Whither PAS: Stay or not to stay,that is the Question


August 1, 2014

Whither PAS: Stay or not to stay,that is the Question

by Boo Su-Lyn (07-31-14) @www.themalaymailonline.com

http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/in-selangor-mb-crisis-a-tussle-for-pass-identity

HadiThe divergence within PAS over the Selangor Mentri Besar’s post exposes a deeper dilemma that goes to the core of its identity — the party must weigh a return to its core ambition for an Islamic state at the risk of permanently breaking its links to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

The issue is simply a catalyst for conservatives to steer the party back to its fundamental roots, one source close to PAS said. The conservatives see PAS as losing its way and voice within the multicultural PR pact, forcing the party into compromises on issues such hudud, the Islamic penal code, and “Allah”, the Arabic word for god that Muslims here consider exclusive to Islam.

For them, whether Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim remains in his job or otherwise and the consequences of an exit from PR, both for the party and the coalition is largely irrelevant, the source added.

“They want PAS to focus on an Islamic state and not compromise,” the source said.“They know they won’t win. But the struggle is more important than winning now. Real victory is in the afterlife,” the source added.

The gap between PAS and PR, already widening since the party was rebuffed over its ambitions for hudud in Kelantan, has opened into chasm after top PAS leaders said Khalid should stay, departing from a deal to replace him said to have been reached earlier.

Just days after senior leaders from PKR, PAS, and DAP agreed to consider the nomination of PKRDSAI President Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the job, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and acting ulama wing chief Datuk Ahmad Yakob unabashedly threw their support behind Khalid.

According to the source, the Islamist party’s top leadership has discussed various scenarios including leaving PR in Selangor but not elsewhere, becoming more assertive, breaking ties with PR allies PKR and the secularist DAP to work with UMNO, or striking out on its own.

At the end of the discussion, PAS was divided into the so-called progressives who want the party to stay in PR, and the conservative clerics together with the Kelantan, Terengganu and Selangor state committees that want the party to leave the coalition.

The discussions also concluded that those desiring a break away from PR will decide later if they want to work with Barisan Nasional (BN) lynchpin UMNO, a Malay nationalist party.

“UMNO is secondary. The priority is to not compromise (on the goal) to create an Islamic state,” the source said. The conservatives in PAS are more powerful as they are institutionalised as the Dewan Ulama at the national and state level, while the progressives, otherwise known as the Erdogans, do not have a formal structure.

dr-dzul“The Erdogans are many, but they don’t have anything similar so their voices are divided. Hence, they’re weak,” said the source. The progressives include Dr Hatta Ramli, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Khalid Samad, Datuk Mahfuz Omar, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Datuk Husam Musa.

The antithetical ideologies between the Islamic PAS and secularist DAP were put aside in the 2008 general election when both parties worked together with PKR, led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and denied the long-ruling BN its customary two-thirds majority in parliament.

The political cooperation was then cemented as the PR pact. The three parties did not include hudud in their common policy framework, and went on to gain even more ground in the general election last year although they failed to unseat BN.

PAS — whose core vote bank is in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu — made significant inroads in west coast states in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, bagging 23 and 21 parliamentary seats in total respectively.

But despite the successful tie-up, underlying concerns over the compatibility of the pact’s three disparate parties never subsided, with irregular flare-ups reminding observers of the deep-rooted differences among the three. The on-and-off conflict between the DAP and PAS, which has always sought to introduce an Islamic penal code, dates back to the 1990s.

Their short-lived alliance under Barisan Alternatif, which was formed to take on BN in the 1999 general election, broke up in 2001 when DAP pulled out citing irreconcilable differences with PAS for its insistence on creating an Islamic state.

US Report: Religious intolerance rising in Malaysia


July 30, 2014

US Report: Religious intolerance rising in Malaysia

The United States has expressed concern over growing religious intolerance in Malaysia as Islamic sects are being persecuted in public and in secret, along with abstruse laws aimed at blocking those wishing to leave Islam.

In the recently released ‘International Religious Freedom Report 2013’ the US noted that observers continued to express concern that “the secular civil and criminal court system had ceded jurisdictional control to syariah courts, particularly in areas of family law involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

The report also raised alarm that the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), under the Prime Minister’s purview, now had full power to determine what was proper Islamic teaching and hammer away at those who did not agree.

“The government reportedly has a secret list of “sects” banned as “deviant” interpretations of Islam which included over 50 groups,” the report, submitted to the US Congress, said.

It notes that among those publicly banned were Shia, Ahmadiyah and Al Arqam believers. “Members of banned groups may not speak freely about their religious beliefs. The government may detain Muslims who deviate from accepted Sunni principles and subject them to mandatory “rehabilitation” in centers that teach and enforce government-approved Islamic practices,” the report noted.

Jamil KhirThe report singled out Prime Minister’s Department Minister Jamil Khir Baharom (left), Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and  Kedah Chief Minister Mukhriz Mahathir as among government leaders who publicly backed and carried out the government’s policy to weed out Shia and Al Arqam followers in the country.

It added that these forced “rehabilitation programmes” could last up to six months.

One-way street

The US also expressed concern that Islam was a one-way street in Malaysia. “The law strictly forbids proselytising of Muslims by non-Muslims, but allows and supports Muslims proselytising others.Neither the right to leave Islam nor the legal process of conversion is clearly defined in law,” it said.

This has led to the Syariah court having an bigger say on child custody issues when parents of mixed-faith divorce.

The US report noted that the case of M. Indira Gandhi, dating from 2009, remains unresolved. In another case, Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah faced much difficulty in getting the courts to hear her case, challenging the validity of her conversion to Islam when she was seven years old.

“At year’s end, the police had taken no action to return the youngest child to Gandhi, and the case was ongoing,” the report stated.

“Religious NGOs contended that syariah courts did not give equal weight to the testimony of women. Several NGOs dedicated to the advancement of women’s rights continued to state that women did not receive fair treatment from syariah courts, primarily in matters of divorce, child custody, and enforcement of alimony payments,” it said.

The report also noted that there were stringent laws restricting the use of certain words exclusively to Muslims, including the controversial court case over use of “Allah” by Catholic publication, the Herald. Other restricted words included ‘baitullah’ (house of God), ‘Kaabah’ (location toward which Muslims pray) and ‘salat’ (prayer).

Meanwhile, under a section on “Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom” the US report singled out Malay rights NGO Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali as an unpunished violator.

“In January, Ibrahim Ali (right), President of the Muslim NGO Perkasa, called for bibles to be burnt… In Ib Aliresponse to his statement, lawyers and human rights activists called for action to be taken against Ibrahim Ali for inciting religious disharmony, hatred, disunity, and discomfort, which is punishable by law. The Attorney General’s Chambers noted that they would only take action against Ibrahim Ali if the bibles were actually burnt,” the report said.

Other incidences

Other incidences of religious bigotry in Malaysia cited in the 13-page report included:

  • The use of Registrar of Societies (under Home Ministry) to arbitrarily determine whether a religious group may be registered and thereby qualify for government grants and other benefits. It noted that Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) were registered businesses in Malaysia.
  •  State laws in in Kelantan and Terengganu making apostasy, defined as conversion from Islam to another faith, a capital offense. However it notes this law has yet to be implemented.
  • Islamic religious instruction is compulsory for Muslim children in public schools; non-Muslim students are required to take nonreligious morals and ethics courses. Local churches and temple groups unsuccessfully urged the government to include the option for non-Muslim religion classes to be held during the school day.
  • State governments have exclusive authority over allocation of land for, and the construction of, all places of worship, as well as land allocation for all cemeteries.
  • On October 24, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission questioned two radio producers after they conducted an interview with American religious scholar Dr. Reza Aslan, who criticized the Malaysian government over the ban of the use of word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
  • In August the Sultan of Johor, the highest Islamic authority in the state, called for a Muslim prayer hall at a privately-owned resort to be demolished after a group of Buddhists used the hall for religious meditation.
  • According to the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Taoists (MCCBCHST), the government continued its practice of restricting visas for foreign Muslim and non-Muslim clergy under the age of 40 as a means of preventing “militant clergy” from entering the country.
  • The government continued to require, but did not strictly enforce, all Muslim civil servants to attend approved religion classes, and several government agencies pressured non-Muslim women to wear headscarves while attending official functions.
  • Kelantan’s restrictive laws prohibiting traditional performances such as Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit and overzealous enforcement on conservative women dressing codes and crackdown on hair salon publicity posters which displayed hair.

Positive note

The report ended with a positive note: “Unlike previous years, there were no reports of public anti-Semitic statements made by government representatives.”

John KerrryReleased on July 28 to mark International Religious Freedom Day, US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) stressed that “nations that protect this fundamental freedom will have the partnership of the United States and the abiding commitment of the American people as we seek to advance freedom of religion worldwide.”

Kerry also announced the following countries as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC): Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Turkmenistan has been designated a CPC for the first time this year.The reports, now in their 16th edition, are available on State.gov and HumanRights.gov.

Read the full report on Malaysia here.

PAS risks isolation if it quits Pakatan


July 30, 2014

PAS risks isolation if it quits Pakatan, analysts say

by Boo Su-Lyn and Ida Lim@www.themalaymailonline.com.my

PAS risks losing the support of some moderates, both Muslim and otherwise, if it pursues a path that is at odds with its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies on key issues, including its insistence on hudud laws and retaining Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor Mentri Besar, observers said.

Hadi2Trust his Judgement of Khalid Ibrahim?

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said there is increasing belief within PAS that it can do better without PKR, but warned that such confidence could backfire if snap polls are called as a result of the imbroglio over Khalid’s position as Selangor MB.

“PAS will be the biggest loser and PAS will also be the cause of Pakatan’s losses,” Wan Saiful told Malay Mail Online when contacted. “But not because of hudud. It will simply be because they will have to rely on their own supporters and their numbers are not that big. Their gains so far are because of Pakatan,” the political analyst added.

