Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has committed to fight for votes from swing voters, who vote based on political parties' words and deeds, since he took the office in April 2009. However, two recent missteps of the BN might cost the coalition some votes.
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob disclosed that legal action would be taken against Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, a company linked to non-governmental organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) due to its misleading and confusing accounts. The move is expected to cause a rebound from other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and members of the public. The image of the BN's government could also be further damaged.
The Ministry proceeded with caution and convened six government agencies and units, namely the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), Bank Negara, Registrar of Societies (ROS), Home Ministry, Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission ( MCMC) and the police. The result, however, found no way to take legal action against Suaram for receiving foreign funds and thus, they to investigate based on five sections in the Companies Act 1956, attempting to charge Suaram for its confusing accounts.
What does it mean by confusing accounts? The Minister did not describe it in details. However, it is not a wise move to charge a NGO based on such a vague accusation.
Suara Inisiatif had submitted its accounts every year and they were all passed. If it is confusing, the SSM should also be responsible for it. The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister recently admitted that there are over a million of companies in Malaysia and it is impossible for the SSM to audit the accounts of all the companies. Since that being the case, the accounts of other companies might have problems, too. It is a double-standard to take legal action only against Suara Inisiatif.
Suaram is a human rights NGO founded after the 1987 Operasi lalang by social movement activists and Operasi Lalang participants being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Suaram published the annual Malaysia Human Rights Report since 1998 to monitor the progress of human rights. The organisation also started to award the Human Rights Award to those members of the society who fight for human rights.
Suaram has been fighting for human rights over the past 23 years. It has quite a number of supporters and a network in the international community. Therefore, it is not surprising at all to find it backed by about 200 domestic and foreign organisations. If Suaram is charged in court, the government's credibility might be harmed and the people's confidence in the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) might also be undermined.
Meanwhile, the guidelines on tackling the issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) among students drawn by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parent-Teacher Associations is also splitting the society, creating an atmosphere of discrimination against the LGBT.
Should we categorise all boys wearing tight-fitting, sleeveless or V-collar or colourful attire and girls hanging out and sleeping with their female friends as homosexual? The guidelines could turn parents to become extremely suspicious while interfering with young people's freedom of clothing and making friends.
They have actually drawn such a set of guidelines to serve political purposes. No wonder it has become a laughingstock in the international community.
Immature thinking leads to inappropriate words and deeds. Voters with independent thinking will never have confidence in such officials and law enforcement personnel. This is also an obstacle of the BN in fighting for votes from swing voters.