Malaysia’s ideological disease terrorises all the same


Aren’t we tired of supporting leaders and government who do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of sustainability? In Malaysia, we are destroying the environment, as if there is a Planet B we can move to.

Malaysia’s ideological disease terrorises all the same

March 24, 2019

by Dr. Azly Rahman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

COMMENT | My previous column warning of inciteful preaching, which reached 30,000 readers in three days, was removed from Facebook for “violating community standards.”

As if there is a contagious ideological disease plaguing those who do not understand what the message of peace looks like. Somebody didn’t like my message of peace. Fine. I’ll continue writing. I’ll continue to wage peace using the internet, still a powerful medium of dialogue.

Image result for j. ardern of new zealand

There was some consolation though: Such a beautiful Friday prayer session I saw live from New Zealand. Poignant and filled immensely with the message of peace. Such a beautiful display of respect and love by New Zealanders  including Prime Minister J. Arden being there to comfort Muslims who lost their loved ones.

In a 2017 study on the “most Islamic country in the world,” New Zealand was at the top spot, and Saudi Arabia in comparison, was 47th in the list. This is the meaning of an Islamic state and the Islamicity of it: social justice, human rights, sustainability and personal freedom – the antidote to terrorism, to ideological diseases.

Religious aggression

I thought of this question this week: of peace, conflict, and the root cause of terrorism, as well as where the country is going to when it comes to environmental degradation.

How shameful America is when it comes to gun control laws, compared to New Zealand’s ban on assault rifles.

Of course, the issue is complex because it is about rights: to bear arms, and how American are so institutionalised about amendments that protect this and that right. But I do believe that gun control begins with parents banning toy guns in the house – violence need not be a plaything.

We are living in a world where a contagious disease of a different kind exists: ideology. Of the link between consciousness, culture, and economic conditions. This manifests in violence that has become more structural or unseen, engulfing the minds of the masses.

Consider the advancement of terrorism in our region, as Islamic State moves its operations to Southeast Asia. Poverty and lack of exposure to liberal education are the main causes of the rise of terrorism. Address these, as they contribute to the advancement of this ideological disease.

My advice to Muslims: Preach not about Islam if you still have a poor understanding of the wisdom of it. Of the concept of the four branches of knowledge, shariat-tariqat-hakikat-makrifat. Just live a life based on that.

If every Muslim preaches to himself/herself and to the family first, we don’t need preachers preaching jihad.

Private religion. The thousand-year-old Holy War seem to be reenacting globally in newer forms and styles, with the semiotics and semantics of terror. And now, we want to bring back IS fighters, lack the will to prosecute polluters and harbour hate preachers. What’s wrong with us?

Environmental aggression

Consider the environmental terrorism we are witnessing. Of what happened recently in Pasir Gudang.

Malaysians need to know the companies that pollute rivers and dump waste. They need to also know which powerful people own them. The pollution in Pasir Gudang could have killed dozens of schoolchildren and citizens. Which company is responsible?

The government should go after companies that pollute and poison the rivers, as well as the ones that destroy our rainforests and mangrove reserves. Name the companies involved in destroying our environment and which powerful and wealthy people own them.

The media should be more active in exposing the interlocking directorships of these corporate criminals destroying us. Name the company that dumped poison into Sungai Kim Kim near my hometown. Who owns it? Johoreans want to know!

Unless the Pakatan Harapan government doesn’t care, it must help citizens fight ecological terrorists – the companies that destroy our environment. States such as Johor seem to be ravaged by mindless industrialists who do not care about environmental impact.

Aren’t we tired of supporting leaders and government who do not have a clear and comprehensive understanding of sustainability? In Malaysia, we are destroying the environment, as if there is a Planet B we can move to.

Parent action groups in Malaysian education and NGOs must help parents and citizens in Pasir Gudang go after those responsible. Our children must be given the right to demand a saner, cleaner, and safer planet.

Economic aggression

As we speak, we are reading more about how gung-ho our economic plans are. Bordering on economic terrorism, a nucleus in this contagious ideological disease.

You pour in billions of ringgit into Kedah, for example, and let East Malaysia continue to live in poverty?

Is this the new regime’s smartest developmentalist ideology? Or the same old system of patronage? I grab power, I design projects, my party members benefit. This ideology of developmentalism is not sustainable if it continues to create haves and have-nots in society.

