Happy 69th Birthday, Indonesia


August 17, 2014

Happy 69th Birthday, Indonesia

To All Our Friends, Associates, Bapak Presiden, Government and People of Indonesia

Indonesia's 69 th Year of Independence

indonesiaindependenceday_300Dr Kamsiah and I warmly congratulate your great country on the occasion of its 69th Birthday which falls today. As a major partner in ASEAN, you have a crucial role to play for peace and stability of South East Asia. Your economic prosperity too is vital to all of us. That is why your recent Presidential Elections was closely watched by all of us. It was a resounding success and we can be justifiably proud of what you have achieved in furthering the cause of democratic politics.

August 17, 2014

On this very special day, we pray for your continued success and prosperity, and extend our warm salams to you  all. Dirgahayu, Republik Indonesia –Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Asia’s Reform Trio?


August 16, 2014

This article by Kishore highlights three leading lights of Asia, Xi of China, Modi of India and Jokowi of Indonesia. The reform agendas of these leaders deserve our attention in the light of what is happening in our country in general and Selangor in particular. There is also a message to the successor Selangor MB about governance.

Khalid Ibrahim is an ignoramus by choice when it comes to democratic governance. He once preached competence, accountability and transparency. And then lust of power took his soul.Now he is the very antithesis of what he used to preach, purely for the selfish reasons. He should go asap. Good riddance to rubbish. –Din Merican

 

Asia’s Reform Trio?

by Kishore Mahbubani

KishoreASIA is poised to enter a historical sweet spot, with three of its most populous countries — China, India and Indonesia — led by strong, dynamic, and reform-minded leaders. In fact, China’s Xi Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi and Indonesia’s Joko “Jokowi” Widodo could end up ranked among their countries’ greatest modern leaders.

In China, Mao Zedong united the country in 1949, while Deng Xiaoping was responsible for engineering its unprecedented economic rise. For Xi to join their ranks, he must create a modern, rules-based state. That requires, first and foremost, slaying the massive dragon of corruption.

Over the years, corruption has become endemic in China, with regional party leaders and bosses in state-owned enterprises wielding their vast privileges and authority to accumulate personal wealth. This has severely undermined the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy, while hampering the kind of market-based competition that China’s economy needs to propel the country to high-income status.

So far, Xi seems to be up to the challenge. He has been boldly pursuing major figures who were previously considered “untouchable”, such as General Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s highest government body. But the long-term fight against corruption cannot depend on Xi alone. It will succeed only if strong institutions are created to protect and nurture the rule of law long after Xi is out of power.

If Xi chooses to establish such institutions, he has a strong legal tradition upon which to call. As former United States ambassador to China Gary F. Locke reported in a speech early this year, the concept of equality before the law has deep historical roots. Indeed, in the fourth century BC, the statesman and reformer, Shang Yang, famously asserted that, “When the prince violates the law, the crime he commits is the same as that of the common people”.

Building on this tradition, Xi can create strong institutions that will stand the test of time. If he does — recognising that, to be credible, the rule of law must apply even to the party’s most influential figures — he will become modern China’s third-strongest leader.

In India, Mahatma Gandhi rejuvenated the country’s soul, which had been battered by colonialism, and Jawaharlal Nehru established its democratic political culture. Modi now must lay the foundations for India’s emergence as a global economic power.

Replicating the 10 per cent annual growth rates achieved in Gujarat under Modi’s leadership from 2004 to 2012 would obviously be a boon to India’s development prospects and global standing. But achieving such high growth rates in a sustainable way will demand far-reaching, sometimes painful reforms, such as the removal of wasteful subsidies, especially for fuel, in order to free up resources for, say, increased healthcare expenditure. Other imperatives include shrinking the budget deficit, removing internal barriers to trade and encouraging private investment.

To win the support needed to implement these reforms without undermining political stability or social cohesion, Modi must demonstrate that he is an inclusive leader capable of cooperating with Indians outside of his Hindu nationalist base, including the country’s 150 million-plus Muslims. If he succeeds, he, like Xi, will become his country’s next iconic leader.

Jokowi,Xi, ModiIn Indonesia’s case, the two most influential leaders so far have been Sukarno, who used powerful rhetoric to foster a sense of national unity in one of the world’s most diverse countries, and Suharto, who overthrew Sukarno and created a strong economic base that lifted millions out of poverty. Jokowi must now lay the institutional foundations for good governance.

Jokowi has risen from humble beginnings to the apex of power without compromising his image as a “man of the people” or his reputation for pragmatism and honesty. Jokowi has a long track record of good governance, having implemented effective policies during his stint as mayor of Surakarta (such as refurbishing markets, relocating slum dwellers, and cutting bureaucratic red tape), and as Governor of Jakarta (where he broadened access to healthcare and education).

But replicating this success at the national level will be no easy feat. Jokowi, who takes office in October, must implement policies that address rising inequality, unsustainable fuel subsidies, entrenched corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and restrictive labour laws — all while rebuilding trust in Indonesian institutions.

The challenges facing Jokowi are compounded by the fact that his ruling coalition holds only about one-third of the seats in Indonesia’s Parliament, with the rest loyal to the coalition of his rival in the presidential election, Prabowo Subianto. So, in introducing a new style of governance, exemplified by merit-based cabinet appointments, Jokowi must be careful not to alienate the political and business elites who have long benefited from their tight grip on power.

In short, if Jokowi is to form a national consensus on the institutions that Indonesia needs, he will have to reach across this political divide. To this end, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s cross-party “Pact for Mexico” could serve as a useful model.

Promisingly, Jokowi has a reputation for independence from partisan and religious politics, and a talent for communicating with the people. And, as a political outsider, he is in a unique position to direct Indonesia towards a more prosperous, united future, and vault himself into the country’s pantheon of great leaders.

China, India, and Indonesia are all well-positioned to take important steps forward. A commitment by Xi, Modi, and Jokowi to do what is needed would bring rapid, far-reaching progress to their respective countries, Asia, and the global order. Project Syndicate/www.nst.com.my

Khalid Ibrahim sacked by PKR


August 9, 2014

BREAKING NEWS:

Khalid Ibrahim sacked by PKR

by Koh Jun Lin@www.malaysiakini.com

Anwar and KhalidKhalid brought to his senses

The PKR leadership council today sacked Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim from the party for his refusal to step down as the state’s Chief Executive Officer.

The move, which is bound to strain relations with coalition ally PAS, came after weeks of teetering as PKR held back from taking decisive action due to reservations expressed by its Islamic partner. According to a party source, the unanimous decision was made after almost three hours of deliberation which began at 3 p.m. at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

The meeting was attended by all members of the party’s leadership council with one notable absentee – Khalid. On Tuesday, the PKR disciplinary committee issued Khalid with a show-cause letter ordering him to explain his defiance of the party’s instructions to quit his post as Menteri Besar.

Khalid was also called to attend a disciplinary committee hearing yesterday to explain several other issues, such as Selangor’s water restructuring exercise and hikes in business licence fees. In response, Khalid claimed that the show-cause letter was faulty and said the disciplinary board’s demands were both “unreasonable and suspicious“.

“As a party fighting for justice for all, I should also be given a real chance, not just a mirage, to answer to the allegations of my wrongdoing. Unfortunately, the actions of YB Datuk (Tan Kee Kwong, Disciplinary Board Chairperson) and the Disciplinary Board up until now are highly suspect,” he said, pointing to the short notice of the hearing and asked for the meeting to be postponed to August 15.

