Like it or not, it’s Joceline’s Take


November 30, 2012

Najib’s Battle cry moves delegates to tears

ANALYSIS
By Joceline Tan@www.thestar.com.my

Tears flowed among those listening to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presidential speech when he appealed to the party to defend what the forefathers had put in place.

Najib at Umno GATHIS is UMNO’s 66th general assembly and given that the number 66 means double luck, this should be UMNO’s propitious year.

Everyone needs some luck to succeed but going by the tone of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presidential address, it looks like he prefers to depend on the loyalty, commitment and discipline of his party members to make it through the next general election.

The UMNO President’s speech at the opening of the party’s annual meeting began and ended on a fierce note. He wanted to rally the troops, to put them in the mood for what he stated quite plainly as the final assembly before the polls.

Presidential addresses are normally quite formal and policy-based but as many noted, his speech this year was less formal and had a political rally style to it. Beyond the battle cry, it was an overwhelming political speech that argued why UMNO deserved to be returned to power.

“His speech was about putting us on track for the general election,” said Wanita UMNO Permanent Chairman Tan Sri Napsiah Omar.

The polls are no longer a secret – everyone seems to think it will be in March – and this was his last great opportunity to address the troops under one roof.He spelt out what the party had accomplished and when it came to the Opposition, the gloves came off.

A large part of his speech was about exposing the contradictions and mistakes of the Pakatan Rakyat parties.He poked fun at the politics of nepotism in DAP and PKR and pointed out their weakness especially in the states currently administered by Pakatan.

Some delegates read it as the President telling them: “These are your political bullets to use when you go out to campaign.”

The hardcore UMNO segment, however, found it rather too general for their liking because they have always preferred a distinctly Malay-Muslim overtone for such speeches.But the President was not only speaking to delegates but also to those beyond the walls of the PWTC.

In fact, midway into his speech, just as he was about to argue about why the Barisan Nasional was a more worthy political choice, he addressed the audience as Rakyat Malaysia yang dikasihi sekalian (to all beloved Malaysians).

Besides, the battle cry this time is: Hidup UMNO! Hidup Barisan! Hidup Malaysia! But Najib’s primary message to the troops was that they must be disciplined and follow instructions if they wanted the party to win. He drew on Islamic history, especially the battles of Badar and Uhud to illustrate his case.

He stressed to his party that the new political landscape includes some 2.9 million new voters, which means that one out of every five voters in the next general election will be a first-time voter.

If UMNO wants to reach out to this group, it must field winnable candidates who appeal to the general voter. He spelled out that the old political culture of sabotage among UMNO warlords had to go.

Kelantan delegate Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad put it with his usual dash of wit: “It’s about choosing the best players, the ones who can score goals. Those who cause trouble for the team, we have to send them out of the stadium.”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has not missed a single UMNO Assembly since Najib became Prime Minister, was there, listening to every word.He is on the same page as Najib on winnable candidates and he has also spoken out against internal sabotage.

Dr Mahathir said it again yesterday as he was leaving the venue. Just as he was getting into the car, he told the group sending him off: “Please remember, whomever the President picks, all of you must follow.”

Tun-Abdullah-Ahmad-badawi

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who could not make it last year, was also present to show his support for Najib. However, as ties between the two Tuns appeared to be still rather icy, the organisers had very tactfully placed eight other VIPs between the pair.

As some delegates noted, the two Tuns may not be with each other but they are both firmly with Najib. The party may not be relying on luck to win, but it is certainly riding on a lot of prayers. Almost everyone who spoke at the assembly took the opportunity to recite a prayer for Muslim unity and for the party to succeed.

Of course, all that praying was also to show its rival PAS that this is the way to pray and that prayers are to seek divine blessing and guidance and not for wishing ill and harm on others.

Observers noted that many of those who took part in the debate had been quite emotional. A number of them, the men included, came close to tears as they pledged to help the party hold onto Putrajaya.

Najib himself brought out the emotions in those listening to his speech when he said: “We were born here where our first cry was heard. Where our families began and where we charted our future. With the grace of God, this is where we will rest eternally.

“Fill this blessed land with people who love peace. Prosper this land with overflowing bounty. Have reverence for good deeds. Defend our sovereignty and Putrajaya because a new dawn will bring new hope for our beloved country.”

It brought everyone in the hall to their feet as the tears flowed.“I don’t mind saying it, I cried too,” said Napsiah.

The Deepak Expose


November 30, 2012

The Deepak Expose : The Scorpene Scandal and the Murder that refuses to fade away

by John Berthelsen @www.asiasentinel.com

A key figure says he helped PM’s wife get a witness out of town

Deepak-The Carpet DealerA key figure involved in the cover-up of the spectacular 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu appears to have gone off the reservation, giving interviews to opposition media hinting at the involvement of Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in the conspiracy.

Deepak Jaikishan (left), a Kuala Lumpur-based carpet dealer who reportedly was Mansor’s business partner in the past, allegedly promised RM5 million to get out of the country to a private detective who charged that Najib had been Altantuya’s former lover, after the detective filed a sworn declaration describing his knowledge of the affair between the two and giving excruciating details of sexual practices, among other specifics.

The detective, Perumal Balasubramaniam, was terrorized after being dragooned into a Kuala Lumpur police station and told his family was in danger. He immediately decamped for Chennai, India after being promised the money to recant his declaration. He has remained outside of Malaysia, issuing periodic statements giving additional details of the affairs as well as alleged attempts by Najib’s forces to cajole him into coming back and blame Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for the whole thing.

Altantuya, named in French Police documents as a translator, was murdered in October 2006 by two members of an elite police unit operating under Najib’s jurisdiction. The two were later convicted and sentenced to death for the crime. Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib’s closest associates and according to French prosecuting magistrates’ documents the alleged conduit for a €114 million bribe to the United Malays National Organization for the purchase of submarines from the French defense contractor DCN and its subsidiaries, was acquitted of the crime.

Razak Baginda had been Altantuya’s lover, supposedly after Najib had given her up, according to Balasubramaniam’s sworn declaration. Immediately on being cleared without having to put on a defense, Razak Baginda fled to the UK with his wife, where he has remained ever since.

Attempts to reach Jaikishan by Asia Sentinel have been unsuccessful. He first contacted Harakan Daily, the Malay-language newspaper operated by Parti Islam se-Malaysia, the Islamic opposition leg of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat headed by Anwar, and later gave an interview to Malaysiakini, the Kuala Lumpur-based independent online news website, describing additional details. Additional interviews have also been carried by the Malaysia Chronicle, another opposition website.

In the interviews, Jaikishan acknowledged that Najib and Rosmah had asked for his help in dealing with Balasubramaniam. In a translated interview, he told Harakan Daily that “Maybe my mistake was helping in the case of Bala, getting involved in Bala’s case to help the family of the Prime Minister. That was when I became famous. I don’t like it. I’d like to be low profile.”

In the Harakan interview, Jaikishan compared his involvement in Balasubramaniam’s case to rescuing a drowning friend. “So I jumped into the pool to help a friend,” he said. I felt at that time, I was the only one (they) sought for help.” He quickly responded: “Najib’s family” when asked whom he meant by ‘theirs.’

