Appalled by Gutter Politics in Malaysia

March 31, 2011

Finally: Statement by Joint Action Group for Gender Equality*

It is time for Malaysian politics to get out of the gutter, stop campaigns to slander personal reputations and focus on the important issues facing Malaysia today.

A video that was allegedly filmed on 21 February 2011, which shows a man, allegedly an opposition politician, having sex with a “foreign prostitute”, is the latest in a series of sordid debacles to which Malaysian voters have sadly been exposed.

The timing of the release of the tape coupled with the intense politicisation surrounding the case raises some serious concerns about the state of Malaysian politics.

Seeking to undermine the credibility of individuals for political gain in this way is insulting and condescending to Malaysians.

The exposing of such a video at such a time insults Malaysian voters’ intelligence as it is clearly intended to divert attention away from the critical issues facing this country.

The Three Sex Stooges of Malaysian Politics

The critical issues being the widespread corruption, abuse of power, financial mismanagement, wastage of resources and empty rhetoric by those in power.

This farcical situation also raises the concern of what seems to be becoming a culture of spying in this country. Although it must be said that the authenticity of the most recent video is suspect, it is deeply unfortunate that such “spy tapes” are lapped up by journalists.

Even in past cases in recent years in which authentic photos or videos of politicians have surfaced, it is the role of the media to examine the motives behind such exposure and not play into the hands of those with power and money.

A further issue of significant concern is the way in which the woman depicted in the video has been treated.

The loaded terms “prostitute” of “foreign” or “Chinese” appearance in news reports are clearly used to demonise the woman, and by extension, further tarnish the man in the video.

The particular opposition leader who is the focus of this latest furore has had more than his fair share of attacks on his character.

If we are going to hold politicians to a higher moral standard, then this must extend beyond bedroom practices to democratic and ethical values and practices, and these standards must be applied consistently across the board.

The dubious circumstances surrounding this latest episode only serves to alienate the electorate and erode confidence in our political and democratic processes, especially during a time when full, clear and impartial information about the policies and promises of political parties is needed so that voters can make informed choices at the ballot box.

*The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) comprises:

Ulysses: “To strive, to seek,to find, not to yield”

March 31, 2011

Alfred Lord Tennyson‘s Ulysses: Uplifting our Spirits

Najib must Lead, not be Led

The last two stanzas of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses are inspiring for all of us who must face the challenges of living in a much confused Malaysia. We seem to be without direction, drifting in a sea of acronyms (ETP, NKRA, NEM) and slogans like 1Malaysia: Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian DiUtamakan, Malaysia Boleh and Wawasan 2020.  Promises, Promises, Projects, Projects (4Ps), if I may add. So let us be inspired by Ulysses and verses from Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name.

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are,
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Maybe my friends, for one fleeting moment in Malaysia there was a Camelot. Or could I be dreaming? I remember this  tune by Julie Andrews on YouTube. –Din Merican

Datuk T Sex Video: Shuib Lazim is the Fall Guy

March 31, 2011

Regina Lee @www.malaysiakini reports:

Datuk T  Sex Video:  Shuib Lazim is the Fall Guy

One of the ‘Datuk T’ trio, PERKASA treasurer Shuib Lazim, has come out to clear the air over his role in the recent sex video purportedly showing an opposition politician having sex with a prostitute.

Owning up over the video, he dismissed claims that he was merely an ‘innocent bystander’ over the whole episode. “I really do take full responsibility over this video,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted.

This is in contrast to the claims by Sungai Petani MP from PKR Johari Abdul, who reckoned that Shuib was an unwitting accomplice to the debacle over the video, which showed a man resembling opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim engaging in a sex act with a woman claimed to be a prostitute.

Johari (left) – who is also Shuib’s nephew – had earlier defended his uncle and said Shuib had told him privately that he did not think Anwar was the man in the video. “I know my uncle and I don’t think he’ll go that far. I think he’s just an innocent bystander… I think he is just a ‘matcher’ because I am his nephew.

“Shuib also told me that he does not believe that it was (Anwar) in the video and I think he called me to watch it because he genuinely wanted me to see it and verify this,” Johari was reported to have said last Thursday.

However, Shuib said this could not be further from the truth. “I know that (the video) is the truth. I know that this is all real and that is why I joined the Datuk T gang. If it wasn’t true, I would not have agreed to it,” he said.

Asked about Johari’s allegations about his role, Shuib said that it was probably a case of the lawmaker wanting to “defend his boss”.

Death threats against Shuib

The 22-minute video recording was released last Monday by an initially mysterious Datuk T, who later unmasked themselves as being a ‘trio’ of businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik and Shuib.

Shuib not present at their press conference on Wednesday, giving rise to speculation that he was not exactly a willing party.Shuib, who sounded tired but affable over the phone, also said that he has received death threats. He refuted an article in the New Straits Times yesterday that he had placed himself under voluntary house arrest, saying he still ventured out.

“The Police just told me to be careful,” he said, denying that he received any police protection. Shuib also said that he has given his statement to the police twice over the video, the most recent being two days ago.

Saying that he was still staying in his Kuala Lumpur residence, he joked that he would be “going into hiding” back in his hometown in Sungai Petani, Kedah, soon. “I nak sembunyi dah. I dah nak lari (I want to go into hiding now. I want to flee),” he said with a chuckle.

‘Foolish, childish rants’

In a related development, PKR political bureau member and MP for Subang Sivarasa Rasiah warned Eskay against repeating his “foolish and childish rants” about Anwar’s purported travels to Thailand or anywhere else.

Sivarasa, who is also one of Anwar’s legal counsel, said “no sensible person would deem it necessary to answer the sort of questions that Eskay was posturing with pretended bravado.”

“If Eskay has any specific accusations to make, then he should make them and meet the consequences, legal and otherwise,” the lawyer said in a statement late last night.

Eskay is reported to have challenged Anwar to answer his questions about ‘trips’ to Thailand and his activities in a hotel there.

“Over the past two years, how many times has Anwar been to Thailand? Who greeted Anwar in Thailand? Which hotel did Anwar stay in?

“What was Anwar doing in the hotel? And who paid for the travel expenses?” Eskay was quoted as having said yesterday.

“Don’t force me to reveal all of this. Ask Anwar to answer these questions before attacking me,” he added.

Sivarasa said Anwar has been advised not to respond to Eskay’s “foolishness”. “Eskay seems to have the benefit of BN-conferred immunity from criminal prosecution despite having openly committed the criminal offence of being in possession of an obscene video and also publicly screening it.However any specific accusation that he chooses to make instead of these foolish, vacuous questions will be met with the appropriate and stern legal riposte,” said Sivarasa.

Daim: Previous Models to build BBC failed

March 31, 2011

Daim: Previous Models to build Bumiputera Business Class(BBC) Failed

by Aidila Razak@

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin today defended the much-criticised New Economic Policy (NEP), but said that previous models used to build a bumiputera business class have failed.

Speaking to a full house audience at the sixth installment of the Universiti Tun Abdul Razak lecture series in Kuala Lumpur today, he said that in fact the NEP was a “noble effort” with logical goals.

Daim (right) said that when the country received its independence, the British policy of divide-and-rule had caused severe income and ethnic disparity which needed to be addressed through social engineering that was the New Economic Policy.

Ethnic economic aspiration become an important factor in economic development policies. NEP was to expand the economy and benefit all ethnic groups.

Malays and bumiputera (who make up about 60 percent of the population) are politically dominant. A political party not sensitive of this group cannot hope to rule the country.