Wan Saiful said PAS is mistaken if it believes that it can have a better chance of implementing hudud, the controversial Islamic penal code, by leaving PR. “The only party talking about hudud in the country is PAS. If they continue that campaign alone, they will become a truly lone voice,” he said.

PAS has expanded beyond its northern Malay strongholds in Kedah and Kelantan and made significant inroads in the west coast states in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, bagging 23 and 21 parliamentary seats in total respectively. In 2004, it only won seven seats.

PAS, PKR and DAP worked together in 2008 by not contesting in the same seats. The political cooperation was formalised as the PR pact shortly after the 2008 general election, and the coalition mounted a strong challenge against Barisan Nasional (BN) in Election 2013, robbing the long-ruling coalition of a two-thirds majority and pushing it to its weakest election performance.

In Election 2013, PAS was represented in every state in Peninsula Malaysia at the federal or state level, except for Negri Sembilan. Merdeka Center Chief Ibrahim Suffian said PAS’ campaign for hudud has eroded its non-Malay support.

“It will definitely be punished by non-Malay voters if it is out of Pakatan,” Ibrahim told Malay Mail Online. PAS’ best option is to renew its commitment to Pakatan and abide by its decisions and use the remainder of the term to deliver on promises and showcase its positive universalist values,” the political analyst added.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said PAS risks losing mixed seats that have a significant non-Malay and non-Muslim electorate if snap polls were to be called in Selangor, pointing to the Islamist party’s diminished electoral performance in the 2008 general election. “There was a period when PAS did not win that many seats in Selangor,” Khoo told Malay Mail Online.

PAS won 15 state seats in Selangor in the general election last year, while DAP and PKR won 15 and 14 seats respectively, allowing PR to form the state government with a two-thirds majority in the 56-seat state legislative assembly. In the 2008 general election, however, PAS bagged just eight state seats in Selangor.

Centre for Policy Initiatives Director Dr Lim Teck Ghee said PAS’s Malay support would decline further if the party were to leave PR. “Their best option if they want to be politically relevant is to remain with PR,” Lim told Malay Mail Online.

Some within PAS have reportedly agreed with PKR and DAP during the PR presidential council meeting last week that Khalid should be removed from his office as Selangor Mentri Besar, but the Islamist party’s top leaders — president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat — have thrown their support behind the PKR man.

A senior PR leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said PR could lose Selangor if snap polls are called because PAS could lose more than half of its seats, while DAP could lose two to three seats and PKR could lose three to four seats.

“Without a handful of PAS seats to support PR, PKR and DAP will likely lose Selangor with only 24 to 25 seats in total,” he told Malay Mail Online. “PAS was heavily reliant on an overwhelming non-Malay support to win many of their seats in GE13. Their positions on hudud, Al-Kitab and their betrayal of Pakatan Rakyat over the MB issue will severely damage their support from the minorities, while at the same time, not give them any additional support from the Malays vis-a-vis support for UMNO,” the leader added.

The PR leader said the seven PAS seats at risk in a snap election are Sabak, Dusun Tua, Seri Serdang, Paya Jaras, Sijangkang, Morib and Tanjung Sepat-seats it won in 2013 with majorities below 2,000 votes.

PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayub admitted that his party stood to lose the most from a snap election. “PAS will suffer the most. If we fail to solve the problem, Pakatan Rakyat may lose the state election,” Salahuddin told Malay Mail Online when contacted on Monday.

But he said that PR will “try to avoid” having to go through a fresh round of elections by resolving the Selangor Menteri Besar issue in the pact’s upcoming presidential meeting.

SAK AK47: Short Take on Khalid Ibrahim


July 30, 2014

SAK AK47:  Short Take on Khalid Ibrahim

 Just a short take. The 2 hot issues now I think are (1) the leaked conversation between PAS members in their whatsapp group. In particular the scenario analysis of Dr Zuhdi Marzuki about the position of PAS and (2) the ignorance of Khalid Ibrahim about the unspoken rules of politics.

Nik Aziz has been proven wrong in the past

Ariff SabriMuch as I respect and revere Tok Guru Nik Aziz, he has been proven to be wrong on several occasions when judging personalities. He may be a pious man but it’s not possible for any human to have complete qashaf or knowledge beyond the physical.

I remember a long time ago, he was supportive of Abu Hassan Omar a onetime MB of Selangor. He gave such a resounding endorsement to Abu Hassan who the later expressed syukur to Nik Aziz. Abu Hassan turned out to be a dud despite Nik Aziz’s endorsement. So if I were Khalid Ibrahim, I would not be counting my chickens too soon.

I have not written about this- because the official stand of DAP is to allow these parties directly involved in these issues to sort them out. In the case of the scenario analysis, PAS should make its stand clear on this. In the case of the Selangor MB- PKR and Khalid Ibrahim.So readers please take note: this is a personal opinion of mine.

MB-ship is not like CEO of Guthrie

Khalid Ibrahim must stop believing that his position as MB is the same as being the CEO of Guthrie or even Permodalan Nasional Berhad. He is MB because his party together with the endorsement of the other PR parties agreed on his position. We do not have direct elections in choosing the MB. Khalid as an economics teacher (he taught is Sekolah Menengah Abdul Rahman Talib in Kuantan) cannot comprehend this? Instead he makes a big fuss about PAS supporting his position as MB. Where is his honour in this instance?

Khalid has no support from his own Party

You don’t have support from your own party; you have to depend on the support of another? Then he should quit PKR and join PAS. Or PAS can insist on wanting their man to become MB. They can, as suggested by Dr Zuhdi team up with UMNO and retain Khalid Ibrahim, whom the future of Selangor depended.

They must do so, because Khalid Ibrahim is the only man who can develop Selangor. PAS has only kampung ustazs and lay preachers who are more interested in other worldly pursuits and using Islam and a control tool. That will satisfy the power crazy and position starved PAS members who want to have positions in government.

 

PKR, doing a fine job of crushing dreams


July 30, 2014

Message to Anwar Ibrahim and Cohorts

PKR, doing a fine job of crushing dreams

After pledging to effect political reform, all PKR has succeeded in doing in Selangor is plunge it into chaos, making it the laughing stock of the nation.

“Many voters today concede that their vote for PKR was a mistake as they have been forced to put up with a ‘comedy of errors’ literally, with the operative word here being ‘errors’, in the last one year.”-Fernandez.

COMMENT

July 29, 2014

Dear PKR leaders,

AzizahWhat happened to Ubah sebelum Parah?

I am a Selangor resident who unashamedly and proudly voted for PKR in the last two general elections.I voted for reforms, a better Selangor and a “new Malaysia” after being sick and tired of the UMNO brand of politics.

Today after six years, my fellow voters in Selangor will agree that many of us are disillusioned with the state of affairs both in Selangor and within PKR. The party’s many instances of infighting, the practice of nepotism, the abuse of power among their power crazy leaders and the sheer lack of strategy and direction have left many voters wondering what happened to their dream of change that was promised.

The Kajang Move was an excellent example of a poorly thought through strategy. It was doomed to fail from the start. This is a typical case of a blind “de facto leader” who only seems to be promoting his personal interests while indulging in self-glorification (He only wants to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia).

Whilst the prudent financial management of the state’s coffers is commendable, the irony is that the Menteri Besar has failed to address basic issues that matter most to voters. Poor rubbish collection, water shortages, increases in the cost of living, poor public transportation, clogged drains and filthy eateries are just some of the issues voters face on a daily basis.

Many voters today concede that their vote for PKR was a mistake as they have been forced to put up with a ‘comedy of errors’ literally, with the operative word here being ‘errors’, in the last one year.

The writing on the wall is clear.

Abe's StatueUnless PKR has the political will to reform itself and address critical issues affecting the daily lives of the people of Selangor, it can rest assured it will not retain power in Selangor in the next elections. This would be extremely sad as many of us in the state had places our hopes on CHANGE-UBAH.

Let me conclude with a thought-provoking quote from President Abraham Lincoln that should serve as a reminder to our leaders from both sides of the political divide.” You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

*W. Fernandez is a FMT reader.

Can PAS be trusted to do it right for an Inclusive and Just Malaysia?


July 29, 2014

Can PAS be trusted do it right for an inclusive and Just Malaysia?

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Thank you, Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki.

mohd zuhdi marzukiThank you, for your honesty and bringing into the open what many supporters of Pakatan Rakyat have suspected for a while now and which The Malaysian Insider has touched on in the last few days: that the removal of Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as the Selangor Menteri Besar has become a sideshow.

The real issue is the percolating fight in PAS between those aligned to Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who are more comfortable sharing power with UMNO than with PKR and DAP.

It is a fight within PAS on whether the Islamist party should continue to preach the Pakatan Rakyat mantra of inclusiveness and justice for all Malaysians or return to its narrow path of Malay and Muslim supremacy. This battle in PAS will reach a crescendo on August 10 when the party leaders meet. But in the meantime, both factions – the moderate, professional class and the hardliners – are engaged in a sizzling behind-the-scenes war of words.

And this was the context in which Zuhdi’s WhatsApp message was leaked out. To be fair to the Director of operations of the PAS Research Centre, no one knows what comment from the other PAS CWC member or member elicited that response from him.

Besides calling Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a dictator and wishing that he retired from politics, Zuhdi also offered a political scenario out of the Khalid impasse: that PAS form a simple-majority government with UMNO and retain Khalid as Menteri Besar.

Zuhdi has been put to the sword on social media platforms and given the antipathy of the party grassroots towards UMNO, any move to join forces with UMNO could really split PAS down the centre. But that is a story for another time.

Zuhdi has been on the defensive but really, he does not need to defend his remarks.It is good that voters know the thinking of those aligned to Hadi. It is important that voters understand that what is at stake is not a simple change of the Chief Executive of Selangor.

