Sunday, March 08, 2009

Footage of Israeli Military Shooting Gaza Farmers

Description: Israeli Military Shoot Gaza Farmer - 18th February 2009 Israeli forces shot a twenty year-old Palestinian farmer as he worked his land in the village of Al-Faraheen, east of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. International Human Rights Activists were accompanying the group of farmers at the time as they worked approximately 500m from the Green Line. Mohammad al - Breem, 20, was shot in the right leg as the farmers, together with the international Human Rights Activists, attempted to leave the area having worked on their land for 2 hours in full view of the Israeli forces situated along the Green Line. As the farmers were loading up the parsley and spinach from the agricultural lands shots were fired from Israeli forces on the border. Mohammad was shot in the right leg and evacuated, while still under fire, to hospital. International Human Rights Activists have repeatedly witnessed Palestinian farmers being shot at by Israeli forces as they attempt to work on agricultural land situated within 700m of the Green Line. On Tuesday 27th January 2009, in Al Faraheen, Israeli forces shot at several farmers, killing a 27 year old farmer.

Reflections of March 8 tsunami

Sim Kwang Yang | Mar 7, 09 12:56pm

I realised with a start that it has been a short year since that March 8 political tsunami that changed the political landscape in Malaysia. This momentous anniversary compels one to reflect deeply upon the tumultuous turn of events in the last 365 days and nights.


The Ship of State sailed into choppy uncharted waters this day last year. On the political battle field, two giant elephants continue to pit their heads for supremacy, leaving the bodies of many mouse-deer on the wayside. As Isaac Newton would say, for every action taken, there is an opposite and equal reaction.

bn barisan nasional election 2008 manifestoWe get this uneasy feeling that we are bearing testimony to history being made, but are we that sure about what kind of history is being made?

Every offensive thrust is a strategy, a political ploy, a means to an end ad infinitum. A year after that general election that saw the near collapse of the BN old order, a new order is yet to emerge. In this transition period, helpless Malaysians have to endure the pain of a global economic downturn amidst political confusion.

In this titanic tug-of-war between the BN and the Pakatan Rakyat coalitions, all the major institutions of state have been stretched to the limit of their moral legitimacy. The court, the legislature, the police, the royal palace, the anti-corruption agency by any name, and the state administration in Perak are all cracking at the edges.

Too much vested interest

Initially, in the aftermath of the March 8 general election last year, there were mumblings among stalwarts of the old order for their need to reform, to reinvent their identity, and to regain their old glory.

But there was too much history of vested interest, of addiction to the abuse of power and internal strife, and of entrenched warlordism for any reform to take shape within the BN ruling class. For the political and government machinery under the aegis of Barisan Nasional, the last year has seen nothing more than business as usual.

I suddenly recall Hegel's analogy of the master-slave relationship. In the primordial fight to the death, one side would capitulate to the other for fear of the death, thereby conceding that he is the slave, and the other, the master. This is a temporary mediation that is pregnant with irreconcilable contradictions.

Human history then, is the working out of this intractable contradiction, in search of synthesis from the clash between thesis and antithesis. The unseen hand that guides this historical dialectic is the spirit, our human impulse for freedom.

anwar interview and opposition parties and electionIn this historical tussle, the master is condemned to be the master to the end. Only the slave has the metaphysical space for self-liberation.

Umno, which started as a movement of the slaves, has finally evolved into the role of the master, lord of the new ruling class and the entire Malaysian universe. They have lost the logic of self-liberation, because they have been imprisoned by the fetters of their power. Only their antithesis, the Malaysian people at large, can aspire to freedom.

In this sense, Pakatan Rakyat is not a saviour sent from the heavens to mankind in Malaysia. It is a historical instrument borne of the changing forces of the time. It is a useful vehicle through which the people of Malaysia can discard the old order and create a new order that is based on justice, equality, freedom, and the Rule of Law.

As one American president has said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Pakatan may be fighting for their very survival, in Perak and elsewhere. But if and when they take power across the board one day, they could easily become the mirror image of their BN foes. What we need is a healthy two-alliance system more or less balanced for alternative government to be formed once every so often.

klang campaign 030308 indian man with pas flagWhat we need is not a hero or a saviour sent from God to liberate us from tyranny and oppression. What we need is a self-liberated citizenry, free from hunger, fear, poverty, and ignorance, and free to hope, love, think on their feet, and rejoice in the common humanity with their fellow persons.

