Anything that flies on anything that moves

October 20, 2014

Anything that flies on anything that moves

By John Pilger

In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing ofHenry A.Kissinger Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger (left)  said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”. As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They leveled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told … That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”

A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians RM Nixondied in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people – in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda – like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” – seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.

It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” – from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.

Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, a medical doctor and parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office – blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.

Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water. “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”

Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-Ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”

AlbrightA study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.” When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”

On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.” The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.

Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia – as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.

HansThe day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.

Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott – as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally, Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces … a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria … Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate … This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah. The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of NATO, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.

A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (the Guardian) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.

Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.

More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed aBlair and Bush torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”. Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.

Posted with permission

Post NEP Malay Anxiety Induced Exclusivism

October 20, 2014

Post NEP Malay Anxiety Induced Exclusivism (Part 1)

by Dr. Wong Chin Huat (10-19-14)

The rise of communal exclusivism among the Malay-Muslims may not be so much because of ideational shifts than because of the deeply-rooted anxiety over the uncertainty in the post-New Economic Policy Malaysia.

And this calls for an alternative to “state partiality” as a solution to “socio-economic inequality”, a core idea in Malaya/Malaysia’s nation-building.


The inevitable rise of communal exclusivism

It’s heartening to read about a Muslim organising a “I want to touch a dog” programme for Muslims to overcome their fear of dog and, in a larger context, to bring down one of the many barriers that segregates Malaysians. It’s heartening because otherwise what we read in the news are more often about the rise of communal exclusivism, from more restrictions demanded in the name of “sensitivity” to the outright claim that Malaysia is a “Bumi Melayu Islam” (the Land of Malay-Muslims). I avoid using the term “extremism”, which should be reserved for advocacy of violence.

For many, this rise of communal exclusivism is a sad departure from a moreNajib inclusive Malaysia in earlier decades, some would say before Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government. I hold a crueler view. It is simply as inevitable as the collapse of Soviet Union after its tremendous success in transforming Russia into a global super power.

State partiality to overcome socio-economic inequality

Think of it this way. Malaya/Malaysia, as the main successor state of British Southeast Asia, not only had a population that was diverse in origin, faith, language and culture.

Its cultural diversity largely overlaps with socio-economic inequality – with the ethnic minorities over-represented in modern economy and education than the ethnic majority, creating reinforcing cleavages. Such a situation posed a big challenge in decolonisation – will independence lead to the dominance of the ethnic minorities and the further marginalisation of the ethnic majority?

If so, prolonged colonisation could buy time for the backward majorities to build themselves up.This was not only the argument raised by many Bornean leaders against the hasty Project Malaysia, for fear of dominance by Malayans and Singaporeans.

The call for Malaya’s independence was first made by the communists and leftists – including the Malays – before it was adopted by UMNO and the Alliance.

One way to avoid the marginalisation of ethnic majority after decolonisation is simply denying the ethnic minorities franchise, which was basically why the Malayan Union introduced in 1946 – a multi-ethnic unitary state – was staunchly opposed by the Malays and eventually replaced by the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in 1948 – a more ethnocratic federation.

The argument for excluding the ethnic minorities was based on their refusal to be assimilated linguistically and religiously. One may phrase the debate as one on the 1946 Question – “can the citizens be different yet equal?” and see its centrality in Malaya/Malaysia’s political history.

The communist insurgency broke out in 1948 however denied the British and the Malay elite the luxury of delaying decolonisation.The pragmatic solution was “state partiality” in favour of the Malays as a response to their collective disadvantage in “social inequality”.

The Malays were given constitutionally enshrined “special status” in exchange of citizenship and economic freedom for the non-Malays. The non-Malays were given qualified religious and linguistic freedom – they can practise their faiths but any conversion has to be one-way street in favour of Islam, and they can keep their mother-tongue schools but these schools are to be gradually phased out through purposeful marginalisation and negligence.

This was the so-called Merdeka Compromise – minimum disruption to the status quo to satisfy everyone with a gradualist soft assimilation goal to pacify the Malay nationalists.