“Some of the NEP exist elsewhere, in the United States it is called affirmative action… to assist the low-income group, the alleviation of poverty, to reduce regional imbalances. There is nothing wrong with eradicating poverty and reducing disparity.

“It is a noble effort and we shouldn’t be apologetic about it. It affects the whole society (regardless of ethnicity) either directly and indirectly,” he said, adding that poverty data today compared to the 1970s is evident of NEP’s partial success.

Daim, who last week broke his long silence in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, added that when the government pursued the policy to award contracts to companies with part-bumiputera ownership, it was at a time when the community was still “weak” and had “no networks like the non-bumiputera” business community who had more experience.

“If (a project was awarded) to a bumiputera company, the bulk of work was given to a non-bumiputera company. There was still trickle down (and) no deprivation of the non-bumiputera (business class) in sharing in the spoils of development,” he said.

As evidence of this, he said, the bumiputera community has yet to achieve the 30 percent equity target set for 1990, and currently only holds 21.9 percent.  Additionally, he said, none of the top 10 companies in Bursa Malaysia are owned by bumiputera.

Need to develop a new model

All the same, he said that the old model of providing licences, subsidies and approved permits to the bumiputera in hopes of building entreprenuers had failed and is no longer sustainable given diminishing public funds.

“My main concern is the need to develop a new model (to build) Malays in business and entrepreneurship. In the past we have used licences, approved permits, financial support, etc, but has it brought about sustainable entrepreneurship? The answer is no… (and) it is no longer tenable. There is a need to have a Malay group that is more sustainable and less dependent on government support. This is an unfinished business,” he said in his speech.

Similarly, he said, Malay rights group PERKASA’s discontent with the New Economic Model shows a reluctance to let go of old inefficient models, which  are incompatible with market needs as well as the state of public funds.

Elaborating in the question-and-answer session, Daim said Malaysia’s small economy is facing greater liberalisation and Malays should not fear this as it is an opportunity to prepare themselves for competition.

“Have we achieved something for the Malays and the business community, yes, but when we do this there is still a gap. The only way is through education, with education you can stand on own feet. The government’s role is to provide education… and after that don’t come and say ‘I don’t have a job’.

‘I believe I am better than the Chinese’

“We have more Malay graduates now compared to the 1960s and 1970s and (still) you say we can’t compete, then there’s something wrong with us. I don’t believe that we are less intelligent than the Chinese… I believe I am better than the Chinese. You can say you’re clever but I say I’m cleverer [sic],” he said.

“PERKASA is looking at bumiputera interests, saying we cannot achieve 30 percent equity, blah, blah, but this is subject to debate and it is good that there is a debate so people understand… that (the government) is not depriving (Malays) of anything and if (the Malays) are good then (the government) will not stop (them) from being successful,” he said.

Amusing the audience, he said that politicians generally “don’t know nothing about the economy” and that “they only know how to spend money and please their voters”.

As such, he said that his advice is to “let them be politicians, not economists” and make sure that they have the right advisors.

The former politician, who has previously been nicknamed “Diam Daim” (Silent Daim) added that he is prepared to offer advice, but only if it is sought.  “I don’t want to be a busybody,” he said.

Alkitab Row: Federal Government Overtures rejected

March 30, 2011

Alkitab Row: The CFM rejected Federal Government Overtures

by Debra

Christian Federation of Malaysia

Founded in 1986.

Mission Statement: We, who are Christians belonging to different Christian churches, denominations and organizations but professing the same Christian faith, have resolved to form the Christian Federation of Malaysia through which we, as a community, shall endeavour, together with other religious communities, to play our part as loyal and useful citizens of our nation.

“No religious community will ever want to suffer the indignity of having its sacred scriptures banned and prohibited as though it is some seditious material or a contraband product considered immoral.”

“That this has [been] done repeatedly over so many years is an affront and insult to the religious community concerned and raises very serious questions about the status of religious freedom and respect for other religions in our country.”–Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) rejected today the federal government’s overture in the Alkitab row, saying it did not resolve the core issue which is the erosion of basic human rights protected by the Federal Constitution.

The umbrella body representing over 90 per cent of churches here was referring specifically to Putrajaya’s offer to mask the Home Ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of 35,100 copies of the Malay bibles shipped in from Indonesia last week, as laid down last week by its Christian minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who is in charge of government and economic transformation.

Jala, in his statement on March 22, also said that certain Christian donors had also offered to fully replace, free of charge, the two marked cargoes at Port Klang and Kuching, which had been seized and detained by home ministry officials.

The CFM did not seem mollified by Jala’s attempts to placate the community, maintaining that the act — which had been carried out quietly and without the bible importers’ consent — amounted to a desecration of the Christian holy book and an outright show of disrespect, breaching the guarantees of this country’s highest law.

“Our position is that there should be no restrictions, proscriptions or prohibitions whatsoever on the bible or the use of the language of our choice in the practice of our religion, as it was in the days before and after the formation of Malaysia,” CFM said in a statement here today, adding that the Alkitab issue was not the only restriction.

It noted that there has been a “systematic and progressive pushing back” of Christian rights — dating back to the 1980s — namely the right to practise, profess and express their faith.

It pointed to a series of restrictions imposed on Christians, such as the freedom to wear and openly display religious symbols, like the cross; the building of churches; and even what words can be used in a Christian religious context.

The Catholic Church and other Christian groups and individuals on both sides of the South China Sea have challenged the home minister for imposing those restrictions, which centre on the use of the Arabic word for God, “Allah”, but their cases have been stuck in queue in the courts since 2008 with no end in sight.

“In order to move forward, we call on the Government to commit itself once and for all to remove every impediment, whether legal or administrative, to the importation, publication, distribution and use of the Alkitab and indeed to protect and defend our right to use the Alkitab,” it said.

It demanded the federal government start by cancelling all orders made under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, as well as the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984, which categorised the Alkitab as a threat to national security and public order.

“Christians, like any other Malaysians, are not demanding for anything beyond our constitutional and fundamental human rights as enshrined in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said the group, led by its chairman, Anglican Bishop Ng Moon Hing.

CFM also said that it would leave the decision of what to do with the marked cargo to the affected importers, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and the Sarawak branch of global Christian group, The Gideons.

“We have left it to the two importers to decide whether or not to collect the Alkitab, based on their different specific circumstances and level of trust in the authorities and the processes in their local context,” it said.

With polls set to be called in Sarawak in just over two weeks, the controversy is expected to weigh on the minds of Christians who make up nearly close to half of the hornbill state’s total population.

Friends and Fellow Bloggers,

I introduce to you the passionate Advocate of “Respect for the Dignity of Difference”, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Listen to him with an open mind and then let us discuss his presentation rationally. How do we end this rivalry of siblings.–Din Merican

Public Protest against Lynas Corp of Australia

March 30, 2011

To Lynas Corp: Pack Up and Leave  Gebang, Pahang for Australia

by Joseph Sipalan@

A group of Pahang residents has urged Australia’s Lynas Corp to “pack up and leave” Malaysia and abandon plans to build a rare earth refinery in Gebeng, near Kuantan.

Vincent Jiam, leader of a group of Pahang residents protesting the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, said that plant would bring more harm than good.”Please pack up and leave and go home. Don’t leave anything behind… don’t even leave your slippers behind,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

Jiam (left) and some 10 representatives of the group were in Parliament to hand a protest petition to Prime Minsiter Najib Abdul Razak.“I’m just a kindergarten teacher. We want the top man to decide,” said Jiam.

