Bersih NL Summer BBQ Event

Bersih Netherlands had our summer Bbq picnic in the Westbroekpark, The Hague on 26 June 2016. It was great to see our friends and supporters once again and to catch up on how is everyone doing. The weather was excellent with great sunshine! Everyone brought some food and drinks to share. After satisfying our bodies with delicious food, Bersih Netherlands committePicnic small1e members shared about our newly setup Bersih Netherlands Network as a non governmental organization under the Dutch law. The idea of setting up the Bersih Netherlands Network is to bring like-minded Malaysians living in the Netherlands together to raise awareness on the social, economical picnic small2and political climate in Malaysia. With the new NGO (Stichting) registered, we are able to have our own bank account and all collections and spendings are done transparently as it is the requirement for NGOs in the Netherlands to publish the financial overview annually. With all the administrative work done, we are now ready to organize activities under the umbrella of the new stichting.

Among the items discussed were:-

1. Infrastructure to help activists for their publication work and other pemantau incidents reporting

2. Preparation for next GE14 : we need to compile / help Global Bersih to compile a proper brochure to guide overseas Malaysians on the voting process.

3. Approaching organizations in NL to discuss how they can work with Bersih NL and Global Bersih to promote clean and fair elections. Need to further explore and discuss in forum.

4. We have created a Bersih NL forum. We would encourage all of you to register online and start to utilize this forum.

5. Work together with Global Bersih in Geneva to achieve the same goals (the demands of Bersih 4 – Free and Fair Elections, A Clean Government, The Right to Dissent
Strengthening the Parliamentary Democracy, Saving the Economy of Malaysia)

The picnic ended with some action items agreed for us to move forward. We feel every overseas Malaysians has the responsibility to contribute in anyway they could for Malaysia to have clean and fair elections. If you are Malaysian and staying in the Netherlands, we would like to connect with you and to hear your point of view. Do contact us : contact@picnic small3bersih.nl

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Bersih 2.0 receives the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2016

Bersih 2.0

Congrats to Bersih 2.0 team and all!

This is indeed a very meaningful award. Gwanju has a big significance in Korean history. Gwangju Uprising,@ May 18 Democratic Uprising @ Gwangju Democratization Movement, refers to a popular uprising in the city of Gwangju, South Korea [1] from May 18 to 27, 1980. Estimates suggest up to 606 people may have died. During this period, Gwangju citizens took up arms (by robbing local armories and police stations) when local Jeonnam University [2] students – who were demonstrating against the Chun Doo-hwan government – were fired upon, killed, and beaten in an unprecedented attack by government troops. Our struggle is far from over!

Video: Acceptance Speech of the Gwangju Human Rights Award 2016

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Re-delineation of Electoral Boundaries in Sarawak – Making Goliath even bigger (our analysis)

Flag_of_Sarawak.svg

The eleventh Sarawak state election will be held on Saturday, 7 May 2016 after nomination for candidates on Monday, 25 April. The 82 members of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, will be elected in single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. More than 1.1 million who have their names entered or retained in an electoral register for a particular electoral district in Sarawak are eligible to vote at the time of the election. Malaysia does not practice compulsory voting and automatic voter registration. The voting age is 21 although the age of majority in the country is 18. The election will conducted by the Election Commission of Malaysia.

In 2015, there were 11 new constituencies created in Sarawak for the coming State Election.

New state constituencies

N13 Batu Kitang (Under P196 Stampin)

N17 Stakan (Under P197 Kota Samarahan)

N18 Serembu (Under P198 Puncak Borneo)

N23 Bukit Semuja (Under P199 Serian)

N26 Gedong (Under P200 Batang Sadong)

N40 Kabong (Under P205 Saratok)

N57 Tellian (Under P213 Mukah)

N63 Bukit Goram (Under P215 Kapit)

N66 Murum (Under P216 Hulu Rajang)

N70 Samalaju (Under P217 Bintulu)

N78 Mulu (Under P20 Baram)

In Jan 2016, it was reported by MERAP (http://www.bersih.org/merap-analysis-reveals-shocking-results-on-sarawak-delineation/) that 9 out 11 new seats are in favour of BN. On other news, seats of Bukit Kota and Bukit Sari where Lawas and Limbang are located are won by BN uncontested.