Rise of the NEP state 

Of course, the Merdeka Compromise failed to make everyone happy. Much to the chagrin of UMNO’s leadership, while Chinese-based opposition parties picked up more seats by avoiding multi-cornered contests, the Malay voters deserted UMNO in large numbers.

In 1964, PAS won two votes for every five votes won by UMNO. In 1969, PAS won two votes for every three by UMNO. The Merdeka Compromise was too slow to lift the Malays economically or culturally. The May 13 riot and the subsequent Emergency Rule provided the convenient and necessary juncture for UMNO under Tun Razak to reorganise Malaysia.

Officially, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was an economic policy to eliminate poverty and to restructure society. Unofficially, it represented a completely different policy paradigm. It was to affirm the Malays politically, economically, linguistically, religiously and culturally so that they could feel the benefit of independence – that they are the master of this country. The non-Malays can be on board to share power but they shall never dictate or have real veto power.

In that sense, the first Malaya/Malaysian state born on 1957 ended in 1969. The NEP was more than a policy for Malaysia. Rather, Malaysia was a state for the NEP. The policy officially ended in 1990, but its spirit lives on in other names, earning it the moniker “Never-Ending Policy”.

The “Malayanisation” of the Malaysian state and society has certainly alienated the non-Malays, who responded with brain drain and capital flight.This was the expected cost – and it may not be undesirable if the voids would be filled up quickly with Malay talents and Malay capitals.

Politically, up until 2008, the non-Malays – more precisely – alternated their response by dividing their votes between the ruling coalition and the opposition, with pendulum shifts between the two camps in response to UMNO’s restrictive or reconciliatory moves.

It frustrated the UMNO elite that the Chinese refused to be subjugated but the Chinese support for the opposition was at most a nuisance except for the 1990 and 2008 elections. Constituency delineation ensured that their political weight – on solo– is insignificant.

Post NEP Malay Anxiety Induced Exclusivism (Part 2)

Long and painful decline of the NEP State

The Achilles’ heel for the NEP state was, in management’s term, the agency problem. The person mandated to do something – the agent – does not act in the best interest of the person who places the mandate – the principal – but rather pursues his/her own interest.

If the NEP state elite – from politicians, bureaucrats to state enterprise managers – have no private interests but only pursue the Malay agenda, then 20 years would be enough for the state to empower all marginalised Malays and groom all talented Malays.

And the lifting of the Malays would induce pluralism and open up the political space for the NEP state to be phased out. But the NEP state is virtually a one-party state. State partiality to the Malays (vis-à-vis the non-Malays) does not mean state impartiality to all Malays. Rather, it means partiality to UMNO Malays, more precisely, those with the right connection and family ties.

To benefit maximally from the NEP state, a Malay needs not only to support UMNO in the general election, but also to support the right factions in UMNO elections. Family ties matters. Old boy fraternity matters. Business partnership matters.

Like in China’s one-party state, “guanxi” (connection) is an important currency for charting political and economic fortunes in UMNO.This leads to three inherent problems threatening the long-term survival of the NEP state.

First, it weakens the nation’s competitiveness with its failure in promoting meritocracy and curbing rent-seeking. Plagued by cronyism, the Malays simply cannot build up their strength to fill up the void left by the non-Malays.

Second, it replaces inter-ethnic inequality between the Malays and the non-Malays with intra-ethnic inequality within the Malays, providing the social basis for the political division of Malays.

Third, the factionalism in UMNO leads to schism at times of economic crisis, producing new parties like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Parti Semangat 46 (S46) in 1990 and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Nasional/Rakyat in 1999. These parties then helped bring together PAS and DAP, the two grand opposition parties with rather opposite programmes.

Combining these three factors, the NEP state has been rigorously challenged in 1990, 1999, 2008 and 2013 in the span of six elections. If Pakatan Rakyat is not broken before GE14, it would be the fifth challenge.


It would be wishful thinking for anyone to think that UMNO will rule forever and Dr Mahathir can be the father of a future Prime Minister like Tun Razak. But the ending of the NEP state puts too much at stake. It does not just trouble UMNO elite and dynasties. Many ordinary Malays – middle class and working class – conditioned and convinced by the NEP state that they cannot live without it are also worried.

