Ethics and Integrity First: Jeff Sessions must go


March 3, 2017

Ethics and Integrity First: Jeff Sessions must go

by Richard W. Painter

http://www.nytimes.com

In the wake of Wednesday’s revelation that Attorney-General Jeff Sessions spoke with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States while working with the Trump campaign, despite denying those contacts during his confirmation hearings, key Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling for him to recuse himself from overseeing any Justice Department investigation into contacts between the campaign and the Russian government. Some are even saying he needs to resign.

It’s a bombshell of a story. And it’s one with a clear and disturbing precedent.

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Jeff Sessions–Get the Message and Resign–Integrity in High Office is Non-Negotiable. This is not Politics. Its Integrity and Responsibility, President Donald J. Trump, not Loyalty.

In 1972 Richard G. Kleindienst, the acting Attorney-General, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a confirmation hearing on his nomination by President Richard Nixon to be Attorney-General. He was to replace Attorney-General John N. Mitchell, who had resigned in disgrace and would later be sent to prison in the Watergate scandal.

Several Democratic Senators were concerned about rumors of White House interference in a Justice Department antitrust suit against International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, a campaign contributor to the Republican National Committee. They asked Kleindienst several times if he had ever spoken with anyone at the White House about the I.T.T. case. He said he had not.

That wasn’t true. Later, after Kleindienst was confirmed as attorney general, the special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, and his team uncovered an Oval Office tape recording of a phone call in which Nixon told Kleindiesnt to drop the I.T.T. case. Kleindienst claimed that he thought the senators’ questions were limited to a particular period, not the entire time during which the case was pending.

Jaworski didn’t buy it. He filed criminal charges against Kleindienst, who was forced to resign as attorney general. Eventually Kleindienst pleaded guilty to failure to provide accurate information to Congress, a misdemeanor, for conduct that many observers believed amounted to perjury. He was also reprimanded by the Arizona State Bar.

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Last month, during Mr. Sessions’s confirmation hearing for attorney general, Senator Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota, asked Mr. Sessions what he would do if he learned of evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Mr. Sessions answered, adding, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Mr. Sessions also, on his written Senate confirmation questionnaire, denied having had any communications about the 2016 election with the Russians.

We now know that Mr. Sessions had at least two conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in July and September 2016 while Mr. Sessions was an adviser to the Trump campaign.

Once again, we see an Attorney-General trying to explain away misleading testimony in his own confirmation hearing. A spokeswoman for Mr. Sessions says that “there was absolutely nothing misleading” about his answer because he did not communicate with the ambassador in his capacity as a Trump campaign surrogate. His contacts with the Russian ambassador, he claims, were made in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

That may or may not have been the case (individual senators ordinarily do not discuss committee business with ambassadors of other countries, particularly our adversaries). Regardless, Mr. Sessions did not truthfully and completely testify. If he had intended to say that his contacts with the Russians had been in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and not for the Trump campaign, he could have said that. He then would have been open to the very relevant line of questioning about what those contacts were, and why he was unilaterally talking with the ambassador of a country that was a longstanding adversary of the United States.

He did not reveal the communications at all, however. He did so knowing that Senator Franken was asking about communications with the Russians by anyone working for the Trump campaign, including people who, like Mr. Sessions, had other jobs while they volunteered for the Trump campaign. Mr. Sessions’ answer was at best a failure to provide accurate information to Congress, the same conduct that cost Attorney General Kleindienst his job.

And this time, unlike in 1972, the Attorney-General’s misleading testimony involves communications not with the president of the United States, but with a rival nuclear superpower. In 1972, any federal employee who provided such inaccurate information under oath about communications with the Russians would have been fired and had his or her security clearances revoked immediately, and probably also would have been criminally prosecuted.

The Cold War may be over, but Russia in the past few years has once again sought to destabilize the democratic process not only in the United States, but also in much of Europe. Russian support for Communist parties is gone, but Russian support for far right and nationalist movements globally is on the rise, as is Russian spying.

President Trump has already fired his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, for misleading Vice-President Pence about his conversations with the Russians. Misleading the United States Senate in testimony under oath is at least as serious. We do not yet know all the facts, but we know enough to see that Attorney General Sessions has to go as well.

Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007.


 

Caring about Malaysia


January 15, 2017

Caring about Malaysia

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

Who cares about Malaysia? This is the question that fellow Australians most frequently ask me, and indeed that I frustratedly keep asking myself, about why I keep writing about Malaysian politics.

And it gets more difficult every week to come up with a convincing reply.

