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By Peter Boyle
February 27, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On February 19, 15 policemen descended on the home of Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) general secretary S. Arutchelvan (Arul) in Kajang, a suburban satellite of the capital city Kuala Lumpur.
They detained him under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for a statement he issued by the PSM on February 10 after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction on a sodomy charge.
Demonstrations for his release began immediately outside the police station where he was held and late in the evening on February 20 he was released on the orders of a magistrate. The PSM and others are campaigning for the repeal of the colonial-era Sedition Act and for the release of Anwar Ibrahim.
Arul gave Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal this interview via email on February 26.
* * *
What is your legal situation now? Are you charged with sedition or only still being investigated?
I am not charged yet. The police want two weeks to process the information on my mobile phone, modem and laptop -- which they confiscated -- before they decide. It will again be a political decision, I believe.
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February 21, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The undersigned organisations add our voices to those in Malaysia now calling for the immediate release of Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM) secretary general S. Arutchelvan (Arul), who was arrested on the evening of February 19, 2015, on charges of "sedition".
These charges, and the arrest of Arul, are a travesty of justice and democracy.
We believe Arul has been arrested for his press statement on behalf of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia on Anwar Ibrahim’s "sodomy 2" guilty verdict. In this statement Arul criticised Malaysia's Federal Court judgement, saying the courts are not independent and are politically driven.
We call for the:
1. That the sedition charges be dropped and Arul be freed immediately.
2. The repeal of the Sedition Act , a notoriously anti-democratic law dating back to British colonial rule which has and continues to be used to suppress and intimidate dissent.
By Jeyakumar Deveraj
February 20, 2015 -- PSM, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At about 6 pm, February 19, 15 policemen from the Dang Wangi police station descended on the house of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM) secretary general S. Arutchelvan [Arul] in Kajang, and arrested him. According to the arresting officer, Arul was being arrested under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act, which reads: "Any person who prints, publishes ... or reproduces any seditious publication shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years."
Supporters of Anwar Ibrahim rally outside the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, February 10, 2015.
By S. Arutchelvan, secretary general, PSM
February 10, 2015 -- Socialist Party of Malaysia, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia, PSM) is appalled at the disgraceful judgement by the highest court in the nation on [opposition leader] Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy II case. Any person following the trial in the Federal Court would have made a overwhelmingly foregone conclusion that Anwar is innocent and he should be free man today. This hope was dashed and now in shambles.
The judgement today further deepens our convictions that the courts are not independent and are politically driven. The prime minister's department, which in normal circumstances responds late to any issues, has issued a statement very promptly and efficiently. Was this statement ready before the judgement? One would not need to be a genius to answer this.
The highest court has unanimously put to shame our criminal justice system and judiciary beyond repair. It is time people wake up that something is seriously wrong.
Yingluck Shinawatra leaves the final impeachment hearing at parliament in Bangkok. Photograph: Vichan Poti/Demotix/Corbis.
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
January 28, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Let us be clear. The impeachment motion passed by the puppet parliament on January 23 against former Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, submitted to the military junta’s appointed Assembly by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, over her role in the rice price support scheme for farmers, is a total farce and a red herring. It is a deliberate part of the anti-reforms designed to destroy democracy. It has nothing to do with the rice scheme.
Yingluck is accused of “allowing corruption to take place” in this rice scheme and of presiding over financial losses to the government.
For more coverage of Sri Lanka, click HERE.
By Chris Slee
January 12, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Maithripala Sirisena has taken office as president of Sri Lanka, after winning the election held on January 8. Sirisena obtained 51.28% of the vote, defeating incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who got 47.58%.
Seventeen other candidates got a total of 1.14% of the votes between them. Duminda Nagamuwa, representing the Frontline Socialist Party, got 0.08%; Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party got 0.07%; and Sundaram Mahendran of the NSSP (New Socialist Party) got 0.03%.
Rajapaksa had been elected president in 2005, and re-elected in 2010. In his first term he presided over the most brutal phase of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The LTTE was formed in the 1970s to fight for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. It was created by Tamil youth in response to discrimination against Tamils and the violent repression of peaceful protests. From small beginnings it grew into a powerful armed force.
Sri Lanka’s newly elected president Maithripala Sirisena. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images.
For more coverage of Sri Lanka, click HERE.
By the Tamil Refugee Council
Melbourne, January 9, 2015 --The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Australian government to use the change of leadership in Sri Lanka to push for a resolution to the country’s most pressing issue – the long-standing oppression and persecution of Tamils.
