An Eminent former Judge and Chief Justice cannot tell the truth

July 8, 2014

A Tragedy when even an Eminent former Judge and Chief Justice cannot tell the truth

I was afraid I would become a ‘traitor’ to the Malays and Islam,” Former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad said. He was not truthful; he was not offered a place in a unity council, says source –

CJ of Malaya Hamid

More Malaysian Babies?

July 3, 2014

More Malaysian Babies?

by P. Gunasegaram–

QUESTION TIME: It was an ironic experience for me the other day in my car when I heard BFM radio’s evening show which focused on the incentives the government was considering to encourage people to have more babies.

Ironic because I was stuck in a major traffic jam and there were just too many cars, motorbikes, lorries, trucks, buses, etc – all caused by too many people in the city for comfort. With all that crush of humanity crowding into KL, do we really need to be concerned about the declining fertility rate? Or does the government have a secret agenda over this? Shouldn’t it be obvious that we have too many people, in KL at least? Let’s take a look.

It was reported last week that the government will introduce incentives to arrest the nation’s declining fertility rateMinister  Rohani Abdul Karim. (birth per woman), including providing ‘baby bonus’ to parents as adopted by Singapore, quoting Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim. She said the ministry was compiling information on ways to address the decline, including the ‘baby bonus’ programme, which would be submitted to the Economic Planning Unit to be  included in the 11th Malaysia Plan. The fertility rate recorded a drop from three children in 2000 to 2.4 children in 2010 and is currently at 2.1 children, reports said.

Among the reasons are delay in marriage, increasing number of women in higher education institutions, work factor and cost of raising children. “Malaysia is not the only country facing this problem as other developing nations also face the same difficulty. This issue needs to be addressed or it will lead to a decline in human capital within the next 20 or 30 years,” she reportedly said.



Is that really true?  The table on Malaysian population statistics extracted from the Statistics Department shows the fertility rate to be about the same between 2010 and 2013 at 2.1, that is the average woman of childbearing age will have 2.1 children in her lifetime. There is no decline as the minister said. But it is true that over the long term there is a marked decline but more on that later.

Let’s first look at whether the population is decreasing despite a stagnation of the birth rate. Clearly it is not, because between 2010 and 2013, the population increased 4.7 percent to 29.95 million from 28.6 million, with an annual increase of 1.4-1.6 percent.

Why is that? Look at the crude birth rate and death rates per 1,000 population. That’s hardly changed over the four years, remaining quite steady at 17.2 per 1,000 population for births and 4.7 per 1,000 for deaths, giving a net addition to population of 12.5 (17.2-4.7) per 1,000 population.

The increase in population is not intuitive though. If the fertility rate is two, then a couple will theoretically have two children and when they pass on, the net addition to the population is zero. That’s not how it works in practice though – the couple who has the children dies many years later.

Meantime their children would have married and are producing on average another two kids each to make it four and it goes on and on. It may take a while before the population growth comes down to zero – and for that to happen the fertility rate has to come down further. Ours is at 2.1 for the last four years, so no need to worry.

Sorry, that’s not quite right because the population, as we saw continues to increase even when the fertility rate is 2.1 or even 2.0. This is compounded by the increasing life expectancy which means that it will take longer before a steady state is reached. Perhaps we need to see fertility rates go up instead of down!

Unfortunately I am not an actuarist and can’t calculate these figures but really that is what the government should do – get professional help to calculate them before it blithely states that there will a reduction in human capital if the fertility rate is not increased. Right now the figures indicate that is definitely not the case.

Propagating a fallacy

The government is propagating a fallacy. It may be doing that because it is ignorant – often it is – or it may have a hidden agenda such as to increase the population growth of bumiputeras and particularly Malays to grow at a faster rate so that their percentage numbers become even more dominant.

That’s a dangerous strategy which may actually impoverish those the government purports to help most – the bumiputeras. It was during former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time that the name of the Family Planning Board was changed to the Population Development Board, and along with it the about-turn in emphasis to population growth from population control.

That was terribly misguided and arose out of Mahathir’s false belief that Malaysia needs to have a population of at least 70 million to have a great market for goods. Sweden has a population of less than 10 million, less than a third of our 30 million population but its 2013 gross domestic product (GDP – sum of goods and services produced in a country) of US$558 billion was nearly 80 percent higher than Malaysia’s US$312 billion, according to World Bank figures.

Put it another way, although we have three times Sweden’s population, their market is 1.8 times our market. If we enjoyed Sweden’s income level, we could have less than 10 million people but still have 1.8 times the market we now have with three times more people!

What happens when you encourage higher fertility rates and offer incentives in a country which is still developing is that the rate will likely rise among the poor, the sector which is least likely to be able to afford more mouths to feed, bodies to clothe and nurture and minds to educate. A higher fertility rate makes the poor even poorer.

I suspect this has already happened in Malaysia because of the rather ridiculous policy of the government of encouraging a higher population and in effect restricting the availability of birth control to the ones who need it most.

Without a doubt it would affected the achievements of the New Economic Policy – not the ones that politicians like to look at which is the flawed measurement of bumiputera and especially Malay participation in business – but the original noble twin prongs which are the eradication of poverty irrespective of race and the elimination of  identification of race with job function.

To put it bluntly, the high birth rate among bumiputeras contributed to them being in poverty for a longer period of time. Finally, let’s take a look at the tables of fertility rates and population trends across countries . We have taken four others besides Malaysia – Malawi, a very poor African country, Thailand – a middle-income Asean country, Singapore – a highly developed Asean country, and the US – a developed country which nevertheless has a significant amount of poor.

Declining fertility rates, but…

First, the trend is of declining fertility rates. The more developed the country, the more likely that it would have low fertility rates. That’s mainly because people start putting their children first and reduce their numbers to ensure they get better quality of care. Also, modern life is rather demanding and there is increasingly less time for children.

Second, despite the declining fertility rates, population growth has been explosive in Malaysia and even in Singapore.

The table below shows that the population of Malaysia more than doubled between 1980 and 2013 and the growth accelerated in the period between 1990 and 2013 despite a decline in fertility rate. That was true also of Singapore. The reason that happened is because of accelerated immigration from 1990 onwards.

All of which show one thing beyond any doubt – we are not anywhere near depleting our sources of human capital. In addition to our own birth rate far exceeding the death rate, we can import, too, and indications are that both Malaysia and Singapore are doing this to maintain or even increase the already dominant share of the main communities in their respective countries.

Population2One must surmise that the government is less than honourable in its intention to encourage the fertility rate of the country. For the benefit of all Malaysians, including bumiputeras, we must realise that it’s not the numbers that count, it’s the quality. We must limit our numbers simply to have a better standard of living.

P GUNASEGARAM is joint CEO and publisher of business news portal KiniBiz.

Japan’s Cabinet Seeks Changes to Its Peace Constitution

July 2, 2014
Asia Pacific Bulletin
Number 270 | July 1, 2014

Japan’s Cabinet Seeks Changes to Its Peace Constitution – Issues New “Interpretation” of Article Nine

By Andrew L. Oros

AbeJapan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed his nation at a 6pm press conference on July 1 to announce a much-anticipated Cabinet decision to reinterpret a constitutional prohibition related to Japan’s military forces working together with other states, setting the stage for a series of changes to Japanese law when its parliament reconvenes in the fall.

Protestors opposing this effective change to Japan’s constitution–which has never been formally revised since its implementation in 1947–have gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence all week. An estimated 5,000 protestors gathered outside the prime-time press conference where the prime minister argued that the reinterpretation did not represent a fundamental departure in nearly 70 years of Japanese security policy, but rather was a modest update to current policy in response to a changing international security environment.

He repeatedly touted Japan’s postwar identity as a “peace state” (heiwakoku), arguing that now is the time for Japan to make a greater international contribution to international peace–in line with the national security strategy released by his government in December 2013 that called for Japan to make “proactive contributions to peace” internationally.

The issue of “collective self-defense”–engaging in military action with allied states even if your state itself is not directly threatened–has been a topic of debate in Japan all year. Japanese government policy for over half a century has been that although all states have an inherent right to engage in collective self-defense, as rooted in long-standing practice of international law, Japan would refrain from exercising that right in deference to Article Nine of its postwar constitution, which forbids the use of force to settle international disputes.

Prime Minister Abe has long argued that Japan should engage in collective self-defense activities with like-minded states, both together with its alliance partner the United States as well as with other states and through United Nations peacekeeping operations. Abe’s coalition partner in government, the New Komei Party, has been opposed, however. As a result, the issue was set aside during the first year of Abe’s return to power in December 2012.

Critics of the Abe government argue that this decision is rushed, is taking place without debate in Japan’s parliament, and that no elected leader has the right to reinterpret the constitution. There is widespread misunderstanding about the power of this cabinet statement, however: it does not have the force of law.

Only legislation passed by Japan’s parliament has the force of law–and, indeed, this was one of the subjects of Abe’s 10-minute prepared statement to the nation: that his government would be creating a team to draft bills to establish the necessary legislation to submit to the Diet for its deliberation. Still, the cabinet statement does reflect unanimity among the cabinet, which includes one member from the New Komei Party. It took months of negotiation and substantial compromises by Abe to achieve this support, leading to a much watered-down mandate to exercise the right of collective self-defense only in highly constrained circumstances and even then only using the minimum necessary force to restore the peace.

The Abe government prepared 15 examples to share with the nation illustrating situations where it saw Japanese security at risk due to Japan’s decision not to exercise its right of collective self-defense, which Abe debuted in an earlier televised prime-time press conference in May. Famously pointing to a sketch of a mother holding a small child while fleeing hostilities, Abe explained cases such as the challenges of evacuating Japanese nationals from a war zone, or Japan’s need to cooperate in de-mining critical sea trade routes in the event an enemy were to lay such mines (as happened in the 1991 Gulf War). In fact, the most likely cases where Japan would exercise collective self-defense are together with its only formal military ally, the United States.

It was announced last October that the two states seek to formally revise their 17-year-old guidelines for defense cooperation by the end of 2014, making a decision on the issue of collective self-defense time sensitive. The two states’ goals of cooperating to combat cyber threats and to improve defenses against ballistic missiles both require a pre-commitment from Japan to work together with the militaries of other states, even in cases where it is not clear that Japan itself is being attacked. In addition, the long-standing fear of a new outbreak of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula would also put great pressure on Japan to offer assistance to US and South Korean military forces–even if Japan itself was not directly attacked, something prohibited under the prior cabinet interpretation of the Japanese constitution.