Jaikisan’s motives are unclear, sources in Kuala Lumpur told Asia Sentinel. One of the articles made a veiled reference to a belief that he hadn’t been given proper thanks for his efforts. One well-wired businessman in Kuala Lumpur said Jaikishan was known to have become close to Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister and a putative rival for the premiership should Najib stumble.

“It’s an UMNO play”, the source said. “Deepak claims he is now very close to Muhyiddin. The timing of his solicited interviews – he called the news portals and offered himself – on the eve of the UMNO assembly suggests he wanted to embarrass Najib and Rosmah.”

Another lawyer close to the Mahathir wing of UMNO said that was nonsense, and that there was no trouble between the two. He pointed to the fact that the interviews had all been given to anti-government media as an indication that he was acting for Anwar’s coalition.

In any case, the repeated interviews, including one in which Jaikishan accused the head of the women’ wing of the party of having been involved in a massive land scam that benefited Najib and his family, are significantly damaging to the Prime Minister, who has been fighting rumors of involvement in the Altantuya affair for the entire six years since the 28-year-old woman was murdered and her body was blown up with C4 military explosives.

French Lawyers

Yesterday in Singapore, Apoline Cagnat, a lawyer with the French human rights law firm headed by William Bourdon, said Najib and Abdul Razak Baginda are “priority witnesses” in the investigation into bribes and kickbacks totaling about €150 million in the sale of Scorpene submarines to the Malaysian Ministry of Defense — the initial €114 million routed through Razak Baginda’s wholly-owned company Perimekar Sdn. Bhd and a second €39 million routed through a Hong Kong-based paper company called Terasasi HK Ltd. which had no known business affairs and which was wholly owned by Razak Baginda and his father .

It is highly unlikely, however, that the French authorities probing the scandal would be able to persuade the head of a sovereign state, especially one who is suspected of helping to facilitate the transfer of kickbacks to UMNO to testify. It is also difficult to imagine what they would be willing to add to the dialogue about the case if indeed they were called to testify.

However, both the French investigation and the Jaikishan comments spell continuing trouble for Najib on the domestic political front, and within his political party. The ruling national coalition has been seeking the appropriate time to hold national elections for more than a year but has continued to put them off for a variety of reasons including a long string of scandals over cost overruns on a big port modernization at Port Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur, as well as the so-called Cattlegate scandal in which the family of the minister for women’s affairs allegedly looted a cattle-slaughtering scheme of tens of millions of ringgit for their personal use.

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5006&Itemid=178

UMNO Presidential Address: “Transformative Leadership towards the National Vision.”


November 29, 2012

UMNO Presidential Address

Bernama

The following is the English translation of the policy speech delivered by Prime Minister and UMNO President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 2012 UMNO General Assembly at the Merdeka Hall of the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, November 29, 2012.

“Transformative Leadership towards the National Vision.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Praise be to God. In a great sense of humility, we are gathered once again to discharge our usual responsibility as an organisation in holding the annual general assembly of our beloved party, the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO.

2. Indeed, such a gathering is not merely a ritual in fulfilling the requirement of the organisation’s calendar. Rather, it is a great resolve to implement the process of reflection and rejuvenation by rectifying weaknesses, strengthening the party machinery, enriching the direction of the organisation, and thus ensuring the survival of the fold.

3. As we all know, this is the last general assembly before the 13th General Election. The Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), if it is not dissolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister, will dissolve by itself on 28 April 2013.

4. Therefore, each one of us, regardless of whether they are our brothers and sisters down there, the ladies and gentlemen who have taken up the space above, not to mention the leaders here and, of course, the so many UMNO members wherever they may be, even the anonymous, those without any position or rank, no matter if they have never stepped into this blessed hall, I believe all of us can feel the intensity of the gust in the direction of the battle ground’.

5. Most obviously, we can feel that our party has improved in spirit. We are confident that the party machinery, from the branches to the divisions, liaison and national levels, is also prepared to face the coming general election.

6. Now, the reverberating signals and the resonating drums are gaining momentum. The time has come to take the necessary steps, the time is due to streamline teams, the moment has arrived to buckle up the horses. Carrying our respective roles, let’s go back to the people to renew the mandate.

7. At the same time, brothers and sisters, let’s pray as much as we can that, with God’s blessings, when we meet at this Merdeka Hall next year, we will gather again backed by strong support as the ruling party to manage the nation’s interests and to prosper the economy and the people over the next five years.

8. In fact, even more than that, I hope that with the blessings of the Almighty, we will remain the ruling party that will raise Malaysia to the ranks of a developed nation when 2020 dawns.

9. Nevertheless, while we fan the fire of the fighting spirit, let’s not forget the past. Remember, the 12th General Election in March 2008 was a very bitter experience, most painful, in the political history of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional.

10. In this regard, I believe that the waves, storms and resistance of these years have really instilled awareness in the minds of all.

11. For a political party that has buttressed the Federal Government for more than half a century, the bitter episode should serve as a lesson for us all. In fact, it was a clear signal of the Malaysian people to UMNO and its partners in the Barisan Nasional to change, according to the tastes, aspirations and expectations of the people.

12. What is certain is that we cannot just go on talking and procrastinating. We need to intensify our actions and redouble our efforts. Only in this way will UMNO continue to be noticed, always taken into account and eternally cared for by the people.

13. As such, in the period of less than four years since I and my colleagues were entrusted with the leadership of the party and government, we have tirelessly worked hard to fulfill the needs and wants of the people.

14. Despite facing various difficulties and challenges, we were steadfast in striving to restore the trust, confidence and support of the people in the party and government.

15. Indeed, what could have been done inconsequentially or arbitrarily during this period was allowed to be widely negotiated and heard, in keeping with the principle that the era of the government knows best and having monopoly over wisdom is over.

16. Hence, recounting the journey of this leadership, we have actually chalked up very commendable outcomes. Among others, we succeeded in shielding Malaysia from the global economic crisis, placed it back on the path of sustainable growth and got us out of the middle-income country trap. Furthermore, we mapped out a rigorous and detailed journey for Malaysia to achieve the status of a high-income developed nation.

17. In aspiring for victory and perpetuity as a political organisation, we should glance back for a moment before moving ahead so as to know where our party stands. Is it in a better position than yesterday’s? Have we made enough preparations for the days ahead?

18. Certainly, in overcoming the major obstacles of our struggle, the concrete steps forward must be taken with prudence and wisdom, sincerely putting the people’s interests first, but not with trickery, empty promises, deceit or Fata Morgana (mirage). Only then will all our quests receive the blessings of God.

19. With this realisation and spirit, let us consider the demographic reality of Malaysia that has undergone a radical change. The majority of the 29 million population of today was born after Malaysia Day, with nearly 70 per cent living in the urban areas. Forty per cent are aged 17 to 23 and are pursuing various levels of post-secondary education.

