My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella Apandi


February 8, 2016

My friend Abu Talib responds to this UMNO Fella: A-G Apandi

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor

My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution.–Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman

Former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman today said he had never directed investigation agencies, including the anti-graft body, to stop their probes.

“My principle is to assist them in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It was also my directive not to prefer any criminal charge on any suspect unless the prosecution has sufficient, credible and admissible evidence to justify prosecution,” he said.

Current A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had said he had followed in Abu Talib’s footsteps when he ordered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to close its investigations into the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International funds deposited in prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private accounts.

“I am just following my master’s footsteps. Now he said I couldn’t do that. I am confused.I hope he can come to see me so that I can offer my explanation,” Apandi reportedly told Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview.

Apandi was a senior officer with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in the early 1980s when Abu Talib was the A-G. Abu Talib last week told The Malaysian Insider that the A-G, who is also the public prosecutor, had no authority to order MACC to close its investigations into the two cases.

“This is a case of public importance that has attracted worldwide attention. The A-G must help MACC to collect evidence as the source of the fund is outside Malaysia,” Abu Talib had said.

Today, Abu Talib said Apandi should refresh his memory of cases where he had directed an on-going investigation to be closed.”Frankly, I cannot remember,” he said.

Abu Talib also said Apandi would not have been in a confused state of mind if he had indeed followed in his footsteps.

“His decision in the circumstances has raised more questions than solve the allegations against the Prime Minister, the status of other investigations related to the activities of 1MDB and persons connected with the company,” he said.

He said that in all fairness to Najib and the public, and mindful that the RM2.6 billion came from outside Malaysia, Apandi should have given all the necessary assistance to MACC to complete their investigations.

“It may well be that at the end of the day, Apandi will find enough evidence to show that Najib had done no wrong under the law,” he added.

The public, said Abu Talib, was not likely to question Apandi’s decision (to clear the PM of criminal wrongdoing) if he had allowed MACC to collect evidence outside Malaysia.

“As it is, Apandi’s decision appears questionable and has cast negative perceptions on his impartiality, commitment to justice and rule of law,” he added.

Abu Talib said he was not answerable to Apandi and that he was free to exercise his constitutional right to comment on a case of great public interest, so long he did not cross the limits of freedom of expression.

“My comment is clear and made in good faith. There is nothing further to explain,” he said.He added that Apandi was welcome to see him if he wanted to learn and know more about the law.

 

Towards a New National Ethos NOW


February 6, 2016

Towards a New National Ethos NOW

by R B Bhattacharjee

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

The current generation of Malaysians have an extraordinary opportunity to chart new pathways for the country in light of the ground shift that is taking place in its political, social and economic spheres.

Currently, the multiple crises that are playing out on the national stage present a rather disturbing picture of the state of the nation – reflecting a breakdown in accountability, misallocation of resources, radicalisation of cultural norms and a growing ethical deficit. In total, the trend is distinctly downhill.

Nevertheless, while the near term will tend to be chaotic, it is important that we do not succumb to negativity but focus our energies on nurturing a vision for Malaysia that will put the country on a path towards excellence.

To achieve this, we will need to find inspiration to transcend the petty squabbles, narrow viewpoints and selfish instincts of self-serving pressure groups in our midst that have kept our nation in a constant state of anxiety.

It is clear that these divisive voices occupy a public space that is disproportionately large because opinion leaders with a more wholesome vision have not given life to a holistic worldview that all Malaysians can espouse as their own.

This then is our challenge today: can we supplant the narrative of the extremists with an ideal of a plural, tolerant and progressive society? Failure will mean condemning future generations to a dismal fate under the tyrannical control of self-appointed guardians of society.

So, it is not only vital to invest in the socialisation of a common, yet diverse value system, this generation has a solemn responsibility to succeed in that endeavour.

As societal transformation often occurs on an inter-generational time frame, a key challenge will be to plant the seeds of this new thinking in institutions that involve the young – particularly the educational system, sports organisations and youth movements.

A vital measure in this context is to reform the school environment to promote the concept of egalitarianism as a basis for a just society. This will require a mindset change at a fundamental level to create a new sense of national consciousness.

There must also be a readiness to reinterpret the intent of constitutional provisions on issues like the special rights of the Malays, among other things, to align prevalent views on the nation’s charter with universal concepts of human aspirations.

The terrain is fraught with perils including racial and religious sensitivities that can derail attempts to explore alternative pathways that are more conducive to Malaysia’s progress as a contemporary society in the era of borderless exchange and globalisation.

Yet, we must find the courage to venture into forbidding areas of our composite nationhood in order to lay to rest musty ideas about inter-ethnic relations and mutual suspicions about acculturation, hidden agendas and an assortment of other hobgoblins.

