Monthly Archives: October 2008

Well Done, Zaid : I agree with you that UMNO’s “Ketuanan Melayu” is a failure


Yes. Zaid, I agree with you “[T]he Malays…are not under seige.The institutions are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly”.

I wish to add that the Malays in general are not the problem. We are a proud and hardworking people. The concern today is that UMNO leadership is incompetent, corrupt and totally undemocratic. That leadership is now using draconian laws like the ISA to silence critics, for instance, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and others now held in Kamunting, Perak, and the Official Secrets Act and other statutes to deny the public access to information on the affairs of the country.

In order to rally the Malays back to their fold, UMNO leaders including Mukhriz Mahathir and his lot have been creating the impression that the Malays are under seige. Again, this is not true. UMNO is under seige because Ketuanan Melayu is a dismal failure.

Let us separate UMNO Malay leadership from the Malay leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Ustaz Haji Abdul Hadi Awang and their colleagues in PKR and PAS who are an integral part of Pakatan Rakyat. They want change and have plans and programmes to make the Malays competitive and dynamic in a globalised world, while ensuring that Chinese and Indian rights under the constitution are protected. To that end, all forms of discrimination must be eliminated.

We the Malays cannot be the anchor of our nation if we are weak, incompetent and corrupt. To lead, we must be examplary in our conduct.So the Malays must realise now that UMNO is no longer relevant, that UMNO is an obstacle to Malay socio-economic development, and that we need new leadership with fresh ideas and programmes (UMNO wants more of the same failed policies)— for Malays and others so that together we can be a united and proud country where there is freedom, democracy and justice.—Din Merican

Zaid: Ketuanan Melayu has failed

October 31, 2008

The ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ model has failed, declared former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim in an incisive speech at the LawAsia 2008 conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.


“It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time and has distracted from the real issues confronting the country,” said Zaid, who criticised the race-based policy despite being a member of the ruling Umno party which was set up to safeguard Malay interests.

zaid ibrahim resignation from ministerial post 160908 01Zaid also noted that ‘deputy premier in waiting’ Muhyiddin Yassin had suggested the need for a closed-door forum for leaders of the Barisan Nasional (BN) to develop a common stand, a renewed national consensus grounded on the social contract.

“This is positive step but it should include all political leaders and be premised on the social contract that was the foundation of independence,” said the lawyer by training who was made senator and subsequently minister entrusted with the task of reforming the judiciary by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi following the March 8 general election.

He quit last month in protest against the arrest of three individuals under the Internal Security Act (ISA) which provides for detention without trial.

Zaid said March 8 was a clear indicator that the ruling BN coalition no longer exclusively speaks for the people.

He also underscored the importance of promoting discourse and dialogue so that Malaysians learn to talk and to listen to one another again.”Communication and trust amongst the people must be re-established,” he said.

The former minister called on the BN government to abandon its ‘reworked’ concept of the social contract and embrace a fresh perspective borne out of discussions and agreements made in good faith with all the communities.

“It is time for us all to practise a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country.”

Mukhriz singled out for criticism

Singling out Mukhriz Mahathir for criticism, Zaid said the UMNO Youth chief aspirant typifies what is perceived as the kind of UMNO leader who appeals to the right-wing of Malay polity.

mahathir perdana global peace pc 080107 mukhrizZaid also referred to the recent remarks made by the son of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad that there was no need for law and judicial reforms as it would not benefit the Malays,

“That he may be right is sad as it leads to the ossification of values that will only work against the interests of the party and the nation,” Zaid lamented in his 16-page speech.

“This type of thinking may pave the way to a suggestion in the future that we may as well do away with general elections altogether as they may not be good for the Malays for, if the justice that a revitalised rule of law would allow for is not to the benefit of the Malays, what is? More inefficiency, more corruption and a more authoritarian style of government perhaps.

“We are a deeply divided nation, adrift for our having abandoned democratic traditions and the rule of law in favour of a political ideology that serves no one save those who rule.”

According to Zaid, the obsession with the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine has destroyed something precious in Malaysians.

“It makes us lose our sense of balance and fairness. When a certain Chinese lady was appointed head of a state development corporation, having served in that corporation for 33 years, there were protests from Malay groups because she is Chinese,” he said referring to the controversy involving the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting head of the Selangor Development Cooperation (PKNS).

“A new economic vision is necessary, one that is more forward looking in outlook and guided by positive values that would serve to enhance cooperation amongst the races. This will encourage change for the better, to develop new forms of behaviour and shifts of attitudes, to believe that only economic growth will serve social equity, to aspire to a higher standard of living for all regardless of race.

“We need to meaningfully acknowledge that wealth is based on insight, sophisticated human capital and attitude change. A new dynamics focused on cooperation and competition will spur innovation and creativity.

“Some might say that this is a fantasy. I disagree. How do we go about transforming the culture and values of the bumiputeras so that their ability to create new economic wealth can be sustained?

“By changing our political and legal landscapes with freedom and democracy.”

malaysians 050905On that note, Zaid said Mahathir was right to have asked the Malays to embrace modernity but the 82-year-old statesman fell short by only focusing on the physical aspects of modernity.

He was mistaken to think all that was needed to change the Malay mindset was science and technology. He should have also promoted the values of freedom, human rights and the respect of the law.

“If affirmative action is truly benchmarked on the equitable sharing of wealth that is sustainable, then we must confront the truth and change our political paradigm, 40 years of discrimination and subsidy have not brought us closer. There is a huge economic dimension to the rule of law and democracy that this government must learn to appreciate.”

