Penang to give Karpal official send-off


The Penang government will provide veteran lawmaker Karpal Singh an official send off.
The Penang government will provide veteran lawmaker Karpal Singh an official send off.

April 17, 2014

A Tribute to The Tiger of Jelutong:

Legacy of the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ will endure

by Aimee Gulliver @www.malaysiakini.com

  • Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
    It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
    Seeing that death, a necessary end,
    Will come when it will come.

    • Julius Caesar Act II, scene 2, line 33.

Karpal Singh’s story may have come to an abrupt end this morning, but the author of his biography says the legacy of the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ will endure in Malaysia, where he was a warrior in the fight for equality and justice.

image

New Zealand journalist Tim Donoghue first met Karpal in Penang in 1987 and spent nearly 30 years researching the biography he wrote on the fearless lawyer and advocate, titled “Karpal Singh – Tiger of Jelutong”, which was published in 2013.

“I’ve done a few things in journalism, but I’m particularly proud of that because this man was the ultimate scrapper, but he had a sense of humour,” Donoghue said.

“The things he had to deal with, the life and death issues that he had to deal with, he smiled his way through them all, and he helped a lot of people out along the way. There was always that great twinkle in his eyes, and you just knew that no matter what anyone was ever going to throw at that guy, he was never going to kow-tow to any man.”

Karpal and his aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, 39, were killed in a road accident about 1.10 this morning near Kampar in Perak. The former DAP chairperson’s sudden departure has shocked the nation, and elicated a flood of eulogies from both sides of the political divide.

His death comes as the 74-year-old was gearing up to appeal his recent conviction for sedition that was cross-appealed by the government, which is seeking have the wheelchair-bound politician jailed.

Karpal

“I don’t think the legal system has brought any great credit upon itself by convicting this man of sedition.“I think that is something that those in the ruling political and legal establishment of Malaysia do need to think about.”, Donoghue said.

The government’s persecution of the man who stood up and fought for human rights in Malaysia had made a martyr out of him, Donoghue said.

“Now that Karpal has gone to his death under threat of imprisonment for this sedition charge, I think he will be a great rallying point come the next election – there will be a huge groundswell of support among the opposition parties in the country.”

A long line of challenges

Karpal’s conviction for sedition was just the latest in a long line of challenges for the “Sikh warrior in legal attire”. “Back when he was 65, after the car accident, most people said he was gone. Even his best friends, with the best intentions in the world, were saying it would have been a far more merciful end if he had died at that time.”

“But the Tiger of Jelutong had a message for those who doubted him.

“He suffered a huge amount of pain as a result of that accident, but he vowed, with the help of his family, to get back out there into the realm of both politics and the law in Malaysia and to keep challenging those in power.”

“Karpal continued his work, and some of his most notable achievements came in the years following his debilitating accident”, Donoghue said.

“After his car accident, his life was totally shattered. But I do think he did his best work, both in the law and in politics, in the seven or eight years that he had after his accident. He did some amazing things in his life. “He would say to me, ‘retirement is not a word in my dictionary’. And the reason I think he hung on was as a result of the pain he suffered because of that accident.”

Donoghue said the manner of Karpal’s death could be considered a merciful release in some ways, but his family would not agree.

Backed by family, every step of the way

“Every step of the way they backed him, they fought with him, and they lifted and laid him. They fought to keep him going.” It was with the support of his family, and his devoted assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, 39, who was also killed in this morning’s accident, that Karpal was able to continue his work after the 2005 accident.

“Michael gave his life for this man. He worked around the clock, 24 hours a day, just to support Karpal, and the whole family is very, very, grateful for the job he has done.

“Everything Karpal has done in the last few years has been with the support of (his wife) Gurmit Kaur and Michael. They’ve kept him going, really.”

When he came to Malaysia to launch Karpal’s biography in 2013, Donoghue said he could tell Karpal was extremely proud of what he had achieved in his life.

“Basically, his legacy is one of uncompromising challenge to human rights on a number of fronts throughout his 40-plus years in legal practice.

“I suppose what endeared him to me was he challenged, he challenged, he challenged – and he did it in such a way that everybody enjoyed the trip.”

Although he was an eminently patient man, Donoghue said, Karpal would occasionally get frustrated with him, and ask when the book would be completed.

“I would tell him we would finish when he gave me an ending. We had the final ending this morning, and I think Karpal Singh will go down as one of the great warriors of the Malaysian legal and political fraternities.”

“He was a man who, as long as he had breath going into his lungs, was always going to fight. And in the wake of this man’s life, the fight will go on in Malaysia.”


AIMEE GULLIVER is a New Zealand journalist interning with Malaysiakini for six weeks, courtesy of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

ESSCOM: Another Dysfunctional Security Set-Up


April 16, 2013

ESSCOM: Another Dysfunctional Security Set-Up

by Aidila Razak and Hafiz Yatim @www.malaysiakini.com

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) leads to a duplication of work, said a former Sabah Police Chief.

However, Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, who was Police Chief from 2002 to 2004, refused to comment on whether Esscom should be scrapped, saying that it was a policy issue.

On the same note, Ramli said, Esscom should be headed by the state Police Chief to avoid duplication of the chain of command and ensure a better grip on security operational matters.

“I have studied the area well and I think Esscom, or whatever you want to call it, should be headed by the Police or Army. But I prefer the police because this is an internal (security) matter..,” Ramli told Malaysiakini in an interview.

“This is my personal opinion, but (current Esscom Chief) Mohammad Mentek is from the Immigration Department and he doesn’t know operational matters,” he added.

Ramli, who headed Ops Nyah which saw the deportation of more than 100,000 illegal immigrants from Sabah during his time, said Esscom creates a conflicting chain of command.

“I don’t know… they may have their own standard operating procedures. But to me, as the ex-Police Commissioner, I think it is ridiculous. It is better to increase the assets of the local Police or Army for that matter… These things should be coordinated already,” he added.

Commenting on the recent kidnapping of two women from a resort off Semporna, Ramli said if the Police were in charge, no time would have been wasted. Instead there was “pushing (bertolak-tolak)” between Esscom and the Police to figure out whose jurisdiction the kidnap fell under.

Ramli said when he was Police Chief, there were no incursions or kidnappings because coordination was tight among all enforcement agencies, including the Army.

In fact, he said, he “wiped out” a gang of kidnappers from Sarawak with help from the intelligence and operations teams from Bukit Aman, with which he had worked before.

As Police Chief, Ramli said, he would advise the Chief Minister on security issues and coordinate everything with the Navy, Air Force, Army, volunteer corps (Rela), and Immigration and Customs departments. “I advise politicians, I don’t listen to politicians,” he added.

Visit Malaysia Year without security?

Ramli said the Army and Police shared their assets throughout Sabah, and compared notes on intelligence which he insisted is the most crucial aspect of security operations.

Special attention was also given to tourist areas where more personnel were deployed at outposts and for patrols.

“(The kidnappers) are clever, and they have phones. They will try to invade but if you put your people there, they won’t take it lightly. All our boys were there.

“Security must be in place, especially if you want to have Visit Malaysia Year. Or else who will come?… It doesn’t matter (how long the border is). If it happens in your district you have to know,” he said, adding that ground intelligence should be water tight in “red zones”.

Based on his experience, Ramli said “there is no way” such kidnappings and incursions can take place because the state and security personnel have already identified these “red zones”.

“So I cannot understand why Esscom cannot (handle) this… These are the areas we used to take care of before and we beefed up (security) in all these areas.

“If only the Police and Army can sit down and work together again, it will be very good. We worked based on information on the ground. Now I believe they have many platoons… There is no reason for such things to happen,” Ramli added.

April 16, 2014

Ramli: I’d have hit Sabah intruders fast and hard

by Aidila Razak and Hafiz Yatim

http://www.malaysiakini.com

INTERVIEW: The Lahad Datu incursion last year remains a black mark in the nation’s history but former Sabah Police Chief  Dato’ Ramli Yusuff said if he was at the helm during the crisis, he would have wasted no time hitting the foreign intruders quick and hard.

Ramli, born in a leap year 62 years ago, said if he was in charge, he would never allow armed invaders to prevail.

“I would straight away (have my men) kill them. No negotiations in matters of security – if it is confirmed they are armed intruders, we whack them.I do not negotiate,” he said, when asked how he would react to that armed incursion.

The former senior Police officer, who rose to number three in the Police Force before his retirement, added that there was no compromise when it comes to the country’s sovereignty.

In last year’s armed incursion, the authorities moved in on the Sulu invaders on March 1, after the intruders had holed up at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu for almost three weeks.

“As far I am concerned, when it comes to internal security, the Commissioner of Police of Sabah is in charge of operations, as he looks after the security of the state.”

Ramli was Sabah Police Chief from 2001 to 2004, and prior to that he had served as the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) deputy director for seven years from 1994. He later progressed to become Pahang chief police office (CPO) and later Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) Director.

As Sabah Police Chief, Ramli said he took three months in 2001 to clear the illegal settlements during the state-wide Ops Nyah II in all 20 Police districts.

He said the Police worked with intelligence gathered from the ground in identifying which houses held the illegals and acted against them.

Within three months, thousands of squatter areas were cleaned and demolished from Pulau Gaya, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kudat, Marudu, Beluran, Kinabatangan, and Semporna, said the former Sabah CPO, showing aerial pictures of the clampdown on the settlers.

“During that time, the Police, Army, Rela, Immigration, and marines were with us in mounting the operation and moving into the villages, where many had weapons. If the Police were to move on their own, it would be dangerous. In some of the places, it was like moving into fortresses as they were well armed.

“When we moved in, we documented the illegal immigrants by taking their photographs and fingerprints. This was to make sure that they did not come back illegally, with false papers and passports with new names. We warned employers that if they wanted to hire them, to do it legally.”

Death threats

Ramli said biometric documentation was done when he was Sabah Police Chief and the Police would keep a copy while another was handed to the Immigration Department to deter the illegals from coming back. If they returned and were caught, they would immediately be deported.

“All in all, we sent back hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and we charged another 100,000 who did not have documents. The courts were packed with these cases,” he said. Ramli added that if the illegal immigrants surrendered willingly, the Police would deport them without them being charged.

As a result of his stern actions, Ramli revealed he received death threats, and showed an article from the New Sabah Times on this (right).

“They dared to call my office to threaten me. But that did not deter me. I continued to hit them harder. I suspect it was foreigners or illegal immigrants who had called following the arrest of their relatives.”

He said as a result of the strong action taken against the illegal settlers during his time, crime went down by 30 percent in Sabah in 2002.

“The illegals were drug addicts, drug pushers, criminals. They were a major cause of crime. When we hit them hard and sent them away, crime rates immediately dropped,” he said with quiet pride.

A-G Gani Patail is not above the Law


April 11, 2014

A-G Gani Patail loses to Rosli Dahlan: NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW

by Din Merican

mh370-hishammuddinWilliam Pesek, a prominent Bloomberg columnist, wrote recently that the global outcry over the loss of flight MH370 has highlighted the country’s deepest flaws of incompetent people running the country.

The Fumbling Team of MH370

“The fumbling exposed an elite that’s never really had to face questioning from its people, never mind the rest of the world. The country needs nothing less than a political revolution,” said Pesek. And I agree. Nothing will change until the present political elite is made to pay for their ineptitude, incompetence and crooked ways by Malaysian voters.

At the international level, our political leaders will have to take the blame. At the national level, we are facing a crisis of our public institutions being headed by not just mediocre and incompetent people but also characters who are downright dishonest and who abuse the system with impunity– the rogues in government.

Rosli Dahlan wins against A-G Patail

Vazeer, a former practising lawyer before being made a judge, said he agreed that deliberate abuse of power by those holding a public office was misfeasance in public office.