The PAS hardliners are entitled to change course, bail out of Pakatan Rakyat and return to the welcoming embrace of like-minded religious and racial chauvinists in UMNO. Apparently, PAS hardliners find it suffocating having to share power with DAP and PKR elected representatives, and they believe that Islam is under threat and that non-Muslims and liberal Muslims must be kept in their place.

HadiGood luck to the Hadi camp. But what about the so-called professionals and moderates? They know the position of the hardliners. Are they also going to turn their backs on a more inclusive Malaysia? Are they going to forget the legions of Malaysians who tossed aside decades of misgivings about PAS to vote for PAS candidates contesting under the Pakatan Rakyat banner in 2008 and 2013?

Are they willing to join forces with UMNO politicians with whom they have battled so vigorously on the corrosive issues of corruption, race and religion? In short, are the moderates going to sell out the people who put them in office?

It may have started out as the “Kajang move” or the grand plan to remove Khalid as Selangor MB, but today, it is much more than that. It is about the future of PAS, the future of Pakatan Rakyat. And allowing UMNO back into power through the back door.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/xxx1#sthash.WQT9sahn.dpuf

 

 

Arrogance of Power and Some Shady Deals will lead to Khalid Ibrahim’s eventual political demise


July 29, 2014

Arrogance of Power and Some Shady Deals will lead to Khalid Ibrahim’s eventual political demise

“It needs now, in the intervening period before the PAS central committee meets, for light to be shed on the dubiousness of Khalid’s deal with Bank Islam for him to be painted into a corner. It’s a corner out of which not even the most powerful personages in PAS can credibly bail him out.”–Terence Netto

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: A week is a long time in politics, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously remarked. It’s less than a fortnight to the PAS central committee meeting that will finalise the party’s stance on the move to remove Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

AzizahThe PKR Top Team: Anwar, Saifuddin Nasution, Azmin Ali and Wan Azizah

Wilson’s musing on the passage of time on political events was to point up its effect as a solvent rather more than as coagulant. Time, as the wily survivor of many daunting wrangles in a faction-ridden British Labour Party in the 1960s was saying, has a bracing effect on political stances that at the outset may look more likely to bring disaster than relief.

Time’s solvent effect was perhaps the consideration behind PKR de facto Anwar Ibrahim’s statement of confidence the other day that the consensus-forging process within Pakatan Rakyat would prevail over the centrifugal forces let loose in the opposition coalition by the divisive matter of Khalid’s removal.

His ouster is desired by PKR and backed by DAP. The upper bracket of leadership of their Pakatan ally, PAS, has demurred though significant players in the Islamist party’s penultimate tier assented to Khalid’s removal.

Anwar and KhalidThe Winner is (?)

It looks like a fearful wrangle, but this is just the sort of twister that democratic politics exists to resolve, with its deliberative wheels of consultation and debate, all of which thrive on the attenuation from first – and often unreliable – impulses provided by the passage of time.

First – and inevitably, destructive – impulses were on display in the debate in social media on the options open to the party as a result of the fallout from the Khalid issue.The discussion on WhatsApp among some PAS central committee members, a snapshot of which was posted by this web news portal, exhibited the strengths and drawbacks of this promethean tool called social media.

Social media is useful for galvanising action towards constructive ends. By the same token it an easy vent for the impulsive and the rash.The latter feature is not healthy when vexed issues are being deliberated. For counsel to be wise cool detachment from the madding crowd is vital.

Pakatan will be blown to vanishing if fraught issues, whose causes have not been adequately ventilated in advance, are left like washing hung out to dry on an extremely windy day.

‘Paint him into a corner’

Khalid the MoleThe End is Near for a Man who held lots of Promise in 2008

Khalid’s moral transgressions implied in the deal that settled his long standing dispute with Bank Islam over the Guthrie shares he purchased with a loan from the bank quickly became obvious to insiders but not to initiates. Subsequent to the deal, the alacrity with which the water agreement between the Selangor state government and the federal’s was signed was unseemly.

The water agreement, like Khalid’s dispute with Bank Islam, had been long held up. Both issues’ sudden and expeditious settlement had the odor of the illicit.

Worse, the green light he appears to want to giveto the Kinrara-Damansara (Kidex) highway project was a violation of the Pakatan promise before GE-13 that there would be no more toll roads in Selangor.

This series of misdemeanors is serious enough to get him indicted in the bar of informed public opinion in Selangor. But, save for the Kidex highway, most people find the issues connected to the water agreement opaque and are unaware of the facts behind the banking deal.

But as matters such as his loss in the PKR divisional polls and his almost certain defeat by Anwar loyalist Azmin Ali in the race for Deputy President of the party make clear that he is not exactly popular, the clamour for his exit as MB mounted in tandem with his shameless public resistance to the notion.

It needs now, in the intervening period before the PAS central committee meets, for light to be shed on the dubiousness of Khalid’s deal with Bank Islam for him to be painted into a corner. It’s a corner out of which not even the most powerful personages in PAS can credibly bail him out.

SELANGOR: Removal of Khalid Ibrahim checkmated by PAS’ Spiritual Leader


July 28, 2014

SELANGOR: Removal of Khalid Ibrahim checkmated by PAS’ Spiritual Leader

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/270038

Khalid the MoleThanks to Frank for the Above

COMMENT: Can we take it that because the word of the Mursyidul Am (spiritual leader) of PAS nearly enjoys the sanctity of holy writ, Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s demurral over the PKR attempt to remove Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim means the move is dead in the water?Without PAS’s support the PKR attempt, though backed by its Pakatan Rakyat partner DAP, is hobbled and, if persisted in, risks the break-up of the six-year-old opposition coalition, as Lim Guan Eng has warned.After PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang had the day before yesterday announced he saw no good reason why Khalid should be removed as Selangor MB – despite a slew of other high-ranking PAS leaders having earlier endorsed the move – it only remained for the spiritual leader of the party to state his stand for the rest of Pakatan to know what effectively is the PAS position.

Now that the Tok Guru has adopted an identical position to that of the party president, the PAS stance becomes clear: It’s a no-go to the PKR initiative to have a new MB for Selangor. PAS is a democratic party with a monolithic superstructure. It’s imperative for members and subordinate leaders to follow what the president says while the word of the spiritual leader is regarded as sacrosanct.

We have seen in the last six years of Pakatan’s emergence as a government-in-waiting how the Tok Guru is the final word on any issue affecting PAS. No one can buck him in the Islamic party. This fact was vividly demonstrated in the early days of Pakatan’s emergence as a political entity when a move by PAS to commence unity talks with UMNO gathered pace.

The talks boded ill for PAS’s continued presence and collaboration with partners DAP and PKR in Pakatan. The planned talks were a follow-through to the one surreptitiously conducted in the wee hours of March 9, 2008 when an UMNO that was jolted by severe reverses in the national polls held the previous day sought a spurious unity with their long standing rivals for the Malay vote.

Nik Aziz simply pulled the brakes on the entire matter.  He spoke out against the unity talks with UMNO even as it appeared that he was the only leader of prominence in his party bold enough to set his face against collaboration with UMNO.

Formidable clout

Though seemingly alone in his opposition, not only to the idea of a unity government but also to the exploration of the initiative, his clout was formidable enough to bury the boondoggle for good. Nik Aziz might be old (he is 83) and ailing, he’s still a huge influence on PAS, a stature gained by his incorruptibility during 23 years as MB of Kelantan, by the simplicity of his lifestyle, his at times perspicacious pronouncements, and his refreshing freedom from the racism that warps Malaysian society.

In the 16 years of the emergence of the reformasi movement, catalysed by the travails of Anwar Ibrahim, NikDSAI Aziz has shown sympathy for the tribulations endured by the PKR leader on account of UMNO’s deliberate campaign to smother the threat to their continued rule posed by Anwar.

Snuffing out the effort by a faction within PAS wanting to forge common ground with UMNO was seen as a move by Nik Aziz that favoured Anwar’s campaign to draw Malay/Muslim support away from UMNO-BN and channel it towards Pakatan. But now it appears there are limits to Nik Aziz’s receptivity to Anwar’s maneuvers.

In not wanting to go along with the move to remove Khalid as Selangor MB and to replace him with PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, it is quite clear that the PAS supremo’s receptivity to Anwar’s presentation of a case for action is not as it was before.

Might this be the closure of a phase of empathy between Anwar and vital higher-ups in PAS on issues of national import, a phase that began when Fadzil Noor, the PAS President (1989-2002) before Abdul Hadi, who had a special tie to Anwar and was responsible for steering his party into the lead role in the general clamour for justice when Anwar was goaled following his sacking from UMNO in 1998?

What’s next?

With Nik Aziz and the party’s current president united in giving the thumbs down to the move to remove Khalid, how are the rest in Pakatan who want a new MB for Selangor to effect the change?

Obviously, the forces in PAS that favour Khalid’s removal would have to find some way round the party’s top two leaders’ disapproval. Could a circumventing move succeed given the way PAS is constituted where the president’s opinion is taken as the party’s preferred stance and the spiritual leader’s advice is viewed as sacrosanct?

For some time now the argument has gained credence that a discernible divide in PAS between the Quranic literalists and those of not inflexible interpretation would arrive at the point where each would have to go separate ways.

The former take positions on issues that tend to drive a wedge between them and the more liberal rest of Pakatan whereas the latter hew to interpretations that are broadly compatible with their DAP and PKR allies. Increasingly, it is felt that Pakatan’s cohesion as a tripartite coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS is dependent on the collusion of that part of PAS that is less literalist and inflexible.

Is that faction realistic enough to see that going along with its literalistic brethren in PAS places Pakatan at risk of a break-up and with that the incineration of hopes of an opposition coalition ever supplanting an irredeemably decayed UMNO-BN in Putrajaya?


TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for four decades now. He likes the profession because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.