Conflicts of jurisdiction require resolution

Zaid conceded that relationship between Islam, the state, law and politics in Malaysia is complex.

“How do we manage legal pluralism in Malaysia? Can a cohesive united Bangsa Malaysia be built on a bifurcated foundation of Syariah and secular principles? Will non-Muslims have a say on the operation of Islamic law when it affects the general character and experience of the nation? This is a difficult challenge and the solution has to be found.”

He quoted leading Muslim legal scholar Abdullah Ahmad an-Na’im who believed that a distinction should be made between state and politics.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he noted, believes that Islam can be the mediating instrument between state and politics through the principles and institutions of constitutionalism and the protection of equal human rights of all citizens.

islam and judiciary judgementWhatever the formula, we can only devise a system that rejects absolutism and tyranny and allows for freedom and plurality if we are able to first agree that discourse and dialogue is vital. Democracy and respect for the rights and dignity of all Malaysians is the prerequisite to this approach.”

Zaid stressed that the conflicts of jurisdiction in Malaysia require resolution.

The civil courts, he said, are “denuded of jurisdiction” to deal with matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the Syariah court.

“No court has been given the jurisdiction and power to resolve issues that may arise in both the Syariah courts and the civil courts. The present separation of jurisdictions presupposes that matters will fall nicely into one jurisdiction or the other.

However, human affairs are never that neat. What happens to the children of a marriage where one party converts to Islam and the other party seeks recourse in the civil court? Or when the Syariah Court pronounces that a deceased person was a Muslim despite his family contesting the conversion?

“Or where the receiver of a company is restrained from dealing with a property by a Syariah Court order arising out of a family dispute?

Where do the aggrieved parties go? I had suggested the establishment of the constitutional court, but that plea has fallen on deaf ears.”

Malays not under seige

The former minister had also touched on the use of draconian measures, which according to him have seen a marked increase in dealing with political and social tensions.

“Some people say that groups such as Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) advocate violence and therefore this justifies the use of such measures. They may have overlooked the fact that violence begets violence.

hindraf british petition rally 251107 malaysian flags“Was not the detention of Hindraf leaders under the ISA itself an act of aggression, especially to people who consider themselves marginalised and without recourse?

“It is time that the people running this country realise that we will not be able to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully if we ourselves do not value peaceful means in dealing with problems.”

Zaid argued that the situation had been aggravated by the absence of an even-handed approach in dealing with organisations such as Hindraf.

“While I applaud the prime minister for calling upon the Indian community to reject extremism, should not a similar call be made on the Malay community and (Malay daily) Utusan Malaysia?

I call on the prime minister, both the outgoing and the incoming, to deal with such issues fairly. Start by releasing the Hindraf leaders detained under the ISA. The release would create a window for constructive dialogue on underlying causes of resentment.

raja petra and isa internal security act 230908“I also appeal for the release of (Malaysia Today editor) Raja Petra (Kamarudin) from ISA detention. He is a champion of free speech. His writings, no matter how offensive they may be to some, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as a threat to the national security of this country.”

The Malays, Zaid said, are now a clear majority in numbers and the fear of their being outnumbered is baseless.

“They are not under seige. The institutions of government are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly.”

The Prime Minister and His Deputy must be made to face a Royal Commission of Inquiry

Eurocopter scandal: No inspection done on choppers

Syed Jaymal Zahiid | October 30, 2008

Defence Deputy Minister Abu Seman Yusop received a beating from Pakatan Rakyat MPs today when he openly admitted that the multi-billion ringgit military helicopters did not undergo any physical inspection.


abu seman yusopAbu Seman, in his Budget 2009 winding-up speech, said the ministry’s technical committee had decided to buy 12 units of the Eurocopter Cougar EC 725 helicopters based on documents alone.

He also took pains to explain that the purchase of the helicopters had cost the government RM1.6 billion, instead of the RM1.1 billion figure given by the ministry’s secretary-general Abu Bakar Abdullah in a press statement last week.

His revelation sparked an uproar in the House and prompted several Pakatan Rakyat MPs, led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, to grill him.

“How is it that a government procurement as big as this did not undergo any physical inspection? I have eight years of experience as finance minister and we have never make procurements without first inspecting (the items),” thundered Anwar.

M Manogaran (DAP-Teluk Intan) took a swipe at the deputy minister, saying that “even when you purchase something as small as a Perodua Kancil, you would want to inspect it first, what more when it is helicopters worth RM1.6 billion.”

Anwar said various aspects have to be taken into consideration like the safety of the pilots should there be any defects in the helicopters and it was absurd of the government not to make such deliberations when procuring the helicopters.

He demanded answers as to why conflicting figures have been cited on the cost of the helicopters.

Abu Seman then replied that it was a mistake on his part as he had overlooked the fact that the services charge and ‘offset package’ like supplementary military hardware had added RM500 million to the original RM1.1 billion to make it RM1.6 billion.

Set up Royal Commission

At a press conference later, Anwar said he could not accept the reasons given by Abu Seman although he believes that the deputy minister was only “reading the text provided to him by his superior” and was not involved in the matter.

anwar ibrahim parliament pc on budget and najib 131008 04“This is a shocking revelation by the deputy minister. A procurement this big without a physical inspection being done is swindling the people’s money par excellence.

“How can you allocate RM1.6 billion for something that you have never even seen or (when you don’t) know if it works or not.”

He said he could “vouch on behalf of the Malaysian army that they would definitely want to inspect the helicopters before purchasing it.”

