Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bukit Aman "lost" to Kg Taman Aman: A victory for all victims of police brutalities

11 years ago, I was beaten up badly by the FRU of the police force when I was trying to help the residents of Kg Taman Aman, Petaling Jaya, whose houses were being demolished.

Dr Syed Husin Ali (President of Party Rakyat Malaysia at that time) and his wife Puan Sabariah were with me when the ugly incident took place on 18 September 1995 at around 9am in the morning. I was then the National Secretary of DAP Socialist Youth.

I have wanted the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor and OCPD of Petaling Jaya Datuk Johar Che Din to apologize to me and also take disciplinary actions against the FRU commander ASP Suleiman and those who have used brutal force on me but to no avail.

I have no choice but to bring the matter to courts two years after the incident. I would not have sued both the IGP and PJ OCPD if they have apologized to me.

The case was dragged on for nine years and finally On Tuesday, 11 July 2006, I was awarded a total of RM 21,220 in damages by the Sessions court judge Latifah Mohd Tahar.

She ordered the defendants to pay RM3, 000 in general damages, RM 18,000 in aggravated damages and RM220 in specific damages, plus cost and interest.

"Although the police were given powers to execute their duties, no one is above the law," she said.

She also described the FRU's action was "melampau" (too much, overreacted).

However, Latifah said she was not awarding exemplary damages because the defendants' action cannot be categorized as an act of arbitrary or contravenes the Constitution. I beg to differ on this point of contention.

I must thank my councils Gobind Singh Deo and A Magesan of Karpal Singh & Co. for putting up a great performance in both cross examinations and submission of my case. Gobind has taken up my case on pro bono basis out of comradeship, friendship and solidarity. I must also thank all members and well-wishers who have given their support and encouragement to me throughout the trial.

I have described the victory as a victory for me and all other victims of police brutalities when I was asked to comment to the reporters outside the courts.

The message sent out by the judge is crystal clear- the police cannot simply beat up any civilian in the course of their duties.

I also hope that the court's decision would go a long way in helping to reduce police brutalities in future and Malaysia could become a safer place for all Malaysians.

For living without fear is a basic human right.

And I hope the PDRM would not appeal* to the higher courts as 11 years is already "too long" a delay for justice.

And Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.

*Note: I was informed by my council A. Magesan that the PDRM has decided not to appeal. You can ask me for a drink the next time you see me:-)

Central Thursday August 31, 2006

Taking their woes ‘to parliament’

After nine weeks of peaceful demonstrations to oppose the closure of a toll-free access road, Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents brought their predicament to the attention of Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang at the Parliament House on Tuesday.

The 32-strong group also took the opportunity to submit a memorandum to the Works Ministry, which was received by Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu’s political secretary.
In the meeting, the residents lamented that they have to travel an extra 6.5km to get to the Cheras-Kajang Highway, sharing a usually congested access road with Bandar Sungai Long residents.

They also protest at having to pay a 60 sen toll at Cheras 11th Mile to head to town.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras Free Access Road committee chairman Tan Boon Wah updating residents on the matter at a recent protest.They said the developer had promised them the toll-free access road at point of purchase.

Therefore, even though the concessionaire for the Cheras-Kajang Highway, Grand Saga Sdn Bhd, has built concrete barriers on the completed road to prevent traffic leakage, Bandar Mahkota’s developer should keep its word and fight for residents with its financial ability.

Also present at the meeting with Lim were five DAP MPs, namely Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Chong Eng (Bukit Mertajam) and Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah), as well as Bandar Mahkota Cheras Free Access Road advisor Ronnie Liu.

Lim said he would personally discuss the issue with Samy Vellu, and would bring it up in parliament especially when the debate on the 2007 Budget began next week.

“This matter reflects the government’s attitude of siding privatised companies such as road concessionaires, while turning a deaf ear to the people’s cries, unless if there’s enormous pressure,” Lim said.

He commended the determination shown by residents, “even in a situation where the MP and assemblyman of your area do not help you much on the matter”.

Tan commented that the matter reflected the nucleus of problems resulting from government’s privatisation moves.

“We see no transparency. We have no access to the documents that are always said to be private and confidential. Moreover, these privatised companies are always protected.”

“I have learned that the developer obtained approval to build the road in 1994 while the concessionaire was granted the right to collect toll at the highway in 1995.

“Grand Saga started collecting toll on the highway on Jan 1, 1999, and until June 30 this year, the collection has already amounted to RM253mil.

“The concessionaire will be able to cover its costs even before June next year. It is granted right to collect toll until 2027, and permitted to revise toll rates next year, the profit it makes is too substantial to imagine,” Tan added.

Liu said Grand Saga did not have legal ground to barricade the access road, as the area belonged to the developer.

“Every time we stage a protest, more than 50 police personnel will be manning the area. On several occasions they even issued compounds to motorists who parked their cars there. This is unfair,” he said.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents have been staging peaceful protests every Sunday.

At the last demonstration, Liu related an unofficial meeting with Samy Vellu. “Datuk Seri said the government approved the road on the ground that Bandar Mahkota Cheras developer has to compensate Grand Saga for their loss, which is estimated to be RM442mil in total in 27 years. But the developer has refused to do so. Now it is up to us to settle the matter, we need to voice up,” he said to a round of applause.

He also told the crowd that Grand Saga had responded to the matter in a press statement published in China Press the day before, that they have the right to prevent leakage of traffic.

The MPs expressed their approval on the residents’ firm stand, and urged them to continue voicing their discontentment through gathering more like-minded persons until their will was fulfilled.

Developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd’s spokesperson said the company had fulfilled its obligation by completing the said access road in compliance with conditions required under the approval.

