Make us proud, comrades! April 27, 2008Posted by elizabethwong in 1.
Tomorrow, 28 April 2008, will be the start of the most exciting Parliamentary session in decades.
My former boss, Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will be the first woman Opposition leader in our history.
We have the most number of ‘Government-in-waiting’ MPs ever in history. Even my neighbour, Yusmadi will be sitting in the august hall.
My fabulous Suaram mates – R. Sivarasa, Tian Chua – will take their rightful place in the legislature.
Take no prisoners. Make us proud, comrades!
MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS BRING ACTIVISTS, BLOGGERS, AND ‘RABBLE-ROUSERS’ INTO PARLIAMENT
(AP) – Four months ago Tian Chua was arrested trying to enter the Parliament building to protest a Constitutional amendment that activists say would curtail civil rights.
But when Parliament reopens Monday, he will walk in with pride and dignity to take a seat for the next five years.
Chua is one of several unlikely opposition candidates, ranging from human rights activists to bloggers, who won the March 8 general elections that changed the face of Malaysian politics almost overnight.
For the first time since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, the opposition won a record 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament, many of them going to first-time candidates like Chua who were long considered by the government as nuisances and rabble-rousers.
The elections ended virtual one-party rule by the National Front coalition, giving a large chunk of Parliament to the opposition, which until now had only 19 seats.
Parliament «will be a very lively thing. It will resemble a two-party situation,» said Chua, who won a seat for the People’s Justice Party, one of three parties in the opposition People’s Alliance coalition.
After lawmakers are sworn in Monday, Parliament will be formally declared open by the king on Tuesday.
The People’s Alliance largely benefited from a protest vote against the National Front because of anger over a host of reasons _ discrimination faced by the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, corruption that subverted an affirmative action program for the majority Malays, inflation, and the general arrogance of ruling party members.
While the opposition put up professional politicians in the elections, it also fielded a large number of novices including Internet-savvy professionals, civil society members, human rights activists, and lawyers.
«Everybody is eager» for the new parliament to meet, said Mohammad Agus Yusoff, a political science professor at the National University of Malaysia. «It’s the first time in Malaysian political history … that so many new faces are in,» he said.
«Before this, the government MPs were complacent. This time around they don’t have the blank check anymore,» he said.
Among those who won on an opposition ticket is a prominent blogger, Jeff Ooi, who wrote fiery anti-government articles during the campaign, attracting a huge following in cyberspace. Many Malaysians turned to the Internet because the mainstream media are tightly controlled by the government.
«It’s only with the free flow of information that you get to weed out corruption and so on,» said Ooi, 52, a former advertising executive. «Parliament is going to be a noisy place … I think we are going to give the backbenchers a run for their money.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, who also won a seat in Parliament for the ruling party, once compared bloggers to «monkeys» living by the law of the jungle.
Nur Jazlan Mohamed, a colleague of Khairy, said he welcomed more debate in Parliament as long as it did not touch on sensitive issues such as race.
Lawmakers must know their limits, he said. «They must also be very careful what they say as not to make the other races, especially Malays, angry,» he said.
A surprise winner in the elections was Loh Gwo Burne, who had not even thought of entering politics until this year.
Loh shot to fame when he stepped forward as the person who had secretly filmed a lawyer, V.K. Lingam, allegedly brokering judicial appointments. Loh said when he took the video in 2001, it was not with the intention of exposing corruption but because he was bored and was testing his new camera’s capability.
Loh went to Lingam’s house with his father to discuss business matters and turned on the camera while the lawyer was discussing judicial appointments with someone on the phone. The video found its way to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who released it last September, making it a major weapon to flog the government with.
Loh said Anwar persuaded him to stand for elections for the People’s Justice Party.
«My political aspirations are about a month old now. I will try to do as much as I can. There is too much nonsense going on in the country,» said the 34-year-old businessman who recently moved back to Malaysia from Shanghai.
Now that he is allowed into the Parliament building, Chua said he would push to address civil liberty issues and corruption.
Altogether 11 opposition parliamentarians, including Chua have been imprisoned at one time or another under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial, because their political activism allegedly made them security threats.
He and other new lawmakers have long campaigned to scrap the ISA and other laws that curtail freedom of expression.
Constitutional amendments, such as the one Chua got arrested protesting, can no longer be made easily.
The government needs a two-thirds parliamentary majority to make such changes, but after the devastating election losses, it now only possesses a simple majority.