Day of Final Reckoning has come for Anwar Ibrahim


October 26, 2014

Day of Final Reckoning has come for Anwar Ibrahim

by Jocelyn Tan@www.thestar.com.my

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is approaching another critical moment in his career as the apex court readies to hear his sodomy case appeal. But there is a different mood in his party this time around.

DSAI2IT had been raining cats and dogs since dusk and, for a while, it seemed like the first leg of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s roadshow would be washed out. But the rain tapered off after 9pm and then it was showtime. It was only natural that Anwar picked Permatang Pauh to begin his ceramah series as he approaches judgment day for the sodomy trial.

This once sleepy enclave in Seberang Prai was where it all began for him and the people of Permatang Pauh have stood by him through all his ups and downs.But the last few months have not been an up period for Anwar. His reputation is at its lowest ebb in years, ruined by the Kajang Move fiasco. A strategy his advisers thought would propel him forward had instead sent him crashing down.

This Prime Minister aspirant had once walked on water but his aura has been dented and the signs were all there that night – a rather passive atmosphere and a crowd of barely 1,500 despite the presence of some big guns.

Rakyat Hakim Negara CampaignIt was a muted start to his “Rakyat Hakim Negara” campaign, a clarion call to the people to be the judge in this final stage of his sodomy trial. It is his way of subjecting the trial to the court of public opinion rather than the court of law.Blame it on the rain but it is undeniable that there has been some sort of shift in voter sentiment about politics and issues.

Anwar is a political virtuoso and he can smell it in the air. But the thing about Anwar is his ability to control his emotions. He is still an incomparable orator, the soaring rhetoric is still there, and he came down from the stage and spoke standing on the steps so as to bridge the gap with his audience.

Even his attempt to remind them of the black eye incident was presented as a joke: “I don’t want to be shocked again… suddenly ba-da-boom… a black eye.” It was only towards the final part that he assumed a more serious note, saying that he is mentally prepared for the worst on October 28 and 29, when the Federal Court will hear and decide on his final appeal against the sodomy charges.

One year ago, at the height of his popularity, he would have urged the crowd to come out to protest and they would have done so. But he can sense the change and, this time, he asked for their prayers.

A news portal described the Permatang Pauh ceramah as Anwar’s “farewell speech”. There is a sense of doom and gloom about the coming week. Many in PKR are thinking the worst case scenario – they think Anwar will be found guilty rather than innocent. They have always maintained that this is a political trial aimed at stopping the party and to deprive Pakatan Rakyat of a prime minister candidate.

Kit SiangThe stakes, said a Penang lawyer, are very high this time. If Anwar is found guilty, his political life will end there and then.“There is no one with his skills to hold the three political animals (PKR, DAP and PAS) in one cage. Whether you like him or not, there is only one Anwar. No one can replace him,” said the lawyer.If Anwar is not there, PAS and DAP will separate like oil and water.

PKR leaders are working to organise a protest rally at the Palace of Justice where the federal judges will preside.The new Youth chief, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, is under pressure to pull off a big rally but he is said to be struggling because the party is quite badly divided after the PKR election earlier this year. For instance, when Nik Nazmi called a press conference to announce the arrangements for the rally, only two Youth leaders turned up alongside him.

The internal split was further aggravated when 90% of the appointed party posts Rafiziwere given to those aligned to Kajang Move architect Rafizi Ramli. The onus is now on Nik Nazmi and Rafizi, who is the new Secretary-General, to get a mammoth crowd to show everyone that Anwar is still loved and needed.  This is their first major assignment and all eyes are going to be on whether they can bring the party out on the big day.

Lack of support

But supporters of former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim will not be turning out in big numbers. They are still bitter about the way their man was pushed off the stage.

Neither will all of Azmin Ali’s supporters come out in full force. They are still fed-up at the way the group around Istana Segambut, the term for the powerful Anwar family, tried to undermine Azmin during the party polls and how they had tried to block his ascent to the Selangor Menteri Besar post.

But Khalid’s former special officer Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainudin will be there. “People are still nursing their wounds. It is not easy to forget the election – flying chairs, people punching each other. It has affected the mood. But I’m going because Anwar is still the best person to fight Barisan Nasional,” said Khairul who is also the PJU division chief.