Worse, these projects created and monopolised by politicians are to ensure their children will be well-fed for seven generations. A shrewd Machiavellian will have the different groups fight over crumbs and illusions, while he orchestrates the biggest robbery.

Race and religion

While all these racial and religious issues are being played up, huge businesses dealings are being made by politicians. As usual.

We have to teach the masses to see beyond false consciousness, to identify this contagious ideological diseases. In Malaysia, politicians use religious preachers as spiritual trouble makers, to blind the people of real race and class issues.

Terrorism can only be eliminated when all religions are seen as equal and practical, and class divisions and poverty ended.

The more you give power and your ears to the TV preacher, the more he’ll become big headed. All television evangelists wish to make money, whether you call it Peace TV or God’s Cable Channel. Big business for the gullible.

Today, everybody wants to push their own truth, not knowing that everyone is a truth in itself to be constructed. At my age, the dialogues of religion, spirituality, existentialism happen only within me, bored I am of public forums on truth.

All religions need not be defended if the devotees keep their understanding to themselves and enjoy the journey. You bring in a radical preacher into your country, he’ll bring his country’s violent conflict to mess up your society.

Politicians hiding behind the gown of religious fanatics and hate speech champs have no moral direction. Vote them out! Let us continue to support each other in fighting hatred and hate speech. Begin at home. Educate for basic respect for others.

Wage peace

What is the root cause of terrorism? The manufacturing and creating of deadly crises, so that the global arms industry – of light arms to massive smart bombs – may flourish.

Poverty, rock-logic religion, the lack or total rejection of liberal education, and for the inciters, power to influence and the huge appetite to be megalomanic preachers – these are the root cause of the ideological disease.

Power given by the ignorant and powerless to worship those who are masters of deception, perception, and religious and ideological militancy – this is what fuels the deadly cells of violence. That contagious ideological disease we’ve been talking about.

But today, my heart goes to those in Christchurch massacred after Friday prayers. By a terrorist. By a force growing larger than the IS, in due time: white supremacist terrorists. A global contagious ideological disease finally been diagnosed as how it should be.

Wage peace, not war. Contain the ideological diseases spreading like wildfire. This is rent we must pay for living in this increasingly violent world.


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honour Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

Share this story

Why Najib keeps delaying his trials


March 21, 2019

Why Najib keeps delaying his trials

www. malaysiakini.com
Opinion  |  James Chai

Published:  |  Modified:

 

COMMENT | It’s obvious what Najib (above) is trying to accomplish: do whatever it takes to avoid prison.

Delaying tactics is one of the ways to do that. No matter what we say about them, Shafee Abdullah and his legal team are experienced lawyers who have the law and procedure in the palms of their hands. They know enough of the flaws within the legal system and its weakness in dispensing justice.

Thus far, the four appeals relating to the withdrawal of the prosecution’s certificate of transfer; gag order to prohibit media from discussing the merits of the case; recovery of documents; and the appointment of Sulaiman Abdullah as lead prosecutor all could amount to delaying tactics.

Although these appeals are permitted by the law, they sit uncomfortably in the grey area of whether they are truly important and necessary to protect the accused’s right or they are simply delaying tactics.

My opinion is these are delaying tactics because delaying the trial is profitable for Najib.

In fact, delaying is the only viable option.

Delay trial, delay prison

Firstly, the straightforward conclusion is that delaying trial would delay the eventual conviction. Delaying a day is allowing another day for Najib to negotiate his political survival with the public.

To this end, Najib has been successful in orchestrating a comedic troll machine online that is targeted at making fun of the government. His social media team is creating content that would incite disapproval of the existing government. However fleeting and half-hearted this support is, at least it provides Najib with a lifeline to his political career.

Delay makes prosecution weaker

Secondly, delaying makes sense in a criminal trial because it almost inevitably makes the defence’s case stronger and the prosecution’s case weaker.

In all criminal trials, the courts will try to expedite the trial because the consequences of a criminal trial (fine and/or prison) are much greater than in a civil (non-criminal) case. If a criminal trial could run as soon as possible, then the evidence is more likely to be intact and the witnesses’ memories are likely to still be fresh.

However, there is a bind. It is also precisely because the consequences of a criminal trial to an accused are significantly more drastic than a civil trial, that the court would be more open to the accused’s request for time and appeal applications. This is especially so in a high-profile case that carries significant punishment like Najib’s, where the court would want to avoid accusations of bias against the accused.