20. Eighty per cent are those under the age of 45 while half of our people are under the age of 25.

21. Another important factor is that the transformation of voters, particularly, and Malaysians, in general, did not occur within a day or two, but had been taking place, little by little, for more than five decades. It was driven by the success of the policies and programmes initiated by the Alliance Government and continued later by the Barisan Nasional Government.

22. In fact, the improved standard of living; urbanisation; access to education and the progress of information technology, communications and transportation have changed the preferences, tastes, value systems and profile of the Malaysian voter. The tastes and expectations, particularly of the young people, have changed drastically. Furthermore, the average voter is now better informed and critical in nature.

23. Besides, it is a fact that since March 2008, there are 2.9 million new voters, regardless of age group.This figure, ladies and gentlemen, is very significant because it represents more than one-fifth of the total number of Malaysian voters, which is 13.1 million. This means that one in every five voters at the 13th General Election will be a new voter or a first-time voter.

24. In facing the current political challenges and tribulations, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional cannot afford to feel relieved and take it easy, hoping for the people’s support based on the nostalgia over past deeds or what the party and government has done so far.

25. Considering these challenges, the 13th General Election poses an option for us, that is whether we, as individuals or collectively, desire victory for the party or otherwise.

26. At the same time, talking of the system of parliamentary democracy, such as in Malaysia, the Government is formed by a political party or a coalition of political parties that win the majority of seats in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives). This means, winning a majority of the 222 seats up for contest determines the continuity of the Barisan Nasional government.

27. However, victory in the elections actually depends on many factors, such as voters in a locality, the efficiency of the machinery in every division and the candidates fielded. Additionally, the current reality is that the people’s support for the national and state leadership does not necessarily translate into votes for the party’s candidates in a locality.

28. It is said that things are different before and now. In the past, anyone fielded by the party is a winnable candidate. This no longer holds true. Now, the success of a candidate in contemporary elections depends on their acceptance by those whom they want to represent.

29. The winnable candidates selected by the party should be able to provide value added, not only in terms of acceptability within the party but also in terms of them being accepted by the community in the locality as the voters, and more than that, they should be able to cooperate with voluntary organisations and civil society because they are the actual voters.

30. Another reality is that over 95 per cent of Malaysians were born after the formation of Umno. Therefore, the evaluation of the new generation of voters of today is not based on past experience, what more what was done yesterday, but it is based on the merit of today with the vision for tomorrow.

31. In conclusion, victory in the final analysis is the result of the joint effort of all Malaysians from the various races, religions and ideologies, young and old, male and female, urban and rural folk, blue and white collar workers, the public sector, the private sector and government-linked companies, non-governmental organisations and the community. In short, each of us is responsible and accountable to choose the best for Malaysia.

32. Above all, people today are smart enough to tell the difference between glass and precious stone. Voters are able to assess that empathy to the people by a candidate is true and sustained not only for elections.

33. In this context, I would like to urge that we be party leaders diligent in serving the people, being competent and humble. Like the elders say, a person of standing will not lose his status even in a state of humility.

34. Armed with the brightly lit torch of struggle, we must be courageous in working hard, we must continue to persevere to convince the people that we are the leading choice of leadership, that only we can bring a better future to them and their children and grandchildren.

35. What I can say is that we must be sincere in serving the people. Hold fast to the sayings of scholars, that the good and the bad will eventually show up.

36. On this occasion, take a leaf from the mission of Prophet Muhammad as a cue for the party. We have read of the Battle of Badr in which a deprived Muslim army defeated a better equipped enemy far greater in numbers.

37. Whereas in the Battle of Uhud, the Muslim army was defeated despite being as strong as the enemy. It was written that the defeat in the Battle of Uhud was due to weakness in the chain of control and administration of the forces and the negligence of the archers in obeying orders, compared to the Battle of Badr.

38. The lesson we gain from this Sira literature pertains to the importance of organisational discipline in a party. The implication of non-compliance in the struggle as a flock is failure; we will go down, we will be defeated.

39. This question of organisational discipline must be well understood. It is the cornerstone of factors that will determine the success or failure of an organisation to achieve the desired goals. In the military field, it can determine victory or defeat on the battlefield.

40. In a political organisation, which exists in a system of parliamentary democracy, organisational discipline determines whether the political party wins or loses in an election. In essence, organisational discipline means putting the interests of the organisation above the interests of the individual.

41. Taking into account Verse 83 of Surat an-Nisa’, congregational discipline demands that we must be prepared to accept decisions made by the leadership of the party and, if we do not agree, must use the appropriate organisational channels to deliver such opinion.

42. Most importantly, if a final decision has been made, accept it with an open heart and implement it in the best possible way. Truly, as has been mentioned by great leaders of the past, a rule may be small but will be very difficult to follow; that’s what you call loyalty and compliance to instructions.

43. On the other hand, opinions and conventional political theories which say that change and reform will only succeed if we change the government cannot be applied in Malaysia.

44. For more than 50 years now, the Alliance Party and then the Barisan Nasional have continually led our beloved country and brought about change and renewal, not in bits but through a quantum leap by way of Transformative Continuity.

45.We have seen how Malaysia has been transformed from a colonised country to an independent nation, from a low-income agricultural country into a modern industrial upper middle-income nation.

46. Therefore, with Transformative Continuity, the people can see that even if this leadership comes from the same party, changes and renewal occur in a dynamic, continuous and orderly manner.

47. It means that the ruling party always considers the latest methods or engineering to meet the needs of the time. We ceaselessly make improvements and changes in ideas, policies and programmes which are complete and comprehensive. Basically, we make timely and appropriate changes every time we face a time curve.

48. We have heard the view, why not give a chance to the opposition to win (the election) to assess their capability and ability to manage the country and the people.

49. However, this is a very high risk because the future of our nation, our families and our children is too precious to be gambled with. Changing a government without proper, thorough and critical evaluation will be akin to entrusting a wolf to tend sheep.

50. Indeed, the aspiration of every political party is to obtain a mandate from the people in order to form the government and have its leader become the prime minister. Various promises and commitments are made towards achieving this.

51. For a party helming the government, the evaluation is done by people based on two yardsticks. Firstly, have the promises been implemented? The second benchmark is whether the new promises will be more beneficial.

52. As for parties that have never formed the government, they should be evaluated based on the promises being made now. If they cannot be held to and trusted at the stage of the promises, it is safer for the voters to distance themselves from these parties.

53. In this respect, Malaysia today is an example of a highly successful developing country, gauged in terms of either the efficacy of national institutions or even socio-economic progress.

54. This success is not a fantasy imagined by the Barisan Nasional government but real success that can be seen and enjoyed by every Malaysian. In fact, it is also a success recognised by world institutions and the international community.

55. Evaluated from the global benchmark, Malaysia is today among the world’s largest trading nations, with the value of exports and imports exceeding RM1 trillion. Today, we are recognised by the Institute for Management Development or IMD and the World Economic Forum or WEF as one of the 20 most competitive nations of the world.

56 Today, we are also recognised by the World Bank as the 12th most business-friendly country, while the United Nations Development Programme or UNDP evaluates Malaysia as a country with a high human development index.

