Thursday, October 25, 2012

Social media and voting trends

An interesting study on how social media can encourage more youths to vote. From

Facebooking for Office Infographic

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

General elections to be held very soon

It should be pretty obvious by now that the general elections will be held very soon.

Some newspapers have reported that it will be held some time in the first half of July before the fasting month of Ramadhan starts.

If this window is missed, then it will have to be after the Hari Raya Aidil-Fitri celebrations and the likely date will be some time in September.

But at the rate that the Barisan Nasional Government and politicians have shifted gears and started moving faster with swift and stinging attacks on the Opposition figures, it looks like the more likely date will be in July.

This will indeed be the most highly-anticipated general elections in Malaysia for a long time.

Can Pakatan Rakyat march all the way to Putrajaya and seize power?

Will Barisan Nasional lose after having controlled this nation (in one form or other) since its Independence?

Will Malaysia finally have a two-party (or two-coalition) political system?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The various faces of Bersih 3.0

It is always much easier to examine events with hindsight. In an event like Bersih 3.0 which was a rally to press for free and fair elections, there was actually a motley group of rebels with or without causes taking part, each with his or her own agenda or belief.

As is widely known by now, what started off as a peaceful rally with a carnival-like atmosphere ended up with tear-gas filled street battles between pockets of demonstrators and police with several people injured - including some journalists and photographers - and horrifying scenes of police brutality.

After spending some time looking at the various photos of the event, I can list down what I think are the various faces of Bersih 3.0.

The idealists

They were the people who took part in the Occupy Dataran Merdeka campaign and they comprised mainly students, young adults, filmmakers, artistes and an assortment of oddballs.

Occupy Dataran activists.

The students.

The barricade near Central Market.

The concerned citizens

This comprised the majority of the protesters. Many Malaysians took part in Bersih simply because they were sick and tired of all the politicking, the racist statements, the dirty tricks used in election campaigns and the widespread and revolting corruption prevailing amongst the ruling elite.

Surprisingly, many well-educated middle-class and upper middle-class Malaysians walked the talk this time.

This group included lawyers, journalists, editors, writers and other professionals.

Surely these Concerned Citizens would not kick a cop or condone violence.

The Average Joes at the rally.

Families took part in the carnival-like rally (before 3pm)

Angry Birds were angry too.

Bersih participants at Petaling Street.

The senior citizens

It was also surprising that a sizeable number of retirees and pensioners took part.

I think they were very concerned that the Malaysia they had lived and worked in peacefully for the past six or seven decades seemed to be torn apart by racist and corrupt politicians.

Auntie Bersih was loudly cheered by fellow protesters. In Bersih 2.0, she had apparently made her way by bus to Kuala Lumpur without knowing where to meet up with the demonstrators or even what to do.

This time, she was more aware of things and was seen at Petaling Street with hordes of other protesters.

Senior citizens among the protesters.

'White hairs' were spotted wearing yellow headbands.

This cool grandpa was seen snapping shots with his handphone.
Another senior citizen exercising her rights.
This senior citizen doesn't look like he can kick a cop.

Auntie Bersih acknowledging the people cheering for her.

The guys who wanted to have fun
There was a guy who wore a glossy gold wig and another dressed as a Power Ranger. Surely they were non-violent and had no intention to kick policemen.

The man with the golden hair.
Do we need superheroes to save Malaysia?

The disabled

Even the disabled decided to be seen and heard and 'marched' alongside the able-bodied. Even the disabled seem to be sick and tired of the political situation in the nation.

The environmentalists

Several people were seen holding placards to denounce the Lynas rare earth processing plant under construction in Kuantan.

Thus the green movement became part of Bersih 3.0.

The organisers

Obviously Ambiga and gang were not only participants but leaders.

The politicians

Ah yes, the politicians. Pakatan Rakyat politicians openly supported Bersih 3.0.

Obviously they would want free and fair elections so that they could have a better chance of winning. 

And they would want to be seen backing worthy causes especially if they put the Barisan Nasional government in bad light.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim making his inflammatory speech. 
The argument going on now is whether PKR leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin had hijacked the rally by getting their henchmen to breach the barricades to rush towards Dataran Merdeka and 'forced' the riot police to retaliate by firing tear gas and water cannons.

