What a year! | Selangor Times
Issue 118


What a year!
Writer: Fahmi Fadzil
Published: Fri, 30 Dec 2011

“Buka tutup buka tutup mata, dah habis satu tahun.”

That’s the saying I’ve come to be quite accustomed to. It basically means that the year had whizzed by as though we’d just opened and shut our eyes a few times.

And what a year it has been, no? From the epic floods in Thailand (and some parts of Malaysia) and the epic uprisings in the Middle East (with reservations for a similar experience here in Malaysia), to the epic financial and bureaucratic brinkmanship that is the European Union, 2011 has been a year of epic proportions.

If epic-ness scares us, there are enough bite-sized experiences for us to chew on. Here, therefore, is my list of memorable moments or incidents (in no particular order of import) from the year that was:

Revocation of the three Emergency declarations

It was just a matter of time. These three declarations of Emergency – 1966 (Sarawak), 1969, and 1977 (Kelantan) – for some reason or other have long overstayed their welcome.  

Nurul Izzah Anwar (MP for Lembah Pantai) had in the March sitting of Parliament attempted to push through a private member’s bill, called the Emergency Revocation Act 2011, yet it was stopped by the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat on technical grounds... only to be later revived and reconstituted by the prime minister in his Sept 15 announcement.

Whatever the case may be, Malaysia is finally – and officially – at peace. And now comes the herculean task of rectifying/replacing the over 60 pieces of law that were built on the states of emergency (one of those laws, for example, deals with the legal existence of Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia’s [Rela] 2.6 million members).

Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011

Nov 29 and Dec 20, 2011 will be remembered in civil rights circles as days of infamy, when the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 were passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara respectively.

This piece of law, which is the Federal Government’s attempt at legalising peaceful assemblies, has been excoriated and berated by many, many parties, including the Bar Council, Suhakam, and Pakatan Rakyat political parties. Despite the public uproar, and despite the Bar Council’s attempt at producing an alternate (and what it sees as a better) version of said bill, all protestations fell on deaf ears.

Rise of the undergrads

One of the pledges by Prime Minister Najib Razak on the eve of Hari Malaysia was to amend the controversial Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971, which many – including the academics residing in their towers of ivory – have clamoured to have repealed.

One of the final face-offs came on the day the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, held a roundtable discussion on Dec 18 for feedback on the proposed UUCA amendments. On that same day, some 500 undergraduates marched the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for UUCA’s repeal.

Some might even recall a certain “taking down a banner” incident outside of PWTC.

National Feedlot Corporation

We swiftly moo-ve along. There is no other way to discuss this scandal but to take the proverbial bull by its horns.

As we’ve all come to know, some RM250 million was apportioned to an Umno minister’s family for a cattle-raising project.

Unfortunately, the 2010 Auditor-General’s report lambasted said project. Subsequently, the stench of misappropriation permeated the air, with revelations of the buying of plots of land, luxury condos in KL and Singapore, and who knows what else.

Clamourous calls for the minister linked to this project to resign seem to have fallen on deaf ears (yet again). Said minister had issued various statements, effectively saying: “I shall not be cowed!”

Bersih 2.0 march

July 7, 2011. The “mother”  of all marches in recent memory, when between 5,000 and 50,000 people (depending on which media you read) peacefully marched through the streets of Kuala Lumpur calling for eight key electoral reforms.

In the lead-up to that dramatic day – I, too, joined the fray – hundreds were arrested, the colour yellow was banned; calls for Ambiga Sreenevasan, its chairperson, to be stripped off her citizenship were made; molotov cocktails and machetes were “found”; silat practitioners were rallied (and later “disappeared”); and Malaysians of all colours and stripes – from filmmakers to housewives, businesspersons to lawyers – made a decision to march for what they believe is a better Malaysia.

What a day it was.
What a year it has been.
Here’s to a great 2012.


 Selangor Times



Also by Fahmi Fadzil:

Awaiting local, federal elections

THE Malaysian political scene feels like it fits right in with the work of absurdist playwright Beckett’s play entitled ‘Waiting for Godot’, where two characters – Vladimir and Estragon – wait patiently for the arrival of Godot, who never arrives.

New beginnings

Farewell 2012, Hello 13GE

WHAT a year it has been! Who would’ve thought that much of these past 11 months would have sped by with such ferocity?

Reconsidering elected representatives

What is the role of a member of Parliament? A state assemblyperson (ADUN)? A local councillor? 

The day after...

In my last article, I wrote about the need to imagine the hours, days, weeks, and months following the 13th General Election (a most enigmatic event, whose precise date is and will forever be a mystery... until it is called!). 

Change must come but not with violence

A few days ago, I read an article by Liew Chin Tong, the MP for Bukit Bendera, entitled “The Last Mile” (The Rocket, July 2, 2012).

Let’s keep thuggery out

I have been working for Nurul Izzah and Parti Keadilan Rakyat since October 2010.

Cleaner, freer, fairer, better

It’s been a good nine months since the epic Bersih 2.0 rally of July 2011. I still remember the days that came before that mammoth gathering - the tension, the stress, the uncertainties, and most of all: the unyielding desire of the rakyat for free and fair elections - and realize that, given the special circumstance that we are in today what with polls being weeks or months away, those thunderous days may not be repeated verbatim.

Tale of two gatherings

This past week saw several different yet, from my point of view, important gatherings of people standing up for what they believe in. I want to write a little bit about two gatherings in particular, and highlight what we may (hopefully) learn from each.

Of sacred cows and secret condos

It’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter.

TTDI residents ready for futsal 'match'

A few Fridays ago, I received an email from my neighbourhood security-watch committee about a new project that had suddenly mushroomed in our little corner of Taman Tun Dr Ismail: a futsal court.

Neighbourhoods under siege

OF late I’ve been thinking a lot about neighbourhoods – all these places where we grew up, started our own families, and basically watched the nation go by.

Cleaner, fairer, better?

PRACTICALLY everyone who is reading this already knows about the July 9 rally organised by the Bersih 2.0 coalition. I believe that many of us were there on the streets on that historic day.

Maafkan kami

I’m not sure if you’ve been following the news, but earlier in June I was kind of in the news as I had to apologise for some things that I had tweeted in January.

Times of change

Of late, we’ve been inundated with talk about withdrawal of subsidies and subsequently the change in the price of sugar, RON95, gas, electricity, etc – some of which has happened, and some of which (for whatever economic or political reason) has not.

Sarawak, show us the way

The recent Sarawak state elections were such a learning experience for many Malaysians. Irrespective of whether we were active participants in the political battles on the ground, or just curious observers reading the news on Twitter, it is clear that Sarawak – and the rest of the country – can never be the same again.

The Malaysian resistance

These are “artistic impressions” of thoughts circumambulating the increasingly controversial Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
project. I chose to say “increasingly controversial” because we all know we need this infrastructure and thus any opposition to it appears to reject a very public need.











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