A former Youth branch chief who was less enthusiastic said: “I will go if I wake up early.” It is little wonder that Anwar had wanted his wife to be Selangor Menteri Besar. If that had happened, the Selangor administration would likely have been involved in one way or another in focusing on the Anwar cause.

Azmin AliAzmin has indicated that he will be there to show his support. The new Menteri Besar said he had never missed important court dates for Anwar and he does not intend to make an exception now.But a lot of the passion, the fire and even the anger have been replaced by political fatigue.

The centre of gravity in PKR has started to shift to Azmin. Many in the party can see that he has what it takes for the complex job of Menteri Besar.The transition from Khalid to Azmin has been smoother than many had dared hope for. Azmin has shown leadership and ability, and that has helped the coalition pull back from the brink of the political crisis.

Many people, especially the intelligentsia, feel let down by Anwar. The Kajang Move was a tipping point for the thinking class. They had put so much hope on him but he fluffed it. First, he made a sitting assemblyman resign so that he could contest a by-election. Then he put his wife as the candidate. Next, he pushed down a sitting Mentri Besar and tried to put his wife as the next Mentri Besar.

“People have been able to relook and rethink their views about the party and the man. They had to take a hard look at whether they have looked up to the wrong man to be the next PM,” said the above lawyer.

But there is still a lot of sympathy for him and his family.“It is not that people wish him ill but I don’t see them pouring into the streets again,” said Rita Sim of the CENSE think-tank.

Support AnwarThe big numbers at Pakatan rallies have often come from PAS supporters and that has thinned off (?). The Arab Spring inspired many Muslims but the outcome has left a bad taste in their mouth. The Egypt protests brought down an unpopular dictator but it resulted in unrest and instability and the void has been filled by another strongman. Likewise, the Hong Kong protests have drawn mixed reaction from Chinese Malaysians.

The reality is that the average Malaysian is currently more concerned about rice-bowl issues than politics.A great deal of Anwar’s clout back when he was hit with the second sodomy charges was the way the leading ulama in PAS rallied to his cause. They defended him at ceramah, at Friday lectures and in their conversations with friends and family.

The ulama support carried tremendous moral weight for the average Malay. But the Hadi3ulama from PAS seem to have disappeared. They are more concerned about implementing hudud in Kelantan and commenting on issues like petting dogs and beer guzzling.

Life, as they like to say, has its cycles. At the start of the sodomy issue in 2008, the most vilified man was Anwar’s accuser, the sweet-faced Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Today, six years later, Saiful has grown up. He got married last year and in July, he became the father of a cute baby boy.

He is now a handsome 30-year-old, the dimpled smile is still there and he looks like a natural father from the way he holds and carries his infant son. There is also the romantic in him going by his Facebook posting of him and his wife, Sue Megat Deraman, holding hands over a candlelight dinner on their wedding anniversary.

Saiful has kept a low profile through the years. He looks contented and happy although he is probably as nervous and anxious about the impending court verdict as the man he accused of sodomising him.Saiful’s life today is poles apart from that of his former boss Anwar.But their lives will be impacted again whichever way the court decides next week.

Malaysia’s Growing Climate of Repression Gets Ignored


October 24, 2014

Malaysia’s Growing Climate of Repression gets Ignored

by Joshua Kurlantzick

http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/author/jkurlantzick/

malaysia lawyer protest march

Malaysian lawyers march during a protest calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act in Kuala Lumpur on October 16, 2014. The Sedition Act has been used to arrest at least 30 people since last March, local media reported (Olivia Harris/Courtesy: Reuters).

Amidst the gushing over the inauguration of new Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the first outsider, non-elite President in Indonesia’s democratic era, there is a significant void of international interest in neighboring Malaysia, where the climate for freedom of expression and assembly has deteriorated badly in the past year. Over the past year, the government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, which in Najib’s first term had promised to improve the climate for civil liberties and abolish long-hated laws that allowed detention without trial, has shifted course. The government has pursued a sodomy case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim that, next week, almost surely will end with Anwar being sentenced to jail, though the case was a comedy of ridiculous “evidence” and coached witnesses. (To be clear—I don’t think sodomy should be a crime, but it is in Malaysia; even so, there was no verifiable evidence Anwar actually engaged in this “crime.”)