The group, however, were not allowed to see the premier, claiming that his aides turned them away without even taking a copy of their memorandum. “(One of Najib’s officers) told me, ‘(you) could go around the country all you want, but for two months you still cannot get an appointment with him’. Why would I want to go around the country? I just want to go to the top man,” he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

PM must be our ‘Father’

“Everyone knows the top man can make decisions and we know he can make a right decision for us.I was hoping he would become like a father to us for just one moment, and take the memorandum,” Jiam said, clearly incensed by the alleged indifference of the Prime Minister’s Office staff.

Jiam, who appeared ill-at-ease sitting under the media spotlight, repeatedly stressed that neither he nor the committee members are politically inclined – and made it clear they have not much love for politicians, be it from the government or the opposition.

“(Politicians) always treat people nice(ly)… they are trying to get people’s attention and say they are concerned, to tell (us) the problems and then tell us ‘don’t be afraid’. Politicians are clever talkers.

“We don’t want that. The country will (become) the darkest country of our time, for all the wrong things that we have done. We cannot (wait) for two months to decide… I am asking the PM for (all) our sakes. Now only the PM can make the right decision,” he said.

Bukit Merah fish didn’t die, they are huge’

Jiam, who lives in Kuantan some 25km from the plant’s site at the Gebeng Industrial  Zone, pointed out that a resident of Bukit Merah – the site of an earlier rare earth plant that was closed down in 1992 – had told him of the aftermath of the radiation leakage in the area.

“I asked him if the fish died, and he told me ‘no, they are huge’. Imagine if Kuantan becomes an exporter of super huge fish, we will be sending out radiation to our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak. We don’t want that, but that is what will happen,” he said.

Jiam said the committee, which was formed on March 22, will not be deterred by their failure to meet with Najib, and will make sure their memorandum will reach each of the 222 MPs in Parliament.

He added that they have so far managed to get 20,000 signatures for a petition against the project, and they “will continue to fight” until the matter is settled in their favour.

“When this is all done, I will go back to being a kindergarten teacher. We cannot let this go on… our children will not forgive us,” he said.

Singapore in the Malay World

March 29, 2011

Book Review

Singapore in the Malay World


Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges

Abingdon: Routledge, 2009

230 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-48410-7

Reviewed by P.J. Thum, University of Oxford

In her first book The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational  Marginality of the Malay community, Prof Lily Zubaidah Rahim explained the continuing economic, educational, and political marginalisation of the Singapore Malay community. In this book, she takes her work to the next logical step, by turning her view outwards towards Nusantara, the Malay world. She asks how Singapore’s internal relationship between the Chinese-dominated political elite and the Malay community affects its external position in the Malay world.

Rahim takes a flexible approach to her analysis, not getting tied down in any particular theoretical framework. She sets the table by looking at the role of Malays and Malay culture in Singapore’s dominant historical and political narratives. On this basis, she compares the competing nation-building paradigms of Singapore and Malaysia, detailing how the two paradigms are, in fact, mirror images of each other. This is followed by studies of the security and economic aspects of Singapore’s regional position (mainly with Malaysia). The last part of her analysis focuses on the Singapore-Indonesia relationship. Her writing throughout is well reasoned, convincing, and extremely readable. It makes clear the complex, multidimensional aspects of Singapore’s relationships with its two biggest neighbours.

Yet one is left with the feeling that the title is somewhat of a misnomer. The majority of Rahim’s work deals almost solely with Singapore’s bilateral relationship with Malaysia. In many ways, this is necessary – Singapore’s historical, economic, and cultural links with Malaysia mean that the state looms largest in Singapore’s foreign policy. Yet a work entitled ‘Singapore in the Malay world’ promises a multilateral, regional approach and this book fails to deliver on that promise. Three chapters dominated by Kuala Lumpur and one exclusively devoted to Jakarta sell the Malay world short. Rahim, in an endnote, explains Nusantara as ‘a trans-archipelagic term that corresponds historically to the Indonesian and Malay sphere of influence’. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, southern Philippines, and southern Thailand all fall in this sphere. However, south Thailand, Brunei, Borneo, eastern Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and the Philippines are absent or referred to only in passing in Rahim’s work. With few exceptions, Rahim’s work is focused on bilateral relations, leaving open the interesting question of how exactly Singapore has affected Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta relations. Exploring Singapore’s position using a multilateral approach would have produced a much more fruitful and exciting study.

Correspondingly, the chapters themselves lack any narrative unity, feeling too much like a collection of separate essays rather than a comprehensive work. In particular, the Indonesia chapter bears little link to the rest of the book, and it is left to the conclusion to draw out tentative threads in an attempt to tie the book together.

This compartmentalisation is further underlined by the difference in her approaches to Singapore-Malaysia and Singapore-Indonesia relations. Singapore-Malaysia is dealt with on cultural, political, and economic grounds, but the Singapore-Indonesia analysis is largely driven by the personal relationship between the two governments, and in particular between Lee Kuan Yew and Suharto. The lack of a strong cultural dimension to Singapore’s relations with Indonesia poses a challenge to assumptions about the Malay world  and how it is perceived by its members. However, the chapter on Indonesia is the best chapter precisely because it is much more narrowly focused on more conventional politics and in particular the relationship between Suharto and Lee Kuan Yew.

The politicisation and contestation of culture is one of the central themes of this book. Rahim’s depth of knowledge and familiarity with Malay culture, its complicated relationship with politics on both sides of the causeway, and the marginalisation and discrimination faced by the Malay community in Singapore, shine through. She marshals her facts on Malay culture and perspective well and writes confidently and convincingly. The same cannot be said about her attempts to break down the PAP’s attempt at the sinicisation of Singapore. It fails to capture the diversity of Singapore’s Chinese community, or its schizophrenic attitude towards Chinese culture and language: simultaneously proud of its heritage, frustrated by the alien tongue of mandarin, and fearful of dominance from China, an alien land to second and third generation Chinese Singaporeans. She occasionally repeats unsubstantiated stereotypes about Chinese attitudes and beliefs. She also perhaps overstates the extent to which the rest of the PAP leadership buy into Lee Kuan Yew’s beliefs on sinicisation when she predicts a new Chinese cultural elite poised to takeover leadership of the country. English educated, western oriented leaders continue to dominant the PAP’s upper echelons and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The problem is, of course, that she is unable to access the Chinese community’s worldview. Her sources, bar three interviews with Malaysian politicians, are entirely secondary, and generally in English. This no doubt reflects the paucity of work from Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese-speaking academics available in English, but it also suggests the limitations of Rahim’s skillset.

In her introduction, she sets to explore Singapore’s external relations from a historical, multidisciplinary, regional perspective. What she has achieved is an excellent study of Singapore’s bilateral relations with its two closest neighbours using a variety of political approaches, with a specific focus on the mindset of a few select leaders, and from a top-down perspective. This book will be extremely valuable to anyone seeking to better understand Singapore’s foreign policy, but we will have to wait for a work which truly embeds Singapore in Nusantara.

Catholic Bishop makes a stand on Sex Video

Kuantan, Pahang

March 29, 2011

Catholic Bishop makes a stand on the  Dato T Sex Video

Terence reports:

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Che Ing said today the state of a society’s morals was in greater danger from its leaders‘ negligence than from their ignorance.

The Bishop of the Melaka-Johor diocese, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said if leaders preferred to muddy the waters rather than go for the jugular when a moral issue of magnitude flares in the national arena, they will “contribute to a situation where events will be in the saddle and will ride humankind.”

Speaking to Malaysiakini on the videotape allegedly depicting a leading politician in a compromising situation with a sex worker, Bishop Paul Tan said: “If the authorities do not take action against those responsible when laws are flagrantly flouted, then they are engendering a situation where fair is foul and foul is fair.”