That is why the defence would attempt to make every excuse to either extract more information from the prosecution to build their own case, or to drag out the legal process. None of these methods is illegal or impermissible, but they are irksome and maddening to people.

Escaping prison

Thirdly, the most positive outcome for Najib is that delaying may mean escaping prison altogether—his best-case scenario.

We are approaching the end of March 2019 and the trial is not even close to starting. It is not surprising if Shafee (above) and his legal team successfully delay the trial for a few more weeks, even months, so that the earliest start date ends up around May 2019.

That will be one year since the PH coalition came into power.

What this means is that if Najib could drag it out long enough that the trial only starts then, he has a very good chance of not having a court decision until the end of the PH term as government. This is especially when each criminal trial contains voluminous charges and documents that require in-depth exploration of the evidence and submissions that will inevitably use up a lot of time.

It is likely that Najib’s tradition of using a full 5-year term before calling a general election would not be continued by the PH government. This means the next general election is likely to be around 2022.

If Najib could drag it out long enough for each trial, and the subsequent appeal processes in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court, there may be a chance there is no decision before the 2022 general election.

And if the PH coalition had not performed well and gets punished in the 2022 general election with Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition returning to power, Najib may escape prison.

Although theoretically, the judiciary is independent of the executive, the constitutional subordination of the judiciary since 1988, and the repeated history of controlling and fixing judicial decisions make a “Najib escape” not unlikely.

Even if Najib does end up in prison before the next general election, he may go in as a martyr if the delaying tactic works. The delay would have bought the opposition enough time to build themselves as a credible alternative, and for the PH government to under-perform enough that Najib’s social media hype might translate into real support. That makes a prison term less painful for Najib.

Of course, this is just my hypothesis. But a hypothesis may come true.


JAMES CHAI works at a law firm. E-mail him at jameschai.mpuk@gmail.com.

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

 

 

 

Building a place called trust– Time to Talk Less and Do More


March 20, 2019

https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/03/471024/building-place-called-trust

 

 

THERE is a little known place in the Scottish Hebridean islands in the United Kingdom called the Isle of Skye. It is said to have rugged and mountainous landscapes graced with deep lochs. No highrises, no discarded waste. The scarcely scattered white-washed cottages in this place show one how nature has ruled over human creation.

Image result for Datuk Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff

But beyond the physical attributes, there is something more to this isle than its landscape. It embodies the epitome of TRUST. One magazine wrote that on the corners where paths cross, there are ‘product boxes’ where people leave their homemade jams and free-range eggs. Passers-by come, take what they need and leave their payment. Doors in homes are left unlocked. One can leave cars there with the windows open, and the only thing that will enter is the rain.

This is called integrity. This is called good governance. This is what I envision for our country. This is what I pray that one day every nook and cranny of Malaysia will become and that we do not take what does not belong to us, and we guard and protect with all we have, what is given to us to honour.

The example of Isle of Skye is the basis upon which we approached the National Anti-Corruption Plan. It isn’t just a plan, as cynics and critics would say, plucked from the air. The goal of the Plan is to create a corruption-free society governed by the principles of integrity, accountability and transparency.

The focus of the Plan is clear — and that is to ensure every agency and ministry in the public sector institutionalizes good governance in every part of their work. Why focus on the public sector, one may ask? The answer is simple. If public governance is not strengthened first, we cannot move to ask others to put their houses in order.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the Plan on Jan 29. It essentially identifies six key corruption-prone risk areas; political governance, public sector administration, public procurement, legal and judicial, law enforcement, and corporate governance.

Again, the process of ascertaining these was done through public surveys, interviews and research. We engaged many components of society — public and private sectors, civil society and the media. The Plan is an amalgamation of information we received from this work and on completion, we had independent anti-corruption specialists review our work.

I think it is important that we also understand why we had listed out the nature and points of corruption. A content analysis of about 20,000 reports received by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission from 2013 to 2018 found that more than 80 per cent were concerned with four causes; administrative failures (36.43 per cent), conflict of interest (33.12 per cent), weak internal control and non-compliance (18.97 per cent), and lack of transparency (6.45 per cent).

When we look at the areas prone to corruption from the same data we had, we found that the procurement sector recorded the highest number of complaints (42.8 per cent).

That’s why a special section in the Plan focuses on public procurement.

