Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Forum on Islamic state to bring together politicians, academics

Harakahdaily,31 October 2012

Oct 31: A forum to be held this Saturday on the theme of the Islamic state, a subject which has been generating much noise recently in Malaysia as well as in several other Muslim-majority nation-states, will see the participation of academics, activists and politicians from Pakatan Rakyat.

Organised jointly by the Christian-based Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI) and Muslim NGO Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), the premise for the discussion will be laid down by Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, the IRF’s director who is also a critic of the Islamic state concept, in his paper “The Islamic State: Which Version? Whose responsibility?”

The event, to be held at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in USJ, Subang, will be moderated by former president of the Bar Council Dr Cyrus Das, and will see the participation of Lembah Pantai member of parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar, PAS’s Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Sarawak PKR leader and Ba'kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian, head of Malay Studies Department at the National University of Singapore Dr. Syed Farid Alatas, lawyer and rights activist Malik Imtiaz, social activist Dr. Wong Chin Huat, and Christian activist and lawyer Kenny Ng.

The forum among others is expected to touch on the compatibility of the Islamic state concept with modern democracy, and how such a state can exist within the realities of modern multicultural societies, especially against a backdrop of countries which have implemented the Shariah but which continue to face the same, if not worse, problems faced by secular states.

Explaining the forum’s theme to Harakahdaily, the organisers said Dr Farouk in his speech would seek to detail the intricacies of the discourse and attempt to offer “real, practical alternatives” to the Islamic state.

“The goal is to show that there can be an Islamic society, where Islam can flourish harmoniously among people of other faiths, without there being any need for an Islamic state,” they added.

The event will start at 9.00 am, with an admission fee of RM10. For further information, email Ehsan Shahwahid at ehsanshahwahid@gmail.com, or call 0122631160. 
~ Harakah Daily

'No confidence' the reason for 'trumpet-blowing'


  • Aidila Razak
  • 4:30PM Oct 31, 2012
 
Malaysians leak information to the opposition, instead of going straight to the authorities, because there is "an issue with confidence" in the authorities, Transparency International-Malaysia says.

However, this situation renders the whistleblower vulnerable to repercussions as the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 only provides a shield for those who go straight toNONE enforcement agencies. 

"There is a weakness in the Act, and there is now a question as to whether those who blow the whistle (to parties) outside of enforcement agencies will be given protection," TI-M president Paul Low (right) said today.

Low said whistleblowers have provided information to opposition political parties instead as they feared their identity would be revealed or that they would receive a hostile reception from the enforcement agencies.

"They also have no confidence that their complaints will be investigated," he said when contacted. 

In other countries, Low said, an independent agency is set up to receive all whistleblower complaints.

"We have the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), but it was not set up to receive complaints from whistleblowers," he added. 

However, whistleblowing should not be done to gain publicity or politicise a matter, as in the case of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) exposes. 

"For NFC, it was highly-politicised. If it was just to blow the whistle, the information would be revealed at once and not bit by bit," he said. 

Low was commenting on de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement to Parliament that protection could not be given to those who exposed information on the NFC scandal. 

Nazri said PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli, who was at the forefront of the expose, was not a whistleblower, but a "trumpet-blower" as he had raised the red flag publicly. 

'AG can choose who to prosecute'

Rafizi and a former bank employee have since been charged under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 for exposing banking records of the NFC and its directors. 

NFC chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail has since been charged with criminal breach of trust and violations of the Companies Act 1965.

NONEMeanwhile, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee (left) said even if the Whistleblowers Act could not apply to Rafizi, the attorney-general still had "almost absolute discretion" on whether to charge Rafizi. 

"Over and beyond the issue of technical compliance with the Act, the AG has almost absolute discretion in law in prosecution. 

"One wonders whether this is an appropriate case for charges not to proceed because of the public interest served by Rafizi's public disclosure of the NFC scandal," Lim said in an email toMalaysiakini.

However, he added, Rafizi's team should seek to challenge the decision to prosecute the PKR leader "if it is able to show that he is, in fact and in law, a whistleblower".

~ Malaysiakini

Covert military hand in M'sian politics?


