hit out at the planned protest against Bersih co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga.

“We understand that you are upset because of Bersih 3.0 but this country has laws. You want to sue Ambiga, go ahead, but gathering in front of her house to cook things she doesn't eat (beef), showing your backside, then organising a pasar malam what is all this?” said Tengku Adnan. He said such gatherings were unbecoming of Malaysians, and urged authorities to put an immediate stop to such events.

Not surprisingly, all 31 Selangor DAP Councillors called on the Kuala Lumpur mayor to resign for not taking action against the petty traders.

Thirdly, a group calling itself Gerakan Belia Gagasan 1Malaysia converged outside Dumbiga’s house in Bukit Damansara to voice their protest against the April 28 rally. The group of 50 youths wearing white T-shirts with the word Halau 1.0  shouted slogans of “Bersih kotor!” and “Halau Ambiga!”. They handed over a memorandum to Ambiga and demanded that she apologize to all Malaysians for the damage caused due to Bersih rallies.

They were watched by more than a hundred police and City Hall enforcement officers, who were on standby at Ambiga’s residence since yesterday afternoon. Vehicles were not stopped from passing the area. Gerakan Belia Gagasan 1Malaysia president Shahrul Nasrun Kamarudin then handed over a memorandum for Dumbiga to Bersih co-chairman Datuk A. Samad Said.

The Spanker says syabas to KLPTAC’s chairman Datuk Jamal Mohd Yunus for calling off the protest at Dumbiga’s house because the Police and the DBKL advised him.  Whatever our views, we should always respect the law.
In the same vein Gerakan Belia 1Malaysia also deserve a syabas. They were demonstrating peacefully to voice their feelings, right?  

Remember it is Dumbiga and Bersih’s own argument that people can protest peacefully wherever they want – with or without Police and DBKL approval. So why now make noise when the shoe is on the other foot?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Is The Spanker Famous Or Infamous?

The Spanker would hazard a guess that everyone has his 15 minutes of fame. In my case however, I’m not sure if its actually fame or infamy.

You see, my blogging status has suddenly been elevated to such an extent that I am now a proud recipient of an anonymous phone threat. Which I find rather perplexing actually, since I tend to blog and tweet in rather boring and sedate terms compared to the more vociferous voluminous and vituperative bloggers and twitter-es out there.

I like to think that I’m also fair, whacking both BN/UMNO and PKR/Pakatan when they fcuk up respectively. Apparently Mr Anonymous Caller doesn’t think so.    

Normally I would not pick up calls from “private number”, but lately my sister is in the UK, and her calls register as “private number”. So I nonchalantly picked up when my phone rang yesterday. The conversation went thus:

Caller: “Are you Dave Avran?”
Me    : “Yes”
Caller: “I let you know ah, if you don’t stop blogging and tweeting about Ambiga and Bersih, you will very soon have an accident.” *hangs up.
Me    : WTF???   

So like the good Spanker that I am, I duly consulted my Sifu and took his advice to lodge a Police report.

I must say, I was impressed with the way the Police handled my report. Kons Md Harris was courteous and efficient when he took down my report, taking pains to get the facts right. 

Insp Nasrul was also very efficient when he questioned me about the call, seeming to know his way around a smart phone when he gently checked my Samsung Galaxy Tab for details of the caller. He asked my permission to draw my incoming call details from my service provider, which I gladly gave.

So there you go. A chore I was dreading to do turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I now have two new friends in the Police force, complete with their hand phone numbers. Guess every cloud has a silver lining, so thank you, Mr Anonymous Caller.

By the way, I intend to continue blogging and tweeting about Dumbiga and Bersih. Or any other damn subject I fancy.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Retro Tourism Minister

click to enlarge

Good Lord! She's just realized this? Major Ketinggalan!! Please get with the program, Ms Minister.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Today Is World Press Freedom Day 2012

The year 2011 will be remembered for the ways social media — including the use of smart phones, Twitter and Facebook — ignited struggles for democracy across the globe.

Images of rage in Tunisia, after a fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest police actions, of police brutality in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, and of the dead body of dictator Muammar Gadhafi went “viral” within minutes.

Texting created flash mobs during riots in London, Madrid and Athens. The Internet fueled the Occupy Wall Street movement and protests against electoral fraud in Russia.

Back home in Malaysia we had the Bersih, Anti-Lynas and Labour Day movements. While the demands of the Bersih coalition appear to be coherent and apolitical, the convergence of its leadership with the opposition political establishment provides the opposition Pakatan Rakyat with the means to mobilize demonstrators under the benign common cause of “clean and fair elections.”

The alleged heavy-handed conduct of Malaysian security officials has worked to further strengthen international condemnation of Malaysia, as well as alienating the well-intentioned participants of the Bersih 3.0 rally. Unlike Bersih 2.0 in July 2011, the recent demonstrations provoked armed clashes between protestors and police with cases of violence on both sides.

Although police barricaded the area surrounding Dataran Merdeka where the rally was scheduled to take place, violence was not used until demonstrators attempted to cross police barricades into the Square.

The security situation deteriorated as defiant protesters refused to disperse, prompting demonstrators to overturn a police vehicle. Protesters also threw broken bottles, pieces of metal and concrete slabs towards the police, prompting police to fire tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators, causing thousands to disperse into side streets.

In the ensuing melee, many members of the media on active duty covering the event were injured. The media must be allowed to perform their duties without being hampered, threatened or injured.

The media has always respected the police. Journalists were just there to do their job. Everybody should respect each others rights and violence should never be the answer.

As such The Spanker welcomes investigations into the alleged excessive mishandling perpetrated by the police on journalists during the Bersih 3.0 rally. If found guilty, those responsible must be dealt with seriously.

In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day today, The Spanker thanks the press fraternity for playing the important role of bridging the people-government link, without which the correct policies and government transformation plans would be in futility.

Newspaper editors have also welcomed Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's assurance on the formation of an independent panel to investigate the alleged rough handling of media personnel.

Bernama's former editor-in-chief Datuk Seri Azman Ujang said the formation of the panel was the “most logical thing to do”. He added that the police should respect the profession of media personnel.

The Star executive director and group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai said the media was at the rally to cover the protest and not to take part. “It is ridiculous that some policemen were unable to tell the difference between protesters and media,”. Wong added that all sides should submit evidence and also lodge police reports. He said the media stood united on this issue.

The Malay Mail managing editor Terence Fernandez said he was concerned with the way the police reacted towards the media that day “because it did not seem like random assaults”.

He added that the media needed to discuss with the Home Ministry to see how reporters and photographers could carry out their jobs unhindered under such volatile circumstances.