Vazeer, a former practising lawyer before being made a judge, said he agreed that deliberate abuse of power by those holding a public office was misfeasance in public office.

That brings me to the news reports of this morning that my young friend, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, has again won another case against A-G Gani Patail. For my readers’ convenience I have reproduced only the MKini report by Hafiz Yatim (below) that provides interesting links on this story that never ceases to inspire me.

Back in Time–To the Eve of Hari Raya (Aidil Fitr), 2007

It’s a sad story of how on the eve of Hari Raya 2007, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan (right) wasR Dahlan brutally arrested in his office in full view of his staff by the ACA (now MACC). He was then charged in a most sensational manner to deceive the public into believing that Rosli had hidden illegitimate assets belonging to the Director of Commercial Crimes, Dato Ramli Yusuff, in another sensational story fanned by the media dubbed as the “The RM 27 million Cop”.

All this was part of a conspiracy to eliminate Dato Ramli from the PDRM as Dato Ramli posed a threat to then IGP Musa Hassan and A-G Gani Patail. Rosli was made a victim because he dared to defend Dato Ramli despite warnings having been sent to him. Since then, Musa‘s former ADC had sworn a Statutory Declaration to expose IGP Musa Hassan’s links with the underworld.

A lot more was also disclosed about A-G Gani Patail’s association with shady corporate figures like the one in the Ho Hup Affair. The Internet was also abuzz with stories about how A-G Gani Patail went to Haj and had his son to share a room with a shady former Police Inspector who was once charged for corruption, Shahidan Shafie, a proxy of former MAS Chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli.

Tajuddin Ramli and the MAS saga was among the many failures of Dr Mahathir’s Bumiputra corporate advancement project which culminated with MH370 disaster. The latest episode could sink MAS without tax-payers bailout forthcoming .

Tajuddin Ramli and the MAS saga was among the many failures of Dr Mahathir’s Bumiputra corporate advancement project which culminated with MH370 disaster. The latest episode could sink MAS without tax-payers bailout forthcoming .

That explains why A-G Gani never charged Tajudin Ramli for the losses of RM 8 billion that MAS suffered despite recommendations by Dato Ramli Yusuff. Dato Mat Zain Ibrahim, former KL OCCI also swore SDs about A-G Gani Patail throwing away the Batu Putih case for pecuniary gains.

Ramli YusuffYet Gani Patail remains as the A-G of Malaysia, leading many to speculate that he has a grip on PM Najib Razak because of Razak Baginda’s acquittal in the murder of the Mongolian beauty, Altantuya Shariibu. In that case, the A-G did not appeal against Razak Baginda’s acquittal.

On the other hand, the A-G has pursued criminal appeals against certain people like Lawyer Rosli Dahlan and Dato Ramli Yusuff (left). In the PKFZ case, A-G Gani Patail charged and appealed against the acquittal of Tun Ling Liong Sik which led to Tun Lingcalling him – “ That Stupid Fella”.

Back to Rosli’s case. Lawyer Rosli, he has fought a long and lonely battle, winning his acquittal and then suing every one of the mainstream media for defaming him – Utusan Malaysia, The Star and the NST, and winning against them one by one very patiently.

On April 15, 2008, Utusan Malaysia published a public apology admitting their wrongdoings and acknowledged that the Utusan Malaysia’s article “was written and published in a sensational manner to generate publicity which exceeded the parameters of ethical journalism surrounding the investigation of YDH Dato’ Pahlawan Haji Ramli Haji Yusuf who at that time held the post of Director of the Commercial Crime Investigation Department of Police DiRaja Malaysia.”

Utusan's Apology

On January 15, 2013, the Star paid damages and admitted to its wrongdoings in a published public apology.

The Star's Apology

On October 18, 2013, the KL High Court found the NST and the MACC guilty of defaming Rosli and ordered them to pay damages of RM 300,000 and costs. This made history as it was the first time that the MACC was sued by a person and the MACC lost and had to pay damages.

Last year Rosli sued A-G Gani Patail, MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim and several other MACC officers for conspiracy, false and malicious investigation, abuse of power, abuse of prosecutorial discretion, malicious prosecution, prosecutorial misconduct and public misfeasance.

Read the MKini report below and you will discover that A-G Gani Patail had engaged Tan Sri Cecil Abraham , a senior private lawyer from Messrs ZulRafique & Partners (an UMNO law firm) to defend him, the A-G Chambers (A-GC) and the MACC.

I find that surprising since I am told that the A-GC has over 800 lawyers, making the A-GC the “largest law firm” in the country. By contrast, I am told that the largest private law firm in the country has a maximum of 140 lawyers.

 Putrajaya needs to review its policies as it can't afford to spend taxpayers' money on the AG's own legal problem.


Putrajaya needs to review its policies as it can’t afford to spend taxpayers’ money on the AG’s own legal problem.

That means the Government of Malaysia spends millions of ringgit to staff the A-GC in order to defend the government. Yet when the Government is sued, A-G Gani Patail engages private lawyers. Does that makes sense to you?

Is A-G Gani Patail admitting that he is not confident of the A-GC, which he heads, to defend him and the government in the face of the law suit by Lawyer Rosli Dahlan? Is A-G Gani Patail admitting that the A-GC is incompetent? Was that why Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah was asked to be an ad hoc DPP to prosecute the appeal against Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim? Or is there is a commercial logic to that? Is A-G Gani Patail outsourcing legal work to his friends in the private sector to reward them for covering up for his misconduct and incompetence?

Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel.

Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel.

I had a chat with Tan Sri Robert Phang who has always been critical of A-G Gani Patail. He told me a more worrisome story. Robert Phang questioned whether Tan Sri Cecil Abraham (right) is a fit to lawyer to defend the A-G because Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel, which advises on oversights in the MACC. One of the committee’s functions is to ensure that the MACC and other government agencies do not commit abuses. It is like an Ombudsman. If so, how can Cecil Abraham defend A-G Gani Patail and the other MACC officers whom Rosli has accused of fixing him? Is that not a conflict of interest?

Other lawyers tell me that Cecil Abraham is the senior lawyer implicated in the PI Bala SD case over the Altantuya murder. I am stunned by all these revelations. It seems that all the committees and advisory panels in the MACC and other government agencies are to cover up for their wrongdoings rather than to expose and correct them. No wonder our country is headed for doom !

Americk Sidhu, PI Bala's lawyer makes a startling revelation at the Bar AGM that Cecil Abraham confided in him that he prepared the 2nd SD on instructions from Najib.

Americk Sidhu, PI Bala’s lawyer makes a startling revelation at the Bar AGM that Cecil Abraham confided in him that he prepared the 2nd SD on instructions from Najib.

I am told that Rosli’s Statement of Claim against A-G Gani Patail contains very damning revelations about A-G’s misconduct. I am told that with every victory that Rosli gained against A-G Gani Patail, more and more civil servants and people are coming up to him to offer assistance and being more willing to be witnesses in his cases. This was unlike before when many were afraid to be associated with him.

Is that why AG Gani Patail does not want to go to trial and employ all kinds of delaying tactics in Rosli’s suit against him. Is that why A-G Gani Patail engaged Tan Sri Cecil Abraham to strike out Rosli’s suit? Otherwise, why is A-G Gani Patail so afraid to go to trial in Rosli’s case?

But now that Tan Sri Cecil has lost this striking out application and the A-G is ordered to pay cost to Rosli, who is going to bear this cost? Should taxpayer’s money be used to pay for the misconduct of these rogues in government? If we taxpayers have to bear this cost, then A-G Gani Patail and the likes of him will never be repentant. There will never be accountability!

In my view, A-G Gani Patail must bear the full costs of his misconduct. He must be held accountable and he must pay the legal fees charged by his friend Tan Sri Cecil Abraham. I am also of the view that the MACC should sack Cecil Abraham from being on its Advisory Panel. Cecil Abraham cannot sit there to pretend that he is acting as a check and balance against the MACC’s misconducts whereas he is also covering up for the MACC when the MACC is sued by Rosli, and getting well paid by the Government using tax payer’s money!

Conflict of Interest

The conflict of interest is so clear and it is appalling that a senior titled lawyer like Tan Sri Cecil Abraham cannot see that. I also feel that the Bar Council should not stand idle arms akimbo with this revelation. The Bar Council should subject Cecil Abraham to disciplinary proceedings for breaching such common sense rule on conflict of interests. Cecil has dishonored the Bar and the Council must act against him!

Well Done, JC Wazeer Alam Mydin 

In that regard, I must congratulate Judicial Commissioner Wazeer Alam Mydin for having a fair sense justice in not allowing A-G Gani Patail to strike out Rosli ‘s claim. A judicial Commissioner is basically a probationary judge. For a probationary Judge to do this means JC Wazeer is indeed a brave man who would not tolerate public authorities who commit abuses and then claim immunity. It is indeed a brave probationary judge to stand up to the A-G and tell it to the A-G’s face that the A-G is not above the law.

The winds of change is blowing and judges like JC Wazeer Alam will be a credit to the judiciary. JC Wazeer Alam is indeed a brave man to make this iconic statement:

“The claim by AG of his absolute public and prosecutorial immunity is an anathema to modern democratic society.”

======================================================

April 11, 2014

A-G not immune to legal action, rules Judge

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

The Attorney-General is not immune to legal action, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled today.

Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said this in dismissing Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail’s application to strike out the suits by former Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Ramli Yusuff and his lawyer Rosli Dahlan.

Public authorities who abused their powers have been "insulated" from prosecution for "far too long" by using the Public Authorities Protection Act.

Public authorities who abused their powers have been “insulated” from accountability  for “far too long” by using the Public Authorities Protection Act.

“I am afraid that the notion of absolute immunity for a public servant, even when mala fide or abuse of power in the exercise of their prosecutorial power is alleged in the pleadings, is anathema to modern day notions of accountability.

“I agree that deliberate abuse of power by a person holding a public office is tortious and is referred to as misfeasance in public office.

“Such a tortious act can arise when an officer actuated by malice, for example, by personal spite or a desire to injure for improper reasons, abuses his power,” Vazeer Alam said.

“This is keeping with developments in modern jurisprudence that absolute immunity for public servants has no place in a progressive democratic society,” the judge added. The A-G and two other officers from the A-G’s Chambers were named in the respective suits filed by Ramli Yusuff and Rosli Dahlan.

They had sought to strike out the suits on the grounds that they should be immune to such action in carrying out their prosecution powers. Ramli had filed a RM128.5 million suit against A-G Gani, former IGP Musa Hassan and several Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers.

Rosli had filed a separate suit amounting to RM48 million against the same parties.The two are suing them for abuse of power, malfeasance in the performance of public duty, malicious prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct, among others.

Suits not filed out of time

Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam also ruled that the two suits for malicious prosecution were not filed out of time as this cause of action accrued upon the determination of the final appeal. He said that the court could not consider the period to be when Ramli or Rosli  were acquitted, as there were subsequent appeals against the acquittals made after this.

“As with Ramli’s case, the appeals lodged by the public prosecutor were dismissed in June and in November 2011. Therefore the filing of the action on Nov 1 last year is well within the time stipulated in Section 2 of the Public Authority Protection Act,” the  ruled,

Vazeer Alam also allowed the two to name the MACC in their legal action, since the MACC took over from the Anti-Corruption Agency.

Ramli had sued the defendants for their claim that he was the policeman in the Copgate affair and that he had RM27 million in assets.

Subsequently, Ramli was charged with the non-disclosure of some of his assets and the case against him was thrown out. Ramli’s lawyer friend Rosli was also hauled up as a result of this.

Ramli, who was a former state Police Chief for Pahang and Sabah, said in his statement of claim that his relationship with Gani soured in 2006.