The Disciplinary Board meeting nevertheless went ahead yesterday without Khalid’s presence, and the leadership council is to decide on its findings and recommendations this afternoon.

Crimes against humanity in Gaza


August 6, 2014

Yes, Hamas’s attacks on Israel are illegal and should be condemned, and those who ordered the attacks should be held accountable under law. All policies and practices which refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist should be condemned. Israel has a right to exist. But Israel’s right to exist is impaired when Israel decides Palestinians have no right to exist on their own land. It’s time for us to stop paying for Israel’s dubious, destructive self-righteousness. And it’s time for the solipsism syndrome afflicting Israel’s leaders to get a day of discussion in the International Criminal Court concerning their attacks on Gaza – and especially their new 3km “buffer zone”.–Dennis Kucinich

Crimes against humanity in Gaza: is it really a ‘buffer zone’ – or a bigger plan?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/05/gaza-buffer-zone-dennis-kucinich

It’s time to step back and ask if we want to support Israel if it wants to eject all Palestinians from their land

by Dennis Kucinich

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/05/gaza-buffer-zone-dennis-kucinich

Late last week, the White House decried Israel’s attack on a UN school in Gaza as “totally unacceptable” and “totally indefensible”, then proceeded to approve $225m in funding for its Iron Dome. On Monday, the US state department went further, calling the airstrikes upon a UN school “disgraceful” – and yet America provides Israel with more than $3.1bn every year, restocking the ability of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) to hit more schools, and to wage total war against an imprisoned people, because of their nationality.

GazaAmerican Taxpayers Should NOT be paying for this!

American taxpayers should not be paying for this. And the western world should stop rejecting serious inquiries about Israel’s moral inconsistencies, or allow it to benefit from cognitive dissonance and information overload amid the current crisis in Gaza.

There is a land grab going on. The Israeli Prime Minister, Binjamin Netanyahu, has shrunk Gaza’s habitable land mass by 44%, with an edict establishing a 3km (1.8-mile) buffer zone, a “no-go” zone for Palestinians – and that’s quite significant, because a good part of Gaza is only 3 to 4 miles wide. Over 250,000 Palestinians within this zone must leave their homes, or be bombed. As their territorial space collapses, 1.8m Gazans now living in 147 square miles will be compressed into 82 square miles.

Gaza’s entire social and physical infrastructure of housing, hospitals, places of worship, more than 130 of its schools, plus markets, water systems, sewer systems and roads are being destroyed. Under constant attack, without access to water, sanitary facilities, food and medical care, Gazans face an IDF-scripted apocalypse.

With Gaza’s land mass shrinking due to Israeli military action, it’s about time someone asked: What is the end game? Three weeks ago, Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, called for Gaza to “become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel.”

Land GrabbingIs this not Land Grabbing?

Israel has a housing crisis? After the “no-go” buffer zone is evacuated, there will be 21,951 Palestinians per square mile in Gaza, while Israel’s population density stands at 964 persons per square mile.

Deputy Speaker Feiglin wants the Palestinians in Gaza to lose all of their land. One must not assume that Mr Feiglin or his Likud faction speak for the main government actors like Prime Minister Netanyahu. After all, Knesset politics are complex and divergent. But since Gaza has just lost control of that 44% of its land, it may also be time to ask: does the establishment of that 3km zone represent the unfolding of a larger plan? Is that the end game?

At the very point where an aroused public becomes aghast at the slaughter of Gazans, the western world becomes inured to the violence, hypnotized by the media’s cadence of body counts. The intolerable becomes normalized, and later ignored as old news. Which would seem a perfect time to leave in place the 3km zone – for security purposes, of course – and then advance the proposal that Palestinians crammed into the remaining 56% of Gaza simply … leave.

I assume the IDF acts with deliberation, under orders from the Netanyahu government. And I think the extraordinary and illegal forced relocation of over 250,000 Palestinians from 44% of Gazan land is a crime against humanity under the guise of establishing a “buffer zone” for security purposes.

Look at the region’s maps from recent history. Look at the steady erosion of Palestinian land and the acquisition of land by Israel, and you can understand that the present attack on Gaza is not about solely about Hamas. It’s about land. It isn’t just about Hamas’s rockets. It’s about land. It isn’t just about Hamas’s tunnels. It’s about land. It isn’t about kidnappings. It is about land. It isn’t even about meeting a housing crisis in Israel. It is about grabbing land from the Palestinians in Gaza and the natural resources that go with the land, upon the occasion of Israel’s military invasion of Gaza.

Yes, Hamas’s attacks on Israel are illegal and should be condemned, and those who ordered the attacks should be held accountable under law. All policies and practices which refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist should be condemned. Israel has a right to exist. But Israel’s right to exist is impaired when Israel decides Palestinians have no right to exist on their own land. It’s time for us to stop paying for Israel’s dubious, destructive self-righteousness. And it’s time for the solipsism syndrome afflicting Israel’s leaders to get a day of discussion in the International Criminal Court concerning their attacks on Gaza – and especially their new 3km “buffer zone”.

Israel’s Colonialism Must End


August 5, 2014

OPINION

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/opinion/ali-jarbawi-israels-colonialism-must-end.html?ref=opinion

Israel’s Colonialism Must End

Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tend to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder.

PalestineIn the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today.And it is not limited to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Although Israel withdrew its settlers and army from Gaza in 2005, it is still recognized by the United Nations as an occupying power, due to its complete control of Gaza’s airspace, sea access and of almost all of its land borders.

Over the years, Israel has used all forms of pressure to prevent the Palestinians from achieving their national rights and gaining independence. It hasn’t been enough for Israelis to believe their own claims about Palestinians; they have sought incessantly to impose this narrative on the world and to have it adopted by their Western allies.

Unsurprisingly, all of this has led to complete shamelessness in mainstream Israeli rhetoric about Palestinians. After all, if one is not held accountable, then one has the freedom to think — and do — what one wants. With no internal or external checks, one can act with impunity.

The Israeli left is a relic, all but extinct, and the extremist right is entrenched in the Israeli political establishment. Attacking the Palestinians has become officially sanctioned policy, embedded in Israeli public consciousness and politely ignored in Western political circles.

There is now an extremist, racist ideological current in Israel that not only justifies the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip, but actually encourages the use of enormous and disproportionate violence against civilians, which has led to the extermination of entire families.

Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, recently called on the Israeli army to attack and occupy Gaza, paying no heed to anything but the safety of Israeli soldiers. He then demanded that Gaza be annexed to Israel, and asked the army to use all means at its disposal to “conquer” Gaza, by which he meant that obedient Palestinians would be allowed to stay, while the rest — the majority — should be exiled to the Sinai Peninsula. This cannot be understood as anything less than a call for ethnic cleansing.

Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the Jewish Home Party, a member of the governing coalition, called on the Israeli army to destroy the homes of terrorist “snakes,” and to murder their mothers as well, so that they would not be able to bring “little snakes” into the world.

And Mordechai Kedar, a Professor at Bar Ilan University, publicly suggested that raping the mothers and sisters of “terrorists” might deter further terrorism. The university did not take any measures against him.

