Jihadist Terrorism back in Southeast Asia


August 21, 2017

Jihadist Terrorism back in Southeast Asia

by Zachary Abuza, US National War College

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

Image result for Terrorists in Philippines

Within any Salafi-jihadist organisation there lies a debate over strategy: should the organisation target the enemy at home or the one further afield, like Western backers of the government? In Southeast Asia this debate has erupted in recent years. 

The Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) spent years engaging in sectarian domestic conflict before taking up a larger-scale international approach with the 2002 Bali bombings. But that attack was largely at the impetus of Al Qaeda, and from 2003–09 JI only managed to perpetrate roughly one major attack against a Western tourist venue annually. And with each attack, more of the organisation was dismantled.

 

This provoked a debate within JI between advocates of the Al Qaeda line and proponents of a sectarian conflict-based strategy. Neither side prevailed. Despite attempts to bridge the divide and establish a training camp in Aceh, JI splintered in 2010, and became a more or less defunct organisation which was incapable of military operations.

The 2014 emergence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) revitalised terrorist networks in Southeast Asia. Since 2014, a number of IS-inspired attacks and plots have been perpetrated following recruitment efforts by Indonesian and Malaysian leaders in Raqqa. But the majority of militants from the region still remain preoccupied with the far enemy and with joining IS. An estimated 1000 Southeast Asians have traveled to Iraq and Syria. Indeed, the fact that many traveled with their families, or ceremoniously burned their passports, suggests they had no intention of ever returning.

Many wanted to be part of the caliphate, attracted by IS promises and slick propaganda. Some simply saw themselves as being too weak at present to take on their government back home. Others perceived fighting with IS as a way to burnish their jihadi credentials and gain military skills before returning home to focus on the domestic enemy.

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Groups and cells across Southeast Asia declared ‘bay’ah’ — an oath of allegiance — to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But IS did not recognise any Southeast Asian cell or group until January 2016, when IS referred to Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf as ‘sheikh’, and called on other groups that had pledged ‘bay’ah’ to IS to fall under his leadership. That recognition allowed militants in the region to once again re-orient themselves towards the domestic enemy as they sought to establish a ‘wiliyat’ — a province of the caliphate.

This movement escalated following a mid-2016 video produced by IS central media that called on Southeast Asian recruits to travel to Mindanao or to engage in operations in the region if they could not travel to Syria. The trip to Syria has become more perilous with greater international cooperation among security forces. Hundreds of Southeast Asian recruits had been turned back by Turkish authorities, including 430 Indonesians alone.

The recent success of IS-pledged militants in tying down the Armed Forces of the Philippines for over two months will further attract followers and recruits. Sieging cities on two occasions, they have proven themselves as committed jihadists, willing to take the fight to the Philippine government. Marawi demonstrated the utility of targeting the domestic enemy. That in itself will attract foreign fighters from Southeast Asia and further afield. And with the Philippine military weak and spread thin, more attacks make both tactical and strategic sense.

The pogroms from Myanmar will also provide a new pool of talent to recruit from and networks to penetrate. The ongoing sectarian cleansing against the 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar has led to the deaths of over 600 and the displacement of over 75,000. The situation is growing more dire by the day with some 140,000 living in squalid internally displaced person camps, and over 40,000 others currently displaced by pogroms, much of which have been caused by Myanmar’s security forces.

Indonesian authorities have now broken up two terrorist plots to blow up the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta. Recently, an armed militant group, the Harakat al-Islamiyah (HAY), has begun operations against Myanmar’s security forces, at the same time that IS has begun to reference the Rohingya in its (albeit diminished) media. There are signs that HAY is trying to recruit from Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, with a surge in arrests of Bangladeshi nationals across the region.

The July 2017 decision by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to ban Hizbut Tahrir is also likely to inflame the anger of Islamist militants in Indonesia. While Widodo is rightfully concerned about conveyor groups — such as Hizbut Tahrir — the ban is likely to put the Indonesian government back in the cross hairs. The Indonesian government’s threat to ban the messaging app Telegram, resulted in the company removing 55 IS channels, another thing likely to incur the wrath of militants in the region and get them to refocus their energies towards the domestic government.