Back when I started in 2006, however, my motives seemed as simply and plausibly explicable to others as they were clear in my own mind.

My main motivation, as I recall explaining in the introduction I wrote for the my first book of collected columns, ‘Mad about Malaysia’, was to make some meaningful contribution to the country that my wife, daughter, extended family and a great many good friends and valued colleagues called home, and in which, though a foreigner, I was temporarily welcome to work.

Image result for Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran and Malaysiakini Staff

The courageous men and women of Malaysiakini led by  the now globally famous duo, Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan. I am proud to be associated with them as SEACEM Fellow a few years back. These committed Malaysians work hard and put in long hours to keep us all informed. Great 2017 and Keep Going.–Din Merican, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Less altruistically, but just as sincerely, I also felt driven to be involved with, and if possible help support, Steven Gan, Prem Chandran and their staff in their courageous struggle to ensure the survival of their inspired creation, the country’s first source of true news and independent views in living memory, Malaysiakini.

These days, however, now that Malaysiakini is no longer merely surviving but mightily thriving, and my wife and daughter have long-since embraced life in and become citizens of Australia, it’s not so easy to explain to myself or anyone else why I persist in writing columns calumnising the criminal regime that’s still apparently endlessly running and in the process ruining Malaysia.

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Din Merican’s Favorite Mat Salleh Dean Johns–He and I  and other Fellow Journeymen care about Malaysia since being dumb and  remaining silent is for us not an option.

Mainly what keeps me persisting in this frustrating and thus-far utterly futile endeavour, of course, is my feeling of sympathy, solidarity and comradeship with all those intrepid and truly patriotic Malaysians who have chosen to struggle to save their beloved country, not by leaving it and criticising its criminal misleaders from a distance, but staying at home to fight.

But despite their fighting with all their might, and my own and others’ efforts to support them from beyond the battle-lines if not out of sight, the vast majority of Malaysians are still apparently failing or refusing to see the UMNO-BN blight in its true lying and larcenous light, and so Malaysia remains in a terrible plight.

As the head of the allegedly blatantly UMNO-BN biased Election Commission (EC) Mohd Hashim Abdullah lamented recently in a laughable attempt to portray himself and his officers as politically-impartial, 4.2 million Malaysians citizens who are qualified to vote have not taken the trouble to register, and millions of those who have registered can’t be bothered turning up on election days to cast their votes.

A distraction from ‘manipulation of constitituencies’

What Mohd Hashim failed to mention, however, was that a great many voters have become hopelessly cynical about and thus alienated from participating in the electoral process by the EC’s shameless alleged manipulation of constituencies, which are constitutionally required to be of similar voter-population size with a maximum permitted variation of 20 percent, but currently range from around 5,000, as in the blue-ribbon UMNO seat of Putrajaya, to 150,000 or more.

He was also using his regret at low levels of voter registration and turnout as a distraction from this and also the lamentable reality that in many electorates a great many of those who do both register and show up to vote only do so in the expectation of allegedly receiving gifts or outright cash payments for supporting UMNO-BN candidates.

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The fawning UMNO henchman–Using Power of his Office to defend Malaysia’s No. 1 Criminal, Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Another UMNO-BN bigwig working hard this week to convey an illusion of care for the country more than for himself and his own privileged position as a prominent member of the UMNO-BN regime was Attorney-General (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Despite the universally-known fact that he was promoted over the politically dead body of the former AG to pander to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s allegedly dire need to be declared innocent of any larcenous intent or even meaningful involvement in the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial misappropriation and money-laundering scam, Apandi had the gall and audacity to hector his audience at a Conference of the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ Legal Officers in Malacca on the topic of corruption.

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Dean Johns and Din Merican are fighting to get rid of this toxic and bygon resistant termite –Najib Razak (and his consort Rosmah Mansor too).

“Corruption is like a termite infestation that will slowly weaken the country without the people realising it,” he thundered, as if his own legal officers, like the rest of us in Malaysia and around the world weren’t aware that the UMNO-BN regime he represents, or rather misrepresents, wasn’t a nest of the nation’s allegedly most notoriously voracious – and at the same time least veracious – political termites.

Just as former Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib ‘The Termite’ Mahmud, built a multi-billion mound of money by allegedly chomping his way through his state’s rainforest-timber resources, Najib has devoted his time as Prime Minister to systematically white-anting the entire nation of Malaysia.