Such statements are no longer isolated incidents, but reflective of the general sentiment within a country where chants of “Kill the Arabs” are increasingly common. It is no longer an aberration to hear these opinions expressed in public, or by politicians and academics. What is unexpected — and unacceptable — is that such statements are not met with any sort of condemnation in official Western circles that claim to oppose racism and extremism.

The rise in Israeli racism and extremism against Palestinians would not have happened without the unconditional support that Israel receives from its allies, most significantly the United States. Israel cannot continue to be the exception to the rule of international law and human rights. The international community must hold it accountable for its rhetoric and its actions, and begin to treat it like all other countries. It should not be allowed to continue to enjoy its state of exceptionalism and to use this to wreak destruction on the Palestinian people.

After 47 years of occupation, two decades of stalled peace talks and almost eight years of a strangulating siege of the Gaza Strip, the international community must demand that Israel clearly state what it intends to do with its occupation of the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinians are not the occupiers, but rather those living under occupation, this question cannot be asked of them.

If Israel wants to continue its occupation and hinder Palestinians’ path to freedom and independence, then it should be aware that the Palestinian people will continue to resist with all the means at their disposal. If Israel intends to end the occupation, then it will find that the Palestinians are more than ready for an agreement.

What the Palestinians are enduring today in Gaza should be a clarion call for the entire world to end the bloodshed. But it will take more than a cease-fire. It will take peace. And peace cannot happen without an end to the occupation.

Ali Jarbawi is a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former Minister of the Palestinian Authority. This article was translated by Ghenwa Hayek from the Arabic.

US Unconditional Aid to IsraelUS-Israel Partnership

NOTE: It is no secret that the unconditional backing of the United States—in providing funds, weapons, and vetoes at the United Nations—is one of the primary factors behind the impunity with which Israel and its colonial policy violate international law. That backing is also a considerable obstacle to serious negotiations between the Israeli regime and the colonial functionaries like Hamas who it loves to hate, but whose presence are also essential to its continued hegemony in Gaza.

http://californiamwananchi.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-alliance-unhinged.html

Gaza:Israel’s Blatant Violation of International Humanitarian Law


August 4, 2014

Israel’s Blatant Violation of International Humanitarian Law (Part 1- 08-03-14)

by Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia

Syed Hamid AlbarWE are witnessing before our very eyes the most blatant violation of international humanitarian law being executed by the state of Israel.

Somehow, there is so much complacency on the part of the international community, as if the loss of Palestinian lives is just another insignificant footnote in the chronicles of international affairs. It is allowed to continue without abatement and consequence because the state committing the offence is Israel; the only member state of the United Nations created by the UN.

The promise of the state of Palestine remains unfulfilled. There is so much of a guilt mindset towards Israel amongst Western countries, particularly the P5 Western members, for the sins and atrocities committed in the holocaust. It gives them comfortable justification that the Palestinians should pay for the wrongs they have done.

Generally, we have not heard any condemnation or statement of disapproval against Israel for the killing of children, women and other innocent civilians in the name of self-defence. In the diplomatic parlance of the UN, this is another example of the excessive use of force by Israel. These inhumane acts of violence seem to be acceptable when executed by Israel.

R2P (Chapter VII of UN Charter) cannot be applied in the instant case as its going to be vetoed or there will be a threat for it to be vetoed. The United States, for example, in recent years has used its veto regularly to protect the Israeli government from international criticism or any attempt to restrain its military from exercising its so-called right to self defence.

Gaza2Israel–Inhumanity Personified

The usage of veto by any member of the P5, according to critics, has rendered the role of the UN or Security Council (SC) to maintain global peace and security on issues of serious breaches of human rights, international law or even genocide, ineffective. Contrary to the desire of some members, the Human Rights Council convened a meeting to receive the report on the Israeli military actions in Gaza. The report findings showed there is evidence that the Israeli military action in Gaza amounted to crime against humanity. The report and recommendation of the Human Rights Council was for these to be further investigated.

However, the international media, mainly from mainstream Western media, in its eagerness to defend Israel can be considered guilty of spreading biased or slanted commentaries in favour of Israel.

All of us are against terrorism and acts of violence should not be used against civilian populations. Here, the social media has provided a more fair and balanced reporting of the episodes and tragedies as they are sourced from independent non-governmental organisations and people on the ground whom are without any vested interests.

In this way, it would be difficult to mislead the world again. We are told in international politics there is a need to factor in geopolitical and national interest considerations as propounded by Machiavelli and, in the modern day, by Hans Morgenthau realist approach.

In the Middle East, especially in the Palestinian/Israeli and Arab/Israeli conflicts, this stance is amply demonstrated. The UN, at this crucial time even when it has the legal and moral obligation to bring peace and security, could not do so. Even when the Secretary-General called for an immediate ceasefire, no one is listening as it does not possess the political influence to force Israel to comply. Strange though it may sound to ordinary citizens of the world, but that is the reality.

The truism is, the international community is aware of the serious breaches of international law and yet, it stood by to watch the Israeli regime continue with their operations, notwithstanding the clear proof by the UN that 75 per cent of those killed by Israeli actions are non-combatants — the civilian population of Gaza.

Of course, we observed differential treatment in dealing with the Arab Spring. Israeli military actions had used the precarious ground of the right to self-defence to provide legitimacy for their continued aerial bombing and incursion into Gaza.

It looks as if Israel has been given carte blanche to use excessive force when the state was never in real danger of being overrun or even threatened by the Palestinians. The international community currently construes the bombings of power stations, mosques, schools and civilians as legitimate.

gaza-under-attack_pictures_2012_free_gaza_gaza_4_by_palsun1

The fact that Gaza is the biggest open prison operated by Israel, and that they are in illegal occupation of Palestinian land, are not mentioned at all by the mainstream international media. By any standard, it is difficult to comprehend how the killing of civilians by Israel can be justifiable. Under the circumstances, the world will watch further carnage and destruction from the current military actions by Israel.

In order to confuse and deceive the world, stories are being churned out to blame Hamas for using civilians as human shields. For those who know or understand Gaza, they will realise that this small strip is densely populated and the population has nowhere to run when all borders are closed. It should be expected that any firing of missiles and aerial bombing are bound to hit the ordinary civilian population.

The argument given then is, deaths are inevitable collateral damage. This was the same logic used by former United States President George Bush in his war against international terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. The dissemination of misinformation and misguided perceptions by the international media was believable in the past, but today, with the advances in information technology and the increasing role of the social media, governments find difficulty to hide the truth from domestic and international scrutiny.

Before our very eyes, we see the exact nature of the collective punishment being inflicted as clear as daylight. These vivid images and portrayals being fed to the world, are indicative of how standards of international law of the civilised world have failed to be observed.

Israel seems to be given the right to do what it likes with impunity. This can be said to be the case since the state was created in 1948. Of course, this position all began with The Balfour Declaration of 1918, which started all the pains and sufferings of the Palestinians at the hands of Israel.

Israel, since the 1967 War, is the occupier of land that belonged to the Palestinian as stated even by the UN resolution. The sad part of the tragic Palestinian opera is that, nothing is done to stop it. Powerful nations usually allow for expansion of territories in a conflict on the basis of reality on the ground. This is another example that indicated the failure of the UN to enforce the Charter against the state of Israel.