If more than four decades of NEP state cannot lift the Malays effectively, what will happen if the non-Malays are treated more fairly once Pakatan Rakyat comes into power? Will Malays not be worse off?

Putting the foot down that Malay-Muslims control this country hence becomes important for the Malays. The rise of Perkasa and now more powerful Isma is a reflection of this mentality. UMNO’s stern stand on the “Allah” issue can be understood in this light.

By harping on the Malays’ sense of insecurity, the ultra-right outsourced agents of UMNO’s ethno-nationalism has been successfully pushing PAS – more precisely, its conservative action – to outdo Umno in playing to the gallery.

This explains the revival of the hudud agenda and the obsession to try to ban everything from Valentine’s Day to Oktoberfest. The backlash against DAP and PKR leaders joining the fest has less to do with morality than the frustration of seeing the non-Malays’ defiance of PAS.

Hadi3If it had been driven by morality, why did PAS invite three Chinese supporters to drink cans of beers in its operation room in Wakaf Tapai in Marang (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s constituency) during the 2008 elections? Where were today’s protesters then?

It’s time we face the elephant in the room. Until the Malays can overcome their anxiety on how they may fare in a post-NEP Malaysia, the non-Malays will see more protests in the name of “sensitivity”. It’s time we think deep on an alternative to a flawed solution – state partiality – to a real problem – socio-economic inequality.

Part I (above)

The Kassim Ahmad Defence Fund

October 17, 2014

George Town, Penang

The Kassim Ahmad Defence Fund: Fight Arrogance of Power and Defend Justice

by Din Merican

kassim ahmad1Kassim Ahmad Arrested in Classic Mossad Covert Style by JAWI

On  March 26, 2014, officers of the Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) went to the northern state of  Kedah. They stormed and broke into the house of Malay scholar and public intellectual, Kassim Ahmad and abducted him in a 5 hour van-ride to Penang and then put him on board a midnight Air Asia flight to KLIA bound for Kuala Lumpur. This was a classic Mossad covert style raid and kidnap which had to be done under the cover of darkness.

JAWI’s territorial limits is only the Federal Territory which is Kuala Lumpur and JAWI had transgressed that territorial limit. But, JAWI  was not bothered. JAWI then interrogated the 80- year old Kassim Ahmad overnight and then charged him in court the next morning for defiling Islam. By then Kassim’s wife had made her way down from Kedah to Kuala Lumur to bail him. But she was disappointed. They refused to allow her to post bail for him because they said the bailor must be a Wilayah Persekutuan resident. And because she is a Kedah resident, she did not qualify. This is one of the perverse things JAWI did. There were many more.

Kassim and RosliUpon advice from his lawyer, Kassim Ahmad filed a Judicial Review to challenge JAWI’s actions. Judicial Review is a special type of legal action where the civil High Court is empowered to review the conduct of public authorities and public bodies from acting in an illegal manner. Because it is a special type of legal suit, a person like Kassim will need a special permission (Leave) to file a Judicial Review.

In Malaysia, defiling Islam is a serious syariah criminal charge. The state of Terengganu even issued a fatwa declaring Kassim Ahmad a Murtad (Apostate). But JAWI did not do that because if it did, then JAWI cannot proceed with the Charge against an apostate as an apostate is, by definition, not a Muslim.

So, what was this serious charge about? Kassim is charged for purportedly delivering an academic lecture at the Perdana Foundation officiated by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. There you have it, this whole covert style prosecution is just about an academic lecture.

Most Muslims in Malaysia, including Judges, will become a bit troubled to show sympathy to anyone who is charged with defiling Islam. So, Kassim’s attempt at getting Leave was rejected because the High Court Judge, Justice Dato Zaleha Yusof, said that the civil courts do not have jurisdiction over a religious body. That seems to be a lame excuse. But never mind.