Beyond the Plan, our greatest challenge remains, as the government and people of Malaysia, our understanding of the roles of our government, private sector and public. I constantly argue that we have a somewhat warped view of this and frankly we are not alone here in Malaysia. To some, it is almost like watching the movie Matrix.

A lot of things in movies like Matrix are used as metaphors for our fixed views of ‘reality’. Rarely do we observe the world for what it is. It is much simpler to build a perceived order, load our preconceptions and baggage onto them to the point it simply becomes conducive and comfortable for us.

When we become fixated on a certain world view, and when that world view is simply wrong we open ourselves to the ramifications that come with living a lie, and that is exactly what we are going through today — the bite of reality of having condoned a culture of corruption for decades.

I often use the examples of nations such as Somalia, Zimbabwe and Myanmar which all have comparatively high CPI (Corruption Perception Index), coming in at 180, 160 and 132, respectively, to further demonstrate my point. Such positions within the CPI have ultimately left these countries in shambles economically, socially as well as politically.

Meanwhile, Malaysia ranks 61 within the index.  Admittedly, we are a far cry from achieving the corrupt-free status enjoyed by nations, such as Denmark, New Zealand and Finland, which rank 1, 2 and 3, respectively, on the index.

Attitudes and mindsets cannot be measured by Key Performance Indicators. They are intangibles.

The real engine to any delivery is mindset. Mindsets are defined by the culture we ultimately inculcate in this system. It is defined by the Isle of Skyes that we each develop in the little areas we are in charge of in our daily lives at work.

This culture has to be instilled, has to be imbued and built in every part of our society.

That is how we build a place called TRUST.

Datuk Dr. Anis Yusal Yusoff is the deputy director-general of the National Centre for Governance, Integrity & Anti-Corruption, Prime Minister’s Department

109 reads

Ethics in business: When broken souls walk our corridors


March 19, 2019

Ethics in business: When broken souls walk our corridor

http://investvine.com/ethics-in-business-when-broken-souls-walk-our-corridors/

Education: In pursuit to nowhere
By Firoz Abdul Hamid

Have you ever been brought down to the depth of your chaotic heart and soul that you feel so broken, lost and alienated in all that surrounds you? A place where the heart never feels at home, or at peace, or in synch with all that others say identifies with you as a being. Only those who have been there will know how broken this place is. How endless in its hopelessness this place looks. And mostly how inescapable this place seems.

I have seen many who have visited this place. But visiting it has made the many I have met such great achievers, and mostly such wonderful beings that a normal trajectory could have never endowed them with such depth of gentleness, unpretentiousness and genuineness. Yet, I have also met those who have visited this place who have turned out to be dark troubled souls – those who truly believe in all their being that destroying and abusing others – be that mentally, emotionally or physically – really is their birth right.

Look around us – take a step back – ponder why people cheat on their partners, employees on their employers, employers on their employees, governments letting down their constituents, markets abusing the system and, alas, people hurting people.

This week alone has laid before me destruction of the human soul to such a proportion that if we cannot and do not find it in our souls to recapture our essence, we are but doomed to great destruction to the point of no return.

Ethiopian Airlines wreckage

READ ON :https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47605265

 

The Ethiopian Airline Boeing 737 that crashed during take-off, killing all of its 157 people on board, and then on March 15 the cold-blodded killing of Muslims during their Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand, begs the question – who allowed this plane to fly and then what society created a monster who would go so deep down into the darkness of his soul to then feel absolute numbness before committing such a crime, respectively. If one is sober with sound moral judgement, one will not and cannot in his/her making as a human being commit crimes – be that in a home environment, work environment or in public.

Ethics In Business: When Broken Souls Walk Our CorridorsWe each go through our daily grinds, really condoning the little bribery to enforcements, the pandering to houses of power, turning the blind eye when signing off JUST THAT one time in our board or cabinet meetings, not knowing those things have consequences. That we are even unable to discern what we do has consequences, which may or may not directly affect us, is a reflection of the state of our souls, the state of our hearts, the state of the society that enables this. That we think it is fine to seek loopholes not to pay the fine or the tax, or stay silent when wrong happens before us is not a reflection of what is outside, rather it is of what is inside us.