The argument is whether the PKR leaders turned a peaceful rally into a violent one for their own political agenda.

The police

The participants of Bersih 3.0 were not only the protesters, but also the police.

The cops had a controversial role in Bersih 3.0 because they also turned violent and to prevent journalists and photographers/videographers from recording their bashing up of protesters, the journalists were also bashed up and photographers/videographers had their equipment damaged, seized or the memory cards taken away.

The streetfighters
It cannot be denied that a small group of demonstrators - numbering around 500-1,000 -  were itching for a fight with the cops.

And after most of the moderates and idealists and middle-class folks went home, these fighters started their brawls from around 6pm at the Masjid Jamek area. From what I was told, the streetfighting lasted around an hour and was rather brutal and bloody on both sides.

The agent provocateurs

Everybody knew they were there among the protesters, but nobody really knew what they did.

However, it is interesting to ask:

Who was the man who jumped up and down on the roof of the police car?

Who was the man who jumped up and down on the roof of the police car and his antics was superbly caught on video by a police videographer who 'happened' to be positioned in the right spot at the right time?

This video appeared in the police website and was widely used to show that the demonstrators were violent and had no respect for the law.

We will never know the truth, but we can speculate with some degree of accuracy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Was it a set up?

Now that both the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have claimed that Bersih 3.0 was an attempt to topple the Barisan Nasional government, commentators will now have to figure out if the authorities had staged a trap to set up Pakatan Rakyat politicians and the Bersih organisers.

The police claim they did not fire tear gas and water cannons till the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka were breached.

And today, Bernama Online reported that photographs obtained by police show that protesters intentionally breached a barricade separating the Bersih 3.0 rally demonstrators from Dataran Merdeka.

“The stampede showed they had intended to enter Dataran Merdeka, which was guarded by police and Kuala Lumpur City Hall personnel,” KL police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh was quoted as saying in the report, Malaysian Insider reported.

But a thorough observation of the sequence of events and how easily the barricade was breached suggest that the cops had set up a very, very suspiciously flimsy barricade which could be breached with a mere push.

Just look at this video and see how easy it was for the Indian man to push aside the metal fence barriers.

It was just too easy for the Indian man to push aside the
 metal fence barriers which were not even chained together.
The demonstrators just pushed aside the metal fence barriers.

The metal fence barriers were not even locked together. They were just placed in a line and a mere push was sufficient to breach the so-called barricade.

Also look at the rows of cops. Earlier, they were lined up behind the metal barriers, but when the barriers were simply pushed aside, the cops retreated and ran back to where the riot police trucks were located. They did not even attempt to push back the demonstrators.

This allowed hundreds of demonstrators to dash forward towards Dataran Merdeka where the trucks armed with water cannons were stationed. When the demonstrators were close enough, jets of chemical-laced water were rained on them before tear gas was fired. The cops had the excuse to fire because the barricade had been breached and the demonstrators were close enough to 'threaten' them.

The cops RETREATED and ran back to where the riot
police trucks were located when the barricades were breached.

Frankly I did not notice all these clues suggesting that it was a set up by the authorities till my British neighbour pointed them out to me.

"Look at the plastic road barriers that formed parts of the barricades. These are normally filled with water and are very heavy. But the demonstrators could be seen lifting them and throwing them aside or at the cops. These barriers were empty. If they were filled with water, a single person would not be able to lift one up and throw it," he said.

The plastic road barriers were pushed aside
 easily because they were not filled with water.
A demonstrator lifting a plastic road barrier to
throw at the cops. If it was filled with water, it would be too heavy for one person to even lift it.

So you have metal fences that were not locked or chained together and you have plastic road barriers that were empty and light. It was a 'barricade' designed to be breached.

The cops more or less 'invited' the demonstrators to breach the barricades so that they would have the 'valid reason' to clamp down real hard, fire the water cannons and tear gas and whack a few heads with batons.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bersih or Kotor (Clean or Dirty)?

The issues of police brutality and mob violence have overshadowed the aims of the Bersih 3.0 movement which are to call for free and fair elections.

The police are saying they held their fire till the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka were broken and said many cops were attacked by the demonstrators.

