Let the Khmer Rouge Record Show


August 27, 2014

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

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

By Craig Etcheson,
August 26, 2014

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

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

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

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

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

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

Killing Fields

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

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

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

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

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

Hun SenPrime Minister Hun Sen, Kingdom of Cambodia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis


August 27, 2014

Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis

“But when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. If any of them should happen to propose a scheme of liberty, soberly limited, and defined with proper qualifications, he will be immediately outbid by his competitors, who will produce something more splendidly popular. Suspicions will be raised of his fidelity to his cause. Moderation will be stigmatized as the virtue of cowards; and compromise as the prudence of traitors; until, in hopes of preserving the credit which may enable him to temper, and moderate, on some occasions, the popular leader is obliged to become active in propagating doctrines, and establishing powers, that will afterwards defeat any sober purpose at which he ultimately might have aimed.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

For Pakatan Rakyat the Khalid Ibrahim saga has become a rent garment – the more they fuss with it the worse the tear becomes. The issue begs closure; regnant confusion in the Attorney-General’s Chambers over the distinction between legitimate criticism and seditious speech has now become the most ominous threat to fundamental liberties.

Pakatan Rakyat ought to be concerned with the latter menace. Unchecked, it will wipe out the gains theGani Patail federal opposition has made since the seminal general election of March 2008. The country is drifting without a rudder because it has a leader at the helm who mistakes decidedly inelegant silence for moderation, in tandem with an Attorney-General who misconstrues the irreverent for the inflammatory.

Because Pakatan views itself as a government-in-waiting, it cannot allow continued neurosis over who is to be Selangor MB to be as disabling as Najib Abdul Razak’s catatonia and Gani Patail’s confusion are for the country.

Fatal to Pakatan would be the impression, now fast gaining ground, that it is a coalition where problems within one component incapacitate the whole, or worse, exposes its unity as a thing of expedience more than principle. Hence the question of who is to replace Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar of Selangor must now be resolved with all deliberate speed. The matter has preoccupied Pakatan for eight exasperating months during which public confidence in the ability of presumptive occupants to Putrajaya has been gravely undermined.

wan azizah 1The crisis is headed for further protraction, judging from the initial reaction of PKR and DAP to soundings yesterday from the Selangor Palace that each component of Pakatan should recommend three candidates for the position of MB. It appears that PKR and DAP are insistent on wanting only Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the post. Their insistence on nominating one candidate will keep the matter of Khalid’s replacement simmering.

After withering on the vine for eight months, the issue demands resolution, if only because it has been overtaken by other – weightier – concerns, of national rather than merely provincial import. Further delay in resolving it will redound to Pakatan’s disadvantage more than it would to any other entity, now that Khalid has tendered his resignation and has been requested by the Sultan to hold it in abeyance until his replacement is appointed.

PKR and DAP, in insisting on one candidate for the MB position, will appear to be unduly captious just when they should be – especially now when greater dangers impend – more concerned to get things over and done with.

Horizon-scanners, not navel-gazers  

Their insistence will open them to the charge of being navel-gazers, to the point of myopia and hallucination, just when they must be horizon-scanners – for the good of the overall polity, given the clear and present danger posed it by a rudderless national leadership and confused law enforcement.

The DAP, in particular, should put itself within sight of a Deputy MB-ship in Selangor, something that can be contemplated within the dynamics of political developments in the state. Should a PKR candidate other than Wan Azizah be appointed, the DAP’s support for that candidate would be critical and, therefore, a quid pro quo is within the ambit of the possible. (Isn’t politics the art of the possible?)

This is not to say that the DAP should put position before principle. There is the matter of the room that democratic politics allows its players wherein they can test the parameters of the allowable. They should look at what is happening in a neighboring country which has elected as President someone who is from well outside the usual strata of Indonesian political society from which candidates for that position usually emerge.

The DAP ought to be encouraged that, by the elevation of Joko Widodo to the Indonesian Presidency and Jokowithe avenue this has opened for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and – what is more – a Christian, to become governor of Jakarta, the proof is clear that democratic politics rotates on an axis that is ultimately subversive of unjust barriers posed by race and religion.