This new policy on collective self-defense should thus be seen, in part, as a way to show Japan’s commitment to the US-Japan military alliance–and to seek to secure US commitment to the alliance in the wake of growing Japanese concerns about China’s designs on the remote and uninhabited Senkaku Islands that Japan administers but China claims (and which China calls Diaoyu), and that Japan would need the United States military to help protect in the event of hostilities.

The new policy should also been seen as part of a set of initiatives of the Abe government to re-craft Japanese military activities as the sort of conduct any “normal” state engages in without suspicion. In this sense, it is part and parcel of his broader efforts to move beyond the criticism of Japan’s militarist past and to a new status quo where Japan’s “proactive contributions to peace” are welcomed on the contemporary international stage. The policy also should be understood at face value: as a way to address potential security contingencies Japan may face in the future.

The Abe government is correct about international law: that all states inherently possess the right of collective self-defense. But his public statements belie the substantial change in policy that Japan choosing to exercise this right would represent. Critics over-state the significance of the cabinet statement, however. Nothing has yet been changed in Japanese law, and even if new laws are passed in the fall based on this cabinet statement, the agreement within the ruling coalition places substantial barriers on Japan exercising this right in the years to come. Abe has thus not yet realized his dream of Japan becoming a “normal” state–and based on the scale of criticism both at home and abroad about this policy push, it will take many more years of policy evolution to achieve this goal.
About the Author

Dr. Andrew L. Oros is an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland and Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington. He is author of Normalizing Japan: Politics, Identity, and the Evolution of Security Practice and can be contacted via email at

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.

Established by the US Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.

The Asia Pacific Bulletin (APB) series is produced by the East-West Center in Washington.

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APB Series Coordinator: Damien Tomkins, Project Assistant, East-West Center in Washington

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The Constitution must be supreme

June 28, 2014


Published: Tuesday June 24, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 24, 2014 MYT 7:03:13 AM

The Constitution must be supreme

Karim RaslanBy Karim

“We are a polyglot nation. We cannot suddenly rid ourselves of our diversity and complexity. Yes, it is messy but it is also a fact of life and embedded in our national DNA.Until and unless we amend our Constitution – the fact remains that Malaysia is not completely secular, but neither does it allow one faith to run roughshod over the other.”–Karim Raslan

A FEW weeks ago, I wrote about my opposition to the implementation of hudud in Malaysia. Since then, it appears that the on-going debate about the role of religion in our country has become even more complicated, whether over child custody, raids on weddings and funerals as well as the issue of Malay-language Bibles.

To me, the challenge for Malaysians is simple enough.We must decide what kind of country we’re living in. Is it secular or religious? A constitutional monarchy which practises Westminster democracy or something else altogether?

Our leaders have shied away from answering these questions for far too long, allowing opportunists and extremists to dominate the discourse.This has left Malaysia in a permanent state of flux. We cannot become a developed nation when one group of citizens thinks the only way they can be protected is to relegate another into an inferior state.

That is at the heart of the various disputes: Malay versus non-Malay, Muslim versus non-Muslim and so on. At the same time, this dichotomy fails to acknowledge the many Malay-Muslims who feel uncomfortable with the idea of living under a theocracy.

Still, the fundamental question remains this: should people be treated equally in Malaysia? If not, why?If it is because this will somehow denigrate the position of Islam and the Malays – why is that so?The solution, I think, is to go back to Malaysia’s founding document – our Consti­tution.

Unlike Britain, Malaysia’s Constitution is written.This makes us a nation of laws, which gives us a framework for how we deal with each other. And what does the Constitution say? It is true Article 3(1) states that Islam is the religion of the Federation but also provides that other faiths may be practised in peace and harmony.

Every mainstream voice in Malaysia has accepted this.But does this article mean that the rights and values of non-Muslim Malaysians are completely irrelevant the moment Islam comes into any matter? Let us also not forget that Article 3(4) also states: “Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.”

I might be wrong here, but I think this also means that Islam’s special position does not abrogate the force of other provisions, like Article 8(1): “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.” Malaysians – it seems – are being forced to choose between two very unpleasant extremes.

One is that we must remove religion from our public lives altogether.The other is that a certain understanding of Islam must take priority over everything else.But if people truly took the time to read the Constitution – they would realise that neither of these paths meet the spirit in which our nation was founded.

We are a polyglot nation. We cannot suddenly rid ourselves of our diversity and complexity. Yes, it is messy but it is also a fact of life and embedded in our national DNA.Until and unless we amend our Constitution – the fact remains that Malaysia is not completely secular, but neither does it allow one faith to run roughshod over the other.

Anyone who says that provisions of the Constitution or other laws can be ignored simply because they think Islam is under threat is going against the law of the land. Does believing this make someone a bad Muslim? I humbly submit that faith is better served through doing justice rather than by causing fear and ill-will. Our leaders must show collective wisdom and courage in these difficult times.

HRH The Sultan of Selangor is to be commended for stating that his state’s religious authorities should seek redress for their grievances only through legal means.However, we live in a democracy. As such, our elected officials should lead the way.

They must draw on the collective wisdom of our nation to find the path forward.Leadership is not about being silent in times of crisis. It is about decisiveness and courage.I am no fan of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but at least he always understood the need to lead.


The Prime Minister and his Cabinet must step forward. They must lead from the front.If they don’t have the guts to do so – Malaysians will turn elsewhere.

 Karim Raslan is a regional columnist and commentator. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. His online documentaries can be viewed at:

Malays must stand up to the extremists (and Malaysians too)

June 27, 2014

Extremism can flourish only in an environment where basic governmental social responsibility for the welfare of the people is neglected. Political dictatorship and social hopelessness create the desperation that fuels religious extremism.–The Late Benazir Bhutto

MY COMMENT: Well done, Ahmad, for this article appealing to Malays to stand up against extremists. I hope he also means extremists without identifying their ethnicitydinmerican or religious orientation. Extremism in whatever shape or form, colour and race must not be tolerated. So far the most vocal ones are Malays like PERKASA’s Ibrahim Ali and Zul Nordin, formerly of PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat), and institutions like Jais, Jawi, and  Mais, Isma headed by Ustaz Ahmad Zaik Abdullah Rahman and other Muslim NGOs claiming to be defenders of the Faith. That is unfortunate as I expected Malay leadership to be enlightened, open minded and colour and race blind. But we do know that there are also extremists from the “other side” (for want of a better word), be they bible champions or  those in Non-Muslim NGOs who also spread prejudice.

ibrahim-ali-perkasaMalaysia cannot be a truly a united country if extremists on both sides (UMNO supporters and Pakatan supporters) are allowed the freedom to spread hatred and extol their prejudices. We are living in a wonderful country, blessed with good weather (generally speaking), diversity and peace. Let us all, men and women of reason and compassion, stand up for  Malaysia for all.

My family like many other families came from the Indian sub-continent centuries ago. I was born, bred, educated and worked here in Malaya/Malaysia. It makes no sense to label me a pendatang. Those who resort to this sort of labelling, or racial and religious stereo-typing, should check their own background carefully before casting the proverbial stone on others.

Let us be realistic and recognise that we are all an indivisible part of our heritage in the ever advancing continuum of time. I am proud to be a Malaysian. I am loyal to my King and country. That is why I am against extremism and condemn those who use extremism to create social disharmony and achieve political ends or for personal gain. Stand up for Malaysia and fight the extremists.–Din Merican

Malays must stand up to the extremists (and Malaysians too)

by Ahmad Hafidz Baharom | June 24, 2014 2:44PM@

NO to ExtremismFirst and foremost, I am a third generation constitutional Malaysian Malay Muslim, as far as I can tell from my secondary school history project I did in 1996. That being said, there are those who may have a history of their ancestors and families living in this nation longer than I have.I am partially Chinese, Indian, Indonesian Malay and Malaysian Malay, which we can all say are the four biggest populations in Malaysia currently.

All I can say about this is that my parents must have taken Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s racial genetic co-mingling which he suggested in The Malay Dilemma seriously.As much as I am a Malay, I am not a supporter of UMNO, nor am I a supporter of PAS or any political party. Instead, I align myself to individuals, among them PAS’ Khalid Abdul Samad, and Mujahid Rawa (regardless of his anti-smoking crusade), DAP’s Charles Santiago and Tony Pua, PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar, Elizabeth Wong, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, and Rafizi Ramli, and UMNO’s Saifudin Abdullah, Ahmad Husni Hanadziah and Nur Jazlan Mohamed.As a graduate of UiTM, I am thankful for what UMNO has done in the past, but that doesn’t exclude them from criticism. Nor does it exclude UiTM from criticism. As such, I don’t find an insult to UMNO as an insult to myself as a Malay, nor do I see urging UiTM to be opened up to non-bumiputeras as an insult to myself.

Similarly, I do not find it taboo for a non-Muslim to wish me salam, or to use Islamic phrases. This is Abdullah-Zaik-Abdul-Rahman-145x120because I see it as a positive, as them trying to emulate our culture instead of somehow seeing it as a threat against my religion. In other words, I am not a paranoid. In the past year or so, we have somehow seen that any insult to UMNO, Ikaan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), having Iban language Bibles, urging the reining in of religious authorities, all of this as an insult to Malays.

UMNO is not a representation of all the Malays in Malaysia. The fact that they lost Shah Alam in the last two general elections is solid proof of it. Mind you, we have a more than 90 percent Malay population in this parliamentary district. Isma’s president, contrary to his wife’s belief, is not the representative of all Malays. After all, if he thinks the Chinese are trespassers, then he is equally saying I myself am the product of a trespassing ancestor.

A Penang assemblyperson calling UMNO ‘celaka’ is also not an insult to me, because I have seen students right out of UiTM who just got their first jobs giving out the same expletive remarks when they read news coverage of the Auditor-General’s Report. And by the way, these were former BN Youth Volunteers during the 2013 general election.

I am not a traitor to HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah for thinking that both the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) are in the wrong and have totally lost the plot by seizing Bibles and having fake ex-Christians hold a talk at UiTM, regardless of what Negri Sembilan Perkasa suggests. And if they think they need to behead me for this, I suggest they check in with the His HRH Sultan of Selangor to use his royal courtyard for the guillotine.

I believe the Malays have to now take a stand against all these extreme views, and voice it out as ardently as possible; that we are no longer represented by extremists. Now is the time for the Malays to take a stand and tell those in charge to either stop it, or face the consequences of misrepresenting us to the entire world.

It is time to take legal action against our extremists to gag them from making unwarranted statements that tarnish the image of the Malay race. If not, then the greatest insult to the Malays would be the insult we do to ourselves by letting the voice of the loud few destroy whatever pride we have left in ourselves as a people, as a community, as a majority in this country.