Kassim had to appeal and  the Court of Appeal agreed with him and directed the High Court to hear the Judicial Review. The Attorney-General’s Chambers then asked for more time to file affidavits for the Religious Minister, JAWI and the Syariah Prosecutor who are the Respondents in the Judicial Review. And this is where JAWI again shows its incoherent behavior as reported by Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini. It would appear JAWI wants to bring about a collision course between the civil court and the syariah legal systems.



Syariah Courts are located in the same complex as the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court called the Palace of Justice. Anyone who has been to the Palace of Justice will admire its beauty as a Palace. But then, can this beautiful Palace also serve its main function to deliver Justice?

If the Syariah Court insist on proceeding with the syariah criminal trial against Kassim whereasAzmi Sharom 3 there is a Judicial Review pending that has been ordered by the Court of Appeal, then the Syariah Court is courting problem. I suggest the Syariah Judge should introspect if that is what he wants to do- cause a crisis.

Until then, we Malaysians can only show our displeasure to these antics by JAWI by supporting Kassim Ahmad’s cause. We can do that by contributing to his defence fund. We can create this fund to support Kassim Ahmad and all other persecutions that endanger our liberty and freedom. In supporting Kassim Ahmad and others like Azmi Shahrom, we are securing a guarantee of our fundamental liberties.

To show your support, please send your contribution to this Maybank Account No: 514011895152.


Malaysia: UN Security Council, 2015-2016

October 17, 2014

Malaysia in UN Security Council

source: Bernama/

Malaysia has won a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), taking 187 out of the total 192 votes.

AnifahAman2The voting took place at the United Nations General Assembly hall in New York to fill five vacancies among the Security Council’s non-permanent membership. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (left) was at the hall to observe the voting process. Malaysia needed to garner at least 130 votes to get elected.

A total of 193 representatives of UN member countries were eligible to cast their votes to elect the five new members of the council. The new members will take up their seats on January 1, 2015 and will serve on the council until December 31, 2016.

The five seats available for election in 2014, distributed regionally, are: one seat for the African Group (currently held by Rwanda); one seat for Asia-Pacific Group (currently held by the Republic of Korea); one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, (currently held by Argentina); and two seats for the Western European and Others Group (currently held by Australia and Luxembourg).

Lithuania will maintain for another year the seat for the Eastern European Group. The respective winners for the other vacancies were Angola (Africa), Venezuela (Latin America and the Caribbean) and New Zealand while Spain and Turkey are involved in a third round of balloting to fill the remaining seat.

The Five Permanent Members

un_security_council_1Malaysia: UNSC Member (2015- 2016)

The Five Permanent Security Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Lithuania, the non-permanent members that will remain on the Council until the end of 2015 are Chad, Chile, Jordan, and Nigeria.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Each of the council’s members has one vote. Under the Charter, all UN Member States are obligated to comply with council decisions.

wisma_putraWisma Putra

The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act a of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. Prior to this, Malaysia was on the UN Security Council three times – in 1965, 1989 till 1990 and 1999 till 2000.

- Bernama

Najib’s Politics of Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

October 15, 2014

Najib’s Politics of Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

by Scott Ng (10-14-14)

Najib at MCAGua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua

Last Sunday, the Chinese were reminded once again that their welfare and continued success in Malaysia depended on their giving support to Barisan Nasional. The reminder came from no less than the Prime Minister. And right on cue, the MCA applauded while opposition politicians worked themselves into a frothy rage over the idea that for a community to receive the benefits its taxes pay for, it must first show loyalty to a political party.

It’s the greatest show on earth, and it sounds so familiar that we’re sick to death of it. The idea of political patronage benefiting a community is a time-honoured tradition in most political cultures, and Malaysia has it down to an art form. Engage in a weekend of chest-thumping at annual general meetings to shore up the support base for the party, say all the things that you wouldn’t say on a regular week despite the same issue being addressed, wait for the Prime Minister to arrive, let him soothe the party’s ego with sweet nothings, drop a bombshell about how the race the party represents needs to support him, watch the sparks fly.

