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Quake Aftermath: Help in Cash or Kind?

Deepak-GajurelBy Deepak Gajurel

As Nepal prepares to switch from rescue and relief to reconstruction and rehabilitation, irregularities at various levels have begun to surface. Nepalis from various walks of lives have been reported to have been involved in one or another kind of irregularity, which include, government ministers, lawmakers, political leaders/workers, government employees, non-governmental organizations, social workers, and many others.

Ministers and their assistants are reported to be indulged in embezzlement of relief materials meant for earthquake victims. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat's personal aide (PA) Ramesh Mahat has been implicated in the embezzlement of corrugated roofing sheets meant for the quake victims. (Annapurna Post Daily May 31, 2015).

Irregularities have also been recorded by international organizations. "… while some families had secured more than one tarpaulin, others had none. Residents said that only those with muscle (meaning political connections) were able to get them," Amnesty International  said in its latest report. ((https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ASA31/1753/2015/en/)

Irregularities are also recorded to have been done by international relief organizations. World Food Program distributed substandard rice to the earthquake victims, and authorities were forced to issue public notice not to consume rice given out by WFP. (Nagarik News, May 20, 2015)

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Progressive Government Officials and Parliamentarians Met to Share Lessons and Best Practices in Governance

Penang conference 1

The conference brought about various stakeholders and progressive thinkers from across the region to discuss best practices in local democracy and participatory governance in the 21st century, taking inspiration from various grassroots movements, which have transformed the political landscape of countries such as Indonesia, the new president of which, “Jokowi”, has risen to the pinnacle of power thanks to his effective brand of participatory local governance during his earlier stint as a mayor. The pattern of these political dynamics is clear: regimes across the region are being confronted by the large-scale popular demand for greater democracy, facilitated by an increased political awareness as well as the usage of social media technology.

The activity in Penang opened up the opportunity for like-minded, progressive politicians to discuss among each other valuable inputs and strategies to deliver good, effective governance to their constituencies, especially in areas where social democratic forces are (or are poised to be) in position of power. The event served as a crucial platform for sharing of social democratic alternatives, with the aim of consolidating these experiences and discussions into a broader roadmap for bottom-up reforms, which will be of utmost importance to progressives in and beyond the region.

 

Who is really guilty of Sedition?

howard lee malaysiaBy Howard Lee

His Majesty’s “Loyal” Opposition

The Westminsterial Parliamentary system which our Nation’s founding fathers and mothers agreed upon, was one that afforded the Opposition the title of “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Loyal Opposition is an integral and irreplaceable branch of the Parliamentary/ Legislative institution. This is not just the case here in Malaya, and subsequently Malaysia, but also across the Commonwealth Realm. Canada, India, Australia to name but a few.

 On the rising fascistic approaches taken to polemiscise politics and gain a winning edge in parliamentary elections worldwide, Michael Ignatieff, a former leader of the Loyal Opposition in the Canadian Parliament once said: "The opposition performs an adversarial function critical to democracy itself... Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law.

 We, the Opposition in Malaysia today are neither given the resources nor the institutional respect to carry out our job effectively; in fact we are strategically starved of it by the ‘deep state’ and decades of demonization by the Ruling, using the very resources we are starved of. The Oppression of the Opposition by the Ruling is getting increasingly more sophisticated; yet we are expected to deliver more than ever before, as the ruling regime is worse than it has ever been.

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