General News/Issues

巴生行動黨班村派傳單 提醒民眾檢查選民冊

巴生行動黨班村派傳單 提醒民眾檢查選民冊

Carl Wendell, a black poet, said – “it is easier to build monuments than to make a better world”. And Malaysia’s former prime ministerDr Mahathir Mohamad proved him right. The country has one of the tallest buildings in Asia and yes we can use various other adjectives to boast about our monuments.

 But as the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has proven, Mahathir is the chief engineer of the mess that Sabah faces now. The inquiry commission, mooted to look into Sabah’s population explosion, has exposed how undocumented immigrants were used as vote bank for the ruling coalition to stay in power.

It heard that over 80,000 of them from the Philippines were issued Malaysian identity cards and another 36,000 are on the waiting list. And some 200,000 citizenships were given to Sabah immigrants during Mahathir’s premiership in the 1990s in return for votes.

And this figure could very well be a conservative estimate.

Sabah’s population grew from under one million in 1980 to more than three million today. Foreigners make up 28% of that number, a larger proportion than the biggest indigenous group in the state on Borneo Island.

The revelations at the RCI are shocking. But it also raises questions about the electoral roll for the entire country and not just Sabah. Since the 2008 polls, the opposition-held Selangor’s electoral roll has shot up by 22% compared to a national average of 16.3%.

 Some 31,294 voters in the country have been transferred out of their last parliamentary and state constituencies without their consent. There are 1000 voters aged more than 100 and in many instances more than 100 people share the same address.

In the Klang parliamentary constituency about 2000 names have been transferred out of the constituency and another 3000 names have gone missing from the electoral roll. And about 500 voters residing in a particular Taman have been moved to a neighboring constituency.

These facts and figures concretely show that the electoral roll that would be used by the Election Commission at the next general election is riddled with irregularities.  And the polls are around the corner.

Whether or not Najib is ready, Parliament will automatically dissolve on April 27 and the prime minister will be forced to face the voters within two months from that date. And it’s an open secret that the next general election would be the most closely fought in the country’s history, if not the dirtiest. And therefore every vote counts.

Therefore the nation cannot go to the polls following evidence of phantom voters and a tainted electoral roll. As such I support the call by Bersih chairperson AmbigaSreenevasan to moot another RCI to look into the allegations of citizenship for votes in the Peninsula as well.

And I am going to take a step further and invite Mahathir to support the call for a RCI for the country. We all know he is hugely irritated and feeling the heat as the prime mover behind the citizenship for vote strategy.

But hopefully his angst will settle and he could behave like a statesman for once. It’s also about time he stops his nonsensical ramblings about the pre-independence migrants who were given citizenships.

 I am aware of Mahathir’s mischief and his moronic ways of slamming the Chinese and Indian immigrants who play a big role in the development of the nation. And we are also too familiar with his devious tactics of further dividing the nation along racial lines. Maybe this time around he is also upset that another blow to his image would act as an obstacle to push his son, Mukhriz Mahathir, further up the political ladder, inching him towards the premiership one day.

Whatever it is, as a last chance to make amends and clear up the mess he created, Mahathir should let go of stupid demands and lobby for a RCI for the Peninsula.

Or he should stop spewing venom and retire quietly.


Charles Santiago

Member of Parliament, Klang

Source :

Santiago says SPAN is slow in enforcing the law and this raises the question of its pro-Syabas bias.