This was after he met then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and recommended that former Malaysia Airlines chairperson Tajudin Ramli be prosecuted for the severe losses suffered by the company.

“But the A-G decided not to prosecute Tajudin. I even told the PM then that if the AG was reluctant to prosecute Tajudin, the CCID would have the necessary resources to conduct the prosecution.

“This earned me Gani’s permanent displeasure…” Ramli said in his statement of claim.

‘A brave decision’

After today’s court session, Ramli commended the judge for his brave decision. “I am not doing this for Ramli Yusuff but for the Police Force, some of whom have been victimised as a result of this. And I am also doing this for the serving government officers who have also been victimised.

“I am also seeking closure to an event that has affected my possible career advancement,” he said.

The RM27 million investigations had hindered his promotion to be the Inspector-General of Police, he added. This post was subsequently handed over to Musa Hassan.

Rosli, on commending today’s High Court decision, said abuses by the public authority have for too long been insulated by invoking the Public Authority Protection Act.

“Today, a brave judge has declared that absolute prosecutorial immunity is  anathema to the modern concept of democracy. This is to remind the public authorities that no one is above the law,” Rosli said.

Several Police Officers under Ramli’s charge have also been prosecuted as a result of the Copgate affair and all of them have acquitted and have been reinstated to their posts during former IGP Ismail Omar’s tenure.

Ramli was represented by Harvinderjit Singh, while Chethan Jethwani and Darvindeer Kaur appeared for Rosli. Senior lawyer Tan Sri Cecil Abraham, Rishwant Singh and Senior federal counsel Dato Amarjeet Singh represented the defendants.

Vazeer fixed June 18 for case management to possibly fix trial dates for the hearing.

Dr. John remembers Irene Fernandez


April  4, 2014

Dr. John remembers Irene Fernandez

by K J John@www.malaysiakini.com–04-04-14

Irene Fernandez is a personal friend of our family. We grew up in the same neighbourhood in the early 60s. Therefore, my feelings about her passing are mixed at best. Of course, since we are Christians, death is something we can look forward to, because of our personal and relational faith we have with Jesus Christ. He is the Judge at the Second Coming.

We believe he destroyed the dividing wall of hostility between Man and God by his death and resurrection. What a reminder about why we must take this season of Lent more seriously, as we reflect on both; his realities in history of time to define Good Friday and Easter. Good Friday was the good work of Jesus on the cross to redefine our eternity, and Easter is our similar hope through his resurrection; because he still lives.

Nonetheless without getting into the theology of ‘what quality of personal and relational faith defines our eternal life in Heaven’, I will believe that I will see the late Dr Irene Fernandez in Heaven. I will look forward to that day.

Even so, allow me to reflect on this question; did Irene deserve better from all of us? What do I mean?Irene was a great lady who lived out her dignity and destiny of her calling through her life. She lived and died for her beliefs. That is now her legacy for those of us who know her and have been influenced by her ‘good works’.

She was more than her value of saltiness and the light she shone into the systemic level of bribery and corruption at all levels of society. I will miss Irene. Farewell my good friend until we meet again on yonder shore.

The abuse of Irene’s dignity

Almost in identical style and execution but learning from their mistakes of the past, especially with the Lim Guan Eng incident, the Attorney-General’s Chambers selectively prosecuted and persecuted Irene for telling the truth about bribery and corruption related to especially naming Bangledeshi workers and documenting of their case stories. She was charged in court with “lying about truths”, sentenced to jail, and finally released by the appeal court. What misjustice!

Muslim theology also states that all humans have a God-ordained dignity which must therefore be honoured and respected by all in positions of authority. These authorities do not deny God or ignoring the person they call ‘Allah.’Now, we even see Muslim judges practice ‘rule by law and not really rule of law,’ because they do not understand Muslim theology well. They think God has ordained them to behave like God and decide some other’s destiny and deny their dignity.

My doctoral thesis was on this subject of dignity in the workplace. Dignity so defined is a God-quality of honour and respect for human beings, as the highest of all created beings, including angels. All other humans must grant such mutual respect and regard for the other; without fear or favour. But, systems always fail to do this well, especially because the ‘powerful’ always assume they are already on God’s side and no one can question their ‘abuse of authority.’ How untrue!

Even Muslim theology has a similar concept of trusteeship or stewardship. Therefore, all authorities, by name, must be both accountable and responsible to Almighty God on Judgment Day, for things done or left undone.

Therefore, I feel guilty, because I worked for this ‘authoritarian government’ which caused great and severe abuse to Irene Fernandez by wrongly ‘prosecuting, but which resulted in severe persecution’, with even her passport and travel rights being denied. Then finally, she was released by the Court of Appeal.

Did not Irene deserve better from all of us, especially when this so-called legitimate government abused her dignity and denied a proper destiny. For that the global community gave her the ‘Right to Livelihood Award’; often called the alternative Nobel Prize.

Irene’s lifeline

Born in 1946, we became neighbours sometime in 1961, when our family moved to the first-ever housing development in Jalan Kolam Ayer in Sungai Petani. We had some glorious times of friendship and family fellowship as they were also Malayali Christians, like us. Then I left to go to school in the RMC in 1965.

I reconnected with Irene when her case hit the newspapers. I was then writing a column in the NST. I wrote and supported Irene’s findings and they published my views, without edit. Then when we started Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute’s (OHMSI) National Congress on Integrity in 2005, Irene was one of the keynote speakers, apart from Bishop Paul Tan and Clifford Herbert, former secretarygeneral of the Finance Ministry.

We were a multi-ethnic and multi-faith community as we sought to define the word ‘integrity.’ One of the best definitions on this concept of ‘integrity’ which was publicised by the mainstream newspaper was by the chief secretary to the government, Sidek Hassan (right). He popularised the definition that “integrity is what you do when no one else is watching”.

Of course, whether Sidek or us, we know that “when no one else is watching” is not such; as God is always watching. Therefore what Sidek means by that ‘definition’ is integrity makes requisite for us to do what is right, good, and true when no one else human is watching. But, we are reminded by scriptures that God is always watching and keep a record of the same; which becomes our basis for judgment at Jesus’s Second Coming.

Did not Irene do what is good, true, and right by defending the dignity of Bangladeshi workers? Why then did we prosecute and persecute her? Who are really the guilty ones? Do you really think God was not watching when we do the same? Did not Irene Fernandez deserve better, as she lived her life of dignity, integrity, and destiny?

Is not wrongful prosecution equal to persecution?

Can the citizens of Malaysia not take the attorney-general (AG) to court over wrongful prosecution of so many public cases? Every time a senior public servant is charged with corruption and then finally discharged by the higher courts for the lack of conclusive evidence, I feel the same way about each and every one of them; their dignity and destiny which God intended for them is denied by my mortals.

We are not gods; in fact let me quote the father who said, “the police are not god”. They cannot cause death and not be held responsible and fully accountable. Let me modify the same argument; the AG is not god and the cabinet must hold him responsible for the Irene case and make good their ‘uninformed incompetence in prosecuting and persecuting her’.

Irene deserved very much more from all of us. The reason evil governance begins because good and ordinary people choose to close on eye and think they cannot make a difference. Irene showed us otherwise she could. Let us follow her legacy and not follow the crooks. May God bless our soul and spirit.

Judges dancing to tune of UMNO


April 3, 2014

Judges dancing to tune of UMNO

It has to take one stupid, perverse and farcical court to agree with another stupid, perverse and farcical court.

 
COMMENT@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Anwar-Ibrahim-2011-mantan-PMBy Anwar Ibrahim

Talking about political winds, it appears that lately, the Malaysian judiciary, particularly the judges of the superior courts, are caught in the whirlwind and are frantically racing against each other to please the powers that be of the day.

In the frenzy to curry favours from their political overlords, these minions have stopped at nothing to ensure that they will be the first to reach the finish line.

Pots of gold await the backscratchers and lackeys. And where financial gratification may appear a tad blatant, there’s always elevation to the higher rungs of office to whet the appetite.

Unlike parliamentarians, judges will never be content to be backbenchers. The preferred place is the front and the top where they can tower over ordinary mortals, even if they be law-makers or members of the Bar.

They fear no one except their political masters because they know on which side their bread is buttered. And they shall not bite the hand that feeds.

Throwing judicial decorum to the wind, they bare their fangs and sharpen their claws in order to cow supplicants in their courts into submission, and in the process, their demeanour and conduct leaves no one in doubt about their bias.

And though they know that an adversarial system dictates that judges must not just act impartially but must be seen to be so, they bend backwards to don the hats of prosecutor and executioner as well.

When this happens, as indeed it is happening now with unprecedented frequency, we know justice has gone to the dogs. It is happening because Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in flagrant abuse of power, has launched a new campaign of political persecution.

“Even if we can’t defeat them at the polls, all is not lost (remember Altantuya?). We still have our judges to do our bidding. See how they fall over each other at the snap of our fingers!”

This is the alarming trend in our judiciary where judges work hand in glove with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to deny leaders of the federal opposition, duly elected representatives of the people in parliament, their right to justice.

In taking this unconstitutional and nefarious line, they have turned the doctrine of the separation of powers on its head.Hence, apart from me, MPs Karpal Singh, Azmin Ali, Antony Loke, Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua, Syed Azman and Shamsul Iskandar just to name a few, are marked for the judicial abattoir by the executioners.

It may be sodomy, it may be sedition, or it may be illegal assembly, or whatever. These bootlickers know less of law and the principles of justice than lording over the courts parading proudly as peacocks (and peahens) their colourful judicial plumage overflowing with the arrogance of power.

Life after retirement

As for those judges who used to sit on the throne, there is still life after retirement. The involvement of former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad in the National Unity Front, closely linked to Perkasa, Malaysia’s icon of racism, while not shocking remains scandalous.

It makes a mockery of the institution of the judiciary which he once headed and contradicts the principles of equality, equity and justice that the judiciary is supposed to stand for.

Is it conceivable for a former chief judge to head an organisation that is adamantly opposed to the National Unity Consultative Council, and to be notoriously engaged in race-baiting and the trumpeting of the superiority of one race over other races in our multi-racial and multi-religious country?

It would appear that it is not only conceivable but that it is lauded with much fanfare by UMNO going by the prominent coverage given to it by the UMNO-controlled media.

Incidentally, this is the same judge who, in his Federal Court judgment, had written that “the court’s decision must only be based on the evidence adduced and nothing else and (hence) it had to acquit because of lack of evidence,” but qualified it with the illogical and manifestly asinine statement that “we find evidence to confirm that the appellants were involved in homosexual activities”.

In other words, “we find him NOT guilty but at the same time guilty”. Anything more stupid, perverse and farcical than that cannot be found in our judicial annals (no pun intended) except for the judgments and pronouncements of Augustine Paul and Ariffin Jaka in respect of Sodomy 1 and the current decisions in respect of the application for expunging and the Sodomy 2 appeal.

As they say, it has to take one stupid, perverse and farcical court to agree with another stupid, perverse and farcical court.

UMNO must fight its own political battles and not be such a coward to use the judiciary to help them fight the opposition. How long more are our judges going to dance to tune of UMNO?

When will they stop becoming stooges and lap dogs of UMNO leaders? How long more must the rakyat endure this sham? Who are the puppeteers in this shadow play?

Are these judges not aware that UMNO will not be there forever to cover their tracks, or their backs, or that not only will history judge them, but that the rakyat are not going to sit idly by – forever – while they continue to pervert the course of justice?

Parliament, as the vox populi, must make its voice heard before we reach the tipping point and the situation gets out of our hands.

There is a tide in our affairs which, unless we seize it, will see our voyage for democracy and rule of law in shallows and in miseries.This is the rising tide of judicial impropriety, arrogance of power and transgression. As one of the three branches of government, parliament must reassert the sanctity of the separation of powers principle.