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Further, there are several hundred terrorism suspects in Southeast Asian prisons, including over 200 in Indonesia alone. Most will be released in the coming years, and they will be unlikely to travel. And though Indonesia touts its de-radicalisation program, it is not compulsory and its prisons have long been key nodes of recruitment and indoctrination.

The loss of the caliphate has led to a shift in attention back to the domestic enemy in Southeast Asia. Until a militant Salafist group emerges from the embers of IS, the more distant enemies will recede in the strategic thinking of Southeast Asian militants.

 

Zachary Abuza is Professor of National Security Strategy at the US National War College. The views expressed here are his own, and do not reflect the opinions of the Department of Defense, National Defense University, or the National War College. Follow him @ZachAbuza.

 

MALAYSIA: Malay Politicians have nothing productive to do except play Sharia Politics


June 5, 2017

MALAYSIA: Prime Minister Najib Razak has nothing productive to do except play Sharia Politics

by John Berthelsen@www/asiasentinel.com

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Anything and everything to  remain in power.

When Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat, or Parliament reconvenes on July 24, its most controversial order of business is a measure that could send the country down the road towards an Islamic dictatorship, a bill that would allow for the imposition of shariah law in the rural eastern state of Kelantan. But critics say it could spread to infect both other states and ethnic groups.

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With Politicians like this man (pic) who needs enemies to destroy rule of law

But it is not the pressure of the country’s 19.5 million Muslims that is causing the push for more powerful shariah courts and penalties. It is the politics of the country’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, who is under fire for the country’s biggest-ever scandal and rising inflation and crime, and who believes he can preserve the United Malays National Organization’s national sway by appealing to Islamic sentiment.

Since independence, Malaysia has been regarded as one of the world’s most prosperous, moderate and democratic predominantly Muslim states. It has sizeable Chinese, Indian and other minority populations. Its Malay population is mostly urban and relatively laid back.  But Najib, beset by the 1Malaysia Development Bhd mess, in which US$4 billion has disappeared – as much as US$2 billion into his own pockets – and which is US$11 billion in debt from mismanagement and theft, believes he needs every single Malay vote for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to prevail in elections that could come late this year.

That means going after the Malays in the kampungs, the rural villages, through their religion. The vehicle he intends to use is a bill sponsored not by his own coalition but by the opposition’s Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, the rural-based Islamic party that is seeking to implement sixth-century shariah law in Kelantan, the one state it controls. It was tabled suddenly in the middle of the last night of parliament before it recessed in April.  It is the first time the coalition has ever allowed the introduction of a private member’s bill by the opposition.

Theoretically it would put Najib himself in danger, having been caught in a Port Dickson love motel with singer-actress Ziana Zane in the 1980s, enraging his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and by having been named as ‘Public Official 1” by the US Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Unit in the theft of US$1 billion from 1MDB.  But like the victims of the Duterte drug war in the Philippines, and black residents of the United States, it is the poor who will take the brunt of being flogged or stoned or going to prison for up to 30 years for what would be misdemeanors for non-Muslims. The kleptocrats of UMNO will remain unscathed.

Whether the parliament would actually act on the proposed Sharia Act (355) when it returns is unclear. Najib is a canny politician who has been tantalizing PAS about passing it since December of 2014, when it was first proposed. There is some belief he is using it only as bait for PAS support and will find a way to delay a vote until after national elections, which could come as early as August or September. However, today it is shaping up as a wedge issue that will determine whether PAS abandons its long and tenuous relationship to the opposition coalition headed by the jailed Anwar Ibrahim.

“He is definitely riding a tiger on this issue,” said Tawfik Ismail, a former parliamentarian and leader of the opposition to the measure who is suing Parliamentary Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, alleging that it is unconstitutional under Malaysia’s national charter, which guarantees freedom of religion and which requires the sultans’ permission. UMNO, he said, is seeking to boost itself as Malay chauvinist party, abandoning its longstanding mandate as the leader of the country’s multifarious religious status.

In the 2013 General Election, the Barisan Nasional coalition lost Peninsular Malaysia to the opposition but in fact was saved by the votes of mostly Christian and animist ethic groups in East Malaysia. As Tawfik points out, today those states are in near rebellion against the shariah measure. On May 7, 20 East Malaysia community leaders wrote an open letter asking that the bill be rejected, with the hint that they could leave the government.