Malaysia’s “Greatest” Islamic Warriors

June 27, 2014

Malaysia’s “Greatest” Islamic Warriors

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Centre for Policy Initiatives (June 15, 2014)

It is exceptional for one hero to emerge during one’s life time. But two? Unbelievable but yes – this unprecedented happening is taking place right now which makes this an amazing time to be a Muslim in Malaysia.

Riding to the rescue of the rudderless masses – confused by the arrival on our shores of huge numbers of gays, lesbians, dog lovers, Cadbury munchers and other purveyors of polluting and ‘haram’ consciousness and deeds secretly slipped in through our porous land and sea boundaries by western neo-colonialist agents bent on bringing the Golden Chersonese back into the sphere of Christian-Zionist influence – are two heroes and warriors of Islam.

Their war to ensure Islamic supremacy is not only against threats emanating from outside the country. The more dangerous threats are embedded deep within our midst in the form of munafik, pengkhianat, pendatang, penceroboh, Cinabengs, kaki botol, pariah dogs, kiasus,liberals and even moderates. Taking advantage of the Christian and western financed anti-Muslim internet media, these devilish elements intent on destroying the fabric of Muslim society have emerged from the Satanic darkness to spread lies and ply their propagandist filth of moderation, democracy, equality and human rights to the unsuspecting Muslim population.

Islamic Icons

Abdullah-Zaik-Abdul-Rahman-145x120Who are these two warriors whose names should forever be emblazoned in the pages of Islamic history in our country? They are Ahmad Zaik Abdullah Rahman (left) and Mohd. Ridhuan Tee. This extraordinary pair may have come from differing backgrounds but they complement each other perfectly in their uncompromising philosophies.

Ahmad Zaik’s stand is based on “Malays stand united; Islam reigns supreme”. Riduan Tee, a Chinese convert to Islam, cannot wave the Malay flag so easily. His slogan? “Muslims stand united; Islam reigns supreme”?

Imprisonment of the mind is the greatest scourge faced by humanity, especially by Muslims. Not only are these two warriors in a mission to cleanse the country of its unsavoury anti-Muslim minority, but they are also intellectual giants fighting ignorance and helping to rewrite the course of development in the country by less violent means. Clearly a ‘speak loudly and carry a big stick’ strategy. Ahmad Zaik’s accomplishments include a 64 page book, ’30 Soal Jawab Melayu Sepakat Islam Berdaulat’. In this incredibly slim but profound volume, he is able to provide answers rooted in classical Islamic knowledge to all the burning issues of Malays, Muslims and Malaysia.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to think of any other book that has had such an impact on the Malay reading world. It is noteworthy that the book’s forward was written by Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President Muhyiddin Yassin and and launched by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, both Islamic warriors too, though of lesser stature, despite their higher political status.

Blockblaster Film Issue and Plagiarism Non-Issue

tanda_puteraIncidentally the book also serves as a ‘bible’ to the Isma clubs being established all over the world. At last count, there were over Isma clubs in over 25 counties so that it should not be long before “30 Soal” makes it to the international best sellers list. Also rumour has it that the much castigated and misunderstood director of the Tanda Putera film, Shuhaimi Baba is of the opinion that the book has the makings of a major cinematic hit in the Muslim world; and that she is the right person to bring it to the Islamic green screen.

This is an incredible opportunity for FINAS, JAIS, Khazanah, provide funding for a noble cause which can only add lustre to Malaysia’s Muslim credentials. Besides, it will provide the catalyst to the establishment of an Islamic film industry in Malaysia to take down the decadent and Islamic soul destroying Hollywood empire build by Jewish money. I am sure our Saudi colleagues will want to joint venture with us; but even if they do not want to, we have the petro dollars to make this happen.

But our bureaucracy needs to hurry up. Rumour also has it that Ahmad Zaid has already turned down a similar offer from the Malaysian financiers of the Hollywood film, The Wolf of Wall Street. This was despite the concession apparently made that no partial nudity will be shown in the film – not even of uncovered arms and legs. If this rumour is true, it is yet another mark of the purist Islamic character of this remarkable ustaz for whom fortune and fame appear to have little or no meaning – just the pursuit of the jihad. On a lighter note, female fans of this formidable warrior have swooned over his hirsute chest revealed in recent photos but this, I am assured, is due to his sharp sartorial style rather than any latent exhibitionist tendencies.

In comparison, Ridhuan Tee (right) has been more prolific in his literary output and can be considered to be theTee Abdullah intellectual star in UMNO’s media empire. Because he is so prolific at churning out masterpieces of Islamic commentary in his weekly column (and this is in addition to his formidable academic output), detractors have claimed that some of his work has been plagiarised from other sources. Obviously, intellectual giants are fair game for ultra kiasu hate mongers. There is in fact no need for Prof. Madya Ridhuan to respond to the allegation of plagiarism. After all, it is not a word or concept that is found in the Malay or Muslim dictionary; neither is it taken seriously by our universities. In fact, we can consider it a”haram”western word and concept with bad intentions, aimed at devaluing and demeaning our local scholars who are increasingly being exposed to the best Islamic tradition.

Saudi Influenced or Malaysianized Islam

TDM--21 MarchWhat next for our Islamic warriors? There is one pressing issue to be resolved before achieving the paradise on earth that they envisage for Muslims and Islam in the country. Is it fundamentalist Shaf’i Islam that they are advocating or are they intent on creating a new form of Islam? A form analogous to Wahhabi Islam in doctrine and in liturgy, but purely Malay or at least (for Riduan Tee’s sake) purely Malaysian Muslim. This notion would be revolutionary for Malaysia: that a new Malayanised Islam open to converts in Malaysia, but at the same time aggressive, racist and exclusive, is being created before our very eyes. If this is their intention, clearly the patron saint of the new Islamic movement should be none other than Dr. Mahathir, the country’s number one Muslim convert.

Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that the duo should be honoured with state or federal honours – minimally dato-ships or even tansri-ships. Other suggestions have included appointments to higher positions and monetary and other material awards from a grateful Ummah in the way that the best koranic readers were rewarded in the annual national contests which, unfortunately, has been abandoned for reasons totally unfathomable.

All in good time quite soon surely, but perhaps the most appropriate honour for now– especially since their mission here is nearly complete – is to send them on a flight out to fight the enemies of the Muslim world where they least expect it – Antarctica?

We Allow Thugs to set the National Agenda

June 25, 2014

Brave New World

Published: Wednesday June 25, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday June 25, 2014 MYT 7:14:57 AM

We Allow Thugs to set the National Agenda

by Dr. Azmi Sharom@http://www.the

Azmi SharomMALAYSIA is turning into a hateful country. Hate; it is such an ugly word. Yet I can’t think of anything else to describe what is happening here, the land where I am to spill my blood.But then, why should I care? I am after all an intruder and immigrant.

Yes, I realise that when the racists speak about intruders and immigrants, they mean non-Malay intruders and immigrants; this despite the fact that many so-called Malays are actually of foreign origin. But I am not a hypocrite like them.

 I know my roots and they spread to Yemen, to Medan, to Singapore. I wasn’t even born here. Yet I believe that I have as much right to be here as anyone else and my fellow Malaysians have just as much right as me. And still the question remains: why should I care? I don’t have the answer to that question because I am not a very philosophical man. Yet I know this; I have no desire to live in the Yemen, or Medan or Singapore. And as much as I loved my significant time in England, I always knew that I would come home. And home is here, Malaysia.

Forgive the overly sentimental tangent this article is taking, but I am trying to make sense of my world as I write. It is hard to be purely analytical when one’s home is being slowly destroyed by the bigoted, small-minded, cruel and vicious.

This place is my home because I grew up here. My memories and therefore my identity are tied up to this place.My tastes, my relationships, my way of thinking, in short everything that makes me the individual that I am, are due to this place. But what kind of place is it now? It looks to me like the kind of place where the vicious can threaten to behead people, where those who are meant to be the final arbiters are unwilling or incapable of making judgments based on the principles they have sworn to uphold.

It is a place where cowardly leaders think only of their votes and not of making a stand against vile people and their vile deeds.There is so much going on which is going to affect our basic needs of hearth and security. While the wheels of capitalism turn, we the ordinary folk are going to find it harder and harder to just make ends meet. Yet we allow thugs to set the agenda. We allow non-issues to become national debating points. We allow the vicious to go on screaming malicious words with God on their lips and hatred in their hearts.

ayn-rand-We have lost our capacity to Reason

All this when we are living in a country with so much potential and wealth. If we can ensure that the truly needy, regardless of their creed or colour are protected and helped; if we can move our education system towards one where we produce thinking people and not well-educated automatons; if we can create a government in all its guises which is dedicated to honesty and the rule of law.If we can do all these things, then the future will be more secure for all of us. It is there, within reach.

Instead there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel and all I see is a darkness populated by the shrill screeching of the hatemongers.It does not need to be like this. If the face of this country is as twisted and ugly to you as it is to me, we can still do something.

We can challenge our elected representatives into a corner. Force them to tell us where they stand.We can support the downtrodden. We can gather together in huge numbers to make a stand not for any political reason, but to show the bigots that they are not the only ones in this land and that their cruel philosophies are not welcome.

We can think for ourselves and not simply allow those with so-called authority to dictate our thoughts for us. We can be fearless in deed, words and thoughts to uphold the values that surely any country needs to hang on to – fairness, compassion, kindness, freedom and justice.This country is becoming so hateful; that is true. But I am not yet ready to hate it. Are you?


Kadir Jasin on Najib’s Cabinet and Najib-Muhyiddin Partnership

June 25, 2014

DM at 75

COMMENT: Veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin has mocked Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over his latest cabinet reshuffle, which apart from the appointment of new faces, did not witness the much speculated shake-up. In truth, there is little that Najib can do with regard to changes to his Cabinet for two reasons.

First, he has to make sure that his support among UMNO ministers is solidly with him ahead of the impending UMNO General Assembly to prevent a no confidence vote against his leadership of the party, government and the country. Second, there is in reality a dearth of talent and competence in the Barisan Nasional coalition making it difficult for him to make any radical change. 

John Maxwell on Leadership

Najib must take decisive action on pressing issues facing our country, and prove his critics like me and  others  of my generation wrong. He has been at the helm of our nation since 2009, and that should be time enough for him to learn the ropes of governance, and do what is expected of him. He should lead our nation, and that means he should not pander in the name of politics to extremists, bigots and ultra-nationalists since he is Prime Minister for all Malaysians.–Din Merican

Kadir Jasin on Najib’s Cabinet and Najib-Muhyiddin Partnership

In line with his policy of appeasement towards the Chinese, making everybody happy and keeping things big, Prime Minister  Najib added three more Ministers to his cabinet and retained the rest.

The new Ministers are MCA President Liow Tiong Lai, his Deputy Dr Wee Ka Siong, and the Gerakan President, Mah Siew Keong. Liow is Transport Minister while Dr Wee and Mah are ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department.