Asked what he thought of all this, Anwar reiterated his demand for the government to set up a royal commission to probe the matter.

Earlier today, a decision on Anwar’s emergency motion to set up a royal commission to probe not just into the Eurocopter scandal but two other ‘mega-projects’ was deferred to Monday by the speaker.

A RM11.31 billion high-speed broadband project and the RM4.26 billion purchase of the Bank Internasional Indonesia by Maybank were the other projects Anwar had wanted to government to probe.

We can want a free and independent media and Mr. Cheek is off tangent.

No ‘envelope’ journalism in Malaysia

S Pathmawathy | October 30, 2008

Malaysia does not practise ‘envelope’ journalism which is the norm in certain developing countries, claimed Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek today.


shabery cheek at world development information day 301008 01Speaking to reporters at the launch of World Development Information Day in Kuala Lumpur, the minister also said that absolute freedom of the press does not guarantee transparency or a dwindling of corruption.

“In countries that have press freedom, the people hope that the press will play the part of the ‘fourth estate’ in order to reduce corruption and promote good governance.

“But there are countries, where the press is granted unconditional freedom. However, this is not reflected in the level of corruption of the country. The press is free but corruption is still rampant,” he said.

Poor ranking

In his keynote address earlier, Shabery said he was perplexed that although Malaysia has achieved “tremendous progress” in terms of income level, infrastructure facilities, investment opportunities and more, it was ranked far below in the world press freedom index.

“Malaysia has been undeservedly ranked as a country with little press freedom, very much below many other countries known to be aid-dependent and not even among the top 20 trading nations.

“This sometimes begs the question whether absolute or near absolute press freedom will bring about greater well-being for the people,” he noted.

“Just because we have curbs on sexually-explicit materials, are less tolerant about gay and lesbian rights or sensitive religious issues… we have been unfairly attacked as having an oppressive media environment.”

shabery cheek at world development information day 301008 02The minister said some counties which are ranked higher in the press freedom index may not weigh in equally with their corruption index.

Shabery refrained from providing examples of the supposedly corrupt countries but said it is a “well-known fact that some countries… practise ‘envelope’ journalism”.

“This shows that the connection between the free press and battle against corruption is not clear. It is not based on professionalism but on favouritism.

“The media which is supposed to keep watch on the government, turns out to be crooked and corrupt as they accept ‘envelopes’ from popular figures and in turn provide more coverage,” he explained.

The minister reiterated that such practices are not condoned by the government and the practice has not been heard of in this country.

Media Council

Shabery also expressed hope that the proposed national media council will be established soon to monitor media activities and enable recourse against malicious reporting.

shabery cheek at world development information day 301008 03Asked whether the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) will be repealed, the minister said he would “like to see” less regulation but affirmed that he has no jurisdiction to decide on repeal of the law.

“Even in developed countries, although there is no need for a printing licence, they have a council to oversee the media to ensure that the media does not commit slander,” said Shabery.

He said the council is necessary to ensure the “do’s and don’ts” and that ethical reporting is adhered to in order to protect society.

“Given the far-reaching impact of the media we hope that only level-headed and responsible people will rum media organisations. We also hope that one day anyone can publish a newspaper without having to be subjected to many rules and regulation.

“Looking ahead the government takes the view that the media industry should expand in line with the nation’s progress… (where) people will have access to greater variety of sources of information and entertainment.

“However, one should be reminded that the business viability of such endeavours in a competitive environment depend very much on their content and presentation.

“We have already laid the foundations to open up the media industry but we need to open up at our own pace. But open up we will.”

Pesanan Hishamuddin Rais kepada Che Det dan UMNO


Khamis, Oktober 30, 2008


Tian Chua MP dan Hishamuddin Rais

Pembohongan ada pelbagai bentuk. Ada orang yang membuat janji tetapi tidak ditunaikan. Ada parti politik yang membuat manifesto pilihanraya tetapi sesudah menang dan berkuasa manifesto ini dilupakan. Ada menteri yang berjanji akan telus tetapi apabila berkuasa menjadi kukubesi. Ada menteri yang berjanji menentang nepotisma tetapi apabila berkuasa yang diutamakan ialah kaum keluarga. Semua ini pembohongan yang kita semua tahu, sedar dan faham.

Ada lagi satu pembohongan yang namanya – Statistik. Malah statistik adalah pembohong yang paling tersusun lagi licik lengok jalannya. Saya tidak pernah percaya kepada statistik. Saya menolak statistik sebagai patukan untuk dijadikan rujukan. Ini kerana selama ini saya melihat bahawa statistik ini boleh dimanipulasi dan ditunggang terbalikan. Statistik juga dijadikan senjata untuk mengolah pandangan orang ramai.

Mari kita lihat kes statistik tentang pencapaian ekonomi Bumiputera yang terus dihebohkan. Kes statistik ini menjadi heboh dan sengaja diheboh-hebohkan untuk tujuan mendapat sokongan politik. Mula-mula keluar satu angka statistik mengatakan bahawa Dasar Ekonomi Baru telah berjaya mencapai matlamat. Bumiputera sudah memiliki 45% ekuiti ekonomi negara ini.

Kemudian, satu lagi statistik yang mengatakan Dasar Ekonomi Baru belum berjaya. Bumiputera hanya memiliki hampir 19% sahaja. Kemudian satu lagi angka statistik keluar – bukan yang ini dan bukan yang itu – tetapi dipaparkan satu angka baru. Tiga angka statistik dimunculkan kepada umum. Membingongkan ? Tidak. Lupakan sahaja kerana ketiga-tiga angka ini tidak memiliki apa-apa untuk kita semua.