It is therefore morally incumbent and constitutionally expedient that parliament acts accordingly to break up the illegal and unconstitutional collusion between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Anwar Ibrahim is the federal Opposition Leader.

Inside Singapore’s Socio-Economic Success


April 2, 2014

Singaporean Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam  on Singapore’s Socio-Economic Success

port-of-singaporePort of Singapore

Series of Errrors by MALAYSIA mounts complicating th task of Finding MH370


March, 15, 2014

READ: Series of Errrors by MALAYSIA mounts complicating th task of Finding MH370

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/16/world/asia/series-of-errors-by-malaysia-mounts-complicating-the-task-of-finding-flight-370.html?hp&_r=0

SEPANG, Malaysia — The radar blip that was Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 did a wide U-turn over the Gulf of Thailand and then began moving inexorably past at least three military radar arrays as it traversed northern Malaysia, even flying high over one of the country’s biggest cities before heading out over the Strait of Malacca.

Yet inside a Malaysian Air Force control room on the country’s west coast, where American-made F-18s and F-5 fighters stood at a high level of readiness for emergencies exactly like the one unfolding in the early morning of March 8, a four-person air defense radar crew did nothing about the unauthorized flight. “The watch team never noticed the blip,” said a person with detailed knowledge of the investigation into Flight 370. “It was as though the airspace was his.”

It was not the first and certainly not the last in a long series of errors by the Malaysian government that has made the geographically vast and technologically complex task of finding the $50 million Malaysia Airlines jet far more difficult.

Continue reading the main story

Reconstructing the Plane’s Path

The main communications systems of the Malaysia Airlines plane were turned off about 40 minutes into the flight, forcing investigators to try to piece together the plane’s location from other systems.

Transponder

Secondary Radar and Text Updates

Air traffic controllers typically know a plane’s location based on what is called secondary radar, which requests information from the plane’s transponder. A plane also uses radio or satellite signals to send regular updates through ACARS, the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System. Both of those systems were turned off.

Primary Radar

Two Malaysian military radar stations tracked a plane using primary radar, which sends out radio signals and listens for echoes that bounce off objects in the sky. Primary radar does not require a plane to have a working transponder.

SATELLITE

Satellite Communications

If ACARS updates are turned off, the plane still sends a “keep-alive” signal, that can be received by satellites. The signal does not indicate location, but it can help to narrow down the plane’s position. A satellite picked up four or five signals from the airliner, about one per hour, after it left the range of military radar.

A week after the plane disappeared, the trail is even colder as the search now sprawls from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the empty expanses of the southern Indian Ocean. Nobody knows yet whether the delays cost the lives of any of the 239 people who boarded the flight to Beijing at Kuala Lumpur’s ultramodern airport here. But the mistakes have accumulated at a remarkable pace.

“The fact that it flew straight over Malaysia, without the Malaysian military identifying it, is just plain weird — not just weird, but also very damning and tragic,” said David Learmount, the operations and safety editor for Flightglobal, a news and data service for the aviation sector.

Senior Malaysian military officers became aware within hours of the radar data once word spread that a civilian airliner had vanished. The Malaysian government nonetheless organized and oversaw an expensive and complex international search effort in the Gulf of Thailand that lasted for a full week. Only on Saturday morning did Prime Minister Najib Razak finally shut it down after admitting what had already been widely reported in the news media: Satellite data showed that the engines on the missing plane had continued to run for nearly six more hours after it left Malaysian airspace.

Finding the plane and figuring out what happened to it is now a far more daunting task than if the plane had been intercepted. If the aircraft ended up in the southern Indian Ocean, as some aviation experts now suggest, then floating debris could have subsequently drifted hundreds of miles, making it extremely hard to figure out where the cockpit voice and data recorders sank.

And because the recorders keep only the last two hours of cockpit conversation, even the aircraft’s recorders may hold few secrets.

With so much uncertainty about the flight, it is not yet possible to know whether any actions by the Malaysian government or military could have altered its fate. Responding to a storm of criticism, particularly from China, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the passengers, Mr. Najib took pains in a statement early Saturday afternoon to say that Malaysia had not concealed information, including military data.

“We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data,” he said, reading aloud a statement in English at a news conference. “We have been working nonstop to assist the investigation, and we have put our national security second to the search for the missing plane.”

Malaysia Airlines issued a similarly defensive statement late Saturday afternoon. “Given the nature of the situation and its extreme sensitivity, it was critical that the raw satellite signals were verified and analyzed by the relevant authorities so that their significance could be properly understood,” the airline said. “This naturally took some time, during which we were unable to publicly confirm their existence.”

Aviation experts said that a trained pilot would be the most obvious person to have carried out a complicated scheme involving the plane. Yet for a week after the plane’s disappearance, Malaysian law enforcement authorities said that their investigation did not include searching the home of the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

Continue reading the main story

Estimated range of plane with its remaining fuel if it was flying at the plane’s maximum speed:

Kazakhstan

Mongolia

Uzbek.

Kyrg.

Tajik.

60 min. of fuel

20 min.

Afghan.

Approx. area within the top and bottom 20-min. ranges:

2 million square miles

Pakistan

China

Nepal

Bangladesh

India

Myanmar

Laos

Approx. time
after takeoff

Thailand

Vietnam

+40 min. Last contact with civilian radar.

First week

search area

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur airport

+1 hour 34 min. Last contact with military radar.

Indonesia

Position of satellite that received last known signal

from plane.

+7.5 hours Red arcs represent possible positions of plane when it transmitted last signal to satellite.

INDIAN OCEAN

Plane may have flown up to another hour after its last satellite transmission.

Australia

On Saturday afternoon, the police were seen entering the gated community where Mr. Zaharie was said to have lived, and Malaysian news media reported that they had searched his home. The police declined to comment, and it is not known whether the authorities made any effort to secure Mr. Zaharie’s home and prevent any destruction of evidence over the past week.

Mr. Najib said on Saturday that “the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board,” but Mr. Zaharie has not been accused of any wrongdoing. No information has been released yet on whether the homes of the co-pilot or flight attendants might be searched.

Even before the plane took off, Malaysian immigration officials had already allowed onto the plane at least two people using passports that had been logged into a global database as stolen, although there is no evidence that either person carrying a stolen passport was involved in diverting the plane.

A British Royal Air Force base in the colonial era, the Malaysian air force base at Butterworth sits on the mainland across from the island of Penang at the northern reaches of the Strait of Malacca. There, in the early morning hours of March 8, the four-person crew watching for intrusions into the country’s airspace either did not notice or failed to report a blip on their defensive radar and air traffic radar that was moving steadily across the country from east to west, heading right toward them, said the person with knowledge of the matter.

Neither that team nor the crews at two other radar installations at Kota Bharu, closer to where the airliner last had contact with the ground, designated the blip as an unknown intruder warranting attention, the person said. The aircraft proceeded to fly across the country and out to sea without anyone on watch telling a superior and alerting the national defense command near Kuala Lumpur, even though the radar contact’s flight path did not correspond to any filed flight plan.

As a result, combat aircraft never scrambled to investigate. The plane, identified at the time by Mr. Najib as Flight 370, passed directly over Penang, a largely urban state with more than 1.6 million people, then turned and headed out over the Strait of Malacca.

The existence of the radar contact was discovered only when military officials began reviewing tapes later in the morning on March 8, after the passenger jet failed to arrive in Beijing. It was already becoming clear that morning, only hours after the unauthorized flyover, that something had gone very wrong. Tapes from both the Butterworth and Kota Bharu bases showed the radar contact arriving from the area of the last known position of Flight 370, the person familiar with the investigation said.

Gen. Rodzali Daud, the commander of Malaysia’s Air Force, publicly acknowledged the existence of the radar signals for the first time on Wednesday, well into the fifth day after the plane’s disappearance. He emphasized that further analysis was necessary because the radar plots of the aircraft’s location were stripped of the identifying information given by the plane’s onboard transponders, which someone aboard the aircraft appeared to have turned off.

The failure to identify Flight 370’s errant course meant that a chance to send military aircraft to identify and redirect the jet, a Boeing 777, was lost. And for five days the crews on an armada of search vessels, including two American warships, focused the bulk of their attention in the waters off Malaysia’s east coast, far from the plane’s actual path.

General Rodzali went to the Butterworth air force base the day that the plane disappeared and was told of the radar blips, the person familiar with the investigation said. The Malaysian government nonetheless assigned most of its search and rescue resources, as well as ships and aircraft offered by other nations, to a search of the Gulf of Thailand where the aircraft’s satellite transponder was turned off, while allocating minimal attention to the Strait of Malacca on the other, western side of Peninsular Malaysia.

Chris Buckley contributed reporting from Sepang, Nicola Clark from Paris, and Matthew L. Wald from Washington.

A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2014, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Series of Missteps by Malaysia Mounts, Complicating the Task of Finding Flight 370.

Amid Search for Plane, Malaysian Leaders Face Rare Scrutiny


Asia Pacific

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/world/asia/missing-jet-exposes-a-dysfunctional-malaysian-elite.html?_r=0

Amid Search for Plane, Malaysian Leaders Face Rare Scrutiny

afif_the_malaysian_insider_dca_hishammuddin_hussein_radars_540_360_100

SEPANG, Malaysia — Malaysia’s governing elite has clung to power without interruption since independence from Britain almost six decades ago through a combination of tight control of information, intimidation of the opposition and, until recently, robust economic growth.

But worldwide bafflement at the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has challenged the country’s paternalistic political culture and exposed its coddled leaders to the withering judgments of critics from around the world.

Civilian and military leaders on Wednesday revealed that they had known for the past four days, but did not publicly disclose, that military radar had picked up signals of what may have been the missing aircraft. It appeared to be flying on a westerly course sharply off its intended flight path to Beijing.

If the radar readings were from the missing plane, it could mean a radical reinterpretation of where it ended up. And it was only under a barrage of intense questioning on Wednesday from a room packed with reporters who had arrived from many countries that officials acknowledged that the last recorded radar plot point showed the jet flying in the direction of the Indian Ocean — and at a cruising altitude, suggesting it could have flown much farther.

Continue reading the main story

Detecting a Plane

Two kinds of radar are used to keep track of air traffic from the ground.

Primary radar

Sends out radio signals and listens for echoes that bounce back from objects in the sky.

Transponder

Secondary radar

Sends signals that request information from the plane’s transponder. The plane sends back information including its identification and altitude. The radar repeatedly sweeps the sky and interrogates the transponder. Other planes in flight can also receive the transponder signals.

That raised the question of why the information had not been released earlier.

“The world is finally feeling the frustration that we’ve been experiencing for years,” said Lee Ee May, a management consultant and a former aide to a Malaysian opposition politician.

Ms. Lee said she was embarrassed when the country’s Defense Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, the scion of a powerful political family, rejected a reporter’s assertion on Wednesday that the search for the airplane had been disordered.

“It’s only confusion if you want it to be seen to be confusion,” Mr. Hishammuddin said at a news conference that unfolded before an international audience.

Relatively free from natural disasters and other calamities, Malaysia has had little experience with handling a crisis on this scale. It is also an ethnically polarized society where talent often does not rise to the top of government because of patronage politics within the ruling party and a system of ethnic preferences that discourages or blocks the country’s minorities, mainly ethnic Chinese and Indians, from government service.

Ethnic Malays, who make up about half of the population, hold nearly all top government positions and receive a host of government preferences because of their status as “sons of the soil.”

Authoritarian laws have helped keep the governing party, the United Malays National Organization, in power — and an ascendant opposition in check.

The day before Flight 370 disappeared, the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, was sentenced to five years under a sodomy law that is almost never enforced. Critics called the case an effort to block the opposition’s rise at a time when the governing party’s popularity is waning.