“This is a dangerous pass, one in which people, especially the young, will think that there is one set of rules for a privileged few and another set of rules for the rest,” he added.

“The moral relativism that results from this disparity in rule enforcement is a quagmire from which society will find it very difficult to emerge,” opined Bishop Paul Tan.

He said Malaysian society was in “greater danger from its leaders’ negligence than from their ignorance. When you purport to sponsor and lead discussions promoting interfaith harmony and understanding and then arraign leaders who deliver learned speeches aimed at aiding that process, what is the message you are sending?” queried Bishop Paul rhetorically.

‘Unity in Plurality’

He declined to be specific but it was clear the Catholic prelate was referring to the decision by the de facto religious minister, Jamil Khir Baharom, to investigate Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for a speech on religion and pluralism at the London School of Economics in March 2010.

“A friend afforded me the privilege of reading that speech and I could not help but be struck by the way it echoed the sentiments advanced in documents emanating from the Vatican and from recent popes, especially Pope Benedict, concerning inter-religious dialogue,” offered Bishop Paul Tan.

“The essence of those documents can be encapsulated in the phrase ‘Unity in Plurality’ and the essence of that now arraigned speech is the same: how to see infinity in a grain and divinity in wild flowers,” he said.

Bishop Paul Tan said he felt the speech was the pronouncement of a person whose stands firmly on the foundations of his religion “but his eyes survey the world.”

“Incidentally, that is a good standpoint from which to initiate interfaith harmony and understanding,” he observed.

Politics of Diversion in the Battle for Sarawak

Kuantan, Pahang

March 29, 2011

Of Blue Movies and Brown Noses –Politics of Diversion

by Mariam Mokhtar @

UMNO has served up a red herring in the shape of a sex video which was meant to make us take our eyes off the ball. They wanted us to forget about Sarawak and its chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The end game of the latest sex video is not an attempt by UMNO to hide its failures or an attempt to bring down opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The true intention of UMNO is to preoccupy us and bombard us with the details of this sex scandal so that we lose our focus – Sarawak.

UMNO’s attempts to discredit Anwar are getting clumsier and cruder by the day. It is a deliberate attempt at character assassination by people whose own reputations are themselves sullied.

Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik is one of the people behind this sex video. He was allegedly involved with an underaged girl. He is sore that in 1994, his ticket to millions was cut short by allegations of his sexual indiscretions.

Instead of being prosecuted, UMNO kept him firmly in the fold, possibly as a “sleeper” to do its dirty work in the future. Perhaps this is what that sex video is all about.

It was Lim Guan Eng, a DAP MP, who was jailed for sedition when he tried to seek justice for the girl concerned. The girl’s grandmother had pleaded with Lim to help her family. She did not go to the UMNO Malays to help her. That must say a lot about what ordinary Malays think of the political party which is supposedly theirs. UMNO Malays maintained an unhealthy silence to protect one of their own.

We do not know if Rahim was put up to this latest scandal by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Two decades ago, Rahim is said to escaped a heavy jail sentence by doing a deal with Mahathir. Now, perhaps, it has come time to return the favour and come to the defence of UMNO.

It is quite possible that if Rahim had refused to help UMNO, new incriminating evidence of the alleged links with the then-14 year old girl in 1994 would have materialised.

Who says new material cannot be unearthed at such a late stage? They did it for Teoh Beng Hock, didn’t they? The supposed ‘suicide note’ appeared months later, when the inquest into his mysterious death was nearing its conclusion.

This plan is only one of several that surfaced in the last few months. We had Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s personal ‘sperm bank’ and we’ve been entertained by Ummi Hafilda Ali’s and her virginity test. Now we have this sex video.

Getting the people titillated

This red herring, the sex video, has been planned with little games in place. It has got the people titillated. Is it Anwar in the movie or is it not? Is it Anwar’s doppelgänger or is it the despicable Shazryl Eskay Abdullah? Why was the Carcosa hotel selected? Why were the police slow to act?

This is what UMNO wanted – to distract us from Sarawak. The reality is that Najib wants to hide the problems of Sarawak from us.Taib Mahmud is in trouble. He is suffering from a two-pronged attack by Clare Rewcastle Brown and her weapons of mass deliverance (WMD) – the Sarawak Report website which details all of Taib’s corrupt and crooked business dealings, and Radio Free Sarawak which broadcasts interviews with ordinary people who have suffered at the hands of Taib.

The white-haired Taib, dubbed ‘The Termite’, has attracted much criticism over his unwillingness to step down or to groom his successors. He has also been hit by successive waves of accusations of corruption and nepotism. The anti-graft body Transparency International Malaysia has added its voice in asking the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the allegations.

The problem that Najib faces in Sarawak is Taib’s reluctance to hand over the reins. There are some who believe that Taib should not contest the polls; others feel that only he is capable of holding the coalition together and delivering the resource-rich state to Putrajaya, which considers Sarawak and Sabah as its “fixed-deposit” vote bank.

UMNO-BN are afraid of Anwar and Pakatan. There is no doubt about that. One has only to see the police intervention when Anwar spoke at a gathering in Gombak last Friday. The more Najib sends the thugs to silence Anwar, the more moderate Malaysians will end up supporting Anwar.

Anwar has become a symbol of oppression – his own, and ours. He has been pilloried and punched by the police before. And yet he has managed to drag himself up from the floor and become stronger.

Anwar being preoccupied with defending himself against this sex video was so that he would not be able to concentrate on Sarawak.

Taib running scared

Taib is running scared. He has attempted to enter the cyber-world with disastrous results. One victim of his foray into this cyber-war was the proofreader at the Borneo Post.

He corrected what he thought was a spelling error and inadvertently directed online readers to the original ‘Sarawak Report’ of Clare Rewcastle Brown. He has been sacked. This is Taib’s desperation and ruthlessness at work.

The battle-lines in Sarawak are already drawn. A few days ago, Snap was exposed as a potential political frog and would have damaged Pakatan in Sarawak, just like the political frogs which damaged Pakatan in Perak three years ago.

Sarawak is causing sleepless nights in Putrajaya and for Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who milked Malaysia dry, has now come out of the woodwork to defend UMNO-BN and Najib.

Sarawak has never experienced a more formidable opposition. In the past, Taib would have been able to intimidate, imprison or eliminate his opponents, if necessary. The sex video plan has backfired but there will be other dirty tactics up BN’s sleeves.

Anwar has galvanised Pakatan to such a degree that trying to topple him has become an impossible undertaking; a string of bounty hunters will get their shoulders to the task, to repay favours owed to Mahathir. We can expect more fireworks in the run-up to Sarawak polling day.

Video Sex Case: Rahim TC may escape prosecution

March 28, 2011

Video Sex Case: Thanks to A-G Gani Patail Rahim Thamby Chik may escape prosecution

by Clara Chooi @

A former senior police investigating officer said today that he did not expect Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik to be prosecuted over the sex video scandal because of the ultimate involvement of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General.

Former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim also accused Abdul Gani of hijacking an investigation against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1999 in order to conceal his role in “indemnifying” the former Malacca chief minister from being prosecuted for corruption.

The investigation, he explained, had been wrested from him and given instead to former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who was then an investigating officer.

Mat Zain added that the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had already issued a recommendation for Abdul Rahim to be prosecuted for four counts of corruption — three under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance and one for making a false Statutory Declaration, punishable under Section 193 of the Penal Code.

But according to a complaint by Anwar, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, then Attorney-General Tan Sri Mokhtar Abdullah and Abdul Gani, who was then a senior deputy public prosecutor, had “indemnified” Abdul Rahim from prosecution in exchange for his resignation from all government and political posts.