The demonstrators say they were beaten up by the cops and many press photographers and videographers were also whacked and their equipment either broken or seized by the 'law enforcers'. Some had the memory cards of their cameras and camcorders seized.

The violence escalated from about 5.45pm last Saturday when fighting erupted between the cops and a group of perhaps 1,000 diehard demonstrators in the Masjid Jamek area. This was when the news photographers and videographers were ordered not to film or take snaps of the brutal attacks and when they did, their equipment were seized or smashed. Some were beaten up by the cops.

Mainstream media have published photos of demonstrators attacking a police car and a demonstrator kicking a fallen policeman to 'prove' that the Bersih protesters were violent thugs perhaps to justify their 'dirty' deeds. However, despite all that propaganda spewing from the authorities, there is no denying that there were numerous cases of police brutality.

Bernama photo showing a man kicking a fallen traffic cop.
Photo of demonstrators kicking a police car.

These photos of mob violence involving purportedly Bersih demonstrators have to be compared with the following photos of police brutality for a balanced perspective of the unruly part of Bersih 3.0 on April 28 in Kuala Lumpur.

Uniformed cops kicking a fallen Bersih demonstrator.
Still shot of video footage of cops kicking and hitting
 a fallen Bersih demonstrator with a rod.

Some websites have claimed that this cop (top picture) looks like the
purported Bersih demonstrator kicking the fallen cop.

The cops may have tried to prevent press photographers/videographers from recording their punching and kicking of the demonstrators, but some footages of the assaults have made their way to YouTube.

Some websites have countered that a few of the 'violent thugs' were planted - they were agent provocateurs.

Photographs have been posted comparing the similarity in looks between the 'violent thug' who kicked a fallen traffic cop and the cop in civvies arresting a demonstrator. It is not known whether these photos have been doctored.

But what is telling is the fact that the picture of the 'violent thug' kicking a fallen cop is from Bernama, the national news agency, while footage of a man jumping on the roof of a police car is from the police website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Anwar and Azmin could have miscalculated

Anwar Ibrahim signalling to Azmin Ali.

If Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his accomplice Azmin Ali are guilty of instigating the Bersih 3.0 demonstrators to break the barricades and razor wire to dash into Dataran Merdeka on Saturday, then they have miscalculated.

If they thought the mayhem and streetfighting would strengthen their thrust to capture Putrajaya, then they have again miscalculated.

The problem with Anwar is that more often than not, he resorts to tactics that he is familiar with - street demonstration. Perhaps that is the only tactic he knows.

Even if he did not signal to Azmin to instruct his Indian henchman to push aside the barrier, his speech was filled with nothing but inflammatory statements designed to whip up the appetite of the restless crowd for an act of defiance and - ultimately - violence.

My feeling is that the majority of the demonstrators that day supported the cause of fighting for free and fair elections - maybe even the Lynas environmental issue - but they did not, do not and will not support violence.

Surely the demonstrators that I saw, the senior citizens, the disabled on their wheelchairs, the schoolkids, artistes, filmmakers, fashion designers, writers, bloggers and tens of thousands of ordinary folks would not agree with demonstrators attacking policemen (or policemen attacking demonstrators).

If Anwar and Azmin felt they needed some blood and gore to make things more interesting and exciting for a foreign audience, then again they have miscalculated.

Photos of demonstrators kicking a fallen policeman do not go down well with Western leaders despite all their talk about freedom, democracy and the right to assemble and free speech.

After Bersih 3.0, the Barisan Nasional government, the rally organisers and the Opposition parties are licking their wounds trying to figure out which of them has been most seriously injured.

The Barisan Nasional government is trying to blame PKR's Anwar and Azmin for triggering the mob violence. Bersih 3.0 organisers are saying the rally was peaceful and under control till the riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators.

And the desperate duo of Anwar and Azmin are busy denying that they ordered their henchmen to break down the barriers while the riot police are saying they held their fire till the barricades were broken.

I dare say that of all the people involved, Anwar and Azmin have suffered the most - not from breathing in the tear gas or itching from the chemical-laced water from the water cannons (because they were nowhere to be seen when the peaceful rally turned ugly) - but from not anticipating the negative reaction from the majority of the Bersih supporters.

