Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Malaysian people oppose Government intimidation

The Malaysian Government is headed for a major confrontation with citizens of various ethnicities and social classes in the lead-up to the 2011 July 9 Bersih 2.0 Rally.

While the government sometimes takes a progressive anti-imperialist position, it does so only from the perspective of the Malaysian big bourgeoisie. Rather than empowering the Malaysian working class in the anti-imperialist cause, it oppresses them, actively curtails their rights, and uses ethnic division to foment differences within the working class. Malaysians of Chinese and Indian ethnicity are discriminated against in many ways.

Bersih (“clean” in Malay) is a reformist movement that began in 2007. Many political parties and organizations, including NGOs, are participants although the focal point has been Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his centrist Peoples Justice Party (PKR).

Also involved is the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) which is influenced by the theories of Antonio Gramsci and Rosa Luxemburg.

The reformist platform of Bersih 2.0 includes the following demands:

• The use of permanent ink to ensure that voters may only vote once.
• A clean out of the electoral rolls to remove entries that are no longer valid such as deceased people.
• The abolition of postal votes on the basis that they are easily abused.
• Perhaps most importantly, Bersih demands that all candidates and political parties have equal access to print and broadcast media.

The recent crackdown started on June 22 with the arrest of PKR Youth member Razali Abd Ghafar for selling Bersih 2.0 t-shirts in Sepang. Since his arrest, more than 80 other activists have been arrested including 31 PSM members, including Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, who were arrested at the Sungai Dua toll plaza in Penang on June 25. They had been travelling in a bus and were part of a roadshow and leafleting campaign for the July 9 Bersih Rally for free and fair elections.

Female activists of the PSM arrested in the bus incident were subjected to humiliating and degrading behaviour by the police. The 14 women were "kicked on the legs", "pushed and spat on", told to drink water from the toilet bowl and forced to change clothes in front of male officers.
Penang deputy police chief Abdul Rahim Jaafar announced that the group were "waging war" against the King. (King Mizan Zainal Abidin, 45, is the 13th Sultan of Trengganu state and 16th Yang di-Pertua Agong of Malaysia installed on 26 April this year. King Mizan studied at the Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia before proceeding to the Alliant International University in London where he graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988. It’s nice to know that Australia’s richest elite private college is playing its part in shaping the values of such a “democratic” monarch!)

"They were carrrying items inciting the people to hate the government. This is serious and can threaten national security. They include flyers and t-shirts with Chin Peng, Rashid Maidin and Suriani Abdullah - all connected to MCP - written on them," Abdul Rahim said.

The MCP is the former Malayan Communist Party led by Chin Peng . The Party dissolved after the signing of a ceasefire with the Malaysian Government in 1989.

However, the PSM leadership denies that it is connected to the MCP.

"We reject any claims that we are attempting to revive communist ideology in Malaysia or among our members," PSM chairman Dr Nasir Hashim told The Malay Mail on June 27.

"The government is trying to create a fake controversy by making the public believe we are communists or trying to revive communism. This is absolute nonsense."

"The only pictures on the Bersih T-shirts were Bersih 2 on the front and Bersih's eight demands for clean polls at the back. There is a possibility some of our members may have brought T-shirts with the images of Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin for their own use. Such T-shirts are on sale in KL and our members might have been carrying these or coincidentally wearing them when they were arrested," said Nasir, who is also the Kota Damansara assemblyman.
He said he did not discount foul play.

The arrests of the 30 PSM members has also served to expose the way in which the reactionary bourgeoisie of Malaysia, in common with the imperialists and their servants worldwide, use “anti-terrorist” laws to persecute innocent people.

Penang police deputy chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said the 30 PSM members were being detained and investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code.

The Section was used to prosecute militant terrorist group Al-Ma’unah which staged an audacious arms heist at an army camp in July 2000 that resulted in a tense stand-off in the jungles near Sauk, Perak.

The Malaysian people will persist in the struggle for democratic reforms despite the persecution of the state authorities.

Allegations of “communism” against the PSM will only serve to popularise genuine communism and lead to the rebirth of the Communist Party to lead the fight against imperialist “globalisation” and for genuine independence and socialism.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's your excuse Garrett?

Federal Minister for Education Peter Garrett, formerly the lead singer with politically progressive rock band Midnight Oil, was talking about school funding on Adelaide radio this morning.

A caller identified as Bill from Victor Harbor rang in and asked the Minister why the federal Government continues to fund chaplains in schools.