With the aid, support and protection of his hordes of alleged sycophants in Government, the Judiciary, the Police Force, the ‘mainstream’ news media, the aforementioned electoral commission and all the other public services, he has allegedly consumed countless billions of Malaysian people’s rightful share of public money and natural resources, and allegedly undermined as many as possible of the Malaysian citizens’ civil rights and legal protections.

Yet there he was this week trying to kid attendees at the Prime Minister’s Department monthly assembly that the recent and current string of graft charges against civil servants “is a reminder that those in government must not take away what rightfully belongs to the people.” The sheer hypocrisy of it all!

The rest of us know very well that this just another Najib-style lie to conceal the fact that those being targeted for corruption are either small termites, or slightly larger termites who have made the mistake of failing to pass the expected cut from their country-consuming scams up the line to the termites at the top.

So, who cares about Malaysia? Certainly not Najib, Apandi, Mohd Hashim Abdullah or any other members, cronies or supporters of the UMNO regime. Which leads me to the conclusion that it’s up to all the millions of Malaysians who claim that they care about Malaysia but do nothing to show it, to finally summon-up the interest, energy, integrity, courage or whatever else it takes to demonstrate that they truly do give a damn about making a difference.


DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’, ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Malaysia’s Political Gridlock and Why Najib is not going to Jail


January 12, 2017

Malaysia’s Political Gridlock and Why Najib is not going to Jail

by Ooi Kok Hin

Despite protests, political realities will keep the prime minister’s coalition in power through 2017 – and beyond.

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/why-malaysias-najib-razak-isnt-going-anywhere/

Image result for Bersih 5.O November 19, 2016

On November 19, tens of thousands of Malaysians assembled in the capital to demand for a free and fair election and the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is implicated in a massive financial scandal. Yet, Najib’s ruling coalition looks set to prevail in the next general election, rumored to be held this year.

Why is this so? I argue Malaysia’s political gridlock is prolonged largely by four factors: electoral malpractices, institutional failures, political fragmentation, and societal fault lines. Until and unless these are changed, reforms will be flimsy at best, and cosmetic at worst.

Electoral Malpractices: Keeping the Incumbent in Their Seats

In the previous general election, the ruling coalition won 47 percent of the popular vote but nearly 60 percent of the parliamentary seats. The opposition coalition won 51 percent of the votes but only 40 percent of the seats (the remaining 2 percent of the vote was split among marginal parties). The discrepancy is caused by the uneven weighting of popular representation. A constitutional clause grants over-representation for rural voters either spanning a large landmass or difficult to reach areas. However, even after taking this clause into account, electoral malpractices are severe.

In a study I co-wrote with fellow analysts from the Penang Institute, we found that at least 68 parliamentary seats and 162 state seats are either excessively under-represented or excessively over-represented under the latest redelineation proposed by the Election Commission. If the proposal comes into effect during the next general election, the outcome is effectively a forgone conclusion because of severe malapportionment and gerrymandering.

Malapportionment isthe disparity of constituency size caused by redelineation. It results in inequitable representation because it provides unequal vote value. For example, one voter in Putrajaya has a value equivalent to one voters in Kapar, as both constituencies have one seat each — even though Putrajaya has roughly 15,991 voters and Kapar has 144,159.

Even within the same state, the disparity of constituency size is striking. In the state of Selangor, Damansara is four times the size of Sabak Bernam. Any of the three excessively under-represented parliamentary constituencies in Selangor are bigger than the three small constituencies combined.

This is not a purely mathematical disparity of constituency size. It is a deliberate packing of opposition supporters into a mega-size constituency, diluting their ability to win other seats and making the neighboring marginal seats more winnable for the ruling coalition. Not surprisingly, Damansara is held by the opposition and Sabak Bernam is held by the ruling party.

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Gerrymandering, meanwhile, is the practice of deliberately drawing constituency boundaries based on the voting pattern of constituents so that a party may benefit. Malaysia’s redelineation does this in three ways: the creation of constituencies spanning multiple local authorities, the arbitrary combination of communities without common interests, and the partition of local communities and neighborhoods. Voters living on the same street find themselves in different electoral constituencies. The confusion is compounded by the lack of information and publicity about the changes made to constituency boundaries and, crucially, voting districts.

Political Fragmentation: Weaker and Disunited Opposition

Given the steep electoral obstacles which the opposition has to overcome, it is no surprise that the National Front (Barisan Nasional, BN) is one of the longest ruling coalitions in the world. The then fully united opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, failed to unseat BN in the 2013 general election. The erstwhile alliance brought together three major opposition parties: the People’s Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). Any hope of taking advantage of Najib’s crisis has been dampened by the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat due to a quarrel over a chief minister’s position and the Islamist party’s insistence on the implementation of Sharia laws.