Freedom is a central concept in the historical evolution of liberal democracies in Western Europe and North America.

The war cry of the French Revolution in 1789 was "Liberty, equality and fraternity!". Its philosophical root resides in the religious Reformation Movement, in the European Enlightenment, and its modern offshoot has been the various anti-colonial independence movements in Third World countries after WWII in the last century.

They stifle human rights

Unfortunately, even in that exhilarating period of liberation from colonial and dictatorial rule, it has become obvious that the liberators of the oppressed very often turn around and become the new masters of internal colonialism over their people.

This is the logic and the phenomenology of political power. Castro is one, and Mao is another fine example. Of course, Robert Mugabe is the epitome of such a hero-turned-dictator. To this distinguished company, we must now add Umno and their BN minions.

najib bn penang campaign 290208 crowdNaturally, these newly minted colonial masters of their own people will try every thing to demean personal freedom and human individuality.

They will degrade freedom by equating it with licence. They redefine freedom as doing whatever you want to do. In the name of preserving public order, they restrict freedom in the public and private domains of their citizens. They stifle human rights.

But that is not the kind of freedom that Hegel was thinking about. Hegel's freedom is human beings' irrepressible will for self-expression for self authenticity guided by the divine light of God. As Plato would say, we are free only to choose the right thing, even if sometimes we make mistakes in the choice, just because we humans are fallible.

That is how I make sense of this confusing unnerving and worrisome period of transition. The Malaysian soul is agitating for real freedom, and the rigid fossilised political structure of the old order is merely responding to this historical impulse for freedom by tightening its grip. I am looking ahead.

There could be a declaration of emergency in Perak, and a nationwide ISA crack down on dissent, including the shutting down of the Malaysiakini office outright. RPK must pack his bag ready for his continued sojourn behind bars.

Naturally, there will be those who still sing the old tune of political stability, peace, and prosperity. This narrative of the old order will always be popular, especially among the conservatives. They will welcome anything but change in any form.

They are ruled by fear and crave security. They should be reminded by what JJ Rousseau - that theoretical architect of the French Revolution - said about security; the greatest security is to be found exactly behind bars.

But there is a time when an idea will arrive, blossom, and change history.

Aspire for freedoms

I see the unseen hands of the human spirit sprouting all over Malaysia in various forms. Obviously, decent Malaysians want to be free from corruption in high places. They aspire to freedom of assembly and personal expression. They want religious freedom, and to address their god by whatever name they choose.

They want the freedom to a level playing field in the schools and the universities, in business and at the work place. They aspire to the freedom to think for themselves, from the stupefying numbing narrative that emits from the mouths of old tired political leaders. In Kugan's case, his family just want the freedom to seek justice, to vindicate the poor young man's civil liberty while under police detention and his right to life!

mat rempit dap 040308 nga bikin wheelieWhile the political drama unfolding on the stage and while commentators express great anguish at the death of morality in public life, I seek a new language to carry on the on-going national conversation.

A new scenario requires a new discourse. Sometimes, old ideas make for the best new discourse. The virtues of love, hope and freedom of the human spirit can best be used to interpret the current upheaval.

There is hope because Malaysians away from the political spotlight are largely decent people who love their family and their country. Away from the political mess, doing their daily chores and trying to survive these economically difficult times, they are also leaning the art of free thought.

They are most unlikely to be inflamed into racial riots on the street, despite what agent provocateur may say. Hope seems to burn eternal in their breasts.

This is the greatest political asset of our Malaysian polity: the Malaysian people. I meet them everyday in my Cheras neighbourhood, and in hushed tones, they will confide in me, and they are from all races.

Most will not join street protests, but they have the experience and wisdom to sit back and watch silently, making judgement in the quiet recess of their hearts and minds. They stay calm while all the politicians are losing their heads.

They are waiting for the right moment for the freedom to vote.

SIM KWANG YANG was opposition MP in Bandar Kuching in Sarawak