With these information, we did our own analysis on publicly available data and put them on maps. After that, we did our own analysis to find out if that is indeed the case that BN will win more seats because of the re-delineation.

Map1

Figure 1 – shows a comparison between BN (Barisan National) ruled areas versus PR (Pakatan Rakyat). BN (Blue) / PR (Yellow)

The Red lines show the boundaries of the state constituencies before the re-delineation exercise where as the Black lines show the boundaries of the state constituencies after the re-delineation exercise.

 

Observation 1

It seems like there is an attempt to split the PR supporting area in Bekenu to smaller areas.

Map2

Figure 2 – Enlargement of the Bekenu state constituency to emphasize the change in boundaries from the re-delineation exercise

If we calculate the BN/PR ratio for these voting districts, they area breaking the already weak PR supporting area (0.81 BN/PR ratio).

Map3

Figure 3 – BN/PR Voting Ratio for the area of Bekenu

Observation 2

In Samalaju (new state constituency) the new boundaries showed that the BN supporting area has been increased – an attempt to convert this area to BN majority area?  This area was a Chinese majority area before the re-delineation (showed in the pie chart in Figure 1 above).

Map4

Figure 4 – Enlargement of the Samalaju state constituency to emphasize the change in boundaries from the re-delineation exercise

map5

Figure 5 – BN/PR Voting Ratio for the area of Samalaju

From Figure 5 above, the PR supporting area in Samalaju was already having a weak / border-line voters’ support (0.9 BN/PR Voting Ratio). With the new boundaries, it was obvious that PR weight of influence in this area will be further weakened.

Observation 3

In Murum (new state constituency), the new boundaries showed that the BN supporting area has been increased – an attempt to convert this area to BN majority area?  This area is an Orang Ulu majority area with 7648 registered voters.

Map6

Map6-1

Figure 6 – Enlargement of the Murum state constituencyto emphasize the change in boundaries from the re-delineation exercise

Map7

Figure 7 – BN/PR Voting Ratio for the area of Murum (the new state constituency will reflect a stronger BN support constituency after the construct)

Observation 4

In Mulu (new state constituency), the new boundaries brought in highly BN supporting area into this new state constituency (1 – in the map below). This area is an Orang Ulu majority area with 8048 registered voters. The Telang Usan Area sees a split of a high PR supporting area to two (2 – in the map below).

Map8

Figure 8 – Enlargement of the Mulu and Telang Usan state constituencies to emphasize the change in boundaries from the re-delineation exercise

Map9

Figure 9 – BN/PR Voting Ratio for the area of Mulu / Telang Usan (the state constituencies will result in stronger BN support constituencies after the re-delineation process)

 

Summary

We have listed only a few of the observations from the 2015 re-delineation of the Sarawak State voting boundaries. Thus, this proved that the claim by MERAP that there is indeed a strong tendency of creating more advantages to the current ruling government to win the next State Election with a bigger majority, with the latest sentiments of the 1MDB scandals and strong discontent of the Rakyat with our current Prime Minister and other power abuse issues, we might still see more areas moving towards supporting the opposition parties. Nevertheless, we still feel that it is still a long way for Sarawak to give up BN ruling in the coming State Election.

 

Sources:

Sarawak State Election 2016 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarawak_state_election,_2016

Tindak Malaysia – http://www.tindakmalaysia.org/

Danesh Chacko – http://daneshatlas.blogspot.nl/2016/04/mapping-elections-malaysian-style.html


The interactive map can be viewed in full here. The creation of this map was made possible was possible with input from Tindak Malaysia and Mapping your way.

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Sarawak State Election will be on 7 May 2016

Flag_of_Sarawak.svg

The eleventh Sarawak state election will be held on Saturday, 7 May 2016 after nomination for candidates on Monday, 25 April. The 82 members of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly, will be elected in single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. More than 1.1 million who have their names entered or retained in an electoral register for a particular electoral district in Sarawak are eligible to vote at the time of the election.