Mat Zaid wrote in an open letter to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar today that he expected the police to handle the ongoing investigations on the sex video case in a professional manner, but expressed concern that Abdul Gani’s participation would eventually see Abdul Rahim walking away a free man again.

“I am fully confident that the police are able to carry out their responsibilities in a professional and impartial manner and will not be influenced by outside pressures.However, this investigation will later be handled by Abdul Gani as the Attorney-General. It is at this stage where it is expected that manipulation, fraud and forgery will occur, particularly when one is aware of how Abdul Gani and Musa  Hassan handled the other cases involving Anwar and Abdul Rahim,” he told the IGP in his letter.

Mat Zain said the matter had first reached his hands when Anwar had sent him a copy of the ACA report against Abdul Rahim along with a police report on August 20, 1999. The report, he explained, was classified as “official secrets” and explained that the agency had compiled enough evidence to prove a “prima facie” case against Abdul Rahim.

“The ACA report was validated by the prosecution division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and signed by Abdul Gani who classified the document as ‘secret’.

“The documents were said to have been given to Anwar by the Attorney-General and/or Abdul Gani while Anwar was still the deputy prime minister,” he said.

Mat Zain explained that the A-G’s Chambers had wanted to classify the case under the Official Secrets Act 1972 while the police had suggested that the case be investigated under Section 2(1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance on abuse of powers.

He added that an investigation against Abdul Rahim under the Emergency Ordinance would involve the recording of statements from Dr Mahathir, the late Mokhtar, Gani and other prominent leaders.

“But on August 28, I received a letter from the A-G’s Chambers addressed personally to me, specifically stating that the report Anwar lodged against Abdul Rahim would be investigated by Musa as Abdul Gani had supposedly lodged a report against Anwar for committing an offence under the Official Secrets Act,” said Mat Zain, referring to Anwar’s exposure of the ACA report.

“To be clearer, I can say that the report involving Abdul Rahim was hijacked by Musa Hassan from the hands of the CID,” he added. Mat Zain, however, stressed that he had never seen the report purportedly lodged by Abdul Gani.

“And never before has the A-G’s Chambers ever chosen its own investigating officer to investigate a police report,” he said.

Mat Zain also attached a copy of the A-G’s Chamber’s notice to him in his letter to Ismail. “The comparison that can be drawn from here is that when it comes to handling an investigation against Anwar, Abdul Gani and Musa are willing to do whatever it takes, including forcing a government servant to prepare false reports, fabricate DNA evidence, cheat and do anything that is against the law and against all logic in order to convict Anwar,” he charged.

Mat Zain, who was the investigating officer in the infamous 1998 “black-eye” case involving Anwar, has repeatedly accused Abdul Gani of being corrupt and having committed numerous offences to protect his position.

Among others, he has claimed that Abdul Gani had falsified evidence in the probe against Anwar for his first sodomy trial, including the DNA evidence.

“Now, although Musa has retired, but Abdul Gani is still the A-G. So when this sex video investigation reaches him, it can be expect what his stand will be, especially since this video is yet another clash between Abdul Rahim and Anwar,” he said.

Mat Zain stressed that he had no personal vendetta against Abdul Rahim but was concerned that the sex video case would see the former chief minister getting off scot-free, despite his admission to his involvement in the caper.

Abdul Rahim, along with businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay, had last week admitted to being behind the sex video allegedly featuring Anwar having sex with a foreign prostitute.Anwar has since denied being the man in the tape and has gone on a nationwide campaign to convince voters of his innocence.

Letter dated March 28, 2011 from Former Kuala Lumpur CID Chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim to IGP Tan Sri Ismail Omar

(Please click on image below for a more readable copy of  the letter)

Biography of the Iconic Great Soul

March 28, 2011

Man in connection with the general life of humanity appears subject to laws which determine that life. But the same man apart from that connection appears to be free. How should the past life of nations and of humanity be regarded—as the result of the free, or as the result of the constrained, activity of man? That is a question for history“. (Epilogue 2, Ch. VIII), War and Peace, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Leo Tolstoy)

New York Times Book Review

How Gandhi became Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhiji)

By Geoffrey C. Ward*

Published: March 24, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India
By Joseph Lelyveld
Illustrated. 425 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $28.95.

Some years ago, the British writer Patrick French visited the Sabarmati ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat, the site from which Mahatma Gandhi led his salt march to the sea in 1930. French was so appalled by the noisome state of the latrines that he asked the ashram secretary whose job it was to clean them.

A sweeper woman stopped by for an hour a day, the functionary explained, but afterward things inevitably became filthy again.

But wasn’t it a central tenet of the Mahatma’s teachings that his followers clean up after themselves?

“We all clean the toilets together, on Gandhiji’s birthday,” the secretary answered, “as a symbol to show that we understand his message.”Gandhi had many messages, some ignored, some misunderstood, some as relevant today as

The Author of Great Soul

when first enunciated. Most Americans — many middle-class Indians, for that matter — know what they know about the Mahatma from Ben Kingsley’s Academy Award-winning screen portrayal. His was a mesmerizing performance, but the script barely hinted at the bewildering complexity of the real man, who was at the same time an earnest pilgrim and a wily politician, an advocate of celibacy and the architect of satyagraha (truth force), a revivalist, a revolutionary and a social reformer.

It is this last avatar that interests Joseph Lelyveld most. “Great Soul” concentrates on what he calls Gandhi’s “evolving sense of his constituency and social vision,” and his subsequent struggle to impose that vision on an India at once “worshipful and obdurate.” Lelyveld is especially qualified to write about Gandhi’s career on both sides of the Indian Ocean: he covered South Africa for The New York Times (winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for his book about apartheid, “Move Your Shadow”), and spent several years in the late 1960s reporting from India. He brings to his subject a reporter’s healthy skepticism and an old India hand’s stubborn fascination with the subcontinent and its people.

The Iconic Great Soul

This is not a full-scale biography. Nor is it for beginners. Lelyveld assumes his readers are familiar with the basic outlines of Gandhi’s life, and while the book includes a bare-bones chronology and is helpfully divided into South African and Indian sections, it moves backward and forward so often, it’s sometimes harder than it should be to follow the shifting course of Gandhi’s thought.

But “Great Soul” is a noteworthy book, nonetheless, vivid, nuanced and cleareyed. The two decades Gandhi spent in South Africa are too often seen merely as prelude. Lelyveld treats them with the seriousness they deserve. “I believe implicitly that all men are born equal,” Gandhi once wrote in the midst of one of his campaigns against untouchability. “I have fought this doctrine of superiority in South Africa inch by inch.”

It actually took a long time for the Mahatma to turn that implicit belief into explicit action, Lelyveld reminds us. When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived in Durban from Bombay in 1893, he was a natty 23-year-old British-trained lawyer, hired to help represent one wealthy Muslim Indian trader in a dreary civil suit against another, and primarily interested in matters of religion and diet, not politics: in an early advertisement he proclaimed himself an “Agent for the Esoteric Christian Union and the London Vegetarian Society.” But, Lelyveld writes, “South Africa . . . challenged him from the start to explain what he thought he was doing there in his brown skin.”

Initially, Gandhi was simply affronted that discriminatory laws and bigoted custom lumped

In London to see The King

educated well-to-do Indians like him with “coolies,” the impoverished mine, plantation and railroad workers who made up the bulk of the region’s immigrant Indian population. The nonviolent campaigns he waged to bring about equality between Indians and whites over the next 20 years would lead him — slowly and unsteadily, but inexorably — to advocate equality between Indian and Indian, first across caste and religious lines and then between rich and poor. (His identification with the aspirations of black people would not come until long after he had left Africa.)