Amidst the open animosity between the opposition parties, pragmatist PKR is negotiating a miracle. They are appealing for a one-on-one fight; a scenario which even the most hardcore opposition supporter would find unlikely.

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The Fractured Opposition

Hostility is mutual between PAS and DAP/Amanah. Bersatu, the new party setup by ousted Deputy Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin and former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, is beset with internal issues and looks the least of a threat to Najib’s UMNO. A united opposition is anywhere but visible in Sabah and Sarawak, the two states which won the election for Najib, whose coalition took 47 out of 56 seats.

If PAS explicitly teamed up with UMNO, there is some hope that their grassroots and longtime supporters (who view UMNO as a nemesis) may vote for the opposition coalition as a protest against their leadership. Tacit cooperation is more likely, however, and in three-cornered fights, the ruling party will sweep all the marginal seats.

Institutional Failures: Culture of Unaccountability, Graft, and State Repression

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Institutional failures have doomed any formal case again Najib for the financial scandal centered on 1MDB. Former Attorney General Gani Patail was terminated just as he was allegedly drafting a charge sheet against Najib. The chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was replaced, its senior officers transferred out, and one investigating officer’s home was raided by the police. Three out of four figureheads of the special taskforce setup to investigate 1MDB were replaced within months.

The various institutions that were supposed to hold the government accountable have all faltered in one way or another. A concentration of power has enable the state leviathan to dismiss any institution that could actually hold it accountable.

Ideally, legislative institutions should uphold the principles of democracy and justice enshrined in the Constitution. But under the forceful thumb of the executive, they continue to either pass or fail to repeal draconian laws stretching from the colonial era. The Sedition Act, which criminalizes any speech deemed hateful or contemptuous towards the ruler or government, is routinely abused due to its vague clauses. The notorious detention without trial, another colonial legacy, gave powers to the executive to imprison political opponents for lengthy periods without a day in the courtroom. Most recently, the leader of a civil rights movement calling for free and fair elections, Maria Chin Abdullah, was detained under one such law.

The list of institutional failures includes that of the media. Some outlets fought and went down, like The Malaysian Insider. The mainstream press is owned directly by political parties or businessmen friendly to the establishment. Periodic license renewals keep them on their toes. Newspapers editors who did report on 1MDB were called in for police investigation.

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Malaysia’s Infamous Auditor-General

Institutional failure and lack of accountability are not limited to 1MDB. Year after year, the Auditor General has revealed staggering cases of mismanaged public funds. Government bodies bought wall clocks at RM 3,810 a piece (the market price is easily below RM 100) and scanners for RM 14,670 (market price: RM 200). The “normalization of corruption” is deeply embedded in the existing hierarchy, from the top to the bottom. In the newly released report, the auditors found that the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) lost hundreds of millions due to multiple transactions without proper authorization, dubious planning and execution, and complete mismanagement. It made news for two to three days before disappearing, like pretty much every other scandal. Corrupt acts are committed and revealed, followed by public outrage. But with no institution to exercise accountability, the news eventually disappears. It has become a normal cycle.

Late last year, the National Security Council Act was passed to enable the prime minister to declare an area of emergency as he deems necessary, without the approval of any other institution. Which raises the question: Are there any institutional safeguards to guarantee a peaceful transition of power even if the government fails to recapture popular support in the election?

Societal Fault Lines: One Cleavage Too Many

The fault lines of Malaysian society are too many and too deep, with groups frequently divided along ethnic and religious lines. Due to this, Najib can easily turn a once-unified opposition against one another.

Dr Jamil Khir Baharom, a minister in charge of religious affairs under Najib’s cabinet, paraded a bill amendment to increase the power of the Shariah court. PAS’s dream is to establish an Islamic state by implementing Islamic law, which cannot be fully enforced given the current restrictions on the maximum punishments the Shariah court can spell out. Under the revised version of the proposed amendment, the Shariah court will be strengthened by raising the punishment ceiling to 30 years in prison, a RM 100,000 fine, and 100 strokes of caning.

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Playing with the Islamic Fire

Najib’s olive branch to PAS is working, enticing the party away from cooperation with the opposition and thus sapping the opposition’s strength among the all-important Malay and rural areas.

In Malaysia ,where nearly everything is seen through the lens of race and religion, the push for Islamic law will effectively split society. Since all Malays are Muslims in this country (one’s professed religion is one of the constitutional definitions of being an ethnic Malay), debates on the bill can dangerously be turned into a sectarian conflict.