Saya tidak peduli sama ada Bumiputera memiliki 50%, 60% atau 100% ekuiti ekonomi negara ini. Angka-angka ini tidak memberi apa-apa makna kepada saya. Hujah saya menolak angka statistik ini cukup senang. Statistik ini hanyalah satu ‘omong kosong’. Statistik adalah angka-angka yang dikumpul tetapi dalam kehidupan harian kita ianya tidak bermakna.

Kalaupun Bumiputera memiliki 70% atau 90% ekuiti ekonomi negara ini, untuk rakyat seperti kita, ianya tidak akan mendatangkan apa-apa perubahan yang hakiki. Kalau kita Bumiputera naik bas tambangnya sama dengan yang Bukan Bumiputera, beli sayur harganya sama, bil lektrik, bil air dan harga top-up pun sama. Setiap bulan sewa bilik harganya sama. Di hujung tahun kos kehidupan bertambah – Bumiputera atau Bukan Bumiputera. Pemilikan ekonomi Bumiputera ini tidak ada sangkut paut dengan kehidupan harian kita, walaupun kita Bumiputera.

Katakanlah Bumiputera dalam negara ini telah memiliki 50% dari jumlah ekuiti ekonomi negara. Saya cukup yakin 50% ekonomi ini tidak akan dimiliki oleh semua Bumiputera. Jumlah 50% ekonomi negara ini mungkin dimiliki oleh 10 orang, 20 orang, 200 atau 200,000 orang Bumiputera. Apa yang terjadi kepada 16 juta Bumiputera yang lain? Mereka juga Bumiputera dan apabila statistik ini dirangka kewujudaan mereka juga dihitung sama. Jelas disini statistik ini tidak memiliki apa-apa makna.

Dalam ekonomi kapitalis, setiap individu dan warga diberi kebebasan untuk memiliki sebanyak mana kekayaan. Dalam ekonomi kapitalis disediakan ruang dan galakan untuk warga mencari dan mengumpul kekayaan. Jika kita faham ini maka bermakna kita semua sebagai warga akan mendapat peluang yang sama. Salah. Kita TIDAK akan memiliki peluang yang sama dalam ekonomi kapitalis. Peluang ini tidak wujud untuk kita yang tidak memiliki modal. Hanya mereka yang memiliki modal sahaja yang akan dapat mempergunakan peluang itu.

Bagitu juga dalam hal Dasar Ekonomi Baru ini. DEB ini telah menobatkan bahawa setiap Bumiputera di Malaysia berhak untuk memiliki 30% ekuiti ekonomi negara. Ini dongeng. Ini juga statistik. Mak Jah dari Felda Taib Andak yang memohon untuk mendapat projek membuat Istana Negara yang berharga 400 juta ringgit itu tidak akan mendapat melawan Maya Maju Sdn.Bhd. Mak Jah dan syarikat Maya Maju ini sama , mereka berstatus Bumiputera. Tetapi hakikatnya adalah berlainan. Ada hukum-hukum dan syarat-syarat lain yang TIDAK bertulis. Bumiputera ini hanya satu dongeng sama seperti statistik. Ianya tidak memiliki apa-apa makna yang hakiki.

Heboh-heboh statistik baru-baru ini bertujuan untuk mengolah persetujuan rakyat terutama Bumiputera untuk terus menyokong DEB. Dan terus menyokong gerombolan United Malays National Organisation. Amat jelas dari heboh-heboh ini ada dua pembohongan. Bohong pertama statistik. Bohong kedua ialah Bumiputera. Dua pembohongan ikat berikat.

Saya sedar ramai yang terpengaruh dengan pembohongan ini. Di sini saya ingin menerangkan terutama yang menganggap diri mereka Bumiputera. Saya harap mereka sedar bahawa konsep Bumiputera itu tidak ada apa-apa makna. Konsep ini juga sama dengan peratus statistik pencapaian ekuiti ekonomi Bumiputera – kedua-dua hanyalah ‘dondang sayang’ yang kedengaran tetapi tidak dapat dimasukkan ke dalam saku.

Selama 30 tahun ini bunyi perkataan Bumiputera telah dijadikan kempen oleh gerombolan United Malays National Organisation untuk mengumpul sokongan terutama dari orang Melayu. Rasa saya, manusia Bumiputera ini telah lama berdongeng bukan kerana ganja tetapi kerana mendengar bunyi dan statistik Bumiputera. Masanya telah sampai untuk kita bangun dari terus berdongeng dan berkhayal. Sila lihat disekeliling dan perhatikan apa yang sedang berlaku.

Ini bukan labun atau kempen politik kosong agar saya mendapat menjadi YB. Kalau tidak percaya apa yang saya tulis ini, sila pergi lawat Kampung Chubadak dekat Sentul di mana tanah yang di teroka oleh Bumiputera berpuluh-puluh tahun dahulu akan dirampas oleh pemaju… opps saya tidak jelas pemaju jenis mana – mungkin Bumiputera atau mungkin dari Nigeria atau mungkin dari gerombolan United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) yang buat ‘joint venture’ dengan gerombolan Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).