 

Time to throw in the towel, Anwar Ibrahim


July 27, 2014

Time to throw in the towel, Anwar Ibrahim

by Jasmine Wong@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

AzizahThe long spell of drought we are experiencing these past months pretty much mirrors the long spell of drought Anwar’s camp has been experiencing in their many failed attempts to wrest control of the Selangor Menteri Besar’s (MB) post from Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Deftly avoiding the brickbats hurled at him like a Matrix warrior, Khalid has been happily going about his business, keeping his head down while strategically strengthening ties with the Palace and holding quiet talks with his ally, PAS’ President Abdul Hadi Awang, to keep the snarling hounds at bay.

Looks like it’s paid off for Khalid as Hadi has made it official he will back Khalid in his bid to retain his post as MB of Malaysia’s richest state. With both Hadi’s and HRH The Sultan’s support, looks like Anwar has been hung out to dry despite jubilantly naming just days ago, his wife and PKR party president Dr. Wan Azizah, as Khalid’s replacement.

What baffles me is that Anwar confidently stated he had secured the buy-in of DAP and PAS. How does he now explain Hadi’s decision to back the very man he is trying to unseat?

It does look like the Kajang Move, the precursor to unseating Khalid, was ‘much ado about nothing’. As wasAnwar and Khalid the brouhaha over Dr.Wan Azizah that has come to a premature end.With so many manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres to oust Khalid failing, it does show up Pakatan for the sorry bunch of amateur politicians they are, who despite having the numbers, lack the finesse to gain political ground in just one state in Malaysia.

Hadi also has the support of Nik Aziz, the ulamas and the youth within PAS in his endorsement of Khalid. With this new development, just what trick will Anwar pull out of his hat this time in his last ditch effort to launch yet another intervention?

For once, Anwar cannot pin the blame of this catastrophe on Barisan Nasional, as the main players in this ‘game gone wrong’ have all come from within his own opposition coalition, save HRH The Sultan who is beholden to no one.

Despite many Pakatan supporters refusing to consider that money, and lots of it, is the motive behind casting Khalid aside, we must ask why the Kajang Move, as ill-conceived as it was, was put into motion in the first place.

RafiziRafizi Ramli’s flaky explanation for the move being a launch pad for Anwar’s future political dominance in Putrajaya was an insult to our intelligence. There was obviously something more sinister lurking behind it.

With all the recent relevations surrounding the water deal gushing out in the media, it does look like Anwar and his band of brothers were merely eyeing Selangor’s pot of gold.

This Hari Raya while good triumphs over evil, Khalid can sit back, safe in the knowledge that Selangor will continue to prosper under his shrewd eye and tight fist. To the rest in Pakatan who are livid their recent plans have gone awry yet again, simmer down! Rafizi is bound to hatch another harebrained plan he will force us to swallow. Time to throw in the towel Anwar, and let someone else lead the cause.

Jasmine Wong is a FMT columnist.

 

 

MH 17: Malaysia’s “Quiet Diplomacy” triumphs


July 27, 2013

MH 17: Malaysia’s “Quiet Diplomacy” triumphs

by A. Jalil Hamid@www.nst.com.my

CAPPING nearly two weeks of intense international diplomacy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak travels to the Netherlands this Wednesday for crucial talks relating to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 recovery and investigation.

Mark RutteHis meeting with his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte (left), in The Hague will focus on ways to secure full access for an international team investigating the cause of the crash at the site in eastern Ukraine.

Just five days into the July 17 incident, Najib scored a major diplomatic coup by securing a surprise deal with pro-Russian separatists that required them to surrender MH17 flight recorders, return the remains of the victims and allow the independent team full access to the crash site.Two of the three conditions have been met.

Needless to say, this is a major triumph for Najib’s “quiet diplomacy”. Both his political foes and the usually blunt Western media have heaped praise for his meticulous skills in the way the delicate process was handled: quiet, discreet, behind-the-scenes and effective.

It was, to say the least, a difficult situation. Just as how the MH370 episode unfolded, there was no precedent.

From day one, Najib took charge of the situation by assembling a small team of close advisers and workingNajib and Putin tirelessly on the phone with the leaders of Australia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

“For two nights in a row, I almost didn’t sleep because I was calling world leaders,” he quipped. His biggest break came when the Prime Minister, using back channels, managed to speak on the phone with Alexander Borodai, the self-declared leader of the Donetsk separatists and the man who controlled the crash site.

It was an excellent diplomatic approach, as Malaysia was unlikely to make a lot of inroads if we were to rely solely on the US and Europe — which, by the way, are quite wary of Russia over the Ukraine conflict — for help. In fact, 21st century international relations must consider “non-state actors” as influential groups. This is a known fact in contemporary international relations.

Najib’s negotiations with Borodai should not be equated with an endorsement of the separatist movement. He is just letting go of his stature for the sake of the family members of those who were on board MH17.His quiet diplomacy worked this time around because it is in Malaysia’s interest to get the remains and the black boxes out of the crash site quickly and safely.

The quiet diplomacy approach will also not drag us into the power game between Russia and the US. It is an open secret that Russia, which has a firm hold over Borodai, will not release the remains and the black boxes directly to the Americans.

Najib and ObamaWhatever US intentions are in Ukraine, the MH17 issue should not be turned into a political tug-of-war to further Washington’s interests in the region. Privately, some US diplomats, not surprisingly, had some reservations about the outcome of the Malaysian deal with Borodai.

The pro-Russian separatists and Russia also have to prove to the world that they are not the way Western governments and the Western media would like to portray them.

Qquiet diplomacy could prove to be our major foreign policy strategy going forward. We have seen howNajib and Abbott the Prime Minister had recently gained a reputation as a deal-broker by mediating the peace process in the southern Philippines. Najib’s diplomatic mettle could go down in history as a major lesson in crisis management and leadership.

Equally significant is the domestic impact of his move; even the Opposition had praised him for his astuteness and ability to secure the deal with the rebel commander.The key lesson here: quiet diplomacy can accomplish some things not otherwise possible.

Palestine radicalising Muslim Youth


July 27, 2014

COMMENT: The Obama Administration’s Middle East Policy has failed, and faileddinmerican miserably mainly because it continues to aid and support Israel’s illegal land grabbing activities, and condone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s  expansionist policies by military means to secure its borders. President Obama, a stooge of corporate interests and the Jewish lobby, refuses to realise that Israel–and the United States is a willing partner– is helping to radicalise Muslim Youths around the world to support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people in the defense of their homeland. 

 “Solve the Palestinian issue — and half the battle is won. Or go on intimidating them at Israel’s own peril”, says my friend, Johan Jaafar and I agree. Anti-US sentiment is spreading fast throughout the Muslim world. The problems in Libya where the US must  now shut down its embassy, Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Arab world are clear and irrefutable evidence of US myopia and  its unwillingness to deal with the root causes of unrest and instability in Palestine. Its policy of favoring Israel while advocating a two state solution is, therefore, hypocrisy  at best.

I have posted a number of articles on the Palestinian Question on this blog and have not received any comments from my American friends and readers on US Middle East policy. That is disappointing. I hope it is not a sign that Americans in general are disinterested observers of Israeli brutality and arrogance of power in Gaza and other parts of Palestine. A bully who is heavily dependent on American taxpayers for funding its military ambitions and housing is actually a coward. The Palestinians are a strong people with well honed survival skills, and can take on the Israeli Defense Forces, if they are well equipped. The Hezbollah in Lebanon have shown that Israel is not invincible. –Din Merican

Palestine radicalising Muslim Youth

by Tan Sri Johan Jaafar@www,nst.com.my (07-26-14)

PALESTINE is the single most important factor for the radicalisation of Muslim youth. We all know that. So, too, the leaders of the United States and Israel. For the last six decades, the Palestinian issue has been widely cited as the catalyst of the anger, anxiety and disgust among Muslims. Many among the young — some of them well-educated — embraced militancy.

Johan JaafarThe Muslim world watches with trepidation and a sense of hopelessness as Israel attacks what’s left of the little stretches of land called Palestine year after year. Life has been miserable for the occupants. Death is always hovering in the shadows. They live in an open-air prison ready for bombardment by the Israeli security forces, any time, and with the flimsiest of excuses. And it normally comes at the most difficult and challenging month — Ramadan.

This year’s Ramadan is no exception. The Israelis certainly know how to intimidate and inflict maximum insult on the Muslim world. There are few occasions when one hears Muslims the world over speak in the same voice. Palestine rallies Muslims unlike any other issue. And despite differing interests, Israel is the source of their anger. And of course, its No. 1 protector, the United States.

GazaGaza–Target of Israeli Bombing

The US has not lifted a finger to castigate the Israelis for the recent attacks. We have heard President Barack Obama say the right things about Islam and Muslims but yet to see him doing the right thing for Palestine. There are more than 800 deaths and thousands injured so far. The US has been mumbling about the right of Israel to defend itself. What about the horrendous images of carnage and devastation in Palestine? And the fact that the prime minister of Israel accusing Hamas for using “telegenically dead Palestinians” as a PR exercise?

I have seen the anger many times over. I was in Peshawar in the spring of 1989, where millions of Afghan refugees lingered in camps after the Russian invasion 10 years before that. President Mohammad Najibullah’s position was precarious. The mujahideen were emboldened. In Kunar Province and near Jalalabad I saw renewed determination to win the civil war. And they won.

A rag-tag army in kameez shalwar and sandals humiliating the second biggest army in the world? It happened. Afghanistan was a turning point in insurgency. Some of the mujahideen groups were well-funded, in part by the US. I met young commanders trained by the most organised Afghan faction, the Hisbi Islami at the so-called “Jihad University” in Peshawar. They were ready to face the world, anywhere, anytime.

