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.

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/)

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17


July 20, 2014

MY COMMENTWe have been hit by two tragedies, MH 370 and MH 17 a few days ago,Din Merican both within a space of four months. MH370 is still shrouded in secrecy and  it is a public relations disaster; our leaders and public and security officials handled the foreign media poorly. MH17 was brought down by Russian made missiles in the hands of Ukrainian rebels backed by  Prime Minister Putin’s government. Our political leaders and officials are again in the eyes of media. Let them handle the situation better this time.

Those who are behind this dastardly violence must be brought to account. Our diplomats and those of countries which lost their citizens and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon must act in concert to ascertain the facts about the downing of this ill-fated 777 aircraft. At home, the new Transport Minister has to ensure that there are no cover-ups, blame games, excuses, and conflicting or contradictory statements. Please provide facts as they come to light, and do it well and ensure that there are no fumbles.

I am glad that our Prime Minister has allowed debate in our Parliament on MH37. I hope Parliamentarians on both sides of Dewan Rakyat can be rational and constructive in their deliberations so that we can achieve consensus on what we should do to restore national self confidence and pride in our national flag carrier, Malaysian Airlines.

No shouting matches please. Bung Mokhtar types must not be allowed to disrupt the debate or make fools of themselves. In this time of national crisis, UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat must stand together. The debate should result in a plan of action for the government. To nudge the debate along orderly lines, there should be a White Paper to Parliament on MH17 in which the government can present its views on what it has its mind to deal with the aftermath of MH 17.Din Merican

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-18/malaysia-can-t-botch-another-air-tragedy

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17

by William Pesek (07-18-14)

There’s nothing funny about Malaysia Airlines losing two Boeing 777s and more than 500 lives in the space of four months. That hasn’t kept the humor mills from churning out dark humor and lighting up cyberspace.

Liow_Tiong_Lai-MH17_PC

Actor Jason Biggs, for example, got in trouble for tweeting: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysia Airlines frequent flier miles?” A passenger supposedly among the 298 people aboard Flight 17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday uploaded a photo of the doomed plane on Facebook just before takeoff in Amsterdam, captioning it: “Should it disappear, this is what it looks like.”

That reference, by a man reportedly named Cor Pan, was to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, whose disappearance in March continues to provide fodder for satirists, conspiracy theorists and average airplane passengers with a taste for the absurd. On my own Malaysia Air flight last month, I was struck by all the fatalistic quips around me — conversations I overheard and in those with my fellow passengers. One guy deadpanned: “First time I ever bought flight insurance.”

MH17 CrashThere is, of course, no room for humor after this disaster or the prospect that the money-losing airline might not survive — at least not without a government rescue. This company had already become a macabre punch line, something no business can afford in the Internet and social-media age. It’s one thing to have a perception problem; it’s quite another to have folks around the world swearing never to fly Malaysia Air.

Nor is no margin for mistakes by Malaysia or the airline this time, even though all signs indicate that there is no fault on the part of the carrier. The same can’t be said for the bumbling and opacity that surrounded the unexplained loss of Flight 370. Even if there was no negligence on the part of Malaysia Air this week, the credibility of the probe and the willingness of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to cooperate with outside investigators — tests it failed with Flight 370 — will be enormously important.

As I have written before, the botched response to Flight 370 was a case study in government incompetence and insularity. After six decades in power, Najib’s party isn’t used to being held accountable by voters, never mind foreign reporters demanding answers. Rather than understand that transparency would enhance its credibility, Malaysia’s government chose to blame the international press for impugning the country’s good name.

The world needs to be patient, of course. If Flight 370’s loss was puzzling, even surreal, Flight 17 is just MH 17plain tragic. It’s doubtful Najib ever expected to be thrown into the middle of Russian-Ukraine-European politics. Although there are still so many unanswered questions — who exactly did the shooting and why? — it’s depressing to feel like we’re revisiting the Cold War of the early 1980s, when Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet.

