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“No matter the regime’s physical power, in the end they can’t stop the people”

Those words uttered by Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi could well apply to Malaysia.

Was it a stalemate on 10 Nov? After all, the demonstrators had been thwarted from gathering at Dataran Merdeka in the city centre. They were unable to accompany their chosen representatives to the gates of the palace to hand over their memorandum. And would the memorandum make any difference? What had they really achieved?

Would Suu Kyi consider the situation in Burma a stalemate – especially in the aftermath of the brutal crackdown of peaceful demonstrations there?

Here’s what she had to say:

“I am really not fond of that expression,” she replied rather sternly. “People have been on the streets. That’s not a stalemate. Ethnic people, like the Karen, are fighting back. That’s not a stalemate. The defiance is there in people’s lives, day after day. You know, even when things seem still on the surface, there’s always movement underneath. It’s like a frozen lake; and beneath our lake, we are progressing, bit by bit.”

Similarly, 10 November in Malaysia was not a stalemate. Malaysians have conquered their fear. There is a sense of defiance – witnessed when tens of thousands of good-natured, peaceful, justice-loving Malaysians waved defiantly at helicopters hovering overhead and at sullen-faced riot police seated in red trucks passing menacingly by. When they were confronted by a phalanx of riot police, they stood their ground and refused to blink.

Instead, it is the oligarchic political elites who now fear the people on the move, who tremble in anticipation of their next move.

Yes, we are progressing, bit by bit.

Read John Pilger’s full piece here.

50,000 Malaysians defy ban to demand electoral reforms

Bersih rally 10 Nov 2007

Sea of yellow: They came in their thousands to get their point across – Photo credit: Seng Keat Tan

So the chief of police puts the turnout at 4,000 in a report tucked away on page 8 of The Star. Interesting! But then he was probably referring to the crowd at Masjid Jamek alone, where police fired water cannons, dousing the protesters with chemically laced liquid. The way The Star reported it made it sound as if 4,000 was the total turnout, although it did add later that “thousands” had turned up at various spots.

If it was really 4,000, why did they need two (or was it three) helicopters to monitor the crowd?

My estimate of the total turnout – and that was the rough consensus among those at the scene at various points – was 50,000.

Still, the actual turnout is beside the point. The real story was the fact that tens of thousands of Malaysians had come out – despite repeated warnings and threats of arrest – to defy a ban and put across their demand for electoral reforms, loudly and clearly.

I was proud to be a Malaysian among the good natured and peaceful crowd that afternoon.

As for the mainstream media coverage, it was pathetic. I woke up this morning expecting it to be front page news. After all, news of the protest gathering had flashed across the globe yesterday. But when I saw the front page of The Sunday Star today… zilch, nada, nothing…. Was this for real? It seemed as if I must have been on a different planet. It was only reported half-heartedly on page 8. Tens of thousands of people had brought Kuala Lumpur to a virtual standstill the day before and… Page 8! Disgusting coverage. But then again, what else can we expect from our castrated mainstream media?

Meanwhile, check out Aliran president P Ramakrishnan’s statement here.

RIGHTS-MALAYSIA: Rally Defies Police Ban to Demand Poll Reforms
By Anil Netto

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 (IPS) – Tens of thousands of people defied riot police, water cannon and pouring rain to march through the capital city, on Saturday, to demand electoral and other reforms and deliver a strong rebuff to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

On Friday Badawi had issued a stern warning that he would brook no challenge to his rule and officials said anybody around Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), the planned venue of the protest gathering, would be arrested.

That made the turnout of over 50,000 people, sloshing through muddy grass verges by the highway, all the more impressive as they engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with police armed with water cannons and batons.

Full article

Penang Global City Centre: Activists step up campaign

Activists have stepped up the campaign as the stakes rise. The developer has taken its PR blitz to the shopping malls, but activists have been meeting residents neighbouring the PGCC project site who are worried about the impact of the project.

Here we see heritage conservationist Loh-Lim Lin Lee, architect Laurence Loh and heritage activist Dr Choong Sim Poey briefing Scotland Park residents and exposing the deception inherent in the development plan. Make sure you catch all four parts of the video and see them passionately and eloquently arguing against the project.

And so the PGCC PR battle begins…

PGCC roadshow Queensbay Mall

The PGCC developer has taken its road-show to Queensbay Mall

Looks like the PR battle has begun. The Penang Global City Centre developer is on a road show promoting its project in Queensbay Mall and Gurney Plaza in Penang.

Just received in the email the following hypothetical conversation between the pro-PGCC lobby and a member of the public.

Would have been hilarious if there wasn’t a ring (more like alarm bells) of truth about the details of the project. Though the conversation below is probably hypothetical, I am told that those promoting the project do not have all the answers when questioned by people who are more in touch with what the plan actually entails. Makes you wonder if they really believe what they are being paid to promote.

Milan and Penang: Trams vs Monorail/PORR/PGCC

Monorail Penang routeGreetings from Milan! I am here presenting a paper at a conference.

Walking around the city, I must say I have been impressed with Milan’s excellent network of underground trains, trams (old and modern), buses and taxies – though locals tell me there is still room for improvement.

But first, what’s this? Someone alerted me to a Penang monorail route map posted on Wikipedia. I am not sure who posted that entry:

“The Penang Monorail is a future monorail line to be constructed under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER). It will be located on Penang Island. Two lines will be built, with possible extensions to Province Wellesley in the future. The 37km system is expected to cost RM 1.1 billion.

“The names of all the stations on the monorail are still mostly unknown, although the main stops are confirmed. The Red Line will run between Tanjung Tokong and the Penang International Airport via Scotland Road, Jalan Air Itam and the Penang State Mosque. The Green Line will run between Paya Terubong and Weld Quay Terminal, via Jalan Air Itam, Jalan Dato’ Keramat, and Komtar. The interchange will be situated at Jalan Air Itam.”