She added that the company has had several meetings with residents, relevant authorities and the concessionaire, and would continue seeking ways to resolve the matter.

Grand Saga executive director Zainal Abidin Ali, when contacted, said the concessionaire had referred the matter to the Malaysian Highway Authority and was in no position to comment any further.

Source:Metro - The Star 31 Aug 2006

Interview at Suhakam on Sat 26 Aug 06

I was interviewed by two Suhakam officers (the Head of Complaints Department and the Principal Assistant Secretary) prior to the pending public hearing on the May 28 "bloody" incident where Amran and few other protesters (against fuels and electricity hikes) were beaten up badly by FRU members outside the KLCC.

I have officially registered my complaints with the Suhakam officers about the excessive violence used by the FRU and other police officers, and the helicoptor which was hovering dangerously above the crowd throughout the peaceful gathering.

I was arrested in the middle of my speech without any warnings from the police. The first shot of water cannons was targeted right at me. I was arrested by ASP Yahya and another Chinese police officer from the Dang Wangi police station.

The protest was organised by NGOs and opposition parties including the DAP. The action committee was headed by Dr Hatta Ramli of PAS.

Racial slurs and dangerous trend under the Abdullah administration.

Khairy Jamaluddin and Rafidah Aziz were both under heavy attack by the former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It’s therefore no surprise to us that both of them now resorted to play racial cards to save their own skins.

And the criticism targeted on Khairy and Rafidah during the assemblies of MCA and its both youth and women wings were nothing but calculated moves by Ong Ka Ting, Leow Tiong Lai and Ng Yen Yen as both of these UMNO leaders will not be able to defend themselves as both of them were now struggling for their own political survival in their own party.

But the racial slurs made by various UMNO leaders were not checked by its top leaders like Abdullah and Najib and this is really worrying.

But can you blame Khairy and Rafidah when even the Prime Minister himself is now talking about projects in Penang should only be given to Bumiputras when he was asked to comment on the so-called marginalization of Penang Malays.

We can now rightly say that Abdullah is a leader not for all races as he claims. He is also not as liberal and open as he claims.

Because he has drawn up the Nine Malaysian Plan which is by and large a revival of New Economic Policy. Several menteri besars including the Selangor MB have started to introduce monopoly on trades and licensing to Bumiputra companies and we have yet to see any reactions or interventions from the Prime Minister. The distribution of fuels, rice, sugar and the extraction of sands and even printing jobs were being transferred one by one from the hands of Non- Bumis to Bumis.

Because he has ordered Article 11 and other NGOs to stop all public discussions on freedom of religion. But he allowed the Muslim groups to hold such discussions.

Because he has hinted for a press with even more restrictions. Even the Internet would be scrutinized closely by his administration.

Because he has stopped many projects given to the cronies of the last administration but allowed his own cronies and even family members to take up new projects under his administration. Conflict of interest does not seem to have any relevance in his eyes. Even Tun Mahathir is now suggesting that Abdullah is more blatant than him in the respect of business dealings involving their own children.

Because he has even publicly claimed that vernacular schools like Chinese and Tamil ones were not good for national unity. He has subsequently denied what he has said through one of his personal secretaries.

Malaysians must wake up to the fact that they cannot depend and trust Abdullah as their Prime Minister anymore. He is a weak and indecisive leader. He has failed to implement things that he has promised to deliver.

We hope he can prove us wrong by implementing all that he has promised to do in the last general elections. Until then, he cannot be seen as a leader for all Malaysians.

/ Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
(posted on and on monday aug 28 2006)

About the lack of enthusiasm in celebrating Merdeka.

Malaysians are celebrating its 49th Independence Day today.

Some top government leaders have complained about the lack of enthusiasm in flying the national flag and even accused those who fail to do so as unpatriotic.

It’s true that there is a serious lack of enthusiasm in celebrating Hari Merdeka among Malaysians.

But do those government leaders know the reasons behind the phenomenon?

It has something to do with how far we have succeeded as a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural society after 49 years of Independence.

Racial slurs from the mouths of top government leaders could be heard every other day and numerous biased and divisive pro-Bumiputra policies are here to stay. These two factors itself have turned away many from the Merdeka celebration.

Do these government leaders realize that many Malaysians were disillusioned by various racial policies and racial slurs practiced and uttered by them? I believe more will fly the flags without persuasion if they feel that they were being treated fairly in their own country.

The current inflation and sluggish market have further dampened the mood of Merdeka celebration. Would Ahmad, Gurusamy and Ah Chong bring his families to Dataran Merdeka if they have not even gotten enough money to buy milk powder to feed their children?

Workers who were denied of minimum wages have no reasons to celebrate Merdeka.

Malaysians who were troubled by the escalating crime rates would also not celebrate Merdeka.

Small traders who cannot get enough sugar to run their tea stalls and coffee shops would also unlikely to gear up for the celebration.

And do you expect the Bandar Mahkota Cheras residents, where their main access road was blocked by the toll company to celebrate Merdeka?

Even MPs were not in any mood to fly the flag until they were given the flag free of charge by the Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Nazri Aziz.

The powers that be cannot even look at our history of Independence straight and truthfully. They have chosen to write the history to serve their political agenda instead of giving credits to all our forefathers who really fought and sacrificed in the struggle for Independence. This is another reason why some Malaysians were not too keen in joining the celebration.

I am glad to note that PAS, as a political party, has openly acknowledged the contributions of various leftist movements and the Communist Party of Malaya in the struggle for Independence.

Top government leaders should stop pointing fingers to the ordinary citizens but to repent for their misdeeds and take steps to remove all racial policies.

That would certainly go a long way in creating a truly fair and just society.

When the day has come, no one needs to remind Malaysians to fly the flag.

/ Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew