Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1000+ Burmese protest constitution in Singapore

More than a thousand Burmese nationals, many wearing red or t-shirts with the word "No", gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in Singapore on Sunday to protest against the country's proposed new constitution.

Public protest is rare in Singapore, where all outdoor demonstrations are banned and a public gathering of more than four people requires a permit.

According to Myanmar nationals outside the embassy, citizens living in Singapore can this week vote on whether to accept or reject a constitution written by the country's military leaders.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Malaysian Tamil Newspaper Makkal Osai BANNED!

Source: Malaysiakini
Apr 16, 08 4:58pm

The Home Ministry today rejected the renewal of Tamil daily Makkal Osai’s publication permit, a move believed to be related to the widespread coverage given to the opposition.

When contacted, Makkal Osai general manager SM Periasamy confirmed that the ministry issued the letter which stated that the daily’s application ‘will not be considered’. The letter did not state any reasons for the rejection.

According to Periasamy, the daily - which is closely linked to former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam - had submitted an application for renewal in July, three months ahead of its permit’s expiry. Since Oct 15 - the day its permit expired - the daily has continued publication with the understanding that the government was in the process of considering its application for renewal. It finally received the answer from the ministry today.

It is noted for the extensive coverage given to the opposition often featuring lengthy articles on their leaders such as PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim. The daily’s headline today was about police presence at Anwar’s house yesterday over the Black 14 probe. It also asked if Anwar’s wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would be arrested for failing to give a police statement.

Insiders also say that the ministry was also upset over the daily’s publication of photographs of Hindraf leader, the ISA-detained P Uthayakumar, while receiving treatment at the Taiping hospital last week. The daily, launched in 2005, has also given prominence to the Makkal Sakthi (people’s power) movement which sprang to life following the Nov 25 mammoth rally organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

However, the daily saw a decline in its circulation after Subramaniam buried the hatchet with his former nemesis MIC president S Samy Vellu who owns the rival Tamil Nesan daily.

Filing appeal tomorrow

Apart from the two dailies, the other Tamil newspaper in the market is Malaysia Nanban.

“We will file an appeal against this decision tomorrow,” said Periasamy. Makkal Osai, whose office is located in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, has some 100 staff. Their fate remains unknown. Makkal Osai or “The People’s Voice” has a circulation of 52,000.

This is not the first time that the newspaper ran into trouble. On Aug 24 last year, the government lapped a one-month suspension after the Tamil daily published an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer can four days ago. It was published as a weekly newspaper for 15 years before it became a daily in December 2005. It is an offshoot of Tamil Osai which ceased operations in 1990 following a management dispute.

First sign of repression?

Meanwhile in an immediate reaction, DAP’s veteran leader Lim Kit Siang questioned if the daily was banned for giving too much coverage for the Pakatan Rakyat. “Is this the first sign of repression and crackdown on human rights and the little space opening up in the printed media after the March 8 political tsunami?” he asked in a statement today.

He said that it was clear that the decision to stop the publication of Makkal Osai was made at the weekly cabinet meeting today. “Why did the ministers, particularly from Umno and other Barisan Nasional component parties, particularly from the MIC, who have promised to end their subsidiary and subservient role in cabinet , agreed to such a repressive measure as to immediately close down Makkal Osai?”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

JB Jeyaratnam at Reform Party's Press Conference

"The PAP has given the impression that all that matters is money."

"The first thing that has to be done is to educate our people, encourage them, empower them... so that they themselves will see the need to do something themselves."

"Human dignity matters. Not wealth, not money, not having cars, houses. In the final analysis, a country will have to be judged not by the magnificance of its buildings, its roads, its infrastructure or its services. It's going to be judged by the quality of its people. There was a survey, some time ago, of the countries with the happiest people. Singapore ranks very low. That gives you an indication of the progress Singapore has made."





Saturday, April 19, 2008

Coke's Liabilities Increase in India


Wilmington, USA (April16, 2008): Coca-Cola shareholders should be extremely concerned thatthe Coca-Cola company continues to increase its liabilities in India by engaging in unethical practices, shareholders were told at the Coca-Cola annual general meeting in Wilmington today.

A recent study funded by Coca-Cola confirmed that the company's bottling plants contribute to severe water shortages around some of its bottling plants in India. The report also recommended the closure of a bottling plant in Kala Dera in Rajasthan and cautioned Coca-Cola on the declining water tables in Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh.

"The Coca-Cola company management is doing a great disservice to its shareholders by hiding the real extent of the liabilities the company has incurred in India and it will come back to haunt them. The longer the shareholders wait to seriously address the concerns in India, the greater the liability," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center who attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the campaigns from India.

One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India - in Plachimada in Kerala - has been shut down since March 2004 because Coca-Cola is unable to obtain the necessary environmental clearances.

Communities campaigning against Coca-Cola in India have vowed to hold the company financially and criminally liable for the damages. The state of Kerala is also mulling criminal charges against the company for destroying water resources and pollution.

"Coca-Cola's own report as well as government studies have confirmed what we have been saying all along - that the company has worsened the water crisis for thousands of people," said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti which coordinates the community campaign against Coca-Cola in Mehdiganj.

"Coca-Cola must cease its bottling operations in Mehdiganj and compensate the thousands of farmers who have lost their livelihoods as a result of declining water tables courtesy Coca-Cola," he continued.

"What other confirmation does Coca-Cola need to shut down the plant in Kala Dera?" asked Rameshwar Kudi of the Kala Dera Sangharsh Samiti, the local group that has led the campaign for the plant's closure. "Continuing to operate the plant even after its own study has found the company guilty of worsening water shortages is criminal, and we will make sure that Coca-Cola pays heavily for the damages it has caused."

The report released in January 2008 was conducted by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and was a scathing indictment of Coca-Cola's operations in India, particularly on water management.

The Coca-Cola company was forced to agree to an assessment of its operations as a result of campaign efforts at the University of Michigan which demanded the assessment for continuing business with Coca-Cola. It should be noted that at last year's AGM, Coca-Cola company management had recommended a vote against a resolution which called for a "report on the potential environmental and public health damage from its plants in India." The resolution did not pass.

The Coca-Cola company has responded to the growing opposition against it in India through a variety of "corporate social responsibility" initiatives, although the vast majority do not deal directly with the plants being opposed themselves. One of Coca-Cola's often touted initiatives in India is rainwater harvesting, which the company has announced with much fanfare as a result of the growing opposition to its water management practices. The communities' assertion that such initiatives were just for show and not genuine were confirmed by the report by TERI, which noted that "all the recharge shafts that were randomly visited were found to be in dilapidated conditions."

"Coca-Cola's own assessment has shown that the company has acted irresponsibly by locating many of its bottling plants in India in areas with water scarcity, and as a result, exacerbating the already existing water crises in India," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center. "Even from a dollars and cents perspective, Coca-Cola's practices in India are plain wrong. It is time for the shareholders to demand accountability from the Coca-Cola company management."

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Abolish ISA Forum and Uthayakumar's recent message

I can't believe that is Mr. Uthayakumar in the picture. Click on it for details of the forum. Plus, Uthayakumar was brought to hospital on Monday for his diabetic complications. He managed to ‘pass’ a special message for all the Makkal Sakthi supporters. Listen to it in the streaming audio clip below.











Sunday, April 6, 2008

An Open Invitation to Political Bloggers


Attention bloggers,

You are invited to the forum 'Cyber Activism : The Malaysian Experience' on Thursday, 10 April at 7.30pm.



Confirmed speakers are Mr Steven Gan, the co-founder and editor of celebrated news portal Malaysiakini, and Mr Nathaniel Tan, an internet activist with the Malaysian opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Local blogger/activist Mr Alex Au will moderate the discussion.



For details of the venue, please RSVP and state the name(s) of person(s) who wish to attend to: daretodocument@gmail.com

Please note that this event is billed as a private function.

The forum is jointly organised by Martyn See, Seelan Palay, Isrizal, Ho Choon Hiong and Muhammad Shafi'ie.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Homeless Indian Migrant Workers in Singapore

Jobless and short of cash after being 'duped by agents', 50 workers from India have made the streets their home
By Theresa Tan and Melissa Sim
The Straits Times

PENNILESS, jobless and hungry.

That is the plight of a group of about 50 Indian workers who have made the streets and open spaces in Little India their home - some for as long as a year.

Many of the workers, who have turned the five-foot ways in Cuff Road into a makeshift camp, claim they had paid good money to come to Singapore in search of jobs, but were duped by agents when they landed here.

In interviews with The Straits Times, many said they paid between $1,500 and $4,000 to agents in India, who promised them 'nice jobs' in Singapore.