This, I would argue, is the new and postmodern mental illness. An illness so covert in suits and eloquence of Ivy School language and speech that we in the public and private sector are simply not equipped to discern and confront. They come in many forms – in form of C-suites, boards, politicians, educators, legislators, key decision makers, and this list really is inexhaustible. They were once called narcissistic by psychologists. No more. I would argue that the ones who would sell and allow substandard planes to fly (especially after a history of a similar crashing earlier), hate to be perpetrated in societies for their own political future or even good work of colleagues to be diminished for self-preservation suffer from post-modern mental illness. Those who do not bat an eye lid signing off the embezzlement of billions of dollars of public funds. And even those whose entire source of existence is just to see the wrong in everything and not be part of the solution is a problem societies need to address.

In my own country today I see my government putting forth plans after plans, initiatives after initiatives to improve our wellbeing. Yet within and without this same system we have those who are insistent upon keeping with the old, and finding ways to circumvent the credibility and governance intended of these plans. This, I would say, is our greatest threat today. Not our lack in plans for carbon emission, or good governance or sound economic outlook – rather the lack of people able to see beyond the darkness of their souls to aspire goodness for all. In Arabic this is called “maslahah” – for the benefit of the public interest.

If there is one project leaders in every parts of our societies need to embark on – spanning from our dinner tables to our schools to our board and cabinet rooms – is healing souls, saving those conspicuous who walk our streets and important places in our public and private sectors from destroying us collectively. To have sophisticated programmes that identify and heal these people and until this is done not allow them near anything that looks like power. If we do not and cannot address this, no amount of plans and initiatives no matter the sovereignty and market can save us all. No number of changes in elected representatives can save us. This I am certain to the point of the clarity of what my name is.

As Qasim Chauhan says – you are what you hide from others, these unsaid thoughts, emotions and secrets, make you, YOU.

(Firoz Abdul Hamid is an Investvine contributor. The opinions expressed are her own.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who delayed the trial? Not my dog


March 15,2019

Who delayed the trial? Not my dog

by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/467815

COMMENT | On March 10, I was at my home in Bukit Tunku where I have one matured guard dog of mixed breed. Six months ago, I acquired another mixed breed, this time a puppy (now about 10-months-old) intending that it would be a fully-trained guard dog, as having one guard dog without a second one for any eventuality would be unwise.

I trust guard dogs more than human guards. Even my security guards think the same way, as they rely on my guard dogs to secure the compound while manning the guard houses and the gates. I have a professional dog trainer, a former police K-9 unit personnel trained by the FBI.

Although still a puppy, my dog is bigger than most adult dogs of his breed and extremely strong, fast and cunning. He is very playful as one would expect of a dog that age. When I come up to my house, he stands erect on his hind legs unsupported, even for as long as a minute, without moving.

On that day, the dog was let loose in the outer compound. When he saw me, he became excited and rushed towards me playfully, but I was not expecting this. I was careless and lost my balance and fell squarely on my left arm. I felt no pain even several hours later.

However, that night, I felt my left hand stiffening. At first, I thought nothing of it, believing it must be due to working hard in preparing for the appeals at the Court of Appeal on Monday and Tuesday.

I requested my Indonesian employee to massage my hand. He did so as I conducted discussions regarding the appeals in my library in the presence of at least five of my lawyers until about 1am on March 11. I went back home at about 4.30am, and there was no significant change in the feeling of stiffness.

Perhaps, the massage could have exacerbated the latent injury and the next morning, I felt pain when doing routine things.

I began to have more pain at the COA hearing on the first day (March 11), but it was not something that I could not bear. In any case, I alerted the COA of my possible delay the next morning, as I had to attend to a significant mention of Samirah Chandra Muzaffar’s case at the Shah Alam High Court due to some troubling developments.

At that time, my left hand was not an issue. But that night, I felt a throbbing pain and my wife noticed a significant swelling on the upper side of the left hand.

I could not sleep that night so I attempted to read my preparations for the second day at the COA, but the pain became worse and the swelling grew to half the size of a tennis ball. The pain was so severe I concluded that I must have fractured my hand from the fall.

I went to the court in Shah Alam early in the morning on March 12 and on the way, arranged for an orthopedic specialist at the Columbia Hospital in Shah Alam to have a look at my hand. But the timing was not conducive, so I had to rush to the Shah Alam Court, where the matter ended at 10.15am.

When I arrived in Putrajaya at the COA, my associate lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh, was shocked to see the swelling on my hand and told me to immediately go to the hospital.