With all these happenings, what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said seems to be logical and reasonable. The reality is Israel can be said to be even more powerful than the SC without the necessity of being a permanent member. This argument is supported by the fact; she could do what her might thinks is right. Equally, it could dictate the most powerful nations to do what is in the best interest of Israel. In this context then, it would not be wrong to say Israel is controlling the world.

There is no need for the Jewish lobby to get jittery or condemn anybody for making the conclusion based on what is happening on the ground. This has nothing to do with being anti-Semitic. This labeling of anti- Semitism is most abused and is an attempt to instil fear on those who may have adverse comments to make on Israel’s military conduct.

The writer considers this strategy by Israel as amounting to coercion against persons or organisations from exercising their right to free speech.

PART 2: UN Apathy gives Israel a free rein in GAZA

by Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia (04-08-14)

http://www.nst.com.my

NOT even for the sake of justice or humanity can any state or power be willing to act or speak against Israel for her failure to uphold international law. There are those who are idealistic that talk about the strength of numbers of the Muslim world or even call on the United Nations to take action consistent with its Charter. There is even talk by some members of the UN about the expulsion of Israel from the world body.

The truth is that even at the height of apartheid in South Africa in 1974, when a resolution was moved under Article 6 of the UN Charter to expel that country from the UN, it could not be passed as it was blocked by France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In short, Article 6 of the UN Charter is only good on paper because that article can be constrained by Article 5, where on issues pertaining to peace and security, the absolute power lies in the P5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council or SC), where any member can exercise the right to veto.

For these reasons, those who opposed the veto power of the victors of the Second World War, wanted it to be abolished to reflect the current geopolitical situation. Many of the provisions in the UN Charter are subject to the Security Council (SC) and the Permanent 5 (P5) (The United States, China, France, Britain and Russia) are an integral part of the system.

Ban_Ki-moon_A Powerless UN Secretary-General

We can be talking about the right to expel any member of the UN for blatant breaches of the Charter under Article 6, but Article 5 requires agreement of the SC and the P5. According to the records of the UN, out of the last 10 vetoes in the SC, eight of them had been exercised by the US and out of these, seven were because of resolutions’ criticism of Israel in some form or another.

The question is whether international politics and national interests recognise the elements of morality, ethical values and norms or even justice. The quick answer is: politics of big powers only recognise interests. Why should the world allow Israel to do anything it likes? Is there an unwritten understanding of the UN and the international community that Israel can do anything it wants with the legitimacy given by the right of self-defence?

Ideally, Israel must be treated like other members of the international community and thus made fully accountable for its actions. In short, they should be subject to investigation and their leaders can be brought to justice if they commit criminal acts contrary to international law. However, this can never happen.

Fueling all fightersAmerica’s Humanitarian Aid to Israel

Compare the military might of Israel and Palestine under occupation. The people, being walled up and with blockades imposed, have in reality made them no better than being prisoners on their own land. In other words, they are denied their basic human rights by Israel. Why is the world not dealing with these human rights issues? There are many reports by the UN and the Human Rights Council on the conduct of Israel in the occupied territory but these are reports that will be kept in the archives and cannot be acted upon.

There has been no action taken against Israel for possession of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. The question often asked in the Muslim world is what kind of balance can we expect in this new global order? The entire Arab world is in turmoil with the interference of foreign powers to establish so called freedom and democracy.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya are now controlled by different dissenting and warring groups, bent on using violence to achieve their objectives.

Palestinians are struggling for their right to statehood. However, what was previously acceptable in the struggle for statehood and independence before 9/11, as acts of violence have now been categorised as terrorism.

Malaysia argues that acts of terrorism should not be limited to acts of non-state actors alone but should also include those committed by states. We cry and feel the pain suffered by the Palestinians for the last 60 years by an occupying force that shows no mercy. This is not because we are biased or prejudiced but that the Palestinians deserve to be given the right to have their own state.

The international community had agreed to a two state solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security. Even the Muslim countries that did not accept the existence of Israel have now changed their position and see the current impasse can only be settled politically and not militarily.

The Israelis had not delivered on their part of the bargain. The arrogance of the Netanyahu government is glaring in full view for us to witness. The Muslim world cannot avoid but feel disillusioned with the mass killing of civilians especially women and children. Due to these senseless killings of innocent civilians the world and the whole of the Palestinian population are united against the Israeli military action.

The peace and security promised to the world today has become a dream or more accurately a nightmare, as we witness conflicts that have taken an ugly face. This is the time for the US to show her willingness to lead the world for the cause of justice and humanity and for peace and security.

The world should not return to the Cold-War period. If we want to see a world that lauds cooperation and competition that is fair and sustainable, it must be built together. There will be contradictions along the way but not open conflicts for destruction. We should applaud the decision of the South African government to sever diplomatic relations with Israel to register its unhappiness with the Israeli incursion and bombing of Gaza. Nearer to us at home, we should also applaud Indonesia for taking similar action against Israel.

israel-a-killing-machineAmerican Support enables Israel to violate International Law

All Malaysians should give their undivided support to their leaders for their ever-courageous stand on the cause of humanity and justice for the Palestinians. The actions of Israel in Palestine particularly in Gaza, now prove that Israel was never willing to resolve the Palestinian issue. The intention of the Zionist movement is to create a Greater Israel, chase out every Palestinian from their homeland, and settle them in different Arab countries.

Malaysia has been consistent and right based on what Israel has done thus far. We understand the Holocaust and the killings of the Jews by the Nazis was a horrible crime of genocide but this should not prevent us from condemning what is happening in Gaza.

In 2004 the writer represented Malaysia and the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and addressed the panel of judges at the International Court of Justice in the case of the Israeli Security Wall.In February 2004, the ICJ considered the Israeli argument cannot rely on the right of self-defence or as state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall.

The court asserted that the construction of the wall and its associated regime are contrary to international law. Therefore the construction of the wall, the blockade of Palestinian territories and assassinations committed by Israel cannot be considered as a just cause.

Every civilised member of the international community should not ignore the continued occupation and apartheid policy of Israel as described in the book written by former US President Jimmy Carter.

The statement by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Jews ruled the world, should not be misconstrued. This is his opinion and it’s up to us to be judgmental about it. Many scholars had written on the strength of the Jewish lobby in influencing US foreign policy. Whether its true or not true is for others to decide. How the media, electronic and print, had depicted events and victims are before the world to see.

Malaysia has been consistent with its position and views. The writer, when he was the Foreign Minister, met two Israeli foreign ministers at their request. When they asked why Malaysia could not have diplomatic relations with Israel or even some informal relationship with Israel like other Arab or Muslim countries, the answer the writer gave was: we would wait for a political solution of the Palestine-Israel conflict. Malaysia thought then, by agreeing to the two state solution, it would finally ensure peace and security in the region; since she did not consider that this problem could be solved militarily.

My Take on GAZA: The Israeli-Hamas Conflict


August 3, 2014

My Take on GAZA: The Israeli-Hamas Conflict

by Din Merican

Israeli Protest

I am tempted to offer my views of the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict after reading a lot of comments by Malaysians on Facebook. There are basically two groups exchanging tirades against each other, one using Israel propaganda to justify military actions taken by the Israeli Government against the Hamas and the people of Gaza, and the other group criticising Israeli’s use of overwhelming force against the people of Gaza who have been pushed into a corner with no option but to defend themselves against the Israeli aggression.

dinmericanWhat is disturbing is that this debate is along Muslim-Malay versus the other non-Muslim Malaysian lines. The impression I feel that this is a kind of a proxy fight between Muslims (UMNO) and Non-Muslims in our country. This is an unhelpful development since it is a reflection of the state of political discourse  and the rising racial tensions in Malaysia. We cannot even have a decent debate without resort to racial slurs, feminist remarks, and uncouth language. Our politicians should take the blame for playing race and religion.