In the run-up to the November 19 rally, thugs dressed in red threatened the Bersih convoy. The Red Shirts, as they came to be known, are all ethnic Malays led by an UMNO division chief. Threats of violence aside, the racial rhetoric has become too discomforting. Last year, what was a typical robber and shopkeeper brawl turned into dangerous racial gatherings as the two groups called their friends, resulting in a mini-riot that night. In the aftermath of the previous election, the prime minister and the party’s de facto mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, denounced the Chinese as a scapegoat of opposition agents. All these societal fault lines testify to the enormity of the task to to unseat Najib.

The by-elections last year might provide some hint as to how the general elections will turn out. Najib’s coalition won both of them. I was in the suburban areas when opposition parties held a town hall panel session, inevitably speaking in English, touching on issues such as the removal of the Attorney-General. While these are big, national issues, it felt out of place. There is a visible gap between the politicians, the city folks, the demonstrators who so urgently and desperately want reforms, and the voters outside the cities, who voted for candidates affiliated to Najib’s party.

To speak plainly, people don’t mind the status quo as long as they are not affected at the most immediate and personal level. The whole 1MDB scandal has been too complicated to be explained to non-English literate voters with no understanding of the complex technical terms, in a five-minute rally. Financial scandals grow more complicated and people just lose interest. Maybe they underestimate the cost of it all, maybe they don’t care enough or just don’t lose enough; either way they are not angry enough to want to change the status quo.

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The partnership that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1–Najib Razak

What’s next? Even the unholy alliance between Anwar and Mahathir won’t be able to fight off the structural inequality of power and institutional failures. If political change is not sufficient, will it take an economic downturn to bring change in Malaysia, like Indonesia? In 1998, a combined factor of internal dissidents and economic instability brought the dictatorial Suharto era to an end and ushered in the Reformasi period. If neighboring Indonesia can live embedded in a dictatorship for 40 years and then undergo rapid democratization in so short a time, we can’t and shouldn’t rule anything out yet in Malaysia. But it will take a miracle.

Ooi Kok Hin is an analyst with the Penang Institute. He writes on political and social developments and Southeast Asian affairs.

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My 2017 Wish–Din Merican


January 1, 2017

My 2017 WishGet Rid of Corrupt Najib Razak and all the Rubbish associated with him

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 My Friends and I in Phnom Penh–We feel we can make the world a better and safer place through Education for All

It is only natural for all Malaysians to wish our country well. The reason is simple. We are Malaysia as Malaysia is not wood, brick and mortar. So, we can share the views expressed in the G25 Statement for the New Year. But my friends in G-25 who were once influential public servants are too polite as they have been all their lives. I will be blunt and direct.It is my style since politeness got me nowhere.

I want Najib  Razak removed as Prime Minister of Malaysia and he and all his Minsters and supporters thoroughly investigated, charged and punished for corruption and abuses of power. That means locking him up for life as the Guest of His Majesty The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.  I like the incumbent Attorney-General (Apandi Ali) , Inspector-General of Police(Khalid Abu Bakar), the Chief Secretary to the Government ( Ali Hamsa), Secretary -General  to the Ministry of Finance (Irwan Siregar) and Bank Negara Governor (Muhammad Ibrahim)  sacked for dereliction of duty and sheer incompetence. These so-called Blue Ocean professionals are a disgrace so are our Judges who have failed to administer justice.  Because of poor leadership and horrible followership,  Malaysia has become a degenerate and soon to be a bankrupt nation.

Getting rid of Najib and everything associated with his toxicity is what we should do in 2017. That is my  New Year wish. I challenge all Malaysians to just do it, if and when Najib decides (and if he dares) to have GE-14 –Din Merican

G25 warns that a weak economy that is unable to generate sufficient income and employment opportunities will be dangerous to society.

COMMENT@www.freemaalysiatoday.com

malaysia-economy1_1

By G25 Secretariat

We are entering 2017 and the one wish that ranks higher than anything else in our hearts and souls for the New Year is that Malaysia will remain a peaceful country with all races living in harmony and respecting our diversity in culture and religion, confident that the rule of law will prevail to protect the rights of all citizens, in accordance with the guarantees under the Federal Constitution.

We hope that 2017 will bring more cheerful news about economic recovery to lift the people’s mood and give them a good feeling about the future. With the various restructuring and transformation programmes which have been introduced in the government, as well as in the corporate and financial sectors, the economy is on a strong footing for recovery as and when the global uncertainties fade away to revive business confidence around the world.

