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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Police become 'wedge against the people', again


I have just submitted my responses to the Malaysiakini’s ‘newsmakers of the year’ poll and note the absence of the police on the list.

That they have kept themselves out of the news to be considered newsmakers must now end with the glaring Malaysiakini front page report 'Dec 31 rally organisers to bring grenades, claim cops'.

If, according to the report, there is police intelligence of protestors "bringing various weapons, including grenades and gas masks to stir up a commotion", why don't the police act and simply arrest those people and show proof of the grenades?

You don't need to be a genius to figure the police are once more being unfairly used as a wedge against the people and that they had gotten carried away with the 'fairy tale' as DAP's Lim Kit Siang (right) has stated in the report 'Plan to topple gov't a fairy tale, says Kit Siang'.

Why would anyone in his right mind bring grenades to a peaceful protest against price hikes? If anyone causes trouble, it would more likely be the agents provocateur, those professional thugs that have hijacked democratic and otherwise peaceful events in the past.

And if anyone wants to bring gas masks to a peaceful demonstration they are being prepared because the police have a track record of using tear gas on peaceful demonstrators from the Bersih experience.

Surely bringing a gas mask to a demonstration is not a crime but using tear gas on peaceful demonstrators and making false allegations must be. The police often advise the public not to spread wild rumours but appear not to heed its own advice.

The police should be helping the organisers because they and their households too are consumers and can't be happy with the many price rises that affect many households and battlers. They should facilitate not hinder the planned event and others like it.

If Malaysian consumers don't have a common platform like a peaceful demonstration to voice their anger and unhappiness in a peaceful manner then how else can they protest?

How will anyone know they are not alone in their hardship?

And if citizens can't protest collectively in a democracy then they must live in a dictatorship and Malaysia should re-write its constitution.

Deeming Malays 'lazy' adding salt to injury

The police do their public image no good by being used in any way to unfairly stymie a very important democratic event by the people and for the people. Otherwise, the government will then say that silence means the people accept the price hikes.

The government should not be unfairly harassing or obstructing the people and the court has the good sense to deny the remand of those involved because they are decent Malaysians who are doing the right thing for everyone's benefit.

In fact Ralph Nader was an American consumer advocate and activist who in the 70's spearheaded civil protests by consumers against companies and government and those that exploited consumers.

As a result consumers today are now aware of their political clout and should boycott those that unfairly benefit from government price hikes.

When a government spends more and more and  expects the public to pay for their high maintenance with new taxes and price hikes, it is not unreasonable for people to want a cheaper government.

Why should you pay for the high cost of keeping a Rolls Royce to deliver your services when even a humble Proton can do the job?

A cheaper government will get my vote.

The advice given in 'Muslim group - Don't fight price hikes - work harder' is as ridiculous as they come.

The advice targeted at Malays that they should not stay at home and plant serai and go out and sell fried bananas and mineral water is adding insult to injury.

I would be very offended if I were a Malay for being typecast as lazy and time-wasting at work and being asked to be a street-side hawker. This is what impoverished people do in third-world countries and not the rich country the government promised.

Those consumer groups forgot to ask parents to send their kids out in the streets to hawk cigarettes to motorists at traffic lights.

I know of a Chinese company where 99 percent of its almost 100-odd office staff are Malays and they have their heads down at their desks and work hard until they leave at 5pm or later. They do not have two hours to spare to plant serai. Not every Malay worker marks time at work.

For consumer groups to make facetious statements and typecast the Malays instead of joining the chorus of protests against the unreasonable price hikes (in such a short span of time) are reasons why consumers are better off with those who represent them and not against them.

Corruption and waste are twin enemies

The strategy of using pseudo-groups by the government to be their public apologists is indeed a clever one but will fail because you can be too clever for your own good and Malaysians often see through the charade.

We see demonstrations against rising costs of living in many countries because governments have failed to exercise financial prudence.

Corruption and waste are the twin enemies of the people who have to bear the reckless costs of administering a country and woe to the country that fails to stop its corrupt and wasteful leaders.

There comes a time when it is not only right to protest but necessary. Not all who protest are unable to absorb the rises but feel it wrong that the poor should be further burdened.

You cannot read about the wealth of some politicians and the high life they live, and the astronomical costs of running the government without asking why PM Najib Abdul Razak has not shown any attempt at making government more efficient and accountable so the rises, their degree and range, may be reduced, or even avoided?

The opportunistic Dr Mahathir Mohamad suggested the government should cut costs but didn't suggest if running Putrajaya and allowing toll companies to get away with hefty profits and unreasonable increases is taking a toll on the people.

Price rises are everywhere but in Malaysia I suspect it is related to the high costs of running government including the incidental cost of corruption and waste.

You can't blame wages as in Australia because Malaysian wages are relatively low and foreign workers survive on subsistence wages that are further skimmed by those that obtain permits for them to work.

If it costs less to run the government I am sure prices will not rise as much or as fast and as extensively when there is double-dipping from a goods and services tax (GST), the mother of all price hikes and taxes.

If people don't protest then a fool and his money is quickly parted.


STEVE OH is author and composer of the novel and musical ‘Tiger King of the Golden Jungle’.

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