GE-14: Joe Pandit votes for Change


April 6, 2018

GE-14: Joe Pandit votes for Change

https://aliran.com/thinking-allowed-online/general-election-2018-five-reasons-i-will-vote-change/

Joe Pundit explains why he has no other option but to give opposition parties a chance.

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Malaysians will go to the polls soon. The 2018 general election will be a significant one in the country’s history: for the first time the Opposition will be led by a former Prime Minister. Like many of my fellow Malaysians, I have pondered over whom to vote for.

I have decided that I will vote for change. I will be voting for the coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the following reasons:

1. We need a fairer electoral system

That we need a change is an option-less choice for me. If Malaysia is to evolve into a mature democracy, we need to have a two-party system.

Our present electoral system has to be changed and we should adopt a more democratic system based on proportional representation. There is too much gerrymandering when parliamentary constituencies are created and boundaries redrawn.

Only under a proportional representation system will the majority voices of the people be heard. In the 2013 General Election, the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won 51% of the popular vote but could not form the government under the present first-past-the-post system.

Like in respected democracies, many Malaysians would like to see the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee coming from the Opposition and not the ruling party.

2. We need to overcome critical problems confronting the people

Rising cost of living

The escalating cost of living has hit the working and middle classes in Malaysia. Like many Malaysians, I am totally against the goods and services tax (GST) as it is painful towards those less well off. Taxes should always be discriminatory and not non-discriminatory.

Lagging education system and unemployment

The education system needs to be further improved and it should be free of charge for all Malaysians till university. The command of written and spoken English is abysmal among the younger generation. The education system needs to be completely revamped.

The current government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of unemployment. Thousands of graduates are unemployed and many have to resort to driving Uber and Grab for a living.

Lack of affordable housing and security

Prices of houses and apartments in many parts of the country have soared beyond the reach of the middle class and the working class.

The crime rate is still high as seen by the increase in gated communities in the country.

Ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry

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Malaysians are also concerned about worsening ethnic polarisation and religious bigotry. The BN does not appear to be doing anything concrete to tackle this phenomenon, which is threatening the very fabric of our society.

Lack of consistent people-oriented measures

The government should assist the people on a daily basis – and not just occasionally through Brim. I believe genuine assistance will be provided to the people under an opposition-led government.

 

Many Malaysians are of the view that an opposition-led government will implement more people-oriented measures e.g a RM100 season ticket providing unlimited travel for commuters.

With an opposition-led government government, we have a chance of moving towards a more egalitarian society – and the more we move in this direction the better for the people.

3. We need to wipe out scandals, corruption and wastage

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Many serious issues that have surfaced since the 2013 general election such as 1MDB, Felda Global Ventures and Mara’s purchase of property in Australia have raised critical questions that remain unanswered. No satisfactory explanation has been given by the government and no one at the top has been made accountable for these financial transgressions.

The level of corruption in the country is of deep concern to many Malaysians like me. Malaysia’s ranking fell sharply from 54th to 62nd position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2017. Many feel that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is not doing enough to combat corruption: it has to be made totally independent, reporting directly to Parliament.

Many Malaysians believe we should have an independent civil service without political interference. There is so much of wastage of public funds: just look at the number of civil servants, officials and others accompanying the prime minister and cabinet ministers on each overseas trip.

All tenders for all public projects should be transparent, and the tender committees for all major projects should comprise top civil servants and MPs from both sides of the political divide.

4. We need fairer, more independent media

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The mainstream print and electronic media are unfair to the people. Hardly impartial, they serve as propaganda machinery for the ruling coalition. While we may or we may not agree with all of Mahathir and the Opposition’s policies and views, we would like them to be given space to express their views in the mainstream print and electronic media.

 

Malaysians must be given the chance to listen to live debates between the government and the opposition on television and radio ahead of the election. Only after listening to both sides will Malaysians be in a better positioned to make a choice.

By denying us the right to listen to both sides of the story, the government is telling us we unable to think rationally or vote wisely – which is an insult to the intelligence of Malaysians.

5. We need sweeping institutional reforms

The BN has failed to introduce sweeping much-needed reforms in the country.

Malaysians will expect an opposition-led government to implement reforms in all major institutions such as the Electoral Commission, the civil service, the judiciary, and the armed forces so that institutions will remain independent of the government of the day. These institutions should only report to the King and Parliament.

Given the wealth and natural resources in our country, Malaysians deserve a better deal.

If opposition parties are elected to power and they fail to improve the political and socio-economic environment in the country, then I would be inclined to vote for the BN in the election after next.

Joe Pundit is the pseudonym of a keen political observer based in Kuala Lumpur.

RUU 355: The Bloody Fool Speaker Pandikar Amin !