BERSIH and local NGOs in Sarawak are working together to set up the PEMANTAU team to monitor the upcoming Sarawak state election.

PEMANTAU refers to the monitoring of elections. It is an important process to ensure that the Sarawak state election is carried out in a fair and clean manner. Through monitoring, citizens become observers that prevent and whistle blow on fraud or electoral offences such as bribery, misuse of power, and disturbance towards the electoral process.

PEMANTAU Sarawak has identified five key DUNs to monitor, i.e.:
(1) N02. Tasik Biru (Bau/Tondong/Serikin)
(2) N13. Batu Kitang (Kuching/Arang/Kitang)
(3) N53. Bawang Assan (Sibu/Rassau)
(4) N75. Senadin (Miri/Kuala Baram/Riam)
(5) N77. Telang Usan (Long Lama/Long San/Miri)

Come and join the Bersih team to be an observer. Register at Bersih 2.0 site: http://www.bersih.org/pemantausarawak/

 

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Bersih NL Chinese New Year makan-makan in Utrecht

Bersih NL organized another gathering on 21 February 2016 in Utrecht to celebrate Chinese New Year. We were also privileged to have Global Bersih visitors who flew in from Geneva: Mr Bala Chelliah and his wife, Sharnti. The event was attended by 18 members, guests and friends of Bersih NL.

It was a potluck lunch and in true Malaysian spirit, everyone brought delicious home-cooked food and desserts to share, ranging from yu sang to apom balik. It was truly a feast of Malaysian delicacies and makan – something close to every Malaysian’s heart, P1090055_smallespecially those living overseas who miss such food.

Amidst the amiable atmosphere and fellowship, everyone got to know one another and caught up with events and developments in Malaysia and what Bersih 2.0 is currently doing.

After dessert, Bala gave a short briefing on Global Bersih’s (GB) objectives and touched on Bersih NL’s own objectives which link us to the wider GB community. Basically, GB’s main objectives are to carry out outreach work with the Malaysian diaspora spread across the globe and international advocacy work. GB’s strategic location in Geneva is ideal for advocacy and lobbying with the UN High Commission for Human Rights and other international human rights organizations and NGOs based there, and to bring attention to political, social and economic issues in Malaysia and human rights violations. Bala emphasized that similar advocacy work is being carried by GB supporters in London, Paris, Washington, Sydney and New York and his hope is that each Bersih country organization will undertake similar advocacy work with the respective country’s Foreign Office/Ministry and international organizations based there. For example, Bersih NL can explore what advocacy work is possible with the International Human Rights Court based in The Hague or visit the Dutch Foreign Minsitry to explore what support they can provide for protecting human rights and advancing democratic practices in evolving democracies such as Malaysia.

In addition to his GB Secretary role, Bala carries out the above-mentioned activities in Geneva by working closely with SUARAM and Aliran and also acts as their Geneva representative to the UN High Commission for Human Rights.

Bala encouraged all overseas Malaysians to spread the word on Global Bersih’s goals and activities and connect with all overseas Malaysians and get them to contribute in any way they can (e.g. IT, media, design, photography, publicity, financial, etc.).

Bala’s concluding comment was that we overseas Malaysians can play an important role to suppport the movement for change in Malaysia, and that this will be achieved if each of us passionately believes in the Cause. But as a minimum, he implored all of us (and all Malaysians) to register to vote and suggested that we start putting some money aside to fly back to vote when the next elections are called.

An important milestone is the registration of Bersih Network Netherlands as an official stichting (NGO) in the Netherlands. We would like to encourage all like-minded Malaysians in the Netherlands to sign up as members to support our local Bersih activities. Here are some of the activities and programmes in the pipeline:

  1. Social activities to connect with like-minded Malaysians in the Netherlands
  2. Talks/seminars on democracy in Malaysia to create awareness and raise consciousness
  3. Sale of Bersih NL T-shirts to raise funds to cover expenses incurred
  4. Encourage all overseas Malaysians to register as voters
  5. Address all questions and concerns overseas Malaysians have about the Malaysian voting system and how to register as postal voters
  6. Discussions with local human rights organizations and government agencies on human rights issues faced by Malaysians in Malaysia
  7. Inquire about dates and locations where people can register as voters and communicate the information through available channels

If you have not signed up as a member of Bersih NL, we would like to connect with you. Do come forward and send us your contact details ([email protected]). Small steps make a big difference!