Atau sila pergi ke Kampung Berembang di belakang Jalan Ampang – tidak jauh dari KLCC opps…maaf kerana nama ini nama Mat Saleh. Lihat di mana rumah-rumah Bumiputera telah dibumikan. Atau ke Plentong di Johor Bahru. Lihat bumiputera anak beranak ini sedang tidur di atas bumi. Ini bukan statistik. Ini adalah manusia hidup yang boleh kita pegang dan lawan bercakap. Mereka inilah yang tidak termasuk dalam kajian dari pakar-pakar statistik yang asli mahupun dari pakar-pakar statistik ‘cap ayam’.(tt)—Hishamuddin Rais

UMNO Proposes, Malaysians Pray and God Disposes

Najib the prince by Liew Chin Tong, MP for Bukit Bendera

source: The Malaysian Insider

October 30 — While premier-in-waiting Datuk Seri Najib Razak is a household name, few know what he stands for and what to expect of his premiership.

“The prince”, in its various meanings, perhaps offers a crude and simplistic insight into Najib’s possible behaviour as Prime Minister. With less than two weeks to go for UMNO divisional meetings and no rival nomination as yet to his candidacy as president, Najib looks set to become Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister in March next year.

It has been a long way to the top for the eldest son of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Najib’s career had a head-start because of his prestigious family name, but as the skeletons in the cupboard appear to pile up, Najib faces ever more challenges.

Born in 1953, Najib contested his late father’s seat of Pekan when the latter died in office in 1976. He was then slightly below 23 years old and still holds the record as the youngest Malaysian ever to enter Parliament.

Najib held several deputy ministerial appointments between 1978 and 1982. In 1982, at the age of 29, he was made the Menteri Besar of Pahang. He served two stints as Minister of Defence (1990-1995, 1999-2008), and served as Minister of Youth and Sports (1986-1990) and Minister of Education (1995-1999).

A decade ago, Najib was the other candidate in the race to fill the No. 2 post in UMNO and government left vacant as a result of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking.

But as Anwar was dismissed on alleged personal improprieties and misuse of power, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad selected the unimpressive but religious and squeaky clean Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as his deputy and later his successor.

Najib almost lost his parliamentary seat in the 1999 general election, winning with a 241-vote majority.He tried in vain to derail Abdullah’s ascension in mid-2003 and later swallowed his pride to serve as Abdullah’s deputy since 2004, biding his time to make his next move.

In the lead-up to the 2006 UMNO general assembly, Najib and Dr Mahathir were seen preparing the ground for a showdown with Abdullah. But Dr Mahathir was immobilised by a heart attack while Najib was mired in the unfolding Altantunya case. It was thus smooth sailing for Abdullah.

As support for Abdullah within and outside UMNO collapses due to the poor performance of Umno/BN in the general election and Abdullah’s failure to work a post-election second wind, Najib finally comes close to the job he probably sees as his birthright.

Apart from his personal failures, Abdullah’s downfall is, of course, in part the work of Najib the prince, the master of palace manoeuvres. Najib’s camp was said to be involved in sabotaging candidates parachuted by the Fourth Floor during the March 8 general election.

Initially, Najib reluctantly accepted a deal to succeed Abdullah in June 2010 but, in cohorts with Dr Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, a groundswell of disaffection against Abdullah was manufactured, leaving Abdullah little choice but to agree to retire earlier.

Years ago in 1987, with an impressive power base and holding the balance of power in the Team A and Team B fight, in a move not unlike palace betrayal, Najib abandoned the Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah camp at the last minute and contributed to Dr Mahathir’s narrow win.

Having the most extensive internal networks within the government and UMNO, and long years of experience in factional trading in UMNO, unlike the hapless Abdullah, Najib is likely to be master of his own destiny in the twists and turns of Umno’s palace.

Najib may also excel as the Machiavellian prince, ever prepared to be hated so long as he is able to maintain power.

Even Abdullah, a man more humane in his outlook than most of his colleagues, failed to push for more civil liberties and democratic reform. Najib is unlikely to be a new democrat, as the fear of becoming Malaysia’s Gorbachev looms large. The Machiavellian-Mahathir recipe of authoritarianism will probably be reincarnated in Najib’s government.

Najib the prince’s Achilles heel could be his political blue blood and his inability to comprehend the common man’s life and needs. During the fuel hike in 2006, Najib’s “change lifestyle” statement was not unlike the “let them eat cake” comment commonly attributed to Maria Antoinette.

The alleged wrongdoings in the multi-billion Eurocopter and Sukhoi deals are just examples that add to the agony of low-level military personnel and reinforce Najib’s image as one who only cares for big-ticket weaponry.

The RM5 billion Valuecap move to prop up the market by using the life savings of the common man with the Employees Provident Fund is another blunder that manifests Najib’s failure to feel the layman’s pain in the face of the impending economic meltdown.

The Najib premiership is likely to be a combination of Najib the master of palace wayang kulit, Najib the Machiavellian authoritarian prince and Najib the blue blood who fails to understand the ordinary people.

Court throws out Munawar’s appeal: what is next in his quest for justice?
October 30, 2008

The Federal Court today threw out an appeal by Munawar A Anees for his sodomy charge be remitted to the High Court so that he can argue his case.


munawar a anees sodomy case 301008 03Chief Justice Zaki Azmi, who sat with Federal Court judges Nik Hashim Nik Abdul Rahman and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, delivered an oral decision, stating that their written judgment would made known later.

Munawar’s counsel, Manjeet Singh Dhillon, had asked the country’s highest court to quash the Court of Appeal’s decision on the High Court’s dismissal of Munawar’s appeal against his sodomy conviction and sentence, and to order the High Court to allow him to argue his case.