Therefore the DAP should not feel itself unduly tied to the logic of what is essentially internecine feuding within PKR, especially if that wrangling has more to do with of individuals who have the destructive serum in the veins from their party of origin (UMNO).

khalid-ibrahimThe Khalid Ibrahim of the last several months is not an aberrant incarnation but a continuum with his party of origin. Nothing much can be done about this phenomenon unless, of course, the pestilence of UMNO rule is finally removed from the body politic.

More delay in resolving the Selangor crisis means more deferrals to the day of our release from our primary ailment. With the spate of sedition charges filed against an assortment of Pakatan stalwarts, that ailment is at its most febrile. Pakatan must not be seen to fiddle in Selangor while the country seethes in an UMNO-induced stupor.

 

Curtains for Khalid must mean Fadeout for Anwar Ibrahim


August 27, 2014

Curtains for Khalid must mean Fadeout for Anwar Ibrahim

by Terence Netto (received via e-mail from the writer)

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

khalid-anwarCurtains for Both Anwar and Khalid

“…the destruction of the myth of UMNO-BN invincibility was an achievement of unparalleled significance to the body politic. Anwar was the chief architect of that destruction. His charisma, rhetoric and ability to make DAP and PAS stick together was a political tour de force.

Perhaps this achievement was too good to be true. For almost immediately after, Anwar began to take his eyes off the ball, which was the growth of the two-party system. While there is nothing wrong in being fixated on being Prime Minister, there is something called dissimulation which a shrewd politician deploys with skill to camouflage obsession and turn it to irony.”–Terence Netto

The eight-month old crisis revolving around the move by PKR to replace Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is set to continue. A meeting between Khalid and the Selangor Sultan that was expected for yesterday (Monday, August 25) was deferred and the 10th Congress of PKR that concluded over the weekend added convolution more than clarity to the issue.

In short, a vexed issue is set for further protraction, serving up more cannon fodder for adversaries to claim that PKR is a messy party that aspires pretentiously to clean up the mess in the country spawned by UMNO-BN.

The dishevelment in PKR does not just lie in the party’s effort to replace Khalid as Selangor MB, it also resided in its election system that took four months to carry out and conclude in a result. For a party that has long being caustic about the way the Election Commission conducts polls in Malaysia, this was conduct that undermined the party’s credibility.

The embarrassment that was the party’s electoral process continued to haunt it even after the long drawn out exercise ended on August 10. At its congress last weekend, the election of the youth wing’s chief was disputed by members of the section’s executive committee. Though the matter was settled by the end of the three-day conclave, the settlement had a tenuous look about it.

PKR’s fragility is inherent. Fifteen years ago the party was born out of a coalition of disparate interests. This conglomeration included members of reform seeking religious groups like Abim and Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM), NGO activists, dissidents from component parties of BN — primarily from UMNO after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and jailed in 1998-99– and, generally, citizens who felt that the time had come for comprehensive reform of the political system in the country.

PKR are a motley bunch whose differing interests and ideologies had to be straddled and coaxed to move in a particular direction. It was the genius of Anwar whose travails had given birth to the party that fixed on the goal of justice for all Malaysians, as the glue to hold a disparate party together.

After his return to Malaysia in 2006 following a sabbatical he took in the United States upon his release in August 2004 from a six-year incarceration on trumped up charges of sodomy and corruption, Anwar provided the inspiration and rhetoric to lead PKR and a coalition of opposition parties that included the DAP and PAS to an historic milestone at the March 2008 general elections. This was the denial to Umno-BN of its customary two- third majority in Parliament. Four states – Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor – fell to the opposition while PAS retained Kelantan.

It was a stupendous achievement, with Anwar leveraging brilliantly on a march in Kuala Lumpur in late November 2007 organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) that was a bellwether for all the discontent coursing through Malaysian society. Fed by many aggrieved streams, the river of discontent surged to a massive culmination: the destruction of UMNO-BN’s myth of invincibility at the 12th general election in March 2008.