Initially, my plan was to complete parts of the appeal in the morning and then head to the hospital either during lunch break or in the late afternoon after the case. I have a high threshold for pain, and I thought I could complete the submission before seeking treatment. But my team were concerned and advised me to seek an adjournment of the fourth appeal to the next day.

Consulted orthopedic specialist

When the court started, we applied for the fourth appeal, which was mostly my submission, not to be undertaken on that day as I needed immediate medical treatment. The attorney-general did not object to us doing the submission within the same week, but not Thursday (March 14) as he would be engaged with the Johor sultan.

Friday, on the other hand, was too short (considering Friday prayers) so we settled for Wednesday. Everything was agreed to when I left the COA leaving Harvinderjit to tend the fort. But what I did not know was that after I had left, all parties, including the court, decided that Friday would be a better option for the hearing of the appeal.

As I had a little more time, I went to consult my regular orthopaedic specialist at the Tung Shin Hospital in Pudu.

The specialist was kind enough to wait for me. Immediately upon examination, he was of the opinion that there could be a fracture. But thank God, the X-ray revealed otherwise.

It was massive soft tissue and blood capillaries injury causing significant internal bleeding that accounted for the tennis ball-like swelling and pain. I was given medication and medical leave up to Friday. But I would be attending court as I did this morning, tomorrow and Friday at the COA.

As you can see, we are not delaying the trial notwithstanding exigent circumstances.

Who delayed this trial? Consider the below honestly, and tell me who is the culprit.

The SRC International trial was fixed commencing from February 12, 2019 to March 29, 2019. But the AG decided at the eleventh hour to add three new additional charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla) at the trial court on Jan 28, 2019.

This was hardly two weeks from the trial without giving us the benefit of an earlier notice, especially as this would significantly change the trial dynamics, components and programmes.

A decent AG would give us an early notice so that we could offer an opinion if the three new charges could be jointly tried with the seven existing SRC charges on January 28 itself. If he had given us notice, we would not have to ask for time to consider this suggestion by the public prosecutor on January 28.

We also realised that there could be a serious problem in the mode of charging the three additional charges as they sneakily preferred the charges at the High Court itself calling them “charge 4, 5 and 6” without going through the lower court, as these new charges are trilable by the Sessions Court and need a special legal transfer mechanism for the charges to be transferred to the existing SRC High Court. Any chambering student in a criminal based practice would know this.

Anyway, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, realising we were unnecessarily taken by surprise, adjourned the matter for further consideration on February  7, just after Chinese New Year. Ask yourself who caused this delay?

As usual, we prepared tirelessly for the submission on Feb 7 in spite of the Chinese New Year and the need to prepare for the main trial starting imminently on Feb 12.

But, lo and behold, the AG personally turned up this time on Februry 7 to give us further shocking news for further concern.

An attempt to sabotage?

First, he said, to avoid troubling the court deciding on the joinder of charges, he was withdrawing the three new charges. What? Is this really happening? Why didn’t he have the decorum to tell us earlier so that we did not have to waste countless red-eyed days and nights preparing the arguments on the joinder?

We complained. Was this an attempt to sabotage by taking us away from preparing the main case? In any case, the statement by the AG that the new charges were withdrawn to save the court time in deciding about the joinder was not frank, as the real reason for the withdrawal was the AG had realised the blunder his office had made in the way he proferred the three additional charges directly at the High Court. This is having blunder and arrogance all together.

Now tell me honestly who caused this unnecessary waste of time and delay?

But that is not all. The AG, out of the blue, suddenly realised and told the court that as a result of two Federal Court decisions, two years and one year earlier respectively, he had second thoughts about the constitutionality of his transfer certificates under Section 418(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 60 of Amla and the transfer of all the seven charges of SRC cases to the High Court. But hang on, didn’t the AG say constitutional law is his forte?

The AG withdrew all the transfer certificates and literally told the judge that the SRC cases be reverted to the Sessions Court. This is now the subject of appeal on Friday.

Friday is also the subject of whether the judge can flip the AG’s transfer into his own initiated transfer without moving the cases physically to the Sessions Court first (as suggested by the AG himself) and bring them back to the same court.

To let a decision such as this stand would have serious consequences. This decision not only applies to Najib Abdul Razak, but literally everyone who is facing the criminal justice system in Malaysia. These are serious issues that would be dealt with at the COA.