Young Muslims from the world over came to support and die for a worthy cause. Afghanistan was a good enough, just cause. It was people’s struggle — qiam omumi, not unlike the intifada of the Palestinians. Fighting the Russians and later Najibullah’s forces was a noble thing to do. But 9/11 changed all that. With a stroke of a pen, they all became terrorists.

But nothing compares to Palestine. The simmering anger against Israel is beyond reproach. Palestine is the rallying cry against injustice. In his piece (NST, July 23) Tan Sri Mohamed Jawhar asked what is it about the Palestinians that they have become the victims of so many injustices and tragedies? “No other people have had their land taken away and given to whom they did absolutely no wrong,” said the piece. READ: http://www.nst.com.my/node/16334

PalestinePalestinian Resistance

Israel has the right to exist but not at the expense of the Palestinians. The Palestinians have suffered enough. They are now sandwiched between high fences and a belligerent neighbour, and is a pawn in a geopolitical play. For millions of young Palestinians, they only know anger, misery and death.

Solve the Palestinian issue — and half the battle is won. Or go on intimidating them at Israel’s own peril. True, Israel has a superior army to suppress the population but they can’t go beyond the demands of human decency for another 60 years. If there is one race that understands the meaning of extermination, survival and injustices, it has to be the Israelis. Yet, they tend to forget their own history when they deal with the Palestinians. The US will face a daunting task to explain to the Muslim world why they are not really pushing for a final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There is only anger and revenge to motivate the Palestinians for now, and the resolve to overcome the odds. They are hardened by years of suffering and fighting. They will endure the pain many more years to come. And many more young Muslims will be radicalised. Will the world just watch the anger that reverberates beyond the borders of Palestine?

Support Tabung Kemanusiaan Palestin Media Prima Bhd in collaboration with Mercy Malaysia and Perdana Global Peace Foundation. Donate generously.

 

 

Indonesia’s Presidential Elections 2014: A Lesson for Malaysia


July 26, 2014

Indonesia’s Presidential Elections 2014: A Lesson for Malaysia

by Karim Raslan@www.thestar.com.my

http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Ceritalah/Profile/Articles/2014/07/26/Msia-can-learn-from-Indonesian-polls/

What’s striking is how much more advanced the republic’s elections have become, with the General Elections Commission uploading a photograph of each of the result forms from all 479,000 voting stations.

Jokowi. IrINDONESIA has a new President and – to the relief of many – it’s Joko Widodo or Jokowi as he is fondly known.

His extraordinary personal journey, from the slums of Solo to the Istana Negara, says as much about the man as it does about the republic itself, now into its 16th post-Reformasi year. The excitement is palpable but we must hope and pray that this fairy tale-like story, with its egalitarian hue, ends in real achievements and a better life for all Indonesians.

Even though I am a proud Malaysian, the 2014 presidential elections has reminded me of how our politics is so very disappointing.We used to regard Indonesia as a basket case. But they have shown that their democracy hasn’t impeded economic development. Moreover, it remains vigorous despite the determined manipulation of the pre-Reformasi elites.

Consider this fact – some 133 million voters cast their ballots on July 9 – much more than some 120 million who turned out in 2009 to re-elect President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

Still, many of my Malaysian friends kept (and are still) buzzing me about the elections.This was especially after his challenger, Prabowo Subianto, regrettably and petulantly refused to accept the results. The tone from my fellow Malaysians was generally along these lines: “My God! It was so close!

Will Bapak be allowed to win? Will there be violence?” This, I suppose, betrays the fundamental differences in politics between Malaysia and Indonesia – as well as what we can learn from our neighbour to the south.

First off, Jokowi’s margin of victory over Prabowo (70,633,576 votes or 53.15% of the popular vote to 62,262,844 votes or 46.85%) was by more than eight million votes and 6%.

A narrow win? Perhaps. But let’s not forget that Barisan Nasional only won 47.38% of the popular vote in Malaysia’s 2013 general election.

Indeed, the eight million-plus voters who propelled Jokowi to victory make up over 60% of the total voter turnout at the Malaysian polls last year. So while Prabowo can try to halt Jokowi via legal challenges – the fact remains that the Solo-born entrepreneur’s victory was clear and decisive.

But what’s really struck me is how much more advanced and sophisticated Indonesia’s elections have become.On polling night itself, various reputable polling houses were able to release “quick counts” that gave a remarkably accurate reading of the election results.

Over the weeks that followed, the “real count” by the General Elections Commission of Indonesia (KPU) was updated in “real” time on their official website. Parallel websites were also put up by civil society groups, monitoring the recapitulation.

Furthermore, the KPU actually uploaded a photograph of each of the result forms (dubbed C1) from all 479,000 voting stations.This is transparency. Having had to endure our own elections first-hand on live TV, I can say that the Indonesian election process was far more open and robust.

Jokowi

A Remarkable Journey to the Presidency

More importantly, Indonesia’s elections – and I’ve said this before – also featured lively and extensive debates between Jokowi and Prabowo plus their running mates: five separate nationally televised events, covering a range of subjects from the economy to foreign policy.

This process forced the candidates to articulate and argue for their respective platforms. The debates varied – some were boring and over-full of rhetoric. Others were scintillating.Whatever the case, the voters were able to decide for themselves as to the suitability of the two candidates.

Indonesia and Malaysia are united by language but separated by political experience. We are still living in the equivalent of Suharto’s New Order with a drastically curtailed and censored media while they are savouring a dramatically more open environment. So for those who question the scale of Jokowi’s victory, I say don’t just look at the result, consider the process.Isn’t it time we move forward?

Karim Raslan is a regional columnist and commentator. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. His online documentaries can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/user/KRceritalah. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Khalid Ibrahim’s defiance may prove costly to PKR and PAS


July 26, 2014

Khalid Ibrahim’s defiance may prove costly to Anwar Ibrahim, PKR and PAS

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/269938

Terence Netto’s COMMENT: With him digging his heels in for the long haul, Pakatan Rakyat will discover that the remaining time on Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s watch may well turn out as Chandra Muzaffar predicted an Anwar Ibrahim premiership would: an “unmitigated disaster.”

That apocalyptic prediction, aired with days to go before General Election 12 (GE12) in March 2008, made the flesh of the then rapidly coalescing opposition to UMNO-BN creep horribly.

Never mind that the former Deputy President of PKR’s precursor, Parti Keadilan Nasional, had quit — in circumstances more to do with ego than with principle – after a few years of residence in the party he had helped found in 1999. Never mind, too, that his leaving had strengthened the reputed theory that intellectuals tend to be more bane than boon to a fledgling political party.

When Chandra (left) regressed to the extent of his truculent denigration of the moving force behind the reformasi movement on the eve of what was seen as a pivotal decision by the Malaysian electorate, his renunciation rankled like a case of apostasy of a prominent follower would in a Muslim community.

Several years down the road from its airing, Chandra’s dire prognostication of how an Anwar premiership would turn out is being played out in the saga of Khalid Ibrahim’s MB-ship of Selangor. In the last few weeks, even as it has become increasingly evident that Khalid has crossed the Rubicon in terms of some kind of accommodation with his own party with respect to his MB-ship, the notion that forces beyond Pakatan’s ability to manage are at work to help Khalid keep his job has become a suppurating wound in its flanks.

The wound has to be cauterised

The longer it lies exposed to the elements that are out to undermine Pakatan so as to gain UMNO-BN a return to power in the richest state in Malaysia, the more certain it will be that the 51.87% of the national electorate that voted Pakatan in May last year would not be encouraged to re-endorse the coalition at GE14, at least not the PKR and the PAS components of it.

At this juncture, both parties appear decidedly unreliable as trustees of the cause of political and economic reform of the country that the reformasi movement, galvanized by Anwar Ibrahim’s travails, had raised hopes for.

PAS’s insistence on implementing hudud in Kelantan and Anwar’s (right) seeming ineptitude vis-à-vis internecine feuding in PKR have combined to erode confidence in the two Pakatan components.

Only the DAP, in the tripartite Pakatan, appears steadily adherent to prior agreed goals of the coalition; by comparison, PAS and PKR are flaky.

Seeing as voters had how easily a PKR appointee as MB can turn out to be a quisling and keeping in mind that the top ranks of the party are riddled with former UMNO types cannot be very encouraging to voters who had cottoned on to the idea that UMNO-BN’s more than half-century rule had decayed irredeemably.

Khalid has to be jettisoned if the Pakatan government in Selangor is to renew its claims to the allegiance of those who voted for it in 2008 and 2013. But the signs are that Khalid has dug in for the long haul. He has done so in the belief he has the support of not only UMNO-BN, but also some quarters of Pakatan component PAS.

The latest indications of support for Khalid emanating from PAS President Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang tends to confirm that PAS has learned nothing from its troubles in Kedah in the 2010-12 spell when their MB, Azizan Abdul Razak, was under pressure from within the party’s ranks to quit. Hadi and company declined to give an incompetent MB the coup de grace just like how they are refusing now to cashier Khalid.

The upshot: Kedah was lost to UMNO-BN, with five parliamentary seats – three held by PAS and two by PKR – reverting to UMNO.

The longer Khalid is allowed to thumb his nose at the forces within Pakatan that want him out, the more certain it is that recriminations will mount in the PKR quarter at least, which would prompt critics from among that lot to muse on the magnitude of the misjudgment that has seen a man like Khalid morph into what he has become: a fifth columnist in PKR’s ranks.

Early signs of political ineptitude

To be sure, Khalid had shown troubling signs of political ineptitude on the very morning after Pakatan captured power in Selangor on March 8, 2008. He began discussing with Dr Hasan Ali, the then PAS chief in Selangor, the possibility of that man becoming deputy to him as MB.

What was egregious about that move was that Hassan had the previous night been in negotiations with Mohamad Khir Toyo, the UMNO-BN MB unseated by the Pakatan win in Selangor. The negotiations, premised on an UMNO-PAS unity government for Selangor, broke down over Hassan’s insistence on being the MB-designate.