 

February 23, 2018

RUU 355: The Bloody Fool Speaker Pandikar Amin

by Din Merican

On February13, 2018, I wrote about Tawfik Tun Dr Ismails’s case against the Speaker and secretary of the Dewan Rakyat for wrongfully allowing the tabling of a Bill by PAS chief Hadi Awang seeking to increase the sentencing powers of the Syariah Courts more famously known as the RUU355 case.

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Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail claimed that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia acted unconstitutionally by allowing the tabling of Hadi’s Motion and RUU355 without consulting the Conference of Rulers and breaching various laws and the standing orders of Parliament. This amendment would also create inequality in the law amongst Malaysians especially Muslims for purported Syariah criminal offences as the Syariah laws in the states are not uniform.

This case showed that PM Najib and UMNO were playing politics with religion and the Speaker behaved deceitfully in Parliament. See link:

https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/the-constitution-is-supreme-not-speaker-parliament-pandikar-amin/

Rosli Dahlan

 

My friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who represented Tawfik, pointed out to Judge Dato Wira Kamaludin Said that Pandikar was misleading the court and showed that the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy does not apply in Malaysia.

Lawyer Rosli revealed the abuse of parliament by the politicians to pass bad laws for political mileage without concern for the Rakyat especially Muslims. He also said that the Speaker committed treason against the Sultans by sidelining and disregarding the Rulers role to be consulted under Article 38 of the Constitution.

To avoid answering to Rosli’s charges about his treasonous behavior, Pandikar applied to strike out Tawfik’s case by claiming that as Speaker he has absolute immunity and is not answerable to the Courts.

Speaker Pandikar arrogantly defended his deceitful ways by saying -“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool!”

On Thursday afternoon February 22, 2018, Judge Kamaludin delivered his verdict that Parliament is not supreme and that the Speaker of Parliament is also subject to the Court’s jurisdiction.

The Judge said -“I agree with En Rosli and in my opinion, the court has jurisdiction to hear this case,” and directed Pandikar to file his affidavits. “I want affidavits to be filed in quick. We cannot keep Parliament waiting,” he said.

By these firm words, Judge Kamaludin has shown to Speaker Pandikar that he is not above the law. Pandikar has been put into his proper place and is now forced to eat the humble pie that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. Judge Kamaludin is showing to Pandikar that a speaker who thinks he is powerful is actually the ultimate bloody fool!

Pandikar who had arrogantly refused to answer to the affidavits by Tawfik is now being treated like a delinquent child who refused to hand up his homework. Judge Kamaludin is now chiding Pandikar that he will be punished if he doesn’t file his affidavit.

Once again my friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan is taking to task public functionaries who misbehaved and abused their powers regardless even if he is the Speaker of Parliament. I salute him for his bravery. Rosli had previously sued Attorney General Gani Patail and successfully moved the court to rule that Gani’s does not have absolute unbridaled powers as Public Prosecutor.

The RUU355 case is significant because a High Court Judge is brave enough to instill discipline even in the Speaker of Parliament that there must be respect and compliance with the Constitution. It is significant because a member of the public is suing the Speaker of Parliament not to sideline the Rulers in matters that involve public policy. This case symbolises the people defending their rulers. Daulat Tuanku!

Thank you Tawfik, thank you Rosli for showing us that Pandikar is the ultimate bloody fool!

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/bahasa/s/39255/

Former UMNO MP can challenge Dewan Rakyat Speaker on RUU355, court rules – https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/39252 – Updated: 22 Feb 2018 3:58PM – The Malaysian Insight

APSIA Conference 2017 Keynote Address by Singapore’s DPM


March 5, 2017

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APSIA Conference 2017 Keynote Address by Singapore’s DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at LKY School of Public Policy

COMMENT:

Geo-Politics, Disruptive Social Developments and Technological Change: Has the Game Changed? Yes, that is easy part of the answer.  How we wish that life is simple and outcomes are predictable. But it is not. I  have been grappling a few questions. I asked myself questions like What has changed? How it has changed?  What is driving the change?What this change means to us in Asia.

China, North Korea, Islamic and Christian evangelism, terrorism and so on are making the headlines.I  also see increasing polarisation and the need for understanding and rebuilding trust. I expect our politicians to reconnect with people they are mandated to serve and  want leaders to lead with integrity, honesty and hope. Listen to DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam for some insights.–Din Merican

 

 

Happy New Year-2017


December 23, 2016

Happy New Year

Christmas is only two days away. Dr. Kamsiah and I wish Merry Christmas to all our Christian friends around the world. At the same time let us spare our prayers for the victims of war who are trying to survive.

2017 is likely to be a difficult and very troubled one. That said, we cannot allow our politicians a free hand to do what they please. We must now take charge our own future and have the courage to make our leaders accountable for their actions. Let us resolve to act in 2017.