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Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim–Ex Secretary-General, Ministry of Finance and former Managing Director, Khazanah Malaysia Berhad now G25 member.

Malaysia is well aware why a strong economy is important. A weak economy that is not able to generate sufficient income and employment opportunities is dangerous to our society. It will attract the hate politics that use race and religion to destabilise the country, leading to extremists exploiting the situation for their own agenda. That is how one country after another in the Muslim world became failed states. The root cause is their failures to implement the right policies to generate growth, provide for the basic needs of their people and promote tolerance for religious and cultural diversity. Frustrated by the uncaring attitudes of their governments, which prefer to spend more time on religious politicking than on the economy, their educated youth turn to extremism to express their anger. This must not be allowed to happen in our country.

Our founding fathers created the constitution, introduced the Rukunegara and implemented the New Economic Policy to ensure Malaysia achieve rapid economic growth as this is fundamental for social progress and national unity. In every five-year development plan document, since the introduction of the NEP in 1971, there is a very strong emphasis on the link between economic growth and national unity. Thanks to our capable leaders, the country has developed so fast that we have graduated from a low-income country to becoming a high income country soon, a remarkable achievement by any standards. Economic development has brought stability to the country. Although much remains to be done in achieving the aspirations in the Rukunegara, we can be proud that we have built the economic foundation to strengthen our prospects for achieving national unity.

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G25’s Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar–Ex-Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wisma Putra).

The challenge for the country is to sustain the economic progress that has been achieved and make it more inclusive so as to win public confidence and support for the government’s development efforts. Inclusivity means recognising the rights of the lower-income groups for a bigger share of the national wealth and providing economic justice for all races. It also means tolerance for an open society with rights and freedoms for citizens to voice their disagreements with the government and to hold it accountable for its actions.

The government has adopted inclusive development strategies in its economic planning and in the annual budget. It is spending huge amounts of money and borrowing heavily to finance its development programmes for growth and equitable distribution among all segments of society. In doing so, it should be transparent in the management of the country’s finances so as not to repeat the recent scandals that have rocked business sentiments in the country and damaged its reputation as a well-governed country. In this regard, it is essential that Parliament, the judiciary and the institutions of law and order be empowered to provide the checks and balance in ensuring that good governance is restored at all levels of government and that those found guilty of corruption and unethical behaviour be brought to justice without fear or favour.

Image result for tan sri mohd sheriff mohd kassimDato’Anwar Fazal–Penang’s Famous and admired Civil Society Activist cum Environmentalist and G25 Member.

The government should move with the times to embrace civil society and a free media as partners in development. This will put our country as the best model in the Muslim world for making constitutional democracy meaningful to the people, transcending over race, culture and religion to create a united nation. With all races sharing a common destiny of economy development and social justice under a vibrant democracy, Malaysia can look forward to a bright future.

With these words, we wish all Malaysians a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

G25 is a movement of eminent Malay moderates.

Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture


December 6, 2016

Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture

by KJ John@www.malayiakini.com

Image result for Double Speak Najib Razak

Double-Speak is a political way of life for Malaysia’s Prime Minister–Why can’t we say that he is a liar?

Is double-speak natural to human beings and the only way to become a true-blue politician worth his/her weight? An UMNO Deputy Minister and an equally idiotic Deputy Speaker of Parliament could not see anything wrong with that MP’s wrong speech and impure motives about another MP.

The victim of this abuse was a lady Member of Parliament; whose dignity was obviously denied but our Deputy Speaker appeared to play down the incident. It was clearly recorded vide a video-clip of our parliamentary session distributed to me from Singapore.

Sadly, too, if Parliament is our symbolic leadership head of our nation-state’s parliamentary democracy system; it is sad that the rotting of our fish-head has begun in that August House. My only retort to the deputy minister is: “padan muka” with this note: our grandchildren are watching and learning from your uncouth conduct.

Hadi’s public misinformation

Was Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, the President of PAS, also participating in doubles-peak with his Act 355 amendments agenda? While he is a Member of Parliament for Marang, is he not elected to do at least two things; one, is to represent all the people in Marang and two, to speak up on bills and handle concerns in Parliament for both his party and his constituency.

But, my question to him: is he only a Member of Parliament for Muslims with complete disregard for non-Muslims who live in Terengganu?

My take is that Hadi’s Act 355 amendments is simply mischievous and therefore malicious in intention. It is absolutely an attempt to open back doors for hudud implementation in the whole of Malaysia; without labelling it as such. My previous column argued eight reasons against it but allow me now to appeal to all my Muslim friends in Malaysia to explain why we (as Christians) have little choice but to oppose this bill.