Much good arose from that incineration. A sclerotic political landscape was shaken up. UMNO-BN realized that they could no longer do business in the same old ways. They had to undertake reform though that effort was halting and spasmodic. On the opposition’s side, the secular DAP knew that they needed to work together with the Islamist PAS in spite of their conflicting ideologies.

Aziz and Hadi ShowNik Aziz and Hadi Awang wield a big influence on PAS

When the tripartite coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS, called Pakatan Rakyat, began to hold together in the face of broad skepticism of its durability, a two-party system began to take shape in Malaysia. With that, voters realized that it would be a boon to democracy to foster the growth of a two-party system, in preference to what had hitherto been the case — the dominance of UMNO-BN, within which UMNO was monarch of all it surveyed.

In sum, the destruction of the myth of UMNO-BN invincibility was an achievement of unparalleled significance to the body politic. Anwar was the chief architect of that destruction. His charisma, rhetoric and ability to make DAP and PAS stick together was a political tour de force.

Perhaps this achievement was too good to be true. For almost immediately after, Anwar began to take his eyes off the ball, which was the growth of the two-party system. While there is nothing wrong in being fixated on being Prime Minister, there is something called dissimulation which a shrewd politician deploys with skill to camouflage obsession and turn it to irony.

Anwar is decidedly short on this score. In his single-minded focus on the acquisition of prime ministerial office, he neglects the nuances. He believes that after the acquisition of power, he can attend to the troubling bits that rear up now and then, neglect of which can result in an accumulation that can blow a hole in a party just when it’s ready to come into port.

This is what is happening in the Khalid Ibrahim saga. Khalid gave from the morning after Pakatan gained Selangor in the general election of March 2008 every indication that he was unsuitable – at least from the standpoint of PKR’s interests – as the party’s point man in the richest state in Malaysia. A successful corporate captain, Khalid was allowed to indulge his conceit that he could also be a successful political leader.

The two callings are vastly different. One is results oriented and requires only business acumen and managerial skill. The other depends on intangibles such as the skill to use means to ends, to set causes in motion, to wield the machine of society, to subject the wills of others to your own, to manage abler persons than yourself by means of that that is stronger in them than their wisdom, to wit, their weakness and their folly, to unwind the web of others’ policy and weave your own out of it, to understand character thoroughly, to see latent talent and lurking treachery, to know persons for what they are and to use them as they deserve, to have a purpose steadily in view and to effect it after removing every obstacle — these are the skills of a successful political leader and are alien to a successful corporate personality.

Anwar knew this about Khalid practically from day one of the latter’s MB-ship. But he was overly focused on his ambition to be unduly troubled by the conceits of a seeming compatriot. Now those defects have boomeranged to blow a hole as big as that crater in the Titanic’s hull after it hit the iceberg.

The fallout has been an unmitigated disaster for PKR. If it’s curtains for Khalid Ibrahim, it’s hard to see why it would not be so for Anwar Ibrahim.

Ethnic Inequalities in Malaysia remain after 57 Years of Independence


August 27, 2014

Ethnic Inequalities in Malaysia remain after 57 Years of Independence

by Jenni Dixon (received via e-mail)

Mahathir and his wards

Ethnicity has played a major role in Malaysian political and economic policy since the inception of the federation in 1963. The launching of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, with the primary aim of promoting economic growth, with particular emphasis on exports, had another important objective: to promote unity and harmony in one of the most ethnically diverse of nations.

The laudable idealism of the project, which attempted to raise incomes and reduce unemployment in all ethnic groups, to reduce poverty and create a restructured society in which race played no part may have kept ethnic differences, prejudices and jealousies at bay while the country prospered, but the simmering tensions below the surface of society were bound to boil over as the country’s economy began to decline.

