PACABA Training: Sat 9:30am – 4:30pm, 13th Aug 11. MBPJ Bilik Bunga Mawar (1st Fl) Jln Yong Shook Lin.
At main entrance, turn left up the stairs. 1st room directly facing the stairs.
Next to PJ Civic Centre.
He said the 2012 Budget would pay special attention on managing the people’s cost of living and the government would draw up the best strategy to reduce the burden faced by the people and at the same time manage the country’s economic growth.
Thus, he said, the government had announced the seventh National Key Result Area (NKRA), namely tackling the rising cost of living, this year, after taking into account the increased cost of food and essential items globally.
“In two years since the NKRAs were announced, the cost of living in Malaysia has risen to affect a majority of the population, in varying degrees.
“Many are feeling the pinch, but are not quite aware that this phenomenon is occurring worldwide, and hitting many other countries fairly hard.
“The fact is that so many global factors have affected our cost of living and the poor and developing countries are feeling the worst impact,” he said in his blog http://www.1malaysia.com.my here today.
Najib said this would be the role played by the seventh and latest NKRA whereby the government would look into ways to improve the agriculture supply chain to ensure minimal food loss during the production and supply process.
He said the government would continue with the price control system and manage the subsidies, which were already among the highest in the world.
“We will expand Rakyat-focused initiatives such as the 1Malaysia Clinic, Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia and most recently, the 1Malaysia Rakyat Menu. The latter is a programme to encourage food vendors to offer a package menu with a maximum price of RM2 for breakfast and RM4 for lunch at participating restaurants,” he added.
The Malaysian Home Minister has come out with guns-blazing. He has lambasted the opposition parties and citizens aligned to the ‘enemies’ of BN. He categorically stated that there are Malaysians misusing the new media to spread lies. He went on to state that there are people outside the country who appreciate what Malaysia has to offer. And that Malaysians are not appreciating these at all.
Civil disturbances never have a single, simple meaning. When the Bastille was being stormed the thieves of Paris doubtless took advantage of the mayhem to rob houses and waylay unlucky revolutionaries. Sometimes the thieves were revolutionaries. Sometimes the revolutionaries were thieves. And it is reckless to start making confident claims about events that are spread across the country and that have many different elements. In Britain over the past few days there have been clashes between the police and young people. Crowds have set buildings, cars and buses on fire. Shops have been looted and passersby have been attacked. Only a fool would announce what it all means.
We can dispense with some mistakes, though. It is wrong to say that the riots are apolitical. The trouble began on Saturday night when protesters gathered at Tottenham police station to demand that the police explain the circumstances in which a local man, Mark Duggan, had been shot dead by the police. The death of a Londoner, another black Londoner, at the hands of the police has a gruesome significance. The police are employed to keep the peace and the police shot someone dead. This is a deeply political matter. Besides, it is conventional to say how much policing in London has changed since the Brixton riots of the early eighties – but not many people mouthing the conventional wisdom have much firsthand experience of being young and poor in Britain’s inner cities.
More broadly, any breakdown of civil order is inescapably political. Quite large numbers of mostly young people have decided that, on balance, they want to take to the streets and attack the forces of law and order, damage property or steal goods. Their motives may differ – they are bound to differ. But their actions can only be understood adequately in political terms. While the recklessness of adrenaline has something to do with what is happening, the willingness to act is something to be explained. We should perhaps ask them what they were thinking before reaching for phrases like “mindless violence”. We might actually learn something.
The fierce conflict remains ahead
The profusion of images that modern technology generates makes it even more difficult to impose a single meaning on a complex event. Those who live in terror of a feral underclass and those who are worried about the impact of fiscal austerity on vulnerable communities can find material online that confirms their world-view. There will be a fierce conflict in the weeks ahead as politicians, commentators and others seek to frame the events of the last few days in ways that serve their wider agenda. The police, for example, will call for increased budgets to deal with the increased risks of civil disorder. In this sense, too, riots are inescapably political events.