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The Village Idiot and UMNO Clown with his Corrupt Boss

First, think of Malaysia as existing practically at three levels of reality. These are federal, state and local levels. That means that when one is a federal citizen, that role ascribes and observes certain rights and obligations to all of Malaysia and to all her citizens; there cannot be inequity of citizenship. That is a universal expectation of citizenry anywhere in the world; even when some are treated more equal than others.

Therefore, while his bill was promoted and projected as a bill for Kelantan (one state) to dispense new Syariah by-laws with new limits; the simple fact is that federal law is being mobilised to enable state level criminal prosecution, and therefore its application is always national and federal.

Allow Kelantanese to breathe green air?

Can we assume, for arguments sake, that Kelantan gets this bill for Syariah system compliance and was not designed with hudud intent in mind. Let us grant this right to one of the nine states with rulers; as their second level of operational reality; state-level existence.

Whether we like it or not, such an enablement includes Sabah and Sarawak, too. But, please help me think through the real consequential issues and concerns of all other state jurisdictions at local levels premised on this Kelantan hypothetical experiment.

Therefore my simple but honest question to every Malaysian living in urban and suburban areas is as follows:

If criminal law is now a jurisdiction of any state and consequently their local government Administrations; cannot these authorities also later be mandated that, for example, only Muslims can live in a particular geography of Kelantan; whatever their logic or reasons?

Can non-Muslims therefore be disallowed to buy homes in some other specified area? Or, can it be stipulated that their beaches, like Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB), are now only for Muslim-specific attired swimmers? Non-Muslim can therefore be excluded, right?

Of course, supermarkets with male and female lanes become a mandatory given; if not halal and non-halal carts.Is all the above mere fiction from my head, or is there some element of reality to all of it?

The reason I ask these questions is that only our criminal laws can distinguish between the purity of intentions versus obvious and real evidence of wrongdoing. This is our practical but real level of human existence. Any differences or gaps between one’s espoused theory and the one-in-use is always a matter of spiritual consideration and never the domain of public policy of any state.

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Once Friend, now a Political Foe

Therefore, regardless of what Hadi or anyone says; the new bill gives unlimited jurisdiction for the Kelantan state government to colour their air green and it can insist that everyone can only breathe and live such green air; in Kelantan. How else could the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) have raided Damansara Utama Methodist Church or DUMC (a church complex) without a police search permit merely on suspicion of some wrongdoing?

This gap between intentions and real action causes a lot of doubt and makes citizens question true political motives. For example, in a BBC interview with Maria Chin Abdullah, they could not understand why she was released before the court’s habeas corpus hearing.

My answer is simply that the Home Affairs Minister could not defend their abuse of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma); as former Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail so clearly already explained from the Hansard records what were the real intentions for the enactment.

God or Allah is our creator

Before the 2013 GE, Ustaz Hadi attended a meeting chaired by Anwar Ibrahim and attended by a whole group of NGOs and promised all of us that the word ‘Allah’ can be equally used by Muslims as with non-Muslims. I was there and heard his promise. But today they do exactly the opposite. Can we trust such politicians, even when they speak with green tongues?

Therefore, my only question to Ustaz Hadi is as follows:

Do we really believe in different Gods?

Is not intention in faith always a personal human faith matter and not a matter anyone else’s religious enforcement? Is not such responsibility for faith always a personal matter and not for the state?

How then can anyone justify all ‘forced limits to human intentions?’ Are we then not taking over God’s role and responsibility, and thereby playing God?

 

Najib, Trump is no fool


November 18, 2016

Najib, Trump is no fool

by Eric Loo

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Donald Trump may be your golfing buddy and may be so. And he may be no stranger to you. You said so in your congratulatory note. But you’re fundamentally wrong.

Trump did not win the US presidency because he appealed to “Americans who have been left behind – those who want to see their government more focused on their interests and welfare”.

Trump won because he unashamedly exploited the myopic mindsets of white Americans “without college degrees” and “white evangelical Christian” single issue voters who can’t see the forest for the trees. They see the world in black and white. They can only understand a globalised economy as one of ‘us against them’.

Trump played to the socio-economic angst and racist streak of the predominantly white demographics who longed for the good ole days of white sliced bread and peanut butter jelly, when America was ‘great’, when women stayed home as homemakers, when men were, well, macho men to be rightfully served by submissive women.

