Over the weekend of July 14-15, communities in 30 locations around Malaysia participated in a National Day of Stop Lynas action against a rare earth refinery project being built in Malaysia by the Australian company Lynas. Simultaneous solidarity actions took place in Australia - in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Roxby Downs (at the "Lizard's Revenge" anti-nuclear music festival in the outback arid zone of South Australia).
Labor and Coalition MPs have shed thousands of crocodile tears claiming that Australia needed to “stop the boats” to “save lives” by making offshore processing of asylum seekers government policy. Labor backed a private members bill put by independent MP Rob Oakeshott that would allow Australia to expel refugees to any country that was part of the Bali Process, including Malaysia.
Three leaders of the People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat — PKR), a major parliamentary opposition party in Malaysia, were arrested on May 22 under provisions of a controversial new Peaceful Assembly Act. The three were PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Badrul Hisham Shaharin. The charges relate to the April 28 Bersih 3.0 mass democracy protest in the capital Kuala Lumpur, involving 100,000-200,000 peaceful protesters. The march was violently attacked by riot police after a few protesters pushed through police barricades.
Footage from the 'Malaysian Spring': the inspiring 250,000-strong Bersih ('clean') rallies for free and fair elections in Malaysia PLUS from Australian support rallies in Melbourne (1200 people), Sydney (500) and Perth (400). Also includes footage of the brutal police repression which saw 500 people arrested along with widespread use of water cannon and tear gas. Justice for the Malaysian people - take the power back!
S. Arutchelvan, secretary general of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, is a veteran of many demonstrations. But the Bersih 3.0 mobilisation, which he estimates was between 100,000 and 150,000-strong, was the biggest he's been a part of in the country. “It was a huge success” he told Green Left Weekly, “and it terrified the Barisan Nasional [BN] government. “The BN government sees Merdeka Square as its Tahrir Square. They do not want to see – and for the public and the world to see – images of it being occupied by democratic movement. It is their political survival.
At 2.36am, in the early hours of April 19, the student and Occupy Dataran encampment in Kuala Lumpur was violently ambushed by a big group of men. After the ambush, everyone sat down, and victims of violence started to tell stories of what happened. Here is a brief summary of the stories.
The Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (known as Bersih — which means “clean” in Malay) called for a mass sit in on April 28. It did so due to suspicions that the country’s Barisan Nasional (BN) government was about to call a general election before addressing widespread electoral irregularities. The irregularities were confirmed by a review forced on the government by the previous Bersih 2.0 mass rally on July 9 last year.
Lynas, an Australian mining company, is building a rare earth refinery close to the heavily populated area city of Kuantan in Malaysia. The ore is to be shipped from a mine in Western Australia but the highly toxic and radioactive waste which the refinery will produce will not be accepted back by the WA government.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) ,was acquitted on January 9 by the country’s High Court of the second round of politically motivated “sodomy” charges. He was jailed for six years under the former Barisan Nasional (BN) government of Mohamed Mahathir on similar charges. Police dispersed jubilant opposition supporters outside the court using the excuse that three small bombs had exploded nearby.
Since 2008, Seksualiti Merdeka (Independent Sexuality) festival, the LGBTiQ's main vehicle for awareness raising and education made its contribution to Malaysian society in a beautiful, intellectually artistic manner, devoid of vulgarity. It made “straight” heterosexual society realise and appreciate that other forms of sexual love existed and that these could be as genuine as a woman-man love. It had been and still is a struggle for gay men and women to survive even in apparently liberal-minded societies.
A confidential United States cable released by WikiLeaks on July 29 documents the arrest of controversial Malaysian blogger and Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin. Kamaruddin had been outspoken in his criticism of the government. On September 12, 2008, Kamaruddin was arrested at his residence under the Internal Security Act (ISA) ― which allows for detention without trial. Kamaruddin’s arrest came days after Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi threatened to use the ISA to repress those purportedly stoking racial and religious tensions.
Federal Labor MP Anna Burke captured the Gillard government’s increasingly right-wing refugee policy when she said plans to reopen the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea would be “going back to something we said we wouldn’t do, which is the Pacific solution”. Burke told ABC news on August 15 she had raised concerns in caucus about an overseas detention centre as well as the “Malaysia solution”, which faces a legal challenge in the High Court and could also be subject to a parliamentary inquiry.
About 200 people have arrived on boats to claim refugee protection in Australia since the Australian and Malaysian governments signed a deal to “swap” refugees on July 25. The countries agreed to exchange up to 800 refugees in Australia for 4000 refugees registered with the United Nations in Malaysia. The immigration department has refused to look at the new arrivals’ claims for asylum, but is holding them in an isolated compound of the Christmas Island detention centre. A boat that arrived on August 11 carried more than 100 refugees, many of them children.
The PSM 6 — six leading members of the Socialist Party of Malaysia — were released from prison on July 29 after a national and international campaign for their release. Malaysian authorities had held the six democracy activists — Choo Chon Kai, Sarat Babu, M Sarasvathy, M Sukumaran, A Letchumanan and parliamentarian Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj — since July 2. Malaysian police arrested the six in the lead up to a large July 9 protest organised by the “Bersih 2.0” democracy movement. Bersih 2.0 demanded the government commit to free and fair elections.
Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, a federal member of Malaysia's parliament, is one of six activsts from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) being held without trial since June 25. The arrests, under Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act, were part of a crackdown ahead of the 50,000-strong march through Kuala Lumpar on July 9 for democracy. Protest letters still are urgently needed to be sent to be Malaysian government. Please visit here for details of where they can be sent. See also:
A week after Malaysian authorities failed to stop people taking to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur on July 9 to demand free and fair elections, six activists from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) remained detained without trial. The detainees include federal member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Deveraj, who has been hailed by a prominent local writer as “the Malaysian saint of the poor”.