In addition, over the past year the Malaysian government has investigated and/or charged at least thirty people with sedition, under an archaic law it had promised to eliminate, according to the Malaysian Bar Council. Most of those investigated and charged have been journalists, opposition politicians, and prominent civil society activists. The situation has gotten so dangerous for Malaysian civil society that last week hundreds of Malaysian lawyers, who normally are relatively passive in the political arena, marched through the capital to protest the government’s use of sedition laws to stifle dissent.

Why has this crackdown occurred? Najib has had to satisfy hard-line voices within his ruling coalition, and to fend off increasingly public criticism from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. To satisfy hard-liners and Mahathir supporters—often the same people within the ruling coalition—Najib apparently has acceded to this harder-line policy against civil society and opposition politicians, whether or not he actually supports the crackdown.

In many ways, Najib seems increasingly divorced from the business of governing at all, taking long overseas trips while the country stagnates economically, state carrier Malaysian Airlines faces severe trouble, and the political environment becomes increasingly partisan and dangerous.

Although the Obama administration made improving relations with Malaysia aanwar-ibrahim-recent policy priority, it has mostly ignored the deteriorating climate for human rights and democracy in the country. When President Obama visited Malaysia earlier this year, he declined to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (right) and held a brief grip-and-grin with a few Malaysian civil society activists. Other than that, Obama spent most of his time praising the Najib government. The White House has released just a perfunctory statement about Anwar’s trial and likely sentencing next week.

Ignoring the crackdown in Malaysia will eventually have long-term repercussions for the United States. Young Malaysians overwhelmingly support Anwar’s opposition PKR coalition, which won the popular vote in national parliamentary elections in 2013 but did not take control of parliament due to fraud and massive gerrymandering. They also tend to voice support for the civil society activists and journalists who have recently been targeted by the government in Kuala Lumpur.

Many reform-minded young Malaysians have been mystified when the United States, which a decade ago had been so vocal about democracy in Southeast Asia, and which still has significant influence in the region, has said almost nothing about the regression from freedom in Malaysia. In previous eras, American rhetorical support for democracy, American pressure against authoritarian leaders, and American linkage of aid and investment to political change had played a critical role in fostering democratization in East Asia.

In the 1980s, concerted American pressure on the governments of the Philippines and South Korea—after years of American tolerance of Ferdinand Marcos and a series of South Korean dictators—was a major reason why democracy prevailed in Manila and Seoul. A decade after Marcos gave way to the original “People Power” movement, sustained foreign pressure on governments in Cambodia and Indonesia and Thailand, in addition to many other domestic factors within these countries, helped precipitate political reform in these nations. Unfortunately, that type of pressure is absent today.

Ulamaks and Malay-Muslim Politicians Vs The Thinking Malay


October 24, 2014

MY COMMENT: Prolific commenter, Mariam Mohktar, has raised an age-old issuemariam-mokhtar of the partnership between the ruling Malay political elite, and the ulamas and conservative religious functionaries. It is a marriage of convenience between them. They need each other to maintain their hold on power. It is a case of “Gu tolong Lu, Lu tolong Gua” (with apologies to the Prime Minister).

They are bound to feel threatened by intellectuals like Kassim Ahmad, Azmi Sharom and  poet laureate and novelist A. Samad Said, by an outstanding and public-spirited lawyer like Rosli Dahlan, by civil society activists like Ambiga Sreenevasan, Haris Ibrahim, Adam Adli  and Hishamuddin Rais, among others and now by an individual like Syed Azmi who was merely trying to eliminate the fear of dogs among Muslims.