Difficult as it may seem to discard old ways of thinking about ethnicity and cultural differences, it is worth noting that many Malaysians already incorporate colour-blind practices in significant aspects of their lives.

Children who are enrolled into international schools, for example, experience diversity and multiculturalism as integral elements of their learning environment.

Similarly, employees in multinational firms imbue policies promoting equal opportunity and cultural sensitivity as part and parcel of the organisational ethos.

People working in fields like the health services, engineering, research and management benchmark their performance to international standards and protocols that are insulated from ethnic markers of any kind.

These examples show that a significant segment of Malaysians are already operating in a universal framework of values, and that the time is really overdue for a bigger swathe of the population to be co-opted into this broader paradigm.

What remains is to overcome the inertia of our current trajectory and steer the country away from its disastrous current pathway towards a national vision that is open to the best virtues of an interdependent new world.

Nothing would be more tragic for the nation than to remain shackled by its self-inflicted deficiencies instead of leveraging on its natural advantages to build a dynamic, open and forward-looking society.

To realise that potential, we must be ready to undo past mistakes and adopt a fresh ethos that all Malaysians would want to buy into.

To find our bearings again, we only need to reaffirm the best aspects of our diversity that promote our common well-being and discard those habits that divide and separate us. It really ought to be a simple choice.

Kassim Ahmad: MAN–What is MAN?


February 6, 2016

Kassim Ahmad: MAN–What is MAN?

What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how exspress and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me – no, nor woman neither.                                                                                                    HAMLET,  Shakespeare.

Recently I promised my readers to write on Man. In the Bible, God said that He created man in His own image. In the Quran, man is His vicegerent on Earth (Arabic: khalifah). The meaning is essentially the same: ruler. Man is the ruler and the re-maker of the Universe. That has, of course been done. Man has created cities and civilizations, from ancient Babylon and Egypt, through ancient Greece, and Rome, through modern Arabian monotheism, and lastly through modern Europe and its extension in the United States of America.

In a beautiful allegory in the second chapter of the Quran, the angels protested against the creation of Man, saying that Man is a shedder of blood and spreader of corruption in the world. God simply said that He knew better. (See Quran, 2: 30)

The angels were partially right. Man did shed blood in the two World Wars. (God forbid that there will be a third!). After the Second World War, there was a period called “Cold War” when a strategic balance was struck between the American-led so-called Democratic block and the Soviet-led Eastern block. In the meanwhile, Man’s knowledge advance, slowly at first, then by leaps and bounce, and we are now at the threshold of colonizing outer space. In two generations we shall indeed be living in outer space!

So it does seem that God’s optimism about Man has been amply demonstrated. If I am not mistaken, more miracles are coming. Anti-aging, for one. We shall soon be forever young!

Public intellectual Kassim Ahmad or  Village Preacher Hadi Awang: Pak Kassim is my Choice by a Mile–Din Merican

There is no doubt that man cannot escape reaping the harvest of what he had sowed. He will be punished to the extent of his criminality, i.e. disobedience to his own Maker.  Unless my reading of the Quran is at fault, this means man will punish his own wrong-doing. What incredible beauty!

 In the end, man will have punished himself enough, and he will be freed from his own Hell, and enter Paradise. Such is God’s incredible power and wisdom. No wonder we are asked always to remember God’s graciousness and mercy.– www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com

My country MALAYSIA: Its PROBLEMS and SOLUTIONS


February 3, 2016

My country MALAYSIA: Its PROBLEMS and SOLUTIONS

By: Kassim Ahmad

I am a patriot, a plain Kassim Ahmad, who a long time ago politely refused an UMNO offer for a datoship.Being from a poor oppressed classed, I began early as a rebel (with causes, of course!) and soon became the leader of the Malayan People’s Socialist Party (1968-1984). In 1984, seeing the collapse of international socialism in the world I left the party and made a strong patriotic statement by joining UMNO in 1986. My aim of reform could not take off. I am still an UMNO member, albeit very critical of UMNO.

On the same day when my UMNO memberhip application was approved, my widely discussed book Hadis – Satu Penilaian Semula was released. After two months of extensive discussions, including an ABIM-organized public dialogue, it was banned by the religious establishment in the country.

Several state muftis penned books to rebut my book, repeating their old and tired arguments, which I have already refuted in the first place. However, I wrote another book entitled, Hadis – Jawapan kepada Pengkritik (1992), briefly dismissing the muftis’ several books, but at the same time giving more details about the Quran.

