In Defense of University of Malaya Law Professor Azmi Sharom


September 2, 2014

In Defense of  University of Malaya Law Professor Azmi Sharom

by Din Merican

The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, and other news portals have reported that University of Malaya LawAzmi Sharom Professor Azmi Sharom will be charged with sedition later today ( September 2) over his remarks on the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis. He joins the ranks of a number of Opposition politicians – PKR Vice-President Rafizi Ramli, Padang Serai MP and Lawyer for Anwar Ibrahim, N. Surendran (PKR), Shah Alam MP and PAS central committee member Khalid Samad, and Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer (DAP) –who have been charged under the Sedition Act, 1948.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (DAP) and Batu MP Tian Chua (PKR) are also facing trial for sedition, while former Perak MB and Changkat Jering assemblyman Nizar Jamaluddin (PAS) was charged with criminal defamation for a statement he had allegedly made two years ago. But Professor Sharom is the  first academic and civil society activist to be hauled up before our courts on charges of sedition. That is shocking news  to me since I know Professor Sharom well as a man of integrity and reason. In fact, from time to time I have hosted his articles, which are also carried in his column in The Star. These are well written, lucid, constructive, positive and responsible. He is critical but never seditious since he knows his limits.

Azmi is critical but never seditious since he knows his limits.

Azmi is critical but never seditious since he knows his limits.

Why is Prime Minister Najib resorting to the use of The Sedition Act to silence critics of his government? A confident government is always prepared to engage its citizenry. Could he be responding to Tun Dr. Mahathir’s criticisms of his leadership and policies? And that in order to show that he is actually not a weak leader, he has resorted to strong arm tactics to prevent Malaysians from speaking up about  politics, social policy and other matters. Given his wide experience in government and politics, he should know that efforts to silence mounting critical voices will be counterproductive. The best option is to communicate more effectively with civil society, address its concerns and take action. Silence is not golden when it comes public dissent.

Taking on a popular academic like Professor Sharom is, therefore,  Najib’s miscalculated move. It will not silence his critics. Repression is not the answer. I read Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian, a book of essays on Indian history, culture and identity, some years ago (in 2002 to be exact). It contains useful pointers about the value of dissent and critical discourse. In the context of what is happening in our country where dissent is being suppressed, I wish to quote this brilliant Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, who said in the Preface to his book :

Sen“Discussions and arguments are critically important for democracy and public reasoning. They are central to the  practice of secularism and for even-handed treatment of adherents of different religious faith (including those who have no religious beliefs). Going beyond these basic structural priorities, the argumentative tradition, if used with deliberation and commitment, can also be extremely important in resisting social inequalities and in removing poverty and deprivation. Voice is a crucial component of the pursuit of social justice.

…the critical voice is the traditional ally of the aggrieved,and participation in arguments is a general opportunity, not a particularly specialized skill…”

Professor Sharom is that critical voice in our civil society. He is indeed among a rare breed of individuals with a courage of conviction. He is not afraid to speak his mind. Maybe because of this priceless quality, he is now being singled out for prosecution. But I am confident that our courts will see it fit to dismiss the charge of sedition against him. Let him be free to get on with his duty, which is to educate our young generation on the importance of the Rule of Law, critical discourse, and human justice.

Remembering Merdeka


August 30, 2014

Remembering Merdeka

by Tunku Abdul Aziz@www.nst.my.com

tunku-azizMANY of the 300 young Malayans, men and women, who heard the news first-hand ahead of the official announcement in Malacca, that their country would be an independent nation on August 31, 1957 are, sadly, no longer with us to celebrate the 57th Merdeka anniversary tomorrow. The years have taken their toll: the survivors have not been spared the ravages of time.

Those of us who took our places in the Kirkby College Hall on that grey, overcast and bitterly cold February afternoon to welcome Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, our honoured visitor and future Prime Minister of independent Malaya, had expected nothing more momentous than the standard homily about “working hard and playing hard” that distinguished visitors always seemed to be armed with. The Tunku quickly got into his stride and spoke without notes, in a tone of voice that gave not the slightest hint of what he had in store for his listeners.

