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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Interview: Billi Lim, candidate for Bukit Bintang Parliamentary Constituent

I was very disappointed when I read the news of the possibilities of a four-corner or more election contest in the Bukit Bintang Parliamentary Constituent in theStar, front page, page 2 and three. It was reported that Billi Lim of "Dare to Fail" has confirmed he will contesting for the Bukit Bintang Parliamentary Constituent in the coming 12th Malaysian General Election. That means it is highly likely to be a four-corner contest and the opposition votes is going to be badly split. He claimed to have a 50-50 chance of winning. He said he has formed the United National Independent Front (UNIF) which I found out later will not be a political party. It is also to encourage more youths to contest as Independents in elections, which shocked me.

I asked for an urgent appointment to have a discussion with him and he kindly consented. We met this morning over a drink. We agreed that I will talk first, he listen, then he talk and I listen. I started first by elaborating on my viewpoint before stating my reason why he should not contest as an independent candidate.

Major objective of 2008 Malaysia's General Election should be to deny the Barisan that crucial two-third majority in Parliament

I started off with the statement that we are on the same side - "Something is wrong" and gave my opinion that the immediate objective of the impending election should be to deny the Barisan that crucial two-third majority in Parliament. They have abused this two-third majority to amend the Malaysian Constitution a total of 690 times according to WHY Barisan Nasional's TWO-THIRD (2/3) MAJORITY MUST BE DENIED by MALAYSIANS. I suspect that each amendments contained within each amendment were counted as a separate amendment because I remembered (please not that this is from memory) from more authoritative source that there were more than 40 amendments, and each amendment contain multiple amendments. This PDF document Human rights and the Malaysian constitution examined through the lens of the Internal Security Act 1960 which is probably published around 2001 from its URL seemed to strengthen my faith in my memory. It is stated in that article by Poh-Ling Tan that the Malaysian Constitution has been amended 41 times from 1957 to 1996, of which some, in the words of Poh-Ling Tan, "were made in response to various political tensions." Now the Constitution is the supreme law in a democracy and is a sacred document not to be amended for trivial reasons, only for matters of great importance. Recently, we saw the Constitution hurriedly amended to extend the retirement age of the Chairman of Malaysia's Election Commission from 65 to 66 years. Many said this was to allow the former and current Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman who recently retired to serve as the Chairman during this crucial election. Although it was denied, and Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman had stated that he may not want to extend his term, he did.

Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has made rulings like "it is not bribery as long as the funds are not disbursed by the candidate. This was regarding the Barisan government pouring huge amount of public funds into two Constituents involved in recent by-elections. I do not know the law, but it seem grossly unfair as it clearly benefited the candidate from the ruling Barisan. Further Rockybru alias Athirudin bin Attan did not registered as a voter at all, but found that he was registered in Rapat Setia when he had never been nor lived there before. See Excuse me, WTF registered me as a voter?. Rockybru made a police report, but complained that till today, he never receive any acknowledgement from either the Police nor the Election. See Clean Electoral Roll?. In the same post, I saw that another voter Ang Lai Im, 36, was registered as a voter when she never registered as one. This, the post said, was reported in the Malay Mail.

I interviewed a Member of Parliament (now dissolved), and my first question was, "how can a Barisan MP represent the constituent when all Barisan Members of Parliaments are under the whip all the time. That is, they have to vote for anything proposed by the Barisan and vote against all proposals from the opposition. The answer was "anything before they are tabled before the Parliament has to go through a long process of consultations. The Cabinet members are consulted, the Non-government organizations (NGO's) are consulted, and the stake holders are consulted."

When this bill to suddenly tabled at the Parliament to extend the retirement age of the Malaysian's Election Commission Chairman much to the surprise of many, I requested for an urgent appointment. Kindly granted. I asked, "in this case, did any consultation take place, and if so, for how long and who were consulted. The Barisan Member of Parliament (then) replied that when this consultation issue was raised, the MP was only referring to the MP's Ministry. Now to me, this clearly showed that the bill to amend the Constitution did not go through any consultation at all. The tabling of the bill to form the Special Complaints Commission (SCC) to replace the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) (click BACK button to get back to this page) caught many who should know by surprise, and this again reinforced the views that bills and proposals tabled at the Parliament often do not go through any real consultations.

Now should we allow the Barisan to continue to keep their two-third majority in Parliament so that they can amend the sacred Constitution at will, whims and fancies?

I went on to say that I have questioned the DAP (Democratic Action Party) if their Member of Parliaments are subject to similar whip. This I heard direct from both Y.B. Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng. If an issue is related to Party policy or what had been stated in the election manifesto, their MP must vote according to party line. If the issue is an issue of conscience, for example, an issue related to religion, a Christian DAP MP and a Hindu DAP are allowed to vote according to conscience. I have also heard from Y.B. Lim Kit Siang's Parliamentary, Mr. Lau Weng San, also likely candidate for Kampung Tunku state seat (click BACK button to get back to this page), he also added that the DAP have voted with the Barisan when it was in the nation's interest to do so. This is a far cry from the tightly bound Barisan MP who MUST vote against anything coming from the oppositions, irrespective of merits. And we have seen many proposals from the opposition of great national importance being turned down.