A man of vaulting and dangerously unmanageable ambition, Hasan would go on to create a lot of tension in the Pakatan government in Selangor until PAS put an end to his dissidence by sacking him in January 2012.

Khalid had no clue on how to bring to heel a person whose vaulting ambition he had unwittingly spurred. Anwar has a clue on how to dispose of Khalid, but it appears he can’t get PAS to sign on.

If PAS cannot be persuaded to endorse the removal of Khalid, then the leader who was the principal adhesive in the, hitherto, improbable coalition between secular DAP and theocratic PAS will have been gravely undermined by one from his own quarter. The irony is too bitter for comment.

It will seem for far too often in his career such that one can draw a damaging inference, Anwar can’t quite tell friend from foe. There is a reason why he can’t; let’s leave that for another time. Suffice the flaw is of the gravest magnitude.

With his politicking and abandonment of principle, “Anwar has lost Malaysia forever”


July 25, 2014

With his politicking and abandonment of principle, “Anwar has lost Malaysia forever”

by Nathaniel Tan@www.malaysiakini.com

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/269832

DSAI

I never criticised Anwar publicly until the Kajang Move. Watching him continue to be obsessed about whatever little power he can fight over has been a continuing disappointment…Gone, it seems, are the dreams he sold us of a better Malaysia and a political movement based on firm principles. In its place is naked ambition, petty politicking, and greedy scavenging over whatever money that is up for grabs…with his abandonment of principle in favour of greed, it is certain that he has lost Malaysia forever.–Nathaniel Tan

COMMENT: First, he tried to topple Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, and failed. Then he tried to topple Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and failed. Finally, he tried to topple Najib Abdul Razak, and failed as well.

Even as Malaysia faces crisis after crisis, Anwar Ibrahim has now decided to set his sights even lower, and focus all his energies on toppling Khalid Ibrahim, the incumbent Menteri Besar of Selangor. There is a good chance he will fail there too. Anwar’s credibility is crumbling almost as fast as his integrity is disintegrating.

Anwar’s announcement that Wan Azizah will be the next Menteri Besar immediately brought to mind September 16, 20o8. It seems that once again, Anwar is bluffing. Instead of getting the numbers and then creating hype, he is creating hype in a sad attempt to get numbers. Once again, it is shoot first and ask questions later.

Anwar’s hope for September 16 was that if he could make everyone believe he had the numbers to take over the federal government by the crossover of parliamentarians, then more and more parliamentarians would join his cause and make the myth he was selling a reality.

When September 16 came, all of Malaysia saw Anwar revealed to be the fraud that he was – that he never had the numbers, and that he was doing nothing more than gambling with the nation’s future.

Tearing Pakatan apart

Instantly after Anwar announced PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the next Menteri Besar, PAS Selangor denied it had agreed to this move. This slams home the point that every anti-Khalid effort since the Kajang Move has achieved nothing except to tear Pakatan Rakyat apart.

At a Pakatan meeting that PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang (right) chose not to attend, Anwar failed to win the Islamist party’s endorsement for Wan Azizah, and was only able to achieve a joint statement saying “we’ll talk about it”.

PAS is very understandably asking why it should support PKR’s candidate (especially given how divided PKR is at this point), when it could very well push to take on the Menteri Besar’s position.

PAS appears to have had enough of browbeating and bullying by an ‘ally’ it sees as being all talk and no substance – the same party that PAS always has to support on the ground in elections because of PKR’s persistently hopeless or non-existent party machinery.

What would happen if PAS and PKR continue to be at loggerheads? Or if PAS decides to take the extreme measure of uniting with UMNO against PKR and DAP on the question of the Menteri Besar? Then, throughout Malaysia, Pakatan  Rakyat dies an early death at the tender age of six years.

All about increasing payout to water firm?

Already, as it is, one of the worst parts of this crisis is having to read sense from people we are so accustomed to spewing nonsense on. It is heart wrenching to see that, for once in their lives, it is the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Hassan Ali, Shamsuddin Lias (UMNO Opposition leader in Selangor), and even Utusan Malaysia taking the right side.

I’m sure some will be against what they say merely out of habit, but if we look at this objectively, it is painfully obvious that Pakatan leaders are bending over backwards to justify the unjustifiable. (I have already written no less than six articles addressing all the key issues used to criticise Khalid and ‘justify’ his removal.)

A theory that this coup d’etat has a lot to do with PKR favouring certain players in the waterRPK restructuring exercise that I alluded to some time ago is now breaking with even greater detail. Raja Petra Kamaruddin (right) has been wrong about a great many things, but he has been right on some; and I’m betting he is right on this one as well.

Consistent with this view is Rafizi Ramli’s blatant statement that the valuations of the water deal will change. I will bet significant sums of money that in this change, one water concessionaire will get a higher payout.

READ:http://www.malaysia-today.net/selangors-watergate-about-to-explode/ –by Raja Petra Kamaruddin

Puppet Rule

Wan Azizah is a great woman, and has always been personally very nice to me. She is an individual with a kind heart who has never given anyone cause to doubt her compassion or tenderness. In fairness, she cannot be said to have demonstrated the qualities of a strong leader.

I don’t think anybody harbours any illusion about who really runs PKR. Equally, no one harbours any illusion about who will run Selangor if Wan Azizah is elected Menteri Besar.

Already there are rumblings that should this change take effect, the ‘kontraktor berwibawa’ crony patronage system from Anwar’s days as Finance Minister will snake its way into Selangor’s administration. The very thought of it is probably already making Khalid balk.

Enjoying the accountability-free position of ‘de facto leader’, whatever that means, Anwar seems to want to extend his undemocratic portfolio to de facto leader of Selangor. This system and pairing is not only undemocratic, it has proven thoroughly ineffective.

PKR is easily the worst-run party in Malaysia. For one thing, countries the size of India and Indonesia are able to start nationwide elections after, and finish them before, PKR’s own farce of internal party elections.

Anwar’s influence in the party is equally in shambles. Even with the fielding of his candidate for deputy president Dato’ Saifuddin Nasution (left) to act as a third corner spoiler, Khalid is still toe-to-toe in the elections with the party’s other feudal boss, Azmin Ali – a clear indication that even the party grassroots want change.

Anwar’s other trusted lieutenant, Rafizi Ramli, has meanwhile fallen considerably behind in the vice-president’s race. In fact, Anwar’s only candidate that won in the PKR race was the one who won uncontested.

The death of principles

Once again, it’s hard to write these things. When I worked for Anwar, and was arrested one weekend, he came with others to stand vigil outside the Dang Wangi Police station, calling for my release. I apologise if writing the following makes me ungracious.

At the same time, I cannot forget another anecdote, that Nurul Izzah Anwar often shares when at events with Khalid. She regales audiences about how when Anwar was sent to prison, no high profile Malaysian dared to come and visit him in Sungai Buloh for fear of sharing his taint. No one except Khalid.

However, it now seems that all bets are off. When any politician reneges on his promise to relinquish power when he promised to, red flags and alarm bells should be blaring. Anwar’s excuse for not quitting after GE13, like he said he would, was, “we won the popular vote, so I’m not quitting,” immediately demonstrating that he had been bluffing all along.

How sad to see a man once regarded as intelligent, dynamic and principled make up such flimsy excuses and cling so shamelessly to empty trappings of power.

Should Khalid fail to step down after his second term as he announced, then he will deserve similar derision.

I never criticised Anwar publicly until the Kajang Move. Watching him continue to be obsessed about whatever little power he can fight over has been a continuing disappointment.

Gone, it seems, are the dreams he sold us of a better Malaysia and a political movement based on firm principles. In its place is naked ambition, petty politicking, and greedy scavenging over whatever money that is up for grabs.

A good friend reminded me: as we all long desperately to remove BN, the question we must ask ourselves is whether we are willing to sacrifice our integrity in order to replace BN. Does our desperation to reach these ends truly justify any and all means?

It remains to be seen whether Anwar will wrest Selangor; but with his abandonment of principle in favour of greed, it is certain that he has lost Malaysia forever.

The Persecution of Kassim Ahmad: A-G Gani Patail loses again


July 24, 2014

The Persecution of Kassim Ahmad: A-G Gani Patail loses again

by Din Merican

In the past two weeks, the mainstream media have been screaming the news that Kassim Ahmad had lost in his attempt to get leave to sue the Minister of Religious Affairs, the Syariah Chief Prosecutor and the Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI). It is as if they were gleeful that Kassim Ahmad had initially lost in the High Court and then failed to get a stay in the Court of Appeal.

The Malay media, especially Utusan Malaysia, portrayed that Kassim Ahmad will finally meet his doom in the Syariah Court for “menghina Islam”. That immediately made the already controversial Kassim Ahmad Islam’s Public Enemy No.1 in Malaysia.

But what stunned me most was that the Malay Muslim public was even quicker to label the counsel whoRosli Dahlan acted for Kassim Ahmad as also “bersubahat” or an accomplice to an enemy of Islam. Thus it was that my young friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan who acts for Kassim Ahmad ended up being painted negatively as if he too was an enemy of Islam. I know Rosli to be a deeply religious person, and that such remarks would hurt him.

What most people do not realize is that Rosli is the 1st batch of the law graduates of the International Islamic University (IIU). I know Rosli is proud of his alma mater and fiercely loyal to the concept of justice taught by his mentor, the late Professor Tan Sri Ahmad Ibrahim.

I know that because on the occasions that I get to speak to him about civil rights including when we had lunch with the former US Ambassador John R Mallot, Rosli was passionate about the Rule of Law and justice and insisted that these two concepts are not just Islamic concepts but are the demands of the Syariah. John and I found that very refreshing that a UIA graduate is not insisting on the importance of implementing Hudud but was more concerned about the justice that an Islamic system would bring.