As Lelyveld shows, the outcomes of Gandhi’s campaigns in South Africa were neither clear-cut nor long-lasting: after one, his own supporters beat him bloody because they thought he’d settled too quickly for a compromise with the government. But they taught him how to move the masses — not only middle-class Hindu and Muslim immigrants but the poorest of the poor as well. He had, as he himself said, found his “vocation in life.”

Soon after returning to India in 1915, Gandhi set forth what he called the “four pillars on which the structure of swaraj” — self-rule — “would ever rest”: an unshakable alliance between Hindus and Muslims; universal acceptance of the doctrine of nonviolence, as tenet, not tactic; the transformation of India’s approximately 650,000 villages by spinning and other self-sustaining handicrafts; and an end to the evil concept of untouchability. Lelyveld shrewdly examines Gandhi’s noble but doomed battles to achieve them all.

He made a host of enemies along the way — orthodox Hindus who believed him overly sympathetic to Muslims, Muslims who saw his calls for religious unity as part of a Hindu plot, Britons who thought him a charlatan, radical revolutionaries who believed him a reactionary. But no antagonist was more implacable than Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the brilliant, quick-tempered untouchable leader — still largely unknown in the West — who saw the Mahatma’s nonviolent efforts to eradicate untouchability as a sideshow at best. He even objected to the word ­Gandhi coined for his people — “Harijans” or “children of God” — as patronizing; he preferred “Dalits,” from the Sanskrit for “crushed,” “broken.”

Sometimes, Gandhi said Indian freedom would never come until untouchability was expunged; sometimes he argued that untouchability could be eliminated only after independence was won. He was unapologetic about that kind of inconsistency. “I can’t devote myself entirely to untouchability and say, ‘Neglect Hindu-Muslim unity or swaraj,’ ” he told a friend. “All these things run into one another and are interdependent. You will find at one time in my life an emphasis on one thing, at another time on [an]other. But that is just like a pianist, now emphasizing one note and now [an]other.” It was also like the politician he said he was, always careful to balance the demands of one group of constituents against those of another.

As Lelyveld has written in “Move Your Shadow,” “Gandhi had hoped to bring about India’s freedom as the moral achievement of millions of individual Indians, as the result of a social revolution in which the collapse of alien rule would be little more than a byproduct of a struggle for self-reliance and economic equality.” Foreign rule did collapse, in the end, “but strife and inequality among Indians ­worsened.”

Gandhi is still routinely called “the father of the nation” in India, but it is hard to see what remains of him beyond what Lelyveld calls his “nimbus.” His notions about sex and spinning and simple living have long since been abandoned. Hindu-Muslim tension still smolders just beneath the uneasy surface. Untouchability survives, too, and standard-issue polychrome statues of Ambedkar in red tie and double-breasted electric-blue suit now outnumber those of the sparsely clothed Mahatma wherever Dalits are still crowded together.

Gandhi saw most of this coming and sometimes despaired. The real tragedy of his life, Lelyveld argues, was “not because he was assassinated, nor because his noblest qualities inflamed the hatred in his killer’s heart. The tragic element is that he was ultimately forced, like Lear, to see the limits of his ambition to remake his world.”

Nonetheless, Lelyveld also writes, while he may have “struggled with doubt and self until his last days,” Gandhi “made the predicament of the millions his own, whatever the tensions among them, as no other leader of modern times has.” And, for all his inconsistencies, his dream for India remained constant throughout his life. “Today,” Gandhi wrote less than three weeks before he was murdered by a member of his own faith, “we must forget that we are Hindus or Sikhs or Muslims or Parsis. . . . It is of no consequence by what name we call God in our homes.”

That was a revolutionary notion when he first urged Indians to unite against their oppressors in South Africa before the turn of the 20th century. It was revolutionary when he came home to India at the time of World War I, and still revolutionary in 1947 when India was simultaneously liberated and ripped apart by the religious hatred he had repeatedly risked his life to quell, and sadly, it remains revolutionary today — for India and, by extension, for the wider world as well.

*Geoffrey C. Ward, a biographer and a screenwriter for documentary films, spent part of his boyhood in India and is currently writing a book about partition.

More on Daim On Anwar

March 28, 2011

Kuantan, Pahang

Daim on Anwar: Unravelling Fact from Fiction

by Terence

How to disentangle fact from fiction, how to extract the kernel of truth from the husk of musings Daim Zainuddin aired yesterday in the Utusan Malaysia, a paper that has made it its mission to destroy the main subject of the interview: Anwar Ibrahim?

First, that the usually taciturn Daim has spoken at all is in itself remarkable because of a preference for the shadowy corners of public life where he is able to defy categorisation.

Daim is a lawyer who disdains legal work, a businessman whose holdings are unlisted because of clever use of proxies, an economist who learned about the dismal science from another lawyer-cum-economist (James Puthucheary), and a political soothsayer who has been spot-on – he predicted, before the last general election that the BN would do badly in Kedah and Selangor, and was proven right.

Because of the strong nexus between business and politics forged in the last three decades of the country’s economic progress, Daim was able to inhabit the shadowy corners of politics where self-serving ambition can be hidden behind official policy.

Precisely because so many politicians have labels around them, this man of no labels is intriguing: he is respected and despised in equal measure.

His assessment of Anwar Ibrahim is vented at a time when the Sodomy II case against the opposition leader is wobbling badly and a sex video that purports to show him in a compromising situation with a sex worker is badly boomeranging on UMNO.

It would seem that try their damndest as they are wont, UMNO cannot slay the beast. So, in the prelude to a state poll in Sarawak, Daim is called upon by forces reduced to desperation by the seeming failure of their interdictory ardours, to weigh in for a late rescue of a fading cause: the resuscitation of BN by denigration of its principal tormentor, Anwar Ibrahim.

More political theater

In sum, what is Daim saying about Anwar? That Anwar’s fall in UMNO was occasioned by his own blemishes rather than through a conspiracy; that he is a political chameleon who will sacrifice principle for popularity any day; that he came up in Umno because of Dr Mahathir Mohamed‘s patronage and the party’s machinery; that he is an incompetent administrator whose party (PKR) is his stool pigeon and which is part of a coalition (Pakatan Rakyat) that is a marriage of threadbare convenience; and that the Anwar-led Pakatan have not the vision nor the skill to match BN’s proven track record of bringing progress to the Malaysian polity: and that enough of the electorate know of Anwar’s ineptitude to disbelieve that he could reform Malaysian politics and bring about development and progress.

The criticisms have to be mulled in all their scatter-shot detail to figure out if Daim has made a plausible case for the forestalling of the Anwar Ibrahim from the office of prime minister of Malaysia?

No doubt, in the next few days the public will be treated to expostulations and replies by the affected parties. These will get them no closer to the actual picture.

All the public will be witness to is another round of the cut-and-thrust of political debate, political theater that will only freeze each side in the positions they have already dug into.

A gaping void in body politic

But if you shed every jot of malice and tittle of triviality from the salvos each side fires at the other, you will arrive at a gaping void: that there is no reliable way you could come to an assessment of the truth of what each side says because of dereliction of the duty of the media to inform with fact and enlighten with insight over the years.

This was a dereliction in which UMNO was complicit, particularly in the period when it was led by the man, Mahathir, whom Daim served.

If and when Anwar becomes PM, he does rectify this gaping hole in the body politic, he will have more than compensated for the faults Daim plausibly attributes to him: his lack of administrative panache and his successful fight for the reversion of English-use as part of the medium of instruction in schools.