In war, we will never know who is right and who is wrong, thanks to psy war. In truth, war never solves problems. In fact, war creates scars to the human psyche. Observers can debate, while people in war situations suffer the loss of their loved ones, the old, the sick, women and children and property. For peace, we must learn to respect human dignity.

The conflict between Israel and the Hamas is complex and has a long history of hatred and mistrust among the Israelis and Palestinians, fueled by big power rivalry, with the United States unashamedly taking the side of Israel, while trying to play the honest broker to the broader Palestinian Question. The truth is that the US President and the US Congress cannot stop military aid to Israel. In fact, it is in the self interest of the United States (access to oil and gas resources) to maintain a strong Israel while allowing the Arab World to remain weak and divided between Sunnis and Shia. Look at Libya, Egypt, Syria and Iraq and client states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The role of Iran in the Sunni-Shia divide too cannot be ignored.

In his article http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/63563/, George Friedman said, “[W]e have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas’ rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.

The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime?

For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous “three nos” at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the “no recognition” and “no peace” agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.

For Hamas, at least — and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank — the only solution is Israel’s elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent…

For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War’s purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can’t go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem.”

I share Tariq Ali’s view http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/disgrace/ that “[T]here is no military solution in the region. Israel is a nuclear state and has the sixth largest army in the world (so talk of parity with Hamas – moral, political or military – is grotesque). It is threatened by itself, not by an outside force. The only solution left is the creation of a single state with equal rights for all and till this is achieved the only way to help the Palestinians in the medium-term is via the BDS campaign. It is not enough, I know, but it is the very least we can do.”

http://inpec.in/2011/10/26/oil-and-the-arabian-peninsula-blessing-or-curse/

Gaming Israel and Palestine


August 3, 2014

Gaming Israel and Palestine

G.FriedmanBy George Friedman

We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas’ rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.

War Without a Military Outcome

The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime?

For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous “three nos” at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the “no recognition” and “no peace” agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.

For Hamas, at least — and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank — the only solution is Israel’s elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent.

Under these circumstances, the Gaza war is in some sense a matter of housekeeping. For Hamas, the point of the operation is demonstrating it can fire rockets at Israel. These rockets are inaccurate, but the important thing is that they were smuggled into Gaza at all, since this suggests more dangerous weapons eventually will be smuggled in to the Palestinian territory. At the same time, Hamas is demonstrating that it remains able to incur casualties while continuing to fight.

For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War’s purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can’t go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem.

We thus see periodic violence of various types, none of which will be intended or expected to achieve any significant political outcome. Wars here have become a series of bloodstained gestures. There are some limited ends to achieve, such as closing Palestinian tunnels and demonstrating Palestinian capabilities that force Israel into an expensive defensive posture. But Hamas will not be defeated, and Israel will make no concessions.

Sovereignty and Viability Problems

The question therefore is not what the point of all this is — although that is a fascinating subject — but where all this ends. All things human end. Previous longstanding conflicts, such as those between France and England, ended or at least changed shape. Israel and Palestine accordingly will resolve their conflict in due course.

Many believe the creation of a Palestinian state will be the solution, and those who believe this often have trouble understanding why this self-evidently sensible solution has not been implemented. The reason is the proposed solution is not nearly as sensible as it might appear to some.

Issues of viability and sovereignty surround any discussion of a Palestinian state. Geography raises questions about the viability of any Palestinian polity. Palestine has two population centers, Gaza and the West Bank, which are detached from one another. One population center, Gaza, is an enormously crowded, narrow salient. Its ability to develop a sustainable economy is limited. The West Bank has more possibilities, but even it would be subordinate to a dynamic Israel. If the Palestinian workforce is drawn into the Israeli economy, both territories will become adjuncts to Israel. Within its current borders, a viable Palestine is impossible to imagine.

From the Israeli point of view, creating a Palestine along something resembling the 1967 lines (leaving aside the question of Jerusalem) would give the Palestinians superb targets, namely, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Given its history, Israel is unlikely to take that risk unless it had the right to oversee security in the West Bank in some way. That in turn would undermine Palestinian sovereignty.

As you play out the possibilities in any two-state solution, you run into the problem that any solution one side demanded would be unbearable to the other. Geography simply won’t permit two sovereign states. In this sense, the extremists on both sides are more realistic than the moderates. But that reality encounters other problems.

Israel’s High-Water Mark

Currently, Israel is as secure as it is ever likely to be unless Hamas disappears, never to be replaced, and the West Bank becomes even more accommodating to Israel. Neither of these prospects is likely. Israel’s economy towers over its neighbors. The Palestinians are weak and divided. None of Israel’s neighbors pose any threat of invasion, a situation in place since the 1977 neutralization of Egypt. Jordan is locked into a close relation with Israel, Egypt has its peace treaty and Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria. Apart from Gaza, which is a relatively minor threat, Israel’s position is difficult to improve.

Israel can’t radically shift its demography. But several evolutions in the region could move against Israel. Egypt could change governments, renounce its treaty, rearm and re-enter the Sinai Peninsula. Hezbollah could use its experience in Syria to open a front in Lebanon. Syria could get an Islamic State-led government and threaten the Golan Heights. Islamists could overthrow Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy and pose a threat to the east. Turkey could evolve into a radical Islamic government and send forces to challenge Israel. A cultural revolution could take place in the Arab world that would challenge Israel’s economic superiority, and therefore its ability to wage war. Iran could smuggle missiles into Gaza, and so on.

There is accordingly an asymmetry of possibilities. It is difficult to imagine any evolution, technical, political or economic, that would materially improve Israel’s already dominant position, but there are many things that could weaken Israel — some substantially. Each may appear far-fetched at the moment, but everything in the future seems far-fetched. None is inconceivable.

It is a rule of politics and business to bargain from strength. Israel is now as strong as it is going to be. But Israel does not think that it can reach accommodation with the Palestinians that would guarantee Israeli national security, a view based on a realistic reading of geography. Therefore, Israel sees little purpose in making concessions to the Palestinians despite its relative position of strength.

In these circumstances, the Israeli strategy is to maintain its power at a maximum level and use what influence it has to prevent the emergence of new threats. From this perspective, the Israeli strategy on settlements makes sense. If there will be no talks, and Israel must maintain its overwhelming advantage, creating strategic depth in the West Bank is sensible; it would be less sensible if there were a possibility of a peace treaty. Israel must also inflict a temporary defeat on any actively hostile Palestinian force from time to time to set them back several years and to demonstrate Israeli capabilities for psychological purposes.

The Palestinian position meanwhile must be to maintain its political cohesion and wait, using its position to try to drive wedges between Israel and its foreign patrons, particularly the United States, but understanding that the only change in the status quo will come from changes outside the Israeli-Palestinian complex. The primary Palestinian problem will be to maintain itself as a distinct entity with sufficient power to resist an Israeli assault for some time. Any peace treaty would weaken the Palestinians by pulling them into the Israeli orbit and splitting them up. By refusing a peace treaty, they remain distinct, if divided. That guarantees they will be there when circumstances change.