The past five years of Najib Tun Razak’s administration have seen this occur in a pattern, trotted out during AGMs and elections like clockwork, so much so that it’s almost baffling for the media to continue covering these events. It’s come to the point where the media could almost write a template for the story and just fill in the blanks with the actual quote once the words have left Najib’s mouth. Then add a follow-up piece based on the enraged reactions of the opposition and the general public.

We’re not saying these criticisms are baseless or groundless. But it is the same old song and dance we’ve heard and seen time and time again over the past five years of the Najib era.

An era defined

What will define that era, though? Well, one could argue Najib’s title could be that of Bapa Kemewahan, evidenced by his jet-setting habits, but one could also make the case that Najib’s reign could be summarised in a line he delivers ever so often: “I help you, you help me.”

Observe his comments at the holy festival of Thaipusam in 2012: “If you help me, I’ll help you. You trust me, I trust you. Nambikei (trust) between all of us. Malaysia will prosper, Indians will prosper, all races can go forward.”

Or perhaps Sibu, 2010: “I want to make a deal with you. Can we have an understanding or not? The understanding is quite simple. I help you, you help me.” And, of course, the latest variation is the comment made at the 61st Annual General Meeting of the MCA. “You can’t demand and then support DAP. You can’t demand and then support PR. You demand, you support BN, we will be fair to the Chinese community.”

I help you, you help me (Gua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua)

The implication is simply this: unless you back BN, do not expect fairness. Do not expect to receive the benefits your taxes pay for. Do not expect to be defended when your race and religion are maligned by extremists who are so good at hijacking a national discourse that we should all be engaged in—the one about where this country is headed and where it should be headed.

But one supposes the majority of Malaysians already know all of this. The question we should be asking now is, how much longer can we tolerate, allow, and accept such language from the “supreme”(!) leader of the country, who is supposed to represent all communities in this beautiful, occasionally haze-ridden land of ours? How much longer do we have to endure this same old song and dance, knowing it will happen like clockwork? How much longer must we be held hostage against our right to prosper in the country we were born in?

To quote Najib himself, “Enough. Enough.”

It is time for a new song and dance to replace the rhythms we have become too accustomed to. The MCA cannot expect to regain the support of the Chinese community when it stands by and applauds these sentiments. It cannot expect the return of the community into its arms when it defends—or excuses—the Prime Minister by saying “it’s lonely at the top” and that the Chinese cannot make the political failure of not supporting the middle ground. This is what MCA Religious Harmony Bureau Chairman Ti Lian Ker says in a blog article.

At the end of the day, the benefits due to the people should be reaped by the people, as the wealth of a nation is built upon the back of the men and women who daily enter offices or step into the streets to ply their trade and expertise, even as the economy and the cost of day to day living break their hearts and spines.

Failed experiment

But the crux of the matter is simply this: the racial experiment has failed. It’s not just the idea of race-based parties that is flawed. The concept of “race” itself is unsound. There has not been a single idea more destructive to the well-being of the human race than the concept of race beyond a simple classification system to denote which region of the world a person originates from, and even then the concept gradually becomes more and more flawed when you consider multiculturalism and multiracialism blooming in all four corners of the globe. One day, monoculturalism will be a rarity. Where then will we find ourselves should we insist on hanging on to this outmoded idea?

Without a radical redefinition of what a “Malaysian” is, we are doomed to this vicious cycle of something stupid being said and someone reacting to it, while we look on in impotent rage, saying to ourselves, “You’ll see come election time. You’ll see.”

It is simply time to look beyond our identities and focus on our common trait of being Malaysian, and act in concert according to that common ground. At the very end of the day, it just boils down to the fact that Malaysians are so very tired of bread and circuses. A strategy that has worked so well since 140 BC is still in play today, and the cycle of cheap food and raucous entertainment (or what is known as “politics” in the Malaysian parlance) will go on till the day we become aware of the excellent play before us and recognise it as such.

Until then, we just have to accept that by this time next year, Najib probably will again say, “You help me, I help you,” or some variation of it.

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions—everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”Juvenal, Satire X.