He began by telling us that he and his colleagues had been in London holding constitutional talks at Lancaster House with Her Majesty’s Government on Malayan independence. He went on to say that they were extremely pleased with the outcome of the meeting which had paved the way for the country’s independence. He attributed the success of his Merdeka Mission to the “trust and goodwill on all sides”.

He paid special tribute to the people of Malaya for their unstinting support in the quest for freedom. This had proved to be an important point in convincing the British that the various Malayan races were at one in their demand for independence.

Then, without warning, he broke the welcome news that stunned us. Merdeka would be granted on August Tunku31, 1957, God willing. The date until then had been a closely-guarded secret, and how privileged we felt to be the first Malayans to hear the glad tidings.

It took a second or two for the full import of the momentous announcement to sink in before the assembly, as if on cue, broke into a restrained round of applause.Understated would aptly describe our reaction: British reserve had triumphed over our traditional Malayan exuberance. I suppose the freezing English winter weather was partly to blame for the less than wildly boisterous reaction to the historic occasion.

What tangled thoughts ran through our minds as we began the process of bringing them into some semblance of order, I could only guess? It would be fair to say that most of us harboured, albeit secretly, grave doubts about the country’s future.

We wondered whether the two major communities, the Chinese and the Malays, would be able to find accommodation and live in peace and harmony. Continuing, the Tunku reminded us that the fight for freedom without democracy would be quite meaningless. He talked about our duties and responsibilities as citizens of a free country, and how important it was for all Malayans to live in harmony so as to ensure lasting peace and prosperity for all. It was a message that continues to be relevant and, perhaps, even more so in today’s political climate.

We were not too sanguine about the country’s long-term prospects for racial harmony having read enough about what the coming of independence had done, a decade earlier, to India. The spectre of widespread ethnic and religious violence that so marred and blighted India’s independence was very much in the forefront of our collective consciousness.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly on Aug 15, 1947, Tryst with Destiny, containing that memorable line, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, as the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom” made a deep impression on most of us young people.

Nehru more than Mahatma Gandhi was my inspiration. Tunku came later as a leader I admired greatly. Even as the great Indian statesman was speaking, India was engulfed in flames: the streets of that ancient land were awash with Hindu, Sikh and Muslim blood. Religious violence still breaks out in parts of India with regular monotony. We had every reason to fear for the future of our country, and that was only natural. Were we ready for independence with all that this implied in social, political and economic terms? It was a question that loomed large for us then.

For all the apprehension about what the future might bring, none of us would ever forget the event that unfolded in that little corner of rural Lancashire on February 7, 1956. It was in a very real sense the beginning of a dramatic spiritual journey into the unknown for all Malayans, and unlike most journeys, there was no turning back when the Union flag finally came down past the midnight hour on the Selangor Club Padang. It might have signalled the imminent end of empire for the British, but for us it was the dawn of a new life, the life that we were at long last free to live as we chose.

merdekaWhen we reacquired our country in 1957 through negotiations, we set to with a will to confound our detractors and prove how wrong they were all along. Few thought we would survive the first few years on our own, and yet, 57 years later, despite the teething problems and birth pangs of a new nation, we remain a people deeply committed to multiracialism as a way of life.

When we think of the complexity of our society, what we have achieved for our country borders on the miraculous. As we stride out proudly to celebrate our many achievements tomorrow, let us remember that the key to our future is racial harmony and unity of purpose. We have much to be grateful for: the future is in our hands.

Many Happy Returns of the Day, Malaysia.

Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia


August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia

Kamsiah and DinDr. Kamsiah and I wish all Malaysians Happy Independence (Merdeka) Day. Yes indeed. On August 31, 2014 we will celebrate the 57th Anniversary of Independence.Let there be peace, harmony, prosperity and unity in our bountiful nation.

Before we forget, August 31, 1957 was when Malaya got its independence from the British. September 16, 1963 was when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia (leaving aside Singapore which left the Federation on August 9, 1965). Two different dates to commemorate independence.

