Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya (October 27, 2014)


October 28, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya

Anwar at UM

Anwar Ibrahim spoke with passion to students at the University of Malaya last night (October 27, 2014). He asked his audience, why is the government in power is so scared of a simple human being like him that they won’t allow him to speak in the campus of his alma mater. Where is academic freedom, where is academic excellence and where is our dignity as a people? He spoke of racism and disunity, corruption and abuse of power. Listen to him.–Din Merican

Listen to Rafizi Ramli, the Strategist behind the Kajang Move


October 26.2014

Listen to Rafizi Ramli, the Strategist behind the Kajang Move

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2014/10/21/crackdowns-and-economic-stagnancy-in-conversation-with-malaysian-mp-rafizi-ramli/

Mahathir-Vs-NajibMalaysian politics is on tenter hooks. On the international stage Prime Minister Najib has been widely praised for his commitment to a moderate and progressive form of Islam. But at home, this year alone, the ruling UMNO has agreed to cooperate with opposition Party Islam to introduce hudud law in Kelantan; Malaysia’s highest court has decreed that Malay-speaking Christians may not use the word Allah, even though they have done so for more than a century; a state Islamic department seized over 300 Malay-language editions of the bible then refused Attorney-General instructions to return them; and a senior minister declared that Malaysia was not a secular state.

On a related front, since May this year around twenty sedition charges have been laid or enquiries initiated, against opposition leaders, activists, university scholars, journalists and students – notwithstanding that in July 2012 the Prime Minister promised to repeal this catch-all act, describing it as belonging to a ‘bygone era’.

The economy, meanwhile, continues to grow at around five per cent per annum, but is not matching achievements before the Asian economic crisis of 1997-98. Economists warn of tougher times ahead, particularly with rising inflation and a higher cost of living. The allocation of large handouts to cushion these problems limits funds available for development.

Can the Opposition coalition, beset by its own internal and intra-party conflicts, helpRafizi turn this situation around? In this video, New Mandala co-founder Dr Nicholas Farrelly discusses the state of democracy and politics in Malaysia with People’s Justice Party Vice-President and Secretary General Mr Rafizi Ramli.

Rafizi Ramli, PRK’s Secretary-General and Vice-President, is a 37-year old politician who has gained prominence for a series of corruption exposes. He is currently under a sedition investigation for a book he has written on Anwar’s second sodomy case, and has also recently been charged under the Penal Code over a statement he made in February alleging political attempts to create racial and religious discord in Selangor.

 

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/