57. Nevertheless, the UMNO-led government does not just sit back and rest on its laurels, basking in the success. We want every Malaysian child to continue to optimise their potential; we want every child to realise their dream, so that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is full of possibilities.

58. To that end, the National Transformation Policy has been formulated and implemented from the time I and my colleagues took over leadership of the party and the government over three years ago. Through this policy, we have carefully mapped the government, economic and political transformation to ensure that Vision 2020 will be achieved.

59. Following the implementation of the Government Transformation Programme, Economic Transformation Programme and the New Economic Model, for example, the GNI per capita income increased 30 per cent between 2009 and 2011, from US$6,700 to US$9,700.

60. The culmination, ladies and gentlemen, is in achieving a per capita income of US$15,000. In fact, if we use the World Bank yardstick for classifying a high-income country, which is US$12,476, then it clearly shows that despite having seven more years to go, we, Malaysia, are already on the right track to advance to that status even earlier.

61. We are aware that the opposition, in their efforts to win the hearts of the people, have issued a manifesto, the Orange Book, on why they should be chosen as the government in place of the Barisan Nasional, on the theme “Change Now”, “Save Malaysia”.

62. This document contains a total of 59 promises to be implemented by the Pakatan Rakyat government, 10 of which are supposed to be fulfilled within the first 100 days of its administration.

63. Instead, all that just seems to be grandiose. In fact, the real story of the adverse effects of executing these unreasonable promises was not communicated to the people.

64. They claim to be able to guarantee every Malaysian household an average monthly income of RM4,000, eliminate toll and the PTPTN (National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation) debts, provide a monthly RM500 special allowance to teachers and raise petroleum royalties for the states by up to 20 per cent. How can they implement all these as the national economy will be destroyed?

65. If implemented, in the first year the central government budget deficit will soar to nearly 30 per cent. Secondly, by 2015, the ratio of the country’s debt to GDP will rise to 140 per cent.

66. In the third year, we will reach the level of severity and loss of economic sovereignty like Greece. At that time, national economic management will no longer be in the hands of the elected government, but will have been transferred to international institutions. Is that what we want?

67. This is the level of quality and inability of economic planning of the opposition. However, it does not surprise us because, during the Asian financial crisis that also hit Malaysia in 1997-1998, evidently, the Minister of Finance, I repeat, the Minister of Finance then, the individual who is now the Opposition Leader, was not an efficient manager of the economy.

68. He was the one who applied the virtual policy of the International Monetary Fund or IMF to deal with the economic crisis then. Everyone knew that the IMF at that time was headed by a good friend of his. His action to slash development expenditure and raise interest rates at a time of declining market confidence, which prompted injection from the government, caused misery to much of the people, especially the business community.

69. This person qualifies to be appropriately dubbed a political chameleon. When speaking in the United States and to other communities, he speaks in a different tone; when lecturing to the Malays and Muslims, it is another story. While he was with us in Umno, his methods were such and such; now as the leader of the opposition, his stand has changed.

70. Going by an adage, people say he speaks with a forked tongue. Obviously, no one can guess the real character of this person who openly supports efforts to ensure the security of Israel, at a time when the world is condemning the cruel Tel Aviv regime for the genocide of Muslims in Gaza. However, when the government tabled a motion to censure Israel in Parliament … he expressed support as well … it really puzzles me.

71. Also, in the Buku Jingga (Orange Book), the O   pposition promises the repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960 but the reality is that it was the Barisan Nasional government which took the bold step, to abolish not only the ISA but also the Restricted Residence Act and the Banishment Act, revoke three emergency declarations and let the enacted ordinances to lapse.

72. Not only that, we also amended the Universities and University Colleges Act to allow students to join political parties, amended the Printing Presses and Publications Act to eliminate the need for an annual licence, and restored the right of judicial review, in general, to the courts.

73. For these reasons, therefore, Malaysians should assess and decide whether they want the transformative continuity by UMNO and the Barisan Nasional or end up with the ploys and ridiculous games of the opposition.

74. Indeed, UMNO always advocates and defends Islam as enshrined in the party constitution, in line with Islam’s status as the religion of the federation.

75. Therefore, allegations by certain quarters that UMNO is a secular nationalist party is way off the mark. Recently, they went up to the point of praying for the destruction of UMNO when, in fact, we are brothers of the same faith.

76. Isn’t it weird what they did? With our brethren in Gaza suffering misfortune and being in dire need of solidarity of Muslims, they are busy wanting the downfall of others.

77. The question is, does UMNO, a party that manages the affairs of state administration so well, deserve to be accused of being un-Islamic and should be destroyed?

78. When in fact, it is UMNO that has enabled Islam to be practised as a way of life in the country. Do they not see that in the decades since independence, the teachings of Islam are so widespread in the country, and not limited to the field of worship alone, but includes Muslims’ obligations in the fields of social behaviour, financial transactions and refraining from committing crimes.

79. In this position, we actually have done so much in ensuring continuity of Islam. Malaysia, for example, is among the Islamic countries to have a specialised agency for comprehensive management of the Haj pilgrimage.

80. The establishment of the Pilgrims Management and Fund Board has enabled Muslims, who once had to pawn possessions, to not only save but also perform the fifth pillar of Islam in a systematic way.

81. The same too in finance. Malaysia is the only Islamic country that offers Islamic banking and financial services widely. From the pawnshop system to the issuance of ‘sukuk’. Today, we are proud and pleased that a global forum has recognised the success of Malaysia as the world’s leading Islamic financial centre.

82. In reality, Muslims in Malaysia not only can open a savings account at the bank without having to go through the conventional usury method but also can take home, vehicle and education loans, invest in the stock market and perform other financial transactions that are Syariah compliant.

83. Going from there, besides being an example of a Muslim country that is peaceful and progressive, Malaysia is also substantially contributing to peacekeeping around the world. As many know, we have sent peacekeepers, military observers as well as medical teams to Islamic countries in conflict, such as Bosnia, Somalia, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

84. In fact, in the latest development, Malaysia became peacemaker and mediator in resolving the conflict that had persisted over 40 years in the southern Philippines, to successfully open a new chapter for the Bangsamoro people.

85. Malaysia is also committed to seeking justice for the Palestinians. We have and will continue to fight for their legitimate rights for statehood in regional forums and globally. We are calling on the international community to honour this aspiration through the principle of the two-state solution that all have agreed to. God willing, Malaysia will be the first country to open an embassy in the capital of an independent and sovereign Palestine.

86. Malaysia is also concerned about the plight of the Rohingya community in Myanmar. We have called for the violence committed against them to be stopped immediately and for a just solution to be reached.

87. In reference to all these, do not measure contributions for Islam only with rhetoric and slogan shouting, when the real contribution and their contents are so meagre.

88. As a matter of fact, the achievement to fulfill the Islamic way of life successfully was realised even though Malaysia has a multi-ethnic, multi- cultural and multi-religious society.

89. Why and how was this possible? None other than the fact that since independence, centred on the principle of ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderation), UMNO and its partners in the Barisan Nasional with sincerity were able to achieve a high level of consensus to develop the country.