Why the need to have two national holidays, one we call Hari Merdeka and the other we label Hari Malaysia ? Let us decide if our national day is August 31 or September 16. This is a simple decision to make.Let us choose if we want to be known as Malaysians, not as Sabahans, Sarawakians, and West Malaysians. We are able to have a common time; yet we cannot have a common national day. That does not make any sense to us. Maybe that is not important enough to our political leadership. On the contrary, we think this issue must be addressed as a matter of top priority. Since the formation of Malaysia, we have not gone beyond the rhetoric of national integration. Read article by Balan Moses (below)

Having been to Sabah and Sarawak many times, Dr. Kamsiah and I are struck by the fact that there is no affinity between us. We have, in fact, become antagonistic towards and suspicious of one another. It is, therefore, time for us to address this issue of national integration seriously, and nip all the talk of secession from Malaysia in the bud. To do that we must give members of our multi-ethnic society a fair deal  to enable us to live the Malaysian dream as envisioned by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues at the time of  the formation of Malaysia.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Proclamation of Malaysia

AND WHEREAS it has been agreed by the parties to the said Agreement that as from the establishment of Malaysia the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore shall cease to be colonies of Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty the Queen shall relinquish Her Sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of the three States:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Praise to God, the Lord of the Universe, and may the benediction and peace of God be upon Our Leader Muhammad and upon all his Relations and Friends.

WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the Ninth day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three between the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed that there shall be federated the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore with the Federation of Malaya comprising the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang[1] and Malacca, and that the Federation shall thereafter be called “MALAYSIA“:

AND WHEREAS there has been promulgated a Constitution for Malaysia which shall be the supreme law therein:

AND WHEREAS by the Constitution aforesaid provision has been made for the safeguarding of the rights and prerogatives of Their Highnesses the Rulers and the Fundamental rights and liberties of subjects and for the promotion of peace and harmony in Malaysia as a constitutional monarchy based upon parliamentary democracy:

AND WHEREAS the Constitution aforesaid having been approved by a law passed by the Parliaments of the Federation of Malaya and of the United Kingdom has come into force on the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three:

Tunku1stNOW in the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA AL-HAJ IBNI ALMARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIM SHAH, Prime Minister of Malaysia, with the concurrence and approval of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of the Federation of Malaya, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertua Negara of Sabah and His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak, DO HEREBY DECLARE AND PROCLAIM on behalf of the peoples of Malaysia that as from the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, corresponding to the twenty-eighth day of Rabi’ul Akhir in the year of the Hijrah one thousand three hundred and eighty-three, that MALAYSIA comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang,[1] Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among nations.

Prime Minister
Kuala Lumpur
16th day of September 1963

MALAYSIANS: LET US BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE

by Balan Moses

http://news.abnxcess.com/2014/08/malaysians-let-us-be-the-change-we-want-to-see/

WHEN Tunku Abdul Rahman’s shouts of “Merdeka” rang out three times in the Merdeka Stadium on August 31 57 years ago, he was rejoicing in the freedom that Malayans would be enjoying in their new country.

No more the multitude of restraints in the clutches of a colonial master; no more the lack of a common identity as a nation; no more the lack of self-determination.

The other founding fathers from the Chinese and Indian communities would have felt similarly, joining the Malay prince in laying a common platform of rights and privileges for all.He probably envisaged a nation of perpetual sharing, an united nation where the running theme would be one for all and all for one.

Those were indeed less complicated times when people were more humane and there was anBalan-Moses-ENG NEW-1 unbelievable level of give and take among Malayans.Were there latent signs of uneasiness among the various communities? I really don’t know but history tells this child of the 50’s that life went on without major disagreement  among the people.

Was it because we were almost one against the British and that our commonalities as a people came into play for that day and time?  Perhaps.But as we prepare to usher in the 57th year of independence as a nation, we find ourselves split politically, racially and socially like never before.

Of course, there was May 13, 1969, but that should be seen as an exception to the rule that we have had a relatively good run as a nation with mutual respect being the order of the day.No amount of sugar-coating that we are still intact as a multi-racial nation will detract from the truth that a huge chasm has formed politically with the ruling Barisan Nasional at loggerheads with Pakatan Rakyat.

Both sides do not give or take any quarter from each other, going for the jugular in any situation to try and obtain the advantage.

On the religious front, we have an Islamist party with a stated policy of introducing Syariah Law if it ever came into power nationally winning 15 seats for itself in the most developed state in the country. It is currently calling the shots in the process of determining who the Menteri Besar of Selangor will be despite the fact that the multi-racial Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP together won 29 seats in the state legislative assembly in the last general election.