But when they landed, some found there were no jobs waiting for them. Others, unaware of regulations here, were tricked into entering on social-visit passes, which do not allow them to work. A few workers even claimed they were met at the airport by 'agents', who took the return portion of their air tickets and disappeared.

In desperation or out of ignorance, many turned to working illegally here, and were duly arrested, jailed and caned.

Helping hands

THE workers' plight has attracted the attention of various Singaporeans and civic groups here.

Some have banded together to provide the workers with food, and can be seen handing out packets to them several nights a week.
Those who agreed to speak to The Straits Times said they were not allowed to go home after being released from prison because they are needed here to help with investigations by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or the immigration authorities.

Meanwhile, without a job and short of cash, they have little choice but to rough it out on the streets.

By day, some risk falling afoul of the law again by taking on odd jobs that pay them between $20 and $40 a day.

At night, they gather in Cuff Road to share food and sleep. A heap of luggage bags, piled near the Singapore Gujarati Society building in Cuff Road, is testament to their plight.

Mr Meghanathan Panchatchasam, from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is among them. The 33-year-old bachelor has been sleeping in alleyways for the past four months while waiting for the authorities to wrap up their investigations into his case.

He told The Straits Times that he was dumped at Woodlands, without a passport or a job, after his agent brought him here from Malaysia. Before long, he was nabbed by the police, charged, and sentenced to a month in jail and four strokes of the cane.

'I want to go home. I hate Singapore, my life here is wasted,' he said in Tamil.

In response to queries about the plight of the workers, an MOM spokesman said: 'The ministry ensures that all investigations are conducted promptly... some cases may take a longer investigation period due to the nature and complexity of the case.'

It added that foreigners who are needed to assist with investigations are issued with Special Passes, and are allowed to work under the Temporary Job Scheme. The ministry did not give details of the scheme.

Mr Jolovan Wham of the Humanitarian Organisation of Migration Economics, which runs a shelter for male foreign workers here, said the workers will still face problems. 'They often cannot find suitable jobs, aren't happy with the salary offered, or there aren't enough employers willing to hire them.'

The men, meanwhile, are resigned to a long wait.

One man in his early 20s, who wanted to be known only as Mr Nadarajen, said he has been sleeping in Cuff Road for the past four months after landing here and finding out that a promised job in construction did not exist.

He said: 'I arrived in Singapore on a social-visit pass. I didn't know I can't work on such a pass. I have spent all my 2,000 rupees in savings and I don't know what to do now.'

---

Local NGO TWC2 has been serving them serving free food in Little India

To make a donation, please make cheques payable "Transient Workers Count Too" and write "for the Cuff Road Project" on the back of the cheque. Post it to:

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)
5001 Beach Road
Golden Mile Complex
#06-27, Singapore 199588

www.twc2.org.sg/

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans are losing their country fast

by Gopalan Nair

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the article "Make it a point to master English" appearing in the state controlled Singapore newspaper The Straits Times on March 23, 2008, the Singapore strongman Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, when speaking at a Chinese Fujian clan association advises new Chinese immigrants from Communist China to study English. These new immigrants understand no English at all in their Communist towns and villages in China. Only Mandarin and the various dialects they speak.

And it is against this background that the Malays and Indians of Singapore must be very worried and concerned. An overwhelming number of immigrants from Communist China are being brought to Singapore for settlement; totally disproportionate to the Malay and Indian native populations of Singapore; deliberately intended to maintain the Chinese majority in Singapore in perpetuity. This is a policy which is clearly unconstitutional, illegal and racially discriminatory against Singapore Indians and Malays.

This policy is unconstitutional, without lawful basis and deliberately intended to racially discriminate against and marginalize the Malays and Indians even further than what they already are. If the Malays and Indians do not act now, their country for what it was or is, will be lost to them forever. Inaction by them now is not only ill advised, it is totally irresponsible. There is now be an urgency so compelling and immediate to act now that any further delay would mean they have lost their country forever. At least the country, which they once knew.

The Constitution of Singapore, the supreme law of the land, specifically enshrines the right to equality under the law for all, regardless of race language or religion. Therefore there has to be equality for the Chinese Malays Indians Eurasians, and other races; and anyone else who happens to be born in Singapore. And here when I mean Singapore citizens, I mean people like me, people born in Singapore; not those who have been recently brought to Singapore from China and given instant citizenship; overnight!