They perceive their hold on the Malay Muslim community is being eroded with globalization and the social media. Their reaction is not discourse, but threat of punishment in the here and now and the hereafter. The Malay mind is, therefore, being mummified  by ignorance and dogma.

mullah-harussani-and-najibMullah Harussani of Perak and PM Najib

In his book, Concept of A Hero in Malay Society*, Dr. Shaharuddin Maaruf, when commenting on this partnership, has this to say: “…the Malay elite is encouraging many misplaced ideas and trends in thinking which are incompatible with progress…Important Islamic values that are conducive and harmonious to progress are not emphasised by the Malay elite; the Islamic conception of leadership is relegated into the background while feudal ideas concerning leadership are encouraged and propagated”. (page 2)

Dr. Maaruf goes on to say that “Intellectual interests and values are not nourished while irrationality and superstition are strengthened and accorded importance…The development of moral character that is sensitive to injustice is thwarted while the servile and morally numb human type is propagated”. For this purpose, the Malay elite makes use of the presumed superior knowledge of Islam of the ulamas. In that way, the ruling elite and the ulamas work in common purpose, that is, to legitimatise their hold on power over the Malays and their thought processes.

Today, their partnership has grown in importance in terms of politics. How long thisDin MericanY partnership can last is a matter of conjecture. But at this time we can acknowledge that it serves the political interest of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who must pander to the ulamas and religious functionaries in the Prime Minister’s Department. After all, his position as Prime Minister is under threat.–Din Merican

*Concept of a Hero in Malay Society  ( 2014, SIRD, First Published in 1984 by Eastern Universities Press (M) Sdn. Bhd). Also read Malay Ideas on Development by the same author and publisher.

Ulamas and Malay-Muslim Politicians Vs The Thinking Malay

by Mariam Mokhtar@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The most dangerous threat to the Malaysian government is not an invading army, a contagious disease, or a nuclear threat. It is the thinking Malay.

syed_azmi_alhabshi_organiser_dogs_191014

When young pharmacist Syed Azmi Alhabshi (above right in pic) decided to organise the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event at Bandar Utama on October 19, he didn’t expect such a huge response. More than 1,000 people –Muslims and non-Muslims – turned up.

Whilst man and beast were having lots of fun, in other parts of the country temperatures were raised. Syed Azmi was perceived as a threat. Syed Azmi may have united Malaysians but he was alienating some conservative Muslims in Malaysia. His innocent “dog touching event” is a defining moment in 21st Century Malaysian history.

Muslim Girls and the DogThe Internet was awash with photos of tudung-clad girls smiling with their favourite dogs, Malay toddlers chasing German Shepherds, elderly Muslim couples stroking contented looking Labradors and Malay teenagers playing with Cocker Spaniels. Malays and non-Malays were getting to know one another, through another of God’s creatures. The people learned to bond – not just dog with humans, but Muslims and non-Muslims.

Malaysians, including the political leaders, should have been pleased to see harmony in action. People forgot their inhibitions. They did not see themselves as people of different faiths or races. They got on with one another, with help from the dogs.

Society’s party pooper, JAKIM, waded in to spoil all the fun. Its Director-General, Othman Mustapha, was furious and said that the programme should not have taken place to begin with. He barked that JAKIM would investigate the matter immediately.

He was followed by a Kelantan ulama who cried “Repent. Repent. Repent.” Other conservative Muslims claimed that the ulamas were being insulted. If anyone needs their heads examined, it is these people. This is not a political issue; so why were the ulamas angry? They were furious because they saw their power being eroded. The 3Rs – race, religion and royalty – keep us in check, and safely divided.

For years, Muslims have been told what to do by the ulamas. The political leaders, together with their cronies and religious authorities carve up Malaysia for themselves.

One political cynic said, “To keep them in power, the leaders manipulate laws. To control dissent, they bully us with draconian laws. We are threatened with sedition. We are told that women leaders will lead us to hell. We are told that God approves of the GST. We are told that voting for UMNO-Baru is a one-way ticket to heaven. The sad thing is that many Malays believe this.”

His colleague said, “After last Sunday’s dog touching event, more Malays are finally seeing the light. The Malay mind is being freed from its mental slavery. That explains why the authorities and the conservative ulamas are working at breakneck speed to find Syed Azmi guilty, but he has done nothing wrong.”

Fear of being irrelevant

Syed Azmi only wanted Malaysians to be compassionate towards animals and overcome their fear of dogs. He was not insulting the ulamas. The ulamas did not even bother to ask him why he organised the event.