There are signs too that technology is allowing individuals to intervene in the process by which meaning is assigned to social events. When disorder broke out in France in 2005 in somewhat similar circumstances the political right was the major beneficiary. Sarkozy’s rise from interior minister to president owed a great deal to his role in expressing the anxious aggression of a mass constituency that often lived far away from the burning cars and public buildings.
In London today people were on the streets tidying up the damage. The hashtag #riotcleanup on Twitter is being used by councils and residents to coordinate the work. The decision to act in this way, to make the streets a little more safe, to reclaim them for peaceful sociability, steps away from the temptation to condemn the violence or explain it in terms that inevitably simplify or distort it. Those who come together like this will be less likely to conclude that the country is on the verge of chaos, less likely to call for harsh measures and the further erosion of liberty in the name of security. It is the one shrewd thing one can do in present circumstances and it is to be celebrated.
So there is no single meaning in what is happening in London and elsewhere. But there are connections that we can make, and that we should make. We have a major problem with youth unemployment. There have already been cuts in services for young people. State education in poor areas is sometimes shockingly bad. Young people cannot afford adequate private housing and there is a shortage of council-built stock. Economic inequality has reached quite startling levels. All this is the consequence of decisions made by governments and there is little hope of rapid improvement. The same politicians now denouncing the mindless violence of the mob all supported a system of political economy that was as unstable as it was pernicious. They should have known that their policies would lead to disaster. They didn’t know. Who then is more mindless?
The global economic crisis is at least as political as the riots we’ve seen in the last few days. It has lasted far longer and done far more damage. We need not draw a straight line from the decision to bail out the banks to what’s going on now in London. But we must not lose sight of what both events tell us about our current condition. Those who want to see law and order restored must turn their attention to a menace that no amount of riot police will disperse; a social and political order that rewards vandalism and the looting of public property, so long as the perpetrators are sufficiently rich and powerful.
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered outside the Tottenham police station, peacefully calling for “justice” for Mark Duggan, a man killed by officers three days prior.
Police stood in formation, separating the community members from the station they were guarding, until a 16-year-old woman reportedly approached an officer to find out what was going on.
According to a witness account, some officers pushed the young woman and drew their batons.
“And that’s when the people started to retaliate. Now I think in all circumstances, having seen that, most people retaliate,” said the witness.
The “retaliation”, from peaceful chants of “justice” in front of the police station, have since turned into massive groups of Londoners in numerous parts of the city who seem unafraid of breaking windows, looting stores, and burning buildings, doubtless causing millions of pounds’ worth of damage.
Scores of businesses have been looted and international media continue to play images of smoldering buildings, in areas where firefighters were reportedly too afraid to enter – for their own safety.
According to witnesses and overhead helicopter footage, police have not been able to control much of the situation, and have repeatedly been forced into retreat by angry rioters.
“The kids realise the police can’t keep control of it,” said Bristly Pioneer, a Hackney resident and activist with the Space Hijackers, an anarchist collective focused on reclaiming public space. “And the kids don’t give a f*** because no one gives a f*** about them.”
“These kids have basically been abandoned – not even just the kids, whole communities have been abandoned by the rest of society,” he added. “I can’t say I’m surprised this is happening. It’s been building for years.”
Klara, an activist with Occupied London, a group focused on responding to the European austerity crisis, and another resident of Hackney, asked that her last name not be used. She told Al Jazeera: “It’s a bubble of anger and anxiety and oppression that has to be burst.”
“When you talk to people in the streets, they’re extremely politically articulate. They know the problems in their community,” she said.
In a video posted on The Guardian’s website on July 31, youth in the London borough of Haringey described the effects of the closure of eight youth centres, a move they said led to a growth in gang membership and crime – as they and their peers have nowhere to go after school.
A week before any window was broken or store looted, one of the young people in the video said: “The government doesn’t realise what they’re doing to us”. Another adds, “there’s going to be a riot”.
A tipping point
Tottenham, where Duggan was killed, is a Haringey neighbourhood which has among the highest unemployment rates in London – and a larger than average youth population. People of colour here have particularly felt the effects of deteriorating social services and targeted police harassment and violence, said author Richard Seymour.