Najib and Merdeka

The Muslim-Christian divide is threatening to escalate to untold proportions with dialogue almost non-existent between the Muslims and Christians who form less than 10 per cent of the population. Some have tried arguing that there may be a semblance of racial and religious communities being at each others’ throats and that the ones threatening peace and order represent only a small segment of society.

Perpetual efforts are made to reinforce the point that the discordant voices do not represent the moderate majority in every community.But if this is the case, where indeed is the voice of the moderate Malaysian?

Where is the coalescing of moderates from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other communities in a single entity ready to engage with extremists of all creeds and hues?

All we are seeing are truly small groups of late from the various communities that are trying to speak in one voice as Malaysians but seeming to get nowhere. The mainstream politicians do not seem to want to move from their stated positions, digging in for the long-term with their policies that champion the rights of specific races.

Will there never be a time when we will proudly call ourselves Malaysians irrespective of our religion, race and colour? At the moment the only time probably that we proudly engage as Malaysians is when we are abroad and find strength in an alien society through a common identity.

The other is when out festivals come around and we attend open houses in a show of oneness that is largely scripted by those with power and influence.I am forced  to ask these questions as we approach August 31 as serious thought has to be given to the issue of where we stand as Malaysians.

I fear for the next generation of Malaysians who have never enjoyed the level of conviviality that those born in the 40s, 50s and 60s had with one and another in an era that we may never see again. It is imperative that every Malaysian drum into their children and grandchildren that this is our country and that our actions will dictate where we go in the future as a people.

And so fellow Malaysians, we have to do the right thing now for the future of our nation. Let us be circumspect when we act and speak as our actions and words cannot be truly retracted with damage never truly repaired.That is the nature of things and the sooner we realise this the better.

Happy 57th birthday Malaysia and may you see peace and prosperity always.

Let the Khmer Rouge Record Show


August 27, 2014

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Let the Khmer Rouge Record Show
Cambodia Shouldn’t Censor the Khmer Rouge Court’s Files

By Craig Etcheson,
August 26, 2014

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea appeEarlier this month a United Nations-assisted tribunal in Cambodia handed down long-overdue judgments against Nuon Chea (pic. left) and Khieu Samphan(right) for their roles in the catastrophic Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79. Nuon Chea, the Deputy Secretary of the communist party, and Khieu Samphan, the President of the Khmer Rouge state, were sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.

For some observers, this seemed like too little too late for too much money. Eight years have passed since the Khmer Rouge tribunal — officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (E.C.C.C.) — began operations, it has cost more than $200 million, and these verdicts concern only a fraction of the total charges. Yet the delay was a result of the extensive procedural protections rightly afforded the accused and the complexity of the case: The indictment is the most complicated since the Nuremberg trials. And it was worth the wait, not least because the tribunal has amassed an extraordinary cache of documents and testimonies.

But now there is reason to fear that this database, a major contribution to existing scholarship on the Khmer Rouge era, will not be made available to researchers after the E.C.C.C. fulfills its mandate. Given the Cambodian government’s unease about its connections to the Pol Pot regime, these extraordinary archives risk being censored or put under semipermanent lock and key.

Between the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and the launch of the E.C.C.C., historians assembled significant evidence detailing the mayhem. After 1995, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent research institute originally established by Yale University, gathered tens of thousands of previously unknown internal documents from the Khmer Rouge regime, as well as thousands of interviews with both victims and Khmer Rouge cadres. (I was once a director of DC-CAM.)

That material was then made available to the E.C.C.C. Scholars from around the world also shared notes and interviews. And then the court itself sent out investigators across Cambodia to try to resolve ambiguities in the existing record. More than 1,000 interviews were collected as a result. Another major contribution were the testimonies of the nearly 3,900 victims who have joined the proceedings as civil parties — a feature of the E.C.C.C. that makes it unique among all international and hybrid criminal courts — plus thousands of complaints submitted by other victims.