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Raising Funds For Radio Free Sarawak

Help Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), the independent station which is dedicated to the concerns of the rainforest peoples of Borneo, continue to provide an alternative and independent source of news during the upcoming state election. RFS is the only independent platform where these forest dwellers, who are struggling against state-backed logging, land grabs and indigenous rights abuses can let their voice be heard. 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/raising-funds-for-radio-free-sarawak#/

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Unexpected Meeting with the Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands, HE Dato’ Ahmad Nazri Yusof

ambassador

We recently attended a Deepavali lunch organized by the Malaysian Association of the Netherlands on Saturday, 14 November 2015, at the Indian Palace in Zoetermeer. Because we were late, there were hardly any empty seats left. Luckily we found a table in the middle of the room. About 15 minutes later, the organizer announced that the guest of honour, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands, HE Dato’ Ahmad Nazri Yusof and his family had arrived. They walked in and were ushered to our table!

That was indeed a pleasant surprise and we were relieved that the organizer did not ask us to leave the table. I felt honoured to be in the company of a distinguished guest and took the opportunity to introduce ourselves and get to know the ambassador better. His Excellency graciously answered qustions that were posed. The following are among the items discussed:

  1. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris where 130 people were killed and many left injured. Should this happen in the Netherlands, the Malaysian Embassy will be responsible for tracking down all Malaysians and ensuring that they are safe. However, according to the ambassador, there are currently about 300 Malaysians registered with the Malaysian Embassy in The Hague. We agreed that this figure is low, and that there would be a number of Malaysians who have not registered with the embassy. The ambassador plans to make available an online registration form for Malaysians in the Netherlands to register themselves without having to make a trip to the Malaysian Embassy in The Hague.
  1. The Sarawak state election is coming up soon. My question was whether we could cast our vote as postal voters from the Netherlands. The answer is no; we have to go home for the state election. It is only for the General Election that we will be able to cast our vote at the Malaysian Embassy in The Hague.
  1. Voter registration. I asked if we could register as a voter at the Malaysian Embassy in The Hague. However this can be done only when there is an official voters registration campaign organized by the Election Commission. The most recent campaign was last year. The ambassador did not know when the next one would be. He will keep us informed. Meanwhile, when you are back in Malaysia for holidays, do drop by any post office and present your MyCard (IC) at the counter and they can register you as a voter there. You will need to wait between 3 and 6 months, after which you can check your status on the SPR website (www.spr.gov.my). Sometimes, there are counters at pasar malam or shopping complexes to register voters. Do look out for those too!
  1. I asked what happens to votes which are mailed to or dropped off at the Malaysian Embassy during a General Election. These votes are sent by secure post to the EC in Kuala Lumpur, and then to the respective constituencies under special police escort. The votes are then counted in front of the candidates in the voting centres. There is currently no arrangement whereby the votes cast by Malaysian citizens overseas are counted at their respective Malaysian embassies. A change in election policy is required. The ambassador advised overseas Malaysians to approach any of their MPs back in Malaysia and request them to bring up this issue in Parliament.

In summary, we should encourage all overseas Malaysians to register themselves at their respective Malaysian embassy so that in the event of an emergency, their embassy can trace and contact Malaysians and provide help if needed. Some families may contact Malaysian embassies overseas for help in tracking their family members if they are unable to contact their loved ones. In the next voters registration campaign, all Malaysians in the Netherlands will be encouraged to go and register at the Malaysian Embassy to exercise their civil right to vote. As many Malaysians are skeptical as to whether votes cast actually reach the respective constituencies, and some are concerned that votes might be tempered with, the safest option is for Malaysians overseas to go back to Malaysia during the General Election or State Election to cast their votes. Therefore, start saving for your air ticket now!

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