“There’s kids here who basically no one cares about, and nobody does anything for,” said Seymour, a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics. “When the rioters themselves are asked, they will say that they are abused by police, harassed by them, and nobody’s done a thing about it.”
Seymour also explained that after many of the 333 deaths in police custody between 1998 and 2010 in Britain, “Large, peaceful protests in response [to the in-custody deaths] were more or less ignored” and not a single officer has been prosecuted.
As a result, Duggan’s killing crossed a threshold for young people, angry with the systems that have left them behind, and tired of non-violent protest that goes without much response.
“I saw a whole load of kids, ranging from teenagers, and also grown-ups, in the streets. Most people seemed very happy, there were a lot of smiles in the streets, and a sense that people finally had control of something … And then there were people who were extremely angry at police,” said Klara, the Occupied London activist. “It’s just surprising that something like this hasn’t happened before now.”
Meanwhile, a local shop owner told Al Jazeera: “I’m very shocked … I’m so devastated. I don’t know how to explain myself.”
The chaotic situation has left many Londoners, and people around the world, wondering when the destruction will stop – and how the government will respond to the anger born out of alleged police racism, cuts to social services and unemployment.
Just moments before Britain’s prime minister made his first post-riot statement, Seymour told Al Jazeera: “The dominant response of the political class is to say it’s all criminality … that’s something that could undermine anything towards seeking justice.”
The alternative, he said, would be “addressing the political crisis” on a deeper level.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, played the card Seymour had predicted, saying: “This is criminality pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated.”
London’s acting police commissioner, Tim Godwin, agreed, saying: “This is not a game – this is criminality, burglary and violence … There can be no excuses for this behaviour.” Calls to Scotland Yard went unanswered.
“Everyone is anticipating the probability of more violence as night approaches. Everyone has their theories about this, but I think one of their [the government’s] main challenges will be to separate genuine grievance from simple copy-cat criminality,” said Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend, reporting from London.
But that would mean the government strongly recognises the ‘grievances’, which is far, at least, from the initial response.
In his first statement on the riot on Tuesday morning, the British PM said at least 450 people had been arrested for riot-related crimes.
Cameron also announced a massing of police officers, with numbers to be increased from 6,000 in the first three nights of rioting to 16,000 on Tuesday night.
“There will be aid from police coming from up and down the country,” he said. “We will see that many more arrests will be coming in the coming days.”
Speaking directly to those breaking the law, Cameron said: “Justice will be done … You will feel the full force of the law, and if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to feel the full consequences.”
Klara said that many people support the increase in police presence and hope that it will force the end of rioting, but warned that the support of intensive policing measures “could spark things off even more, because the police are exactly the problem in these neighbourhoods”.
“It’s hard to say what type of policing would calm things down and what type of policing would escalate it … When you’re being harassed by police on a daily basis, you’re no longer afraid of it.”
Finding ‘justice’ in the rubble
With police absent or unable to control crowds in past days, reports have spread of communities banding together to defend their own neighbourhoods.
“There’s a Turkish neigbourhood in Hackney that successfully prevented the rioters from destroying the area,” said Klara.
Seymour described similar scenes of people standing outside their businesses with baseball bats, in a vigilante defence from lawless London.
“I talked to residents and they told me they will do the same if they don’t feel like their livelihoods are being protected by the police,” said Al Jazeera’s Charlie Angela, reporting from Hackney,
In a different form of community defence, one of the highest trending hashtags on Twitter early on Tuesday was#riotcleanup, and many people used it to coordinate cleanup efforts in riot-hit neighbourhoods around London.
What has emerged due to rioting is a lawless sense that Londoners need to create response plans for when police are not able to handle a situation.
Klara said that more than ever: “There is a lot of debate in the streets. Everyone’s talking about police killings, deaths in custody [and other social woes].”
Meanwhile, no one seems to support the destruction caused by the riots, but many believe that the situation is an expression of political anger.
When asked if the riots could lead to any positive outcome, Seymour said it already had, and described an interview he saw on television in which a rioter was asked the same question.
The rioter’s answer: “Yes [it has been successful], because if we hadn’t rioted, you wouldn’t be talking to us now.”