90. Based on all these, I would like to emphasise here, that without a doubt, UMNO is committed to further elevating Islam, for the preservation of religion, life, property, mind, dignity and descent.

91. We are not prepared to disunite Muslims. UMNO will never berate or insult our brothers and sisters in Islam like what the opposition is doing. We will firmly defend the sanctity and purity of the faith.

92. At this gathering, we wish to state unequivocally again that we are against … vehemently opposed to those who support liberalism or pluralism.

93. UMNO’s commitment in this is in accordance with the provisions of Clause 1 and Clause 4 of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Clause 1 of Article 11 guarantees freedom of religion in this country, even though Clause 1 of Article 3 states that Islam is the religion of the federation.

94. Clause 1 of Article 11 states that every person has the right to profess and practise his religion, but subject to Clause 4 which reads “State laws and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam”.

95. Therefore, we would like to remind, stop trying to deceive the people. UMNO was once accused of being an infidel party by mandate of a certain ‘Tuan Guru’, whose name I need not mention because the whole of Malaysia knows who he is. UMNO was labelled as an infidel party for working with Malaysian citizens who are not Muslims, and because it purportedly did not support the establishment of an Islamic state and the implementation of hudud.

96. The effect of the mandate issued in 1981 was that it not only broke the unity of Muslims, but also instilled the seeds of hatred among fellow Muslims. Consequently, there was the Memali tragedy, Lubok Merbau incident, incidents of congregational prayers having two imams, husbands and wives divorcing, family feuds and the surfacing of prohibition about eating meat if the animal was slaughtered by UMNO people.

97. The question is, is this person fit to be a leader, to be appointed by citizens to defend their own destinies? In fact, after just one term as Menteri Besar, the people of Terengganu rejected his leadership.

98. Furthermore, we find that, today, the same leader and the same party condemning UMNO are no longer fighting for Malaysia to be an Islamic country but, on the other hand, want to set up a welfare state. Today, they also work with a party that opposes the establishment of an Islamic state and want Malaysia to be a secular state.

99. Why a different goal yesterday and a different goal today? When they involve fundamental matters. Obviously no consensus has been reached between PAS and DAP on PAS’ concept of an Islamic state and they are trying to hide this fact. If the core issue separating them cannot be resolved, how are they going to form a coalition government.

100. Has lust for power overtaken the principle of struggle? Do targets justify the means? Never mind if it does not involve others, but what is tragic is that it has become a festival for slander, evil propaganda and lies directed at UMNO and the rest of Malaysia.

101. Talking about an Islamic state, notwithstanding the imputations made against UMNO, the result of our struggle to uphold Islam on Malaysian soil and all over the world is still shining, still pristine and will remain so.

102. The latest is that an international group of Islamic scholars began independent efforts to rank countries based on the Syariah Index. We are grateful because their global study found Malaysia to be among the top five in the compliance index.

103. The option before you, ladies and gentlemen, now is the Barisan Nasional, which is a party with a holistic plan about the future direction of the country, or the opposition, which is plagued with problems and confused about their goals whether to make Malaysia a secular, theocratic or welfare state.

104. Like it or not, this question is very basic. Indeed, Malaysians are entitled to know the answer clearly before making the most important decision regarding their future. Elections are not experiments.

105. Five years is a long time in administering a country. Various forms of damage can occur, hence a country that is successful can also fail and fall apart.

106. Thus, throughout the passage of time, Umno has not been a party that practised tactics of deception with its component parties in the Barisan National. Unlike the DAP-PKR-PAS pact, which is not anchored on integrity.

107. For example, in Penang, which is led by the DAP, PAS does not participate in the government, it is the same in PAS-led Kedah where the DAP is not in the administration. We know the cause, because they do not trust each other.

108. Further to this, let us go behind the scenes on the DAP’s thumping of its chest that it is the most democratic party in the country. Is this true? What is the real story inside the DAP?

109. Everyone knows that the DAP is a father, son, in-law party. Although only holding the position of MP despite not being not an elected leader, Lim Kit Siang is evidently quite a powerful individual in the opposition party.

110. His son is the party’s secretary-general and the chief minister of Penang while his daughter-in-law is a Melaka assemblyman and vice-president of the DAP women’s wing.

111. It is the same story with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), where it involves the husband, wife and daughter. The husband is the de facto leader but unelected. The wife is the party president and eldest child, party vice-president.

112. Coming back to the DAP, if we examine further, the party has a very simple interpretation of democracy. If there is agreement with the leadership, everything is okay. However, if a member has a different view, an example being Tunku (Abdul) Aziz (Tunku Ibrahim), former vice-chairman (of the DAP), who did not agree with BERSIH’s street demonstrations. Because of this, his senatorship was not renewed for a second term.

113. This is what democracy actually means to DAP. Just in wanting to express an opinion, punishment is meted out. We cannot imagine if they come to power; what will happen to the people of Malaysia who do not agree or object to their leadership. What more their political foes.

114. One more thing, today, there is only one Malay left among the 30 people in DAP’s central leadership. Is this called democracy? Is this what you call non-racist? Is this what you call diversity as you have been trumpeting? Malaysians, give this a lot of thought.

115. All said, UMNO will continue to champion the Malay and bumiputera agenda so that we are able to be on par with the other races in this beloved country. The methods that will be used by UMNO to achieve the objectives will vary according to the times.

116. UMNO’s struggle since independence to uphold the dignity of the Malays may be divided into several phases. First, through the setting up of agencies like Mara, Felda and Felcra.

117. It was further strengthened by the creation of the Rida Training Hall which was expanded to the Mara Institute of Technology at the end of the 60s before the institution was upgraded to a university.

118. The second phase saw the formulation of the New Economic Policy and its implementation through the First Outline Perspective Plan that included four Malaysia Plans for a period of 20 years. Continuous efforts were made to eradicate poverty and restructure society.

119. It saw the establishment of organisations such as Risda, the Farmers Organisation Authority, the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority and provision of micro credit through Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia and Tekun.

120. Efforts were also directed at creating a community of bumiputera businessmen and industrialists. Thus, the UMNO-led government established non-financial public enterprises or state-owned companies to enable Malays to enter the business world.

121. To increase bumiputera equity, we set up Permodalan Nasional Berhad which manages investment schemes like ASN (Amanah Saham Nasional), ASB (Amanah Saham Bumiputera) and others. Indeed, the greatest success of this second phase was the growth of secondary educational institutions like the Mara Junior Science College, full residential science-stream secondary schools as well as admission to public institutions of higher through the matriculation programme.

122. Explicitly, UMNO since independence through the first and second phases achieved monumental success in creating a huge middle class largely made of Malay professionals, besides addressing the problems of poverty among the Malays.

123. Based on the first and second phases, we formulated policies and programmes that were more specific and focused, among them initiatives like the New Economic Model, Teraju, Jejak Jaya Scheme and Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera. Thank God, as a result, bumiputera equity ownership has increased from 21.9 per cent in 2008 to 23.9 per cent in 2010.