The Barisan has become very arrogant since they have had that important two-third majority for so long. Now isn't doing our best to deny the Barisan that crucial two-third majority and to do our best to avoid splitting the opposition votes the most important thing for this coming general election?

Other thing I brought up was Ralph Nader, one Independent candidate who had lost of publicity, lots of supporter, contested many times and never win any. To me, he was one Independent who had the best chance at winning, and yet his lost all. Wikipedia even have a paragraph "In the 2000 presidential election in Florida, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes. Nader received 97,421 votes. Proponents of this argument claim that Nader pulled votes from Al Gore, and this tilted the election in Bush's favor. The claim is that this was Nader's "greatest impact" on the election. Nader himself, both in his book Crashing the Party, and on his website, states: "In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all."[24] Assuming these poll numbers are correct, the 13% plurality would have given Gore a victory in Florida and the presidency." That is blaming Ralph Nader for Bush winning. Although obvious that was not his objective, it was a consequence of his action. I asked Billi if he wanted to be blamed for handing the seat to the Barisan.

Now here is Billi Lim's piece. I have told him I am not a trained journalist and have no assistant while he has and requested that he send me a copy of the discussion to me so accuracy can be maintained. Unfortunately, the request was turned down. So I have to go on memory and have to send the URL of this post to him to comment.

UPDATE 8.36am 23 February 2008: Billi's response by email has been reproduced at the bottom of the post in full including some information from a recent telephone conversation.

Mr. Billi Lim asked me, is it not the right for anyone to stand as a candidate? I answered yes, but rights come with responsibilities. And those responsibilities including not causing problems which in this case, in my opinion, is not splitting opposition votes (I had pleaded with him to negotiate with the other parties to try to avoid that).

Billi Lim says he has a platform, a plan, and he exude much confidence. He said he have appeared in the mainstream mass media many times and are well known to the people. He pointed out to the report in theStar as an example. I responded that could it be possible that perhaps the Barisan wanted that because they want to encourage him to stand so that the opposition votes will be split. He also said that he has gone through many elections and have seen many things, infighting in political parties, etc. I responded that it is natural because parties are formed by human, and that is hard to avoid. However, that should not prevent us from trying to achieve that most important objective of denying the Barisan that crucial much abused two-third majority in the Parliament. He said all the political parties are racial based while his platform is multi-racial and include Malays. I pointed out to the BERSIH T-shirt I was wearing and commented that the BERSIH T-shirt had also drawn a lot of positive reaction from Malays. He said that all the political party leaders are promoting their own sons, daughters, brother, etc. I responded that perhaps in some cases, it may be because they are trying to pass on the fame of some leaders to those that follow them.

Now the rest I forgot, but here is my opinion: I have listened and accepted one thing he said, that the way I say things can antegonize people and cause them not to listen, the rest I have responded and you form your own opinion. However, however hard I tried, it was very hard to get him to see my point of view because many times when I tried to respond to his statement, he said "no, no, no" and I was unable to continue.

Now I am going to publish this, send this post URL to Billie and wait for his response.

Billi Lim's response and a bit more

His email response is reproduced in full here: "Finally I recd yr email. There is something which you have accused me wrongly. IT IS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY TO SEND YOU A REPORT OF OUR DISCUSSION. YOU ARE THE REPORTER, NOT ME. Further it is NOT me who asked for the meeting. You were supposed to email me to review yr report but unfortunately it only reaches me today. RE yr write up, you have not put forward my full response . You only put forward the report to convince readers of the correctness of your views which is only one-sided. I m very surprised that you said that there is one thing you have agreed with me & learned ,i.e. TO PRESENT PROPERLY. Looks like there is much that you need to learn. If you continue like this you will become a liability to the movement that you are trying to represent. By the way, even though I hv given you my name card, you have spelled it wrongly. Billi don’t hv an ‘e’."

Note: If I remembered correctly, that spelling was taken from theStar (trained reporter or journalist while I am not). Anyway, wherever I found that spelling mistake, I have corrected it. Regarding responsibility of publishing the report, I agree that it is my responsibility, but I am no reporter, journalist or secretary and cannot write shorthand. I also have not invested in a voice recorder. I had hoped that Billi will help as obviously he can remember better what he said and so should be able to give a more accurate account of what transpired. What I have given above is what I can remember and I can do no more unless those I forgot pop into my mind again.

1 comment:

Antares said...

Pain in the backside. Billi Lim likes being in the limelight and this is exactly the sort of publicity stunt some MCA strategist might have whispered in his ear to try and pull off. Can't stop him from running as an independent. Billi thrives on failure so let's hope he gets only 10 votes and loses his deposit.