More arrests today. This time largely targeting the Bersih group and the Hindraf leaders.
I have lost track of the number of people arrested, released, re-arrested, denied bail, charged with illegal assembly, “causing mischief”, “attempted murder”, sedition… All this while the Attorney General personally appears in court and tries to deny people bail.
What on earth is the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi trying to do? Doesn’t he know this does not reflect well on him – and on Malaysia? It reveals insecurity, lack of confidence, and an unwillingness to really analyse the root causes of the unhappiness and disenchantment.
Perhaps that unwillingness to analyse the issues indicates that they already know what the underlying grievances are – and it’s not a pretty picture for it would point squarely to the BN, their cronies and the system that promote vested corporate interests. It would reveal that workers in the country are struggling to make ends meet largely due to the policy of importing cheap labour( thus depressing overall wages), along with all the neo-liberal policies introduced such as privatisation. It would show that schools in rural areas have been neglected, the ranks of the unemployed bloated, social ills mounting, our economic model of top-down economic growth proving unsustainable, corruption rampant…
So it is far easier to wield the big stick so that these issues can be swept under the carpet ahead of the general election. In the process, they are aided by the mainstream media, which has embarked on a relentless campaign to vilify and demonise Bersih and Hindraf.
In the end, it is the country that suffers while the ruling elites and their vested interests make hay while the sun shines (and even then, with all the haze and smog, it is not shining as brightly as before).
These are sad and bleak times for Malaysia.
MALAYSIA: Arrests of Peaceful Protestors Mar Rights Day
By Anil Netto
PENANG, Dec 10 (IPS) – Malaysia is observing World Human Rights Day under a cloud, as the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, rattled by a series of street protests over the last month, launches a tough crackdown against peaceful demonstrators.
Sunday was marred by a string of 23 arrests involving human rights lawyers, activists and opposition politicians.