124. However, in the same breath, true to the calling of Verse 8 of the Al-Maidah chapter in the Quran, we have never been complacent in defending the rights and being fair to all races. This is also protected by the Federal Constitution which was formulated based on national consensus.

125. While UMNO is committed to the struggle of the Malays and bumiputeras, we are also fully committed to ensuring that government aid and assistance reaches and are enjoyed by the poor, low- and medium-income groups of all races in Malaysia. We want the prosperity of Malaysia to be shared together and no Malaysian left behind.

126. In fact, UMNO appreciates and holds in high esteem the contribution of each Malaysian, irrespective of his or her background, towards national success.

127. Thus, we have always recognised that the pluralism we have is a pillar of strength of the nation. As a political organisation, we uphold the responsibility to continue uniting the people through our common points and not by planting the poison of our differences. This is the core philosophy of ’1Malaysia: People First, Performance Now’.

128. The biggest difference between us and the opposition is that for us, we make promises to be fulfilled. However, the opposition makes false promises to fish for votes and, after becoming the government, all remained empty pledges.

129. Ask the residents of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang, where are the sweet promises made by the PKR de facto leader in the 2008 election?

130. He promised that in two weeks after winning the election, the problem of the people there would be solved. Now it has been four years, the people of Penang are saying …”ilekkk …” (Tamil for none). In the end … it was the Barisan Nasional … which resolved it.

131. Apart from that, as Penangites say, it would be ‘caca marba’ (topsy turvy) … should Pakatan Rakyat form the government. Experts in making promises, whoever is appointed their prime minister, whether it is the PKR de facto leader or PAS President, but … the Penang Chief Minister from the DAP will pretend as if nothing has happened … on the promises. Maybe, that is why the Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 called his boss “cocky, arrogant and a deity”.

132. Next, ask the people of Kelantan whether the water problem has been resolved? Are they aware that it has been more than 20 years of PAS rule, it is still unresolved.

133. Ask the peopleof Kedah, about PAS promises made in 2008? But till today … much have remained unfulfilled … there was nothing done.

134. Next, we ask low-cost flat and apartment residents using bulk meters in Selangor. Where are the sweet promises of giving free water? Another issue, we ask single mothers in Selangor what happened to the monthly allowance of RM100 promised to them? This is not right.

135. It is different with us, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional government. As proof, since my colleagues and I took over the party leadership and government, through various efforts and initiatives, this party and this government not only made promises and gave hope, we went the extra mile, explored a million ways to fulfill the promises made.

136. For example, under the short-term measures: We have the BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) for low-income people we have the 1Malaysia book vouchers for all undergraduates we have RM100 aid for all school students we have the 1Malaysia tyre scheme for taxi drivers.

137. For the medium term, among others: we establish the Rural Transformation Centres we establish the Urban Transformation Centres we have KR1M (1Malaysia People’s Shops), 1Malaysia Clinics, 1Malaysia Textile Stores, 1Malaysia Book Stores, and

138. For the long-term, we have the Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation Programme initiatives under the National Transformation Policy until we achieve developed nation status. God willing.

139. To some parties, we would like to remind them, if you are not good at dancing, don’t say it’s because the floor is uneven. Today, various national institutions have come under attack from wild allegations, with the evil purpose of confusing and creating suspicion among the people.

140. For example, the Election Commission has been defamed incessantly. To the extent of demonstrations being organised. We know, they were doing it as a pre-emptive measure. Because should they lose in the election, it would not be the factor of not getting the people’s support but it would be the EC which would be blamed for being unfair and incompetent.

141.And that is why without feeling ashamed, they complain to foreign powers to internationalise domestic problems, when they know the action would only humiliate the country and insult the intelligence of Malaysians.

142. Actually, ladies and gentlemen, there is no need to involve foreigners to teach us how to manage the country. Do not be a modern ‘Si Kitul’ to the point of being willing to betray the people and country.

143. It is more than half a century since we became independent … know the ways of our own country. After they won five states in the last election, they started bragging even though they had not done a thing.

144. As I said, is it not PAS that has led the Kelantan state government for 22 years? Was it not PAS that won the first election of the state in 1959? Is it not PAS that is heading the Kedah government? Was it not PAS that ruled Terengganu and Perak?

145. Isn’t it PKR that is now heading the Selangor government while DAP rules Penang?

146. Apart from that, many may still remember that before joining Barisan Nasional, PBS and Gerakan were opposition parties and was it not PBS what won the Sabah election in 1985 and Gerakan which won the Penang election in 1969.

147. Lastly, as recorded in events, is it not the Barisan Nasional that failed to obtain a two-third majority in the 2008 general election?

148. Therefore, if the Election Commission is incompetent and dishonest, all these would not have happened. As it turns out, democracy has been functioning, consistently and effectively in Malaysia. And as it turns out, the electoral process is clean and the people are mature and wise to choose.

The 13th General Election is no ordinary election. It is a determinant of the destiny of the people and country.

This election will shape the Malaysia of tomorrow to be inherited by our children. It will be a toss between a developed Malaysia based on shared values and goals or a backward Malaysia separated by invisible barriers compounded with suspicion and prejudice.

In fact, through the hard work of each generation, we have established a Malaysia admired and respected by our friends. Who would have expected this land teeming with diversities to rise and successfully address the challenges of nationhood.

The choice is also very clear, for us to see our children regardless of race or religion laughing, growing and vacationing together, or being brought up with a burning hatred.

From one aspect, a noble path carved out since independence, bathed in the blood, sweat and tears of the patriots of all time.

We have to always remember how difficult it was for our founding fathers to build what we are enjoying today. Indeed, we are indebted to the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (Putra AlHaj), the late Tun Abdul Razak (Hussein), the late Tun Hussein (Onn), Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) and Tun Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi).

Instead, brothers and sisters, from another aspect, there is this winding road, dim and dark, built on defamation, falsehood and empty promises. If the people are hoodwinked by the whistles luring them to that path, trust me, this lovely country will just disintegrate and collapse.

It is certain that UMNO will not allow all these to happen. We can replace lost property. We can regain a lost position. But, if we go down in this struggle, we do not have anything left. We will be brought down to our knees, and eventually become destitute in our own land.

Where on this earth is there no rain, which sea has no turbulence? Where on this earth are there people, or leaders, or companies or parties that have never stumbled or committed a mistake? As the leadership of the party and government, we put our palms together in apology for any oversight.

Therefore, I, as the President of UMNO, along with the deputy president, and the whole party leadership, in the name of God and His Messenger, pledge and promise to continue to give priority to the well-being of the people, uphold the Malay race, fortify faith and safeguard Islam.

Whatever the obstacles and challenges, UMNO will not retreat even one step, UMNO will not turn back. UMNO will not waver in its duty. UMNO and the Barisan Nasional will march right there in front, and face the enemy from outside and within.

We will use everything within our means to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the democratic arena. We will compete for every vote; we will try to convince every Malaysian. We will also knock on the door of every heart and open every gateway of hope.