Killing Fields

All this evidence was gathered in a sophisticated digital database, which now contains more than one million pages of information, thousands of photographs and hundreds of films and audio recordings. The material is readily searchable, allowing all parties in the case to make connections that had previously eluded researchers and to develop a finer-grained understanding of the Khmer Rouge regime.

I worked as an investigator for the prosecution in 2006-12, and our office used all this information to construct an elaborate model of the notoriously secretive Khmer Rouge organization, from center to zone to sector to district to commune. We created more than 1,000 organizational charts depicting the staffing of political, military and governmental units. These gave us an unprecedented insight into the chain of command among all echelons of the organization across the entire country, and they graphically revealed the waves of internal purges that swept through the Khmer Rouge.

Such cross-referencing helped prove charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, such as some crimes committed after the Khmer Rouge seized the capital, Phnom Penh, on April 17, 1975, and then forcibly emptied it of its two million residents. Drawing on hundreds of accounts from people who passed through checkpoints on major roads out of the city, the trial judges concluded in their recent judgment that killings of officials from the regime that the Khmer Rouge deposed in 1975 were not isolated acts by undisciplined soldiers, but evidence of a systematic pattern resulting from a centralized plan.

Many more connections can be drawn from the E.C.C.C. archives, some with a direct bearing on the charges that will be considered in the next phase of the leaders’ trial. That section of the case includes forced marriage, among other charges. Several NGOs had already done pioneering work to gather evidence of sexual crimes during the Khmer Rouge regime. But it is the civil-party applications and victims’ complaints collected by the E.C.C.C. that make clear just how often rape was committed as a result of the Khmer Rouge’s policy of compelling people to marry and forcing them to consummate the unions.

And then there are insights not of direct relevance to the leaders’ trial but invaluable to understanding both the Khmer Rouge regime and contemporary Cambodia. For example, a review of the minutes of meetings of the Standing Committee — the Khmer Rouge’s ultimate decision-making body — and telegrams between the military leadership and division commanders has revealed the astonishing scope of China’s military assistance to the Khmer Rouge, in terms of matériel, logistics and personnel. And the E.C.C.C. archives contain extensive information about the operation of the so-called Eastern Zone under the Khmer Rouge regime, from which emerged some senior leaders in the government today.

Hun SenPrime Minister Hun Sen, Kingdom of Cambodia

These matters are controversial, however. The ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which has been in power since the Khmer Rouge were deposed in early 1979, has long been touchy about its exact connections to the Pol Pot regime. Some senior party members have published autobiographies claiming that they joined the Khmer Rouge movement only in 1970 and in response to a call from the former king to rally against the military dictatorship that had just overthrown him — assertions that are contradicted by material in the E.C.C.C. archives. And in 2009 some party leaders — the president of the national assembly, the finance minister and the foreign minister at the time — failed to answer an E.C.C.C. summons to answer questions during the investigation.

Such sensitivities are the reason that the court’s archives may be vulnerable to tampering or being sealed after its work is completed. The risk is all the greater because the United Nations, the court’s donors and the Cambodian government have agreed that once the trials are over the E.C.C.C.’s database should remain in Cambodia and under the control of the Cambodian government.

The United Nations and the donors must persuade the government to ensure that the court’s archives in their entirety are opened to historians. Anything less would be to squander the E.C.C.C.’s legacy and an incalculable loss to the historical record.

Craig Etcheson, a former investigator in the Office of the Co-Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, is a visiting scholar at George Mason University.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 27, 2014, in The International New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/cambodia-shouldnt-censor-the-khmer-rouge-courts-files.html?ref=opinion

SNAP Elections could lead to chaos in Selangor, says Dr. Aziz Bari


August 23, 2014

SNAP Elections could lead to chaos in Selangor, says Dr. Aziz Bari

by Z Ar @www.themalaysianinsider.com

HRH The Sultan of Selangor

The Selangor Sultan’s consent to dissolve the state assembly for snap polls would be an irreversible decision that may send the state hurtling into chaos, Professor Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari told a forum on the Mentri Besar crisis last night.

