Laman Webantu   KM2A1: 3814 File Size: 7.6 Kb *

ATimes: Challenges to Umno Gain Momentum
By Anil Netto

18/2/2001 10:28 pm Sun

[Satu lapuran menyeluruh apa yang terjadi di Malaysia sejak akhir-akhir ini - ia membayangkan rakyat semakin sedar dan Umno semakin terpudar.

  1. Kebangkitan Rakyat Kubang Pasu yang tidak jauh dari Lunas. Polis mula mengganas di kampung dan bekas ahli Umno menjadi katalis.

  2. Polis (dan Suhakam?) sedang di soal siasat di mahkamah berikutan peristiwa Jalan Kebun/Kesas.

  3. Pertemuan PAS-Umno dan pendedahan 4 tema penyatuan dari PAS. (Kes Anwar, Royalti, Bailout, Perkataan Islam) setelah Mahathir mungkir janji.

  4. Malaysiakini dijatuhkan kredibiliti

  5. Laman Pro reformasi menjadi inspirasi dan Kunci Kesedaran rakyat.

  6. Demo membantah pelantikkan Mohtar sebagai hakim.

  7. BBM menyebabkan Umno semakin bergoyang dan berpecah akibat serangan secara terbuka dan ucapan yang tiba-tiba bertukar tema.

Jangan lupa MIC dan MIC juga berkrisis sekarang ini.

Soalnya sampai bila Umno akan dapat bertahan atau ia akan memanggil polis untuk menahan serangan? Tetapi polis pun orang juga yang mahu mencari makan. Kalau sudah tiada ada makanan, mereka sendiri tidak mampu mengikut arahan. Lagipun kenaikan harga ubat dan bil air akan semakin menekan. Sudah tentu anjing yang tidak cukup makan ubat dan minum air akan meragam.... - Editor]

Source: Asia Times

17th February 2001


Challenges to Umno gain momentum

By Anil Netto

Political activity in Malaysia has quickened with developments brewing on several fronts. Looming large behind the scenes is the man who last year was locked away for a total of 15 years: ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim. In a dramatic episode on Wednesday night in northern Kedah state, police fired water cannon and tear gas into a large opposition rally in Kubang Pasu, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's constituency.

The rally was organized to mark the defections of a clutch of members of Mahathir's United Malays National Organization (Umno) to the opposition party Keadilan (National Justice Party), headed by Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Police had earlier twice ordered the 10,000-strong crowd, who were listening to Keadilan youth head Ezam Mohamad Noor and other speakers, to disperse. Ezam said the crowd pelted police with stones after the tear gas was fired. He added one person was taken to hospital while the local Keadilan chief was arrested. Reports said the police gave the crowd ample warnings to disperse but they failed to do so and the speeches continued.

The use of tear gas on rural Malays (the traditional support base of Umno) in Mahathir's seat is bound to further alienate the grass roots, already upset with the treatment of Anwar. Kubang Pasu lies close to Lunas, where the ruling coalition suffered a shock by-election loss last November in a seat it had held since independence. Ezam has vowed to intensify pressure in Kubang Pasu and Kepala Batas, deputy premier Abdullah Badawi's constituency, which lies in neighboring Penang state.

The drama in Kubang Pasu took place on the same day that Suhakam (the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) commissioners were grilling key police personnel during an inquiry into human rights complaints following tough police action against an opposition rally on the Kesas highway near Kuala Lumpur on November 5. Tens of thousands of "reformasi" supporters trying to head for a cordoned off rally site that day created a massive traffic jam that led to an impromptu rally on the highway. Police moved in to disperse the crowd and detained scores of people, sparking condemnation from human rights groups for their allegedly heavy-handed action.

The rally in Kubang Pasu on Wednesday night also came just days before Umno is due to hold talks with another opposition party, PAS (Pan Malaysian Islamic Party). Umno had wanted to confine the talks to "Malay unity" but PAS wants the agenda widened to include major issues affecting "national unity": the Anwar saga; federal relations with the PAS-controlled east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan; the misuse of public funds to bail out selected companies; and Umno's call for the word "Islam" to be dropped from PAS' name.

In the run-up to these talks, the popular Internet newspaper Malaysiakini has come under fire from ruling coalition politicians and from the mainstream media for alleged bias in favor of the opposition and for a recent brouhaha over its sources of funding. Malaysiakini, run by a group of independent journalists in Kuala Lumpur since November 1999, has been a runaway success with daily visitors exceeding 100,000.

Malaysians, long accustomed to the pro-government reports dished out in the mainstream media, have turned to the Internet in droves. Unlike the anonymous reformasi websites, Malaysiakini, which carries bylines for all its reports, has added credibility. Some analysts fear that the tough talk against Malaysiakini in the pro-establishment media signals an impending crackdown on the site, which has won two international press freedom awards. It is not surprising that the authorities are jittery over Malaysiakini's overwhelming success despite only some 10 percent of Malaysians having access to the Internet.

In the general election in 1999, the ruling coalition squeezed through in many constituencies with razor-thin majorities on the back of strong support from the mainstream media. At that point, Malaysiakini was only just starting operations. Given the ever-increasing Internet penetration, Malaysiakini will be reaching more and more Malaysians, providing them with stories that would never see the light of day in the mainstream media.

Ironically, for all Mahathir's efforts in promoting the Multimedia Super Corridor, it is the opposition and reformasi supporters who have crowded into cyberspace like bees to flowers. Indeed, the Internet, through a host of websites, has played a key role in sustaining and inspiring the reformasi movement since Anwar's ouster in September 1998.

Meanwhile, Laman Reformasi (Reformasi website), a key site, has called on Malaysians to gather in the city on Saturday evening. Opposition supporters are scheduled to gather in the heart of the capital before making a complaint to the police about the conduct of former attorney-general Mohtar Abdullah. Mohtar, who oversaw the prosecutions of Anwar for abuse of power and s###my, has been appointed a federal court judge after retiring as attorney-general - a move that was heavily criticized by rights groups.

These recent events come hot on the heels of rumblings of disquiet within Umno against Mahathir's leadership that spilled out in an open forum organized by an ad hoc Malay group criticizing the party leadership. It all spells more pressure for the ruling coalition and a few analysts are already privately wondering how long it will be before the authorities resort to more desperate measures to shore up their dwindling support.

(Special to Asia Times Online)