  • Lam Choong Wah
  • 12:05PM Oct 31, 2012
 
COMMENT In the middle of April 2011, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, better known as RPK, dropped a bombshell in denying his sensational statutory declaration dated June 2008.

NONEHe claimed that he had been misled into making a false allegation against Rosmah Mansor, wife of premier Najib Abdul Razak. 

The sources of information who RPK (left) named were persons close to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and one Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin from ‘military intelligence’. 

However, then defence force head Jen Azizan Ariffin clarified that the information provided by Azmi Zainal was false and had never been in the possession of the armed forces. He also said Azmi Zainal’s “actions are personal and have no relation to the armed forces”.

Azizan’s statement does not absolve the military of wrongdoing. He did not clarify whether or not the military intelligence had been involved in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu or if it was secretly interfering in politics.

military malaysia armed forces 010906 armoured divisionIt is worth noting that Malaysia, which  practices Westminster parliamentary democracy, bars the military from taking part in politics, to maintain independence and honour. An independent armed forces ensures the success of a bipartisan political system and prevents attempts at a coup d’etat.

However, the ‘military intelligence’ mentioned by RPK does not exist in the armed forces. The correct authority is the Defence Staff Intelligence Division (BSPP). 

It is the most secret unit in the armed forces and is headed by a director-general who is also a three-star general. Generally, its responsibilities include the planning and execution of relevant actions to counter or neutralise sabotage or negative and covert hostile operations, as well as to conduct electronic and psychological warfare. 

It can conduct joint intelligence gathering with other organisations within or outside the country, but only with the defence minister’s approval and a directive from the defence force chief.

As the BSPP is deemed a strategic tool, its development has always been accorded priority. It is believed that its intelligence gathering capability is more advanced than that of the police special branch.

This capability is more than sufficient to pry into political information. So, the question is, has BSPP done so?

Public ‘admission’ of interference

Two interesting news reports could shed some light on this.

First, in July 2006, then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was attacked with pepper spray when he arrived in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, to attend a political seminar. 

The police immediately arrested dozens of people for investigation, including seven army personnel from the 8th Brigade. But what were they doing there? 

najib mahathir pak lah umno 2009 agm final day 280309 02Second, after the BN encountered its biggest defeat in the 2008 general election, Mahathir held a press conference on March 9, during which he denounced premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s under-performance.
He also claimed that Abdullah’s refusal to take the advice of the special branch and military intelligence unit not to call a general election, had contributed to the BN’s electoral defeat.

Take note: This was the first time a top national leader publicly admitted that the military intelligence was ‘involved’ in politics.

While the BSPP did not violate any law, its behaviour went against its ethics and the democratic system.

It is self-evident that making an intelligence agency, whether the BSPP or special branch, a private consulting group is a violation of good governance, and must be challenged immediately. 

In light of this, there is a pressing need to make the government reveal more information about allegations by Mahathir and RPK, in particular the BSPP’s apparent involvement in politics. 

It is also time to enact laws, as the US has done, to prohibit and monitor the government’s use of intelligence agencies to spy on political opponents or to serve its own political interests. 

And it is the duty of the rakyat to prevent political espionage in Malaysia.

LAM CHOONG WAH is a former military reporter and defence analyst. He holds a Master's degree in Strategic and Defence Studies.

~ Malaysiakini

Wong wants clear decision on his position in party



by Raymond Tan. Posted on October 31, 2012, Wednesday

SIBU: SUPP Sibu branch chairman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh wants a straight “Yes or No” answer from Datuk Seri Peter Chin’s faction on whether they would sack him from SUPP.


In a press statement yesterday, Wong, who is the Second Finance Minister and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, said he failed to see why Chin’s faction had been dragging their feet.

He added there was no such need to delay announcing whether they would sack him or whether they would leave the State Barisan Nasional.

Wong said he had been flooded with queries from reporters yesterday for his view concerning Chin’s team deferring the announcement to tomorrow.

“They have been dragging on with the issue. First, they announced after their Sept 23 Central Working Committee meeting about leaving State BN and sacking me.

“Then, the whole matter plunged to a total silence until on Sept 30 when newspapers carried words from Chin appealing to party branches to submit evidence and complaints to sack me.”