CYBERJAYA (Jan 18): The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) should take action now on the parties that are responsible for the disruption of water supply in Selangor, a watchdog group says.
The commission should also act independently, said the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP). It noted that SPAN, as the regulator of the water industry, had been silent over the issue of the maintenance of water pumps that had caused the disruption in supply in Wangsa Maju, Selangor. It was also slow in enforcing the law, the coalition said.
“This raises the fundamental question of SPAN not being neutral,” Charles Santiago, a representative of the coalition, said.  “Only when you enforce the law are you seen as being independent. Given the political linkages of government leaders and Puncak (Niaga) and Syabas, people just believe that you are working together with Syabas.”
Syabas is the sole distributor for treated water in Selangor, while Puncak Niaga Holdings has a 70% equity stake in Syabas.
Santiago and four other delegates of CAWP met Marzuki Mohammad, the Executive Director of the Regulatory Department for Water, and Mohd Ridhuan, the Executive Director of the Regulatory Department for Sewerage, today to voice their concerns over the maintenance of the water supply infrastructure.
The coalition representatives asked SPAN officials whether it will take action against Syabas or Puncak Niaga if these companies were found responsible for the disruptions, Santiago, who is the MP for Klang and a DAP leader, said. 
The officers responded that since the commission and the water service industry are still new, SPAN will give the companies more time, said Santiago.
However, the coalition gave a two-week ultimatum to the commission to act on the problem in the Wangsa Maju area and to come out with a plan to prevent the situation from occuring again in Selangor.
If there is no positive action from the Commission, CAWP will seek a meeting with the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Peter Chin, Santiago told the press after the meeting here today.
The delegation was told that SPAN had audited the Wangsa Maju water pump station but it refused to comment on the outcome of the audit.
“I would like to think that they’ve done the audit and they also noted the problem but they do nothing about it. If they’ve done the audit they would have spotted the problem: out of the five pumps, one of the pumps failed and this was one year ago,” Santiago said.
As a result, he said, the other four pumps were overloaded and collapsed.
It was reported earlier that the water disruptions, which occurred in the Wangsa Maju area for about three weeks, had affected 100,000 families.
During the meeting, the delegation was also informed by the SPAN that a committee will be set up to find soulutions to the problems in Wangsa Maju in two to three months. However, Santiago opined that this was too long.
The committee will consist of representatives from the Public Works Department, Selangor Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) and other agencies.
CAWP made a counter proposal to SPAN to form an urgent team to check all water infrastructure in Selangor and make sure the pumps are in working condition.
Other representatives of the coalition who were present were veteran unionist Senator Syed Shahrir, CAWP member Sarajun Hoda and Malaysian Trades Union Congress Vice President Roszeli Majid.

Charles Santiago (Klang Member of Parliament) together with members of the Coalition Against Water Privatisation will meet  the CEO of Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN)

Source : Malaysian Insider

CYBERJAYA, 18 Jan — Gabungan Menentang Penswastaan Air (CAWP) mengkritik Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) kerana tidak tegas mengambil tindakan ke atas dua syarikat konsesi air, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (SYABAS) dan Puncak Niaga, di atas masalah bekalan air di negeri tersebut.

Menurut pengerusinya, Charles Santiago (gambar), pihaknya kecewa atas sikap SPAN yang lambat mengambil tindakan dan seharusnya mengetahui masalah ini sebelum ia berlaku.

“Mereka sudah mengaudit pusat pemprosesan air SYABAS, dan apabila kita tanya apa keputusannya, mereka enggan untuk komen,” kata Santiago dalam sidang media selepas pertemuannya dengan pegawai-pegawai SPAN di sini.

“Sebagai regulator bekalan air, SPAN mesti bertindak cepat.”

Turut hadir dalam pertemuan dengan pegawai SPAN ialah Senator Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, dan Exco NGO Aliran Sarajun Hoda.

Sementara itu, Syed Shahir berkata, masalah bekalan air di Selangor dapat diselesaikan dengan cepat sekiranya SPAN melakukan kerjanya pengawal selia syarikat pembekalan air.

“Soal yang berlaku sekarang boleh diatasi sekiranya SPAN lakukan tugasnya, iaitu mengambil tindakan ke atas syarikat konsesi yang gagal membekalkan air dengan baik.

“Kita bukan mahu SPAN lakukan tugas lebih dari bidang kuasanya, kita hanya mahu SPAN laksanakan tugasnya sebagai regulator syarikat air, itu sahaja,” kata Syed Shahir lagi, dan menambah kerajaan negeri Selangor sudah bersungguh-sungguh untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini.