With the new additions, he now has 34 Ministers to lord over. Ten of these people are in his department. There are 35 including him. This is not counting 28 Deputy Ministers. The MCA, despite its mediocre performance at last year’s general elections, also received three Deputy Ministers’ posts. The appointees are Vice-Presidents Datuk Lee Chee Leong (International Trade and Industry), Datuk Chua Tee Yong (Finance) and Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun (Women, Family and Community Development).

So all the talks and speculations about Muhyiddin leaving and Hishammuddin going up are a waste of time and space. The Prime Minister and his merry men march on! Apologies: Mohd Najib was Finance Minister under Abdullah.

ORIGINAL POST–June 24, 2014

najib and his deputy

They need each other

NOT long before last year’s UMNO election, Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, made known to allies that he would not challenge Mohd Najib Abdul Razak for the post of president and gave “tiredness” as his reason. When I asked him some time later, he repeated the same reason – penat. – Additionally he did not want to be accused of being unable to work with any Prime Minister having been instrumental in hastening (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s resignation as Prime Minister in 2009.

The excuse that he was tired was flimsy. I would have given some credence had he said he was to challenging Mohd Najib because the latter was doing a good job or something like that. I could not remember him saying such a thing. This latest talk that he wants out could have been members’ interpretation of his recent statements at party meetings that UMNO must prepare for succession and take steps to train younger leaders.

Muhyiddin isn’t exactly old. He is 67 and is not known to have health problem. The late (Tun) Abdul Ghafar Baba became Deputy Prime Minister at 61 and (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad remained PM until he was 78.

Even if Muhyiddin has differences with Mohd Najib, it should not be an excuse for him to step down. Many UMNO leaders, including ministers, have issues with Mohd Najib. They should stay and fight for the party instead of forsaking it out of distaste for Mohd Najib.

PM Needs Muhyiddin

ON the other hand, Mohd Najib may shudder at the thought of not having Muhyiddin by his side in the cabinet. This is even more so if Muhyiddin’s intention is to spend time building up UMNO. That could be a dangerous proposition for Mohd Najib.

He needs Muhyiddin close to him for two reasons. First, Muhyiddin is popular with UMNO members. For that reason, Mohd Najib has left much of party work to him. Second, because of Muhyiddin’s popularity with UMNO members, it is risky for Mohd Najib to let him take charge of the party away from his scrutiny. He has to keep Muhyiddin in his sight. That could have been the reason why Mohd Najib came out strongly to deny that Muhyiddin was leaving the Cabinet.

But we have to take such a denial with a pinch of salt. Dr Mahathir too denied strongly the allegations against Anwar Ibrahim by Ummi Hafilda in 1997. Muhyiddin’s aides acknowledged that their boss had raised the matter of his “advancing” age with Mohd Najib.

According to them Mohd Najib told Muhyiddin that he needed him.But now there is a new twist to the issue. According to aides, Muhyiddin had started to feel uneasy when speculations that he was leaving the Cabinet began to spread in the press. He felt that there might be attempts to pressure him to leave or to make Mohd Najib feel that he can no longer rely on him (Muhyiddin).

The Hishammuddin Factor

Surely Muhyiddin is not unaware that there are others in UMNO who aspire to take over his job as DPM. hishamuddin-husseinFor a start, talks are rife that Mohd Najib is preparing his cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein (right) to take over the post although Hishammuddin himself is said to be uncomfortable with the speculation.He is said to have told friends that such a speculation could have a negative effect on his chances of advancing in the party and Cabinet.

Like Muhyiddin, Hishammuddin is a Johorian. It is well-known that Johor UMNO leaders do not always get along well with each other. And talk about Hishammuddin’s being groomed as Muhyiddin’s successor does not help to calm matters down.

Whether this is true or not will depend on where Hishammuddin goes when Mohd Najib finally reshuffled his Cabinet. It is widely speculated that Hishammuddin would take over the Finance Ministry from Mohd Najib.Whether or not Hishammuddin is a Finance Minister material is debatable. But if he is given the post he will automatically become very powerful although not a single Finance Minister had risen to become PM.

The unofficial version of the story had it that Muhyiddin had told a very senior Supreme Council member that he was leaving because he could not anymore cope with the goings-on in the government.Muhyiddin may remain DPM but may let go of the Education Ministry and take on a smaller portfolio so that he can spend more time managing UMNO but on condition that he remains loyal to Mohd Najib. Furthermore, under Mohd Najib’s 1Malaysia, Muhyiddin is its Malay face. His “Malay first” assertion is popular with the Malays, especially those in UMNO.


Examining ISMA’s Nam Tien Ideology

June 6, 2014

Examining ISMA’s Nam Tien Ideology

UMNO protest

Nation and national soul-searching, despite the romantic connotations behind the term, is always a painful and unsettling process.

A free nation, especially one with a colonial past, will always need to recalibrate its moral position to provide an existential standing. Therefore, a liberation story that is buttressed by a ‘good triumphs evil’ narrative is needed: a new nation sprung from the buds of history, cleansed and desanitised from its past, ready to take on a new course without any entanglements of the past; a ‘New Contract’, but not a renewed contract, so to speak.

This is until it realised, the ‘New Contract’ could not be sustained without hinging on the past, albeit a resented one. A void in history is too borderless for a nation-state with stoic and constitutional borders; be it geographical and psychological, and hence the national discourse is prone to relapse into ‘us-versus-them’ hostility expected of a liberating nation.

The familiarity of achieving a benchmark point of defeating evil (independence) was sought after to achieve cohesion and coherence for a dominating and identifying factor, and therein lies the highly emotive but not necessarily patriotic force of ultra-nationalism. Its digression from patriotism is because those who capitalised on such forces to place imaginative captivity on the masses are usually not patriots themselves. The civil wars and genocides in former African colonies are testaments to that.

Malaysia proves to be an interesting case-study of this “relapse” condition because of its relatively peaceful transition to Independence. The shouts of Tunku’s Merdeka, although invigorating in spirit, did not provide a clean slate for the national conscience to be built upon.

The peaceful transition also meant that there was no post-traumatic stress disorder that originated from a brother-in-arms resistance against invaders for the citizens of diverse origins to direct a common recuperation effort at. Instead, the infantile nation was torn between the political majority rural Malay psyche that the country will “return” to a not-explicitly defined pre-colonial order Malay feudalism and a ‘New Order’ that in practice by the nascent government made little effort in differentiation from the colonial structures.

In other words, there was, and is an expectation for “wrongs” – no matter what they were or are – to be corrected to return the country to a perfect equilibrium before any new projection to the future could be made. The little participation its citizens had in Malaysia’s Independence had left a void being created within the colonial shackles of mind and economics, and it is within this void, contestation of nationhood and identities occurred, as can be seen from the politics of race, language and subsequently, religion that arises.

Ironically, almost every imagination being thrown into the void during that time was retrospective in nature. The Malays longed for a revived domination of the nation’s politics untampered by British intervention, while the Chinese expected a return to the autonomy and free-handedness they enjoyed in commerce and education during colonial governance.

Unsurprisingly, the clash of such nostalgia produced an outcome of retributory nature; the New Economic Policy (NEP) in focus of “correcting” racial imbalances was born. It was a relapse towards the discourse of Malay special position and supremacy, a privilege that was guaranteed by colonial governance to placate Malay fears in the face of a changing nation, demographically, economically and culturally.

Understanding this, Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA)’s classification of the Chinese as being an invading force, the Nam Tien or “southbound invasion” in challenge of Malay or Islam’s indigenous position can be seen as just another episode of the relapse syndrome.

UMNO-ISMA-PERKASASoutheast Asia’s indigenous religion is not Islam to begin with since it is pre-dated by Hinduism. ISMA, however, had made significant efforts in revising of this fact. The fact is that, the invasion from China in usurping the physical or religious status of the locals, simply did not happened. Therefore, the claim that the Chinese are “wrongs that should be corrected” is merely a throwback in a sense. As the vitality of the NEP wears off following the decline of Mahathir’s developmental state, a substituting agenda was needed for “retributory justice” to continue in maintenance of the capitalist elite power structure, and it was in this light a militaristic revisionist account of the Chinese influx into Malaysia was created.

Although not entirely original, the conceived idea of the Chinese as being an “invading” force did have some salient features. Using an invasion analogy, the need to stress constitutional justifications of Malay and Islamic supremacy (a common strategy employed by right-wing ethnocratic organisations such as UMNO and PERKASA) was diminished.

The approach taken to externalise Chinese citizens of Malaysia had shifted the psychology of the siege mentality to one that is even more rudimentary, one that hardly sees co-existence as an amenable outcome. This is because as the logic goes, the threat is foreign and expansionist in nature and had to be repealed to preserve sovereignty.

Placing Islam in the centre of it, in full cognisance of the religious conservatism of the Malays as well as the outright secularist orientation of the Chinese was only a natural move. A frontier that is both distinctive and violent was enforced between the two communal groups.

The demonisation process, not unlike the “history textbook” treatment that was subjected to most colonial powers, was undertaken. A new struggle against foreign evil, the others, is to be embarked; a theme that has mythical origins, also made relatable for the Malaysian context by Islamic concepts like the jihad (although not in the Salafist jihadist sense).

As iterated above, soul-searching is a painful process, especially when history was kept like a gaping hole, filled in by State-controlled narratives that were insufficient in richness, complexity and inclusiveness. Dominated by retro-looking agendas (Mahathir’s Vision 2020 was a breath of fresh air but it collapsed in the face of growing inequality, communal integration and most importantly, the competence expected of a capitalistic developed nation).

ibrahim-ali-perkasaMalaysia’s perpetual search for divergent collective motives were vulnerable to be seized by the romanticism associated with puritanism and evil banishment, for it is these sentiments that fuelled a citizen’s anger against immigrant workers, free trade agreements and foreign cultures.

The inability of authoritative figures to put a stop to all of this, or the civil societies to provide an effective diversion, will only spell trouble for the already economically struggling nation. Despite years of official forward planning, and government mantras of a brighter future, the forward looking narratives have been undermined by the lack of credibility and authenticity of its proponents and implementers. It also makes its present proponents appear hypocritical.

It is dangerous for Malaysia to not have a credible and authentic forward looking narrative. But it is even more dangerous for the ‘Muslim Malay’ (however that is defined) – without this credible and authentic forward looking narrative – to ask the question “Dari mana datangnya saya?” (“Where do I come from?”), and to look to the pendatangs (immigrants) for an answer.

Nicholas Chan is a King’s College London graduate in Forensic Science. He is currently a socio-political analyst with the Penang Institute. He can be reached at:


Dyana lost narrowly in the Battle for Teluk Intan ?