Mahinda Rajapaksa (middle) with his brother Gotabaya (left).
By Brian Senewiratne, Brisbane
January 5, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There are two main candidates – Mahinda Rajapaksa and “common opposition candidate” Maithripala Sirisena. The January 8, 2015, election was called by Rajapaksa two years before it was due because of a slide in his popularity as judged from the recent provincial council elections. He has claimed, with some strange reasoning, that even if he loses, he will continue as president for two more years (if he wins, the two years will be added to the six-year term – making it eight years).
With the opposition in disarray and unable to find a credible candidate, Rajapaksa was so sure of victory that he even said that he would be the only candidate. He failed to see that the possible candidate was Maithripala Sirisena, his own health minister and general secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Prageeth (sitting at the centre) at a discussion with us before the day he was made to disappear.
By Lionel Bopage
January 3, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As we move towards Sri Lanka’s presidential election on January 8, 2015, two years ahead of schedule, we need to carefully consider what we are standing for.
To the credit of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, with the end of the war in 2009 there has been some widespread development of infrastructure. Despite this there are many disturbing aspects. The development of infrastructure has come at the cost of heavy indebtedness. The Colombo City “cleaning up”’ has displaced many long-time residents without adequate compensation. The service industry has grown, but there are serious breakdowns in the provision of basic services, notably health, education and law and order.
Opposition-backed presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena is supported by some Tamils and human rights activists, but others say he represents little different from the current regime.
By Chris Slee
January 2, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly -- Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa is being challenged by Maithripala Sirisena, who was until recently one of his ministers, in the January 8 presidential elections. However, many Tamils and leftists see little difference between the two.
Sirisena is being supported by the opposition United National Party, and has promised to appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe as prime minister. There are 16 other candidates.
Sirisena has promised to abolish the system of executive presidency, which concentrates power in the hands of the president, and replace it with a system where the parliament has more power.
This change has long been advocated by many human rights advocates, who think that reducing the arbitrary power of the president would improve the human rights situation. Some human rights advocates are supporting Sirisena for this reason.
However the Tamil Civil Society Forum sees no real difference between Rajapaksa and Sirisena.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4210.]
Por Farooq Tariq
Sábado, 20 de diciembre de 2014 -- Viento Sur -- Ha sido el ataque más mortífero realizado contra una escuela por los fanáticos religiosos. En la Escuela Pública del Ejército [una de las cerca de 150 creadas y gestionadas por el ejército. ndr] hubo 146 víctimas. Entre ellas, 136 niños con edades comprendidas entre 10 y 17 años. A los niños se les pidió que recitaran el Kalma [ver: http://ismaili.net/heritage/node/10521] y luego les dispararon. Fue un ataque de fánaticos musulmames contra niños musulmanes.
El Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan se atribuyó la responsabilidad y envió una foto de los siete militantes que participaron en la "operación" portando armas y bombas. Lo hicieron depués de que se publicaran en la web los rostros de los siete militantes muertos, asesinados por el ejército en el contraataque, no antes de que ellos causaron el daño máximo.
Los fanáticos afirmaron que no mataron niños pequeños, que su "islam" no les permite asesina a niños del "enemigo" menores de 12 años. Casi el 11% de los niños matriculados en la escuela murieron en los primeros 15 minutos que tuvieron ocupada la escuela.
Tariq Ali appeared on the December 18, 2014, episode of Democracy Now! (text below).
By Farooq Tariq
December 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was the most deadly attack on any school by religious fanatics: 146 were killed in a Peshawar Army Public School, including 136 children, ages ranging from 10 to 17 years. The attackers asked the children to recite the Kalma and then fired at them. It was an attack on Muslim children by Muslim fanatics.
Tehreek Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility and sent a group photo of the seven militants who took part in the “operation” holding guns and bombs. This was in response to the posting online of the dead faces of the seven who were killed by the army in the counter attack, not before they caused maximum damage.
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
December 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As far as the Thai ruling class is concerned, the official religion of the country, which they are forever trying to ram down our throats, is not Buddhism but “Monarchy”.
For historical and philosophical reasons Buddhism has not been the main authoritarian tool of the Thai ruling class. Kings and military dictators were always wary of building up rivals if they promoted the power of the monks. Since the late 1950s the military sought to control the monks and make sure that they were mainly apolitical. This is unlike in Burma or Laos, where the Buddhist monks were politicised by the nationalist movements.