At present there are 75% Chinese, Malays 15% and Indians about 10%, with small percentage of disparate races. With a small population of Singapore of about 3 million, it is preferable that population should grow. Unfortunately with all the stresses and insecurity brought upon by Lee Kuan Yew with his misguided and ill advised laws and policies, Singapore Chinese women are not producing babies in sufficient numbers as compared to the Malays and Indians who are managing better.

This would mean of course, with time that the share of the Malay population in Singapore will increase, and perhaps also Indians; with the Chinese population in decline. This change in population mix happens in any country. It is a natural thing. It is also healthy for any country to undergo such natural changes.

But Lee Kuan Yew, an ethnic Chinese has decided that Singapore has to remain a predominantly ethnic Chinese country, composed of a population of at least 75% ethnic Chinese. Therefore his government brings in disproportionately large hordes of immigrants from Communist China to unconstitutionally keep up the majority.

This is destroying the country and impedes its development. Singapore has up till now been made up of an English educated people, able to understand English, hardworking and disciplined and leaning towards a Western lifestyle. This cultural and educational background makes them international in their outlook and able to interact with the Western world in trade business and commerce; an asset to Singapore’s hope of becoming a fully developed country.

But this influx of Chinese from Communist China is a step backwards and with time, turns Singapore into another satellite city of China. Perhaps another Swatow, in the middle of South East Asia!

Immigrants from Communist China speak no English. This would mean Singapore becoming a Mandarin speaking country, not an English speaking one; clearly a disadvantage. In fact I have heard many Malays and Indians feeling left out in their own country because these Chinese immigrants cannot understand Malay or even English; thus making even basic communication for everyday activities difficult or impossible.

A Malay woman from Lorong One Toa Payoh had personally told me that she was unable to communicate with the driver of Bus No. 49 from Toa Payoh Central to Robinson Road. She was not sure if 49 was the correct bus; but the Chinese man driving the bus, presumably from some village in Communist China; knew neither Malay nor English. He uttered something in Mandarin (at least that was what she thinks it was) which was no help at all.

Only after speaking to a Singapore Indian bus driver, who happened to be at hand, who of course spoke Malay, English and Tamil, all fluently; that she found her way. Imagine this happening in Singapore, a multi racial country of Chinese Malay and Indian; even when the national anthem is in Malay (Bahasa Melayu)!

These immigrants from Communist China, not only bring their language with them, they also their philosophy; which is total submission to authority; compliance and blind obedience. In China they are taught and brainwashed from young to obey authority; obedience and submission being the hall mark of communist societies such as China.

Even if Singaporeans have been left with at least some ability to think independently, living under Lee Kuan Yew for 40 years; even this will be destroyed, as these Chinese from Communist China would set the clock back decades and create a population of total submission and obedience. Like what you find now in Communist China.

I find the people of Communist China pitiful; merely slaves. And what a pity if Singaporeans are turned into masses like those! And the bad news is, that is exactly what will happen if nothing is done.

Singapore historically being a South East Asian country next to Indonesia and Malaysia has a Malay and South East Asian feel about it. This is fast changing with this import of overwhelming large numbers of Chinese from China; and which will make Singapore just another Chinese city in South East Asia next to Malaysia and Indonesia. This is going to make the neighbors very uncomfortable.

Therefore Singapore Malays and Indians should do something about the destruction of their country now. And that something is not telling your local Member of Parliament about it. That something is protest. You should be aware by now that Parliament of Singapore is nothing more than a rubber stamp for Lee Kuan Yew. They cannot help you. You have to help yourself. And the only effective way to do it is to protest.

Raising this issue is not inciting racial hatred or anything of the sort. You are not inciting anyone. You are merely demanding what is right. And that is, that this government stops this Chinese immigration immediately. And secondly, that this government should be required to examine the unacceptably large numbers of permanent residencies and citizenships given to immigrants from Communist China; that these immigrant permits and citizenships be reversed, and these Chinese be repatriated back to China.

And finally, that this government be asked to examine the reasons for the low birthrates in Singapore, make living conditions more comfortable and secure so that more children will be born in Singapore.

You should not fear for being arrested by the ISD or other fear mongering. There is nothing legally wrong in raising this legitimate issue that affects Singaporeans; in this case, racial discrimination by the Singapore government.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: nair.gopalan@yahoo.com