This has never happened before in our country nor in the Commonwealth. A huge issue for determination by the COA is whether a trial if proceeded upon could be declared a nullity and my client could be the victim of a retrial.

Now would it not delay things further for everyone concerned if a retrial is ordered down the line? That is the reason the other coram of the COA granted a stay of the SRC trial until final determination of the appeal. The merit of the appeals is to be determined soon.

Now tell me who caused the delay?

Further among the four appeals is also our claim that we and the court must be given a copy of the fiat to prosecute of Sulaiman Abdullah (and by same arguments in another case involving Gopal Sri Ram).

We need this innocuous document which nevertheless provides the basis for the “fit and proper person” test for us to challenge the appointment if it is called for. Since 1938, our system and all the Commonwealth have provided for inspection fiats of this sort including when I became the prosecutor in Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy 2 appeals.

Ironically, the AG initially classified the fiat as an official secret (OSA) which was the excuse provided by Sulaiman in the High Court when he refused to provide the written fiat of his appointment. The AG dropped another bombshell by saying he was not relying on the official secret, and that it was just a “red herring,” and there was never an issue of OSA to begin with.

A red herring? From the mouth of the AG in court? Whose red herring? The AG’s red herring? Why did he mislead us yet again? We prepared a monumental amount of work on the OSA.

Now tell us honestly, after reading this and the facts available, who is causing the delay of the SRC trial.

One has to be as blind as a bat or as deaf as a doornail not to see or hear clearly that it is the Attorney-General’s Chambers which is delaying the trial by raising new things almost on the eve of the SRC trial.

READ THIS: https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/467873 by Mariam Mokhtar


MUHAMMAD SHAFEE ABDULLAH is the lawyer for former premier Najib Abdul Razak.

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

Share this story

AddThis Sharing Buttons

749Share to WhatsAppShare to PrintShare to More

91

Educating Malaysian Politicians


March 2, 2019

Educating  Malaysian Politicians

Opinion  |
By  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

 

COMMENT | Ooi Kee Beng, the executive director of the Penang Institute, is something of a titan among Malaysian public intellectuals. Of all his many achievements, my personal favourite is the choice of URL for his website – truly brilliant: http://www.wikibeng.com.

Image result for ooi kee beng

 

He recently wrote an article entitled ‘Limiting the political class should be the ultimate goal for reformists’. By the second paragraph, I was excitedly looking forward to comments on problems that I agree are at the heart of what ails us as a nation.

By the end of it, I was not entirely sure the article ultimately delivered as much as it could. Being not as qualified as Ooi, it took me a while to reach the end – the language being a little more turgid than I am used to.

Innocent jab aside, I think buried beneath some very complex concepts, Ooi touches on some important points, to which I would presume to add my two cents.

https://thomasfann.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/canweovercomemoneypolitics.jpg?w=687&h=321

 

I think the first important point Ooi makes is that Malaysia’s core political problems are cross-partisan. I agree with his assessment that our problem is a politico-cultural one.

The fancy term aside, I would surmise this as such: that there exists a Malaysian political culture, which is practised with impunity on both sides of the aisle. I have always hated cynicism, so I obviously would never agree with the oft-heard statement that “all politicians are the same”.

That said, it would be naive to ignore certain truths – among them, that many (not all) politicians share certain traits, especially in Malaysia.

 

There is no space here to describe all these traits in detail. Some of the more important ones include the way politicians think about money, about corrupt or semi-corrupt political financing, and about an abusive relationship between government and partisan politics.

Optimal reform paths

Needless to say, it would be best for Malaysia if we could get rid of some of these bad practices and political culture. The question is, obviously, how?

Ooi writes: “Politicians are here to serve the public, more or less the way civil servants are supposed to do. Politicians should not be superstars; they should not be celebrities. And their ultimate goal should be to make themselves redundant.”

I am sure Ooi is neither naive nor an excessive idealist. I think the most interesting discussions about political reforms are short on “shoulds” and long on “hows”.

I think it is less useful to discuss what politicians should be (a nearly endless list), and more useful to understand why politicians act the way they do, and how we can most effectively influence their behaviour.

I feel the biggest missing piece in Ooi’s article is the question of incentive structures. Politicians should not be superstars, but almost all of them aspire to be one – not just in Malaysia, but worldwide. That should come as no surprise, as the reasons are fairly obvious.