However, while many observers do accept that the NEP reduced overall poverty, it has to be said that it was only partially successful in achieving its goals. The policy of Bumiputera, which gives preferential treatment to the Malay ethnic majority, has gone some way towards reducing disparities in income and wealth, but has sharpened the rift between Malays and the other main ethnic groups, the Chinese and Indians. New policies following on from the NEP after 1990 have adhered to its philosophy of affirmative action. These have targeted education, employment and the development of new enterprises.

Programmes aimed at halting the decline of standards in primary and secondary education, increasing the manufacturing base and stimulating regional development have benefited some sectors of the urban population while neglecting the problems of the Malay rural and urban poor. While the reality of Malaysia’s social problems may be seen more clearly from a perspective of class, as a division between rich and poor, the country’s more visible ethnic differences colour much political analysis so that the division between the Malay/Muslim sector and the rest of the population has perhaps been allowed to dominate more than it should.

Playing the percentages

In 1971, over 66% of the Malaysian corporate sector was foreign-owned, while the indigenous Bumiputera, who made up 60% of the population, owned only around 2%. The NEP target was to increase Bumiputera holdings to 30%, that of other Malaysians to 40%, and reduce foreign holdings to 40% by 1990. The outcome was disadvantageous to the Bumiputera, who increased their holdings to only 20.4%, while the other Malaysians, mainly Chinese, benefited most with a rise to 46.8% that exceeded expectations, against a decline of foreign holdings to 25.1%. However, a booming economy during the 1990s and the early years of the 21st century ensured that all sectors increased the value of their holdings, which went some way to disguising ethnic resentments.

The current slowdown in the economy has only deepened the distrust between Chinese and Malays. Prime Minister Najib Razak has appeared to ignore these rising ethnic tensions in favour of strengthening his Malay support base. For several years he had been pressing for a review of Bumiputera policy. His recent close election victory, with his ruling National Front coalition winning a majority in the lower house with only 47% of the popular vote, compared to the 51% who voted for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, has put into sharp relief his lack of support among the ethnic Chinese, causing him to consider the benefits of pursuing policies favourable to the ethnic Malays. Indeed, in the autumn of 2013, he announced a new low-price housing policy aimed only at Malays.

Prejudices and disadvantages

Over the decades since 1970, when Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed delineated the controversial ‘Malay Dilemma’, which helped to create the political climate for the instigation of the NEP, political rhetoric has only accentuated the fallacious negative image of Malays as struggling to overcome their ethnic inferiority. For those who want to believe these prejudices, Bumiputera policies that introduced quotas for education, scholarships and business contracts only seemed to confirm their validity. The false logic of this argument says that because Malays needed help in these areas, they were clearly lazy, uneducated and lacking in the business acumen for which the Chinese and Indians were renowned. Malays happen to make up the majority of the rural population, where there is a lower per capita income and more people live in poverty.

Social problems associated with poverty are necessarily more common among Malays; for example, the percentage of people needing help for drug abuse is far higher for Malays, which in 2008 was 74.97% against 12.61% for Chinese and 9.75% for Indians, and drug rehabilitation programmes show a recidivism rate of over 50%. On Anti-Drug day 2014 Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Malaysian families to do everything in their power to prevent their children becoming prey to drug addiction. These sorts of problems associated with poverty are better remedied in this way, in giving general encouragement and advice and relieving poverty than targeting a particular ethnic group.

New Bumiputera policies

In March 2014, Prime Minister Najib Razak launched the new Bumiputera Business Expansion Fund worth RM200 million, which is designed to help Bumiputera technology companies to expand internationally. These will be flexible loans offered without the need for collateral with a generous payment period of six years, beginning two years after the beginning of the loan. Another RM25 million has been given to the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit, to be managed by the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation, and a further RM1.4 billion in Facilitation Fund Grants had already been approved for Bumiputera companies to develop 132 projects, creating about 23,000 new local jobs. The Prime Minister said that the loans were aimed at businesses in the cutting edge of a wide range of technological industries, and stressed that each proposed project must have a clear prospect of profitability and expansion.