“Kita bukan mahu pinpoint salah siapa-siapa, kita cuma mahu semua pihak kerja sama-sama bagi menyelesaikan masalah ini,” kata Syed Shahir lagi.

Exco Aliran yang merupakan ahli CAWP, Sarajun Hoda, pula bimbang kawasan-kawasan lain akan turut terjejas sekiranya SPAN tidak tegas mengambil tindakan ke atas SYABAS dan Puncak Niaga.

“Bila breakdown di Wangsa Maju, ini menunjukkan SPAN tak buat kerja. Sebab mereka dah pantau benda ini, kerosakan pam tu setahun lepas.

“Dan conflicting statement (maklumat bercanggah) dalam media, ini tidak baik kepada rakyat,” kata Sarajun lagi.

Semalam, Jawatan Kuasa Pemantauan Bekalan Air Negeri Selangor dimaklumkan SYABAS bahawa kawasan gangguan bekalan air yang disebabkan oleh kerosakan rumah pam Wangsa Maju telah pulih sepenuhnya.

Semua kawasan telah mula mendapat bekalan air termasuk kawasan tinggi seperti di Bandar Sri Permaisuri.

Mengenai kejadian henti tugas loji Sungai Semenyih pada 14 Januari, didapati bahawa pengeluaran air terawat oleh Loji Sungai Semenyih telah pulih sepenuhnya. SYABAS telah melaporkan bahawa 349,000 akaun pengguna terjejas dengan gangguan ini.

Setelah loji ini dipulihkan, bekalan air telah disalurkan semula pada jam 8.00 malam pada hari yang sama semasa kejadian tersebut.  Hasilnya kawasan-kawasan yang menerima bekalan air dari Loji Sungai Semenyih telah beransur-ansur mendapat bekalan air terawat semula.

   Published: 16 Jan 2013 at 23.45


One month after a prominent activist mysteriously vanished, Laos’ nascent civil society is living in fear despite the communist regime’s vow it had nothing to do with his disappearance.


This handout picture received on January 15, 2013, provided by the Somphone family and taken in 2005, shows Sombath Somphone of Laos at an unknown location in the Philippines.


Sombath Somphone, 62, the founder of a non-governmental organisation campaigning for sustainable development, went missing in Vientiane while driving home on December 15.

Images from CCTV cameras, obtained by Sombath’s family and published online, show him being taken away from a police post by two unidentified individuals. He has not been seen since.

The secretive communist regime, which has ruled Laos with an iron fist since 1975, has for the last few years appeared to be gradually opening up, allowing local civil society groups to flourish.

But Sombath’s disappearance has sent jitters through the activist network.

It came just a few weeks after Laos expelled Anne-Sophie Gindroz, the outspoken country director of Swiss charity Helvetas, for criticising the communist government that is led by President Choummaly Sayasone.

“Other civil society leaders are extremely worried, some have — I hope temporarily — left the country. It could well be a big step back,” said one development professional who has known Sombath for 20 years and requested anonymity.

Sombath, whose work for the Participatory Development Training Centre (PADETC) targeted the country’s marginalised and impoverished rural population, had played a key part in the apparent emergence of Laos’ long-muzzled civil society movement.

Hopes had been raised “of a process that was going to result in the Lao government recognising that NGOs have a role in a modern society”, said Phil Robertson of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

But those hopes had “probably been set back now in a significant way by Sombath’s disappearance,” he said, adding there was a “growing fear within civil society groups in Laos”.

Laos-based activists contacted by AFP spoke only on condition of anonymity, reflecting concern for their safety.

But the regime promises Sombath is not in their hands.

“The concerned authority is accelerating the investigations, collecting evidence in order to reach a conclusion,” Yong Chanthalangsy, Laos’ Ambassador at the United Nations in Geneva said.

“It may be possible Mr Sombath has been kidnapped perhaps because of a personal conflict or a conflict in business or some other reasons,” he added in a letter published in the Vientiane Times on January 4.

But local NGOs and the international community are unconvinced by the explanation.