Najib faces a growing quandary and not just from the Sabah and Sarawak Christians – but from an attack from the other side. Last month, Nasrudin Hassan, the PAS information chief, introduced the cudgel of the recent Jakarta gubernatorial election, in which Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the most honest and capable governor the sprawling city has ever had, was defeated largely because he is Chinese and Christian. He has since been jailed for two years on blasphemy charges.

“When you insult Islam, don’t think Muslims will not act by ­rejecting you as a leader. The Jakarta election has proven it,” Nasrudin told local media, a broad hint that Najib had better keep his promise.

“What has been clear from the start of debate on shariah law is that Prime Minister Najib sees exploitation of religious tensions as a means to an end – that is, his continuation in power in the next election,” said Phil Robertson, Asia Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch. “He appears unconcerned that his cynical political ploy to woo PAS and its supporters will escalate tensions between the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, and undermine the secular, multi-racial and multi-cultural vision of the founding fathers of Malaysia. That’s because Najib’s priority is self-preservation, which means maintaining his authority at all costs so that he can keep stamping out the smoldering embers of the 1MDB scandal that otherwise could re-ignite and consume him.”

The problem with shariah law, according to Imran Imtiaz Shah Yakob, a Malay lawyer, is that it is unlikely to be confined to Kelantan, the PAS stronghold. Instead, Imran told Asia Sentinel, if Parliament gives PAS the authorization to implement shariah law there, the overwhelming rural Malay populations of Terengganu and the northern tier of states such as Perlis, mired in poverty and with drug and crime problems, are likely to demand it as well.  Even Selangor, the wealthy urban state surrounding Kuala Lumpur, Imran said, is conceivably susceptible.

“The alternative that Najib and PAS are toying with would mark the beginning of a descent into darkness, intolerance, rights abuses, and possibly religious-based communal strife that could tear Malaysia apart,” Robertson said.

As an editorial in the Chinese newspaper Sin Chew aid, the rise of extremism threatening religious harmony is a consequence of political problems. Now, the editorial said, “we are making economy, religion and even administration to serve the needs of politics, to an extent that even the civic society finds it difficult to reverse this trend because the country’s biggest Malay opposition party is not on their side. The biggest risk in Malaysian politics lies with the fact that a handful of individuals are in firm control of their parties without an effective checks and balances mechanism in place.

Currently the shariah courts hear civil issues affecting only ethnic Malays, who by definition must be Muslims. They can impose maximum penalties up to three years of jail time, fines of RM5, 000 (US$1167) and up to six strokes of the cane.

But under the amendments, adulterers and drinkers of alcohol could be subject to up to 100 strokes of the cane, fined up to RM100,000 and subject to as much as 30 years in prison.

 

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons


May 18, 2017

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons

by Dato Dennis Ignatius

Image result for Najib and Erdogan

Malaysia’s disgraceful disregard for human rights

 

The  UMNO-led BN government seems to have a penchant for putting Malaysia in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This time Malaysia is being widely criticised for the way it colluded with Turkey to detain and deport suspected opponents of the Erodogan regime.

Last week, three long-time Turkish residents of Malaysia – school principal Turgay Karaman, businessman Ihsan Aslan and academic Ismet Ozcelik – were surreptitiously detained and hastily bundled out of the country before their families could even mount a legal challenge.

The whole manner in which the Malaysian authorities handled the matter – the secretive way they were detained, the constantly changing reasons for their detention, the speed at which they were deported, the presence of Turkish agents – was deeply troubling.

Colluding with the Erdogan regime

It is now clear that their arrest and deportation was in response to pressure from the Turkish government.

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Since the unsuccessful coup in Turkey last year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been on a witch hunt against anyone remotely connected with his political nemesis, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gueln. Thousands of military personnel, teachers, civil servants, judges, reporters and others have been summarily detained or dismissed. Turkish agents have also targeted Turkish nationals living abroad, many on spurious grounds.

While many countries have expressed alarm at Turkey’s slide towards authoritarianism, Malaysia apparently has no compunction collaborating with the regime.