Trump’s repugnant rhetoric targeted the white Americans’ irrational fear and intense dislike of the establishment, of the elites, of the media, of non-Whites, and anyone who look like Muslims. (By the way, he said he’d ban immigration – and visits – by people from countries compromised by Islamic terrorism, and that includes Malaysia).

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This is Barrack Obama, not President-Elect Donald Trump

Trump shows it’s okay to grope women, belittle people with disabilities, avoid paying federal taxes, and make a quick buck from other’s miseries and losses. Trump has basically normalised what many see and feel as overtly vulgar, deplorably racist and covertly sexist. Out of the woods will we see these folks emerge emboldened over the next four years.

Here’s where the irony’s striking in Najib’s pat on Trump’s back. As reported in Channel News Asia, Najib said: “I know him personally, and he’s not someone who’s a stranger to me.” Indeed.

Trump will begin his presidency amidst public conviction of his carnal transgressions and ongoing investigations into his financial frauds and tax evasion, just as Najib is being dogged by the 1MDB financial scandals and political implications from the murder of a Mongolian model.

Like Trump, Najib has so far have remained untouched. (I blame our mainstream journalists for their lack of tenacity in continuing to investigate and report on Najib’s transgressions in the public interest.)

Skeletons hidden in the closet

Despite that both Najib and Trump have skeletons hidden in the closet, Americans generally hope that the Trump campaign persona was just that – a Machiavellian persona. The world hopes that Trump will transform into someone worthy of occupying the White House in January.

In his congratulatory note to Trump, Najib said that politicians “should never take voters for granted”. Indeed, listen to your own counsel, Prime Minister. Bersih 5 is scheduled to take to the streets again on November 19. Are you listening to the rakyat? Why aren’t you listening to “those who want to see their government more focused on their interests and welfare”?

Yes, heed your own counsel, Prime Minister. There’s no need to grovel to Trump who your other golfing buddy Obama had described as “the guy who had spent 70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people”, the guy whose vision for America was “dark and pessimistic”, and the guy who was “insecure enough that he pumps himself up by putting other people down”. And, Trump’s “no stranger” to you?

Fact checks by the US media throughout the campaign had consistently shown that Trump had peddled falsehoods, blatantly lied and cajoled his audience for suckers. Trump’s character quirks, intellectual inadequacy and egomaniacal disposition played out in his three debates with Hillary Clinton.

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I was in a daze watching the live reports of the election. I was stunned when Trump’s electoral votes crossed the 270 mark. Just as I was elated when Barack Obama became the first black US President in 2008, I expected Hillary Clinton to be the first female US President.

I had planned to visit the US for a winter holiday leading up to the presidential inauguration in January. I won’t be visiting the US for a while.

That will be the day when Trump and his administration can demonstrate that they truly are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” – a sort of direct democracy as defined by the greatest Republican president of all time, Abraham Lincoln in his dedication to the soldiers killed during the civil war at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Nov 19, 1863.

Here’s where the Electoral College voting system, which Trump himself said was rigged and a “disaster for democracy” could falter in truly representing the people’s voice. Hillary Clinton won more popular votes (by 280,646) than Trump. But with each state weighted by number of electoral votes under the Electoral College system, Trump culled 290 electoral votes (20 more than the 270 needed to win).

It brings back memories of 2000 when Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore lost to George W Bush.

The Electoral College voting system was set up to ensure a fair representative election outcome. But commentators are revisiting the inherent problems with the system given that Hillary Clinton had painfully lost the election despite winning the popular votes.

Trump’s victory had stunned the pollsters, the pundits, the media, the millennial Americans, and the world in general. Trump supporters were even unprepared. Some saw it as a miracle. ‘White Christian evangelicals’ believed it was an answer to their prayers.

Blind faith in Trump is indeed foolish, if not downright stupid. Trump’s no ‘answer to prayers’. If he was, he did not bear any fruits of the Holy Spirit during his campaign – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Trump’s the antithesis of fundamental Christian values.

By contrast, Hillary had cited on numerous occasions during her campaign verses from Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not give up.”

There’s a lingering hope, however, that some electoral college voters – the ‘faithless voters’ – would go rogue if they could see a better alternative, another Republican who is more worthy or rather less unpalatable to occupy the White House.

I wait for December 19 when, as CBS had reported “the final outcome doesn’t become official until Congress counts the votes in early January after electors in each state cast their ballots for president and vice president in mid-December.”

Anything’s possible in politics.


ERIC LOO worked as a journalist and taught journalism in Malaysia from the late 1970s to 1986. He is now Honorary Senior Fellow in Journalism at University of Wollongong in Australia. Email: eloo@uow.edu.au