Munawar, Anwar Ibrahim’s former speech-writer, had served six months in prison in 1998 after pleading guilty to allowing the then deputy premier to sodomise him.

Manjeet had submitted that High Court judge Ahmad Maarop had struck out Munawar’s appeal without hearing the merits of the case and the Court of Appeal had dismissed Munawar’s appeal against the High Court decision without giving any grounds.The Kuala Lumpur High Court had dismissed the case four years ago after Munawar, who is now living in United States, was unable to attend the hearing.

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court had on September 19, 1998, sentenced Munawar to six months’ jail after he pleaded guilty to allowing Anwar to sodomise him at Anwar’s house in Jalan Setia Murni, Bukit Damansara, in March 1993.

Munawar has served his sentence but filed the appeal in a bid to clear his name.

Anwar’s former speech writer

Munawar, a Pakistani-American writer who is a biologist by training and an internationally well-respected Islamic intellectual, was detained under the Internal Security Act on Sept 14, 1998.

munawar anees interview 131106 dr anees and anwarThe former aide of the ousted deputy prime minister was later charged alongside Anwar’s adopted brother, Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja.

They were convicted after pleading guilty to “allowing themselves to be sodomised” by Anwar.

They were charged with committing the offences at Anwar’s residences in 1993 and 1998 but no specific dates or time were given. They were each sentenced to six months’ jail.

However, in a statutory declaration issued 10 years ago, Munawar claimed that he had been forced to confess following brutal torture while he was in detention.

In the statutory declaration, he claimed that Special Branch officers had abused him mentally and physically.

After serving his sentence, he left for the United States where he currently works as a project management consultant with the US-based John Templeton Foundation.

Anees Interview (Part 3)

9/11 a double-edge sword for Muslims
Steven Gan | November 23, 2006
The aftermath of September 11 has turned out to be a double-edged sword for the Muslim world, said Islamic scholar and author Dr Munawar A Anees.


“The 19 hijackers who committed the ghastly terrorist act and allegedly professed Muslim faith gave a free-hand to Islamophobes in proclaiming that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim,” he lamented. “Terrorist is now an alias for Muslim.”

While expressing alarm over the demonising of Muslims worldwide, Anees said the increase in intra-Muslim violence – which claims perhaps even more victims – was “equally reprehensible”.

“The phenomenal rise in Sunni-Shia conflict, indiscriminate killings of Muslims by Muslims through suicide bombings and similar acts of terrorism are of little help in building a social order on Islamic doctrines of freedom and tolerance.”

He cautioned that discussion on terrorism that focus solely on an imaginary ‘us and them’ divide fails to account for this bitter internal Muslim strife.

The hysteria of 1998

Anees, 58, a Pakistani-American biologist and an internationally well-respected Islamic intellectual, was caught in the hysteria of 1998 when then deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim was purged from the ruling party, Umno.

At that time, Anees was Anwar’s speech writer and close confidant. On Sept 14, 1998 – two weeks before Anwar was himself arrested – Anees was nabbed under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention with out trial.

Held in incommunicado by the police for five days, Anees was tortured and forced to make a false confession of “allowing himself to be sodomised” by Anwar and subsequently spent four months in prison.

The ex-ISA detainee, who is widely regarded as a leading progressive social and scientific voice in the Islamic world, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Now based in Los Angeles, Anees has authoured half a dozen of books, including Islam and Biological Futures: Ethics, Gender, and Technology – published in 1990 – which discussed the problems of surrogate motherhood, abortion, and genetic engineering.

Anees offered a few suggestions on how to bridge the growing gulf between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

“Appreciation of diversity, humility to know and understand ‘the other’, tolerance for dissent, and respect for freedom and human dignity…,” he said.

In this final part of an email interview with malaysiakini, Anees also revealed that he did not attend primary schools in his early years, and explained his love affair with science, in particular biology.

Malaysiakini: Tell us about your early childhood

Munawar A Anees: We go through many transitions in life. I feel my journey from childhood through the age of maturity was a phenomenal experience. I was blessed with the most loving and affectionate parents who gave me ample opportunities for growth and fulfillment in a highly enriching atmosphere.

Our mother, Attiyyah Rahman, true to her name, body, and spirit, was indeed a blessing from the most Compassionate. Our father, Sheikh Zia-ul-Haq, a profoundly accomplished electrical and mechanical engineer who won national recognition for his work, nurtured us through an inspiring milieu.

Both of them, in their own unique ways, instilled in us a love for scholastic excellence and moral integrity. Abba Jan, our father, for instance, did not send me to any private or public school.

For my primary education, he arranged for private tutors who used to come home to teach me. As though that was not enough of a pampering, he himself crafted the first book for me, complete with colour illustrations and attractive text, to teach me the alphabet. Today, when I see someone assembling an e-book with text and graphics, it reminds me of Abba Jan.

He strongly believed that informed opinion facilitated critical decision-making in one’s life. He ensured that I had a personal subscription to Reader’s Digest, Time, and National Geographic, among others. With his generous support, as a high school student, I came to have a library of my own stocked with several hundred books and magazines. Again, not an ordinary feat by educational norms of the time and locale.

Some 40 years past, it may not seem something amazing that Abba Jan himself coached me in what today we term as sex education. But given the confines of conservative culture of Pakistan, it was certainly a daring step, a mark of his enlightened personality, for which he derived an inspiration from the Quran.