The Home Ministry’s insistence that it acted on its own to deport the aforementioned Turks because they were “members of an organization deemed illegal in their country” is disingenuous to say the least.

 

Long history of dubious extraditions

This is, of course, not the first time that Malaysia has engaged in dubious extraditions.

In 2004, Libyan national Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq and his then pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, detained for 13 days and then transferred to CIA facilities in Thailand under the now infamous rendition programme. In Thailand Abu Abdullah was tortured before being sent back to Libya where he spent years in prison.

Cynically, while Malaysia was publicly critical of the US war on terrorism, it was quietly cooperating with the CIA in extrajudicial renditions.

In 2012, a Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari, accused of insulting the Prophet, was detained while on transit to New Zealand. Despite not having a formal extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia and notwithstanding a high court injunction against his extradition, he was sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Since 2011, Malaysian Police have also been quietly working with Chinese authorities to round up and deport Muslim Uighur refugees fleeing the on-going crackdown in Xinjiang province. Many of these refugees had registered with UNCHR and were awaiting for their claims to be reviewed when they were deported.

It is more than likely that many others may have also been clandestinely detained and dispatched to uncertain fates in unknown destinations.

Transparent rather than secretive

Image result for Malaysia's Human Rights AbusesMalaysia’s  IGP Khalid Ashburn and his henchmen of the Royal Malaysian Police in Service of UMNO

No one is, of course, suggesting that suspected terrorists should not be deported or extradited. Malaysia has an obligation to cooperate with other countries in the apprehension of terrorists and criminals. What is important, however, is for the process to be open and transparent rather than secretive and ad hoc. And, of course, the decisions of the government should always be subject to judicial review.

In April this year, for example, an Iranian national accused of involvement in the 2012 bombing in Thailand was extradited after his case was heard by the Federal Court. Surely that is the way a civilized country does things.

A dumping ground for terrorists

Interestingly, while we oblige Turkey by doing their dirty work for them, they repay the favour by quietly facilitating the passage to Malaysia of known terrorists, as was reported recently. We have apparently become the dumping ground for terrorists that Turkey apprehends. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

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The Three Stooges of Islamic Extremism

In the meantime, while the government deports Turks whose only crime may be their dislike of Erdogan, it opens its arms wide to people like Zakir Naik, an extremist preacher blacklisted by several countries for spreading hatred, funding terrorism and money laundering. India has now requested for an Interpol red corner notice against Zakir, which, if granted, would make him an international fugitive in the fullest sense of the word. Let’s see how quickly the authorities will act to deport him and even strip him of his undeserved PR status, if he is still in the country.

 

A Secular Islam Possible for Malaysia?


May 11, 2017

A Secular Islam Possible for Malaysia?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee@www.malaysiakini.com

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The recent PAS Muktamar brings to the forefront – yet again – the question of whether secular Islam is a possibility in an increasingly racially and religiously acrimonious and divided Malaysia.

Secularism has been defined as the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments, or more simply the separation of religion and politics. It is an evolution that the great majority of the world’s nations have gone through – some quickly, others more slowly.

However, almost all nations, even as they develop at uneven speeds, have inevitably gravitated towards a separation of religion and state.

Today, except for a few countries such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen, most nations – developed and developing – view a religiously-based state as a throwback to a more primitive form of government; and a historical era in which life was nasty, brutish and short, except for the religious elite.

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Secular states in which governments are neutral in matters of religion and public activities, and where the states’ decisions are not dictated or influenced by religious beliefs, are the opposite of theocratic states.

At the same time it needs to be noted that not all secular states are alike. Thus we find states with a comprehensive commitment to secularism; those that are more accommodating to religion; and others that, although committed to neutrality, will selectively actively cooperate with religions.

Whatever the degree of secularity, secular states, except those which morph into totalitarianism or autocratic systems, are committed to the implementation of national and international norms protecting the freedom of religion or belief, and abide by constitutions which guarantee the equal treatment of different communities of religion and belief within society.

In sharp contrast the theocratic state has a God or a particular deity to be the supreme civil ruler. Also the God’s or particular deity’s commandments are held to be the definitive law of the land; and the authorities and their representatives who interpret the commandments claim a superior or divine duty in running the affairs of state and society.