The downside of Bumiputera is that while it is an attempt to stimulate the economy by preferential loans, it also by definition ignores other important sectors of the population. It has caused many Chinese Malaysians to emigrate as well as put off Chinese nationals from coming to study in Malaysia. The signs of a new ‘Malay Dilemma’ are already there to see, which may not be easy to remedy. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, preferential treatment is given to Malays for jobs and University places, and Malay shop owners and restaurateurs enjoy lower rents and ease of access to premises. Chinese resentment over these inequalities has created increased ethnic tension.

Sources

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Malaysias-ethnic-tensions-rise-as-its-economy-declines

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2012/06/21/nep-the-good-and-the-bad/

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2012/06/21/nep-the-good-and-the-bad/

http://www.academia.edu/531386/Rethinking_the_Malay_Problem_in_Singapore_Image_Rhetoric_and_Social_Realities

https://my.news.yahoo.com/najib-announces-rm200-million-bumiputera-business-expansion-fund-112631364.html

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/02/19/PM-urges-families-to-unite-against-drug-abuse-Establish-a-happy-and-trusting-home-environment-says-N/

http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/50340/

http://www.malaysia-today.net/how-to-criticize-bumiputera-policies-101/

Khalid Ibrahim remains as Caretaker Menteri Besar of Selangor


August 26, 2014

Khalid Ibrahim to stay on as Caretaker Menteri Besar at the request of HRH Sultan of Selangor

by Ram Anand@www.malaysiakini.com

HRH The Sultan of Selangor has consented to Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s request to relinquish his post as Menteri Besar. This debunks speculation of dissolution of the Selangor Legislative Assembly and subsequent snap polls.  However, the Ruler had asked him to remain at the helm until a replacement is appointed.
MB Khalid IbrahimResigns as MB today
A jovial looking Khalid (above) read the statement by the Palace at a packed press conference at the state secretariat building in Shah Alam this afternoon. While the Sultan appears favourable to a smooth transition of power, he has, however, instructed Pakatan Rakyat leaders to propose more than two names for the post, citing “convention”.”The Sultan has ordered for a leader each from PKR, DAP and PAS to submit more than two names among Pakatan Rakyat parties as the Menteri Besar candidate,” the Sultan’s Press Secretary Muhammad Munir Bani said in the statement. “This is in tune with the convention that has been practised in all previous MB appointments.”

Sultan has ‘absolute discretion’

sultan selangorThe Final Arbiter in Selangor Crisis

Muhammad Munir also said that the Sultan retains “absolute discretion” to appoint a new MB that he feels obtains the majority support of the state assembly. Asked why he did not ask for dissolution, Khalid told reporters that he felt that his resignation was the best solution to the crisis because the issue in Selangor is about the majority not wanting him to be MB.”The intention is not to have me as MB, so if I am no longer the MB there is no need (for state assembly dissolution or emergency sitting). Why are we going around in circles? If their intention is to change the MB, there are many ways and I want the best way,” he said.

“The best way is to accept the request (by resigning),” he added. He will also request the Selangor Palace to release the list of candidates for the MB post who were considered but not appointed in 2008 and 2013. This was after reporters questioned him if the same convention of submitting several names was practised when Pakatan nominated Selangor MBs both in 2008 and 2013.This was practised even during the times of the sultan’s father, there were more than four names submitted at one point,” he said.

Happy to be free from the job

Previously, PKR and DAP had agreed on PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismailto replace Khalid. After initially expressing support for the PKR president, PAS took a different stand after a meeting yesterday.

Earlier, Khalid had met the Sultan at his palace in a highly-anticipated audience in the crisis which has dragged on for about month. Making his announcement, Khalid also stressed that the issue of Wan Azizah’s feasibility as a MB or her majority support did not arise in audience.

“No, that was not discussed at all,” he said. Khalid said he also “apologised” to the Ruler as the Palace was “dragged along” in the Selangor political crisis. “I hope all parties especially politicians, media and social media users avoid from making statements or criticism to undermine the role played by all involved parties, especially the institution of monarchy,” he said.