We believe Malaysians deserve the best government and we are confident that only UMNO and the Barisan Nasional can offer the best to the people of Malaysia.

It is here … it is here that we were born. It is here … it is here that our first cry emanated. It is here that we built our families and it is here that we charted our future. It is also here, with the permission of God, the Almighty, that we will be laid to rest.

Fill this blessed land with peace-loving people. Prosper this birthplace so that the gains spilleth over.

Come, sons and daughters … come, champions of the race. Render your service quickly. Safeguard … safeguard the only ark of independence … safeguard … safeguard Putrajaya.

It has dawned, bringing hope to the Land of Malaysia … the Land of Malaysia … a jewel.

Long live UMNO…

Long live Barisan…

Frequent Deferment of Electoral Polls costly to the Prime Minister and UMNO-BN


November 29, 2012

Frequent Deferment of Electoral Polls costly to the Prime Minister and UMNO-BN

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: For months the debate in political salons of the country revolved around whether the  Prime Minister’s frequent deferment of the polls invited disaster for UMNO or, conversely, that it afforded him time to save the government’s bacon.

Disaster was thought to stem from the rattle of skeletons in his and UMNO-BN’s closets, their whine expected to reach a crescendo as hitherto appeased functionaries shed their induced stupor to hint at dark deeds behind the facade of a government very much in control despite the threat of scandalous disclosure working its corrosive effects on its credibility.

Conversely, polls deferment, aided and abetted by cash handouts to the have-nots, was seen as affording time for the balm of munificent handouts to offset the fallout from periodic revelations of scandal, past and present.

On the eve of the annual UMNO general assembly and just as the final time-corridor in which to hold polls this year is slipping past, the racket from skeletons whining in the government’s closet has become far too audible to ignore.

The UMNO President is in danger of running afoul of a corollary to his self-set criterion of being a party nominee for the polls: Is the candidate winnable?

Most pundits would rate Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s chances of retaining the Pekan parliamentary constituency as much better than even, a probable challenge from PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang for the seat notwithstanding.

NONE

But with the latest revelations from the Najib family friend, businessman Deepak Jaikishen (above), and the news from lawyers involved in the Scorpene inquest in France that the PM and his onetime aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, are priority witnesses in the inquiry and would be subpoenaed, Najib is firmly in the eye of a maelstrom whose churning waters could upend his party and government.

If that were not perilous enough, the case notes from the murder trial of the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, would also be admitted at the French inquest into corrupt practices surrounding the sale of submarines to Malaysia early the last decade while Najib was the Defence Minister.

The murder of the Mongolian woman in 2006 has been rattling around in the collective memory of the country like the Watergate burglary did in the early years of the second term of eventually disgraced US President Richard Milhous Nixon.

The raft of new revelations by Deepak and the Scorpene inquiry lawyers is not likely to undermine Najib’s chances of being returned to Parliament from Pekan but it definitely undercuts the electability of the administration he leads, a government widely considered to be in danger of losing its mandate at the oft-deferred general election.

Najib’s decision to defer polls looks, at this remove, to have been a gamble he is in acute danger of losing.

Credibility as a leader of reforms

It has raised issues about his credibility as a leader of reforms that his administration is supposed to have initiated to rescue a wobbling BN from looming defeat at the polls.

His damaged credibility apart, the decision to focus the government’s campaign on the PM, whose personal popularity as distinct from that of the UMNO-BN cabal he leads, is said to be winsome enough to salvage the administration in the eyes of the electorate, now looks like a calculation that is going wrong.

The PM strove to exploit the ‘new broom’ goodwill that usually follows the inauguration of an administration under a newly installed leader, and when he shaped to introduce reforms, he sustained the perception that he is wanting and willing to push change.

But when those reforms were either opposed by right wing critics in his party and, in reaction, he trimmed his reformist sails to appease them, he managed to uphold the image as somebody wanting reform despite the opposition from within.

This explained the decision to personalise the UMNO-BN campaign around the image of the PM as someone the electorate could trust despite the undercurrent of antagonism to his vaunted reformist agenda and his truckling to it.

Now, in the wake of latest revelations issuing from sanctuaries that were always suspected to be brittle and awaiting the disinfectant of sunlight, the personal popularity of the PM will be disclosed for what it is: a vapour from the new broom he embodied but could not enforce.

A Life without Ideals and Principles isn’t worthy of contemplation


November 29, 2012

A Life without Ideals and Principles isn’t worthy of contemplation

by Azmi Sharom (11-28-12)@http://www.thestar.com.my

Declarations look good at first glance, but read between the lines and one will find escape routes to shirk the very responsibilities spelt out for those in power.

IN the last couple of weeks I have been told that I am really quite a pathetic fellow; out of touch, overly idealistic and generally quite sad.

This is quite a common accusation, one that has been thrown at me in the past, and added to the fact that I work in a university, that old chestnut of making my living quarters in an ivory tower often comes into play as well.

My comments on university rankings not being the be all and end all when selecting where to study was dismissed as wishful thinking.

I was told in no uncertain terms that parents will look at rankings to choose a university for their children.Oh, incidentally, for the sake of accuracy, in my last column, I should not have said Leeds was higher ranked than Nottingham. They are not. I should have said Sheffield, or Manchester or Durham instead.

And at a talk where I said “meaningful public participation should occur in developmental and environmental issues”, again I was painted as some trippy hippy freak who really should just sit quietly in a VW van listening to Hendrix and burning incense. Frankly, this sounds like a very enticing idea.

However, all these barbs (admittedly they were thrown at me in a gentle and humorous manner) got me thinking. Why do I bother with these ideals? No one seems to care any way. The world is a hard, calculative and oft times, a cruel place. Pragmatism, not idealism, will ensure survival, both literally and metaphorically.

I guess this is true, if mere survival is what one aspires for. I can’t buy into this thinking though. Yes, when one is floating in the clouds of principles and ideals, one may lose track of the realities of the world and one’s ideas become no more substantive and useful as “insignificant fluff”. But pragmatism without the overarching and necessary restraints of idealism is dangerous, too.

If we live our lives without aspirations, then what is to prevent the strong and the crass to rule? Without a higher ideal, then so many things become utterly pointless.

A case in point is the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Personally, I view this document as something positive. It has its problems, and I shall deal with them later, but within the context of ASEAN.

It is important because for decades the issue of human rights was not really part of the ASEAN agenda. It was only in the ASEAN Charter of 2007 did the countries of ASEAN formally recognise human rights as an essential value. And now, we have this declaration which spells out the human rights that in principle Asean agrees has to be protected.

I say “in principle” because the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is, in international law parlance, a “soft law”. By this, it is meant that it is merely a statement of principle, it is not a binding law as say a treaty is. Therefore, legally it would be rather difficult to insist that the ASEAN governments comply with this declaration.

This does not mean that they do not have a moral responsibility and it is up to the people of ASEAN to keep pressing their governments to respect the Declaration and to make the necessary domestic legislation to give legal weight to these “soft law” principles and make them hard.