That gave me an insight as to why Rosli would defend Kassim Ahmad and persevered even as he faced initial failures when the High Court rejected his bid to seek Judicial Review against the Minister Agama, the Chief Prosecutor and JAWI. But today is a different story.

Today, most alternative media reported that Rosli succeeded in persuading the Court of Appeal that Kassim Ahmad should be given leave to challenge Minister Agama, the Chief Prosecutor and JAWI. Today, the Court of Appeal unanimously directed the High Court to hear the judicial review application filed by scholar -researcher and public intellectual Kassim Ahmad.

Today, Rosli perseverance in fighting for Kassim’s case paid off. Today, Rosli won against the A-G in Kassim Ahmad’s case (Malaysiakini’s report below).

But, one of the reporters also whispered something to me that many people may have forgotten. This is the end of Ramadan. In 2007, at this time of Ramadan, Rosli was brutalized by the MACC and that started his on-going battles since then with the AG and others whom he called the “rogues in government”.

What the reporter whispered to me was that after Judge Vazeer Alam ruled that the AG is not immuned from legal action brought by Rosli, A-G Gani Patail has been avoiding going to trial. And yesterday, A-G Gani Patail succeeded in getting a Stay Order so that Rosli’s case against A-G Gani Patail and 11 others will not see the light of to trial. READ : http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/a-g-gani-patail-is-not-above-the-law/

I was sad for Rosli, here he is successfully fighting Kassim Ahmad’s case, but , unknown to many he suffers another personal tragedy when his own case against AG Gani Patail cannot go on. But I know Rosli, he will not yield. He will not surrender. He will persevere. He is a fighter and I know he will fight to the end until he thinks justice has been served!

____________________________________

Malaysiakini article on Kassim Ahmad’s Judicial Review bid

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/269747

High Court must hear scholar’s review bid

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com (07-24-14)

The Court of Appeal in a unanimously decision today ordered the High Court inKualaLumpur to hear the judicial review application filed by scholar Kassim Ahmad.In ruling that the civil court has jurisdiction to hear matters pertaining to questionable actions by Islamic religious authorities, the appellate court ordered the case to be remitted to the High Court to hear its merits.kassim-ahmadJustice Balia Yusof Wahi, who led the three-member panel, did not make an order as to costs. Sitting with him were Justice Mohtaruddin Baki and Justice Rohana Yusof.

Justice Balia said the court was satisfied that Kassim had passed the low threshold in establishing a prima facie case for the judicial review to be heard.He said the application related to the defendant (the religious authorities), being a public body, for initiating proceeding against Kassim, after he was charged under the Syariah Criminal Offences (FT) Act.

Appellant should not be shut off from remedy’

“The High Court judge concurred (in her judgment) that the issue is not confined solely to jurisdiction. The appellant is challenging the enforcement and administration of a public body. On this, the appellant should not be totally shut off from his remedy for judicial review and from ventilating the challenges,” the Judge said.The court, Justice Balia said, is also guided by the 1988 Supreme Court decision in the case of Mamat Daud, that an offence against an Islamic precept can be challenged by way of judicial review. “We therefore allow the appeal and order is granted for leave (permission) to hear the merits. We set aside High Court order (that it does not have jurisdiction),” he ruled.

Kassim, was represented by Rosli Dahlan , Bahari Yeow and Ahmad Khubayb, while senior Federal counsel Nor Hisham Ismail appeared for the Attorney-General’s Chambers.  Rosli also applied to the appellate court for a stay of Syariah High Court proceedings against Kassim, but this was objected to by Nor Hisham.

Following this, Justice Balia said he would order that an early date be fixed by the High Court. High Court judge Justice Zaleha Yusof on July 14 rejected Kassim’s application for a judicial review, following a preliminary objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers that the court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Kassim, 81, named Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, the Chief Syariah Prosecutor of the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI)  and the Malaysian government as respondents when he filed the judicial review application last month.

He complained that JAWI acted overzealously in breaking down the door of his house in Kulim, Kedah, to arrest him and take him to Kuala Lumpur in March this year.

JAWI has not authority in Kedah’

The octogenarian complained that JAWI had no authority to make the arrest as it  should be confined to the Federal Territory and the fatwa against his book was only applicable there and not in Kedah.

Kassim was charged in the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya on March 27 for with deriding Islam, under Section 7(b) of the Syariah Offences (Federal Territories) Enactment 1997, in his talk at the Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana seminar, which was organised by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya in February.

The scholar is charged with stating that people appear to idolise Prophet Muhammad and that the aurat of a woman does not include her hair. He is also charged under Section 9 of the same enactment with violating the instructions of the religious authorities in delivering those views and for citing two books he authored, which have been banned by the Federal Territories Islamic authorities.

On May 6, the authorities levelled another charge against Kassim, but the charge was not read out in court when recording his plea.

In his judicial review application, Kassim is seeking several declarations: to quash the actions taken by JAWI, which includes the issue of the warrant of arrest against him; to set aside the charges he faces; to compel JAWI to give him the relevant documents pertaining to the charge; and to stop the authorities from prosecuting him.

He also sought a declaration that JAWI’s action was contrary to the Federal Constitution and a declaration that the Federal Territory fatwa is only applicable to those who live there and not in Kedah.
________________________________

Malaysian Leader’s Standing Rises With Successful Cellphone Diplomacy


July 24, 2014

Asia Pacific |​NYT Now. http://www.nytimes.com

Malaysian Leader’s Standing Rises With Successful Cellphone Diplomacy

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Intervention on Flight MH 17 Pays Off

by Keith Bradsher, Chris Buckley and David M. Herszenhorn, July 23, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It wasn’t an aide or a diplomat on the phone with pro-Russian rebels, trying to get them to relinquish the bodies and the “black boxes” from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 in eastern Ukraine — it was the leader of Malaysia himself.

najib and his deputyMalaysia’s Prime Minister and His Deputy. Muhiyuddin Yassin

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia played an unusual personal role, holding a series of cellphone conversations with a rebel leader and then coaching a Malaysian colonel on what to say as he passed through nearly a dozen rebel checkpoints on his way to the crash scene, according to a person who was with the prime minister much of the time.

Mr. Najib’s success has at least temporarily restored his standing at home, where his government was battered by accusations of incompetence following the disappearance in March of another Malaysia Airlines jet, Flight MH 370. The arrival of most of the bodies and the flight data recorders from Flight MH 17 at a Ukrainian military base on Tuesday brought an outpouring of relief and praise in Malaysia.

But Mr. Najib’s willingness to negotiate directly with Alexander Borodai, the rebel leader, has prompted disquiet outside the country about whether the prime minister had lent unwarranted legitimacy to a man the Ukrainian government has condemned as a terrorist.

Malaysian officials say Mr. Najib established a rapport with Mr. Borodai over the weekend, and finally reached an agreement with him on Monday for handing over the remains and the recorders, which the rebels had taken from the crash site, in territory they control near the Russian border. The plane, a Boeing 777-200 with 298 aboard, was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was struck by an antiaircraft missile on July 17.

Opposition politicians in Malaysia who had excoriated Mr. Najib through the spring over Flight MH 370 endorsed his actions on Wednesday at a special session of Parliament and in a series of earlier statements. A senior opposition politician, Lim Kit Siang, wrote on his blog that the prime minister “is to be commended for the breakthrough with the handover of the two black boxes.” And Lim Guan Eng, the Secretary-Ggeneral of the Democratic Action Party, a major opposition bloc, said that his party was “willing to stand together with the federal government to support their efforts to bring back the bodies to their families.”

Officials in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, insisted that Mr. Najib’s arrangement with Mr. Borodai did not involve any promise of formal diplomatic recognition or payment to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Political analysts said that Mr. Najib’s domestic political bonanza depended partly on that remaining true.

“If it emerges that there are issues behind this deal, then things will be seen in a slightly different way,” said Bridget Welsh, a senior Research Associate at National Taiwan University who specializes in Malaysian politics.

The Malaysian delegation in Ukraine incurred the anger of many Ukrainians by using the honorific “excellency” in referring to Mr. Borodai, who styles himself the leader of a breakaway republic. But, at least in public, Mr. Najib has not used the term, referring to the rebel leader only as “Mr. Borodai.”

Few Malaysians have followed the Ukrainian conflict in detail, so the question of legitimizing Mr. Borodai, who is a Russian citizen, has barely been raised here. The overwhelming priority has been recovering the bodies of the 43 Malaysians who were on Flight MH17, including two infants — an especially sensitive matter in a mainly Muslim country where prompt and proper burial of the dead is a strong religious imperative.

“Over here, people don’t care how the deal was done,” said James Chin, a Professor of Political Science at the Kuala Lumpur campus of Monash University. “All they care is that the bodies are coming back, so that the families have closure.”

But, Mr. Chin said, Mr. Najib’s political boost might not last long. When he announced the deal earlyTuesday morning, Mr. Najib predicted that the bodies of Malaysians would be in their families’ hands by the end of Ramadan, which in Malaysia will be Sunday. But Dutch and Australian officials now say that it could take weeks or months to identify the remains, which are first being flown to a laboratory in the Netherlands.

MH17 Crash Site2

“Now he’s smelling like roses, but I suspect it’ll end in tears,” Mr. Chin said of Mr. Najib.The Prime Minister sharpened his criticism of the initial difficulties in recovering the bodies and data recorders in a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, but he continued to refrain from assigning blame for the downing of the aircraft.

For Mr. Najib, the loss of a second Malaysia Airlines jet in less than five months is an ordeal that began when he received a call at his Kuala Lumpur home late last Thursday telling him that Flight MH 17 had disappeared from radar. The person who was with him for much of that night, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a ban on commenting publicly about the Prime Minister’s private activities, said that Mr. Najib immediately summoned officials to meet him at an emergency response center at the capital’s airport.

