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Lawyers’ march, Burma’s struggle, PGCC campaign all related

PGCC miniature model

This is a more realistic miniature model of what the PGCC will look like – Awful!

What do the lawyers marching in Putrajaya, the ordinary people struggling for democracy in Burma and those campaigning against the Penang Global City Centre Project have in common?

They are all part of the global justice movement, trying to create a real alternative to the decaying structures and oppressive forces in society. Trying to build a more just and sustainable world – a world where human dignity is respected and no one is oppressed. A world where the environment – God’s gift to humanity – is considered sacred.

So congratulations to the 1,500 courageous Malaysians who marched in Putrajaya despite the obstacles in their path. Even though the police stopped the buses from entering Putrajaya, the lawyers got off and started walking.

As lawyers committed to the cause of justice, you have given all Malaysians a ray of hope. You have lit a candle – nay, a thousand five hundred candles – in the darkness that shrouds our land. Let’s continue to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (Read Aliran president P Ramakrishnan’s latest statement rejecting the 3-man “independent” panel, headed by Haidar, who played an appalling role in the 1988 judicial crisis.)

Malaysians, Burmese march for democracy

Monks have been leading tens of thousands of people as protests rock Burma

People are on the march in both Malaysia and Burma in their quest for justice and freedom.

The Malaysian Bar Council is organising a march of lawyers from the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya to the Prime Minister’s Office on the morning of Wed, 26 Sept after the explosive revelations in a widely circulated videoclip. They are expected to be joined by activists and other concerned Malaysians.

This is a piece I wrote for Asia Times Online:

Malaysia’s judiciary on Candid Camera
By Anil Netto

PENANG, Malaysia – On May 27, 1988, then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, his party faced with a legal challenge from rivals that threatened his leadership, summoned Malaysia’s top judge, Salleh Abas, and gave him an ultimatum: resign or face a judicial tribunal. That secret private meeting led to suspension of Salleh and five other top judges (three of whom were later reinstated). It precipitated a crisis from which the judiciary has never recovered.

Today, the once-powerful Mahathir, 82, is under sedation in intensive care after surgery to treat a infection following a heart-bypass operation on September 4.

And today, the credibility of the judiciary itself is also on life support after explosive revelations in a widely circulated (including on YouTube) eight-minute video clip featuring what appears to be a well-connected senior lawyer, V K Lingam, purportedly discussing promotions and factionalism among senior judges over the phone with Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, the No 3 judge in the country at the time the clip was recorded on a mobile phone in 2002. Full article

PGCC and CGCC

Well, you all know what PGCC is by now – the massive RM25 billion Penang Greenwash… err, I mean Global… City Centre project.

And CGCC? That’s Catastrophic Global Climate Change.

If we go ahead with PGCC, it would only add to CGCC.

If you are not convinced that building 37 “tombstones” (high-rise towers) on the Penang Turf Club green space is a terrible idea, then consider this dire warning published in the Independent:

‘Too late to avoid global warming,’ say scientists

By Cahal Milmo

Published: 19 September 2007

A rise of two degrees centigrade in global temperatures – the point considered to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change which will expose millions to drought, hunger and flooding – is now “very unlikely” to be avoided, the world’s leading climate scientists said yesterday….

In its latest assessment of the progress of climate change, the body said: “If warming is not kept below two degrees centigrade, which will require the strongest mitigation efforts, and currently looks very unlikely to be achieved, the substantial global impacts will occur, such as species extinctions, and millions of people at risk from drought, hunger, flooding.”

Under the scale of risk used by IPCC, the words “very unlikely” mean there is just a one to 10 per cent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to two degrees centigrade or less.

Professor Martin Parry, a senior Met Office scientist and co-chairman of the IPCC committee which produced the report, said he believed it would now be “very difficult” to achieve the target and that governments need to combine efforts to “mitigate” climate change by reducing CO2 emissions with “adaptation” to tackle active consequences such as crop failure and flooding.

Speaking at the Royal Geographical Society, he said: “Ten years ago we were talking about these impacts affecting our children and our grandchildren. Now it is happening to us.”

“Even if we achieve a cap at two degrees, there is a stock of major impacts out there already and that means adaptation. You cannot mitigate your way out of this problem… The choice is between a damaged world or a future with a severely damaged world.”

The IPCC assessment states that up to two billion people worldwide will face water shortages and up to 30 per cent of plant and animal species would be put at risk of extinction if the average rise in temperature stabilises at 1.5C to 2.5C.

This warning should have been splashed on the front-pages of newspapers around the world with large bold headlines. Instead, the reports were largely tucked in the inside pages of our newspapers so that hardly anyone noticed them.

Migrant workers vs expatriates – glaring double standards

Today, I dropped by to check out the Migrants Sunday celebrations organised by the Migrant Workers Support Centre on mainland Penang.

As I looked around at the gathering of workers from Burma, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, I couldn’t help thinking about the double standards we practise when we think of foreign workers.

Why should there be double standards when both categories comprise human beings, workers, who have come to our land to make an honest living?

Let’s look at some of the glaring differences:

Fahmi Reza’s outstanding film on the 1947 hartal

Remember the name – Fahmi Reza, the worthy winner of the Freedom Film Festival 2007. Last night I headed for the opening day’s screenings at the Actors’ Studio in Penang, mainly to see Fahmi’s “Sepuluh tahun sebelum Merdeka” – and I was not disappointed. It was the best local political documentary I had seen. The film focused on the first multi-ethnic political coalition in the country and depicted the events leading to the 1947 nationwide hartal or total national strike.

The visionary women and men behind the hartal were nine years ahead of their time in coming up with constitutional proposals for a “Melayu” citizenship covering all the major races. In fact, the term “Melayu” to describe citizenship for all was surprisingly well received even by the non-Malays.

The hartal had the backing of left-wing Malay nationalist groups, middle-class English-speaking non-Malays, even the Chinese Chambers of Commerce, women’s groups, and yes, the MIC too! It was a broad-ranging movement that was determined to seek Independence.

Of course, the British preferred to deal with Umno, which did not threaten colonial economic interests at that time, and completely ignored the Putera-AMCJA coalition’s constitutional proposals.