Then on Tuesday, a court convicted Karpal Singh, another opposition politician, of sedition, a law enacted in colonial times.

“We call it persecution, not prosecution,” said Ambiga Sreenevasan, a lawyer and the former head of the Malaysian Bar Council.

The government is accustomed to getting its way, and the crisis surrounding the missing plane is holding officials accountable in ways unfamiliar to them, Ms. Ambiga said.

“Malaysians have come to accept that their leaders don’t answer questions,” she said. “When you are not seriously challenged in any meaningful way, of course you get complacent and comfortable.”

For a relatively prosperous country of 30 million people that is less well known internationally than neighboring countries like Thailand and Singapore, the government’s confused efforts at finding the missing jetliner are an awkward and undesired appearance on the world stage.

The crisis has led to introspection about why the government has appeared uncoordinated and unable to pin down seemingly basic facts about the missing flight.

Officials insisted for three days that baggage was removed from the flight before takeoff when five passengers did not board. But the country’s chief of police on Tuesday said that was false: Everyone who checked in boarded the plane, he said. No explanation was given for the conflicting accounts.

Ibrahim Suffian, the Director of the Merdeka Center, an independent polling company, said the response to the crisis had underlined a lack of precision both in government and in the society over all.

“There’s a tolerance for a lack of attentiveness to detail,” he said. “You have a tendency of not asking so much and not expecting so much.”

The crisis also highlighted a lack of competence in government that Mr. Ibrahim said was related to a deference to authority and reluctance to take initiative. “There’s always been a kind of wait-for-instructions-from-the-top attitude,” he said.

Yet amid the criticism of the rescue efforts there was also an acknowledgment that the plane’s disappearance was so unusual that perhaps no government would be fully prepared for it.

“This is almost a unique situation,” said Ramon Navaratnam, a Harvard-trained economist and a former Malaysian senior civil servant. “Anyone would be caught off guard.”

For now, the Malaysian authorities are stuck in the unenviable position of hearing many questions but having few answers.

“They have never faced pressure to perform like this,” said Ms. Lee, the management consultant. “But now international eyes are on them, and they have nowhere to hide.”

A version of this article appears in print on March 13, 2014, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Leaders in Malaysia Face Unusual Scrutiny.

Stand Up for Democracy And Stand By Anwar Against Kelptocracy


March 7, 2014

Stand Up for Democracy,Freedom, Justice And Stand By Anwar Against Kleptocracy 

Stand Up for each other, Pakatan Rakyat.  Fight for freedom, democracy and justice. We have no option. Today’s Court of A Appeal decision makes Anwar the driving force for change in our country.  Let us not feel dejected. Our fight goes on against the dark forces of repression, arrogance, oppression; and like Badwawi’s supression, Najib will fall on the count of three.–Din Merican

by Josh Hong@wwww.malaysiakini.com

TDMBaruFor nearly 16 years now, Malaysian politics has been stuck in skullduggery just because one influential and popular individual by the name of Anwar Ibrahim was – and is – determined to challenge UMNO’s hegemony embodied by Mahathir Mohamad’s autocracy.

The sodomy issue is like a sword of Damocles that hangs forever over Anwar’s head. When he was acquitted for the first time over Sodomy II back in January 2012, some were quick to attribute the verdict to a restoration of judicial integrity. How premature the conclusion was, I would say.

Although there have been cases where justice was seen to be done, including a series of decisions against UMNO mouthpieces such as Utusan Malaysia and TV3, it would seem that the Judiciary remains very much beholden to the powers-that-be whenever the latter’s ultimate authority is severely challenged.

In other words, as long as the opposition adhered to the rules of the game laid down by UMNO and played its role within the permitted boundaries, it was allowed to survive but not to thrive.

Until, of course, the power of reformasi was unleashed by Anwar and turned the UMNO game upside down. Since then, the party that claims to represent the Malays has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant.

Still, neither Mahathir nor Najib Abdul Razak ever doubts the sodomy trump card that they have, alongside the advantages that UMNO holds as the ruling party. While Najib grudgingly accepted the not-so-splendid outcome of the 13th general election, he was privately relieved that more than sufficient time had been secured for him to say in power.

But Najib’s fortunes started to dwindle in no time as the costs of living were rising as a result of his hastily implemented economic measures.

At the same time, Mahathir and his cohorts cashed in on the increasingly discontents at the grassroots level by attacking Najib’s lacklustre performance, although the ex-dictator is never under the illusion that every act of defiance on his part is meant to soothe his immense grievances over his son’s failure to make it to UMNO’s top leadership.

So Najib was on the verge of repeating what Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had gone through – an ignominious exit that was.

Anwar-KajangAt this juncture, Anwar pre-empted Najib with the Kajang Offensive, seeking to regain the momentum that was clearly lost post-GE13.

All at a sudden, the public’s zeal for a regime change was aroused, posing a serious threat to UMNO’s legitimacy once again.

Should Anwar win big in Kajang, it would deal further blow to Najib’s diminishing authority within the party and nationwide.

Talk of reconciliation

Prior to this, there had been talk of reconciliation, with both sides of the political divides seemingly warming up to the idea.

I had chastised Anwar in no uncertain terms over the overtures that he had been making towards UMNO for the simple reason that the party that has ruined each and every public institution over the last 30 years and trampled on our national dignity time and again can never be trusted as a partner.

Then Anwar appeared to have changed his mind and decided to go on the offensive. But his Kajang strategy was interpreted by Najib as a betrayal on the consensus between them, which explains the rush to move the Sodomy II appeal forward to stop Anwar from getting closer to assuming a greater role in politics.

A calculative politician, Najib most probably decided to finish Anwar off by sending him to jail so that he gets to keep Putrajaya, while simultaneously appeasing Mahathir.

Yes, the Kajang Move has clearly backfired and one can go on arguing whether it was ethnical or justifiable from the very beginning. However, the very cruel reality remains that Umno is so arrogant and powerful that judges must disregard all the evidence and convict its opponents on the shakiest grounds.

Mahathir is the happiest man for now, but the country and the people will eventually pay for his and Umno’s perfidy unless a new generation of Malaysians are prepared to rise up against all the injustices.

Fiasco Looms for Malaysia’s Ruling Coalition


February 26, 2014

Fiasco Looms for Malaysia’s Ruling Coalition

Post-election public support drops steeply amid growing calls for PM Najib to take action

One of Malaysia’s most respected polling organizations is expected to release figuresRosmah and Najib over the next few days showing that support for the ruling Barisan Nasional from all three of the country’s major ethnic groups is dropping steeply, to the point where if an election were held today,  the national coalition would be buried in a landslide.

The loss of support is not just from ethnic Indians, whose approval figures for the Barisan have dropped from 45 percent to 30 percent, or the ethnic Chinese, only 8 percent of whom support the coalition, but from ethnic Malays, the mainstay of the coalition.  Support has dropped from 61 percent to 50 percent, according to sources who have seen the figures. In Penang, the poll reportedly shows that the Barisan wouldn’t win a single one of the 40 state seats and 11 parliamentary ones.

That has led to deepening concern over the performance of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, with growing calls for him to either step down in favor of another UMNO figure or to take dramatic steps to revitalize his leadership.  Even the mainstream press, all of it owned by Malaysian political parties, is becoming increasingly emboldened to criticize his performance.

Reportedly, according to political sources in Kuala Lumpur, he is increasingly being ignored within his own coalition, most recently by Sarawak strongman Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is stepping down as chief minister. Taib named his former brother-in-law, Adenan Satim, as his own replacement despite a promise during a meeting in London that he would heed Najib’s wishes in naming the new chief minister.

With both national and intraparty elections out of the way last year, Najib gambled that he could drastically cut subsidies for sugar, petrol and rice in a bid to put the country’s fiscal condition back into shape, with the fiscal debt running close to the maximum permissible limit of 55 percent.  But with the cost of living soaring upwards, he faces growing outrage.  He has since been forced to back away from a sharp rise in highway tolls.  And, while anecdotal evidence in the markets indicates that prices are climbing inexorably upwards, critics say the controlled press is continuing to report that there is no cost of living problem.

One of the issues that won’t go away is a government decision to ban use of the word Allah to mean God in Malay-language Bibles, which has infuriated Christians and moderates, who point out that throughout the Arab world, Christians use the word as a proper noun.  Najib has come under fire for making moderate statements when he is out of the country, but refusing to take a stand on the issue, or to rein in vocal Malay supremacy organizations such as Perkasa, headed by Ibrahim Ali, whose intemperate racial statements have increasingly poisoned the political atmosphere.

Within UMNO, Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, has become a lightning rod for those who see her as flaunting excess wealth including designer handbags, watches and jewelry at a time when the country is facing cost of living problems.  Many blame her for decisions that the Prime Minister is – or is not – making.

Najib is said to be shaking up his staff, replacing his long-time chief of staff with a younger, more dynamic individual. Reportedly he is also expected to call a party retreat to seek to convince party division chiefs and others within the United Malays National Organization that he has a plan to revitalize the political situation.  Party leaders complain that 10 months after the narrow parliamentary victory – and popular vote loss – that left the Barisan in charge, Najib has still not called for a post-mortem of the way the race was run.

With US President Barack Obama scheduled to visit the country on a state visit in April,  it is imperative to get moving, say political analysts in Kuala Lumpur.  Behind Najib is the ever-present specter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has taken no public position against Najib but who clearly has unleashed bloggers who are hounding the prime minister on all sides. Sources within the Mahathir wing of UMNO told Asia Sentinel that Mahathir is after Najib’s head.

the-man-behind-perkasa1It had been thought that, having emasculated Najib’s economic plans after the election, the Mahathir wing would be content to leave the weakened prime minister in his place until the next election.  The two most viable candidates to replace him would be Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has reportedly said he is too old and tired for the job, and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is regarded even by many UMNO figures as too mercurial and polarizing for the job.

However, A. Kadir Jasin, former chief editor of the New Straits Times and a close confidant of the 88-year-old former premier, in his blog,”The Scribe,” on Saturday suggested that Muhyiddin might not be so tired, or that a third candidate, Hishamuddin Hussein, Najib’s cousin and the party’s third-ranking vice-president, might be a possible alternative.

Thus, despite denials on all sides, the political picture is beginning to resemble that in 2008 and 2009, when growing forces coalesced to drive Najib’s predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, from the premiership. The growing drip of blog comments is an indication that Najib must take action or face a serious revolt.

 

Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah


February 23, 2014

Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah

imageby Din Merican

Karpal Singh has been convicted under s.4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for saying that “the Sultan of Perak can be sued” for causing the removal of the PAS Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaludin, which  led to the BN seizing control of the state assembly through the back door by bringing in an unelected person to be Speaker,  thus giving majority to BN in the Perak State Assembly to install Zambry Kadir as Menteri Besar.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

The story of the sneaking in of a new Speaker into the Perak state parliament; the story of how Regent Raja Nazrin waited from morning in the Royal Chambers to deliver his opening speech, only to get to do it in the late evening as if nothing had happened at all are all well documented.

Sivakumar is half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker's chair .

Sivakumar was half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker’s chair .

The Constitutional Crisis of Perak was unprecedented not only in Malaysian history but also in the history of any country in the world. Even the assassination of Julius Caesar could be justified because Julius Caesar wanted to be Emperor of Rome and Brutus and gang wanted to prevent him from getting that approval from the Roman Senate. Brutus justified the murder by saying “It is not that I love Caesar less but I love Rome more.” So, Julius was disposed in the Senate just before he became Caesar to protect democracy against dictatorship. In Perak, democracy was assassinated  right in the very house of a state parliament.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members. Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared - if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members.
Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared – if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

And by whom?