Debates on merits ongoing, but no poll held

Debate on the relative merits of theocratic and secular states has been ongoing for several hundreds of years in both Muslim and Christian worlds. In our era, a poll of the world’s foremost leaders – including religious – on what they may view to be a superior form of government – secular or theocratic – has never been held.

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The Late Karpal Singh is right but when he was Prime  Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir had the audacity to claim that Malaysia is already an Islamic state, while his successor promoted Islam Hadhari and Najib Razak embraced Hadi Awang’s Hududism and Zakir Naik.  As a result, the Malays have become a confused people.–Din Merican

But if one were to be undertaken today, I will not be surprised if the polled group of religious leaders – despite their concerns about the negative impact that a sharp break separating public life from religion could have on their congregations – will agree that a secular state is the correct path to progress and a better life for their religious communities.

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I expect too that few among the religious leaders would want a return to the days when there was a fusion of religious and political authority, even if they may personally benefit from the shift of power in society.

For, make no mistake about it, history – past and current – is replete with examples of how theocratic states, even after co-opting or hijacking secularised concepts of equality and justice, have invariably lapsed into religious tyrannies with dire consequences for all of the citizenry.

As Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States noted, “Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”

The crisis in Malaysia

Secular Malaysia today is facing a crisis with Muslim politicians from both sides of the political divide seeking to strengthen conservative Islam through castigating its moderate and liberal proponents, and by making the case that supporters of a secular Islam are kaffirs, traitors and enemies of the religion.

The situation has become so bad that few Muslims in the country are willing to take a public stand on the issue or declare support for secular Islam for fear of reprisal by religious extremists.

The sole exceptions that have stood out have been non-political figures, such as Mariam Mokhtar, Noor Farida Ariffin and some other members of G25, Syed Akbar Ali, Marina Mahathir, Haris Ibrahim, Din Merican, and Farouk Peru, and an even smaller number of politicians, notably Zaid Ibrahim and Ariff Sabri.

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One sees in their messages to fellow Muslims in this country some of the same concerns that are animating liberal and secular Muslims in other parts of the world, viz:

  • The rejection of interpretations of Islam that urge violence, social injustice and politicised Islam;
  • The rejection of bigotry and oppression against people based on prejudice arising from ethnicity, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression;
  • Support for secular governance, democracy and liberty; and
  • Support for the right of individuals to publicly express criticism of Islam (see ‘Muslim Reform Movement’ by M Zuhdi Jasser and Raheel Raza et al).

Unfortunately, these messages – partly because they are communicated in English and partly because the mainstream Malay (and English ) media have chosen to ignore them – are unable to reach the Malay masses – whether in rural or urban communities. They have even failed to elicit support from the unknown number of open-minded and liberal Muslims who are now openly branded as “deviants” by Islamic religious authorities.

In the Malay world, it is Malay politicians and the Islamic elite and bureaucracy who have a monopoly over the variant of Islam that is propagated to the masses. It is a variant that is currently feeding on heightened ethnic and religious insecurities and jealousy, so as to make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to have a rational discourse on secular Islam, save that advocated by Umno and PAS.

LIM TECK GHEE is a former World Bank senior social scientist, whose report on bumiputera equity when he was director of Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies sparked controversy in 2006. He is now CEO of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.

Hishamuddin’s steps to power: Loyalty pays off


April 17, 2017

COMMENT:

Image result for din merican and dr. kamsiah haider

I have been very critical of Prime Minister Najib Razak on many issues, corruption and governance among them; more often than not, I have been brutally so. Frankly speaking, his record has been dismal since taking over from Tun Abdullah Badawi in 2009 (with thanks to the machinations of his political mentor, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad). Najib’s popularity is now at an all time low.

However, Najib’s decision to give Defence Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn a special role in his administration is, in my view, a very strategic, politically astute and timely one. Every leader needs an aide he can trust, not someone who has ambitions of his own to be the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Hopefully, together and with the help of the charismatic  UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin, Najib and Hishamuddin can forge a strong alliance to face Malaysian voters in GE-14 on a Malaysia-centric political and socio-economic agenda rather than a Malay nationalist-Islamist one, with a view to bringing Malaysians together again.