More frightening is how vulnerable civilian aviation has become. Even if this is the work of pro-Russian rebels, yesterday’s attack comes a month after a deadly assault on a commercial jetliner in Pakistan. One passenger was killed and two flight attendants were injured as at least 12 gunshots hit Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-756 as it landed in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was the first known attack of its kind and raises the risk of copycats. The low-tech nature of such assaults — available to anyone with a gripe, a high-powered rifle and decent marksmanship — is reason for the entire world to worry.

The days ahead will be filled with post-mortems and assigning blame. That includes aviation experts questioning why Malaysia Air took a route over a war zone being avoided by Qantas, Cathay Pacific and several other carriers. The key is for Malaysian authorities to be open, competent and expeditious as the investigation gains momentum. Anything less probably won’t pass muster.

Wajarkah Tengku Adnan Rob Malay Businesses ?


June 22, 2012

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

dinmericanby Din Merican

On  June 6, 2014, Utusan Malaysia exploded a story about Sultan Johor’s interference in the Johor State Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri) by seeking to have executive control over the Johor Housing Board. The headline was a simple “WAJARKAH?”:

Utusan Malaysia then unfolded the real story. The real disaffection with Sultan Johor was that His Highness was seen as getting involved in businesses including selling large valuable parcels of lands in Johor to Singaporeans and lately to developers from China. This was further incensed by the fact that Malaysian billionaire tycoon Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of the YTL Group had made very damaging and insulting statements against the Malay leadership in the government accusing it of crony capitalism whereas it was a public secret that the YTL Group was the biggest beneficiary of Dr Mahathir’s privatisation policy. The TNB Employees Union then exposed that Sultan Johor’s power company SIPP was the JV partner of the YTL Group in the Pengerang IPP (independent power producer) project.

The Sultan of Johore's sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point. BN upset with royal housing bill too 01 The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion.  The Sultan of Johore's sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point. BN upset with royal housing bill too 01 The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion.

The Sultan of Johore’s sale of 116-acres of prime land in Johor Bahru last December to China developers Guangzhou R&F last year as a major turning point.
BN upset with royal housing bill too.
The deal pocketed the Sultan RM4.5 billion. 

So, the whole thing was really about UMNO’s anger towards Sultan Johor’s perceived betrayal by selling out on Malay rights. UMNO may be justified to come out strongly against Sultan Johor. UMNO is justified to chide any Malay Ruler and any GLC that disregards Malay rights. UMNO can do that because it perceives itself as the protector and guardian of Malay rights as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. That’s what UMNO’s existence is for, and that is what most Malays expect of UMNO. But, is UMNO really the champion of Malays and Malay rights? Or, must the Malays also be protected from the rogues in UMNO?

Beside Johor Sultan, UMNO via Khazanah Nasional Berhad owns one of the largest development land in Johor. And UMNO is selling land at equally crasy rate to foreigners, disguised under the name of “joint development”.

Beside Johor Sultan, UMNO via Khazanah Nasional Berhad owns one of the largest development land in Johor. And UMNO is selling land at equally crasy rate to foreigners, disguised under the name of “joint development”.

For UMNO to regard itself as the Champion of Malay rights, UMNO must also not allow its politicians, its leaders especially the UMNO Ministers to betray and rob legitimate Malay businesses. UMNO must not allow Ministers like Tengku Adnan Mansor who is the Federal Territories Minister to do what is reported in MKini in the story below.

Damai Kiaramas was set up in early 2009 to provide a long-term solution for the former estate workers living on prime land of currently TTDI after their estate was closed down 32 years ago.

Damai Kiaramas was set up in early 2009 to provide a long-term solution for the former estate workers living on prime land of currently TTDI after their estate was closed down 32 years ago.

So, just as Utusan Malaysia had rebuked Sultan Johor by that simple phrase – “WAJARKAH?”, these Malay businessmen would equally be entitled to rebuke Tengku Adnan and ask him : “ WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?”