By none other than the constitutional head of the state. This was democracy in modern times being crucified by the very person who is to be the umbrella and protector of democracy and the people’s rights to its elected government. And democracy died.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

Given that dramatic event, is it beyond the reasonable man’s mind that the people would speak out? Is it beyond expectation that the Rakyat would rise and object? Even if those reposed with trust to advise the rulers on such matters abdicate their duty because of fear as in this proverb “Tohok Raja Tiada Dapat Dielakkan”, the history of mankind has shown that there will always be A Few Good Men who would speak out for the truth. Karpal Singh would not be called the Tiger of Jelutong if he did not roared out his views over something so manifestly wrong. At least Karpal did not throw stones at the royalty of Perak as some people did to express their disgust over what was seen as the palace complicity in the assassination of democracy.

I recall video footages and pictures of the people of Perak throwing stones at the Regent’s car. That was how disgusted the Rakyat felt towards the Perak royalty. As a Malay, I felt very sad to see the consequences when the royalty and monarchy are dragged to descend into the arena of gutter politics. That would be unthinkable in Thailand where the monarch has always remain impartial to party politics. And that impartiality ensures not only the monarchy’s survival in a modern democracy like Queen Elizabeth of England but also remain revered by the people like King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand. The monarchy must learn to read the Rakyat’s pulse and be a unifying force like how Winston Churchill encouraged the stuttering King George VI to deliver that famous speech unfiying Britons as Britain went to war in the  movie The King’s Speech.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

Yet, in Perak the Rakyat’s expressed its utter disgust. Why?

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the Chief judge of the country. There was much hope when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan. There was hope that His Majesty would put some semblance of Rule of Law in the governance of his own state of Perak and in the country when Raja Azlan Shah became Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia. The Perak Royalty was regarded as one of the more educated royalties of this country. So, when Raja Nazrin became regent and espoused all the ideals of good governance, the people became hopeful. The people agreed with everything Raja Nazrin said. He became a symbol of an enlightened royalty of Malaysia like the big white hope of boxing. But all hopes dissipated. That disappointment culminated in the manner that MB Nizar was deposed. And the Perak Royalty lost all credibility. I am saying this because people tell me so and it is my duty to convey this so that our royalty can reflect on their relevance and survival in a new world.

The prosecution and conviction of Karpal Singh who is a parliamentarian and a senior lawyer does nothing to instil respect, love and reverence for our royalty and monarchy. It will do the exact opposite as can be seen in the extinction of other monarchies in the world. If that happens, the Malays will have to blame UMNO, our Malay politicians and our Malay holders of public offices including the Judiciary for being less than wise in managing such issues.

ICJ's International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

ICJ’s International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

We, Malays, make such a big fuss about protecting kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu and, in doing so, we instigate for the prosecution of anyone especially non-Malays like Karpal to teach them a lesson not to memperlekehkan our Raja-Raja. As a result, we bring to the world’s attention the oppressiveness of our archaic laws and the abuses that can arise from such laws. In the end, we will be the losers because we never heed our own peribahasa – “Kasihkan Raja Di Atas Usungan”.

I will not explain the meaning of that proverb so that you, the readers, and hopefully all Malay politicians will research, read and apply that peribahasa in the proper context when dealing with our Malay royalty.

 Same case, same judge, different judgments -- only in the land of endless possibilities! mj


Same case, same judge, different judgments — only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

In prosecuting and convicting Karpal Singh, neither the Malay executive nor the Judiciary gave cogisance to another Malay legal maxim or peribahasa which is so significant in this context. If Karpal Singh can be convicted for sedition just for questioning the powers of a malay monarch, then this maxim must be expunged from the Malay perbendaharaan of peribahasa – “ Raja Adil Raja Disembah Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah“.

Islam, Freedom and Salvation


February 20, 2014

Islam, Freedom and Salvation

by Zairil Khir Johari

http://themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/zairil-khir-johari/article/islam-freedom-and-salvation

Islam and freedom are two inseparable concepts, though one may not arrive at this conclusion based on the behaviour of many Muslims worldwide, particularly those claiming to carry the torch for the religion.

Zairil Khir JohariWhen the Prophet Muhammad introduced Islam in the 7th century, he not only brought with him a new deen (faith), but also through it delivered fundamental moral and social reform to the Arabian society. As it were, Islam brought light to end the darkness of slavery, female infanticide and social injustice.

At its height of glory during the Islamic Golden Age from the 8th to the 13th century, the Arab-Muslim world transformed from a warring, largely illiterate society to one characterised by major intellectual advancement in culture, mathematics, life sciences and philosophy.

It was an era of inclusiveness, symbolised by the establishment of the Baitul-Hikmat, or House of Wisdom, in Baghdad, where scholars both Muslim and non-Muslim converged to exchange and produce knowledge. Inspired by the call to ijtihad (independent reasoning), the goal was always to expand and include, and not to retreat and exclude.

There was no narrow-minded attempt to discard the works of other civilisations, or to brand certain knowledge as belonging solely to Islam and therefore unusable by non-Muslims. Instead, knowledge was cultivated, documented and shared with all.

Unfortunately, Muslim civilisation has suffered a sharp decline since then. Today, Muslim countries throughout the world are associated with authoritarian regimes, gaping income inequality and the suppression of civil liberties and human rights – ironic for a religion that promises the gift of freedom and enlightenment.

In our part of the world, contemporary Islamic discourse appears to beIbrahim-Ali-Zulkifli-Noordin-Ridhuan-Tee-Abdullah captured by the likes of the Harussanis and Ridhuan Tees. However, such belligerent parochialism actually masks the rich history of progressive thought by great local Muslim thinkers and advocates of freedom.

Take, for example, the raging polemic over the “ownership” of the name of Allah, and the constant fear-mongering of an apparent Christian threat in our country. There are very few of us who realise that Malay translations of the The New Testament are not new, and have been around since the 1800s.

In fact, probably the very first Malay translation of the Bible, or the Kitab Injil al-Kudus as the author terms it, was produced by the father of modern Malay literature himself, Abdullah Abdul Kadir, better known as Munshi Abdullah. Of course, if he were to publish it today, a fatwa would be declared branding him a deviant, rabid protests would be organised by Perkasa, he would somehow find himself labelled a DAP member, and the authorities would prosecute him for sedition.

Munshi Abdullah not only read the Bible, he translated it into Malay. Yet he neither converted out of Islam nor caused mass apostasy, as is so feared by our authorities today. In fact, in Munshi Abdullah we had a visionary Muslim thinker of unwavering faith, who dared to push the boundaries of what was then socially acceptable.

In his writings, he constantly appealed to Malay society to shake off their traditional reverence for their feudal lords – the bangsawan (nobility), whom he saw as self-serving and oppressive. In Hikayat Pelayaran Abdullah, for example, he writes: “Apabila seseorang itu dijadikan Allah ia Raja bukan untuk memuaskan nafsunya dan berbini sepuluh atau dua puluh atau mencari harta dan membunuh orang dengan aniayanya, melainkan disuruh Allah memelihara manusia….” (When God makes a man a king, it is not so that he may satisfy his lusts and to take 10 or 20 brides, or to seek fortune and to kill with his cruelty, but instead to do as God bids that is to protect his people…).

Munshi Abdullah was of the view that in order for Malay society to advance itself, it must embrace modern values while holding steadfastly to the true teachings of Islam (he did not see such an undertaking as contradictory), and even more importantly emancipate itself from the irrational grips of Malay feudalism, characterised by the kerajaan of the absolute monarch. In his day, he was considered ahead of his time. Two hundred years later in modern Malaysia, one could say he remains ahead of our time.

Another reformist-minded Malay thinker was the Pendeta Za’aba (real name Zainal Abidin Ahmad). Among the many treatises penned by Za’aba, one entitled Jalan Keselamatan Bagi Orang-orang Melayu (The Salvation of Malays) mentions that true emancipation can only be achieved through the pursuit of knowledge.

In this monograph, Za’aba states: “Bahawasanya keselamatan orang-orang Melayu ini pada pihak jalan kehidupannya (pencariannya) dan pada pihak perangai-perangai yang kekurangan itu hanyalah boleh didapati pada satu jalan sahaja, iaitu diubati kemiskinannya yang pada pihak otak itu – yakni kemiskinan pengetahuannya – dengan jalan diberi mereka itu pelajaran-pelajaran daripada jenis yang betul. Maka disitulah, dan disitulah sahaja boleh didapati keselamatan ini, tiada pada lainnya.” (Verily there is only one path towards the salvation of the Malays insofar it concerns their life (livelihood) and weaknesses in their attitude, that is to ameliorate their intellectual poverty – their lack of knowledge – through the right kind of education. This is the only way that salvation can be found, no other way.)

mullah-harussani-and-najibTo Za’aba, the high incidence of poverty among Malays corresponded directly to the society’s mental capacity. Therefore, the only salvation for the society was to free themselves from poverty through knowledge and the ability to think critically.

Meanwhile, there have also been a few progressive Malay-Muslim thinkers who were early champions of women’s rights. In the 1920s, writers such as Syed Sheikh al-Hadi and Ahmad Rashid Talu – both coincidentally Penang-based – brought to the forefront the debate on the emancipation of women and their right to education. In their hands, the female lead characters from Hikayat Faridah Hanum (al-Hadi) and Iakah Salmah? (Talu) were, unlike the societal norms of the time, dynamic, progressive and modern.

It is an inescapable fact that freedom has always been, and will always be, a key feature in Islamic and Muslim discourse, simply because it is an essential part of Islam. This is true even in our country, where, as the works of Abdullah, Za’aba, al-Hadi, Talu and many others clearly prove, progressive Malay-Muslim thought throughout the last two centuries have constantly pushed the envelope by placing great value on the pursuit of knowledge, the ability to reason, as well as the freedom of thought and conscience.

Today, these values are under threat. Extremism, bigotry and sexism now dominate, spurred on by an overzealous establishment bent at banning everything they cannot control or understand. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Seen in this light, the real threat that we face is not the fools or the bigots, but the ignorance within our society. It is this ignorance that we need to challenge and overcome if we are to rise out of the abyss of doom and destruction.

Today, Za’aba’s advice is even more pertinent than it has ever been – our salvation lies in knowledge, enlightenment and freedom from ignorance. –The Malaysian Insider– February 19, 2014.

A Gramscian Take on Thai Politics


February 15, 2014

A Gramscian Take on Thai Politics

by Daniel Mattes (02-14-14)

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2014/02/14/gramscian-take-on-thai-politics/

At a dinner table in a common Isaan household, a spirit appears, asking, “What’s wrong with my eyes? They are open, but I can’t see a thing.”  The spirit’s appearance initially renders it a menacing threat, but it soon becomes clear that the spirit is the family’s guardian.  This scene takes place in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2010 film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, alongside many other images of superstition and banal rural life in Thailand’s Northeast.

The film was produced at a moment of immense change in Thailand, as the military continually interfered in civilian political processes between 2006 and 2010, sometimes causing violence in the suppression of street protests.  The film, aware of its context, notes the country’s history of military interventions when the eponymous protagonist laments his past murder of communists under the false and exaggerated premise of nationalism.

The more recent military action that removed elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power in 2006 occurred along a polarized divide between the urban and the rural, between business and agriculture, and between the bourgeoisie and the poor.  The film’s threatening spirit guardian represents this rural working poor, who simultaneously form a foundation of Thai identity but stoke fear among urban elites through their electoral power.  Although 2006 saw the successful removal of Thaksin, the resumption of new street protests in recent months demonstrates the anxieties over rural power that still exist in Thailand.