“The story doesn’t add up,” said Charles Santiago, a Malaysian member of parliament who this week led a delegation of parliamentarians from Southeast Asia to Vientiane to pressure the authorities into action.

“The government simply cannot say after one month that they still can’t trace him. This stone-walling is not acceptable,” he said, noting that Sombath vanished “in a police environment” and there has been no demand for ransom.

At a press conference in Bangkok following the visit to Laos, Santiago said Wednesday that “the government has no political will to resolve the problem.”

However, many observers are struggling to understand why the regime, which has sought over the last few years to shed its image as one of the world’s most reclusive countries, would have decided to detain Sombath in secret.

The move could have been triggered by the participation of many local activists, including Sombath, in the Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) last October, says Santiago who is the Forum’s Asian coordinator.

“AEPF must have triggered some anxiety within the politburo, because some of the people who came talked about land grabs and so on and so forth, so they want to send a message that this is not acceptable,” Santiago said, noting that the meeting was held just before a major Asia-Europe (Asem) summit.

In a country where major infrastructure projects are displacing tens of thousands of people, “it is also possible companies involved in land grabs are using members of the various groups within the party to send a message” he said.

Other analysts point to the diverging currents at the heart of the regime.

“It may be that behind this is a conflict between the old guard and those who are pushing to move closer to the international community,” one foreign observer said, noting that Laos was set to join the World Trade Organisation in February.

Meanwhile, Sombath’s family is struggling to keep a low profile.

“I have at no point refuted the government’s statement,” said Ng Shui Meng, in an open letter published online, calling on the government to find her husband.

“Sombath has a medical condition that needs daily medication and once returned to me, I would take Sombath to seek medical attention abroad until his full recuperation,” she said.



Phil Robertson

Deputy Director, Asia Division

Thai mobile: +66-85-060-8406

US mobile: +1-917-378-4097


Skype: philrobertsonjr

Twitter: @Reaproy


Human Rights Watch (HRW)

350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor

New York, NY 10118-3299


Financial Times (London), 16 January 2013

The Lao government is coming under increased international pressure to step up its promised investigation into the disappearance of a prominent local civic leader, as concerns increase about state involvement in the case.

MPs from other Asean member countries said on Wednesday that Laos’s ruling communist party “clearly had no desire and no political will” to resolve the mystery and urged the government to extend its investigation to the top levels of Laos’s military.

This follows public expressions of concern from the US and other western governments and UN agencies over the case.

The MPs spoke ahead of an expected statement by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urging Laos to take more action on the case. The three MPs, from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, visited Vientiane, the Lao capital, where Sombath Somphone went missing on December 15 while driving home one evening from his office.sombathClosed-circuit video footage from police security cameras showed Mr Sombath, founder of a local non-government organisation Padetc, being stopped by traffic police at a roadside post.

Mr Sombath was following his Singaporean wife in a separate car but never arrived home. The government has denied he was taken into custody, claiming the police stop was merely a “routine” check. But grainy CCTV footage shown to his wife at the police station two days later shows a man resembling Mr Sombath being driven away by uniformed Lao officials and other men driving away Mr Sombath’s car.

In a follow-up visit, Mr Sombath’s wife Ng Shui Meng was denied access to the video footage. However, friends had copied the footage on mobile phone cameras on their earlier visit, and posted it on a site created to collect information about the case.

The Lao Government has insisted it has no knowledge of Mr Sombath’s abduction or his whereabouts and is “investigating the matter”. Western diplomats in Vientiane expressed anger at the Lao government’s recent claim in a letter to the UN that his disappearance was due to a “business dispute” or “personal conflict”. Mr Sombath’s family has strongly rejected suggestions he was in a dispute with any party.

In the first contact from Lao police investigators this week, Ms Ng was called into the police station and asked basic details of how she met her husband and the circumstances of their marriage. The Asean MPs described the encounter as “unacceptable.”

In their Vientiane visit, the MPs met Lao officials including the permanent secretary of the foreign ministry and members of the National Assembly.