Wong said the newspapers then reported on Monday that his fate would be known by Tuesday when Chin’s faction would meet.

“It is just a simple “yes or no” to sack me. They already have the answer, yet, they sealed their lips.”

He said the delay would only affect the image of the party, and this might not be good for the coming general election.

He said Chin had argued that the delayed announcement was to avoid the media getting the verbal statement wrong in their reports.

“Such an explanation cannot be accepted. I have been flooded with calls to show concern; some people felt something is wrong in the delay decision; they were asking whether Chin’s faction was up to playing some games.

“They wanted me to watch out.”

Wong called on Chin’s faction not to keep harping on side issues.

He said the party should focus on the coming general election and not to fan sentiments by discussing whether they would leave State BN and whether they would sack party leaders.

Meanwhile, on a separate issue, Wong said he respected the decision of Chin’s faction to field Wilfred Yap in Stampin parliamentary constituency.

He said although he and the majority of the people in Kuching had felt incumbent Datuk Yong

Khoon Seng would have a better chance to retain the seat, he accepted the decision.

He said he would not comment further now but insisted he would stick to his view on Yong being a more favourable choice.

~ The Borneo Post


Angry Baram villagers protest against their leaders


Joseph Tawie

October 31, 2012
Orang Ulu natives in Baram gathered to protest against their community leaders whom they claimed misrepresented them.
BARAM: Some 450 villagers from all over Baram held a demonstration here on Monday to protest against their community leaders who pledged support for the Baram Hydro Electric project without consulting them.
Watching over the protesting natives in the sleepy town of Long Lama were about 100 police personnel who were assisted by squads from the riot police. A police helicopter flew overhead scanning the situation on the ground.
No untoward incident happened and the demonstration proceeded smoothly with the crowd only dispersing about an hour later.
The demonstration began at around 10am, outside the Long Lama Sub-District Office with the villagers then proceeding to march around the town shouting slogans “Stop Baram Dam” in the different ethnic Orang Ulu dialects.
Banners and placards stating ‘Stop Baram Dam and Stop Mega Dams’ were unfurled during the demonstration followed by cries from the villagers to call on the government and the relevant authorities to listen to their pleas.
The crowd would have been bigger if certain timber camp managers around Baram had not warned their employees from going into Long Lama town.
Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) chairman Philip Jau addressed the crowd, saying that the majority of the people in Baram rejected the proposed Baram HEP and advised the community leaders against supporting certain politicians with vested interest.
“Our community leaders should stand strong and listen to the peoples’ concerns instead of being easily manipulated by politicians with vested interest in this project.
“If you do not listen to the plight of the people, then the people will have no respect for their community leaders,” he said.
Jau further urged the politicians not to manipulating the community leaders.
Misleading statement
The demonstration was held in conjunction with the Native Court proceeding initiated against Temenggong Pahang after the group failed to get him to retract his statement in the media dated May 18, 2012 under the headline ‘Community Support for Baram Dam’.
In the article, Temenggong Pahang was quoted as saying that ‘after initial misgivings, the people who will be affected by the Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP) have collectively agreed to give their support to its implementation’.
This statement, according to Dorus Katan of Long Tap, Akah, who initiated the suit, was wrong, false and misleading and had created a lot of confusion and anger among the majority of the Orang Ulu community in Baram.
Temenggong Pahang Deng was charged for allegedly violating the adat or customs of the Kayan-Kenyah community.
The Native Court presided over by a community leader Penghulu Lenjau struck out the case on a technicality.
According to Dorus, he will review the court’s decision by consulting legal experts and will decide soon on the next course of action.
~ Free Malaysia Today

Longhouse folk complain of no electricity supply



Posted on October 31, 2012, Wednesday

SARIKEI: Residents of 11 longhouses along Jalan Ulu Nunggang, Babai in Pakan near here are wondering when they could enjoy the much-awaited electricity supply.


A resident, Chuseng Maling of Rumah Datu, told The Borneo Post the longhouses were supposed to enjoy electricity supply from the main grid through the government’s rural electricity supply scheme (RES) which was scheduled to be completed by March, June and August this year.