I think it is time that UMNO admonish Tengku Adnan before UMNO loses Malay support in GE14!Now read what Malaysia kini reported below:

UMNO men’s firm gets injunction against Ku Nan

By Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

 A group of bumiputera entrepreneurs today obtained an injunction against Federal Territories Minister and UMNO Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and two others from being involved in a joint venture project involving a five-hectare plot of land in Bukit Kiara.

Last week, Damai Kiaramas Sdn Bhd, owned by UMNO members, filed a suit in the High Court in Kuala

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

WAJARKAH TENGKU ADNAN ROB MALAY BUSINESSES?

Lumpur against Tengku Adnan, also known as Ku Nan, for breach of contract. The company claimed it had fulfilled all the conditions set by the ministry to develop the land, including getting the agreement of those living in longhouses in the vicinity for 32 years, to be placed in a mixed development project on the land.

However, the company claimed, Tengku Adnan had favoured a company owned by the Pavilion group to be given the project. Today’s ex-parte injunction was granted by judicial commissioner Kamaluddin Md Said.

Damai Kiaramas named its joint-venture partner Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, Tengku Adnan and the Pavilion group-owned Memang Perkasa Sdn Bhd as defendants in the suit. They had since 2008 proposed to redevelop the five-hectare land, which was then part of the Bukit Kiara estate, large portions of which have become the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam.

The displaced estate workers are staying in dilapidated longhouses on the five-hectare plot and pay monthly rental to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall.Damai Kiaramas claimed it had obtained the backing of the then federal territories minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and got the cabinet’s support.

Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan agreed to appoint Damai Kiaramas as a joint-venture partner on December 17, 2012, after it obtained signatures from all the longhouse residents to support the project, in which they would be placed in their new houses there.

A draft of the joint-venture company was produced several weeks later stating the terms that included the company having to pay RM60.702 million in land premium to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan.

A meeting was held between Raja Nong Chik, Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan and Damai Kiaramas on Feb 22, 2013, at which they all agreed to the terms of the agreement and also agreed to the signing of the formal agreement only after the 13th general election.

Several declarations, general damages sought

However, with Raja Nong Chik having lost in the last general election, Damai Kiaramas had to deal with Tengku Adnan, the new minister in charge of the Federal Territories, and they held several meetings, last year and this year.

At subsequent meetings, the statement of claim from the firm states, Tengku Adnan requested that the land premium and return to be paid to Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, be increased from RM60.702 million to RM96 million. Tengku Adnan allegedly asked that the amount be increased further to RM140 million and then to RM160 million, to which Damai Kiaramas is said to have reluctantly agreed.

The joint-venture agreement between Damai Kiaramas and Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan was formally signed and a copy was sent to the foundation on Sept 17 last year. However, on December 5 last year, Damai Kiaramas obtained a termination notice from Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan, which stated that there was never an agreement between them, that Damai Kiaramas failed to comply with the foundation’s demand and had not presented a detailed development plan.

Damai Kiaramas maintained that it briefed Tengku Adnan and the foundation representative on this on Sept 25 last year. The company claimed the reasons for the termination of the joint-venture agreement came as an after thought, and that it tried to revive the project by agreeing to pay the RM160 million that Tengku Adnan sought for the foundation.

The company also demanded, in April this year, that Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan reveals whether it had entered into an agreement with other companies to develop the project.Damai Kiaramas claimed that all the defendants had hidded from its knowledge that secret negotiations had been carried out with Memang Perkasa and further claimed that there was interference from the firm.

Damai Kiaramas further claimed that because it had agreed to pay the RM160 million as demanded, the joint-venture agreement stands and that the action of the other party amounted to breach of agreement.

Hence, the company is seeking a declaration that the joint-venture agreement dated September 17 last year is constituted and continues, and wants another declaration that the termination notice is set-aside.

Damai Kiaramas also wants Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan to continue with the joint venture and an order that any agreement that the foundation has with Memang Perkasa should be declared null and void. It is also seeking general damages and any amount the court deems fit for loss of profit and exemplary damages.