June 1, 2014

Dyana lost narrowly in the Battle for Teluk Intan

by Dr. Ong Kian

As expected, the Teluk Intan by-elections was a very closely fought affair. In the end, the turnout of 67% was not sufficient for the DAP to maintain this seat, losing by a razor thin majority of 238 votes. In fact, before the results of the last polling station was returned to the DAP operations centre, our candidate, Dyana Sofya, was still ahead by 25 votes. Unfortunately, the last polling station, Sungai Bugis, also happened to be an UMNO stronghold which we lost by a majority of 263 votes.

Is this true ?

Is this true ?

It was always going to be a bold and risky strategy on the part of the DAP to field Dyana as a young, female Malay candidate. I had highlighted these risks earlier when I wrote about why Dyana should be considered as the underdog in this contest [1].  In this earlier statement, I outlined two possible scenarios – one more positive, one more scenario – under which DAP would win or lose this seat. Unfortunately, the more negative scenario came to pass.

The Chinese support for DAP decreased by 15% from 85% in GE2013 to 70% in this by-election which was the most pessimistic projection. This was somewhat surprising given the positive response that the campaign was receiving from the Chinese voters including the mammoth ceramah on the final day of the campaign. The Indian support for DAP decreased by 10% from 62% in GE2013 to 52% in this by-election, again the most pessimistic projection.

If there was a silver lining to this campaign, it would be the slight increase in Malay support of 3% from 25% in GE2013 to 28% in this by-election. In 6 Malay majority polling stations, the DAP experienced small increases in the overall support ranging from 0.7% to 3.4%, an encouraging sign given that we were not expecting the Malay support to increase.

teluk-intan-lean-towerIn analysing and interpreting these by-election results, care needs to be taken to separate the short term and more local factors at play in this by-election versus the more national and longer term issues.

At the local level, the race and place of birth of both candidates, the promise of a Ministerial position for the BN candidate if elected, the fact that this by-election will not have any impact on the overall balance of politics at the national level, the usual pouring in of goodies by the BN and promises for more development that happens during a by-election and the relative lack of interest in this contest that led to a lower turnout rate were all contributory factors to the DAP’s defeat. These factors may not have as big of an impact at the national level in the context of a general election.

At the national level, the possible impact of the hudud issue especially among the Chinese community, the lack of resonance of the Hindraf and Hindraf-related issues such as the resignation of Waythamoorthy as Deputy Minister and the appeal of Pakatan Rakyat in other similar constituencies – ethnically mixed, semi-urban with many developmental needs and relatively poor internet access – are all issues which need to be pondered over by the PR national leadership.

Some specific questions which need to be raised include the following:

First, will turnout in the next general election be as high as GE2013 especially if voters are turned off by the problems affecting Pakatan Rakyat such as the disagreement over hudud, problems in party elections, leadership issues within Pakatan in the state of Selangor, the Allah and the Malay bible issue, just to name a few? There is no guarantee that these problems will not escalate leading up to the next general election and if so, many voters may choose not to come back to vote. The lower turnout which partly caused DAP to lose Teluk Intan may be replicated in many other such seats.

Second, will Pakatan Rakyat be able to develop a convincing message to other constituencies like Teluk Intan which are semi-urban and are more likely to be convinced by promises of development rather than messages to combat corruption and to get rid of race based politics in this country? These are seats where Pakatan are either vulnerable incumbents e.g. Beruas, Bakri, Raub, Bukit Gantang, Kluang, Kuala Kedah, just to name a few or where BN are vulnerable incumbents e.g. Bentong, Cameron Highlands, Labis, Bagan Serai, just to name a few. A different and complementary strategy to what Pakatan has been doing at the national level may be needed in order for PR to defend and win these kinds of seats.

Third, will Pakatan be able to capitalize on its image as a coalition that is more appealing and attractive to the younger generation and therefore younger voters? There is no question that PR has more appealing and credible younger parliamentarians compared to the BN. But the youth vote is fickle and can easily swing to the BN. The challenge for Pakatan is to provide the necessary platform for young leaders, especially young Malay leaders, to present creative ideas and credible policies to convince the younger voters that they are better placed than BN to lead the country into the future.

We saw a glimpse of this in Dyana’s campaign in Teluk Intan. The amount of excitement and interest which she generated at the national level especially among young Malays was, dare I say, unprecedented. Because of Dyana’s candidacy, UiTM students were talking about the DAP and not necessarily in a negative manner! A Malaysian student in Oxford wrote about why younger Malays are abandoning UMNO, using Dyana as an example [2].  Marina Mahathir praised Dyana’s for being able to think and write for herself [3].  At the local level, Dyana received a tremendous reception from among kids and also young people where-ever she went. While most of them were not voters, they will be voters in the near future and young leaders such as Dyana are much better positioned to win them over.


The battle for Teluk Intan may have been lost by the DAP but by attempting this move to break down racial and gender barriers, new ground has been paved. I am confident that after this by-election, more young Malays would look at DAP as a possible avenue for political activism. I am confident that more young people would support Pakatan’s cause to move away from race-based politics. Pakatan’s challenge is to lead the way forward and not look back. – June 1, 2014.





*Dr. Ong Kian Ming is the DAP election strategist and the MP of Serdang.


Thuggery and hatred must be met head on

May 28, 2014

Brave New World

Published: Wednesday May 28, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday May 28, 2014 MYT 7:24:26 AM

Thuggery and hatred must be met head on

by Azmi

The extreme right has to be countered with sober reasoning, without dismissing the concerns that they raise.

Azmi SharomLIVING in, and caring about, this country can lead to a certain myopic viewpoint. Every day one is bombarded with news reports that indicate that this nation is heading towards disaster. Bigotry and small-mindedness appear to be the ruling ethos of the day.

Just how far this is true is unclear. The press have to bear some of the blame in this uncertainty because so much space is given to the divisive and the chauvinistic that it appears that they are the ones setting the national agenda.

Yet, is this the truth? It is hard to say because not enough real journalism is done. Simple things, like the reporting of numbers at gatherings and protests, would give the general public a better idea as to whether this current gutter thinking in the country is reflective of the nation as a whole or whether it is merely the work of a relatively small group of idiots.

Be that as it may, things look bleak and being as immersed in Malaysiana as one is, then it is an understandable reaction to feel utterly blue. It is as though one is swimming in sewage when the rest of the world is drifting in clear blue waters.

But this is not the case at all. For anyone with a semblance of concern for principles of democracy and humanism, this is a generally bleak period all over the world.Just north of us, the military has undone the progress that Thailand has been making towards being a truly democratic nation. In a few short days, years of development in the political arena of the nation has been inexorably pushed back.

In Egypt, the same story of a military, used to determining the fate of the nation, destroying the democratic progress also make for depressing reading. Add to that the unthinkable sentencing to death of scores of people in a legal process so ludicrous that to call it a kangaroo court would be an insult not just to kangaroos but to marsupials as a whole; the only logical feeling would be revulsion.

The Indian election has seen the rise of a man with a past so dubious that it makes one wonder how this could have happened. Although cleared of any direct (but without any mention of indirect) responsibility of the massacre in the state of Gujarat in 2002 when he was governor, the stigma remains.

It would appear that this stain is no block to success. The people of India have chosen to ignore this blot in their history and they went ahead and chose Narendra Modi as prime minister in huge numbers, ostensibly because he can lift them out of their current economic stupor.

Europe too is not spared this rise of the extreme right wing. So-called Eurosceptic parties such as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain and the French National Front have won big in the European Parliament elections.

Although they wave the flag of sovereignty and they make opposing European interference in domestic affairs (particularly immigration) their primary platform, this does not hide the fact that these parties have some loathsome ideologies which can only be deemed as racist.

What with all this going on, is the world then poised on the precipice of fascism and hatred? I do not know. What I do know is that despair must not be allowed to triumph. In Thailand, it is hoped that having tasted democracy the people will not stand for military rule for long.

And the situation in Egypt must also be taken in context. Considering that country has never had an elected leader before Mohamed Morsi, their democracy is practically foetal. If one is to consider the “Arab Spring” as a process and not as an event, only time can tell if they can restart the process of democratisation following this drawback.

India has a strong tradition in upholding the rule of law and their judiciary is at the forefront of this effort. The existence of separation of powers and checks and balances would, it is hoped, hold back any gross abuse of power in the world’s largest democracy.

The ample democratic spaces in Europe too mean that it is imperative for those who find UKIP and the French National Front repulsive to intelligently and convincingly confront the extreme right. The extreme right work by pandering to negative perceptions and knee-jerk reactionarism.

This has to be countered with sober reasoning which deals with those perceptions, not just factually but in a way which confronts them without sneeringly (as the left was prone to doing) dismissing the concerns that they raise.

As for us, if we truly care about the direction of our country, there really is no choice. The discordant and shrill voices of thuggery and hatred must be met head on; to do nothing is not an option.


Azmi Sharom lectures on environmental and human rights law in a public university. He can be reached at The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Rosli Dahlan: an emerging human rights and civil liberties lawyer

May 19, 2013

MY COMMENT: I  was attracted by RPK’s lastest article (May 18, 2014) on laywer Rosli Dahlan for several reasons. Foremost is that I have always believed that Rosli should take on some public role. RPK suggests that he should lead the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement. I couldn’t agree more.

Rosli-DahlanI know he is too modest to do anything for public fame. I know he does not feel that a person charged by the MACC should take on any public role. I know he has no political ambitions. But he must. It is no longer about him.

It is about the bigger cause for Malaysia. He has the knowledge, the experience and more importantly the moral compass to do the right thing. I have seen him throughout his criminal trial He was always calm, reflective, and collected with an abiding faith in justice.

I have seen him in action when he took on the mainstream media, the MACC and the Goverment in his civil suits. He won all them all. Lately, he sued A-G Gani Patail, former IGP Musa Hassan and several other big guns, calling them “Rogues in Government”.

Rosli has that quiet resolve to see things to the end. He is incorruptible. He does not crave for power nor wealth. He is not easily intimidated. In other words, he is beholden to no one except his deep personal piety to God which he does not shout about like PERKASA or ISMA.

He identifies with the common man in the street, understands their plight and fights for such causes with tenacity.  That is the kind of person that the MCLM needs to lead it. And for that, I join RPK in asking Rosli that he should show his patriotism by fighting for the rights of the oppressed Malaysian.

By the way, RPK also failed to mention one important case that Rosli handles. If I am not mistaken, its the UAE Sdn Bhd vs JAIS and MAIS ( read here )where these religious authorities tried to use the Land Acquisition Act to seize a 26 acre land owned by a chinese company on the pretext of building a 26 acre mosque.