“The answers we got suggest a script was given to them by someone else . . . our mission raised more questions than answers,” said Charles Santiago, a Malaysian MP and human rights campaigner. The civilian component of the Lao government “had no idea what transpired” in Mr Sombath’s disappearance, and only top circles of the military or communist party had the answers, he added.

Delegation members Walden Bello, a Philippine MP and Lily Wahid, an Indonesian MP, said the group would collect signatures of MPs in every Asean country to try to pressure the Lao government to step up its probe, and submit a report to the bloc’s recently established Asean Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights.

In an editorial comment on Wednesday, The Nation newspaper in Thailand said Mr Sombath’s disappearance “looks more and more like a blatant display of political arrogance and central control inside Laos. Increasingly in the new regional landscape, such an authoritarian system is no longer acceptable.”


Dorothy-Grace M. Guerrero
Programme Coordinator
Climate and Environmental Justice
Focus on the Global South

4th flr. CUSRI Wisit Prachuabmoh Bldg
Chulalongkorn University
Phyathai Road 10330
Bangkok, Thailand

office tel: 66 2 218 7329

Gabrielle Paluch

January 16, 2013

BANGKOK — Representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have criticized an investigation by Laos into the recent disappearance of a prominent activist.  A delegation representing ASEAN expressed its concerns Wednesday during a fact-finding visit to Laos.

Sombath Somphone, founder of a non-governmental organization campaigning for sustainable development in Laos, went missing in the city of Vientiane while driving home in December. Images from closed-circuit cameras, obtained by Sombath’s family and published online, show him being taken away from a police post by two unidentified individuals.  He has not been seen since.

Officials in Laos say they have been investigating Sombath’s disappearance, but have come up with few leads.  In a letter published in various news media in early January,  the Lao ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yong Chanthalangsy, suggested his disappearance may have been the result of a personal or business conflict.

Sombath’s work for the Participatory Development Training Centertargeted Laos’ marginalized and impoverished rural population.

Rights activists have expressed concern that the Lao government is not doing enough to solve the mystery.  Some members of the Southeast Asian regional economic bloc ASEAN agree.

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference in Bangkok after a fact-finding mission to Laos, Philippines parliamentarian and ASEAN delegation member Walden Bello said the government failed to provide answers to basic questions of the investigation and tried to deny police involvement.

“We were told that after a month of investigation, the only thing that has been established is that the police had nothing to do with the disappearance. We told them that this was not credible and if we accepted this at face value as to the progress of the case, we ourselves would lose credibility,” Bello said.

Charles Santiago, an ASEAN delegate from Malaysia, said that considering available evidence, an investigation should take only a matter of days. He pointed out inconsistencies in different government officials’ explanations and the fact that only the lowest-ranking police officers had been assigned to the case.
“That the police and the civil administration have absolutely no interest, no political will, to get to the root of this problem, except saying in all our meetings that we want to get to the root of this problem, because the credibility of Laos has been hi,” Santiago noted. “But when asked about the investigation itself it’s absolutely stonewalling and the same script being repeated all the time, because the civilian component of government really has no idea what has transpired. Therefore, we have impressed that the investigation must move to the highest level of the military as well as the police.”

Regional analysts say Sombath’s disappearance is a test case for the new ASEAN human rights mechanism, to which the fact-finding committee will be making recommendations in Jakarta.


Ms. Wahyuningrum (Yuyun) I E-mail: I Contact Numbers: (62) 815 1054 3290 Or (62) 857 1750 1947 I Skype: wahyuningrum/ Facebook & Twitter: Yuyun Wahyuningrum

By: George Amurao, Special to
January 17, 2013 7:12 AM


BANGKOK – A delegation of lawmakers from ASEAN countries on Wednesday said they will file a petition before the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) soon to pressure the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to investigate decisively and quickly the disappearance of Lao social activist Sombath Somphone.

Somphone, who founded the Participatory Development Training Center in 1996 and received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2005, has not been heard from since December 15, 2012 when CCTV video footage showed he was stopped by the police and was driven in a pick-up truck with unidentified men in Vientiane.