Airport guards outside the response center were not prepared for the appearance of the prime minister’s motorcade, with its escort of armed guards on motorcycles, and initially refused to let it pass, while they tried to check with superiors by telephone, the person said. The prime minister’s security detail cut the wait short by bodily lifting the guards and carrying them to the side of the road, and then pushing up the heavy gate blocking the entrance road.

Mr. Najib was given Mr. Borodai’s cellphone number by someone whom Mr. Borodai trusted and who vouched for Mr. Najib, according to Malaysian officials. They declined to say whether the intermediary who set up the initial call was Russian.

Malaysia has long sought to avoid conspicuously taking sides in the rivalries among the United States, Russia and China, and many of its citizens are wary of American influence. While the Netherlands is a member of NATO, which many pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine see as a threat, Malaysia is a distant Southeast Asian nation that has stayed largely silent on the turmoil there.

Russia has invested years of effort in building up its relations with Malaysia, in which aviation has played a major role for more than a decade. Malaysia agreed to buy 18 Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia in May 2003, in a deal worth nearly $1 billion. In exchange, Russia agreed to train and transport to space Malaysia’s first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon by profession who traveled to the International Space Station in 2007 and became a celebrated national hero, not least because he observed the Ramadan fasts in space under the guidance of a large team of religious experts.

At a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Vladivostok in 2012, Mr. Najib noted that he personally oversaw the deal for the Sukhoi jets, and added, “The time has come for us to broaden the relationship and to look into new areas of cooperative relationship with you.” The deal to recover the recorders and remains from Flight MH 17 may be the richest political dividend Mr. Najib has yet reaped from that relationship.

Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley reported from Kuala Lumpur, and David M. Herszenhorn from Kiev, Ukraine

 

On Secularism


July 24, 2014

On Secularism

By Dr. Wong Chin Huat@www.themalaysianinsider.com (07-23-14)

Dr.Wong Chin HuatSecularism has been seen largely demonised amongst Muslims in Malaysia but widely embraced by Muslims from Indonesia in the east to Tunisia in the west. Does religion explain this stark difference?

While theologians may offer nuanced ideational explanations, allow me to offer a simple analysis from the perspective of group competition and power relations. Secularism is fundamentally about the impartiality of state in the religious sphere, and by derivation, full religious freedom for all. This could mean at least three things to different people.

First, it is about the relationship between the faithful and the atheists. Second, it is about the relationship between the faithfusl of different religions. Finally, it is about the faithfuls of different denominations within the same religions.

Secularism has been a dirty word for Malaysian Muslims largely because of the two legacies: the Kemalist legacy in Turkey and the British legacy in Malaya.

The Kemalist Legacy

Beyond Malaysia, hostility is the natural reaction of many Muslims to the militant secularism espoused by Kemal Atartuk. In Kemalist Turkey, generations of religious Muslims were suppressed and marginalised because of their faith, until the recent rise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The state does not only refuse to be partial to practising Muslims but has become partial against them. Like atheist states, militantly or absolutely secular states see religion as a threat to their own existence. This is completely different from the past Muslim Empires – not unlike most polities with an established faith – which were explicitly partial to Muslims.

Perhaps more upsetting for many Muslims is that, in the making of Turkish nationalists, Kemal Atartuk denied Muslims both inside and outside of Turkey their political identity as Muslims protected and united by a Caliphate.

On the ruins of Ottoman Empire, the last Caliphate which met its end soon after its humiliating defeat in the First World War, Atartuk wanted to radically Westernise Turkey both politically and culturally so that it could cease to be the “Sick man of Europe”.

Not unlike what was advocated by some nationalists in China, then the “Sick man of Asia”, for Atartuk, modernisation required a thorough break with one’s own cultural root and imitating the enemies.This is of course emotionally traumatising and enraging for many Muslim nationalists, for whom Islam is the symbol of resistance and political unity.

Why secularism is seen as synonymous as atheism or anti-Islam by many Muslims is then perfectly comprehensible.

The indirect British Legacy

Interestingly, the negative image of secularism may have its second root in the British colonialisation, despite the British’s conscious efforts in grooming the Anglophile, conservative and secular Malay elites. Unintended consequence if you will.

What happened? If secularism essentially means state impartiality towards citizens of different faiths, then in the context of Malaya/Malaysia, it would have to mean impartiality between Muslims and non-Muslims, which is at the heart of the 1946 question.

This becomes clearer if we compare Malaya/Malaysia, with Indonesia. There, the Dutch colonisation not only did not create a religious majority as the communal core for the future nation. It led to the emergence of Christian communities, not just in remote islands like Ambon and Flores, but also in the main island of Java, fragmenting the indigenous communities.

Secularism became the rational choice of Indonesian nationalism both during and after the colonial era. Like multi-religious India, Indonesia may break up if secularism is replaced by the explicit dominance of any faith and religious assimilation creeps into the nation-building agenda.

In Malaya, the British moved beyond the port colonies of Straits Settlements to actively intervene in the inland Malay states only as late as 1874. Taking the lesson from the religiously-triggered Indian mutiny in 1857, the British decided to opt for indirect rule in the Malay states to minimise disturbance.

In doing so, the British not only strengthened the Malay states but, through affirming the Malay rulers’ power in religious affairs and Malay custom, also religion as the ethnic boundary of the Malays. That is the historical basis of why “Malays” are by definition Muslim, as stipulated in the Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.

With the Malays being all Muslims and the non-Malays being largely non-Muslims, secularism in the sense of state impartiality towards citizens of different faiths may basically reduce the differential in citizenship rights between the Malays and non-Malays.

In other words, secularism as religious equality is inherently contradictory to the logic of building a Malay-nation, an agenda crystallised in 1946 and established two years later.

Granted, UMNO’s Anglicised, Anglophile, conservative elites led by Tunku, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein and pre-Reformasi Mahathir never wanted an Islamic state.But they only upheld secularism as intra-Muslim religious freedom – in the sense of minimum penetration of the state by religious authorities, but not interfaith religious equality.

In fact, for Sabah and Sarawak, 51 years of Malaysia has been largely a process of erosion of secularism to serve the agenda of Malay nationalism, where non-Muslim Bumiputeras are to gradually become Muslim Bumiputeras and eventually Malays. Aggressive conversion of non-Muslims into Islam under Tun Mustapha’s USNO and Harris Salleh’s Berjaya was much despised by Christian Bumiputeras in Sabah.

Years before the word Allah became an issue, non-Muslim Bumiputeras had complained about religion-based discrimination in public sector employment and the enjoyment of Bumiputera privileges.

Many “liberal-lifestyled” Muslims supported UMNO in the past because it stood for intra-Muslim religious freedom, as compared to policing of Muslims advocated by hard-line Islamists in PAS. The question is: if secularism as interfaith equality must be weakened by the day to maintain the regime, how long can intra-Muslim religious freedom remain?

The intra-Christian origin of Secularism

Secularism has no future in Malaysia if it remains a dirty word and not a glorious cause for the Malay-Muslims. But should Malay-Muslims uphold secularism? Can secularism actually benefit the Malay-Muslims?

The answer is a clear “No” if secularism is still seen in the lens of Kemalist legacy, that it means de-Islamisation for the sake of modernisation. But why should secularism mean the denial of one’s civilisational root? Where the Arab Spring started, Tunisia under an Islamist government has just adopted a secular constitution and guaranteed religious freedom and equal citizenship.

From an ethno-nationalist perspective, the answer is also a clear “No” if this is all about giving the minorities equality.But this is where the history of secularism in Christian Europe should be revisited.

Secularism was not born out of the need of Christians to deal with the pagans, Jews or Muslims, or to grant these infidels religious freedom. Religious tolerance was not a virtue of Christians in the medieval Europe. The Jews were treated much better in the Muslim Empires than the Christian States. Neither was secularism established to advance atheism.

Secularism was much driven by faith. Rivalry between the kings and the Catholic Church and the growth of secular thought and capitalism did not turn Christian Europeans into atheists. These forces only divided Christians into Catholics and Protestants, many of whom died to defend and advance their faiths.

Today’s rigid view of secularism as absolute separation of state and religion is too much rooted in post-Revolution France, which influenced Kemalist Turkey.

Some one and a half centuries before that, the order of proto-secularism was actually laid by the 1648 Westphalia Treaty to end religious wars between Catholics and Protestants.

The treaty, on which today’s international system of sovereign nation-states are founded, affirmed the “religious freedom” of both the states and their subjects. The kings and princes were free to decide the official state of their polities, but their subjects were also free to choose their faith and entitled to equal treatment before the law. Religious disputes were resolved through secular procedures that excluded religious reasoning.

Secularism thus freed Christians of different denominations from unnecessarily deaths in the name of faith, and later by extension, provided for religious freedom for non-Christians including Muslims. While Christian Europeans later continued to die over nationalism and ideologies in the centuries to come, the Westphalian secularism removed religion from the list of reasons to kill.

One only needs to look at today’s European Union to see the benefit of secularism. Can the European Union simply be possible if the states need to choose between Catholicism, various denominations of Protestantism and Orthodoxy as her official religion?

Ever wonder what would happen to Palestine if the Arab League can be united like the EU? Ironically, the self-styled Caliphate of the Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) actually hopes to unite the Muslims by slaughtering all who oppose their rule – the antithesis of secularism.

Hundreds more times of Muslims had to die in the wars in Syria and Iraq – hell will break loose if Saudi Arabia and Iran directly enter the battlefields – because these Muslim states were, are and can be partial either to Sunnis or Shias or Alawites. Muslims die and suffer, not so much over the theological differences as for each group’s survival.

Coming back to home, can Westphalian secularism benefit the Malay-Muslims? Yes, if the goal is to have the space to be both more pious and more united, as per the Amman Message, which recognises as valid all the main schools of Islamic thought – Sunni, Shia, Ibadhi, Ashari, Sufi and Salafi?

After all, spirituality is about what we can believe while dominance is about what others cannot believe, lest we get confused.