I recalled asking Rosli why he would represent a Chinese company against the State Islamic Religious Authority which wants land to build a mosque for God. His answer was a curt : “Why Not?” Then he said “You can’t use religion or God’s name to rob someone of his land. God forbid!”.  There you have it.

So read on the following RPK article on the emergence of a civil rights lawyer, my friend Rosli Dahlan.–Din Merican

Rosli Dahlan: an emerging human rights and civil liberties lawyer

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin (May 18, 2014)

I would suggest that Rosli set up a special fund to fight these violation of human rights and civil liberties cases. He may be prepared to work free-of-charge for the sake of justice, human rights and civil liberties. However, I still feel a special fund should be set up.


In November 2013, Rosli Dahlan filed a suit against A-G Abdul Gani Patail, former IGP Musa Hassan, and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Abu Kassim Mohamed in their personal capacity. Rosli also named MACC prosecution head, Abdul Razak Musa, its former prosecution head, Nordin Hassan, and Razak’s deputy, Anthony Kevin Morais, the MACC, the Malaysian Police, and the Malaysian government, as among the 11 defendants.

So there you have it. Rosli is practically taking on the entire Malaysian government for his arrest and assault and the lies they spread about his so-called ‘corruption’. Now that all the lies have been proven just that, lies, he is going to nail their balls to the wall and hang them by their dicks.

Further to that, Rosli sued the government-owned mainstream newspapers — Utusan Malaysia, NST, and The Star. You can read more about that story below.

For almost seven years, Rosli has been battling the government for what they did to him. And his only ‘crime’ was that he represented the number three in the Malaysian police force against the false allegation of corruption. The government had alleged that this police officer was corrupt and had accumulated assets worth RM27 million.

The MACC, however, did not charge this Police Officer for corruption. They eventually charged him for non-declaration of assets. And it was not for RM27 million but for a much lower figure. Rosli then represented this police officer and managed to prove that the police officer had, in fact, declared his assets, contrary to what the MACC alleged.

But why were they so bent on ‘getting’ this Police Officer, even if under fabricated criminal charges if necessary? Well, the answer is very simple. This Police officer investigated the abuse of power and corruption in Malaysia’s national airlines, MAS.

This  corruption went all the way to the top and involved those who walk in the corridors of power. And this resulted in MAS losing billions. And this, of course, has now been proven and even Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said this week that the only option left for MAS is to go bankrupt.

Anyway, this Police officer then sent the previous Prime Minister a letter suggesting that these criminals be prosecuted for their wrongdoings. And this was when they decided to get him. And when Rosli acted as this police officer’s lawyer they decided to get him as well. And now they are paying for the wrath of this lawyer who will take no shit from anyone and will fight back, never mind whomsoever he has to take on and what they will do to him for being so bold as to take on the Malaysian government.

Rosli is also Kassim Ahmad’s lawyer. You can read more regarding that matter here:

Former activist Kassim Ahmad charged with insulting Islam

Dr Mahathir: Kassim Ahmad’s arrest wrongly portrays Islam as ‘hard and unmerciful’

Kassim Ahmad: The hero we don’t deserve! 

Rosli is also acting for Marina Mahathir in her case against ISMA and you can read about that case here:

Marina Mahathir sues Muslim NGO over Comango allegations

Further to that, Rosli is acting for Borders regarding its conflict with the Federal Territories Religious Department (JAWI), which you can read here:

After book ban lifted, lawyer pushes to get Borders’ employee off the hook

Borders manager to face syariah charge

Court says raid on Borders bookstore, seizure of Irshad Manji’s books illegal

Yes, Rosli takes on all the cases that no other lawyer will touch with a ten-foot pole and all which involve human rights and civil liberties violations. In fact, as if this is not enough, Rosli is even taking on cases that involve legal action against UMNO Ministers and Rulers.

Because of this Rosli has received threatening phone calls from people who curseKassim and Rosli and vilify him. They do not want him to represent people or organisations like Borders, Kassim Ahmad and Marina Mahathir who have ‘insulted’ or ‘challenged’ Islam.

What about your right to legal council and your right to a fair trial? Well, these people feel that anyone who ‘insults’ Islam should not be allowed a fair trial. Anyone who ‘insults Islam’ should just be rounded up and punished and not be allowed legal representation in a fair trial.

One such person who whacked Rosli is a very wealthy Malay who was Anwar Ibrahim’s treasurer during Anwar’s UMNO days and who made tons of money when Anwar was the Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Yes, this is a man who became a multi-millionaire by abusing his power and by exploiting his relationship with Anwar. He is angry with Rosli for giving these people a fair trial for the crime of ‘insulting Islam’.

What does ‘insulting Islam’ mean anyway? I don’t know but apparently these people do.

Anyway, these are the cases that Rosli takes on and most times pro bono as well. This means Rosli is doing all this work free-of-charge and for the sake of justice, human rights and civil liberties.

I would suggest that Rosli set up a special fund to fight these violation of human rights and civil liberties cases. He may be prepared to work free-of-charge for the sake of justice, human rights and civil liberties. However, I still feel a special fund should be set up.

It is not so much the money that is the issue. It is more that we want to demonstrate our support to the cause. We talk so much about justice, human rights and civil liberties but we never lift a finger to help. We let others do all the work while we sit comfortably in our homes and just watch and do nothing.

If we can raise RM100,000 or RM500,000 or RM1 million that would be a very strong message we send to those who hide behind Islam and deny Malaysians justice, human rights and civil liberties. Why should we allow them to decide what we can and cannot say and do or what books should be allowed and which should be banned (even if they are Malay language Bibles that use Allah)?

I also think Rosli should set up a civil liberties movement or get involved in one of the existing civil liberties movements and take on more legal cases that violate our human rights and civil liberties. It is time Malaysians fought back and not allow extremists like Perkasa, Isma, and so on, to bring Malaysia to the brink of racial and religious strife.

I, for one, promise that if Rosli takes on this challenge I will be the first to contribute some money to the fund and I will bring these cases to the international stage through organisations like the Human Rights Watch in London.

So how, Rosli, are you up to this challenge?


(The Malaysian Insider, 18 October 2013) – The senior lawyer who won a defamation suit against an English daily and the anti-graft body said today’s court decision has vindicated him.

Rosli Dahlan, who sued the New Straits Times (NST) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for defaming him in the “RM27 million Copgate Affair” in 2007, said although he was happy with the decision, he felt the defendants were not punished enough as they had shown no remorse.

“I am happy. The decision, to an extent, has vindicated me. But they should have been more severely punished as they have not shown any remorse at all,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.

“They knew my role in the case was merely as a lawyer but they still linked me to it.”

He said his win today was believed to be the first of its kind against the MACC where the anti-graft body was found liable to have defamed an individual.

This morning, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in Rosli’s favour and ordered NST and the commission to pay RM150,000 each for defaming him in the Copgate Affair which saw former Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Datuk Ramli Yusuff being charged in court and later acquitted for failure to declare ownership of company shares and interest in two properties.

Rosli, who acted as Ramli’s lawyer, was also charged and acquitted by the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur in 2011 for non-disclosure of his assets, which were said to be linked to Ramli’s case.

The MACC filed an appeal against the acquittal at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, but later withdrew it.

Rosli subsequently filed the defamation suit.

In her judgment this morning, Judicial Commissioner Siti Khadijah Badjenid said the article carried in NST was not only defamatory but also false.The sting of defamation, she said, was calculated to generate sensationalism.

While NST’s report had quoted MACC sources, the anti-graft body had denied leaking any information to the media.

But because MACC had uploaded the NST’s article on its website, the judge also found the commission liable.

“The MACC had breached Section 21(4) of the Anti-Corruption Agency Act in releasing confidential investigation to the media,” said Siti Khadijah.

“This had affected Rosli’s reputation, as he is also a lawyer from a reputed legal firm.”

She also ordered both NST and the MACC to pay RM35,000 each in costs. Rosli had earlier also slapped The Star and Utusan Malaysia with legal suits but both dailies have apologised for defaming him in 2007.

Today, he told The Malaysian Insider: “I could never understand why NST refused to apologise like Utusan and The Star. They knew the story was false.Both NST and MACC are liars. And when they were caught lying, they just blamed each other.”

Rosli was arrested in 2007 and charged in court a day before the Hari Raya celebrations while Ramli was charged a month later.

Four reasons for Malay weakness

May 16, 2014


by Mariam Mokhtar

The key to progress lies with the Malays. The population of Malaysia is 60% Malay. Even if all of the non-Malays were to vote for the Opposition it would still be insufficient to create a change in government. Changing Malay minds and attitudes is essential if the whole nation is to move forward.–Mariam Mokhtar

Why are Malays obsessed with supremacy ? Is it brainwashing or their own insecurity?

Why are Malays obsessed with supremacy ? Is it brainwashing or their own insecurity?

The Terengganu debacle, the 2009 Perak coup and GE13 have one thing in common: Najib Tun Razak. Najib’s fingerprints are all over these important events in Malaysian history. Najib’s involvement proves that Malaysia is a kleptocracy.

UMNO Baru was founded in 1988 and has risen to become a deadly threat to the national security of a multicultural country like Malaysia. How did this cancer spread so quickly?

The political link

UMNO Baru is not a political party. It functions more like a business. It is like the grandmother of all GLCs. It has access to unlimited funds with branches all over the world. Unlike public listed companies, UMNO Baru shareholders (its supporters) and the consumers of this enterprise (the rakyat) have little say.

Money speeds up decision making. It helped the Terengganu trio who resigned from UMNO  Baru, in the infamous Perak coup in 2009 and in GE13.

The true purpose of UMNO Baru is to prolong the political life of its leaders. With political power comes the ability to squander the wealth of the nation. In 1987, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for alleged vote rigging in the UMNO internal elections.

The High Court declared UMNO an illegal party. The original UMNO, which is synonymous with Tunku Abdul Rahman and independence, suffered an ignominious end because of Mahathir.

Humiliated by the courts, Mahathir schemed and plotted to punish the Judiciary. Mahathir did this because they had put him in the awkward position of being the PM of Malaysia but the President of an illegal political party.

With his position as PM in jeopardy he quickly formed a new party in 1988 and called it UMNO Baru. Mahathir transferred the assets of the original UMNO to his creation UMNO Baru.

onnThe Tunku and Hussein Onn withdrew their membership from UMNO and never sought to rejoin Mahathir’s UMNO Baru. Mahathir had brought shame on the party, the Judiciary and the nation.

The Malaysians who praise Mahathir tend to ignore this shameful piece of our history. The irony is that Mahathir was considered by many Malays to be Malay enough to lead the nation but sadly the Malays who try to do things in the interest of all Malaysians are not considered Malay enough.