The Games Anwar Plays

October 14, 2014

The Games Anwar Plays

Azmin AliMy friend Netto has shed some light on recent developments in Parti KeADIlan Rakyat (PKR), especially Anwar’s destructive ways. The incumbent Ketua Umum is clearly not interested in bringing all factions together after years of internal feuding. In stead with the prospect of his return to Sungei Buloh getting brighter by the day, he is more concerned about ensuring that he remains dominant in its affairs.

By appointing his loyal supporters (Rafizi, Saifuddin Nasution, Sivarasa and his daughter Nurul Izzah) to key positions in PKR, he believes he can dictate by remote control what PKR can and cannot do. If he ends up in jail, Anwar wants to be able to revive the Free Anwar Campaign and rekindle the spirit of Reformasi which propelled Pakatan Rakyat into prominence in 2008 and in 2013, when the political opposition received some 50 odd percent of the popular vote.

I believe he is sadly mistaken. Times have changed. His credibility as leader of  Pakatan Rakyat has been called to question. His poor handling of the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis was actually his political Waterloo. It showed us that he can no longer command the support of PAS and keep the coalition intact. Even Lim Kit Siang doubts that Pakatan Rakyat can hold together for GE-14.

The Azmin Ali factor in PKR cannot be discounted. The new Menteri Besar of Selangor is a very astute politician who knows Anwar’s strengths and weaknesses well, but he has yet to show us what he can do to frustrate Anwar’s moves to control the party. At this point in time, Azmin is busy with the Budget 2015 for Selangor and rebuilding relations with PAS and DAP.

Obviously, Azmin has to consolidate his position in Selangor with a clear agenda for the benefit of Selangorians in terms of good governance and socio-conomic development. So far, he has been able to garner competent PKR advisers and strategists, some of whom are already working with him  as members of his State Ex-Co. He also has the resources at his disposal and the political stamina to wage a successful campaign against forces within his party who are bent on unseating him.

The fact that Azmin has maintained his silence while Anwar reorganises PKR is a sign that he is  neither helpless nor hopeless. I believe that he can count on PAS and DAP to back him when it came to a crunch. This is because he did not antagonize them during the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis where he showed himself be very loyal to his party and Pakatan Rakyat.

As a realist and a seasoned political infighter, Azmin is well aware that his strength in the final analysis is heavily dependent on his ability to  strengthen his party and bring the contending factions together.Only a strong, united and credible PKR can gain the respect of its coalition partners and voters. 

At some point, he must emerge from the shadow of Anwar Ibrahim, his former political mentor who, like Brutus, is now stabbing him in the back with his latest political plays.–Din Merican

Rise of a new “Ketua Umum” in PKR

by Terence

 COMMENT: PKR declined the opportunity to bridge the gulf between its factions ahead of a possible jailing of party supremo Anwar Ibrahim, whose Sodomy II appeal is set for hearing at the apex court on October 28.

anwar-ibrahim-recentInstead of choosing to unite the party after an embarrassingly disheveled and long drawn-out internal election process, PKR on Sunday opted to deepen the cleavages within by appointing partisan leaders to key positions. This myopia would be the more debilitating should Anwar lose his appeal in the Federal Court against his conviction for sodomy at the Court of Appeal last March.

PKR has to be a unified and solidified force in the event that Anwar winds up in jail, the better it can parlay his incarceration into support for the party and the cause of comprehensive political reform of the country. By appointing partisans rather than neutrals to key posts, the party chose navel gazing rather than scanning the horizon as preparation for challenges it must face en route to the next general election.

The myopia behind this choice is in stark contrast to the inclusive nature of the decisions made by the candidate it declined to propose but was ultimately appointed to the post of Selangor Menteri Besar.

Menteri Besar Azmin Ali , the party’s No 2 by an emphatic margin in the internal polls in which much was done to prevent his victory, had moved in the initial weeks of his appointment as MB to bring together not only contending forces within PKR but also within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition that dominates the state legislature.

That collaborative spirit is unrequited within PKR, judging from who the party chose to appoint to key positions after meetings of its political bureau and its central leadership council two days ago.

