Woke up this morning and read this news about the electricity problem and the possibility of a 'rumble in the jungle' at Universiti Malaya.
Read : http://www.nst.com.my/node/46664
There's this same character playing the starring role - he has appeared at the Oslo Freedom Forum before - and at other countless shows at home and abroad. The other stars are Leong Yu Sheng, the "student leader" engineering this big pageant and the hapless UM Academic Prof Datuk Dr Rohana Yusoff. What delights await us? Are we to be indulged with the same 'demotainment' as in the Hong Kong Student's Protest Movement - as tutored by the "aristocracy of activists" at the Oslo Freedom Forum? Perhaps security officials may have noticed a run on the sale and stock-up of mineral water, Coca-Cola and Diet Pepsi. (See paras 2 and 3 of my posting below)
Watch out too for a rise in the sale of snacks like nuts and other junk food. I also reckon some macik and ah soh and achi somewhere can expect big orders for nasi lemak, vaday and char siew pau to feed the rally?? Also keep an eye on how the rally marshalls get their members to pick up their litter - something which all Malaysians should learn from. ( Again, see paras 2 and 3 of my posting below)
However, the theme for the rally - "40 Years from University of Malaya to Jail" - is not really catchy enough. Can't they get some panduan from the media-savvy experts in the protest-movement industry?
I am old - but I am a cynic and I don't swallow most things I see, read and hear about. There is a fine line between knowing "everything" and gullibility. The next step from gullibility is manipulation and exploitation. I often impressed upon my students the importance of reading between, behind and beyond the lines. We should apply these prepositions to many aspects of our thinking and doing.
Here's the first post.
Being "old dears", we spend our evenings watching re-runs of Midsomer Murders, Lewis, Morse, Foyle's War , Poirot and Miss Marples. We don't bother much with News on BBC or ITV. They're all very predictable, serving the same old Eurocentric agenda - with self-righteousness and double standards thrown in and of course with a good dose of fluffy news about the Duchess of Cambridge, Dame Angelina Jolie, and Mr and Mrs George Clooney's wedding extravaganza.
But last night (22 October), I came down to earth. I clicked on BBC2 Newsnight (by accident) at 11pm and caught a bit about the "aristocracy of activists" attending the Oslo Freedom Forum. We heard about "meetings in the basement" where concerned and committed activists were instructed on how to organize and plan protest movements. According to Newsnight, the student protest in Hong Kong was hatched two years ago and Jianli Yang, the well-known activist from China was keeping in touch with the protestors every hour, giving them the benefit of his expertise and experience.
In an interview with a young female activist we learned about how to use nonviolent action as a "weapon of mass destruction". She mentioned a series of "hows" when one is organizing and running a protest: like how to keep ranks, how to use marshalls (during the protest) how to speak to the police, how to behave when arrested, how to manage a water cannon and the need to arrange the logistics of providing food and water - because a protest movement can last longer when people are taken care of. ( I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that defenders of "free speech, democracy and human rights" in Malaysia must be taking down notes from this Forum and from the Hong Kong protestors for their next big do).
The BBC reporter - Laura Kuenssberg - also spoke to Srdja Popovic, leader of the Centre of Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies - the man credited with bringing down Slobodan Milosevic. He claimed that he had taught in almost 40 centres but only about 6-7 had applied his teachings, including the Arab Spring Movement.
At this "Freedom Forum", according to Newsnight, deals were done - and there was schmoozing for democracy - over glasses of champagne and Norwegian canapes, against a backdrop of activists dressed up like penguins (males) and Hollywood celebrities (females). The reporter described this setting as "Davos for Dissidents".
For more details read : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29708917
You may ask - what is this group that managed to get the attention of the pukka BBC's Newsnight? And why should we even care?
The Oslo Freedom Movement is a gathering held annually in Norway's capital city by the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) which is headquartered in the Empire State Building, New York. HRF was founded by Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, a Venezuelan film producer and freedom activist. (Wiki).
|The Oslo Freedom Forum's founder Thor Halvorssen speaks at the opening sessionMonday. To his left is Amnest International Norway's general secretary Joh Peder Egenaes. (Berit Roald/AFP/Getty Images)|
Its mission is to "unite people in the common cause of defending human rights and promoting liberal democracy" (Wiki).
Aaahh, now I see why Datuk Ambiga Sreenevesan and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) have been guest speakers at this Freedom Forum. After all, in their book, Malaysia is a violator of human rights; and according to DSAI an example of Governments "that hide behind a facade of democracy and commit crimes in its name".
Pardon me for being a simpleton, but doesn't this 'facade of democracy' also apply to UK and USA as well - don't they too commit crimes in the name of democracy and human rights?
Check : https://oslofreedomforum.com/talks/confronting-half-a-century-of-one-party-rule
|Image 2 - Enlargement of the text above|
Furthermore, at this Freedom Forum, DSAI claimed that Malaysia "has suffered under this new type of authoritarian rule". (See link above). If that's the case how do you explain the results of the 2013 Election and the fact that the Opposition are 'alive and kicking' - not only in their "home states" Penang and Selangor but in the rest of Malaysian politics?
Their antics in my home-state Selangor in the last few months would not inspire their comrades, the aristocracy of activists, at the Oslo Freedom Forum
Democracy in India (the world's "largest democracy") has brought to power the Hindu fundamentalist-inspired Bharatiya Janata Party - a party that advocates Hindutva (Hindu-ness), with an "ideology that sought to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu values" - and a leader like Narendra Modi, who is proud to describe himself as a "Hindu nationalist". Halvorssen's HRF and Oslo Freedom Forum would have no quarrel with India as a model of democracy. Is this therefore a good model for 'authoritarian' Malaysia? Is this the 'democracy' that DSAI and his acolytes 'trust' and spout about?
DSAI implored the audience (at the 2010 Freedom Forum) "to scrutinize the validity of vote-winning slogans such as freedom, democracy, and human rights, which are now too often used as empty promises or skewed in meaning". Of course, he was referring to the Government. But these very same slogans of freedom, human rights and democracy are also bandied about and manipulated by the NGOs (religious and secular) and by the Opposition!
But in the global scheme of world politics, Malaysia is just a small fry. Of greater concern is the make-up of HRF and the Oslo Freedom Forum and their ties with funding groups who inspired the mass killer and Islamophobe Anders Breivik - Norway's "crusading knight" on his 2011 mission to save Europe from the scourge of Muslim Immigration.
Read the article by Max Blumenthal in the link below.
Here are excerpts from an interview with Max Blumenthal.
Read and think - between, behind, and beyond the lines.