READ HERE: by Ida Lim@www.themalaymailonline.com

June 21, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developer-insists-has-funds-for-ttdi-project-labels-ku-nans-claims-prematur

June 19, 2014

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/ku-nan-shrugs-off-court-injunction-by-developer-says-firm-could-not-perform

Defamation Suit: Najib vs. Malaysiakini


June 6, 2014

Defamation Suit: Najib vs. Malaysiakini

by Josh Hong@www.malaysiakini.com

Najib at the Press ClubFinally, it has dawned on Najib Abdul Razak that Malaysiakini readers are not worth winning over and he is now going for the jugular by serving the news portal a writ of summons over defamation.

This is the man who, upon assuming the highest political office in the country five years ago, conceded that “the days the government knows best are over”, and went on to introduce a host of ‘reformist’ measures.

He also declared unashamedly that he would make Malaysia ‘the best democracy in the world’. But what evolved in the years after has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Najib had promised Malaysians gems but delivered worse than pebbles.

Indeed, he abolished the infamous Internal Security Act, but has kept intact, rather cunningly, the Sedition Act which was supposed to be also repealed.

Had Najib been sincere in any reform agenda, his administration would have been refrained from using the Sedition Act pending its replacement. Instead, Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, the Sri Muda assemblyperson, is still fighting his case at the Federal Court, while Teresa Kok became the latest victim over her, okay, not-so-tasteful Chinese New Year video clip.

Much as I detest the arbitrary law, it remains morally outrageous to see the UMNO-friendly individuals – from Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin, Ridhuan Tee to the Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) clowns – above it. The shameless double standard only debunks further the myth of national unity as Najib has mendaciously pledged.

Still, the mainstream newspapers praised him to the skies back in April 2009 as if Malaysia’s elevation to a full democracy was nigh. Just look at Tay Tian Yan of Sin Chew Daily who wrote unabashedly of Najib as being “confident and capable… ready to be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians”. Yes, go laugh your head off before reading on.

But Najib’s desperate move only exposes his vulnerability within the party. When he sought to exert his authority as party president and prime minister by removing Ahmad Said from office, the former Terengganu Chief Mminister pulled off a last-minute coup over, amusingly, his daughter’s wedding.

Prior to that, Najib had come under enormous pressure from the ultras within the party and a vengeful Mahathir Mohamad from without. His inability to rein in Ahmad Said is just another indicator of his untenable position, and so livid was he that he decided to punish Malaysiakini for his own failings.

Waging war with all parties except…

Truth be told, it is UMNO’s mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia that has been churning out defamatory stories and waging war with all parties except its own political masters.

For DAP, is it ‘a Christian agenda’; for PKR, it is ‘DAP’s poodle’; for PAS, it is ‘selling out the Malays’, for Nurul Izzah Anwar, it is ‘apostasy’; for Ambiga Sreenevasan, it is ‘a threat to Islam’; for Anwar Ibrahim, it is ‘sexual deviation’; for Malaysiakini, it is ‘the habit of defaming others’ and, for peace-loving Malaysians who took part in the Bersih rallies, what else but a bunch of ‘samseng’ who came with ‘knives, guns and stones with an intention to kill’!

If there is one person who should feel the righteous wrath at being insulted, humiliated and defamed on a daily basis, it should be the ordinary Malaysian who is yearning for change but is made to suffer all the innuendos and racist statements at the hands of Utusan and other UMNO-controlled media, on which Najib has been conspicuous by his silence.

And Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK – right) has the nerve to accuse Malaysians of humbuggery in acquiescing to Anwar’s lawsuits against those who have defamed him.

I am pretty certain RPK has sold his soul to the devil and now chosen to see only what he wants to see. Anwar, or any potential rivals to UMNO for that matter, is compelled to resort to court to clear his name precisely because his right of reply is persistently denied and even suppressed by the powers-that-be.

By contrast, not only that Malaysiakini has afforded Najib a right of reply, but UMNO has also the entire state machinery to rebut and even distort whatever that is reported by online portals. Can RPK who is purportedly wise and discerning not see the crucial difference?

