What is Rakyat Bangkit? Who started it?
Rakyat Bangkit is project of the Tiada.Guru Campaign, with direct support from the Freedom Film Network and the Goethe Institut.
Rakyat Bangkit is run by Tiada.Guru's core team:
- MOE whistleblower teachers and former MOE educators;
- Student survivors & their witnesses;
- Activists and fighters;
- Lawyers & legal advisors.
Rakyat Bangkit is a video series of prominent activists, lawyers, and community leaders to awaken Malaysians to our oppressive realities and to then take decisive actions. We must create a generation of prepared, brave, and united whistleblowers.
Vision: To activate brave Malaysians to organize against decades of government and powerful oppression by
- educating and explaining our repressive cultures;
- guiding towards reflective thinking → action to reform these cultures;
- providing expert guidance, when relevant, to justice opportunities (organising, whistleblowing, exposes, official reports, evidence, media).
Mission: We must create a generation of prepared, brave, and united whistleblowers that:
- will fight the MOE's corruption and misconduct in public (schools, social media, media interviews, ceramahs);
- will be equipped to reject the propaganda / tactics of those that protect this culture;
- wil normalize education reform through Solidarity, Undi Bijak, dan Mahkamah.
- student victims / survivors of MOE misconduct and abuse;
- parents, students, and alumni of MOE schools;
- teachers and MOE whistleblowers;
- local Malaysian media.
Motto: Majoriti rakyat sedang melebarkan sayap dan terbang.
Slogan: Ketika kita push, itulah saat kita menang.
Hashtags: #PendidikanBersih #RakyatBangkit
We've suffered these problems for decades. What's different now?
- The Ministry of Education is now facing two High Court lawsuits. Many Defendants within the Ministry of Education attempted to get themselves struck off and not held responsible: the High Court disagreed and has forced all MOE officers to defend themselves at trial.
- The four High Court plaintiffs (all young women from one of the poorest districts in Malaysia: Kota Belud, Sabah) have defeated the Defendants four times in High Court pre-trial. The High Court judges have time and time again ruled fairly and for the young women.
- These Plaintiffs have thus made it farther than anyone else to bring the Ministry of Education to account for alleged misconduct, misfeasance in public office, and extreme teacher absenteeism.
- This time, we will fight on equal footing with golongan atasan.
- This time, we have two trials that have been 40 years in the making.
- This time, we have a shot at their head: not only will the young women's searing claims go to trial at High Court, but so will the Federal Government’s decades of unfulfilled reforms leading up to this moment.
- This time, the tactics of golongan atasan will be public. This time, you will learn who is fighting for pendidikan bersih and who is fighting to keep the lights off.
- For years, golongan atasan have used 1) the culture of fear and 2) legal loopholes to keep cases like these out of the Courts and out of the public's eye.
- These trials are proof their culture of fear is crumbling. These trials are proof their legal loopholes are too weak.
- What will golongan atasan do once they are forced to defend the indefensible? Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
What are the founding principles of Rakyat Bangkit?
Today our country has 1) golongan atasan of politicians and senior public servants and 2) golongan bawahan of rakyat biasa, workers, and the masses.
In many ways, many senior public servants = senior political servants, creating a "political service" that controls the civil service.
- Golongan atasan are lifelong, multi-generational believers of their superiority and our inferiority; they will obstruct real solutions until they die—or they feel forced.
- Golongan atasan both wrote and enforce their laws to their benefit. Thus, they are not afraid of their laws: they are afraid of the people.
- In moments of true crisis, we must reach for our strongest weapons. In what three arenas are golongan bawahan equal with golongan atasan? 1) Solidariti, 2) Undi Bijak, and 3) Mahkamah. Read more here.
Malaysia has had three Prime Ministers in three years: these golongan atasan are weaker than they have ever been. It is now becoming clear the people are stronger, braver, and smarter than golongan atasan.
What are the core changes we need? Let me hear the short, specific solutions.
Who will fix corrupt schools? Me and you and us together. We will collectively stop asking politicians to create weak solutions to national problems they are incapable of experiencing, much less understanding.
- Independent investigations of school misconduct by an Ombudsman | The Executive Branch—politicians and top public servants—have failed for decades to fairly investigate themselves and they will continue to fail for decades to come. Time's up. Read more here and here.
- Independent, strong witness & whistleblower protection | Without witnesses and whistleblowers, our nation has no truth and reform has no urgency. Relying the corrupt to protect the innocent is like asking a thief to protect witnesses against them. Witness & whistleblower protection must come from an independent party, i.e., the Ombudsman above. Read more here.
- A transparent, strict investigative process | Clear, justiciable procedures whose 1) speed, 2) protection, and 3) structure do not allow for outside interference. For example, the Prime Minister should never nominate an individual as the head of the Ombudsman (as they currently do for the Chief Commissioner of MACC, the Attorney General, the Education Services Commission, etc.). Of course, none of this is possible until we get politicians out of education. Read more here and here and here and here.