Key elements within a “deep state” of military, royal and business elites have unsuccessfully offset the interests of rural peasants, even as they have utilized and managed support from civil society movements opposed to government corruption.  To shift the polarization in Thai society and politics, greater understanding of the historical experiences of the Thai subaltern – the rural and working poor – can bridge the divide.

TakshinAlthough the Shinawatra-associated parties of Pheu Thai [PTP] and previously Thai Rak Thai [TRT] won four elections between 2001 and 2011, the deeper powers of the Thai state have not necessarily shifted with the changes in government.  Rather, as McCargo has suggested in his work on the Thai network monarchy, the entrenched military, royalist and business elements have continued to operate the state at a deeper level than any superficial electoral shift.  Yet in the face of PTP’s continued electoral mandates for programs of healthcare provision and rural development loans, this deep state may no longer feel so empowered.

Through studies of bourgeois hegemony in his Prison Notebooks, the Italian communist leader, Antonio Gramsci, noted society’s role when a state lost control over politics.  As he noted, “When the State trembled a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed…[as] a powerful system of fortresses and earthenworks.”  Thaksin’s mutation into a populist force outside the Bangkok establishment encouraged support among those that the leading Democrat Party had long ignored, including the geographically marginalized North and Northeast as well as the socioeconomically marginalized rural poor and migrant workers.  It was assumed Thaksin held ulterior motives, but corruption and cronyism were not new features of Thai democracy; what unnerved the urban elite to a greater extent was his ability to consolidate such wide support from the voting public, for this had the capacity to threaten future policymaking and their deeper interests.  This elite struggle resulted in and revealed the real forces within civil society taking part in street movements and fighting over sociopolitical hegemony: the urban bourgeoisie and the rural poor.  As the dominant bloc of political elites lost control over the government, bourgeois elites now fear losing hegemony over the rural and working poor.

Recent events in Bangkok have amplified the anti-rural noise, referring to potential PTP voters as either ignorant or susceptible to bribes.  Thongchai Winichakul has noted the discrepancy in criticizing vote-buying among rural populations but ignoring similar strategies of localized spending within the urban context.  The cynical discourse surrounding development in rural areas does not exist concerning commonly used tax breaks or transit improvements in Bangkok.

Andrew Walker has also argued that urban elites wrongly presume that money dispensed during elections will directly determine voting outcomes, an assumption that indicates not only urban bias but also urban ignorance of the realities and rational choices of rural populations.

Herein lies the paradox at the crux of the divide: the deep state of military, royalist and urban business interests view populist efforts as a threat to their wider support, but what truly threatens their grasp on power is their own mischaracterization of that wider public as threatening.  Instead, these elements should view the rural populations as a foundational spirit of their power.  The king once achieved his prominence and earned his wide appeal through years of concerted public engagement with rural farmers, for example.  However, the monarchy and its networks have presently come to fear the rural population’s intractable power and related support for the Shinawatras.

There is a distinct possibility — even probability — that Thaksin capitalized on the subaltern of rural farmers and urban poor in a clever attempt to assuage populist sentiment without true action.  Recent protests among Northern farmers still awaiting their promised subsidies reinforce this notion.  However, the opposition’s emphasis of this claim only aims to manipulate the subaltern for purposes of its own.  As such, Thai political and civil society regularly engage in debates that reinforce the status quo and protect the hegemony of the dominant bloc of the ruling class and the state.

The selective removal of Thaksin Shinawatra as a singular example of corrupt politics denotes not only the level of unease among elites in response to his continued support among the rural population and the working poor, but also the continued entrenchment of an elite class on either side of the political divide.  The monarchy’s Privy Council, the military and the courts – the structural tools of the deep state – only began to pursue Thaksin’s removal from office after his resounding 2005 re-election, after ignoring his and others’ corruption as a banal normalcy within Thai politics.

yingluck-shinawatra_4Thongchai Winichakul labels the events of 2006 “a royalist coup,” with the military and the courts as accomplices and with the support of an electoral minority but crucial element called “the people’s sector,” made up of activists, intellectuals, media outlets, and the business elite.  This sector, weighted towards the attitudes and interests of the urban bourgeoisie, has failed to appreciate those of rural citizens.  The lengthy movements of 2006 and 2008, the violence of 2010 and the renewal of action in recent months indicate the deep intractability of the divide that continues to separate the country.

The invention of “the people’s sector” has resurfaced in the past few months, as protestors have rallied against elections and called for the instatement of a “people’s council.”  The current protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, speaks of moral opposition to Thaksin’s corruption and his sister Yingluck’s leadership failings, even as he minimizes his own alleged involvement as the deputy Prime Minister who ordered the deadly military crackdown that killed 93 red-shirt supporters of Thaksin in 2010.  Such a selective memory extrapolates beyond Suthep’s personal evasion: his circle of elite and urban-based support has consistently justified the previous acts of violence perpetrated on the social movements that first caused the state to tremble (to use Gramsci’s phrasing).

What truly needs to change in Thailand is a shift in civil society; street protests evoke the vestiges of civil action, but they merely actualise the political gamesmanship on both sides of a purely political debate.  Understood as such, a Gramscian framework is more illuminating with regards to ongoing events in Thailand than the conventional analysis of democratization, which focuses too much on political power and policy.  The opposition is correct that Thailand needs more than new elections, but Suthep and other yellow-shirt elites have ideologically manipulated the discontent of their supporters for their own political entrenchment.  The series of trembles to the Thai state over the past eight years have revealed the cracked earthenworks of division and misunderstanding that lay between the key interests of society.

A Gramscian framework provides greater agency to the subaltern: “If yesterday it [the subaltern element] was not responsible, because ‘resisting’ a will external to itself, now it feels itself to be responsible because it is no longer resisting but an agent, necessarily active and taking the initiative.”

For subaltern elements to entrench their own sense of agency, they must resist the hegemony within their own ranks – red or yellow.  The alternative Gramscian framework has suggested they can accomplish this through direct emphasis on their own cultural strengths, ideological dominance, and incumbent moral superiority.  Modern Thailand faces the task of reconciling an increasingly polarized populace, divided by political ideology as much as geographic and industrial background.  Yet the battle is taking place and must continue to take place not within political society but within civil society.  Until urban elites interpret the incentives and interests of the rural poor not as a threat but instead as a foundational spirit, the hegemonic Thai system will continue to move forward blindly, as with open eyes that cannot see.

Daniel Mattes is a graduate student at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Dear Tuanku, Please stop this Robbery in the Name of Islam


February 12, 2014

Dear Tuanku, Please stop this Robbery in the Name of Islam

MY  COMMENT: A few days ago in my article “Islam at theFacebook-K and D Crossroads in Malaysia”, I raised several issues that have been plaguing our country. I received both positive and negative comments, all of which I posted in the comments section as I believe that a healthy exchange of ideas is the foundation for freedom of expression. Even comments from UMNO Cyber troopers were allowed access and posted, so long as they respect my condition for non-vulgar or crass exchanges. It is difference of opinion that will strengthen us as a people of one nation. We must be allowed to disagree. Unity in diversity. That is what that has made Malaysia unique.

I am gratified that most readers were equally concerned about my safety upon hearing about my accident. Even old friends like the former US Ambassador John Mallot wrote in to express concern. But I also wrote about current issus that troubled me, especially about the abuses of the law and legal processes by religious authorities. I also wanted to give moral support to my young friend, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, that he should not feel guilty about doing cases against the religious authorities. He should not feel guilty about representing Chinese companies or individuals who are robbed of their land, whose premises are violated and trespassed. For that matter, neither race nor religion should be of any consideration when one fights for truth and justice.

The secret of life is to have no fear; it's the only way to function.

The secret of life is to have no fear; it’s the only way to function.

Today, I read in the Malay Mail that Rosli Dahlan had succeeded in persuading the High Court to check the misconduct of Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS). Yes, the same JAIS that seized the Christian Bible with “Allah”. I say bravo to Rosli. I say fight on without fear or favour. I am proud that there is a fearless Malay Muslim lawyer who will take on JAIS, which of late has been committing mischief and seems to be on a frolic of its own. If, as many have said, JAIS takes directions only from HRH The Sultan of Selangor, then I say this to HRH Tuanku:

“Ampun Tuanku, Sembah patek harap diampun. JAIS yang dibawah naungan Tuanku bertindak sesuka hati sehingga mencemarkan nama Islam dan merosakkan perpaduan kaum. Maka Patek mohon sudilah Tuanku perhatikan sedikit hal ini supaya Negeri Selangor Darul Ehsan tidak bertambah porak peranda. Ampun Tuanku.”

Now read the report from Malay Mail below and tell me is JAIS is not committing land robbery in broad daylight in the name of Islam.–Din Merican

THE MALAY MAIL ARTICLE:

February 12, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developer-wins-leave-to-challenge-land-acquisition-by-islamic-authority

Developer Wins Leave to Challenge Land Acquisition by Islamic Authority

by Ida Lim

The Shah Alam High Court today allowed a private developer to legally challenge the Selangor religious authorities’ compulsory acquisition of its land.

According to private developer United Allied Empire Sdn Bhd (UAE)’s lead counsel Rosli Dahlan, High Court judge Vernon Ong also froze all action on the 26-acre plot of land until the end of the judicial review proceedings.

“The judge gave a full stay until the judicial review (is fully heard),” Rosli told The Malay Mail Online.

On January 23, the High Court had granted an interim stay, temporarily blocking all action on the land until it delivered its decision today on UAE’s application for a judicial review.

Rosli said the judge today also allowed UAE to include their requests for declaratory reliefs in the judicial review case. He explained that the court usually only allowed judicial review applicants to ask for an order to quash the alleged wrongful actions.

The hearing date for the judicial review has not been set.

In the lawsuit, UAE had accused the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of abusing their powers to grab its land in Bestari Jaya — an area formerly known as Batang Berjuntai — in the state’s Kuala Selangor district.

 The developer claims JAIS’s declared intention for land acquisition in a government gazette contradicts a notice of MAIS's proposed project, which is seen in front of the existing Masjid Ar-Ridwan mosque in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor.


Given 1 acre by UAE (the Developer) for a Mosque, but MAIS acquired 26.281 acres

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute with Jais and other state bodies, but no reply was received, Rosli said last month.

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute, but no reply was received, lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said last month.

UAE had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last April 12, seeking their intervention on the dispute, but no reply was received, lead counsel Rosli Dahlan said last month.

As a last resort, UAE last April 22 applied for a judicial review to revoke the compulsory acquisition of its land measuring 26.281 acres — roughly the size of 20 international football fields.

UAE said Jais had hidden their real intention to build a fully integrated Islamic school with hostel, shelter and rehabilitation centre on the land. The government had gazetted the land for the construction of a giant mosque.

The ethnic Chinese-owned company has also accused the state authorities of purported racial oppression and violation of its constitutional rights. It alleged that the religious bodies had abused their powers to avoid paying fair compensation for the land and had shored up their land bank for future development.

According to UAE, compulsory acquisition of private land was only allowed if it benefited the public under Article 13 of the Federal Constitution. The same article also says that property owners should receive adequate compensation for the compulsory acquisition or use of their property.

In its judicial review application, UAE named the Director of Selangor’s Land and Mines Department, the Kuala Selangor land administrator, Jais, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), Selangor Zakat Board and the Selangor government as respondents.

The developer also argued that the land authorities’ decision to allow the acquisition amounted to an “unreasonable exercise of power” for failing to ensure legal compliance.

Also read the previous article : here

Dear Anwar Ibrahim


February 12, 2014

Dear Anwar Ibrahim…

You have done a lot politically but little or nothing productively, the writer tells Anwar in an open letter.

COMMENT:

by Medecci Lineil@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Let me declare something here. First of all. I am very concerned about the political crisis in Malaysia. There is too much faith and hypocrisy in the solutions offered to address the crisis, which I think smacks of naïvety.

