February 4, 2014
Two Tales of the Kajang Foray
MY COMMENT: I present to you, my dear readers, two points of view of the Kajang Foray. One is by Terence Netto, a journalist I respect for his insightful comments on Malaysian politics and civil society issues. He defends the right of recall in parliamentary democracy and puts up cogent arguments in support PKR ‘s decision to field Anwar Ibrahim in Kajang, as prelude to his being the next Menteri Besar, Selangor. Like Netto, I believe in that concept, and I see no wrong in PKR’s decision to nominate Anwar Ibrahim. I would also defend UMNO’s right to do the same, if the party decides to ask one of its state assemblymen to set aside for another nominee for strategic reasons. I see nothing sinister about making moves to strengthen one’s party.
The other article is written by Tunku Abdul Aziz who was a former DAP Vice Chairman and Senator for Penang. Since his resignation from DAP, he has taken upon himself to be a critic of his former political colleagues and their associates in PAS and PKR. The Tunku launches a personal attack on the person of Anwar Ibrahim, labeling him a “living conundrum”.
In addition, the former Senator says the Opposition Leader is “a restless soul who seeks deliberately and actively to create public anxiety, despair, alarm and despondency out of the peace and harmony our society has enjoyed for decades with little or no interruption”. One would have thought that this statement should apply to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who in recent months chose to remain aloof when UMNO supporters and religious functionaries played politics with race and religion. A Leader who chooses to use divide and rule tactics to gain political advantage deserves to be severely condemned by responsible Malaysians.
I have refrained from taking sides but when it comes to our democratic rights, my position is clear. Let the people of Kajang decide if they want Anwar or a candidate from UMNO-Barisan Nasional, or from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) to represent them. I only hope that whatever the people of Kajang decide in a free and fair by- elections will be respected.–Din Merican
Reasons solid and subtle for Anwar’s candidacy
by Terence Netto(02-03-14)@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT: Tonight Anwar Ibrahim and Khalid Ibrahim are scheduled to explain PKR’s decision to force a by-election for the Kajang state seat in Selangor at a ceramah.
Aware of the mostly negative vibes the decision has drawn from the public, the Opposition Leader and Selangor Menteri Besar have been forced onto the back foot. There they will stay if they do not put forward arguments more cogent than the ones adduced thus far by PKR Director of Strategy Rafizi Ramli, the decision’s principal proponent – by his own confession – and most ardent defender.
Last week, in the wake of the announcement that PKR Kajang assemblyperson Lee Chin Cheh had resigned and Anwar was to be fielded as substitute, Rafizi attempted to stem spiralling criticisms with an explanation of the reasons for this turn of events. He observed that Khalid had done well in administering the richest state in the country; and he would be prodded to do even better, said Rafizi, if Khalid has Anwar in reserve.
Rafizi (right) also said the move to field Anwar was also preemptive because he expected Najib Razak to become the second Prime Minister in succession to fall to UMNO curmudgeon Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s ‘chop and change PMs’ penchant.
This lopping off, Rafizi predicted, would be the start of a sustained and multi-pronged campaign to shake the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor to its foundations.
Selangor is the diamond in the 13-state Malaysian crown. Najib’s replacement was expected, on Mahathir’s promptings, to brook no restraint in the battle to oust Pakatan that would be waged by UMNO.
The MP for Pandan, the brightest talent in PKR’s constellation of second-tier leaders, said Anwar’s presence in Pakatan’s leadership cohort for Selangor would boost the coalition’s strength and resilience in the face of an expectedly marauding UMNO.
As a first term parliamentarian, Rafizi perhaps had not as yet heard of a principle of parliamentary democracy called the ‘right of recall.’ If he had, he would certainly have deployed it among the reasons he furnished for explaining PKR’s decision to force a resignation in a state ward held by the party and field their top leader for the vacancy.
The right of recall caters for the need of elected representatives to resign and pave the way for by-elections in times when combustible issues are flaring in the public arena.
Right of recall a legitimate resort
Since an election is a placebo for a democratic polity’s periodic distempers, the right of recall is a legitimate resort of elected representatives when combustible issues arrive at ignition point in the public arena.
This was what UMNO’s Shahrir Samad (left) did in August 1988 when he quit his JB parliamentary seat and forced a by-election in which he stood as an independent and won.
1988 was a fraught year in Malaysian politics. In May of that year, the Head of the Judiciary, Salleh Abbas, was removed as Lord President, a move he resisted, prompting impeachment proceedings presided over by the very judge, Abdul Hamid Omar, who stood to gain had Salleh been found guilty of the charges preferred against him by an international tribunal of judges.
In the event, Salleh was impeached and Abdul Hamid Omar took over, a sequence of events that – if one considered the spate of Internal Security Act detentions that occurred in October the previous year in which more than a hundred politicians and social activists were rounded up – constituted the most severe and sustained implosion to have occurred in Malaysian politics since the May 13 racial riots of 1969.
Shahrir’s exercise of the right of recall in August 1988 was that democratic principle’s most eloquent invocation in Malaysian politics in the post-May 13 period. His re-election in that poll conveyed the point that the then Prime Minister Mahathir’s dictatorial actions had incurred the ire of voters.
Shortly afterwards, the rules governing by-elections were amended to make them rather difficult to compel, a typically Mahathirian response – if he met a rule he didn’t like, he brought it to heel by amending it.
Lee Chin Cheh’s resignation as assemblyperson for Kajang comes at a time that is comparably fraught to the one that led Shahrir to resign and re-contest in August 1988. Unlike Shahrir, Lee is not re-contesting but is stepping aside so that his PKR party leader may be fielded. This is not an abuse of the right of recall. Lee knows Anwar is the more effective candidate for the fulfillment of the right of recall in the present situation.
