Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asia Democratic Studies of the National Taiwan University. She is based in Southeast Asia, where she works on Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries in the region. She is committed to engagement, fostering mutual understanding and empowerment.

Selangor a Pakatan Rakyat family fight

Taken from Malaysiakini.com The ongoing Selangor crisis has riveted the Malaysian public for weeks and called into question the ability of the opposition to govern as a coalition.From attacks on each other to sackings and perceived party betrayals, the Selangor crisis has revealed underlying tensions among Pakatan Rakyat partners and showcased the fierce competition for power and positions within the national opposition itself. This dynamics has overshadowed principles and escalated in tit-for-tat moves that reflect a family caught in battle. Emotions of anger and motivations of revenge have come to the fore, blinding many participants to the substantial deterioration of support among the public at large and to the shared struggles to strengthen Malaysia. Most analyses to date have focused on the power contests among personalities and discussions of the steps taken in the crisis itself and their legal status. A number of commentators have highlighted the cost to public support and negative impact on governance. This piece centres on developments within Pakatan. The argument developed below is that responsibility for the Selangor crisis must be shared across parties and leaders, and new approaches within Pakatan itself are needed to win back public trust and forge the common ground within...

Wong Ho Leng was a brave fighter

Taken from Malaysiakini.com For those who knew Bukit Assek assemblyperson Wong Ho Leng, the words ‘brave fighter’ come to mind. When he entered politics over 30 years ago, he joined at a time when being part of the opposition was unpopular. It was the economic boom years in Sibu, derived primarily from timber, and he chose to stand up to power and urge greater transparency and fairer governance. Although he contested from 1986 onwards, he first won office in 1996, beating the Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) then-deputy chief minister Wong Soon Kai in Bukit Assek. His razor-thin majority of 226 votes in his first victory symbolised a political career where he would not only redefine politics in Sarawak but would leave a national legacy. A hard-working voice Wong Ho Leng came from humble origins, a farming family from Sungai Bidut. He went on to study law as a result of a dedication to his studies, talent and hard-work. He never forgot his family roots when he entered politics and remained committed to speaking out for those who were often ignored. Justice and fairness framed many of his speeches as he drew attention to the need to widen opportunities. Wong...

The core character of Malaysia seen at LCCT

Taken from Malaysiakini.com Today marks the closure of the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Sepang. Opened in 2006, this no-frills terminal has seen multiple millions of passengers pass through its gates and helped to develop the tourism sector nationally and internationally. The LCCT became the main transfer point of the 40 million tourists visiting Malaysia, and allowed Malaysians from all walks of life more opportunities to travel. In its organised chaos, citizens from around the world used this facility to see family, go on vacation and importantly, connect with each other. LCCT became Malaysia’s node with the world. News reports of late have covered the travails of immigration delays – which have been common on a regular basis for most foreign travellers. I have always empathised with the Immigration officials who have had to work in the stressful environment – often with poor-functioning air-conditioning. Daily they process thousands of travellers. I have witnessed their efforts and along with many of the other staff of this airport have made the terminal work – not perfectly, but functionally and usually with a smile or a laugh. It was real, a genuine reflection of people working hard to make a living and helping...

One year after GE13, lost in sea of politicking

Taken from Malaysiakini.com Today marks the one year anniversary of the historic 13th general election. This election was pivotal in the country’s history as the incumbent BN coalition held onto power, with the opposition calls for ‘change’ unfulfilled.Scholars have highlighted the fundamental shifts in the power of Umno, the imbalance of the opposition parties, the rise in influence and political awakenings of East Malaysia and the electoral irregularities, among many profound structural changes. In other ordinary ways, Malaysian politics has also changed, with greater cynicism, insecurities and anger more prominent in public life. This is across the political divide. News reports feature troubling reports of increased racial tensions, political polarisation and continued shortcomings in governance. This article highlights some of the ongoing dynamics in contemporary Malaysian political life, which are both worrying and offer promise ahead. There is no question the last year has been a difficult one for Malaysia. Globally, the country came under the full glare of the international spotlight in what arguably will be the story of the year – the loss of MH370. Now everyone in the world knows where Kuala Lumpur is, and the seas and oceans around it. The persistence of this issue in...