In naming Rafizi Ramli to the Secretary-General’s post, PKR has preferred a lighting rod to aRafizi neutral in a position that is possibly the most sensitive in an overall scheme, if that be the intention, to unite the party after a prolonged bout of internecine feuding that preceded the party polls, wore it down as it proceeded apace and dogged the simultaneous struggle to replace Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor MB.

After an experience that tumultuous, one would think the last person to appoint, after the dust has begun to settle, to the position of party secretary-general would be Rafizi, who had been the stormiest petrel in the entire boondoggle.

The former Deputy Chief Minister of Penang and current MP for Nibong Tebal, Mansor Othman (right), was widely touted as the likeliest to replace the incumbent Sec-Gen Saifuddin Nasution, an out-and-out Anwar flunkey. Colourless and self-effacing, Mansor is the sort of operative more suited to the tasks of the backroom rather than the frontal positions that his past as Deputy Chief Minister and Penang PKR chief had thrust upon him. Mansor is also known to enjoy good ties to all the factions in the party.

Polarising figure

This is unlike Rafizi who has become a polarising figure in the party. He was previously not so, or chose not to be divisive until shortly after last year’s general election.

This was a smart choice because Rafizi, having had no past in UMNO from which several of the key PKR players had emerged and are thereby tainted, found it wise to stay above the partisan fray within the party, keeping his sights on the financial and economic issues that plague the country, a field of concern at which he is adept.

But after observing the seeming indifference of Azmin at a post-mortem of PKR’s performance in the 2013 general election held in Penang in August last year, Rafizi shed his customary cool and plunged into the partisan fray.

A few months later, when suspicion within the party mounted over Khalid Ibrahim’s deals withKhalid Ibrahim3 the federal government over ownership and management of Selangor’s water assets and related questions over new tolled highways and seized Bibles, Rafizi went full throttle in his assumed role as saviour of the party.

He saw Khalid and Azmin as leaders to be got rid off and proceeded to hurl himself into the task. A more nuanced survey of the situation – the personalities involved and their track records – would have yielded the view that Khalid was the more insidious threat to PKR’s vision and ideals.

Instead Rafizi opted to tar both with the same brush and strategised in the party polls to get Saifuddin elected in a three-cornered fight – the other contestants were incumbent Azmin and Khalid – for the Deputy President’s post. This caused the election exercise to degenerate into block voting, a recipe for mediocre selection.

Rafizi nearly became a casualty of the process; in the final rounds of the staggered vote, he homed in on one of the four elected vice-presidential slots. Had he stood alone, untethered to any camp, he may have nailed one of the four veep positions with ease and another of the ‘stand alone’ candidates, N Surendran, may have come thorough had there been no block voting.

Inherited aura

In the event, Azmin retained his No 2 post with ease, to the distress of his opponents in the party whose devotion to democratic ideals is limited by whether it conforms with their preferences.

Nurul IzzahBesides the post of Secretary-General, PKR has opted to appoint individuals opposed to Azmin to other critical positions: the new election directors are Dato’ Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Nurul Izzah Anwar, who owes her lofty position in the party hierarchy to nothing more substantive than the aura she inherits from his father.

In the selection of co-directors of a position that will impact the selection of candidates for the next general election, the party did not see fit to appoint at least one person from among the Azmin faction. Latheefa Koya , the lawyer who virtually built up the party’s legal and human rights bureau and who topped the vote for the central leadership council, has been replaced by R Sivarasa.

Latheefa has had her run-ins with Rafizi who in the event that Anwar winds up in Sungai Buloh will be the new de facto ‘Ketua Umum’ of  the party.

A political party saddled with improvisatory titles will find ways to retool them for its rising parvenus. As for its stauncher adherents, like the new MB of Selangor, they will have to rely on the cunning of history, or if you may, the cunning of reason to see them through, as it has in Selangor where the Palace was constitutionally wrong but politically right in appointing Azmin as the MB.

PKR’s ‘Ketua Umum’, Anwar Ibrahim, is fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi to the effect that what is morally right cannot be politically wrong and what is politically right must also be morally right. The problem is he’s rather better at preaching than he is at practice. The pity of it is that that’s being found out about him just when he is at the receiving end of a load of ghastly practices.