Fifty Years Out

Israel’s major problem is that circumstances always change. Predicting the military capabilities of the Arab and Islamic worlds in 50 years is difficult. Most likely, they will not be weaker than they are today, and a strong argument can be made that at least several of their constituents will be stronger. If in 50 years some or all assume a hostile posture against Israel, Israel will be in trouble.

Time is not on Israel’s side. At some point, something will likely happen to weaken its position, while it is unlikely that anything will happen to strengthen its position. That normally would be an argument for entering negotiations, but the Palestinians will not negotiate a deal that would leave them weak and divided, and any deal that Israel could live with would do just that.

What we are seeing in Gaza is merely housekeeping, that is, each side trying to maintain its position. The Palestinians need to maintain solidarity for the long haul. The Israelis need to hold their strategic superiority as long as they can. But nothing lasts forever, and over time, the relative strength of Israel will decline. Meanwhile, the relative strength of the Palestinians may increase, though this isn’t certain.

Looking at the relative risks, making a high-risk deal with the Palestinians would seem prudent in the long run. But nations do not make decisions on such abstract calculations. Israel will bet on its ability to stay strong. From a political standpoint, it has no choice. The Palestinians will bet on the long game. They have no choice. And in the meantime, blood will periodically flow.

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/gaming-israel-and-palestine#ixzz39GnidByO

Gaza: how International Law could work to punish war crimes


August 3, 2014

Gaza: how International Law could work to punish war crimes

by Geoffrey Robertson

The Guardian, Friday 1 August 2014 14.44 BST

The security council will be vetoed, but now that Palestine is a state there’s another route to justice

G. Robertson QCFor three weeks, the world has watched war crimes apparently committed by both sides in Gaza: lethal attacks on schools and hospitals, rockets aimed at civilians, tunnels chillingly lined with syringes and ropes; and the dead and dying children. Now the call goes out from politicians and the UN secretary general for “accountability” and “justice”. That should mean a proper forensic investigation with criminal charges against commanders if the evidence warrants, heard in an international criminal court. It is important to understand why this could happen and why it probably will not – and why British diplomats have connived in making Gaza a legal black hole.

There is, after all, an international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, with a prosecutor equipped to investigate and charge the crimes that seem to be occurring in the conflict. But her power to act arises only in two relevant circumstances: first by a reference from the UN security council, which is sure to be blocked by at least one of the five permanent members – by the US (always protective of Israel), by Russia (afraid of where a criminal investigation of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 might lead), by China (obsessed with state sovereignty), and even by Britain and France.

Then there is the alternative basis for empowering the ICC prosecutor: a state that has signed up to the ICC treaty may require the prosecutor to investigate international crimes committed on its territory or by its people. Israel has refused to ratify the treaty, thereby depriving itself of a means to hold Hamas to account for its rocket attacks.

gaza-under-attack_pictures_2012_free_gaza_gaza_4_by_palsun1

But can the state of Palestine ratify the treaty? In 2009, it attempted to invoke an ICC investigation over Operation Cast Lead, but the prosecutor refused to accept it was a “state”. However, in November 2012, the UN general assembly accorded Palestine the status of statehood – as a non-member observer state, but a state nonetheless. It has since been permitted to become a state party to 13 international treaties. Will it now accede to the ICC treaty and invite the prosecutor to investigate war crimes in Gaza since 2012?

It may. But it has not done so until now because of the pressure brought to bear on the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas – mostly from the US but also from Britain and France, whose diplomats claim any prosecutions of either party for war crimes would undermine peace negotiations. This is nonsense, as all but diplomats must by now realise. Their efforts over past decades have come to naught and the hatred reignited by the present war will scupper peace for the foreseeable future unless some form of justice process is permitted to begin.

There is no alternative. The UN human rights council promises to set up an independent investigation but, after its Goldstone inquiry into the 2008-09 Gaza war Operation Cast Lead castigated both sides, Goldstone himself retracted the central finding – that Israel had a policy of targeting civilians. There were no prosecutions of Hamas commanders, and although Israel investigated allegations against 400 soldiers, just two were brought to trial and the only prison sentence – of seven months – was imposed on a soldier for stealing a credit card.

The advantage of an ICC referral is that it would provide a strong incentive to both sides to punish their own criminals, effectively to forestall their indictment at The Hague. Bringing military leaders and the politicians who approve their conduct within the “command responsibility” net will be a disincentive to committing further crimes. By spelling out particulars of the charges, indictments would clarify that, for example, deliberately storing rockets in or near a school or hospital is a war crime, as is a decision to bomb that school or hospital in the knowledge that civilians are taking shelter there. Of course, trials can only be held when alleged perpetrators are caught but this can happen, even to heads of state.

There is also the need for new precedents in the law of war to limit the behaviour of modern army behemoths. The most wicked use of military might – Operation Searchlight – conducted by depraved Pakistani generals in Dhaka in 1971 has gone unpunished although a few of its perpetrators are still alive. Everyone (and particularly the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond) is talking about “the law of proportionality”, but few understand it.

Obviously it is “disproportionate” if 1,400 (mainly civilians) are killed on one side, as against 50 soldiers on the other. But in law the issue is defined as whether “collateral damage” to civilians by an attack on a military target (for example a school where rockets are stored) is “excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated”. This allows commanders to think they can get away with shelling the school because the destruction of the rockets gives their side a concrete advantage. A court conviction would bring home to them that no “military advantage” can ever justify the mass murder of children.

That is why David Cameron and Hammond, if they really want “something to be done”, should reverse British policy and encourage the Palestinian Authority to join the ICC with a request to investigate Gaza. There will be objections from Israel and perhaps from Hamas (its war crimes would be investigated too) but these can, I think, be surmounted. The sooner ICC investigators can begin collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses the better.

International law is clear on the question of Israel and Palestine: “Israel is entitled to exist, to be recognised and to security, and the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination and to their own state” (Justice Roslyn Higgins’ pithy and correct summary). But international diplomacy has failed to bring this about and the current crisis makes the poet Auden’s weary point: “I and the public know / What all schoolchildren learn / Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”

At a time when, yet again, both sides appear to be breaching the Geneva conventions and failing to observe the minimum standards of humanity, the ICC offers the only prospect of any accountability. It should be given the opportunity to define and delimit the defence of “military necessity” that is being claimed by both sides. War law must bring home to any political or military leader who considers taking an action that will foreseeably or inevitably involve the deaths of civilians that they must not merely be sure of military advantage: they must be certain of an acquittal when placed in the dock of an international criminal court.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/01/gaza-international-law-war-crimes-security-council

Japan is an unpredictable power


August 2, 2014

Japan is an unpredictable power

By BA HAMZAH

Japan is an unpredictable power. Sorrowful in defeat in WW 11, it promised never to bear arms againAbe-Najib. However, this is about to change if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has his way. Since becoming the PM for second time in 2012, Abe-san has reneged on the solemn promise Japan made after its surrender in 1945. Abe-san has become the most determined leader to tear the 1947 Peace Constitution and put Japan on a war footing again.