* Look at this clip which shows Anwar signalling to Azmin before the barrier is broken:

* And also this clip of the same scene from another angle:

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Sogo saga: The true story

The defining moment of the Bersih 3.0 rally is not the firing of tear gas and jets of chemical-laced water by riot police at the hordes of demonstrators.

It is also not the moment when demonstrators broke the barricades and the barb wire fencing off Dataran Merdeka at the junction of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja.
The defining moment is how a police car ended up on its side outside Sogo department store on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman during the Bersih 3.0 rally on Saturday afternoon.

This incident has been played up by the mainstream media and also the police to portray the lack of respect for the law and the hooliganism of the demonstrators.

This incident has been used to portray the Bersih 3.0 rally as being far from peaceful and those taking part were violent thugs who attacked policemen on duty.

Thus this incident has to be examined properly.

Luckily there were lots of brave cameramen and videographers that day and many video clips of the incident, including the 'official' version by the police, are available on YouTube. Many of these cameramen and videographers were bashed up by the cops, but that's another story.

The first clip of the overturning of the police car that I watched on Saturday afternoon was from Malaysiakini. The second clip was from the police. Later I watched a few more clips from other sources.

It can be easily discerned that the 'official' police version was edited to make it appear as if the Bersih demonstrators mercilessly attacked the hapless cop who drove the car. 

The dazed cop who drove the police car being helped
out by two Bersih demonstrators. This is the scene left
out of the 'official' police video clip of the Sogo event.

In the police clip, you will see a man jumping on the roof of the police car as it makes its way slowly past hundreds of demonstrators. Whether that man is an agent provocateur is not known, but he obviously 'inspired' the other demonstrators to kick the car and smash its windscreens. That man is seen hopping off the bonnet of the police car and running away.

From all the video clips that I saw, the sequence of events went like this:
1) A police car moves slowly through the sea of demonstrators.
2) A man climbs onto the police car and jumps several times on the roof, hops onto the bonnet and onto the road and runs away.
3) Demonstrators kick the police car and the body is dented.
4) Demonstrators throw water bottles and road cones at the police car.
5) The cop driving the car loses control of the vehicle and it veers to the right and crashes into several people who were on the sidewalk outside Sogo. The car hits a wall with a loud thud and stops. (Mainstream media reports said three people were injured, one seriously.)
6) Demonstrators rush towards the car. Someone wearing a crash helmet tries to open the driver's door and when he is pulled away, he starts punching and kicking the demonstrators. He is then beaten up by demonstrators.
7) Several men wearing yellow and red T-shirts surround the car and they put up their hands and are heard shouting "Sabar! Sabar!"
8) One man in yellow T-shirt opens the door and helps out the dazed cop, places his hand on the shoulder of the cop and leads him away. A man in red T-shirt is also seen helping the cop. Someone is injured because he can be seen lying on the ground and there are blood stains on the pavement.
9) The demonstrators think there is someone trapped underneath the police car. At least two people can be seen kneeling down to look under the car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang di bawah tau!" A girl's voice is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!" and several people lift the cop car from the right side and the car lands on its left side.

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the events leading to the demonstrators lifting the police car which lands on its side. A girl is heard shouting "Terbalikan! Terbalikan!"

From Malaysianews:
This clip shows demonstrators kicking and throwing water bottles at the police car as it makes its way slowly past the thousands of demonstrators. It also shows the police car veering to the right and hitting several people who are standing on the pavement outside Sogo. This clip also shows a man in yellow T-shirt helping the dazed cop out of the car, placing his hand over the cop's shoulder and escorting him away. It also shows the events leading to several people lifting the police car. A man is heard shouting "Ada orang dibawah tau!" before the car is lifted and lands on its left side.

This shows more or less the same scenes as the previous clip from another angle. The crash victim can be seen lying on the pavement in this clip. The man in red T-shirt is seen helping the cop along with the man in yellow T-shirt.

This clip shows the crash from another angle:

This is the most comprehensive clip on the accident that I have seen so far:

From Malaysiakini:
This clip shows the man who was hit by the police car being placed on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance.

From the police:
This is the official version from the police. It has been obviously edited to make the demonstrators look bad.

Please watch all the video clips and judge for yourself.