ANJING

The ulamas and conservative Muslims see their power base eroding. They are afraid that they will no longer be of relevance in a modern world which does not believe in the 3Rs.

Many Muslims nationwide observed the event on the Internet and saw no issue with dog touching. The ulamas are afraid that the thinking Malay will start to ask questions about their other edicts, handed down, in the past, to control Muslim behaviour. The ulamas, like the political leaders, are obsessed with power. The rakyat is at their mercy. However, a thinking Malay can see past their warped thinking.

Touching dogs is not going to lead to touching pigs or eating non-halal food. It will not lead to free sex. It is the ulamas and their obsession with sex which makes the thinking Malay question why the ulama are stupid and shallow. The ulamas use sex as a crowd puller.

The ulamas must realise that in Saudi Arabia, the Bedouin tribesmen hunt with dogs (the Salukis), as in Afghanistan (the Afghan hounds). Dogs are used in search and rescue, for drug detection, hunting, and to assist the blind, the deaf and those with epilepsy. The dog is man’s best friend.

The thinking Malays wonder why things like chocolates, dogs, the word “Allah” and beer take prominence in the national debate. They wonder why the ulamas keep silent about the rising cost of living, petrol price hikes, the collapsing infrastructure, corruption, the abuse of power by the leaders, incest, drug taking by Malays and the high crime rate.

Today, the ulamas are against us touching dogs. Knowing how their minds work, it won’t be long before Muslims will be banned from eating hot-dogs, and using English idioms like “dog in the manger” or complaining that a book is “dog eared”, or that Malaysia has “gone to the dogs”.

Malaysians urged to demand the A-G’s accountability


October 23, 2014

Malaysians urged to demand the A-G’s accountability

by http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang today issued a clarion call to Malaysians to demand that the Attorney-General’s Chambers submit to public scrutiny for its accountability.

Gani PatailIn a media statement referring to A-G Abdul Gani Patail’s announcement on Septtember 9 that his office would review the sedition charges against academic Azmi Sharom and others, Lim noted that seven weeks had passed “but nothing has been forthcoming on the outcome of this review, or whether such a review has taken place.”

He said the opaqueness of the AG and his office “is not maintainable in a modern democratic country committed to accountability and good governance principles.”

He urged Malaysian citizens and their representatives in Parliament to demand that the A-G’s Chambers “submit to public and parliamentary scrutiny for accountability. MPs and the Malaysian public are entitled to know whether in the exercise of the prosecutorial discretion on the basis of public interest, are these purely legal considerations or they also involve political considerations, and if so, the nature of these political considerations,” he said.

The DAP leader also referred to former A-G Abu Talib Othman’s criticism of Gani’s Abu TalibSeptember  9 statement. “Is he (The A-G) admitting that he was not fair and transparent when the accused were first charged, and that is why he is reviewing the cases now? Maybe he should clarify,” he quoted Abu Talib as saying. Lim said Gani, more than failing to clarify, had allowed the sedition blitz to continue.

Contrasting the sedition charges against opposition leaders and activists with the apparent immunity of Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali despite his call for the burning of Bibles, Lim said Gani was “fuelling the worst crisis of confidence in the nation’s history over the role and powers of the Attorney-General as a result of his silence over the escalating controversy”.

Serious questions

He said the A-G’s failure to provide an “acceptable explanation that there has been no arbitrary abuse of the A-G’s prosecutorial discretion … has raised serious questions as to whether he is committed to upholding the rule of law and to act as guardian of the public interest”.

KC VorahLim also quoted from a letter from former Court of Appeal judge K C Vohrah (left) that the Star published today. He said Vohrah expressed “the legitimate nagging concerns in many minds”. Vohrah called for the review and withdrawal of sedition cases based on three considerations:

1.The Sedition Act is an oppressive law and that many jurists and scholars consider sedition (based on common law seditious libel) as obsolete. Seditious libel came during a period when the divine right of rulers was not only accepted but believed to be necessary;

2.That once a person is charged for an offence under the act, looking at the state of case law in Malaysia, there is no defence that can normally be taken for offences, say, under the Penal Code or other acts creating offences. So it appears there can be no defence even of truth, lack of intention, presence of an innocent or honourable intention, absence of consequent harm, or even a lack of possibility or potential for consequent harm.