Surely our erstwhile leaders did not sign the declaration for fun.They agreed to these principles, so let’s make sure they live up to them. Aside from the lack of legal obligation, another criticism of the Declaration is that it appears to provide loopholes for its signatories.

For example, Article 7 begins with the emphatic statement that “all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated”.

So far so good, but it closes with “the realisation of human rights must be considered in the regional and national context bearing in mind different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds”.

The following article continues in this vein and states “the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition for the human rights and fundamental freedom of others, and to meet the just requirements of national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality, as well as the general welfare of the peoples in a democratic society”.

Suspicious, is it not? Signatories of this document have left themselves a method of avoiding their responsibilities.All they have to say is: “Oh, we are restricting your rights for the reason of national security/public morality/general public welfare … take your pick.”

Now, only an idiot would think that human rights mean the rights to do anything at all. I may have freedom of speech but I do not have the right to defame someone; my freedom of assembly does not mean I can trespass on another’s property.

So, naturally there will be restrictions on rights, but the issue here is that there must be restrictions on the restrictions.

And that is the crux of the matter. What prevents those in power from using the excuse of morality or security or whatever else to place so many restrictions on our rights that they become utterly meaningless?

The answer I submit is aspirations, idealism and principle. Only when we have people in power, and by this I mean the legislature, executive and judiciary, can we aspire to protect the rights of others as far as possible.

Who believes that human rights are an ideal, not an imposition on governments. And, who has the conviction to live and make decisions according to these principles; only then can the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration have any meaning.

Maybe I am not being pragmatic; perhaps the thin air in my ivory tower has made me light headed and foolish; but I don’t care, because the alternative to living without aspirations, ideals and principles is not worth contemplating.

Book Review: Ike’s Bluff, by Evan Thomas


November 29, 2012

NY Times Sunday Book Review: Ike’s Bluff

Subtle and Brutal
Ike’s Bluff, by Evan Thomas

By Daniel Larison (11-21-12)

Evan Thomas’s “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” is an examination of Dwight David Eisenhower’s record that seeks to understand how he successfully kept the United States out of a major war during the eight years of his Presidency.

It is in keeping with the recent trend in complimentary revisionist histories of the administration, like “Eisenhower in War and Peace,” by Jean Edward Smith, and “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” by Jim Newton. Thomas tells us that once Eisenhower “extricated America from the Korean War in 1953,” his mission was to “avoid any war.” For that reason, Thomas, who teaches writing and journalism at Princeton and is the author of several books, concentrates on Eisenhower’s foreign policy and national security decisions to the exclusion of almost everything else. The President’s civil rights record, for example, is mentioned only briefly, and as a demonstration of his leadership talents.

Eisenhower’s ambiguity is a recurring theme in this account. His style was to avoid telling anyone his definite views on a subject. At the time of the Chinese shelling of the small islands of Quemoy and Matsu in 1958, Thomas writes, “as he so often did, Eisenhower chose studied ambiguity.” In that case, Ike’s bluffing proved successful, but at other times his ambiguity could create needless confusion and misunderstanding.

As John F. Kennedy was about to take office in 1961, Eisenhower offered him advice on Laos, which was then falling into civil war. Eisenhower counseled the new President, in Thomas’s words, to “take a hard line — and bluff,” or so it seemed to Kennedy and his advisers. The problem was that Eisenhower was “cryptic and opaque.” Kennedy’s advisers “later claimed Ike had urged J.F.K. to send in the troops,” but this was almost certainly not what he had meant.

The Hungarian uprising of 1956 stands out as one of Eisenhower’s best and worst moments for his policy of “take a hard line — and bluff.” Though he successfully avoided a major war with the Soviet Union over Hungary, choosing containment over confrontation, his administration’s rhetoric about “rolling back” Communism unfortunately encouraged Hungarians to expect American support that didn’t come.

The Soviet crackdown in Hungary also exposed the limitations of the C.I.A. under Eisenhower. The agency was surprised by the Soviet reaction to the uprising, but as Thomas says, “C.I.A.-backed clandestine radio stations” had been encouraging Hungarians to fight.

Despite the sometimes excessive rhetoric emanating from his administration, most notably from his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower was “remarkably willing, on occasion, to let himself appear disengaged, even weak,” Thomas writes. This reflected his caution about overreacting or responding hastily to new developments. It was one of his most admirable traits. His seeming weakness often exposed him to politically motivated charges of dithering or incompetence, yet Eisenhower had enough confidence in his own judgments not to be pressured into policies he knew to be mistaken.

Dulles, Churchill, Eisenhower and Eden

Eisenhower’s handling of the Suez crisis in the same year as the Hungarian uprising was an impressive example of this quality. Britain, France and Israel had invaded Egypt with the intention of toppling the dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser after he had seized the Suez Canal, but Eisenhower did not confuse backing allies with reflexive support for their mistakes, especially when thoughtless solidarity could draw the United States and the Soviet Union into open conflict.

The crisis over the Suez was successfully resolved in part by Eisenhower’s refusal to provide assistance to America’s friends, which forced them to bear the costs and consequences of their blunder without any hope of being bailed out by Washington. Meanwhile, Eisenhower made sure that the Kremlin knew he strongly opposed any Soviet attempt to exploit the crisis.

Thomas refers frequently to the President’s skills at card games to help explain his capacity for concealment, deception and secrecy, which found expression in the repeated use of covert operations to depose foreign governments and the U-2 program for spying on the Soviet Union. Journalists and political enemies in Congress raised the issue of a “missile gap” between the United States and the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. Because of the U-2 flights, Eisenhower knew just how unfounded the charge was, but the secrecy of the program meant he was unable to disclose what he knew. Nonetheless, continued worries about the progress of the Soviet ICBM program prompted him to approve one last mission.

However, the downing of a U-2 over the Soviet Union in 1960 and the capture of its pilot exposed the covert flights, and represented one of the bigger setbacks of the Eisenhower administration, helping to derail the president’s initiative for détente with Moscow.

As Thomas explains, Eisenhower felt “a personal sense of defeat and at times despair” over the collapse of a summit in Paris that year because of the U-2 episode. Significant achievements in arms control would have to wait for future Republican presidents.

Despite the thoroughness of “Ike’s Bluff,” there are occasional gaps. Thomas doesn’t discuss the consequences of American-supported coups in Iran and Guatemala, perhaps because that would have taken him well beyond the end of Eisenhower’s tenure, but it is an unfortunate and noticeable omission. Similarly, Thomas seems unfazed by the expansion of the national security state on Eisenhower’s watch. Eisenhower’s farewell address is justly famous for its warnings of the dangers posed by the “military-­industrial complex.” Even so, it is hard not to conclude that the warning was too little and too late after Eisenhower had spent eight years presiding over the growth of that complex.

Generally, however, Thomas doesn’t neglect his subject’s flaws, and his detailed, engaging picture of Eisenhower’s personality brings him vividly to life. Most important, by the end of the book Thomas has made his case that Dwight Eisenhower’s “greatest victories were the wars he did not fight.”

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative.

A version of this review appeared in print on November 25, 2012, on page BR9 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Subtle and Brutal.