The Malays

“Malays need protection & Islam needs defending.” These two myths have long been peddled by UMNO Baru but the effect has been to belittle the Malays and demonise the religion.

Few Malays ever ask UMNO Baru: “Why do we need protecting? From whom or from what?” The irony is that Malays need to be protected from UMNO Baru because it is an extremist party. If for any reason Malaysia ceased to exist tomorrow the Malays would still survive but UMNO Baru would be defunct.

If UMNO Baru were to fold up tomorrow, Malaysia would thrive and the Malays would flourish. The most valuable resource of this nation is not so much the natural wealth of the country like timber, oil, oil palm and rubber. Our most valuable resource is the people.

Malaysia would not be where it is today if not for the collective efforts and sacrifices of everyone, including the non-Malays, who built the economy, risked their lives in the two World Wars, the Emergency and the Confrontation.


Islam is not just a religion for UMNO Baru leaders. It is a tool to divide the nation, to bring the opposition down and to control the Malays. Muslims are the most oppressed race in Malaysia.

Everything they do or say is under scrutiny. Even scholars and octogenarians like Kassim Ahmad are treated shabbily. Books and films are banned to stop Muslims from expanding their knowledge.

President Obama did Malaysia a disservice by praising Malaysia for being aBarack Obama moderate Muslim nation. Even as he said it, bibles were banned from hotels in Pahang and extremist groups like Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) and PERKASA were provoking the non-Muslims whilst the authorities stood idly by.

Hudud is used to distract Malaysians from more important economic issues like the GST, and the government’s inability to plan and manage a crisis. The government’s failings were dramatically exposed during the disappearance of flight MH370.

Hudud –A Barbaric Practice

Hudud is a barbaric practice and has no place in the 21st century but many Muslims refuse to say or are afraid to say in public that they do not agree with this crude practise. They are torn between believing in democracy and having faith in their religion.

How often have you been dismissed by Muslims who for lack of something constructive to say will accuse you of invoking God’s wrath? How often have Muslims told the non-Muslim to “stop meddling in our religion, we don’t meddle in yours”? These Muslims forget that children have been kidnapped and dead bodies snatched in conversion cases. Bibles have been confiscated and other insults hurled at non-Muslims and their places of worship destroyed.

Which Islamic country has become completely crime-free and rape-free after the implementation of hudud? How is corruption punished under hudud?

As always some Muslims will say to more liberal Muslims, “You are not a true Muslim,” and terminate the discussion after warning, “Have you prepared your answers for when Allah questions you at Padang Mahsyar?” (The Day of Judgement)

Aversion to change

Despite 44 years of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and various other affirmative action policies, the majority of Malays are very poor, they lag behind in education, they lack confidence, they lack English speaking skills and cannot find employment in the private sector.

UMNO Baru manages to convince the Malays that the non-Malays are responsible for their failures. Ordinary Malays are prevented from achieving their true potential but because of conditioning by Umno Baru, are averse to change.

Malays must muster the courage to confront their leaders and make them accountable for their wrongdoings. Malays should demand that Malays who get rich by corrupt means are punished instead of saying “Takpe lah. Dia orang kita juga!” (Never mind. He is one of us!)

The key to progress lies with the Malays. The population of Malaysia is 60% Malay. Even if all of the non-Malays were to vote for the Opposition it would still be insufficient to create a change in government. Changing Malay minds and attitudes is essential if the whole nation is to move forward.



Malaysia’s flirtation with democracy died 45 years ago

May 13, 2014

Malaysia’s flirtation with democracy died 45 years ago

by Mariam Mokhtar@

mariam-mokhtarMalaysia’s flirtation with democracy died 45 years ago, in the racial riots of May 13, 1969, in which Malaysians attacked Malaysians in acts of savagery. Today, we live in a state which, on the surface, seems to be a functioning, normal democratic society, but if one were to scratch beneath the surface, one would wonder if democracy was just a figment of the imagination.

We all despise and mistrust politicians, from both sides of the political divide. Detractors will insist that we are a democratic nation. That is one myth which must be immediately quashed. It does not mean that we live in a democracy just because we visit the polling stations every five years.

The electoral system is corrupt, indelible ink washes off, boundaries are skewed to benefit the ruling party, ballot boxes are switched during blackouts, thugs intimidate voters and money and citizenship is given to illegal immigrants, in exchange for voting rights. These are not the hallmarks of a democracy.

Politics in Malaysia is just a game for the ruling elite. They swop roles and tinker with administration and funding. The main thing is to keep the party in power. Personal interests outweigh the national interest. Our freedom is curbed, along with our freedom of thought.

It is a grave concern, when the rakyat increasingly accepts corruption, murder and thuggery, as part of the normal government machinery.Today, apart from it being a religion, Islam is also used as an implement for political suppression, a divisive tool, a diversionary tactic and a ploy to destroy the opposition.

Few Malaysians will have heard of the book, Malaysia, Death of a Democracy bySlimming John Slimming, a journalist who lived and worked in Malaysia from 1951 to 1967. Slimming’s book gives an unbiased and graphic account of the riots, the reasons they happened and the aftermath. The book was banned in Malaysia, but having obtained a copy of the book, I know that Slimming’s conclusions are just as applicable now, as they were, in 1969.

In June 1969 photocopies of Fred Emery’s articles from The Times were smuggled in from Singapore and sold for RM20. People who were caught with these photostats, about the riots, were imprisoned for up to two years.

In the section of the book about ‘One-Party Rule and Ultra-nationalists’, Slimming said, “The present UMNO leaders cannot risk offending the Malays for fear of widening the rift within their own party.” He observed that, “As long as the opposition is suppressed, there can be no long-term solution to the country’s difficulties.”

Tun Razak told one correspondent (The Far Eastern Economic Review of July 10, 1969) that the policy of the National Operations Council (NOC), which Abdul Razak Hussein set up under Emergency Rule, was to “do nothing”, but “ensure the preservation of law and order, and wait, hoping that tensions would relax and memories fade”. Slimming said that Razak did not want public debate on racial issues because it would heighten tension.

‘Like father, like son’-Najib’s Say Nothing and Do Nothing Policy

Today, nothing has changed and following the adage, “like father, like son”, Najib Abdul Razak has emulated his father’s “do nothing” and “say nothing” policy. Slimming said that Tan Siew Sin, the then-MCA president, also supported the NOC policy of “do nothing” and that Tan had lost the respect of the Malaysian Chinese. The Chinese have no respect for the MCA, in May 2014.

TDM--21 MarchSlimming said that Tunku Abdul Rahman was “made to walk a very slender tightrope” and that a “little known UMNO backbencher, Dr Mahathir Mohamad (in photo), wrote a letter to the Tunku in “Rajah Malay”, to demand his resignation. The letter was banned and Mahathir ejected from the UMNO central committee. Slimming added, “Had an opposition backbencher written that letter, he would have found himself in detention, without delay.”

In 1970, Razak became Prime Minister and Mahathir was embraced into the UMNO fold. By 1973, Mahathir became a senator, then Education Minister in 1974 and in 1981, the Prime Minister. Mahathir abused the Internal Security Act (ISA)–Op Lallang 1987– to tighten his grip on power. Hell hath no fury as a dictator who was once scorned.

Slimming details the thoughts of a university lecturer, Mukhtaruddin Dazin, who said, “The Malays must not want a return to parliamentary rule. The NOC must lead the country towards the aims of the national Malay philosophy… to be carried out by the armed forces loyal to the Malay race. When non-Malays fight for equal rights, Malays must… be offensive and fight to review the question of citizenship… by means of language tests, essays, religion and Malay customs…” Today, we find extremists like Perkasa and Isma spouting the same offensive ideals.

Slimming’s book described Malay student leaders demanding an “all-Malay apartheid-style government, with the Chinese barred from taking part”. These same students previously condemned the racial discrimination in South Africa and Rhodesia.

In a section called ‘Boycott and Goodwill’, Slimming said that after the riots, the Chinese (and Singaporeans), boycotted Malay shops, foodstalls and markets. The Malays suffered greatly and in an ironic twist, the then-Selangor Chief Minister Harun Idris, whom Slimming said was “the sponsor of the original UMNO demonstration”, pleaded with the public not to boycott the shops. Harun’s appeal fell on deaf ears.

Under the section marked ‘Singapore, Malaysia and external Defence’, Slimming said that Lee Kuan Yew had positioned multi-racial security forces on alert and swiftly clamped down on an outbreak of racial clashes. The forces acted with complete impartiality, unlike their Malaysian counterparts and because of this, Singapore quickly returned to normal, thus restoring confidence and preserving racial harmony.

hype_najib1Today, our leaders are afraid to act swiftly to contain the extremist elements, nor are our police able to act with complete impartiality. Slimming observed that Malay leaders were concerned with the threat from external dangers, but chose to ignore the threat from within.

Malaysia has degenerated from its predicament in 1969. Will Najib face the facts, and allow discussion of “sensitive issues”, or will UMNO Baru prolong the policy of doing nothing?

‘Stop the dangerous disease called ISMA’

May 9, 2014

To Prime Minister Najib:

‘Stop the dangerous disease called ISMA’

by R K Anand@

It appears that “another clown” has joined the circus but its antics are far from amusing, said a vexed MIC leader.According to S Vell Paari, when somebody first mentioned the term “Isma” to him, he thought it was a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“I am not joking. That’s exactly what I thought,” Vell Paari told Malaysiakini. But now I know that ISMA is not a STD but something far worse. It is a more debilitating illness, which if left unchecked, could ruin all that we have achieved until now,” Vell Paari warned

The MIC director of strategy was commenting on the latest salvo from ISMA, the acronym for Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia.

Isma PresidentHe badly needs to see a Shrink: What’s his Hang Up?

ISMA President Abdullah Zaik Abdullah Rahman (above) yesterday described Chinese Malaysians as “intruders” in response to the community’s opposition to the implementation of hudud law. He said that the ancestors of Chinese Malaysians were “in cahoots with the British to oppress the Malays.”

“The Chinese came to this country with the British as intruders. Who gave them citizenship and wealth to the extent that the fruits of their intrusion is protected to this day?” he asked. Describing the statements as nothing short of “revolting”, Vell Paari said Abdullah “should be put in a time capsule and sent back to the Ice Age, where he belongs.”

‘Probe the alarming call

Although the MIC leader said such characters were a “dime a dozen”, he, however, found Abdullah’s (above) call for the situation to be rectified rather alarming

“What does he mean in urging the Malays to ‘correct this historical mistake’? Is he asking for racial bloodletting? Is ISMA a terror group and are the Police going to ignore them?” he asked. He noted that it is disconcerting to see such elements threatening the harmony of this nation and called on the authorities to act against them.