The delegation, composed of Rep. Walden Bello of the Philippines, Member of Parliament Lily Wahid of Indonesia, and MP Charles Santiago of Malaysia, undertook a fact-finding mission of Sombath’s disappearance in Vientiane, Lao PDR, on January 13-15, based on a request by the Asia-Europe People’s Forum, and met with high-ranking government officials, including Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sakayane Sisouvong, National Assembly members, the diplomatic community, and civil society.

Rep. Bello said the Lao government should act on and resolve the case immediately because Sombath is not just a Lao citizen or a civil society leader in Lao PDR but also a member of the ASEAN community as well.

“We told the officials we met that the disappearance of Sombath is an ASEAN concern because Sombath is an ASEAN figure whose work has touched the lives of many people in Lao and other countries in ASEAN. His disappearance reflects badly not only on Laos but on the whole ASEAN community as well,” Bello said.

Speaking at a news conference held at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand in Bangkok on Wednesday, the three lawmakers outlined the initial steps that they will take in pressuring the Lao government to act decisively on the Sombath case.

Wahid said they will ask their respective colleagues in parliament for a signature campaign and use these in a petition to be filed before the AICHR.

Santiago said they also recommended to Lao government officials that the family of Sombath be regularly updated of the investigation, and that the National Assembly show its independence by further pressuring the executive branch and the military and police to fast-track the investigation.

Bello said that despite the apparently sincere efforts of Vientiane to be open to the delegation, their trip brought up more questions than answers. “The answers we received were far from satisfying,” Bello said.

He added that they posed questions to the authorities covering all possible angles on the disappearance of Sombath, including motives for the abduction.

AEPF link

MP Santiago said that based on information they had gathered, Sombath’s case might be possibly linked to the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), which was held in Vientiane in October last year. It might also be connected to the expulsion of Anne-Sophie Grindroz, the country director of the Swiss agency Helvetas, a few months earlier.

He said Sombath, like Grindroz, were members of the national organizing committee of the AEPF. As part of his tasks, Sombath reportedly consulted 16 civil society groups in Lao covering a diverse range of social issues like land-grabbing, poverty, ethnic minorities, and others.

Santiago said Sombath might have stepped on the toes of powerful figures. He also quoted Permanent Secretary on Foreign Affairs Sisouvong as saying, “Sombath might be crossing a line.”

The delegates also noted inconsistencies in the investigation. Just as most of the government officials they have met denied that Sombath was transferred to a pick-up truck as seen on the CCTV footage, Santiago quoted Sisouvong as saying that Sombath voluntarily boarded the said vehicle.

Santiago also recounted how the police treated Sombath’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, saying that she was only summoned by the police early this week to question her about the disappearance. However, only the lowest ranking police officer met her, and he asked questions that were not directly related to the case (like when and where did they first meet each other, how many children do they have, etc.).

One month after, has the police already identified the men who abducted Sombath? Santiago quoted authorities as saying they have not yet done so because “[our] level of technology is poor,” even if Santiago said the images in the CCTV footage were clear.

Bello said that members of the Lao National Assembly promised they would do their best to pressure the government to resolve the case, noting that this is crucial considering that Lao laws allow its investigators to solve a case up to two months, and are allowed up to three extensions. “Translated, that is equivalent of two more years,” Bello said.

AICHR and ASEAN Charter

Bello said that the move to file the petition before AICHR would be a crucial test for the ASEAN human rights body. “We expect this [Sombath case] to be a tough one. We expect AICHR to take this seriously because this is a test case. If AICHR responds positively, this body might have a bright future, if not, AICHR along with the ASEAN Charter will be in jeopardy.”

Sombath’s disappearance also comes at a time that Lao PDR is joining the World Trade Organization and playing host to the Asia-Europe Leaders Meeting (ASEM), along with Vientiane’s recent signing of the Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

Bello said in a statement that Lao officials he had met acknowledged that Sombath’s case “could not have come at a worse time.”

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