Of course, Anwar as PM means that Daim’s thus far remarkable occupancy of the murkier corners of Malaysian politics where reality slides around idealism would no longer be tenable. That alone is reason enough to vet what he now says about Anwar for the self-protective anxiety the hypothesis of Anwar as PM is apt to stir in him.

Daim on Anwar Ibrahim

March 27, 2011

Daim on Anwar:reminds us of the main character in Christopher Marlowe‘s play, Dr Faustus

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has described Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as a party that lives because of, and only for, Anwar Ibrahim.  He said the opposition pact not only devoid of a strong political foundation, but PKR itself, of which Anwar is the de facto leader, was mired in problems.

“Can PKR remain the core of the (opposition) pact and can a pact like this convince the people that it can guarantee a better future for the people and the country compared to UMNO and the BN, which have been building the country over the past 50 years?” he said in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, published today.

Daim, who is a former special functions minister and finance minister, said an opposition that was relevant would be the one that was able “to provide a check and balance to the government, one that is not chauvinistic and not having a tunnel vision, and one that is able to unite Malaysians of various races.”

Daim said: “If we look at the opposition parties now, it is clear that they have not lost their direction. It just that, each of them has their own directions. They are just a marriage of convenience,” he said.

Daim also said that the opposition pact was “plagiarising” the BN’s format but “they do this only half way, and not in full, and this is not a compelling alternative to the people.”

Pakatan Rakyat, like I once said, is only a political conspiracy. I foresee that this group will not be able to reach consensus on important national matters because they are obsessed with their own stands and principles,” he said.

He also slammed Anwar for  being inconsistent.  “Ask Anwar’s friends, they say Anwar has been wearing all kinds of masks since he was in the university. When he was the ‘pelampau bahasa Melayu’ (Malay language extremist), the English language was sidelined and many of our children, who were born after 1969, lost their English language competencies. In the world of globalisation, the Internet and communication technology, lack of proficiency in English is a backwardness,” he said.

“But it appears that Anwar is now a fighter of multi-culturalism and utopian liberalism, to the extent that some are questioning the positions of the Malay Rulers. This kind of attitude and political action, which forgo all self-esteem, dignity, standings and principles in order to gain support, reminds us of the main character in Christopher Marlowe’s play, Dr Faustus,” Daim said.

Daim also said that Anwar’s sacking from UMNO was not due to political conspiracy, and said that the conspiracy theory was Anwar’s own making because he wanted to portray himself as “The Fall Guy” in order to attract sympathy and to cover up the blemishes of his own personality.

He added that without the then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and UMNO’s machinery behind him, Anwar would have never become the party’s deputy president. To the eyes of the public at large, he said, Anwar did not have any extraordinary capability as an administrator.  There was no reform carried out in the ministries he had helmed as a minister then, he said.

“He is an orator who has the ability to flare up his audience’s emotions even if his speeches contain only political nightmare. Based on this, the people nowadays are no longer convinced that Anwar can be an effective leader even upon the disposal of his court case,” he added. BERNAMA

Relax with Dino and Como

March 27, 2011

Relax with Dean Martin and Perry Como

Let us take a trip down memory lane with Dino and Perry. Those were times when life was less political, less confusing and down right simple. Time can never erase these magic moments when we were respectful of one another. Optimistically, we say it is all possible again if we are less self absorbed.–Dr Kamsiah and Din Merican

Dino-On an Evening in Roma

Perry Como–And I love You So

The New Unholy Trinity’s Sex Video: Stop This Gutter Politics

March 26, 2011

The New Unholy Trinity’s Sex Video: Stop This Gutter Politics

by Din Merican

It seemed so timely; the Sarawak State elections was announced on Monday. At the same time, editors and senior reporters from the  government controlled mainstream media and also the alternative media were invited to a film screening by Dato T. The screening was actually a public display of pornography.

The New Unholy Trinity: Rahim, Eskay and Shuib G-Trio

And it turns out that Dato T stands for a trio of personalities comprising  former  disgraced Melaka Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, a frustrated  businessman Datuk Shazryl Eskay Abdullah and a misguided  former Senator Dato’ Shuib Lazim from Merbok, Kedah, more like an Unholy Trinity. This Unholy Trinity was soon joined by other colorful personalities to chastise Anwar Ibrahim who is purportedly the actor in that sex video.

More colorful personalities came out to vociferously condemn Anwar Ibrahim of immoral acts  demanding that he stepped step down for the country’s sake. The most notable is one arm of that Unholy Trinity, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik. Another is the MCA President Dato’ Seri Chua Soi Lek. Let’s just look closely at these two characters and think.

Sir Galahad Lim Guan Eng punished

Rahim was implicated in a statutory rape of an underaged girl while still occupying the office of Chief Minister of Melaka. To deflect his guilt and with the help of then Prime Minister , the young girl was portrayed as a loose girl who had sex with multiple partners. In the end, some youngsters were charged, the girl was placed in a reform home and Sir  Galahad Lim Guan Eng spent 3 years behind bars for standing up for the girl’s rights. Rahim Thamby Chik went scot free.

“Politik Balas Dendam” enters Malaysian Political Lexicon

To this day, that dastardly act still stains the Melaka Chief Minister’s office, literally and metaphorically. Literally, because at that time, reports had surfaced of seminal stains found in that office. That gave the impression that there were other activities that were carried out beyond just the normal business of government. It made the office of the Chief Minister of Melaka like a brothel instead of the seat of government.

Rahim blamed Anwar for causing him to lose his political office which till today he has failed to regain. While Rahim clearly used this opportunity as pay back time, many would agree with me that with such a background, Rahim Thamby Chik is the most inappropriate person to talk about character and morality.

Porn Star MCA President

Then we have Chua Soi Lek. This former Minister of Health seemed to carry out his role as a doctor beyond just examining a patient. He behaved more like Dr Love and appeared rather proud that he did not do too badly when caught performing sexual acts in a hotel in Muar. That was why he was brave enough to admit being the actor in that pornographic CD.

Although he stepped down as Health Minister, that did not seem to matter to the  Malaysian Chinese Association when its members rejected Ong Tee Keat as President and made Chua their leader. The pornography CD– on YouTube– which was widely circulated may, in fact, have made him a hero amongst the Chinese men obsessed with sexual prowess. Otherwise, how else does one explain his victory against  the more sedate and suave Ong.

Ong Tee Keat is the Good MCA Apple, says Robert Phang

During his recent talk at Sooka Sentral, Tan Sri Robert Phang gave a very apt description of the two men when explaining why at that time he took out newspaper advertisements to support Ong . Phang said – “It is not that I support Ong Tee Keat. I don’t know him very well. It was this simple to look at these two men: one is a good apple and the other is a rotten one. How can I or the Chinese people bite and swallow a rotten apple?” Today, Chua Soi Lek is President of MCA, the most important of the BN’s component parties. That is the quality of our political leadership today.

It is audacious that people of such backgrounds could now ride the moral high horse to demand for a royal commission of inquiry into the sex video. While the identity of the  actors in the recent pornographic video are still uncertain, what is certain is that Dato’ Trio have committed the following offences:

a) Section 5 of the the Film Censorship Act 2002  provides that “no person shall have in his possession, control or ownership of any film material which is obscene or against public decency and that no person shall circulate, exhibit or distribute these film materials, and anyone guilty of it can be jailed not more than five years or fined between RM10,000/- and RM15,000/- or both;

b) Section 292 of the Penal Code, which is similar to Section 5 of the Film Censorship Act but with a lighter imprisonment of up to three years, or a fine, or both;

c) Section 499 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation since it is to cause disrepute against the Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim;

d) Section 503 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation since Dato’ T have clearly stated that they wanted Anwar Ibrahim to quit politics.