Deeply spiritual persons, Ammi Jan and Abba Jan did not provide us with the so-called secular education at the expense of the religious. For me and my ever-loving younger sister, Suriya, they appointed Quran scholars under whose guidance we finished the entire Quran many times over, followed by Urdu and English translations, exegesis (Tafsir), and the Prophetic Tradition. With her loving presence, Ammi Jan ensured that we fulfilled our ritual obligations such as prayers and fasting in the month of Ramadan.

When did you show interest in biology?

I published my first article on relation between biology and religion just after graduating from high school. I dared to submit it to an academic journal called Islamic Education and was elated by its acceptance with the editorial accolade: “You have an old head and a young shoulder.” That was a spurring moment and bowing to my inclination, my parents agreed that I pursued a career in biology rather than in medicine. I graduated from Punjab University, Lahore, majoring in biology and went on to finish my Masters degree in zoology from the same university.

Reciprocating the parental consent for biological research, I honoured their wish and qualified for the Federal Public Service Examination. After completing my training at the prestigious Civil Service Academy, with their permission, I resigned and proceeded for further studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, United States, where I earned a doctoral degree in Science and Environmental Studies, with additional courses in history and philosophy of science.

The lure for reading and writing inculcated by my parents ultimately led me to delve deeper into such diverse areas as history and philosophy of science, Islamic studies, and information technology. Through my research and writings, I sought a synthesis of epistemological currents at the core of these disciples. A large part of my work, however, remains devoted to the emerging field of bioethics and how it relates to Islamic values.

I remain eternally grateful to my parents for the priceless gift of enlightenment. The challenge that I face in their absence is not to lose sight of the ideals they set for us.

How did you meet your wife, Nadia?

We met in Paris a quarter of a century ago and Nadia has stood by me through thick and thin. The 1998 Malaysian tragedy turned this soft-spoken woman into steel. With her husband kidnapped, brutally tortured and held hostage, abandoned by erstwhile friends, and constantly hounded by police thugs, Nadia rose to the occasion with incredible strength and tenacity.

Above all, through her ingenuity, she ensured the safety of our children, Aisha and Omran, 13 and eight at that time. It is unthinkable how she lived under the darkest cloud of fear and threats with those two while they were so savagely robbed of their innocent smiles. With a huge physical and psychological burden and an acute dearth of resources, her provision for a totally uninterrupted education for Aisha and Omran is certainly a feather in her cap.

If at all I can think of an achievement that makes me proud, it is discovering and convincing Nadia to marry me! The way she brought up Aisha and Omran averted a great disaster that might have taken over their minds and persons in the aftermath of the 1998 lot. She not only succeeded in keeping them immune from the physical and psychological deficit out of this calamity but nourished them towards academic excellence, moral integrity, and self-identity – echoing the vision of Ammi Jan and Abba Jan.

What have you been doing since you left Malaysia?

After my return to America, it took me nearly two years to physically recover from this trauma. I spent that time under constant medical supervision. The extent of my physical impairment may become apparent if you realise that it took me nearly three weeks just to compose 1,000 words after Alvin Toffler asked me to contribute an article for the Library of Congress magazine, Civilization. I used to be able to do that sort of writing in couple of hours.

Among the most pronounced problems were short-term memory loss and difficulty in coherent speech and writing. Thanks are due largely to my dear friend, Dr Jamal Mubarak, for help with my medical rehabilitation.

In my efforts to resume normal academic activities, for almost four years now, I have been working as a special consultant to the John Templeton Foundation. Knowing its founder, Sir John Templeton, has taught me to look afresh on humility as one of the core Islamic values. Some of my current work relates to an exploration of the concept of humility as an epistemological agent and a catalyst for discovery.

What about your academic work?

I have also resumed lecturing and participation in academic conferences. In August, I had a successful workshop at the Jefferson Center for Religion and Philosophy, and this month I am invited to participate in a panel discussion on stem cells at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Washington, DC.

This would be followed by another event in Cancun, Mexico, on science and transcendence. As one of the founding members of the International Society for Science and Religion, Cambridge, England, I am currently involved in the work of its executive committee. More events are planned for early next year at the Pacific Council for International Policy and the Occidental College in Los Angeles.
More recently, a stroke of luck introduced me to an inspiring and highly creative individual, Sarwar Mushtaq. With his sophisticated production company based in Los Angeles and Karachi, he has convinced me to translate some of my ideas into feature-length documentaries.

You were considered for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. How did you feel about being nominated for such a prestigious award?

I was shocked and overwhelmed by this nomination. I felt there was nothing in my life that justified such a recognition. On the other hand, there are lots of other people who deserve to be nominated and awarded for their work on the path of peace.

It is true that the Malaysian tragedy provided me with a deeper insight into the human condition and I came to understand and share some of the experiences of other victims of torture and brutality. For instance, the Holocaust narrative had remained a distant thunder for me until I fell victim to atrocities. No comparisons are called for but for me, beyond text and images of the past, this episode served as a crack into the darkest niches of human behaviour that ultimately lead to such monstrosities as Holocaust and genocide.

I am reminded of J Krishnamurti who said: “What man has done to man has no limit. He has tortured him, he has burned him, he has killed him, he has exploited him in every possible way – religious, political, economic. This has been the story of man to man.”

But this must not remain the human fate. Freedom is a prerequisite for peace. Any act that violates the innate human right to freedom is a grave threat to peace. If we desire for peace then we must work for human freedom.

The ultimate human agony is the denial of freedom. It acts like a double-edged sword. One’s freedom of movement is taken away by one’s tormentors, while one’s conscience suffocates in a dungeon. A poignant grief sets in once there is a cognisance that both the body and the conscience have fallen victim to the act of tyranny.