Karpal Singh a political man of his times

Taken from Malaysiakini.com Much has been written about the recently deceased Karpal Singh.His skills as a lawyer, his fight for basic rights and contributions to the law, his commitment to his family and his struggle for ordinary people as a humanitarian are just some of the themes raised in the many eulogies and reflections in the past few days since he and his friend and assistant Michael Cornelius lost their lives. The reactions from ordinary Malaysians have reaffirmed the spirit of dignity and humanity that are an integral part of the national character and stand in stark contrast to the uncouth provocative remarks of a handful of individuals who, blinded by insecurity and hubris, revealed how far they have deviated from common decency. I knew Karpal Singh as a politician, and the remarks that follow are some of my observations on his important role in Malaysian political life and his political legacy. A true Malaysian nationalist Karpal’s entry into politics in 1969 coincided with a tumultuous time in Malaysian politics. He had been socialised in the exciting decade of the 1960s, when student politics was active and universities were centres to discuss and debate ideas – sadly an era now...
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Obama’s Malaysia Test

Published on Project Syndicate KUALA LUMPUR – When Barack Obama lands in Malaysia this weekend, his two-day stopover will be the first visit by a US president since 1966. Unfortunately, human rights will probably not be on the agenda. Even as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s government pursues yet another politically motivated case against opposition...

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A bittersweet victory in Kajang?

Taken from Malaysiakini.com   As expected, the opposition PKR won the Kajang by-election. It did so with a smaller majority in number of voters, 5,379, but a larger share of the overall vote, up from 56.8 percent to 59.1 percent.This was an important win for the opposition. Yet, the results did not send the decisive...

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Search for MH370 highlights need for trust, unity in Asia

Taken from CNN.com In 2003, the SARS virus epidemic was a wake-up call for Asia, forcing China to increase transparency, fostering closer regional cooperation and bringing human security issues to the fore. The disappearance of MH370 will have a similar transformative effect on regional security, but it will take a different form. In recent years,...

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A nation responds to loss of MH370

Taken from Malaysiakini.com   The loss of MH370 will be a defining moment in the country’s history. While attention rightly focuses on comforting families, finding the plane and what has caused this tragedy, the event has shown the depth of caring among Malaysians. Across faiths, ethnic groups and borders, Malaysians have reached out to each...

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Project Malot Fundraiser 2013 details

In Celebration of a New Year and in the continued spirit of friendship Project Malot Fundraiser 2013 The Irish Graduates Association of Singapore and Project Malot Organizers Invite You to An Irish Musical Extravaganza in Singapore. Featuring the cream of Singapore’s Irish Traditional Musicians on Friday, January 10th From 7.30 pm    (For detailed information...

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Project Malot Update: Expansion and Commitment

Project Malot Update: Expansion and Commitment

Reflections on 2013 As the year draws to a close it is fitting to reflect on the year past. We are happy to report that 2013 was a good year for Project Malot highlighting an expansion and deepening of the commitment to the engagement and education of the community. In 2013 earlier recipients of the...

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A Hero’s Passing: Nelson Mandela Remembered

Twelve years ago I was asked in an interview at JHU-SAIS who I considered to be my hero. As an academic our training is to question and analyze rather than think about who we should put on a pedestal. I nevertheless immediately answered Nelson Mandela. Every leader has her or his shortcomings, and Mandela did...

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Dark clouds hovering over SEA democracy

Taken from Malaysiakini.com As 2013 draws to a close, it has not been a good year for democracy in South-East Asia. Recent news has riveted on the protests in Thailand, where those dissatisfied with the current leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra and her amnesty provisions have taken to the streets rather than opt for a solution...

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Changes in continuity in PAS – the results

Taken from Malaysiakini.com When the results were counted (and recounted) for the PAS party elections, on the surface they suggested the status quo and general expected results. All the incumbents in the central committee won, with some new faces resulting from those who contested from other positions and retirement, and all the senior positions went...

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