To Fellow Malaysians, we have this to say–how much longer  can we tolerate this corrupt and incompetent  Najib regime? Don’t we, especially the sentimental and easy to pamper Malays,  realise that he and his cabals are running our country to the ground. It is time for us to use the ballot box to get rid of this political  cancer once and for all.  Together we can make a difference in 2017. Happy New Year.–Dr.  Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

Anwar Ibrahim’s Quest for Freedom denied by Federal Court


December 14, 2016

Anwar Ibrahim’s Quest for Freedom denied by Federal Court

by Hafidz Yatim

http://www.malaysiakini.com

This outcome is not unexpected because our Judiciary is not independent.  Out of the window goes our system of checks and balances when the Executive Branch overpowers our Judiciary and Parliament (the Legislative branch), and the Rule of Law is absent.

As my friend  Stanford University’s Dr. David Cohen said at a seminar at The University of Cambodia Human Rights Forum a few days ago that without the Rule of Law a citizen is denied Justice. “The Rule of Law is the foundation of Human Rights and good governance is an essential element of the Rule of Law.”–Din Merican

The Federal  Court today dismissed PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s review of the Sodomy II conviction and sentence. With this, Anwar, formerly Malaysia’s opposition leader, is expected to remain in jail until mid-2018.

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Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin

The Five-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin ruled there was no bias or procedural unfairnes in the decision of the previous Federal Court panel.

On the issue of the premature and swift response from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Sodomy II verdict on February 10 last year, Justice Zulkefli said while the statement, as argued by the appellant, had given the public the impression that Anwar did not receive a fair and independent hearing, the court took the view it was not within the control of the court to stop the issuance of the statement.

“As a separate branch of the government, the Judiciary and the courts operate independently in their decision-making process, with no interference from other branches of government.There has to exist a clear separation of powers between the judiciary and the other two arms of the government in order to uphold the rule of law,” he said.

Ruling further that there was no merit in the allegation that the statement was issued prematurely, he added this did not fall under the ambit of Rule 137 (that allowed a review).

“There is no evidence to show that there was any communication whatsoever between the PMO and the Federal Court, either prior or subsequent to the decision on the case,” Justice Zulkefli said in the unanimous decision.

The other judges were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum, along with Federal court judges Hasan Lah, Abu Samah Nordin and Zaharah Ibrahim.

However Justice Malanjum was not on the bench today as he had to attend the funeral of a relative who had passed away.

Shafee’s conduct no bearing on outcome

The Federal Court also dismissed the questioning of the conduct of senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who led the prosecution team in the Sodomy II appeals in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court, by Anwar’s lawyers.

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Justice Zulkefli said while the appellant contended that Shafee’s speech at a roadshow had tainted the prosecutor’s office in conducting the trial fairly, the court was of the view that the alleged misconduct, if any, had no bearing on the outcome of the decision of the Federal Court.

“We noted there is no evidence furnished or averment of any sort made by the applicant to suggest that this alleged misconduct of the lead prosecutor had influenced the decision of the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015,” he said. The judge further cited Shafee’s appointment as prosecutor by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

On the earlier Federal Court’s judgment by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, which made mention of previous sodomy incidents that had been ruled as expunged by the High Court, Justice Zulkefli said this issue of misevaluation of evidence, improper direction and non-direction of the trial judge were not within the permitted circumstances that the court could exercise its inherent jurisdiction to review.

“We would like to state on this issue now raised before us that we found that it was not raised before the Federal Court. It is for this reason that we think the Federal Court did not address this point at all and hence no reason was given on the issue of the admission or rejection of the alleged inadmissible evidence,” he said.

On the issue of complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan not bringing the lubricant KY Jelly, the Federal Court said according to the record of proceedings in the High Court, it was dealt with extensively by both the defence and the prosecution.

Justice Zulkefli said the earlier judgment by the Federal Court court held there was no conclusive proof that KY Jelly had spilled on the carpet and it was of the view that the carpet was not a critical piece of evidence to the prosecution’s case. “It is therefore our judgment that this issue of KY Jelly raised by the applicant is a non-issue and it had not caused injustice to the applicant,” he said.

While Anwar’s defence team maintained the integrity of the crime scene was compromised as Saiful had claimed the incident took place on the carpet in Unit 11-5-1, whereas the carpet was found in Unit 11-5-2, the court held that it could not accept the argument as the earlier panel ruled the issue of how the carpet was moved was not critical to the prosecution’s case.

“We do not think that we should look into what that other compelling evidence was as found by the Federal Court,” Justice Zulkefli said.

The court also ruled there was no merit to Anwar’s defence contention that there was a break in the chain of evidence, saying there was no serious injustice in the chain of custody of the exhibits.

“For the above reasons, we find there is no merit in the application and this is not a fit and proper case for the court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to make any order for the case to be reviewed,” Justice Zulkefli said.