It was a fair question given that the controversial scheme was introduced by the reactionary Howard Government (see here for previous post) and that Labor, while in Opposition, had pledged to bring it to an end.

Instead, Labor had continued the scheme during its first term of office and in the 2011-12 Budget identified a further $222m over 3 years to the end of 2014 in support of its expansion.

There was no money in the Budget for greater numbers of qualified counsellors, educational psychologists, specialist welfare/learning support teachers and allied support staff, and welfare/behaviour programs to meet students’ needs.

In reply, Garrett said that chaplains are only there to provide pastoral care and are prohibited from proselytising to their faith.

If that’s the case, why have chaplains at all? If they just want a cheap labour force that is prohibited from proselytising to Christianity, then why must these pretend-counsellors be chosen by religious agencies?

The answer is that the social democrats have totally embraced the agenda of imperialist neo-liberalism and want to outshine their competitors in US arse-licking, the conservative Liberals, so as to continue to enjoy the spoils of office with the endorsement of the US overlords.

Neo-liberalism is a complete agenda for ensuring continued US imperialist hegemony. Certain principles are taken as axiomatic: private is better than public, competition is inherently good, accountability drives improved performance, testing is central to measuring improvement, motivation can be raised by individualised incentives. Throw into the mix attacks on teachers and their unions and unfettered access to schools by corporations and military, and then the only thing missing from this “Americanisation” of Australian education is a healthy dose of religious activity. The mere fact of having people identified as “school chaplains” within a supposedly secular system of education is a privileging of religion as an institution and as a fact of secular school life. They don’t even need to proselytise, although many do.

Garrett is a fool and a hand puppet of US forces.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Murdoch out to conquer public education

On 24 May, Rupert Murdoch delivered a speech at the G8 Forum in Paris. You can access it here:

Note the title. Read with a vomit bag handy.

Education: The Last Frontier

Last frontier. An undeveloped area, a region beckoning the imperialistically-minded to explore, invade and conquer.

When they explored, invaded and conquered the lands of other peoples, the invaders first demonised and dehumanised their prey. The "yellow races" were weak, diseased, effeminate. The "black races" were cannibals, victims of their own primitive urges, ignorant and stupid.

More recently, do we remember Race Slurs: Diggers to face Probe on March 25, 2011?:

THE Defence Force has launched an investigation after Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan posted racist slurs about Afghans and insulted Prime Minister Julia Gillard on their Facebook pages.

One of the soldiers referred to Afghans as ''sand niggaz'' and ''dune coons'', and joked about running them over in a vehicle.

Another described an unidentified Afghan man in a photograph as a ''poof'' and said he should be butt-stroked - slang for beaten with a rifle.

Murdoch’s message about teachers is not this crude, but his method is: he dismisses them as people stuck in the past, people who don't know how to teach kids today (he does, of course, and he even gives an example!), people who are callously writing kids off as hopeless, who are stuck in the age of chalk and blackboards.

What they need is a good dose of privatised curriculum via Murdoch and other corporate digital leaders: "My company is determined to try - in a big way".

And guess what Murdoch cites as a great school - the privatised and for profit “IKEA” schools in Sweden!

Makes you wonder what might be happening when they say it’s time to assemble the kids!

These were described in an Economist article in 2008: “Kunskapsskolan (“Knowledge Schools”) opened its first six schools in 2000. Four more opened last autumn, bringing the total to 30. It now has 700 employees and teaches nearly 10,000 pupils, with an operating profit of SKr62m last year on a turnover of SKr655m.”

Should any company be allowed to keep money as a profit that could otherwise be spent educating the students in its schools?

What attracted Murdoch, sniffing for dollars like a dog at its neighbour’s bum, was this: “Like IKEA, a giant Swedish furniture-maker, Kunskapsskolan gets its customers to do much of the work themselves. The vital tool, though, is not an Allen key but the Kunskapsporten (“Knowledge Portal”), a website containing the entire syllabus.”

It doesn’t matter that the “IKEA” philosophy behind the school is absolutely terrible.

According to Peter Ledin, Kunskapsskolan’s boss, ““If we're religious about anything, it's standardisation. We tell our teachers it is more important to do things the same way than to do them well.”

However, the privatised “free” schools of Sweden, now buying their way into the UK and the US, do not have such a fantastic track record. See Swedish warning: do not repeat our free school errors here: for a counter-view.

US citizen Murdoch has done enough to stuff up Australia’s public schooling through the mis-named “Education Revolution” foisted on us by his lackeys Rudd and Gillard.

His terrible speech at the G8 Forum only contains promises of worse to come.