For Pakatan Rakyat, your brilliant strategist, your so called Majlis Pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat, your consensus members and supporters, the crisis might be celebrated as an endorsement of progressive or new politics.

Second, as a Sarawakian and Malaysian, I am very frustrated by the pervasive attitude and failure of you and Pakatan Rakyat leaders which has brought Malaysia to a new low in confidence.

This is why I oppose and never trust politicians and governments because you and your allies in principles are unreliable, you don’t improve the people’s lives, you manipulate the people with rhetoric and oratory skills instead.

I am frustrated by your thinking, public policies and your government’s steadfast refusal to recognise that people are suffering from the combined results of government intervention and control of our economy.

Young Malaysians can’ find jobs. Young entrepreneurs can’t get credit. High cost of living. Inflation. Large government spending. Mounting national debt. Low real wages. Too much taxation. Too low personal savings. Over consumption. Welfare state. Price control and a lot more. All of which you are very aware of.

My question is what have you done? You have done a lot politically but nothing productively. As I’ve said earlier in my articles, the main reason for the existence of government is to destroy production, money and the people. That’s it!

Have faith in the market system

You know the cause and effect of these economic problems and I know you are smarter than this. You’re just too cowardly to admit that the government and politicians are the opposite force of freedom and liberty.

I’ve read enough of your Orange Book, party manifesto, policy speeches in Parliament, your dozens of intellectual lectures but I am not convinced simply because capitalism is incompatible with people like you and government.

You engineered an election to show off to your opponents, naming candidates, press conferences, public forums, media interviews and polling the votes; decide who should win, who should lose. This is your routine, right?

For you and your brilliant strategist, it is good political engineering but if you think this election would bring ‘whatever’ crisis to an end, I am sorry because it seems to me, insolvable and remarkably stupid.

The more government there is and the more elections there are the more waste of taxpayers’ money. You cannot improve our lives because you are not a ‘gift’ from God. I think that is insane.

You know what? Because of your ignorance, you harm the very people you wish to protect – the rakyat. If you really want to do the right thing as mentioned by your brilliant strategist, instead of an unproductive by-election, go around the country and tell the people that the government cannot manage their world morally and economically.

Tell them to have faith in the market system. Mr Anwar, please go back to liberty principles for the sake of Malaysians.

Medecci Lineil is an Austrian Libertarian who lives in Kampung Tematu, Kuching, Sarawak. He is also the Founding Board Member at Institute for Leadership and Development Studies (Lead) and former senior executive at Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

“A word is anything I say it means”


February 12, 2013

“A word is anything I say it means”

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

COMMENT: “So you are a mercenary, lah,” quipped judge Richard Malanjum from the bench yesterday while Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was holding forth.

The Senior Counsel was expatiating on the list of parties and politicians he had appeared for in the course of a long career – a variety, he submitted, that would attest his professional skills more than his partisan affiliations.

A titer of laughter ran through the crowd at the Federal Court as Malanjum interjected to make the comment. But the matter at hand – a defendant’s right to a fair trial – was not a trifling one.

It concerned whether Shafee, who has been prolific in advocacy of clients regarded as adverse to the defence, could perform without presumptive bias the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s role in the government’s appeal of the High Court acquittal for sodomy of Anwar Ibrahim.

Malanjum (left), Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, together with four others, was on a panel to decide a defence application to disqualify Shafee from appearing as DPP.

Malanjum made the remark as Shafee was attempting to rebut the defence argument that he was a political partisan, a hack with a bias for UMNO briefs.

Anwar’s lawyers had argued that Shafee’s past advocacy on behalf of a political entity seen as patently adverse towards their client had saddled him with bias sufficient to disqualify him for the role of DPP in the government’s appeal of Anwar’s acquittal.

Hearing of the appeal is scheduled for today and tomorrow at the Court of Appeal.

Amiable ribbing or deliberate putdown?

Shafee, whose riposte to Malanjum’s remark was that his was the business of professional practice of the law, was keen in comments to an inquiring press after the hearing, to make the point that Malanjum’s quip was to be taken in the spirit of banter.

Whether Malanjum’s comment was amiable ribbing or deliberate putdown, the nature of the profession is such that no lawyer can behave like a mercenary and at the same time be true to the profession’s ethics.

It would be a suicidal loss of essence to the concept of the Rule of Law if an officer of the court is motivated by mercantile considerations: a duty to the service of justice which underpins the whole concept of law’s rule and an attitude of hiring oneself out to munificent bidders is like water and oil – they can’t mix.

Given the gravity and majesty of the Rule of Law, Malanjum’s remark about the range of Shafee’s clients cannot be viewed as innocuous banter.
But Shafee (right) chose to interpret it in the spirit of Humpty Dumpty who famously held that “A word is anything I say it means”

However, the Rule of Law and the words used to formulate and interpret it cannot adopt the attitude of Humpty Dumpty whose creator, Lewis Carol, it is instructive to recall, was a mathematician and logician.

Precision in the making and interpretation of the law are an integral part of its panoply so that one cannot make light of a ranking judge’s remark such as Malanjum’s, more so when that advocacy is being commandeered for a public prosecutorial role that, by definition, is free of any presumption of bias.

Also, the practice of law is a tradition, with a known set of rules and attached meanings.This tradition is an accumulation of nuance given pith and moment by the behaviour of the profession’s leading lights.

Evidence given by a critical witness

In the course of his submissions yesterday on the matter of his fitness for the role of DPP, Shafee mentioned that he had assisted the late and eminent Raja Aziz Addruce in a 1987 court case that eventuated in the illegalisation of UMNO.

Judge Harun Hashim’s decision to render UMNO illegal triggered a concatenation that saw then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas hauled before an international tribunal of judges to be impeached, an episode that Salleh’s predecessor, Tun Suffian Hashim, would bemoan as the most “shameful” in our judicial history.

Perhaps the most excruciating aspect of the whole charade was the presence as head of the tribunal of Abdul Hamid Omar, the Judge who stood, in terms of promotion, to gain from Salleh’s impeachment.

Salleh was impeached and Hamid duly promoted to the vacant Lord President’s position. After that, for as long as Hamid was head of the judiciary, Raja Aziz (left), the Bar’s preeminent member at that time, chose as a matter of principle not to appear before any panel of the apex court that included Hamid.

The protest meant that Raja Aziz had to forgo much in the way of professional fees. This is the type of conduct that added several cubits to Raja Aziz’s already high standing among peers and lent luster to the ethical bases on which the legal profession stands.

Shafee has been on public record on the line of argument he will take in the appeal of Anwar’s acquittal for sodomy.

From what he has said, he will necessarily rely on the evidence given by a critical witness, DSP Jude Pereira, whose handling of DNA exhibits High Court judge Zabidin Mohd Diah found to be unreliable and, therefore, inadmissible as a basis for convicting Anwar of sodomy.

In a Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) inquiry in 2009, as panel chairperson, Shafee impugned the probity of the same Police Officer whom the chair found unreliable as a witness in a matter concerning the violation of the rights of five lawyers who had complained to the commission on their treatment.

Today and tomorrow’s hearing on the appeal of Anwar’s acquittal will go a long way in establishing whether Shafee can with a straight face argue that what has not been good for the Suhakam goose can be good for the Court of Appeal gander.

SARAWAK: End of Pehin Sri’s Political Odyssey?


February 8, 2014

SARAWAK: End of Pehin Sri’s Political Odyssey?

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

Sararwak's CMTo Stay or Not to Stay, that is Taib’s Decision

COMMENT It must be the most closely guarded secret since when only a few people knew of the leukaemia that ultimately killed Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, in January 1976.

Practically, none other than the principal himself can tell with certainty what Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud will reveal to the supreme council of his party, PBB, when it meets this morning at its headquarters in Semariang, several kilometers outside Kuching.

The fact that the Sarawak BN meets tomorrow at the same venue has triggered intense speculation that Taib, who will complete 33 years in office as CM on March 26 – a span characteristic of the tenures of dictators in one-party states, not of leaders of polities subject to periodic elections – has finally decided to call it a day.

It is a measure of the mystique Taib has diffused around him that even as the frenzy of speculation about what he intends revolves around his quitting the CM’s post and elevation to the governorship of the state, there are those in his slipstream who feel that the CM is not leaving because much remains to be done and, more importantly, there is no successor who can accomplish what he has been able to: keep UMNO out of Sarawak and prevent non-Muslim use of the term ‘Allah’ from being the divisive issue it is on the peninsula.

It’s telling of the derangement of values our polity has suffered that the abovementioned accomplishments count for very much these days so that the corruption allegations in which Taib is immersed are not just now seen as disabling disqualifiers.

Three years ago, besieged with corruption allegations, Taib was propositioned about quitting before the upcoming Sarawak state election by no less than the Prime Minister and his Deputy.

Three years on, he’s still saddled with the same allegations but no one within the ruling coalition, Sarawak BN, is pushing for him to go and the demands from the opposition that he be gone pronto are sobered by the realisation that his guile at keeping UMNO at bay and the Islamic genie safely corked are not achievements to be sniffed at.

“Nobody seems to know what’s in store tomorrow,” said one of several political aides the CM has in his retinue who spoke yesterday on the phone from Kuching on condition of anonymity. This aide, who cannot quite believe that Taib will quit at this stage, was once vehemently opposed to the CM but has since come to feel that the man is indispensable.

The undesirable and the intolerable

“Don’t I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” United States Civil War President Abraham Lincoln countered usefully when criticised for being amenable to adversaries.

In the case of Taib’s aide, past enmity towards the CM has not only dissipated; it’s transmuted into support for extension of tenure. This aide is sold on Edmund Burke’s wisdom that the political arena does not confront its decision makers with the choice between good and better; more often than not, the 18th century Irish parliamentarian-cum-philosopher said the choice was between the undesirable and the intolerable.

“Look what you chaps are faced with in Semenanjung!” said the aide, using the Malay term for the peninsula.

“You have three races over there and the place is a mess. We have 26 ethnicities here and he has managed them reasonably well,” continued the aide, in the face of mild demurrals from the other end of the mobile line that while race relations are important, clean governance is not to be scanted.

“He knows the natives here very well and rendered them the best protection which is keeping UMNO at bay,” the aide said in elaboration.

The aide said Taib’s industrialisation drive in Sarawak would be complete when the Baram and Baleh dams are built, after Bakun and Murun have now been completed.

“Then our people would not have to go to your place for jobs; there’d be enough jobs in manufacturing here to keep them at home,” added the aide in furtherance of his argument that Taib had more reasons to stay than withdraw.

Adenan Satem likely successor?

If Taib withdraws, and if he moves up to governor of the state, who would replace him as Chief Minister? “I can’t quite imagine that he would withdraw but if he does, I think the likeliest bet would be Adenan,” said the aide.

Adenan Satem (left in photo), PBB assemblyperson for Tanjung Datu, is the Special Functions Minister who was once Taib’s Brother-in-Law.

Since shortly after the last state election in April 2011, Adenan has been sitting in an office in the chief minister’s complex of offices, providing another option in Taib’s range of replacements for him.

Compared to the other probable choices – Abang Johari Openg, Awang Tengah Hassan and Effendi Nawawi – Adenan comes up the least short on the three requisites for the office of CM: ability to control a fissiparous state BN, adequate ministerial ability, and acceptability to Sarawak’s ethnic mélange.

“He’s got the brains but whether he’s got the heart for it it’s hard to say,” offered the aide. The aide was not being literal about the “heart” although Adenan, 69 this year, has had a pacemaker installed.

By “heart” he meant that Adenan is a bit of a laid-back person in a role where a candidate has to work hard, additional cause for the aide to contend that Taib, still healthy at 78 come May, has a finishing canter to his now 33-year run as CM.