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The year that was

IN the week of 2 to 8 March 2009, the Chinese media featured commentaries on the first anniversary of the 8 March 2008 general election. The media was also preoccupied with the objections to the teaching of mathematics and science in English, and the developments in Perak.

365 days later

In a special feature titled 365 Days with Pakatan Rakyat on 7 March, Guang Ming Daily interviewed Selangor Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim about the state government’s performance for the past year. The chief minister rated the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s performance at between 60 and 70 out of 100 points.  


Khalid Ibrahim (Pic by Johnleemk,
source: Wikipedia)
On whether Selangor would be the next state to follow in Perak’s footsteps, Khalid stressed that all three PR component parties abhor Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN), so the state would not fall into the BN’s hands.

“The cooperation between the parties has matured. The parties are willing to sit down and discuss sensitive issues such as the talk about banning alcohol in Selangor. We agree to get businesspeople, the public and religious organisations together to come up with the best solution,” said Khalid.

On 6 March, Kwong Wah Yit Poh‘s editorial assessed the PR government in Penang.

The daily wrote, “Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng maintains an outspoken image and has fulfilled some promises. Although concrete developments have yet to be seen, the people generally approve of him.

“The one flaw in the PR’s administration is its inability to revive the third vote due to several complications. We have yet to see any developments on local elections, and this has caused Suaram Penang to doubt the state government’s sincerity,” said Kwong Wah.

The daily also acknowledged the direct impact of the global financial crisis on Penang’s manufacturing sector. “In the near future, there is a need for the state government to come up with solutions to support affected industries and help workers to weather the storm,” the paper suggested.

On 7 March, Sin Chew Daily interviewed Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to seek his views about the BN one year after the historic 2008 elections, in an article titled People harbour strong bias against the BN, reforms come too little too late.


Koh Tsu Koon (Public domain)
Koh admitted that although the BN and the federal government have made some reforms after the 2008 elections, the reforms were considered to be too little too late for many people, especially to the non-Malay Malaysian community and urbanites.

Koh said, “The BN and its component parties will have to travel on a long and winding road towards achieving reform. Other dominant parties in other parts of the world took three to five years to achieve renewal.”

In expressing hope for the dawn of a two-party system, Koh said he was worried that if the BN and PR were unable to appropriately deal with party affairs and politics, the political landscape would risk becoming racially polarised.

However, Koh also said, “If we can look at the situation rationally and objectively, the current polemic can be considered as a necessary process of transition from a one-party to two-party system. These are growing pains towards achieving democracy.”

The language issue

The Chinese language media also reported on the gathering organised by the Movement for the Abolition of the Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, known by its Malay acronym of GMP.

On 6 March, therocknews.com reported on the refusal by eight major Chinese Malaysian associations to attend the 7 March gathering and walk to Istana Negara organised by GMP. Among the eight associations that refused to attend the protest was the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong).

Several Chinese Malaysian associations from the Klang Valley had felt that association leaders should encourage the community to attend the GMP gathering as it was a platform that united people against the teaching of mathematics and science in English.

Dong Zong, however, claimed that it did not receive any formal invitation but only simple notices from GMP. Hence, it did not consider itself to be a member of the movement.

“GMP’s plan to submit a memorandum to the Agong is against Dong Zong’s ideology. We currently attend GMP activities as mere observers,” it said.

In response to Dong Zong’s statement, Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement Malaysia (Dema) told therocknews.com: “Dong Zong should follow the example of the mother-tongue education working committee of Johor.

“The committee was initially doubtful of GMP’s demand to make Bahasa Malaysia the sole language in teaching mathematics and science in all vernacular schools. However, after GMP clearly stated its agreement for schools to teach the subjects in their respective mother tongue, the committee released a press statement expressing its full support for the gathering.”

Dema was puzzled with Dong Zong for not talking to GMP directly. “Does this mean an inexperienced organisation like the mother-tongue education working committee is better at dealing with issues compared with Dong Zong?”

Perak PR dealt a blow

An article titled BN’s convoy marching in, Perak PR retreating by Pan Jun Sheng published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh on 6 March reviewed the political developments in Perak for the past week and concluded that the PR was losing the battle.

“Despite overcoming hurdles and successfully convening an emergency sitting under a tree, PR state reps were dealt a blow from the BN, who managed to obtain a declaration that the sitting was illegal.


Sivakumar
“Perak state assembly speaker V Sivakumar was declared a civil servant and cannot be represented by private counsel in the suit filed against him by the three independent assemblypersons.

“The PR has taken all measures possible, but their efforts have been neutralised by the BN. Given the support by the federal government and other state government resources, the BN has gained the upper hand in the [various] lawsuits.

“By the time the three independent candidates win their lawsuit against the speaker, they would be able to return to the assembly and express their full support for the BN,” said Pan.

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