This started the movement for the review of Hadith as well as for going back to the Quran, not only in Malaysia, but internationally. Hadis – Satu Penilaian Semula has since been translated into English and Arabic. I am glad to say that today the Turkish Government is undertaking a major project of Hadith re-evaluation.

I admit that I was a rebel, and still is. At the core of Malaysia’s problems is  corrupt UMNO, the backbone of its ruling BN Government. In 1946 when UMNO was first formed it was a poor idealistic Malay party embraced en mass by the Malays in their enthusiasm and quest for Merdeka.

To cut the story short, via the bloody May 13, via great Razak’s Mageran (the Council for the  Regeneration of the Country) and his extraordinary vision, Malaysia is what it is today, one of the most progressive countries among the developing world.

At the same time, as it is wont in human affairs, deterioration sets in, as complacancy grows among the ruling elite. UMNO became corrupt, and has perhaps reached the point of no return today. In this atmosphere of gloom when financial scandles abound, pessimism is in the air. Oh Lord! Do we need a second Mageran, ask the thinking part of Malaysia?

The people ask, “What are we to do? Can anything be done? Such voices rise from the depth of the soul of the people, voiced by their intellectuals, the likes of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Dr. M Bakri Musa, HRH Sultan of Johor, HRH Sultan of Perak Dr. Nazrin Shah and HRH the Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail.

Yes, indeed. What is to be done? Can corrupt UMNO be reformed? Can weak Pakatan Rakyat take over? Where is our Saviour? Where is our Imam Mahdi? When is the Second-Coming (of Jesus Christ)?

Unfortunately, all these wailings are of no avail. Man has been created as God’s vicegerent on earth, to rule the earth and change it to His liking. Oh Man! Rise up to your calling! “I created you free,” God said. So wait no more! Act!

Enumerate the things you must do in order of importance. First, you must reform UMNO. Once the difficult task of reforming of UMNO is over, all other problems will be resolved: wastage in manpower in Government, increasing productivity by optimum use of assets, trimming the Government, the need for good governance, increasing salaries of lower-rung Government servants, overcoming periodic floods in some states, eliminating traffic jams by decreasing private cars and increasing and improving public transport, and doing away with tolls, and such like actions to make life more comfortable for all Malaysians.

KASSIM AHMAD is a Malaysian author. His website is www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com


February 2, 2016

A Fearless Cartoonist challenges The Royal Malaysian Police over his Najib Clown Cartoon

by Arfa Yunus

http://www.freemalaysiaytoday.com

fahmi-reza-4

Artist and activist Fahmi Reza has warned police against arresting him over his artwork depicting Prime Minister Najib Razak as a clown.In an open letter posted on his Facebook page today, Fahmi said his arrest would only get him more publicity and draw more attention to his art pieces.

“With all due respect, I hope the Police would not make a rash decision to arrest me, following the Police report lodged by Ali Tinju and the Red Shirts movement against the poster I shared on social media.CaLsvZcVIAMmfH9

As you know, the poster was a satire based on current issues, which is protected under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees ‘every citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression’,” he said.

Fahmi recently received a warning from the Police for uploading a caricature of Najib as a clown, as part of a campaign against the Sedition Act.

In lodging a police report yesterday, Ali Tinju, whose real name is Mohd Ali Baharom, said Fahmi’s artwork had caused “public outrage” and could influence the rakyat to hate the Prime Minister.

Fahmi, however, said that if he was arrested, it could draw more visitors to his social media accounts and would inspire more people to rebel, become more aware of their rights, and be unafraid to speak up against corruption, injustice and oppression.

“I end this letter with Newton’s Third Law: ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’.”

Time for Malay Rulers act to stop Racism and Islamic Extremism


February 2, 2016

Time for Malay Rulers act to stop Racism and Islamic Extremism

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

“Kepada pihak berkuasa, berkas mereka yang menghasut Bangsa Johor untuk membenci dan mempromosikan perkauman. Jangan pilih kasih, cari jalan penyelesaianya ke akar umbi,” – HRH Sultan Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar

In the last few months, HRH The Sultan of Johor and HRH The Sultan of Perak  have spoken out publicly to share their concerns about the dangers of racial and religious extremism taking root in the country.

The first was HRH Sultan of Johor who in a Facebook posting in both English and Malay languages on September 15, 2015 warned:

“Let me reiterate, there is no place for hatred and racism here in Johor Darul Ta’zim.  It was never welcomed, nor will I ever welcome haters and racists here in Johor. If anyone who wants to practice hatred and racism in Johor Darul Ta’zim, the home of the Malays, Chinese and Indians- Bangsa Johor, please leave Johor immediately. That is an order!”

At last view, the posting had received 81,000 Likes; 6.900 Comments and 36,000 Shares.