Khalid also said that he would remain Port Klang assembly person at the time being, and refused to divulge any details on his next move until after he has handed over his duties as MB. But he said that if by any bizarre circumstance any party nominates him as MB, he would refuse as he is “happy to be free from the job”. He, however, refused to state if he will be joining PAS in the future.

Palace’s Press Statement

 

Book Review: Learning Democracy ‘The New Arabs,’ by Juan Cole


Sunday Book Review

Learning Democracy
‘The New Arabs,’ by Juan Cole

By Irshad Manji
August 22,2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/books/review/the-new-arabs-by-juan-cole.html?ref=books

Irshad ManjiIt isn’t easy to track down a positive word about the Middle East these days. Then again, Juan Cole is not your typical observer. A professor of history at the University of Michigan, he is also a prolific and popular blogger on current affairs. An American, he spent part of his childhood in France and Ethiopia.

A left-leaning idealist, he comes across as far more optimistic than the dour Occupy crowd. A cosmopolitan in constant touch with 20-somethings, he seems to be addressing boomers in his latest book, “The New Arabs,” which is replete with explanations that digital natives would never need. (Don’t know what the “meatspace” is? Read on.)

“The New Arabs” chronicles the heart-stirring youth revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Early on, Cole does some defying of his own. “The rise of the Internet,” he notes, “may not have been as central to these social movements as some Western press coverage assumed.”

Juan Cole

To be sure, Cole affirms that online networks dramatically amplified the reach and resonance of protesters’ demands for state accountability. Take the iconic story of Mohamed Bouazizi. Ripped off and slapped by a government employee, the young Tunisian self-immolated in front of his local city hall, igniting the first of the uprisings.

Internet buzz propagated the myth that Bouazizi had graduated from college, making an educated underclass think of him as one of their own and thus take up his cause. In fact, because of poverty, Bouazizi had not even finished high school. Nor was his name Mohamed; it was Tarek. Ah, the baptismal power of social media.

Still, the Internet is only one strand of a much broader web that Cole weaves. His is a huge challenge: to map the outbreaks of tumult that have crisscrossed Tunisia, Egypt and Libya over the past decade. Strikes, bread shortages, lack of water, inflation, unemployment — all on top of a generational thirst for personal autonomy and political liberty. It makes for chaotic reading. Policy wonks get their fill. The rest of us need patience.

Yet Cole does eventually deliver. In a particularly vivid section, he describes the breath­taking pluralism of those who put themselves on the front lines to protect Egyptian demonstrators. Coptic Christian youths served as bodyguards for their Muslim peers. They knew that as Muslims prostrated during Friday prayer — the prelude to pouring into the streets — their bowed heads would invite attack. Soccer thugs found new purpose as bouncers around Tahrir Square. Muslim Brothers, too, shielded secular friends, especially on the day some jobless tour guides rode camels straight into crowds of activists.

The book hits its stride in Libya. Catching revolution fever after Tunisia and Egypt, young Libyans took advantage of the world’s eyeballs. Their online savvy combined with old-fashioned lobbying to secure a no-fly zone above Libya. When one of Qaddafi’s sons shut down Internet access, he was outwitted: Using their cellphones, dissenters called a special number that automatically turned their voice mail messages into tweets.

Ultimately, though, it was rebels in the fields, factories and alleys who kept Qad­dafi and his gang on the run. Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, stopped nothing. Sunset marked an opportunity to refuel with food and arms. Dusk prayers served “as a signal to begin the uprising,” even among those who were secretly fighting to separate mosque and state.

For all of the “liking” and “sharing,” Cole shows that the revolution’s most important triumphs took place in the sphere of physical effort — the “meatspace.” But to what end? Is the Middle East truly transforming?

Tunisia offers a clue. In the wake of the uprisings, “over a hundred new political parties had been founded.” By contrast, the previous regime “allowed only eight.” And those parties will be busy. A “celebrated” Tunisian rapper supports Shariah law. A “prominent intellectual” scorns Shariah as the product of Judaism and therefore a travesty. Above all, a teacher observes, “Now we have to learn democracy.”Unorthodox wisdom for an era in thrall to instant gratification.