3.That the A-G before exercising his discretion whether to charge a person for sedition must ignore pressure from any quarter, political or otherwise, the noisy and the cantankerous, and the well-meaning and well-intentioned groups (who have not seen the oppressive implications of the law), and focus on whether it is reasonable to charge such a person in the context of all relevant circumstances in an age of “disagreement in ideas and belief on every conceivable subject” which are the essence of our life in modern Malaysia pushing on for developed status in 2020. http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Letters/2014/10/23/Doubts-in-administration-of-justice/

 

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)@www.themalaysianinsider.com

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.

NEP

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.

new-economic-model

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)

JAWI impatient to punish Kassim Ahmad


October 18,2014

George Town, Penang

JAWI impatient to punish Kassim Ahmad

by V.Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor, The Malaysian Insider

Activist Kassim Ahmad’s trial in a shariah court on Monday (October 19, 2014) for insulting Islam and defying the religious authorities will proceed as scheduled.

Rosli Dahlan (new)Counsel Rosli Dahlan said the Kuala Lumpur High Court today dismissed his client’s application for an interim stay of the case pending the outcome of an ongoing judicial review.

Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad said there were no exceptional circumstances to allow the application sought by Kassim. “Civil courts cannot interfere with Shariah Court proceedings although there is a pending judicial review,” she said.

In an immediate response, Kassim said he would attend court in Putrajaya on Monday to defend himself. The 81-year-old said he was not afraid of the religious authorities.”I will make the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) regret what they have done to me,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Rosli filed for the stay yesterday after the shariah court insisted on proceeding with Kassim’s case despite the High Court having fixed November 17 to hear the judicial review. The counsel said he was informed by a religious court official in Putrajaya on Wednesday that the Federal Territories shariah chief prosecutor and Jawi were not agreeable to an adjournment.

“The irony is that the shariah chief prosecutor and Jawi are parties to the judicial review filed by my client. I am dumbfounded why the religious court wants the matter to go on, based on the insistence of interested parties,” he had told The Malaysian Insider.

On July 24, the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court has the jurisdiction to hear the judicial review application to challenge the shariah prosecutor’s decision to charge him.

Rosli said following the Court of Appeal’s ruling, religious authorities and the government had asked for some time to file their court papers before the High Court could hear the merit of the case.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, in allowing Kassim’s appeal, had said the conduct of the chief prosecutor and Jawi could be scrutinised.

On July 14,Jjudge Datuk Zaleha Yusof allowed the Attorney-General’s preliminary objection against the judicial review, citing that the subject matter was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the religious court. However, Balia said a shariah criminal matter did not come within the meaning under the Federal Constitution.

“Shariah offence is only an offence against the precept of Islam,” he had said, adding that the bench was bound by a 1988 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Mamat Daud vs public prosecutor.

The bench chaired by the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas said all offences created under state shariah enactments were for violation against precepts of Islam.

The offences include consumption of alcohol, eating and drinking in public during day time in the fasting month, and going against a fatwa by religious authorities.”It (Kassim’s) is not a criminal matter and therefore subject to judicial review,” Balia added.

Kassim had filed a leave application for judicial review on June 26 and named Minister in the PrimeKassim Ahmad Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the chief prosecutor, Jawi and the government as respondents.

He is seeking, among others, an order to strike out the chief prosecutor’s decision on March 27 to prosecute him for allegedly insulting Islam and defying the religious authorities.

He wanted his case in the Shariah Court to be suspended, pending the decision of the judicial review.Kassim also wanted all actions and decisions by Jawi enforcement officers who raided and seized his publication materials, as well as detaining him from Kedah to the Federal Territories, to be revoked.

He sought a declaration that the action by the Jawi officers and the prosecution against him was ultra vires and contravened the provisions in the Federal Constitution, Federal Territories Shariah Acts and Kedah Shariah Enactments. Kassim also sought a declaration that the offence of violating a fatwa (edict) issued in the Federal Territories only applied to Muslims in that locality. – October 17, 2014

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