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Charles Santiago

Posted by : Admin Direktori Blog | Khamis, 15 September 2011 | Published in

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Charles Santiago


Najib Does a Houdini on Democracy

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:09 PM PDT

I would not celebrate. Not just yet. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s announcement to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) is welcomed. But I would have been happier if it came with no catch.

Whichever way I look at the announcement, it is clearly a victory for the people – the thousands who took to the streets demanding that ISA be repealed, the detainees who fought for the archaic law to be abolished as it strips people off dignity and the human rights activists who worked tirelessly, denouncing the Act.

But Najib is replacing ISA with two new laws. We are unsure of the ambit of these laws and it's unclear if it would still make provisions for arbitrary arrests.

Whatever little we know now is enough to make me look at Najib’s “greater democracy” speech with suspicion. And especially as the government is tinkering with the idea of bringing in an  Anti-Terrorism Act which would mirror the US Patriot Act.

In the US, this Act dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies to search financial, business, medical and telephone records, expanded the powers of these agencies, gave the immigration wide discretion to detain and deport immigrants suspected of terrorism-related activities and conduct surveillance on individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities even though they are not linked to terrorist groups.

In short anyone and everyone suspected to be linked to terrorist organizations could be nabbed, humiliated, subjected to long-hours of interrogation and charged at the prerogative of the government. And all because terrorism is a sexy word and one that is used to bulldoze through a person’s life.

Under the ISA, the Home Minister had the power to do just that. So where is the change, I am wondering.

And what media freedom exactly? As I look at it, the media organizations would still be under the watchful eye of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional government. Replacing a license which needs yearly renewal to a one-off permit that could be revoked if the media organizations did not dance to the tune of the government does not amount to further freedom for the media workers.

In fact, Najib made it even more difficult for the media organizations as there is no way to challenge the Home Minister’s decision to revoke a publishing license. In essence, it means that papers and TV channels would have to shut down if they wrote or reported on issues which the government is not happy about.

The premier, to make my suspicion worse, did not raise crucial provisions under the Sedition Act or Official Secrets Act. Both these laws limit the freedom of media workers.

Najib has promised amendments to Police Act to grant greater freedom of assembly but warned against street demonstrations. And we still need to write in for permits for peaceful rallies.

However hard I try, it’s incredibly difficult to give credit to Najib’s so-called slew of reforms for a better Malaysia. These policy changes are his boldest announcement since he came to power. In his speech Najib also said that heading towards a bolder democracy was risky but crucial for his government to survive.

Therefore, it’s obvious that Najib is making hasty decisions to bolster support for himself and UMNO ahead of the general election, which is widely expected to be held within the next six months.

Najib’s popularity took a dip following the way he mishandled the Bersih 2.0 rally. From a high 72% popularity rating in June 2010, the Merdeka Center survey showed a 59% support level recently.

Now Najib has a bigger headache to handle and it would be exciting to see how he pacifies the right-wing faction within his own political party, who were never happy with efforts to shake the status quo. Either that or the premier would, again, make a U-turn on these policy changes.

He was too weak to keep his promise of allowing Bersih 2.0 to use any stadium to hold a peaceful protest and unwilling to take on Perkasa for the rubbish dished out.

When I re-look at Najib’s speech text, it becomes clearer that he has done a Houdini. Without the specifics, this is nothing but mere hot talk.

The devil is in the details. And UMNO cannot be trusted.

Charles Santiago

Member of Parliament – Klang


Greater Democracy, Greater Democracy – Najib’s new buzzword and mirage

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 03:15 AM PDT

Source: Malaysia Chronicle

Written by  Melissa Lee

In a few hours time, Prime Minister Najib Razak will make announce a slew of earth-shaking reforms, including relaxing the Internal Security Act, if the information from his administration is accurate.

But after so many rounds of let-down, few Malaysians are holding their breath and certainly no believes that the measures would “redefine the political landscape of Malaysia.” A government source was reported by the Star to have said, “We already have the Government and economic transformations. This is now the time for political transformation in line with current global developments.”

However, despite the sweet words, most Pakatan leaders are expecting more cosmetics from the 58-year-old Najib, who desperately needs to prop up his fast-sinking popularity. His approval rating plunged 6 percent to 59 percent in August compared to 65 percent in May.

"’Greater Democracy’ is going to be the next buzzword,” predicts a caustic Charles Santiago, the DAP MP for Klang.

“Just like the previous buzzwords like NEM, NKRA and such, ‘Greater Democracy’ is going to be nothing more than hot air, a public relations gimmick to win boost his waning popularity caused by his mishandling the Bersih 2.0 rally, his inability to bring down the cost of living, his silence when the international community condemns Malaysia as a country that violates the rights of refugees. The ‘Greater Democracy’ that is to be announced will be a short list of inconsequential measures that will give the impression that the Barisan Nasional government has the people's interest at heart.”