- An education system for emancipation, not oppression | Our schools should teach us about government & public service corruption; the dismantling of our institutions; the rights of people over their government; the key levers of check and balance. Read more here.
I thought orang kampung only care about bread-and-butter issues: not institutional reforms nor corruption!
Rural and / or poor communities suffer far more corruption that any other group in Malaysia due to 1) lack of enforcement, 2) lack of media, and 3) lack of legal aid. Institutional reform is what rural communities need, but very few have offered serious, understandable, and relevant solutions to rural communities. We like to think we have: read more here.
Overall, three major misunderstandings explain how Malaysia's rural corruption explosion has been ignored by major thought leaders in both political and CSO circles.
"How has everyone lost the plot?" we rural public servants ask ourselves every day.
Never believe that politicians are powerless or need more time: most politicians are simply unprepared or too cowardly to lead.
Misunderstanding #1: An inordinate focus on political corruption and almost total ignorance of public service corruption.
The predominant corruption in rural areas is public service corruption. If you only discuss or learn about political corruption, you have missed the majority of MACC's prosecutions—and MACC itself "misses" plenty of prosecutions. See the numbers: assume 5,000 active and inactive politicians in Malaysia. Public servants? 1.71 million public servants.
Political corruption is simply not as continuous in rural communities. What is continuous is public service corruption: corrupt public servants are the largest, deepest, and most insidious type of corruption. Politicians can get voted out. A corrupt public servant may dominate a village for 30 years.
Types of disturbing, horrific public service corruption that often only get 10% the attention given to political corruption:
- Public-service-wide corruption often ignored: protection of misconduct, extreme absenteeism, protection of criminals, fabricated documents, conspiracies & complots, gratification to family members,
- Key rural corruption hotbeds often ignored: education, health, land, environment, electricity, water, electricity, housing
Misunderstanding #2: A belief that the lack of English, news reports on rural corruption means a lack of rural corruption
We only hear less about rural corruption:
- MACC has almost zero presence in rural areas. Do not confuse a lack of enforcement with a lack of corruption.
- MACC has almost never prosecuted public servants under gratification definition (f)—see Misunderstanding #3 below.
- National media outlets have almost zero presence in rural areas. Do not confuse a lack of reports with a lack of corruption. And when they do report about rural corruption, the stories are predominantly in English.
- Very few institutional reform-focused CSOs operate daily in rural communities. Likewise, unfortunately, most institutional reform education, speeches, and platforms are predominantly in English.
Rural corruption has recently entered a vicious cycle of "nobody talks about -> nobody knows about it -> nobody talks about it -> so then it doesn't matter." B40 communities were, are, and will continue to be the primary target of corruption.
Why do so many rural Malaysians live in fear of or depend on golongan atasan?
Misunderstanding #3: A misguided belief that corruption is predominantly bribes, contracts, and / or tied to asset exchanges
The most common corruption in rural communities likely falls under the MACC Act's definition (f) of gratification: the protection of public servants "from any action or proceedings of a disciplinary, civil, or criminal nature". Read more here.
Yes. The civil service's protection culture is legally corruption under the MACC Act.
Every time a public servant is protected by their colleagues or superiors (transfers, no reports, fabricated reports, refusal to take action, fabricated actions), it is the criminal offence of corruption under the MACC Act.
Yes: in retrospect, it may seem obvious: of course public servants abusing their power is not simply misconduct, but a criminal act.
So how do we talk and speak about corruption in rural communities?
Rural corruption is like a snowball: once you start talking about it, people won't stop talking about it.
Too many have abandoned an unbelievably massive swath of rural Malaysians. Let us stop that now.
How can we work with Sabah, Sarawak, rural and / or poor communities for anti-corruption institutional reforms?
You must beat back budaya diam first and foremost. Otherwise, you will be speaking to a brick wall, will get irrelevant and unhelpful answers, and many can become frustrated.
Remember, the pervasive budaya diam is unperturbed without:
- Evidenced and relevant examples: schools, infrastructure, local government, hospitals, land offices, telecommunication, electricity
- Clarity of problems & solutions: pick apart the root problems and get to the obvious root solutions. We think we can get you started.
- Sincerity and humility: no one was born an activist—not us, not you, not anyone. Respect the journey and then build solidarity with us.
- Terminology: build understanding with direct explanations. "Witnesses should always be protected. So, a whistleblower is an internal witness!"
Does this Campaign really work with teacher whistleblowers?
Yes. MOE whistleblowers, including teachers, parents, and students, are the core team of the Tiada.Guru Campaign and have led the launch of Rakyat Bangkit.
We also work with activists, journalists, CSOs, and others eager to bersih sistem pendidikan.
Because of the dangerous culture of fear perpetrated by corrupt officers, the core team is represented by lawyer & child activist Sharmila Sekaran and writer, researcher, and former journalist Fiqah Roslan.