The loss of freedom is more than a physical loss. It is the extinction of the light of conscience. The incarceration of innocents for nefarious political ends is a crime that strikes at the root of human dignity. And freedom without dignity is worthless. Freedom is the engine of human evolution. It is the catalyst that drives human imagination. It is the inspiration behind human achievement. No human progress is thinkable without freedom.

As a renowned Muslim scientist and scholar, what’s your opinion regarding the post-911 world?

The 9/11 tragedy provoked a series of transformations in America and across the world. In addition to those who perished in this attack, the wars now raging in Afghanistan and Iraq are the two obvious fatalities. For America, the loss of men now in Iraq is almost equal to that on September 11. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, the combined human losses from internal strife and external interventions are running into hundreds of thousands!

A clamour for global sympathy for America – We are all Americans – manifested by the blazing headline of the French daily Le Monde has degenerated into apathy or even large-scale opposition over the last five years. At home too, the Democratic victory in the mid-term elections indicates a major swing in public opinion that may foreshadow major shifts in foreign policy.

Beyond the war and political theatres, there are intense currents to re-evaluate and re-orient several social and cultural policies. One of the biggest challenges is how to create a balance between the demands of national security and the norms of a democratic and free society. The critique of Patriot Act in America or opposition to secret surveillance and searches point to the pitfalls in achieving and maintaining the desired parity.

This war on terrorism is also being fought in the West.

The Muslim immigrants to the Western world face new pre-requisites to their integration into the host culture. Pressure is mounting upon them to rub off the sting of suspected fifth columnists. They are searching for solutions where multiculturalism is being questioned in terms of their participation at all levels including education, economics, politics, and freedom to travel.

The aftermath of this tragedy has turned out to be a double-edged sword for the Muslim world. The 19 hijackers who committed the ghastly terrorist act and allegedly professed Muslim faith gave a free-hand to Islamophobes in proclaiming that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim. Terrorist is now an alias for Muslim.

More recent events give little indication that cultural profiling and stereotyping of Muslims is on the wane. If the recent surveys and daily reports from the Council on American-Islamic Relations are any yardstick then the rise in Islamophobia appears to be a highly disturbing reality.

The debate over the offensive Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet of Islam as a bloodthirsty warrior had not subsided yet when the Italian film-maker Renzo Martinelli’s ‘Il mercante di pietre’ (The Stone Merchant) portrayed all Muslim characters as terrorists [bringing] “back to mind Nazi propaganda against the Jews.”

In Germany, while delivering a lecture on faith and reason, Pope Benedict XVI found it fit to quote from a 14th century medieval text by the Byzantine Christian emperor Manuel II that criticised teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman”. Again, in Germany, controversy raged over limits of artistic freedom and religious respect. This time it was Hans Neuenfels’ adaptation of Mozart’s ‘Idomeneo’ that depicts the decapitated heads of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, and the Greek god, Poseidon.

In America, many Christian leaders are known to have followed the Byzantine suit. Fundamentalist preacher Franklin Graham, for instance, called Islam a “very evil and wicked religion”. Conservative Baptist Evangelist, Jerry Falwell said that “Muhammad was a terrorist.” And the televangelist Pat Robertson believes that “Islam is not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist”.

The banning of head scarf in France and the campaign against burqa (female face cover), led by Jack Straw and Tony Blair in Britain, are adding fuel to the clash of cultures, if not of civilisations. There is a growing perception and unease among Muslims that the “war on terrorism” is imperceptibly turning into a war on Islam. Political expressions reminiscent of the crusades and the calumny of “Islamic fascism” hardly serve as pacifiers.

How can terrorism be best fought?

From zealots to suicide bombers, terrorism has never been a monopoly of a given religion. Stereotyping and profiling a particular religion only reinvigorates militant and radical forces in their misconceptions while it alienates the majority of the followers.

For instance, at the slightest hint of an Islamophobic act some Muslims come out on the streets quenching the thirst of the world media for the most theatrical footage. Destruction of life and property and commission of violent acts fill the remaining gaps in the screenplay.

Moreover, an agonising increase in intra-Muslim violence and terror, that continues to claim perhaps more victims, is equally reprehensible. The phenomenal rise in Sunni-Shia conflict, indiscriminate killings of Muslims by Muslims through suicide bombings and similar acts of terrorism are of little help in building a social order on Islamic doctrines of freedom and tolerance.

Any discussion on terrorism merely focusing on an imaginary divide of “us and them” fails to account for the internal Muslim strife that also feeds into the broader arena. Here, a cue from history offers some comfort. Pope Urban II, who launched crusades against Muslims cast them as “vile, degenerate, and servants of the devil.” But it was Saint Francis of Assisi who said of Muslims that “they are our brothers and friends and we must love them very much.”

It may appear as though the likelihood of a peaceful coexistence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims were a fantasy. Again, history comes to our rescue pointing to the period of convivencia in medieval Spain when the people of the three Abrahamic faiths enjoyed and deliberately promoted a remarkably harmonious and tolerant life.

Appreciation of diversity, humility to know and understand “the other”, tolerance for dissent, respect for freedom and human dignity, and loyalty to the professed ideals are some of the core elements of convivencia. In today’s troubled world, more than ever before, a dynamic revival of the spirit of convivencia remains our shared obligation and collective destiny.

Part 1
Munawar Anees’ mission to clear his name
Q&A: Sukma’s discharge vindicates all of us

Part 2
Judge Dr M’s policies fairly: Ex-ISA detainee