Under Trump,US Allies in Asia May Look to Themselves for Security


November 13, 2o16

For years, American allies in East and Southeast Asia have been quietly preparing to rely less on the United States for regional stability and security. That shift came despite President Barack Obama’s strategic “pivot” to Asia, which was a centerpiece of his administration’s foreign policy and was likely to continue if Democrat Hillary Clinton had won Tuesday’s U.S. presidential vote — notwithstanding her election-year renouncement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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President-elect Donald Trump’s upset in the election, however, could mean a very different future for U.S. foreign policy in the region, and could hasten the drive toward the self-reliance among Asian allies that is already underway.

“Asians have quietly been hedging their bets for many years that America’s distraction with the Middle East and lingering budget woes would eventually lead to a retrenchment of American leadership,” said Lindsey Ford, who advised senior Defense Department officials on Asia policies for more than four years under the Obama administration, until 2015.

“Unless a new Trump administration moves quickly to assuage these fears, this trend will only increase,” Ford, now director of Asian security at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said in a statement just after Tuesday’s election.

On the campaign trail, Trump said he would call on Japan and South Korea to pay more of a share in the expenses of security cooperation with the United States, and expressed openness to the idea of nuclear proliferation among U.S. allies. Obama is set to leave office at a time of rising tensions over disputes in the East and South China Seas and North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons. Foreign Policy asked Ford to outline a sense of what U.S. allies in East and Southeast Asia should expect.

Under Trump, U.S. Allies in Asia May Look to Themselves for Security

This interview, conducted by email, has been condensed and edited.

FP: What is the most telling example of Asian allies hedging in preparation for a diminished U.S. presence in the region?

LF: One of the most telling examples of Asian hedging is the careful balancing act we’ve seen Association of Southeast Asian Nations nations engaging in for quite some time. This has included diversifying both their economic ties as well as their military investments between the U.S. and China. Witness this past month’s visits by [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte and [Malaysian] Prime Minister Najib [Razak] to China as a great example. We’ve also seen this balancing act play out time and again in the South China Sea, where ASEAN nations have wrestled with how to avoid hewing too closely to either the United States or China.

FP: What specifically might Trump do to assuage these fears?

LF: President-elect Trump could begin by publicly reaffirming that America’s extended deterrence commitments — its nuclear umbrella — remains rock solid. His earlier suggestion that countries like Japan and the Republic of Korea should perhaps seek out their own nuclear capabilities seriously spooked Asian partners. While he may not wish to explicitly walk back these statements, he needs to make clear that nuclear proliferation is in no one’s best interests and that the United States remains firmly invested in protecting its allies from nuclear attack or provocation.

FP: U.S. partners like Japan and the Philippines are already looking to further boost their own military capabilities — what might an acceleration in those efforts look like?

LF: Under President [Shinzo] Abe, Japan has slowly dipped its toes in the waters of becoming a more “normal” military power for the first time since World War II. Thus far, Japan has proceeded relatively cautiously in reinterpreting its definition of “self-defense” and the appropriate role for its military forces. However, this change could be accelerated should Japan feel more convinced it could not rely on the U.S. security umbrella. We could potentially see Japan moving to increase military spending above its traditionally limited levels of one percent of gross domestic product. We could see an Abe government push to more fundamentally revisit or overturn Article 9 of the Constitution, allowing Japan to build a more traditional “offensive” capability for its forces. Either of these developments would worry neighbors such as the Republic of Korea and China, potentially setting off ripple effects in terms of their own military spending and posture.

FP: Does the imminent breakdown of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have security implications?

LF: From a security perspective, the biggest implication of our failure to secure the TPP would be the loss of American credibility in Asia. If our allies and partners view our failed follow through on issues such as TPP and Syria as evidence that America will not make good on its word, it will greatly diminish their trust in our security commitments and leadership. This could, in turn, make it harder for the U.S. to build coalitions of support on any number of thorny international security problems, such as countering the Islamic State and deterring North Korean provocations.

FP: A line of presidents have failed to make substantial diplomatic headway with North Korea. What might a Trump approach look like — are there any clues?

LF: Dealing with the North Korea situation is perhaps the biggest looming issue in Asian security affairs at the moment, and one that the incoming president will need to move quickly to address. There is very little indication that Donald Trump has already developed these plans, or that he fully appreciates the long graveyard of failed North Korea policies that have preceded him. In brief statements on the issue thus far, he has suggested he would merely tell China “this is your problem.” This approach will almost certainly fail. One can only hope that in the coming months he will reach out, as he has suggested, to solicit creative thinking on this and other issues.

FP: Does Taiwan face increased risks under Trump?

LF: It’s simply too soon to speculate what a Trump presidency could mean for Taiwan. Taiwan has typically enjoyed strong bipartisan support within the U.S. Congress, but like the rest of Asia, they will need to spend some time sounding out the new team and taking the temperature to see where things stand.