Be that as it may, the public should welcome Najib’s lawsuit, for it will once and for all shatter his image as a pseudo-democrat. I would say: Bring it on, Najib, but make sure you will not be dodging critical questions in court. After all, it is you and your government that will be put on trial for the whole world to see, your advantage of having some malleable judges on your side notwithstanding.

*JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.

See You in Court, Mr. Prime Minister


June 5, 2014

See  You in Court, Mr. Prime Minister

By RK Anand@http://www.malaysiakini.com

The Silent OneCOMMENT: The noise from the car workshop next to Malaysiakini‘s office distracted them and so my question remained suspended in mid-air. The trio appeared fascinated with the automated device that unscrewed the bolts on tyres.

There was a brief but excited chatter in Swahili. The machine stopped and I repeated the question: “So what kind of problems do journalists face in your country?” Reluctantly, the most loquacious of the three, tore his gaze away from the workshop and nonchalantly replied: “Abductions, beatings, splashing acid and pulling out fingernails.”

The journalists from Tanzania were on a brief visit to Malaysiakini to learn the ropes about operating a news portal after the government had shut down their investigative magazine, Mwanahalisi.

The weekly magazine had incurred the wrath of the powers-that-be in 2008 with a report which exposed how the leader of a group of doctors demanding higher wages and better medical facilities was kidnapped and assaulted by the authorities.

The publisher, Saed Kubenea (right), one of the visiting journalists, was nearly blinded in one eye following a machete cum acid attack.

We listened to their tales with expressions of horror and amazement – horror for the abuses journalists have to face in Dar es Salaam and amazement for the courage they have to continue to do their job.

The human race is such that there would always be those who refuse to yield to pressure. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”

The encounter with the African journalists reminded me of  how it felt to work in Malaysiakini when strongman Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power, where the threat of police raids and incarceration constantly loomed over our heads. But the political climate is different now.

Many journalists, who once did the bidding of political masters under the old regime, are now part of the new media, where portals mushroom with increasing pace backed by tycoons with deep pockets, championing press freedom and penning articles critical of the establishment. It is a laudable development that these individuals, some in their twilight years, have found their voices at long last.

It was during the watch of Mahathir’s successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the democratic space was pried open. After the latter was deposed, Najib Abdul Razak trotted in, armed with a slew of pledges and slogans to transform the country.

Credibility gap

However, it seems that the self-proclaimed reformer is backpedaling on his word. The filing of a law suit against Malaysiakini this week being a prime example. And his chief apple polisher wasted little time in bringing out the shine – especially since rumour of a cabinet reshuffle is making the rounds – and praised the Prime Minister for his aggression.

The apple polisher is no stranger to the subject of aggression. He is, after all, leader of a mob of potential arsonists and martial arts exponents who have demonstrated their bravado outside a number of DAP offices.

It is a shame that the Prime Minister had failed to show aggression in dealing with more pressing issues such as corruption and leakages as well as the peddlers of racial and religious hatred.

As the nation bled and continues to bleed due to these factors, Najib opted for elegant silence instead, preferring to indulge in selfies with the US President and panda bears.

But when a financial twist was suggested by Malaysiakini readers with regard to the political imbroglio in Terengganu, he sprung into action and ordered his legal team to haul the website to court. Despite being invited to provide his version and to counter the allegations, the Prime Minister, who has never questioned the journalistic ethics of his party’s mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, insisted on a legal battle instead.

Najib fails to understand that he, his UMNO, his coalition, his administration and all his politicians and top civil servants suffer from a credibility gap. So with perception being in the negative, it is almost certain that aspersions would be cast. This is unavoidable. He must learn to stomach them, no matter how unpalatable.

Since its inception, Malaysiakini has been a trailblazer, chalking up numerous awards both here and abroad. It has survived numerous trials and tribulations, threats and lawsuits.

So the Premier’s lawsuit looks set to add another feather to its cap, making Malaysiakini the first media organisation in the nation’s history to put a prime minister in the witness stand. As in the words of Malaysiakini’s Chief Editor Fathi Aris Omar, “See you in court, Mr Prime Minister.”

RK ANAND is a member of the Malaysiakini team.