At US $49 billion, Japan’s defence expenditure for 2013 saw an increase of 3 per cent over 2012, the highest in 22 years. Using the same pretexts that the Japanese Imperial Army used to wage wars in late 1930s & 1940s, Abe -san may succeed with his military build-up plan. Japan has a well-equipped standing conventional military ( a.k.a Self Defense Forces) of 225,000 personnel.

A hostile security environment (read China), access to markets, freedom of navigation and national pride are often cited as justification for a stronger military power. Japan’s real motivation is to prepare for the day when the US could no longer provide the military umbrella. Japan became a much-respected nation long after it lost the war.

Japan was a feared nation during the war because it was brutal in victory; it was hated for its brutality and for refusing to formally apologise for its belligerent past. For example, it has refused to acknowledge the role of comfort women, angering the Koreans. The Chinese are upset because Japan continues to deny that the “Rape of Nanking” incident did take place in 1937 and the administration of the Diaoyu/ Senkakus islands, contrary to the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty.

As the third largest world economy, (some say still second), Japan has achieved what no other nation has, including the victors of WW 11, the UK or France. Japan was able to become a strong economic power, NOT because (as asserted by some) the US has undertaken to rewrite its defence expenditure; but, primarily because it has clever, hardworking and innovative people. In short, unlike the United States, Japan (also Germany) has become an influential global power without the normal power trappings associated with the military. A rare achievement in a capitalist system ! By renouncing this geo-business model to bear arms, Japan may gamble its political future.

The Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu who wrote the treatise “The Art of War” who would have been proud of modern day Japanese leaders for embracing his strategic thoughts may now be troubled by Abe-san’s militarisation programme.

In fact, the geo-business model Japan adopted since 1947 has been the envy of many. By staying clear of political entanglements, Japan was able to focus on rebuilding its nation, rising from the ruins of war to what it is today. While Japan is free to be “a normal nation” again, by removing the constitutional constraint (Article 9), it faces an uncertain future as history may repeat itself. A re-armed Japan is set to become a new hegemon but a threat to the region and the world.

The world will be a much safer place without a hegemon with a shady past.Today, as businessmen, Japanese are welcome almost everywhere. Although they are tough trade negotiators (evident in the current Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations with the US), who rarely transfer freely their technology to host countries, they are perceived as friendly and courteous.

The nagging question is: why swap a proven geo-business model for M 16 and AK 47 that failed to sustain its Greater Asia co- Prosperity political dream in the 1940s. Why swap Honda, Toshiba, Hitachi, Suzuki, Nissan, for example, for the much-feared drones and missiles? Can the AK 47, drones, submarines and missiles give the Japanese people the same peace, prosperity and security they have enjoyed for almost seven decades, a quarter of a century from today?

Doubtful as it is, Japan seems to be reacting to some geo-political uncertainties in the region by reinventing itself in a traditional fashion, like a novice, when it should continue to rely on its proven geo-business model. With an eye for geography, the answer to a more assertive China is not to spend more on military hardware (Japan is currently world’s fifth largest defense spender) but to invest more on non- traditional ( i.e., diplomatic, cultural and economic) means by forging closer relationship with wary neighbours like China, Russia and South Korea.

Tokyo’s recent overtures towards the ASEAN countries and Australia, for example, will not bear fruits if Japan were to bear arms again and becomes a military threat to the region. As victims of its aggression in WW 11 their support cannot be presumed.

John KerrryBy selling or transferring used military assets, Japan may temporarily bolster the confidence of Vietnam and the Philippines currently at odds with China in the South China Sea. With the worsening of the US-Russia relations in Europe, following the crisis in the Crimea, for example, the strategic consequences of Japan’s subtle containment policy of the Middle Kingdom can be far reaching. When push comes to shove, in my view, the US may likely jettison its policy of “pivoting” to the Far East to focus on Europe. The Americans will not abandon Europe for Asia.

Jokowi’s Rise and Indonesia’s Second Democratic Transition


August 2, 2014

APBNumber 273 | August 1, 2014

ANALYSIS

Jokowi’s Rise and Indonesia’s Second Democratic Transition

By Vibhanshu Shekhar

“Indonesian democracy no longer feeds off an elite-led political framework and Indonesia’s elected leaders need not have a military background or connection with political families or business elites. For the first time, a village (kampung) boy and a commoner with no political legacy managed to defeat a powerful coalition of traditional political elites that had gathered around Prabowo Subianto, who is a former military general and son-in-law of former Indonesian dictator Suharto. The bulk of Jokowi’s election financing came in the form of small donations, in comparison to Prabowo’s large-scale contributions from a small group of elites.”–Vibhanshu Shekhar

The electoral battle for the presidency in the world’s largest Muslim–and Asia’s second largest–democracy finally came to a close on July 22 when the Indonesian Election Commission (KPU) announced Djoko Widodo, popularly known as “Jokowi,” as the winner. Jokowi’s victory highlights the growing popular and political support for a new kind of democratic politics in Indonesia that is progressive, transparent and broad-based, and that thrives on the expectations of a generation of young people born in a democratic Indonesia.

Jokowi. IrJokowi’s rise marks the beginning of Indonesia’s second democratic transition. The official announcement of the result has put an end to weeks of divisive and emotionally charged campaigns, and two weeks of post-election stalemate that pushed the country towards political uncertainty. Both candidates–Jokowi and Prabowo Subianto–had each claimed victory based on unofficial counts. Prabowo has accused the KPU of “massive, systematic and structural cheating” and petitioned before the Constitutional Court, Indonesia’s apex body on election matters, for an annulment of the KPU results and its declaration of Jokowi’s victory. It should be noted that the Constitutional Court received such petitions during both the previous presidential elections of 2004 and 2009, and rejected them.

Out of the approximately 135 million valid votes cast, Jokowi received 53 percent and won the majority of votes in 23 provinces, whereas Prabowo won the majority of votes in 10 provinces in West Java and further west. Jokowi received the majority of his votes from the most populous island of Java–approximately 54 percent–and the outer islands of Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Papua. He also won a majority of votes in those provinces where minority communities are in the majority, such as Bali, Papua, and West Papua, highlighting support for his policy of inclusivism. Total eligible voters in Indonesia are nearly 190 million.

Jokowi’s victory, besides putting democracy in Indonesia on a much stronger footing, has highlighted the changing characteristics of democracy in that country, which can well be viewed as Indonesia’s second democratic transition. While the Reformasi movement of 1998 introduced democracy to Indonesia under a negotiated settlement between the political elite and civil society, this second transition has witnessed civil society effectively wresting control of the political process from the hands of the political elite. This is what Philips J. Vermonte of CSIS Indonesia terms the “beginning of an end of old oligarchic politics,” an ascent of a new generation of leadership without any political legacy or long-standing patronage system.

Indonesian democracy no longer feeds off an elite-led political framework and Indonesia’s elected leaders need not have a military background or connection with political families or business elites. For the first time, a village (kampung) boy and a commoner with no political legacy managed to defeat a powerful coalition of traditional political elites that had gathered around Prabowo Subianto, who is a former military general and son-in-law of former Indonesian dictator Suharto. The bulk of Jokowi’s election financing came in the form of small donations, in comparison to Prabowo’s large-scale contributions from a small group of elites.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, the leader of Jokowi’s party, the Indonesian Party of Struggle (PDI-P), read the winds of change better than her counterparts. Sensing the growing popularity and electability of Jokowi, Megawati decided to hand over the mantle of the PDI-P to him and nominate him as her party’s presidential candidate, shunning both her own and, moreover, her daughter’s budding presidential ambitions. Jokowi’s victory, along with his sporadic and spontaneous mobilization of voters, took place despite his unorganized election campaign and the continuing unpopularity of Megawati.