The regularly-cited constitutional expert expressed fears of possible attempts to trigger unrest that may allow Putrajaya to regain control of Selangor via an emergency. “If it is dissolved, we can do nothing … If this Monday His Highness decides to dissolve it, then it will be dissolved,” Aziz said of the state assembly.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is set to meet the Selangor Sultan on Monday, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Khalid ib3

The Selangor University (Unisel) lecturer pointed out to a previous case of an unsuccessful challenge against the dissolution of the Sabah state assembly, to back his point.But he asserted that Khalid no longer has the authority to request for a dissolution of the assembly, as he can be considered a “caretaker” MB after a demonstrable loss of confidence in his administration among state lawmakers.

Citing the cases of the 1977 Kelantan Emergency and the 1966 Sarawak Constitutional Crisis, Aziz said an emergency might be declared in Selangor should chaos be instigated by agents provocateur. “I’m worried it would turn out like that, it created a chaos. Then this provides the ground for the authorities to do what they want,” Aziz claimed.

datuk stephen kalong ningkan

In the 1966 Sarawak crisis, the federal government declared a state of emergency to reinstate a new Chief minister after a High Court declared that the ouster of the previous Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan was illegal.

In the 1977 emergency, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong similarly declared emergency at the request of the federal government after street violence and a political impasse.The impasse and violence happened after Kelantan MB Datuk Muhammad Nasir requested consent from the Regent of Kelantan for a dissolution of state assembly, but was refused instead.

Other panelists in the forum last night was electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah and Khairul Ariffin Mohd Munir, the Vice-president of Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM). It was moderated by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan of the coalition Negara-Ku.

Selangor was thrown into a leadership crisis after PKR sacked Khalid for refusing to yield his position to party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Khalid responded by removing all hostile PKR and DAP officials from his executive council, leaving Selangor in the hands of an independent MP and four excos from PAS.

The Pakatan Rakyat parties banded together last Sunday to demand Khalid’s resignation, saying he no longer commanded the confidence of the state’s lawmakers.Khalid is refusing to acknowledge this until it is tested in a vote of no-confidence in the state assembly.

Kassim Ahmad and Borders: What more do you want, JAWI?


August 23, 2014

MUST READ this:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/judges-slam-islamic-authority-for-premature-raid-on-borders. Good news for Borders and its Lawyer Rosli Dahlan.–Din Merican

The Persecution of Public Intellectual Kassim Ahmad and the continuing Borders Saga: What more do you want, JAWI?

by Din Merican (August 22, 2014)

Kassim AhmadSome weeks back I wrote about the persecution of Kassim Ahmad who was sensationally dragged by Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) from his home in Kulim, Kedah to Putrajaya to be charged in the Syariah Court for just delivering a lecture at the Perdana Foundation of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. READ– (http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/the-persecution-of-kassim-ahmad-a-g-gani-patail-loses-again/)

Today, I wish to remind my friends and readers that some two years ago JAWI did a similar thing against a book by Irshad Manji. On May 23, 2012, Borders Bookstore in the Gardens Mid-Valley, Kuala Lumpur was raided in the most sensational manner by JAWI accompanied by a horde of mainstream press.

The news spread like wildfire that JAWI had raided an international book chain and seized books by Canadian writer Irshad Manji – “Allah Liberty & Love”.That was exactly what JAWI wanted – big publicity  to sound to the rest of the world that it is the custodian and defender of Islam in Malaysia against the Kafirs (Infidels) who are out to destroy Islam. The only problem with that raid was that the book had  not been banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs when JAWI raided Borders.

The book was only banned 3 weeks later on June 14 ,2012. Like the Mongol hordes who stormed Baghdad and  captured and destroyed the biggest Muslim library in history, JAWI needed a war booty. But JAWI was not interested in the books in Borders. JAWI wanted a trophy as a measure of that successful raid.  Furthermore, JAWI needed to charge someone for a crime that was not a crime at that time to assert its power. That was when JAWI realised (but it did not have the courage of conviction to admit)  that it had a problem.

JAWI and the Syariah laws are only applicable to Muslims because these are personal laws in Malaysia. JAWI also discovered that it could not charge Borders because it was a company, and a company did not have a religion.

JAWI could not charge the author because Irshad Manji is Canadian and the Canadian Government would fight JAWI if JAWI managed to get their hands on her. Neither could JAWI charge the General Manager of Borders who was responsible for choosing to sell the book, one Stephen Fung, because Mr. Fung is a Christian. But that did not bother JAWI one  wee bit. It needed a trophy.