“Now it is already the end of October, yet we are still left in the dark on when the much-awaited electricity supply would come to our longhouses.

“Although the main cables have been laid, transformers installed and the internal wirings in place for quite some time already, we wonder where things have gone wrong that cause the delay in the commissioning of the power supply to our longhouses,” he asked.

The other longhouses sharing the same plight are Rumah Jambai, Rumah Saba, Rumah Jamet, Rumah Rimau, Rumah Unchat, Rumah Melaka, Rumah Dalang, Rumah Tambi, Rumah Abu and Rumah Jugah, he said.

According to Chuseng, all the residents had paid for the cost of internal wiring and installation of meters to Sesco.

They had also brought up the problem to the attention of Julau Member of Parliament Datuk Joseph Salang, Pakan district officer, Sesco and the contractor involved but till now they had yet to get any good news, he added.

~ The Borneo Post


Murum Dam: Listen to the Penans


October 31, 2012

The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full support.
COMMENT
By Kua Kia Soong
The Penans have been blockading against the construction of the 944MW Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012. More than 1,600 Penans from eight Penan villages (including one Kenyah Badeng longhouse) are affected by the construction of the dam which is now about 70% completed.
Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project have been forced to use ferryboats or tugboats through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site.
This is a new and different factor compared to the campaign against the Bakun dam in previous years.
While we had built a campaign against the Bakun Dam in the past, there was no action by the indigenous peoples affected on a scale comparable to the Murum Dam blockade.
The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full solidarity and support their struggle in all possible ways.
The Murum Penan communities are among the poorest in Malaysia. They have traditionally been hunter-gatherers but shifted to a more settled, agriculture-based way of life approximately 40 years ago.
They rely on subsistence-based farming and hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products and the occasional sale of in-season fruit. Their livelihood has been adversely affected by low farm productivity and rapidly declining forest resources because of plantation and dam building projects.
The Bakun Dam fiasco
The Sarawak state government with federal government support, has been carrying out highly irresponsible economic projects to the detriment of the environment, the indigenous peoples’ lives and the long-term interest of the Sarawak and Malaysian tax payers.
The 2,400MW Bakun Dam project has already proven to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap.
Those who cherish their heritage and human rights would describe their fate as ethnocide if they have seen for themselves the conditions at Sg. Asap.
The total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1,000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well.
Another investment is a coal-fired power station to take up the excess energy. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).
In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by the developed countries.
None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own backyard. But the Sarawak state government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes.
The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy after the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done before the dam was built.
Is it surprising therefore that many Score contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib’s family?
As if this Bakun Dam fiasco was not enough, the Sarawak state government intends to build 12 mega dams in all which will strip the state of its rainforest and displace even more indigenous communities.
Violating international standards
The Murum Dam is the first of these 12 dams. The dam construction is being supervised by China Three Gorges Corporation and built by Chinese dam builder Sinohydro.
After their massive investments in the Three Gorges project, you can be sure these Chinese companies are hungry for investments in other hydropower projects in Sarawak.
With such a large development scheme, international best practice calls for a “strategic environmental and social assessment.”
Such an assessment looks at the overall impact that a large development scheme can have as was done for the proposed “Greater Mekong Sub-region” energy network by the Asian Development Bank.
No such strategic economic, environmental and social assessment has been conducted for Score.
If the Bakun Dam project is to be any guide, the Sarawak government’s energy demand forecasts appear to be based more on nothing more than wishful thinking rather than detailed feasibility studies.
Malaysian taxpayers, be warned that all these mega projects will entail an onerous debt burden on the Sarawak and Malaysian public. You can be sure that there will be electricity tariff hikes after the 13th general election.
There are many energy alternatives for Sarawak beyond large hydroelectric power projects such as small-scale hydropower, solar and other forms of renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, more efficiently run and managed power plants, among others.
Above all, such environmentally friendly power projects respects the indigenous peoples’ lifestyles while efforts can put into helping them with better transport systems, marketing channels and other forms of development they may require.
The Murum Dam project is in violation of the international standards on indigenous rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of which Malaysia is a signatory.
The Murum Dam is nearing completion but the resettlement report is still being withheld.
As for the Bakun Dam, all studies related to the projects have not been transparent. The affected Penan and Kenyah have stated that they have never been asked for consent as demanded by the UNDRIP.
The project developer, Sarawak’s state-owned electricity generating company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has not provided indigenous communities with an opportunity to grant or withhold their “free, prior and informed consent” for the project as required by UNDRIP.
Even in cases where there was agreement, however, it was neither free from coercion; the resettlement plan was not made known to the indigenous peoples prior to the start of the construction, and they were not informed by access to information about the project’s impacts.
The social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the Murum project is seriously flawed.
International standards—including the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards—universally require that the SEIA must be completed during the design phase, before the government approves the project and before construction begins.
This was not the case with the Murum Dam Project. The SEIA process did not even begin until after construction on the project was already underway. The Sarawak government has not yet disclosed the Murum Dam Project’s SEIA to the public or to the affected communities.
The indigenous peoples’ demands
Without transparent access to the crucial information at the centre of this project, the affected communities were placed in an unfair situation when the Sarawak government asked them to negotiate a resettlement package.
The monthly allowance to be paid after resettlement falls below the poverty level and ends after four years.
However, the state government turned down the other demands of the Penan, which included compensation of RM500,000 for each family for the loss of their customary land.
Their other demands were 30,000 hectares of land for every village, 25 hectares for every farming family, education for their children, a community development fund and rights to their land that is not submerged by the dam waters.
The indigenous communities affected by the Murum Dam project have already issued a memorandum describing how the government could still remedy the situation.
Support the Murum indigenous peoples now! Sign the Murum Appeal at http://www.sarawakreport.org/murum-appeal or atsaveriversnet@gmail.com. You can support their blockade by donating to their cause at these two websites.
Kua Kia Soong is human rights NGO Suaram adviser.
~ Free Malaysia Today