“If the authorities feel that (DAP MP) Teresa Kok’s video was seditious in nature, then what about ISMA? This is sedition of the highest order. It is also a threat to national security. Failure to act against these dangerous elements will give the impression that outfits like ISMA have the tacit backing of those in power and are above the law,” he added.

Other races helped build Malaysia

As for Abdullah, Vell Paari said the ISMA President must not shoot his mouth off and realise how much the Chinese and Indians have contributed to nation-building.

“The Chinese are wealthy because they are hardworking and have an enviable sense of business acumen. Unlike what Isma believes, wealth was not given to them on a silver platter. The Chinese, Indians and other races have helped shape what Malaysia is at present be it in economic terms, infrastructure and even information technology. If not for them, ISMA and Abdullah would not even have Internet connection, let alone a website called ‘Ismaweb’ to spew their venomous views,” he added.

Calling on the government to put its foot down, Vell Paari said groups like ISMA threatened the 1Malaysia concept. Failure to act against them, he warned, would embolden others as well believing that when it comes to the Malay race or Islam, one has carte blanche and legal immunity.

Meanwhile, UMNO’s Saifuddin Abdullah (left) also saw red over Isma’s remarks and called for an investigation.

“Stop the anti-Chinese and anti-Christian sentiments before it turns to something worse. The authorities must investigate,” the former Higher Education Minister tweeted.

MCA and DAP have both stated they would be lodging separate Police reports against ISMA. Police later confirmed in a press statement that it has received several reports against ISMA. This will be investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948, Deputy IGP Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin disclosed.

“We will not hesitate to enforce the law, using Sedition Act in particular, against anybody who issues statements or acts in any form that is seen capable of breaking up racial ties in the country,” the statement said.

Malaysia: One Year after GE 13, lost in sea of politiking

May 6,2014

Malaysia: One Year after GE 13, lost in sea of politiking

Bridget-Welsh-2by Bridget Welsh@

COMMENT: Today marks the one year anniversary of the historic 13th General Election. This election was pivotal in the country’s history as the incumbent BN coalition held onto power, with the Opposition calls for ‘change’ unfulfilled.

Scholars have highlighted the fundamental shifts in the power of UMNO, the imbalance of the opposition parties, the rise in influence and political awakenings of East Malaysia and the electoral irregularities, among many profound structural changes.

In other ordinary ways, Malaysian politics has also changed, with greater cynicism, insecurities and anger more prominent in public life. This is across the political divide. News reports feature troubling reports of increased racial tensions, political polarisation and continued shortcomings in governance.

This article highlights some of the ongoing dynamics in contemporary Malaysian political life, which are both worrying and offer promise ahead.

Hisham, Najib, and Muhiyuddin MH370 Heroes

There is no question the last year has been a difficult one for Malaysia.  Globally, the country came under the full glare of the international spotlight in what arguably will be the story of the year – the loss of MH370. Now everyone in the world knows where Kuala Lumpur is, and the seas and oceans around it.

The persistence of this issue in international headlines for over two months is a reminder of the lack of closure for the families of loved ones on board the missing plane and the country as a whole.

Malaysia has been blessed historically by a comparative lack of crises but MH370 shows the need for better preparation and the need to learn. What is of concern in the failure to properly release even the preliminary investigation report of the tragedy is an apparent unwillingness to acknowledge mistakes and strengthen the country’s responses in future.

The context of post-GE13 contributes to this childish stubbornness to embrace improvements. Political wrangling and insecurities are dominating the terrain, with those in power obsessed in staying there and those in the opposition myopically focused on getting there.

Even one year later, the country is still electioneering, with the focus on power rather than the people. This is perhaps one of the most serious losses of GE13 – a distancing of the interests of citizens and political leaders.

Even basic needs are being ignored, as evident by the water rationing. This issue is being used in a seemingly never-ending political game of blaming and one-upmanship. When will the federal and government leaders sit down and figure out a proper solution to the country’s water shortages? The sense one gets is: when the dams freeze over.

The impression is statesmanship is sorely lacking. It is not only MH370 that is missing. Some of this is a product of Prime Minister Najib Razak doing a disappearing act when a controversial issue emerges. When he reappears – usually well after an issue has evoked tensions and frustrations – his interventions are too little too late.

Power at all cost

For its part, the opposition has continued focusing on bringing out the country’s problems, with little attention to solutions to these problems. Many of their messages are often stale, and returning to old solutions. Their main goal aims at changing the government, a refrain that only perpetuates the sense among ordinary citizens that leaders are focused on power, not people. Quality leadership is lost in the sea of politicking.

This void has been enhanced by the loss of important national leaders from political 1Malaysialife, from the tragic deaths of Karpal Singh and Irene Fernandez to the quiet voices of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other leaders who can bridge the divided communities.

This lack of statesmanship is enhanced by the fact that both political sides are wracked in ongoing internal struggles for power.

For UMNO, united it its desire to hold onto power at any cost, Najib continues to navigate challenges inside his party, led by none other than his mentor, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

While the current premier appears to have neutralised any immediate challenge, the sense of competition for position is ongoing in UMNO, with shifts in positions a constant dynamic.

Najib has proved adept at managing the levers of this party with offers of projects, contracts and other rewards regularly used as appeasement. The reality is that Najib and his associates continue to watch their backs, distracted from governing.To accommodate the need for funds, Najib has opted to implement the Goods and Service Tax (GST), a measure that has widespread public opposition as shown in recent polls.

While some recognise the need to improve the country’s revenue position, especially given the rising debt the country is absorbing and questions arising from that debt (as shown in the 1MDB scandal), ordinary people are only seeing the impact of rising inflation on their already strained finances.

UMNO knows that the GST has the potential to be its death knell – a reason it is doing everything it can to break up the opposition through hudud and other religiously divisive issues and the use of institutions such as the Judiciary to marginalise political opponents and parties alike.

UMNO rightly fears that the GST will undercut the base of its political support, effectively betraying its base by imposing a higher cost of living and greater suffering. In their fancy cars behind guarded houses, they have lost perspective, unaware of even the price of kangkung.

Hudud returns–PAS Kelantan

If UMNO is violating its promise of rising incomes and improved welfare, the Opposition has also moved down the road of disillusionment. This is occurring with PAS’ Kelantan government’s call for hudud.

pas-keadilan-untuk-semuaIn GE13 the Opposition offered the promise of a multiracial country, a place for everyone under the Malaysian sun. The exclusionary path of Kelantan PAS has already lost the trust of non-Malays as shown with recent polling, as decades of trust building have evaporated. Many non-Muslims feel a sense of betrayal.

The party has effectively signaled that it is no longer interested in being a leader of the nation as a whole, but appears focused on securing its base in the rural heartland, especially in Kelantan where its performance under the new state leadership has been lackluster.

Its public rationale is that the move is for political power, to win support among Muslims. History has shown in that when PAS opts for a more exclusionary path, it is punished at the polls as occurred in 1986 and 2004.

By turning to religious law before better governance and the welfare of the broader community, Kelantan PAS has taken a path that is appealing to its core and distancing itself from the middle ground, especially younger voters.

More attention could be centred on deliverables, increasing jobs and welfare in the state to allow Kelantanese the means and opportunities to stay away from the crimes hudud is supposed to prevent. As shown in Egypt, the party would be better served by working on providing jobs and raising incomes, but this lesson appears not to be have been absorbed.

As in UMNO, party divisions in PAS have contributed to this undemocratic move. There appears to be ongoing positioning people in the party, especially by those that did not do well in the party polls last November.

While clearly provoked by UMNO, PAS has taken a parochial, exclusionary route that not only threatens the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, but has the potential to tear at the fabric of Malaysian society in a way that will only bring greater tensions and conflict.

In falling for Umno’s bait, DAP has also escalated tensions. The Opposition is now struggling to move away from zero-sum politics, as ordinary Malaysians look on in dismay or glee depending on their side of the political divide.

Kelantan PAS’s exclusionary path severely weakens the Opposition’s ability to represent the nation, as does Najib’s similarly divisive move to implement an unpopular policy that will erode his political base, sharpen class and generation divisions (as the young are the most affected), and has the potential to deepen the trend that has featured in Najib’s tenure – the continued politicisation of political institutions to maintain political power, from the Election Commission to the judiciary.

Concerns are particularly acute in that both PAS’ and UMNO’s moves place strain on the ability of institutions to govern fairly for all Malaysians. Pressures are already clearly evident. The rule of law especially is being challenged, with now multiple incidents of the police failing to uphold judicial decisions.

Wake-up call from youth

Given the worrying trajectories, is there any reason for hope? Increasingly the frustrations of citizens have featured centre stage, with the silent majority deafened from the political noise – much of it lacking decency and direction. The answer is a yes, but one couched in realism and caution.

GST Rally
The GST rally last week was full of young people urging change signals the expansion of a political awakening in Malaysia. GE13 did not mark the end of this process, but rather served as a marker for new paths and patterns of engagement.

Neither side did a good job of mobilising young Malaysians as shown in the split voting patterns among younger voters, but nevertheless the youth are finding their voice. The anti-GST rally was less about one side or another of the divide, but a loud wake-up call for fairer governance, one in which a younger generation is now leading.

Amidst the 50,000 crowd are leaders for the future, joined by a growing cohort of younger leaders in the political divide that are putting forward important issues such as education, security and the Rule of Law.

It is important to note that amidst the politicking are voices that are indeed focusing on meaningful issues and appear less obsessed about who is holding what position, be in the chief ministership of Selangor or a cabinet post.

My faith lies most with the young in Malaysia, who along with the sage wisdom of leaders who were socialised in the post-Mahathir era and national oriented civil society leaders, are speaking out and engaging important issues. They offer light in the darkness of the current political scene.

In 2008, I wrote that Malaysians were ahead of their politicians. I also wrote that change would not be a linear process. We continue to see these observations in current political life.

The opposition has the responsibility to move beyond focusing on attaining power and developing capacity to solve the nation’s problems by working together and forming a shadow cabinet. Even Cambodia’s Opposition coalition that has refused to sit in parliament due to election irregularities have one. If the opposition is going to focus on its divisions it might as well get out of the business for running for national office.

For Najib, who has yet to become the label of reformer he has portrayed himself to be, Malaysians are awaiting your reforms, meaningful changes. Your clock is ticking, and already half of the country have decided you have passed your prime. Many in the other half were on the streets last week.

Malaysians on the whole deserve better than they have at the moment, and are rightly frustrated by the exclusionary turns of their leaders, but the fact that they are speaking out and sending clear messages of dissatisfaction offer promise, even if it is less promising than many hope for.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is Associate Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University. She can be reached at .