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Najib, Hishamuddin and Khairy –a Formidable Combination for UMNO

Hishamuddin to Najib is what Tun Hussein was to Tun Abdul Razak with one fundamental difference. Tun Hussein was a reluctant politician who had the premiership thrust upon him. Our 3rd. Prime Minister was also a man of integrity, a lawyer of excellent aristocratic pedigree and a loyal son of Dato’ Onn Jaafar, who was UMNO’s founder President.

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Hishamuddin,  on the other hand, is a thorough bred UMNO politician who rose through the ranks at a measured pace. One needs to look at his resume to note that he has held key Cabinet positions. He performed  well and served the Prime Minister and UMNO loyally. Finally, his hard work and dedication to his responsibilities have earned him the right to take on this new job. But it is difficult to say that the premiership is his for the taking.

The incumbent Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Zahid Hamidi is a formidable rival with strong support among the UMNO grassroots and Malay nationalists of the extreme right. But at least Hishamuddin is an alternative who represents the moderate face of UMNO, which will be more acceptable to voters and UMNO’s Barisan Nasional partners (MCA, MIC and Gerakan) than the plebian Zahid. I did not mention PAS because I think this Hadi Awang-led Islamic party is headed towards political extinction after GE-14. –Din Merican

Hishammuddin’s steps to power

 by Scott Ng
 
The new Minister with Special functions occupies an unusual but maybe pivotal role.
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Hishamuddin as Malaysia’s Defence Minister in Singapore

 

The appointment of Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to the position of minister with special functions is one of the more curious political moves in recent memory. The buzz is that Prime Minister Najib Razak needs his first cousin as his right hand man. So one must wonder what must be running through the head of current DPM Zahid Hamidi, especially so close to a general election.

Zahid’s ambition has been noted by several quarters, with some critics believing that he veers too far to the right for the comfort of the public. Nonetheless, the DPM is a valuable asset to the Najib administration, but Hishammuddin’s sudden ascent has thrown the succession plan into disarray.

Hishammuddin certainly has a much better reputation with moderates than Zahid, and perhaps can be seen as something of a peace offering to those spooked by the new religious fundamentalist and ethno-nationalist approach of UMNO.

Unlike his cousin’s other lieutenants, Hishammuddin has kept a low public profile. While he is not looked to for an opinion like Khairy Jamaluddin is whenever a crisis erupts, he is seen as a quiet problem solver, brokering important defence deals in the Middle East and working with China on defence interests.

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Overall, he is seen as better spoken and more temperate a candidate for leader than Zahid, but memories may be long when it comes to perceptions of a politician’s character. People still remember his belligerence as UNMO Youth Chief. He brandished a keris during his speech at the UMNO General Assembly of 2005. He might have to do a little work to shake off that memory if he is truly positioned to take over as Deputy Prime Minister.

Nonetheless, Hishammuddin’s presence may yet prove to be appealing to the more cosmopolitan of the right wing and an acceptable compromise for the moderates and the left. Such an appeal is something that BN probably feels it needs in facing GE14.

However, the appointment does not signal a complete shift to the middle ground. GE14 is shaping up to be defined as a Malay vs Malay fight. If one thing is certain, it is that all parties will fight over the hallowed motherland vote and the insults will fly thick.

Hishammuddin may yet walk out of this the biggest winner, but only if he is the contrarian of his party and maintains the professional image he has groomed for himself over the past decade or so.

There are some who theorise that Hishammuddin’s appointment signals the beginning of a transition, that our Prime Minister is preparing to step down. If that is true, then all eyes will be watching how he behaves during the coming election campaign period.

At this point, Malaysians simply want a win, and if that win comes in the form of an heir apparent with all his clothes on, it will be a positive start.

Scott Ng is an FMT columnist.

Zakir Naik should be extradited to India to face trial


April 17, 2017

Zakir Naik should be extradited to India to face trial

UMNO Malays are a confused lot

COMMENT by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal has already turned Malaysia into a nation of kleptocrats and somewhat of a rogue nation in the eyes of the world.

In the United States, this is by and large the biggest case of money-laundering that the country has ever seen, considering that the US has existed since 1786. The latest that we have learnt is that they are now filing criminal charges against Jho Low.

