Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Overwhelming Welcome for Jeff

Well, given the "last minute" nature of this announcement (well, it has to be kept in the bag for a while), and the fact that it was a working day, I had expected a turnout of about 30 people for the welcoming party at Food Foundry today. Even late last evening when a few additional people confirmed, I thought the max turnout will be 50 persons. My 30 pax booking for food and coffee should still be able to cope.

Well, the cafe burst at its seams by 10.30 am this morning mostly from fellow bloggers and many many well-wishers. There must have been at least 120 people squeezed into the cafe, or to put it literally, spilled over to the five-foot way and road side as well (thank goodness for the good weather ;)). Foreign and local press turned out in full force as well, with more then 3 TV cameras. Jonathan Kent from BBC was present to tape the event as well.

There was real excitement in the air. The decision to hold the welcome party at the cafe, instead of the party headquarters, which might have been too intimidating for some certainly was a wiser one albeit, a more costly one for the pocket ;)

At the event, DAP Selangor State Chairman, Sdr Ean Yong Hian Wah gave the opening welcome address followed by the party's Secretary General, Sdr Lim Guan Eng. Jeff then gave his much anticipated address, which he did with much aplomb. Finally, Parliamentary Opposition Leader and fellow blogger, Sdr Lim Kit Siang asked for more politicians to blog, and for more bloggers to join the fray.

Following that, Jeff launched his new blog, Jeff 4 Malaysia, which focuses on politics, distinct from his current Screenshots.

Oh, and a BIG thank you to Lulu who treated us to lunch. Eased the expenses for the day a little ;) Thanks also to the staff of Food Foundry who were extremely patient with us as we "turned" the place upside down for 2 hours. ;)

Well, I won't bore you with more details, but I've taken the liberty to quote Jeff's maiden political speech ;)
Beratnya mata memandang. Berat lagi bahu memikul.

TODAY, on the eve of the month we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Merdeka, I am making a political stand by joining the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Looking back at our last 50 years as an independent country, if Malaysia had been a great nation, we should make it greater in the next fifty.

As a Malaysian, as a parent for a school-going child, and as an advocate of New Media who blogs, monitors, and analyses the trends in digital governance and global competitiveness, I have grave concerns for Malaysia.

It is my wish, in the years to come, to participate in the legislative process of Parliamentary Democracy in Malaysia, to share my ideas and to collectively contribute towards making Malaysia a greater country. I hope you, too, will join our clarion call for MALAYSIAN FIRST through DAP.

THINK “MALAYSIAN FIRST”. Counting on the audacity of hope, Malaysia will be a greater nation if only all of us can come together -- irrespective of race, religions and cultures – and share a common will to forge forward globally. We are Malaysians. In things we do, we should place MALAYSIAN FIRST as the top priority.

FOSTER REAL RACIAL INTEGRATION. However, this is not the case for us. The major portion of our first 50 years of nation building, and more so since 2004, has been discoloured with perpetual race-based politics. The term Bangsa Malaysia is but a rhetoric that is overly verbalized, but seldom practiced. We should break down the devil of race-based politics from this Merdeka.

GIVE US GOOD GOVERNANCE. The 2004 Barisan Nasional Election Manifesto had failed to address corruption and tainted governance as there are no Big Fish being caught; it had also failed to redeem the damaged reputation of the Police as there is no IPCMC. We are also faced with judicial verdicts which were questioned by the legal fraternity, at best, for being religiously divisive, and at worse, for going against the Federal Constitution.

WAKE UP TO KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY. Emphatically, in the last four years, the nation has regressed into the pre-Internet Dark Age where repressive tactics and draconian laws, such as the ISA and the OSA, had been arbitrarily used to intimidate proponents of dissenting –- but not necessarily unworthy – views expressed online and via the traditional media. It’s a state of fear, and it curtails people’s rights to foster collective intelligence which is recognized worldwide as the bedrock for a Knowledge-based Economy.

OVERHAUL EDUCATION SYSTEM. The education system, together with the ill practice of talent segregation mooted by imposed discrimination rather than meritocracy, could not help us produce competent human capital that can meet global benchmark relative to the advanced countries. We need a total overhaul of the system, reform the salary structure of the teaching and academic staff, and introduce syllabi that cater for the competitive needs of a globalised economy. We need to nurture professionally-skilled human capital that connects to the outside world, not jaguh kampung.

UPHOLDING DEMOCRACY. Malaysia as a Parliamentary Democracy, Constitutional Monarchy and constitutionally-enshrined Secular State has but eroded over the years. The separation of power that enables the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary -- the three pillars of government and governance -- to operate independently is being compromised. The Executive can now nominate candidates to sit on the Bench. This is the recipe for chaos that we should avoid at all costs.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF NATIONAL WEALTH. More importantly, national wealth including those generated through Petronas has not been equitably distributed to benefit the rakyat -- comprising the bumiputras and bona fide citizens -- while cronies and parties close to Umno skimmed it for their own benefits. Before the oil wells dry up, it’s time we take steps to ensure the rakyat, the actual stake-holders of this country, become the beneficiaries of our national wealth. We have been hopelessly drowned in an infrastructural-development economic model that overly relies on unskilled foreign labour force. This should stop.

ENRICH THE JOE PUBLIC. The worst financially-hit among the citizenry are the unskilled labour, average wage-earners and low ranking public servants serving in urban centres besieged by escalating cost of living. They are the direct victims of long-term rent-seekers who chipped away their earnings through highway tolls. We owe them an improved quality of life while we allow the AP Kings to take helicopter rides from golf-course to golf-course.

That’s primarily the reasons I have decided to offer my services to DAP, to help them and fellow Opposition Parties to right the wrongs of Barisan Nasional. It’s a tough struggle for all of us as we face the might of Barisan’s 3M – Money, Machinery and mainstream Media.

That’s what jolted me whenever I recall the Malay saying, “Beratnya mata memandang, berat lagi bahu memikul”.

Don’t give up my fellow Malaysians. Let’s bring in new talents and new ideas to run this country.

You may be disappointed if you fail. But you are doomed if you don’t try.

That’s how we should observe this 50th MERDEKA. Hidup Malaysia!

If you share the same feelings for Malaysia, as always, please WALK WITH US!
Yes, please walk with us. You know how to reach me ;).
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