Anwar is not just the PKR, but also the Pakatan leader most equipped to combat UMNO’s racially-and religiously-tinged campaign to polarise Malaysian society between UMNO-supporting right wing Malays and Opposition-favouring non-Muslims allied with autocracy-disdaining Muslims.
This polarisation was exacerbated by the decision of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) to seize copies of Malay and Iban language Bible from the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia on January 2.
Domestic cause celebre, with international overtones
JAIS’ action has ratcheted up tensions between Muslims and Christians in Malaysia which have been steadily rising since a legal battle over the issue of whether Christians can use the word ‘Allah’ in rituals of worship and faith education broke out in 2009.
The issue has become a domestic cause celebre, with international overtones. Anwar and his Pakatan colleague, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang, have espoused the line that non-Muslims can use the word ‘Allah’ provided use of it is not abused.
If elected, Anwar’s presence in the Selangor state assembly and path to the MB’s position would enable him to bring his powers of persuasion and reasoning to bear on such councils as the Rulers’ Council, the annual conference of the nine hereditary rulers of states in the Malay Peninsula whose deliberations on matters of grave importance like judicial appointments and promotions and Malay reserve land issues can be of decisive import.
Malay reserve land is being sold by greedy cabals in UMNO rather cheaply to commercial interests. This is spreading disquiet in the Malay community, a feature that has not been adequately conveyed to the community’s ostensible guardians in the Rulers’ Council.
Sceptics may demur but Anwar is committed to the persuading arts. His candidature for the Kajang state seat will deepen and widen his access to opinion-making circles with high impact on policy.
In short, there are reasons solid and subtle for PKR’s pitching their iconic leader into the Selangor legislative fray.
Anwar’s Kajang Foray hard to fathom
LIVING CONUNDRUM: Tired and ageing opposition leader fast receding into political wilderness
DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a restless soul who seeks deliberately and actively to create public anxiety, despair, alarm and despondency out of the peace and harmony our society has enjoyed for decades with little or no interruption.
With this self-proclaimed Renaissance man, there is no knowing what inexhaustible machinations are in his bag of tricks. Whatever they may be, we are invariably left wondering what he is up to.
Hard as I try, I cannot fathom the motives that drive him in directions that can only be described as bizarre. It would be laughable were it not so outrageously socially and politically repugnant to man’s higher and nobler instincts. This man is a living conundrum.
Adrian Lai of New Straits Times in his article of January 30 said “There must be a method in Anwar’s madness”, referring to the great man’s planned foray into Selangor politics via a forced by-election set against a background of personal intrigues for power however acquired.
I fail to see any method that Adrian gallantly credited Anwar’s blatant abuse of the democratic process with. I see instead a repeat performance of an ageing and tired political practitioner receding day by day into political wilderness of his own making.
Anwar has to realise that for all the grandstanding, all he is bringing to the Pakatan table is his nuisance value. By all accounts, the Kajang adventure may well turn out to be his last hurrah on a rickety political platform.
If further proof is needed of Anwar’s complete disregard and disdain for duty in the public interest, this latest onslaught against our democratic practices, processes and values is a prime example.
Anwar must be stopped in his path of national disunity and destruction, and the good citizens of Kajang who value a peaceful and secure Malaysia must apply the full weight and force of their democratic rights to put an end to Anwar’s barefaced and utterly shameless manipulation of people and events.
Let it be said and remembered in the years to come that Kajang was the place where the man who wanted so fervently to become prime minister by hook and by crook dug his own political grave.
In this, he is greatly helped by the viciously poisonous attacks against UMNO and, by extension (however disguised), the Malays, by chauvinistic fellow-travellers, and destructive elements squatting in opposition cyberspace who do not see any advantage politically in helping to unite the nation.
Malay-hating politics guaranteed big returns on investment as the 13th General Election clearly showed us. The prospect of a racially united Malaysia holds little appeal for the demagogues too long in control of parties covertly preaching the politics of hate. These outwardly multiracial parties cannot bear close scrutiny.
Anwar is rushing willy-nilly into another political one-upmanship by raising the spectre of racial disunity with his well-known trademark of creative exaggeration.
In asking for a meeting with the Barisan Nasional government to address this issue, he is attempting to create the spurious impression that the government has at no time done anything to improve race relations. Anwar, as we have come to expect, will seize every opportunity to play the blame game of Pakatan politics and claim credit at others’ expense.
The cabinet has agreed to formulate a national reconciliation plan and all Malaysians who love their country welcome this initiative. Naturally, I cannot say the same for the opposition.
I am not sure about the role Pakatan will play to advance the cause of sustainable national unity. However, the likes of DAP will not miss the opportunity to turn the reconciliation plan into a sordid political football, with a racial twist dragged in for effect.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is spot on when he dismissed any suggestion of bringing the opposition into any “sort of unity government”.This is clearly in keeping with the role of a responsible government acting as always in the best interests of the people of Malaysia. This can never ever be a shared responsibility.
Consultations on a broad front, and especially with non-partisan civil society organisations, must be given priority. If all the opposition is competent to do is to criticise every government initiative irrespective of its merit, then they really have no role to play in this vitally important plan to revitalise, re-energise and revive national unity.
To achieve this, the government on its part must put in train policies that are capable of uniting our people of diverse racial origins, towards creating a nation united in their affection and loyalty for the land of their birth.
It is obviously very much a work in progress that requires the total support of Malaysians of goodwill. Our needs in this important area of nation-building must take precedence over selfish political ambitions.
With or without Anwar’s unnecessary distractions, the process of national unity must go on. Are we up to this monumental challenge? Our future as a nation depends on how much we are prepared to give back to our country.