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Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Arab Philanthropist, not the King of Saudi Arabia. US Department of Justice will bring Jho Low to trial for moneylaundering

According to The Wall Street Journal, Low, a Malaysian who is a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, is now a major suspect in a money-laundering case involving 1MDB. He is also a person of interest in Singapore.

The money-laundering scandal is being investigated in a number of countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, and although the major scandal happened with a Malaysian investment arm under the Finance Ministry, to date, no one has been prosecuted.

This has put us in a very tight situation. While we are talking about North Korea as a rogue nation because they have yet to return the four suspects in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, we are no better.

Interpol red alert

Although an Interpol red alert has been sought against Zakir Naik under a non-bailable warrant issued by Mumbai’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act court, no action has been taken to repatriate him back to India.

This has placed Zakir as a prime suspect in some major money-laundering. And, instead of going back to India to contend his case in court, the defiant preacher accused the Indian authorities of having “double motives”.

Malaysians should not be duped by Zakir’s argument that he had offered India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) an interview through video-conferencing or phone. No authorities would agree to that.

By remaining here in Malaysia (or elsewhere), Zakir is putting more strain on the country’s reputation. Certainly, he does not care as long as he has a place to escape, but it does not go well on his own reputation.

If he has done nothing wrong, he should surrender himself to the Indian authorities and request for the interview to be recorded or observed through glass windows by his lawyers. His defiance puts Zakir in a bad light.

Unless he has something to hide, he should not be afraid to face the NIA. The NIA would not have applied for the Interpol red alert unless they have obtained solid evidence against Zakir.

Image result for Chief Mufti of Perlis and Zakir Naik

Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi hopes Zakir Naik can save him from Najib Razak’s political axe.  Hindraf’s P Waythamoorthy takes a strong stand for the neglected Indian Community. Shame on the MIC Leadership. No ‘Nambikei’.

Look at the US Department of Justice. It took time for them to finally arrive at a decision to file criminal charges against Low. The time will come when the long arm of the law will catch up with Zakir. Zakir will have to eventually face the law, whether now or later.

Fugitives have no credibility

Zakir can continue living as a fugitive, but whatever he preaches will no longer hold water. We are talking common sense, and there is no attempt to belittle any religion. This is a case involving someone who is being pursued by the Indian authorities.

On the back of everyone’s mind is: “Why is this man running away from the authorities? Is he involved in money-laundering? Why is he allowed to settle down in Malaysia? Was he also involved either directly or indirectly with the attack on the Artisan Bakery in Gulshan Thana in Dhaka, where 29 people were killed?”

There are only two options for Zakir. Either he continues to live in Malaysia and remain a fugitive, or he to returns to India to face the law enforcers if he believes that he is not guilty of the charges against him – which I think is more honourable for him. There is a Malay saying, “Berani kerana benar” (Be brave because you are right).

I am sure that the Indian authorities would be professional about it and they would record the interview on video; in fact, they would be equally concerned that Zakir turned around and complained of ill-treatment during the interrogation.

As long as Zakir remains in Malaysia, he will drag Malaysia further down. At the back of the minds of the Indian community in this country, it appears that a fugitive is given better protection than the local Indians.

Image result for Corrupt and Lying Najib RazakReally, Prime Minister Najib Razak? You sold Malaysia and hoodwinked Malaysians. And you are about to do it again in GE-14

I wish to quote from Hindraf’s chair, P Waythamoorthy, who had once trusted Najib during the lead up to the last general election.

Waythamoorthy wrote: “This new plan to launch a new Malaysian Indian Blueprint on April 23 is nothing but to hoodwink the Indians. Najib, enough is enough! Your public apology to the Indians for their four decades of neglect under BN on April 18, 2013, is still fresh in the minds of Indians.

“You and your UMNO and MIC Ministers have cheated the Indians with your ‘Nambikei’ slogan. Hindraf worked hard to deliver the Indian votes in the earnest belief of finding a permanent and comprehensive solution to the problems faced by the downtrodden.”

Waythamoorthy’s statement is very clear. And by Hindraf’s court case against Zakir, it means that BN will lose more Indian votes this time by protecting Zakir, a foreigner and a wanted person in his own country.


STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.