Thai Buddhism is also a religion based on the actions of private individuals who try to amass merit. Thai monks do not usually give public sermons in order to control the beliefs of the population. Buddhism is also practiced in a manner which is strongly laced with animistic beliefs in spirits and ancient superstitions or it is mixed with Hinduism.
Joint statement by the Socialist Party of Malaysia and others (see below)
December 1, 2014 -- We, the undersigned organisations, condemn the Najib-led Malaysian government for receiving the official visit of military coup leader from Thailand, Prayuth Chan-ocha. The reception for Prayuth is an act that recognises and lends legitimacy to the illegal government in Thailand that grabbed power through a military coup and the suppression of democracy since May this year.
Prayuth Chan-ocha came into power last May, when he staged a military coup against a democratically elected government. Martial law was declared, activists and dissidents were arrested and harassed by the coup apparatus, an undemocratic interim constitution was introduced, and Prayuth appointed himself as the prime minister of Thailand without popular approval through democratic elections. Freedom of expression has been suppressed by the repressive National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by Prayuth.
By Reihana Mohideen, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) international desk
December 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A very successful Asian Socialism Conference was held in the Philippines, November 28-29, followed by a rally on November 30. Around 350 delegates participated in the conference, well exceeding our target of 250 leaders who had registered prior to the conference. A contingent of around 3000 rallied and marched on November 30 to mark Bonficacio National Hero's Day.The conference was organised by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, PLM).
A strong feature of the conference was the participation of women leaders of the Philippine Socialist Feminist movement.The conference brought together the socialist feminists, revolutionary LGBT activists, with a strong contingent of socialist workers, intellectuals from the University of the Philippines, urban poor leaders and out-of-school youth, and students from high schools and campus.
By Chris Slee
October 27, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Michael Cooke's article "Election Monitoring in Lanka" contains a lot of useful information on the history and politics of Sri Lanka, including topics ranging from the burning of the Jaffna library by Sri Lankan police in 1981 to the murder of journalists, the repression of trade unionists and the instigation of anti-Muslim riots under the current government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
However the article has some serious flaws. In particular, Cooke does not deal adequately with the national question in Sri Lanka.
The article is largely based on three visits that Cooke made to Sri Lanka, including two periods as an election monitor (in 2001 and 2005). It is also informed by his extensive knowledge of Sri Lankan history, much of it gained through the research he did for his excellent biography of Lionel Bopage.
Cooke's work as an election monitor gave him a unique vantage point from which to observe Sri Lankan politics. But it was not always easy to find out the truth. Cooke admits that he is not sure who committed some of the acts of violence that he observed.
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
October 18, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- While the dictator Prayut (or Prayuth) Chan-ocha (pictured above) was huddled with the Chinese and Japanese representatives in Italy, he had previously told reporters not to “speculate” when elections would be held again in Thailand. Many analysts are predicting that elections will not take place at least until 2016, thus rubbishing the initial promises of the junta to hold elections next year.
Meanwhile a panel of anti-reformist junta lackeys were pontificating about the legacy of the 14th October 1973 uprising against the military and how this would “influence” the present anti-reform process.
This academic meeting was not banned by the junta, unlike pro-democracy seminars.
Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
By Eli Friedman
Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2014.
By Jane Slaughter
October 15, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China is the world centre of wildcat strikes—given that no strike in China is officially allowed under the law. The government doesn’t issue statistics, but one source found 1171 strikes and worker protests from June 2011 through 2013.
For more on the Tamil struggle, click HERE.
By Chris Slee, Melbourne
October 16, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ragu, a Tamil man now living in Australia, spent 16 years living in areas under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The LTTE was formed in 1972 by young people angry at decades of discrimination and repression against the Tamil people by successive racist Sri Lankan governments. It fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. After small-scale armed clashes in the late 1970s, full-scale war began in 1983. The LTTE was defeated in 2009.
Ragu spoke to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal about his experiences living in LTTE-controlled areas.
* * *
Weapons captured from the LTTE stand on display in front of Sri Lankan sources.
They were a kind of solution.
What does all this sudden uneasiness mean
And this confusion? (How grave their faces have become!)
Why are the streets and squares rapidly emptying,
And why is everyone going back home, so lost in thought?
Because it is night and the barbarians have not come;
And some men have arrived from the frontiers
And they say that the barbarians don’t exist any longer.
And now what will become of us without barbarians?
They were a kind of solution.
They were a kind of solution. -- Constantine Cavafy
By Michael Cooke