National elections do not (again, disregarding the “should” here) differ as much as we might think from, say, high school elections. Democracies are in essence popularity contests.

Here, one cannot help but think of two quotes on democracy popularly attributed to Winston Churchill (inaccurately, it would appear) concerning how it is “the worst form of government except for all the others”, and that “the best argument against democracy is five minutes of conversation with the average voter”.

Image result for Americans elected Trump

November 6, 2016 –The Day Donald Trump fooled America

 

The latter view is, of course, a little condescending, but it speaks to the heart of democracy’s many imperfections. How can we forget, after all, that we live in a world which  Americans elected Donald Trump as President of America?

Identifying correct structural incentives in politics and how to transition to them would be a worthwhile lifetime’s work. Here, I think we can only say that Malaysian politicians act and talk the way they do because they believe the system will reward their actions.

If we want them to act differently – to behave more like the statesmen Ooi talks about – the crucial pivotal point is whether we can reform Malaysia’s political system so as to create different incentive structures.

Are by-elections a waste?

Space will perhaps permit us to briefly discuss two other contemporary matters Ooi raised in his article: by-elections and the Economic Action Council (EAC).

Ooi writes: “By-elections being treated as general elections is a case in point. These are often minor events really, but since they happen so often, they are easily used by the political class to sustain a sense of political campaigning in the long period between one general election and the next. That way, they help distract from the hard technocratic work that good governance should be.”

In essence, I heartily agree. We all know that whoever is elected in Semenyih today will, legislatively speaking, have little or no impact on the major currents of Malaysian politics.

The vast resources that Malaysian political parties pour into by-elections suggest almost the exact opposite, however – the somewhat haphazard announcement of new toll policies being an example of how Pakatan Harapan was acting as though entire states or the federal government itself was at stake.

In this Ooi is fairly accurate in his description of how the political class seems to calculate things very differently, and generally in a way that does not benefit the nation.

To such political classes, what outside observers may consider a small, temporary spike in perception after the by-election (whether positive or negative towards one political coalition or the other) is exaggerated to become matters of near life and death.

This disproportionate view causes politicians to act in ways which may sacrifice long-term gains for short-term ones – though again, this is a political phenomenon which is not limited to Malaysia or to by-elections.

A radical solution to the problem of distracting by-elections is for the government to boycott them, as the ultimate pros and cons list may look different if you remove the narrow interests of the political class.

Ooi also comments on the EAC, describing it as “an attempt to rebalance politics and technocracy such that the former is reduced in importance, and the voice of experts and technocrats made directly relevant to the formulation and implementation of policies”.

 

I agree with Ooi that such rebalancing is good but am not entirely convinced that this is what the EAC represents.

There are, after all, five politicians on the EAC and there was political controversy over who was appointed (or not appointed) and why. Instead of ad hoc appointments such as the EAC, which may appear to some as having an element of vague arbitrariness, perhaps there are alternatives.

Zero experience

If we truly want to go down the technocrat route that Ooi advocates, perhaps we should consider something akin to the American system.

Under our Westminster system, the cabinet is chosen predominantly from members of the legislative – generally consisting of high-ranking party members who have won a seat in parliament. Their expertise in their given ministry is often a secondary consideration, if at all.

In America, the cabinet is appointed not from elected representatives in the legislative but theoretically from a pool of experts in a given cabinet portfolio.

This ensures that each federal portfolio is headed by a recognised expert in the field, as opposed to someone who may have as little as zero experience in the portfolio he or she is chosen to head.

Ooi’s discussion of the political class and political culture definitely touches the heart of what ails Malaysian politics today. He is also right to ask whether the grip corruption and negative practices have on Malaysian politics can be loosened.

Again, I believe the key, however, lies in questions of incentive structures in Malaysian politics. In looking at reforms and innovations in the field of incentives, we should consider a wide range of options, including the most fundamental questions of how we choose our leaders.

Image result for wong chin huat penang institute

Ooi’s colleague at the Penang Institute, Dr. Wong Chin Huat, has written extensively on innovating our electoral system. This is definitely one way to make some major changes with regard to political incentive structures.

Hopefully, think-tanks will continue to look into how we can influence political behaviour, not by depending on the goodness of politician’s hearts but by reforming the structures and landscape in which they operate.


NATHANIEL TAN is media and communications director at Emir Research, a think-tank focused on data-driven policy research.

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