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By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
April 19, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Thailand's military junta’s new draft constitution is a pathetic, backward, anti-democratic and infantile document.
Just like the rantings of generalissimo Prayut Chan-ocha (pictured above), it is full of tub-thumping and shouting about the “duties” and “responsibilities” of Thai people to grovel to “Nation, Religion and King”. It is infantile in this because it is written by conservative idiots who think that by bullying the population into conforming to elite beliefs they can actually change peoples’ attitudes.
The infantilism gets worse when we get to part 2 of the constitution, which is headed; “Good Political Leaders and Good Representatives”. It doesn’t take much brain power to guess what the junta’s definition of “good” might be. High up on the list is loyalty to “Nation, Religion and King” and not being corrupt … blah blah blah. The whole thing sounds like some moral tale designed for a bad kindergarten.
The Crab Cannery Ship: and Other Novels of Struggle
By Kobayashi Takiji
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2013, 328 pages
[Scroll to the end for a video presentation of this article, and to Note 1 for Takiji Memorial: February 20, 2009, a three-part documentary tribute to Kobayashi Takiji, produced by Heather Bowen-Struyk.]
By Doug Enaa Greene
April 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 2008, one of the best-selling novels in Japan was an 80-year-old novel, Kanikosen (Crab Cannery Ship) by the communist author Kobayashi Takiji, detailing the wretched working conditions on a fishing ship and the crew's strike and determination to overthrow their oppressors. The novel, previously selling a moderate 5000 copies per year, shot up to sales of 500,000, along with the release of four manga versions reaching many more readers.
The left-wing People's Democratic Party (PRD) held its eighth congress in Jakarta from March 24-26. This was the first time its congress was held openly.
By Alex Bainbridge, Jakarta
April 13, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The left-wing People's Democratic Party (PRD) held its eighth congress in Jakarta from March 24-26, 2015. This was the first time its congress was held openly. The open congress marks an important new stage of development for the party, which has a history of underground organising dating back to the era of the Suharto dictatorship that was overthrown in 1998.
The congress launched a large-scale campaign for the PRD to achieve the stringent requirements of electoral registration in time for the 2019 elections. It also emphasised politics designed to forge national unity in the struggle against imperialism.
The PRD was formed out of — and helped lead — a resurgence of struggle against the Suharto regime in the 1990s. Suharto came to power in a 1965 military coup that involved massacres that killed an estimated 1 million leftists.
PSM MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj.
By Peter Boyle
April 8, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the early hours of the morning on April 7, the Malaysian parliament reintroduced powers of indefinite detention without trial in the form of a new Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Such powers, previously under the Internal Security Act and Emergency Ordinance — which were repealed in 2012 under popular pressure — have a notorious history of being used by British colonial and, after independence, Malaysian authorities to detain political dissidents.
The official justification for POTA was the alleged threat faced from "terrorists" influenced by the so-called “Islamic State” group in Iraq and Syria. Just as the law was being rushed through the parliament, the police announced that it had arrested 17 people accused of planning terrorist acts.
“The new law gives the authorities very wide powers and does not have sufficient checks and balances”, Malaysia's sole socialist MP and long-time campaigner against the ISA Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj (pictured) told Green Left Weekly in an exclusive interview.
By Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia(PSM)
UPDATE March 26, 2015 -- All the Malaysian anti-GST protesters who were detained on March 23 have now been released on RM3000 bail. They are to appear in court again on May 14. Thanks for all the protest letters!
* * *
March 24, 2015 -- PSM, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Police used excessive force in the recent crackdown on protesters against the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is scheduled to be implemented on 1 April 2015.
On March 23, 2015, the Coalition Against GST, which is led by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), the Oppressed People’s Network (JERIT) and a number of civil society groups, staged a sit-in protest at the Customs Office in Kelana Jaya, to demand answers to more than 100 questions raised by many Malaysians regarding the GST. The director of the Customs Office refused to answer these questions and the police reacted violently against the peaceful sit-in.
Eighty people were arrested during the police violence at the Customs Office. More than 50 protesters were later released but another 31 anti-GST protesters and those arrested for protesting against the clampdown are still being detained by the police. The police have even applied for a further remand of these 31 anti-GST protesters.
The 31 detainees are:
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.