Overseas vote - crawling to the finish line


  • William de Cruz
  • 10:51AM Oct 31, 2012
 
COMMENT The court case that has seen six overseas Malaysians fight the Election Commission (EC) after it rejected their application to become postal voters has moved tantalisingly toward some form of closure.

The litigants, all living in Britain, had on Oct 24 called for an adjournment after the commission's senior federal counsel (SFC) verbally notified them that the EC would change the regulations.

Although no formal statement was presented in court, the SFC told Justice Clement Allan Skinner that the EC was working to allow the litigants (and other eligible overseas Malaysians) to vote by post.

On Oct 27, three days after the adjournment was fixed for Feb 28, 2013, Malaysiakini reported that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was set to introduce postal voting for all overseas Malaysians, after being notified that the EC would amend the relevant rules and that implementation would follow shortly after.

The ministry said the amendments had not been distributed to parliamentarians and gazetted, "but our staff at all embassies and representative offices are ever ready".

NONEDeputy Foreign Affairs Minister A Kohilan Pillay (left) told Berita Harian that action would be taken once the amendments were adopted and gazetted, to ensure information on postal voting reaches Malaysians overseas.

The amendments are now expected to be tabled during the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

However, the case launched by the Malaysians - Teo Hoon Seong, Vinesh Vijayan, Paramjeet Singh, Yolanda Augustin, Sim Tze Wei and Leong See See - has not concluded formally.

The long-running saga behind Teo vs EC began in 2011, soon after the six formally applied to the EC to be registered as postal voters. The applications were rejected and the legal challenge against the commission's decision not to recognise their voting rights - which are supported in the federal constitution - was lodged.

On Jan 6 this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court threw out their case in a decision that was decried by lawyers who argued that the judge, Justice Rohana Yusof, had missed the point of their legal challenge.

My Overseas Vote (MOV), which is supporting the six Malaysians and advising the case, maintains on its website that the court appears to have misunderstood the challenge, which struck at the heart of the 2002 Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations.

azlanPapers presented in the case state that the regulations are arbitrary and discriminatory because the EC had prescribed to only allow government servants, military personnel and students (and their spouses) to be considered as absent voters, while depriving all other eligible Malaysians living overseas that same right to vote by post.

More importantly, the six have argued that the regulations stood as a violation of the constitution, which explicitly allows for voting by absent voters who are not resident in a constituency, including themselves.