JAWI just went down the line and pounced upon a poor Malay Muslim store manager, Nik Raina Nik Abdul Rashid and charged her for selling a book that  allegedly offended Islam. That was the beginning of Nik Raina’s nightmare. Overnight, she became an enemy of Islam. Overnight, her life changed and the Malay Muslim community  was made to believe that Nik Raina was a supporter of LBGT.

A few weeks later, Ezra Zaid (son of former Law Minister in Badawi’s Cabinet, Dato Zaid Ibrahim), the publisher of the Bahasa Malaysia version of the book titled” Allah Kebebasan dan Cinta” was also charged. That started the unending saga of this insanity.

Nik Raina CaseJAWI thought they had an easy task that these two Malays would just plead guilty and not fight the powerful religious authority. But JAWI did not count on the fact that Borders is owned by Berjaya Corporation, whose new head honcho, Dato Robin Tan, has a different view of the world. The young Robin Tan is not one who would bow to the bullying tactics and threats of JAWI. To make things more exciting, the Chief Operating Officer of Borders is a feisty lady lawyer named Yau Su Peng who would not tolerate any injustice against her staff.

I have written about this on several occasions. READ (http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/?s=The+Borders+Case&submit=Search). What I wanted to say was that this– now two years later the Borders saga has not ended despite Borders and Nik Raina having won their cases in the Civil High Court. It appears that JAWI just simply refuses to back down. These bureaucrats of Islam think they are a force unto their own. They are under the illusion that they exist separately with unfettered powers that cannot be countermanded even by our High Court.

My reporter friends tell me that unknown to most Malaysians, yesterday and today, Borders’ lawyers and the government lawyers from the A-G Chambers have been battling it out in the Court of Appeal No. 4 to finally determine whether JAWI can charge Nik Raina for an offence which, in fact, was not an offence at the time of the raid. What a waste of taxpayers money, and the Court’s time.

I was surprised. I would have thought that Borders case is a very simple one. Common sense and logic will  tell us that JAWI cannot do such a thing. But the problem is that the Attorney-General, that notorious Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, is behind JAWI. He filed an appeal against the High Court decision of Tudung Judge Dato Zaleha Yusuf. How can Borders and its agent be charged with an offence when there was no offence at the time of the JAWI raid on the Borders Mid-Valley bookstore? This is ridiculous to say the least. Only in Malaysia that this can happen.

Why would the A-G encourage JAWI in their silly actions? Since it was the A-G who appealed, the Court of Appeal Judges will have to take things seriously. I am told that the Court of Appeal hearing was presided by Appeal Judges, Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai, Dato’ Zawawi Salleh and Dato’ Umi Kalthum. I hope these Appeal Judges will deliver a decision that will appeal to the public’s logic and common sense, and not embark on some excursion of legalities, which does not serve the public interest.

While all these are taking place, my contacts in the Majlis Agama have asked me to tell Lawyer RosliRosli-Dahlan Dahlan (right) to tone down or face the consequences. Apparently, the Jabatan Agama now regards any lawyer who goes against them as the enemy and will have to face dire consequences.

I tried many times unsuccessfully to call Rosli. First, I wanted to wish Rosli Happy Birthday. Second, I wanted to alert him of what I had heard. When I finally spoke Rosli, he sounded sombre and puzzled. When I told him what I had heard, he was not at all surprised.

He told me that my warning came a bit too late.  “It has already happened Din. They had to do it. On my birthday, they served me with a Notice to Show Cause in the Kassim Ahmad’s case”, he said.

I was speechless. I tried to calm Rosli only to hear him saying this, as if to himself –“I have kept my Syariah Law practice since 1988, not as a livelihood but because I felt I could serve to help develop the law. I don’t make any money Din. But if they want to disbar me just for fighting these sort of cases, is it worth it Din?”

I am now thoroughly disgusted with JAWI (and also the A-G Chambers). Why the need to do this to Rosli Dahlan. Apa Mau Lagi, JAWI (What more do you want, JAWI) – shoot the Messenger? ( READ :http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/rosli-dahlan-an-emerging-human-rights-and-civil-liberties-lawyer/)