Aliran Monthly, the magazine which provided independent alternative journalism in Malaysia long before the internet became popular, has printed its final issue after 33 eventful years, writes Himanshu Bhatt.
In the aftermath of Bersih 2.0, recent weeks have seen one irregularity after another in the electoral process being exposed.
P Ramakrishnan looks at some of these dubious discrepancies and tactics and concludes that no real change is possible unless the Election Commission is disbanded and replaced and a new government comes to power.
First Selangor and now Penang. Both these states are blazing the trail by being the first two to table Freedom of Information Bills in their State Assemblies. Anil Netto sets the tone for Sarajun Hoda’s cover story by reiterating that freedom of information is a basic right, without which other rights may be rendered almost meaningless. FOI means just that: information must be freely available, says Sarajun, who examines the Selangor FOI Bill – only to find that it leaves much to be desired.
Bring back local council elections! That’s the theme of Tan Pek Leng’s cover story exploring the quest to reclaim our democracy. If the Local Government Act stands in the way, then it must go, she says; it is not because we are lawless but because we value our democracy.
Actually, a team of legal experts has advised the Penang government that it is legally possible to hold local government elections, reports Francis Loh. The Penang government will now have to decide whether to seek a court declaration on the issue.
It has not been the happiest leadership transition for the ruling coalition. In our cover story, Khoo Boo Teik looks at the unusual position the BN is in, having lost four by-elections in the peninsula since the last general election. At the heart of Pakatan Rakyat’s advances is a sea-change at the social level – a phenomenon which has been captured on blogs, websites, and Youtube.
In analysing the last three by-elections, Ong Kian Ming points out that Pakatan has now firmly co-opted the BN’s winning formula, especially in the ethnically mixed seats in the peninsula.
This issue focuses on the Internal Security Act, a harsh law that has no place in a democratic society. P Ramakrishnan tells us why the ISA is evil and why it has to go – now. He also reminds us of the abuse meted out in the name of national security.
Francis Loh describes how the country is effectively a ‘national security state’; he goes on to show how, time and time again, the extensive powers vested in the Executive and the police have been abused for political expediency.
In our cover story, Zaharom Nain explores the world of blogging in Malaysia. Bloggers are providing a real alternative to the mainstream media and countering the distortions and unravelling the propaganda. No wonder the authorities are sitting up and taking notice.
In a colourful centrefold story, Shakila Abdul Manan describes a praiseworthy effort at uncovering the untold story of the much-maligned Ronggeng girls while evoking the true spirit of Muhibbah.
Aliran Monthly caught up with Anwar Ibrahim for a frank and in-depth interview on a range of issues. The man has been busy traversing the country, meeting with supporters and trying to forge stronger opposition cooperation for the next general election.
In the first of two parts, we zoom in on the economy, in particular the New Economic Policy. Anwar himself has morphed from an ardent champion of the New Economic Policy to a vocal opponent. We asked him how the transformation took place and why.
In the lead story, Khoo Boo Teik comments on how Umno got lost on the way to 2020. If the goal is 100 per cent national unity, the Umno of 2006 has taken us 30 per cent forward, 70 per cent backward. As we prepare to celebrate 50 years of Merdeka, we must look elsewhere for a better, kinder and fairer idea of progress.
In this regard, P Ramakrishnan speaks to all Malaysians in the back cover story. As ethnic relations worsen, he calls upon the silent majority to wake up.
Our cover story focuses on Khairy Jamaluddin, a man of many ‘talents’. But who is the real Khairy? Were he not the premier’s son-in-law, would he have much in common with Abdullah Badawi, wonders Khoo Boo Teik.
While Khairy hogs the headlines, A J Patrick pays tribute to a towering Malaysian, the late Tan Sri B C Sekhar, who not only advanced research into natural rubber but was also extremely concerned about plantation workers.
Our cover story focuses on the slide in ethnic relations in Malaysia. Johan Abdullah senses a rise in the number of worrying incidents that have affected ethnic relations. He goes on to review how the character of ethnic relations may have changed over the years and provides a new context for understanding ethnic relations.
To better manage ethnic relations, we need to be aware of our own prejudices and to stretch the borders of the self. Reflecting on the controversial university ethnic relations course guidebooks, Wong Soak Koon argues that the course should instead stimulate critical thinking while examining the legacies of history.
In our cover story, Khoo Boo Teik explores the “tiff” between Mahathir and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and looks at the undercurrents that led to the former premier outbursts. It’s all a far cry from the euphoria that greeted Abdullah’s ascension to the premier’s post. The dreams of that period have now been deflated, observes Angeline Loh.
Mahathir himself has complained that his views have been marginalised in the mainstream media. He probably chooses not to remember how the media were effectively muzzled during his tenure. But are the media any freer under Abdullah as some say?
This is a special issue focusing on the proposed revamp of health care financing. Our first piece looks at the Health Ministry’s proposal, which requires Malaysians to make monthly health insurance payments to a new National Health Fund.
In response, the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation, comprising 81 NGOs, has come up with a People’s Proposal that would not burden ordinary Malaysians especially those least able to afford higher health care costs.