Very easy, implement electoral reforms immediately

Charles is not the only opposition leader with such a view although few wish to appear as ‘spoilsports’ before the speech due at 8.45pm Thursday night, as part of Najib’s Malaysia Day address.

Tomorrow, September 16, is the day that Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined the peninsular states to form Malaysia in 1963. Singapore left in 1965.

Najib is also expected to touch on his government and economic ‘transformation’ programs, which his crtitics have described as being more akin to ‘mirages’ or sleight-of-hand’ programs due to their lack of substance and result.

“It is very easy. If Najib is sincere, all he needs is to declare a complete cleanup of the electoral system before any general election takes place. What greater boost for democracy than this,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

Another PKR leader Sivarasa Rasiah stressed rejigging the ISA was not greater democracy. He said the only meaningful reforms would be the total repeal of preventive detention laws like the Internal Security Act, Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act.

"If the PM wants to make a meaningful change for the people of Malaysia, then he should take our suggestions," said Sivarasa, the Subang MP.

Let the press be the Fourth Estate

Meanwhile, Charles said if the Prime Minister was serious about the running of the country, then he should amend the Constitution to include a clause or section that says, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right to assembly and petition the government for redress of grievances”.

“Furthermore, the Prime Minister in his "Greater Democracy" speech should announce the formulation of the freedom of information act and outline steps to remove media control by political parties or their business affiliates,” said Charles.

“The main reform this country should see is in the organisation and function of the press. There should no longer be any political master hovering over media organisations, dictating agenda and chastising investigative journalism. Instead the press should be allowed to function as the Fourth Estate as it was designed so as to ensure true democracy prevails. Anything short of all this is not a reform.”

- Malaysia Chronicle


DAP man predicts ‘hot air’ from PM

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 01:36 AM PDT

Source: Free Malaysia Today

G Vinod | September 15, 2011

Charles Santiago believes that Najib’s ‘greater democracy’ speech is nothing more than a public relations exercise.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's "greater democracy" announcement scheduled for tonight will be nothing but hot air, said Klang MP Charles Santiago.

He also said that "greater democracy" would end up being another buzzword like the New Economic Model (NEM) and National Key Results Areas (NKRA).

"It's just a public relations gimmick to prop up his waning popularity," added the DAP leader in a statement.

Yesterday, Bernama quoted Information, Communications and Culture Rais Yatim as saying that Najib would make several important announcements tonight in his Malaysia Day speech.

Santiago, however, said if Najib was sincere in his reforms, then the latter should institute a constitutional amendment that would allow more space for freedom of speech.

"He should include a clause or section that says; no law shall be passed abridging freedom of speech and expression of the press, or the right to assembly and petition the government for redress of grievances," he added.

The media, he said, should be allowed to function effectively as the fourth estate as the press had an important role to play in a democratic nation.

"And there should no longer be any political master hovering over media organisations, dictating its agenda and chastising investigative journalism," he said.

A survey done last month by the Merdeka Centre found that Najib's approval ratings had dipped to 59%, which was 13 points lower than the 72% high he enjoyed in May last year.

Among the issues attributed to the decreasing number was his mishandling of the Bersih 2.0 demonstration and his apparent lack of ability in managing the rising cost of living in the country.


Kelab Kebajikan dan Social Klang, Selangor Anniversary

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 01:33 AM PDT

Source: Nan Yang San Pau


Guarantee Free Speech, Introduce Freedom of Information Act & Abolish Media Ownership by Political Parties as Part of Greater Democracy

Posted: 14 Sep 2011 11:14 PM PDT

"Greater Democracy" is going to be the next buzzword after the Prime Minister announces "reforms" in politics, social and security matters.

Just like the previous buzzwords like NEM, NKRA and such, "Greater Democracy" is going to be nothing more than hot air, a public relations gimmick to win boost his waning popularity caused by his mishandling the Bersih 2.0 rally, his inability to bring down the cost of living, his silence when the international community condemns Malaysia as a country that violates the rights of refugees.

The "Greater Democracy" that is to be announced later this evening will be a short list of inconsequential measures that will give the impression that the Barisan Nasional government has the people's interest at heart.

If the Prime Minister is serious about the running of the country, then he should amend the Constitution to include a clause or section that says: No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right to assembly and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister in his "Greater Democracy" speech should announce the formulation of the freedom of information act and outline steps to remove media control by political parties or their business affiliates.

The main reform this country should see is in the organisation and function of the press. There should no longer be any political master hovering over media organisations, dictating agenda and chastising investigative journalism. Instead the press should be allowed to function as the Fourth Estate as it was designed so as to ensure true democracy prevails.

Anything short of all this is not a reform.

Charles Santiago

Member of Parliament – Klang


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