Last week, the Sultan of Perak, opening a religious meeting, spoke in a similar but more urgent tone. Speaking, perhaps with his mind on the recent Islamic State-inspired Jakarta attacks which has raised fears of an expanded presence and activity by the terrorist movement in Malaysia, he warned that religion is like a time bomb which can explode, triggering chaos and catastrophe if it is sensationalized for political purposes.

He also noted that “[j]ustice must be implemented, human dignity must be respected, while the king is responsible for fulfilling the role of an arbitrator in a fair and equitable manner and willing to give space to listen and scrutinise.” Finally, in recognition of our multi-racial and multi-religious society, he emphasized that impartiality required rulers to offer the ‘shade of their umbrellas’ equally to all, irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Authorities Abetting or Discouraging Extremism

sultan-ibrahim-tmj-hajj

At the end of his post HRH Johor Sultan ordered: “To the authorities, do not take [the] soft approach against haters and racists, do not be bias[ed], get to the root of the problem, and apprehend those who create racial disharmony problems here in Johor Darul Ta’zim,”

Who are the haters and racists, and those planting the time bombs and laying the minefields of racial and religious discord? And what are the authorities doing about it?

This question, posed by numerous quarters many times in the past ten years especially after the 2008 elections, has not received the serious attention it requires.

Now that two of the country’s Rulers have come out openly, it is time for the rest of the country to have a frank and open public discourse on it.

For a start we can ask some pertinent questions. We know that politics and politicians provide much of the breeding ground for religious and racial xenophobia and hate. We also have irresponsible media outlets and rabid columnists stoking racial and religious fury and shutting the scope for moderate voices. Let’s flush them out into the open and have them explain their positions to a non-partisan independent monitoring body that is not tied to the ruling government which has a vested interest in playing politics on it. And start taking firm action against repeat offenders as demanded by HRH Sultan of Johor.

But what of our religious leaders and agencies? Are they helping to douse or fan the flames of religious fires? HRH Sultan of Perak has argued that Islamic scholars and leaders entrusted with managing the affairs of Islam must carry out their responsibilities with wisdom and justice. He has also called on them to respect the feelings of others and understand the realities of our time and place.

Is this what is taking place and are our Islamic leaders and agencies up to this challenge of being role models for our society and our time? Because Najib Razak-led UMNO-Barisan Nasional government and authorities are remiss in pursuing these questions and countering extremist racial and religious sentiment, it has been left to civil society groups and concerned individuals to take on this onerous task.

Why Shoot the Messenger

Among the most prominent of the groups expressing concern on the worsening racial and religious discord in the country is the G-25 Group of prominent Malay civil servants set up in late 2014. Since its formation, G-25 has repeatedly pushed for a rational and informed public discussion on how Islamic laws should apply in a constitutional and multi-religious democracy.

Despite receiving little encouragement from the authorities, the Group has persisted in its efforts to examine the way in which Islam is used or misused as a source of public law and policy and how this is impacting on race relations and political stability.

As part of its public scrutiny, G25 has criticized JAKIM, the federal Islamic development agency, for exercising authority beyond their appropriate jurisdiction in possible violation of the Federal Constitution and thwarting the democratic process.

For its pains, the G-25 group has been accused of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay. Most recently, threats of physical violence have been directed at the group’s spokesperson, Noor Farida Ariffin, by supporters of the status quo.

It is a concern that there has been little or no effort made by the authorities, including religious, to explain that the accusations made against the G-25 are baseless. There also appears to be no attempt made to defend G-25 members from threats of harm or in reminding the public that extremist positions against those holding contrarian views are unacceptable and punishable when they break the law. Instead various key members of G-25 are being investigated by the Police for allegedly violating the sedition law.

Royalty to the rescue?

The response to G-25 indicates that our Rulers – as heads of Islam in their respective states – may have to be the last defense against racial and religious extremism, besides being the last bastion of our moderate and liberal democracy. But even they must not leave it too late to contain the religious and racial extremism. It is time for their Royal Highness to call Prime Minister Najib Razak to account for his divisive policies

Urdu novelist, Saadar Hasan Manto, writing of the defining event in the modern history of the Indian sub-continent – the tragedy and horror of Partition in 1947 which resulted in one of the greatest forced movements of people and which continues to shape the present and future of the peoples of South Asia – has described the unleashing of religious fires in this way:

“[H]uman beings were … slaves, slaves of bigotry … slaves of religious passions…slaves of animal instincts and barbarity.”

We will be descending into our own version of partition should we fail to check religious and racial intolerance and extremism, and the horrors that come with it when communities turn against each other and Malaysia hurtles down the precipice of self destruction.