A new political voting class in Indonesia is now beginning to emerge that is keen to play a role in the country’s democratic politics, is well-informed of issues and interests, and expects a government that is accountable. They are assertively pushing forward an agenda of good governance and transparent leadership that is reform-oriented and free of corruption. They treat democracy as intrinsically ingrained in their identity and place a premium on transparency and accountability. As their expectations are going up, this new-emerging techno-savvy voter bloc is demanding effective responses from the political elite over various issues, such as countering corruption, addressing current economic challenges, and a more responsive government. Their continuing frustration with political parties is evident from the fact that no single party received more than 20 percent of votes in the April general elections. On the other hand, Jokowi’s lackluster and commoner’s image attracted their attention, and their vote.

Rules of the game in Indonesian politics have become more democratic with political parties, institutions and citizens adhering to democratic norms. For example, even though the recalcitrant Prabowo had objections to the KPU process, he has, to date, adhered to the institutional procedures laid out by the electoral rules and regulations. Indonesian democracy has just survived the nerve-racking pressure of political mobilization amidst a highly charged emotional situation, and at the same time, successfully resisted the temptation to resort to violent conduct.

No major case of violence was reported on the actual day of the presidential elections, during the process of tallying votes, or during the celebrations afterwards. This trend of democratic consolidation is also discernible from the increased capacity of the different governing institutions to regulate and manage the election process. Indonesian elections are being managed with increased efficiency by the relevant agencies and institutions carrying out their allocated roles, notwithstanding procedural complexities, and logistical difficulties associated with the elections. The KPU has delivered very efficiently and without bias. Indonesia conducted this electoral exercise twice within three months, first to elect the parties and candidates for the national, provincial and municipal legislative bodies (April 9), and then to elect the country’s president (July 9). In total, approximately 190 million citizens exercised their voting rights twice. Each of the elections took place in a single day, making it the largest electoral exercise in the world.

The failure of Prabowo’s Suharto style of politics of fear and intimidation in bringing about the desired result augurs well for Indonesian democracy to let go of its extremely difficult and torturous past under Suharto. Jokowi’s presidency now offers Indonesians another five years to move beyond the baggage of Suharto’s dictatorship and usher the country into another chapter of solidifying real democratic governance. Many, both within and outside of Indonesia, had feared that the Prabowo variant of elite-led politics dominated by moneyed interests, oligarchs, and religious extremists along with his advocacy of strong leadership, would arrest Indonesia’s democratic momentum and plunge the country back into the dreaded authoritarian politics of the Suharto era. It was in this context of safeguarding their fledgling democracy that two Indonesian newspapers–the Jakarta Post and Media Indonesia–went to the extent of officially endorsing Jokowi and breaking their neutrality on the ground that stakes were too high in this election.

Notwithstanding Jokowi’s rise, Indonesia’s second democratic transition remains a work in progress. It is a not going to be a completely smooth process, due primarily to the minority nature of Jokowi’s government and the inevitable continuity of coalition politics within Indonesia. A rough road lies ahead for the Jokowi presidency, particularly in the legislative body that will offer strong resistance from the conservative elite to any effort to introduce more democratic change and politico-economic reforms. Now that voters have had their say, the difficult act of balancing various political forces and factions will require deft diplomacy from newcomer Jokowi.

About the Author

Dr. Vibhanshu Shekhar is a Scholar-in-Residence at ASEAN Studies Center, School of International Service, American University. He can be contacted via email at vibesjnu@gmail.com.

_________________________________________________

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The Asia Pacific Bulletin (APB) series is produced by the East-West Center in Washington.

APB Series Editor: Dr. Satu Limaye, Director, East-West Center in Washington
APB Series Coordinator: Damien Tomkins, Project Assistant, East-West Center in Washington

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the East-West Center or any organization with which the author is affiliated.

PKR urged to take disciplinary action against the recalcitrant Khalid Ibrahim


July 31, 2014

PKR urged to take disciplinary action against the recalcitrant Khalid Ibrahim

http://www.malaysiakini.com

A group of grassroots PKR leaders have called on the party to take disciplinary action against Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim for insisting on staying on as the state’s chief executive officer.”His recent actions clearly undermine the stance and decision of the PKR leadership council and the leadership of Pakatan Rakyat (to replace him). Therefore, we, who represent the grassroots, urge the party and top leadership to take disciplinary action against him,” reads a joint statement by five PKR division leaders.

 The five are – Mohd Yahya Mat Sahri (Tanjung Karang), Talip Bujang (Sabak Bernam), Mohamad Fauzi Ahmad (Sungai Besar), Burhan Aman Shah (Sepang) and Azizi Ayob (Kapar). The five also pledged their support for PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who was on July 21 nominated by the party to replace Khalid.

Meanwhile, PKR-linked think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) said PKR was acting responsibly by proposing to replace Khalid. This is because Khalid has turned ineffective and is not a team player. Thus the party’s actions cannot be faulted, KPRU said.

It argued that under Malaysia’s democratic system, ruling political parties have the full prerogative to replace the Menteri Besar of a state, as they are voted in to rule as a party. This is different from the presidential election system of the United States, for example, which is a contest to look for the best person to lead the country.

“PKR holds the right to suggest a change of the chief executive of Selangor with a more suitable candidate and at the same time, a leader that is rejected by his own party should not cling on to his position,” a KPRU founding director, Ooi Heng, said in a statement published on its website today.

It was written in response to the recent impasse in Selangor, where PKR leaders had decided on July 22 that Khalid should be replaced by Wan Azizah (above). However, the leaders of Pakatan partner PAS publicly damned the move last week, sparking fears that Selangor government may have to go for a state election to seek a new mandate.

Final say

Under the Westminster parliamentary system that Malaysia inherited from the British, the political party that wins elections has the final say on its leadership line-up, KPRU’s Ooi noted. This means that a change in leadership in mid-term is allowed and whether the said new leader is viewed positively or negatively is irrelevant.

KPRU cited that this was also the case when the ruling Australian Labour Party replaced the country’s prime minister Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard midway in 2010.Rudd initially protested the changeover bid by his party members, but then relented.

“This showed political maturity – a maturity based on an understanding of the operation and functions of a parliamentary system and the associated political party system,” Ooi said.

He questioned whether, amidst the much ado over PKR’s plan to replace Khalid as Menteri Besar, Malaysian politicians could also show similar political maturity, which would also promote a key tenet of Pakatan’s fight to be different from BN.

Ooi also drew parallels between Khalid and Australia’s Rudd, as both are supposedly strong leaders who had fallen out of favour with their teammates. He cited open disputes over the Kidex highway, water crisis and Bible raid issues as indications that Khalid didn’t trust his own executive councillors and wanted a monopoly on power, disregarding alternative views.

“There is no more time to waste by blindly ignoring the problems that have arisen under the administration of Khalid. A a solution has to be found and implemented as soon as possible,” Ooi said.

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.

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.

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.