IGP Ismail Omar: Do What is Right

Given these clear provisions of the Law, I would like to see some action and genuine legal advice from A-G Gani Patail to IGP Ismail Omar. Already Ismail Omar has failed the first test when he opened his mouth to make this no brainer retort to reporters –  “What offence (did they commit), you tell me?” when asked why the Trio were not arrested.

Last week I asked Ismail Omar to wake up and do the right thing. Obviously Ismail Omar needs some guidance on the provisions of the Law as to the kinds of offences that this case can come under. Granted that an IGP may not know all the Laws of the country. However, Ismail Omar is a law graduate himself and the Penal Code is the principal Law of the country for criminal offences. Thus, I find it alarming that the IGP does not know these basic laws. So, I will ask Ismail again- Please wake up, the Rakyat is watching you!

I would like to conclude this piece by reproducing the Press Statement by my friend, Anti-Corruption Crusader Tan Sri Robert Phang. Once again, I call on our leadership – Stop this Gutter Politics!

ON  March 25, 2011 ON DATO’  T Video

“I had issued an offer of a RM100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand) reward to anyone who is able to provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of one “Datuk T” for rumour mongering and causing public unrest.

Yesterday “Datuk T” surfaced to identify himself. Thus, the offer is rescinded. At the same time, I call on the police to fully investigate this matter and for the AG to prosecute the right party once an offence has been identified. Underlying this whole thing is the principle of justice and truth. No one should be maligned publicly for certain objectives- whether political or personal.

I made that offer because I had myself been a victim of such malicious rumour mongering and persecution. I am sure those who had suffered such venomous attacks would agree with me. Our Minister for Communication YB Rais Yatim was recently such a victim of false allegations of rape. There were also others amongst the top echelons of our leadership including being victims of allegations of murder. Thus, as a matter of principle we should reject such acts which would sink our country into the abyss of Gutter Politics as in the saying ” Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” Islam also condemns “Fitnah” (slander) as in the saying “Fitnah is worse that murder.”

The politics of this country is reflective of our mindset. Our leaders should be exemplary of how we should behave. If we are pre-occupied with perverse issues, do we want our future generation to do the same? Where will that bring our country?

The politics of governing should be based on the Rule of Law and not by the Law of the Jungle. If laws and conventions are not followed in passing laws, these are not just bad laws but also bad leadership.

Recently, a brave High Court Judge from Kota Kinabalu struck down the Constitutional amendment that permitted the Federal Govt to appoint Judicial Commissioners without consulting the YDP Negeri of Sabah and Sarawak. While the act of that brave Judge is to be lauded, that is also a reminder that our Federal Govt must respect and adhere to the promises made during the formation of Malaysia. Rights cannot just be disregarded or removed. We are constantly reminded of the Social Contract that has enabled the people of all races to live peacefully and harmoniously since our Independence. Thus, as we approach the Sarawak State Elections, I hope those vying for the people’s vote would be reminded that they would later be held accountable for all the promises they make during election campaigns.

I pray that there will be a peaceful and orderly state elections and I call upon all sides to act in accordance with the directions of the Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) which should also act impartially to ensure a Free and Fair Elections.

Tan Sri Robert Phang
Social Care Foundation

Terrence Netto’s Comments:

UMNO bent on puling Anwar down by the pants

March 26, 2011

Right now, for Anwar Ibrahim a bunker in Benghazi under siege from a crumbling dictator would be a safer place than any redoubt he might chance to have, either in in Segambut Dalam, where he has his house, or even Cherok Tok Kun, his village back in Permatang Pauh.

Barely had he emerged from what turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory – the refusal of the court, reversed subsequently, to allow personal effects from his brief incarceration in Sodomy II as items for DNA procurement – than he found himself bushwhacked by a sex video purportedly capturing him in flagrante delicto with a sex worker.

As if that were not enough bother for one phase of a preternaturally tumultuous life, Anwar is now under investigation for promoting religious pluralism.

A speech he delivered at the London School of Economics in March 2010 is under investigation, so said the de facto religious affairs minister, Jamil Khir Baharom, for possible religious deviancy.

If you thought that the ongoing and interminable Sodomy II, combined with his six-month suspension from Parliament over APCO, would strike his besiegers as enough to keep their quarry nicely enmeshed; apparently, this is not reckoned to be sufficient.

A sex tape and probable religious aberrancy have now been added to the bill of sundry indictments against Anwar.His adversaries’ obsession with him has bordered on the pathological just when Anwar has come through a phase when errors in his judgment with respect to PKR affairs such as its divisive internal elections and its detrimental aftereffects, leadership issues in its Sabah chapter, and to a lesser extent also in its Sarawak division – have combined to detract from his standing as a potential prime minister.

The smart money would have been on him continuing to expose his feet of clay and allowing that impression to ripple across the political terrain. But no, his adversaries are not content to wait for that. They are bent on pulling him by the pants down.  That much won’t appease them either. They are now trying to divest him of his skullcap.

One will have to search hard for a precedent in modern history for this kind of treatment, except in despotisms of the right and left. We have to use a metaphor, of despotic provenance, to describe it: Stalinist.

Not since Joseph Stalin pursued his rival Leon Trotsky, whose skull was split by an assassin’s axe in 1941, has there been a feud as malignant as that between a rabid UMNO and Anwar Ibrahim.

It must be said that the vendetta is pursued mainly from one side, with Anwar the target more than reciprocal antagonist. It’s a hugely distorting antagonism that has deepened the blight to institutions – the judiciary, police force and mainstream media – that were already sliding into the decay which has given Anwar’s career its raison de’tre since 1998 when he was sacked from UMNO and the government.

But even if Anwar had not joined UMNO and the BN government in 1982, his career would be incandescent because it is linked to what has become a world-historical issue: whether Islam is compatible with democracy.

This issue has been hogging the world’s attention the way the Japan earthquake and its collateral issue – nuclear energy – have done the past month, but unlike the latter, is not likely to recede to the margins over time.

It is what is called the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, a question that is set to be determined in this age and times. This makes the decision of the government to investigate Anwar for purveying Islamic pluralism over a speech, ‘Religion and Pluralism in a Divided World,’ he delivered at a colloquium in London a year ago an attempt to trap a bird that has irrevocably flown its cage.

Nothing gives the lie to the 1Malaysia concept of national concord espoused by Prime Minister Najib Razak as the hectoring of Anwar for, essentially, propounding the view that Islam is compatible with democracy, the line he has been purveying throughout his career.

If anything, that view would help give heft and weight to the 1Malaysia concept of the PM, if that concept ever had anything more substantive than its merely pleasant phonetics going for it. That Najib’s surrogates in party and government don’t know this marks the gulf in substance that separates them from the target of their lunatic obsession.

Gombak PR Function Halted by PDRM

March 26, 2011

Gombak PR(Pakatan Rakyat) Function halted by PDRM (Police)

A Pakatan Rakyat (PR) function here turned ugly last night (March 25, 2011) when policemen  and Special Branch personnel stopped Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from speaking, resulting in an angry mob attacking the Police(PDRM).

Anwar, who was the last speaker for the night, had spoken for about 13 minutes before the Police intervened. He was given 15 minutes to speak. The presence of a fully-armed 10-man Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) team did not sit with the crowd well, who mostly consisted of PR supporters. The crowd began throwing chairs and water bottles at the Police when they (the police) tried to stop Anwar from speaking.–Din Merican