The litigants asked the court to declare that they are entitled to be absent voters or, alternatively, to direct the EC to extend ‘absent voter’ definitions in its regulations so they would include the six citizens and other Malaysians resident overseas.

Nevertheless, Justice Rohana stated in her written judgment that the court cannot order the EC to make regulations to include the six as overseas voters because the court's duty is only to interpret the laws.

This stunned the litigants, their lawyer Edmund Bon who continues to represent his clients pro bono, and the legal fraternity.

‘Duty toward fair vote’

The Oct 27 announcement and the EC's about-turn in court three days earlier implies that the commission has discriminated against the litigants in spite of their constitutional rights, and it would appear that the six have won the argument.

NONELead litigant Teo (right), asked why she had put herself forward in the case, said: "There is only so long that you can sit back and watch your country go down the drain."

Co-litigant and trustee in the matter See-See Leong said: "We don't see the EC amending the regulations as a bonus. It is their duty to ensure voting is fair to all the electorate.

"They had over a year to amend the current regulations, which discriminates voters on the basis of their profession.

"The EC now has less than a month to amend, gazette and lay the regulations before the Dewan Rakyat before the parliamentary sitting ends on Nov 27. Will they struggle to fulfil their duty again?"

MOV says fighting for 1 million Malaysians abroad to become postal voters remains its top priority.

"Inseparable from this is our insistence on a longer campaign period and secure means of handling the ballot,” it said.

"If the regulations are not amended before the parliamentary sitting ends, we will apply to bring forward the hearing at the Court of Appeal."

Until the events of last week, the EC had not been seen to have acted on the parliamentary directive to recognise nearly 1 million overseas citizens as postal voters.

NONEMalaysians may now rightfully ask: Has EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (left) shown himself as unqualified for his all-important job, or has he chosen to discriminate within those powers?

MOV considers it is "inconceivable" that the EC does not know its powers, considering its own legal staff and an annual budget of RM700 million.

The actions of its chairperson, measured against matters of law and the constitution, until recently depicted a very disturbing pattern of arbitrary discrimination, ignorance of the very legislation he must work to and, above all, contempt of the Dewan Rakyat itself.

Consider that the Elections Act 1958 empowers the commission to regulate to register voters, including the ability to determine electors. Specifically, it also allows the commission to ‘prescribe the facilities to be provided for voting by post and the persons entitled to vote by post’.

But while the chairperson and his commission continued to spite the six Malaysians in Teo vs EC and, by extension, nearly 1 million Malaysians overseas, Abdul Aziz used his power to grant postal-voter status to previously ineligible spouses of police officers in the General Operations Forces.

High stakes

As farcical as all this may sound, the fact remains that six lone Malaysians continue to risk great financial pain and immeasurable personal strain for the crime of demanding their constitutional rights of the EC.

The electoral numbers behind extending postal-vote status to all eligible Malaysians go towards explaining why the EC has avoided doing the right thing, perhaps because its chairperson views himself as a government servant, when he is in fact in service of the public.

azlanAccording to MOV, which has supported the legal challenge, introducing 1 million Malaysians as voters will mean an increase of up to 9 percent to the electoral roll - a surge in voter numbers that spells disaster for BN, which lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the now historic elections of 2008.

There is now every indication that the 13th general election will be called after the Chinese New Year in February 2013.

It still remains to be seen how fast the EC will meaningfully act to allow 1 million overseas Malaysians to vote by post in that general election.

The stakes are high for Malaysia, considering how such a huge voting bloc may spell the difference between a slim majority and a landslide win for Pakatan Rakyat.

At the same time, Malaysians once again face being denied a clear and present chance to democratically change government after 55 years of Umno-dominated rule under the BN.

In the wake of denial of their constitutional rights, the travesty of voter discrimination by Abdul Aziz, contempt of Parliament and mounting legal costs, the six Malaysians in Britain insist they will fight on.

Leong said: "We are fighting alongside Ambiga Sreenevasan and Bersih. Like them, we treat this as a job we have to do."

WILLIAM DE CRUZ is a Malaysian who resides in Sydney. He fully intends to fly home to Malaysia to vote in the 13th general election.

~ Malaysiakini