How uneven are our scales of justice?


January 9, 2017

How uneven are our scales of justice?

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

Image result for Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore

Professor and Ambassadoor Koh is the first Singaporean to receive the “Great Negotiator Award”, given out by the programme on negotiation at Harvard Law School, which comprises of students and faculty from the university as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.

COMMENT In an exchange with Tommy Koh at a seminar on ‘Japan as an economic power and its implications for South-East Asia’ in 1974, the Singaporean diplomat reminded me that members of the legal profession did not comprise members of the world’s oldest profession, perhaps only second. That’s probably untrue as they could be third or fourth on this list.

Whatever anyone’s opinion of lawyers derived from personal experience is – we should not forget that lawyers generally sell their services to the higher bidder – there needs to be concern about how unevenly tilted the scales of justice in Malaysia have become.

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Surprisingly or not surprisingly, there has been little discussion of this important topic though we have had a courageous whistleblower, Justice NH Chan, who called attention to the shortcomings of some of his former judicial colleagues in his book, ‘Judging the Judges’, subsequently printed in its second edition as ‘How to Judge the Judges’.

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Although Justice Chan, who sadly passed away recently, directed his criticism principally against his senior colleagues, his reiteration of the fundamental underpinnings of justice administration resonate in its relevance to the entire judiciary and other members of the legal profession.

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Members of the Judiciary–The judge must be fair and impartial. At the same time, it is important that even litigants who lose should feel that they had a fair trial.–Lim Teck Ghee

To him, the epitome of justice is a fair trial and this requires that the judge must do justice according to law – “this is what the rule of law is all about”. The judge must be fair and impartial. At the same time, it is important that even litigants who lose should feel that they had a fair trial.

Justice Chan also felt that the public should have sufficient knowledge to enable them to judge the performance of the judges.

However, even when there is public scrutiny – which rarely happens except in the most attention-grabbing of cases, say one in every tens of thousands – it appears to be well-nigh impossible to bring anyone from the judiciary – from the lowest subordinate magistrate level to the highest level of federal supreme judge – to book for any abuse of power, corrupt practice or judgment or judicial behavior seen to be unfair or unjust.

The Royal Commission’s no-action decision on the notorious VK Lingam case serves as a good example.Being fair and impartial means that each and all members of the judiciary especially have to rise above the factors of class, race or religion in arriving at judgment. Do integrity and impartiality constitute the norm or is the judiciary – as with the rest of the civil service – influenced by extraneous factors in the cases they hear?

To what extent, for example, are members of the judiciary influenced or affected by the racial identity of the accused and/or of the lawyers in the cases they hear? Are they likely to be more lenient when sentencing members from the rich and powerful strata of society or from members of their own racial grouping?

Are they biased against those from the poorer classes who do not have the services of sharp and expensive lawyers to ensure that they get a fair trial or against those from different racial or religious groups?

Seldom raised in public realm

To my knowledge, these and similar questions have seldom been raised or discussed in the public realm. Colleagues from the legal fraternity to whom I have addressed this question in private, although generally agreeing that the judiciary is far from being independent or free from political influence, argue that the scales of justice are generally evenly and fairly administered in Malaysia in terms of the influence and impact of race and religion.

The most recent findings in the 2016 Rule of Law Index conducted by the World Justice Project appear to contradict this view. This is Malaysia’s score on the following components of civil and criminal law

Civil Justice

No discrimination – 0.5
No corruption – 0.5
No improper government influence – 0.38
Accessibility and affordability – 0.5

Criminal Justice

No discrimination – 0.51
Due process of law – 0.57
No improper government influence – 0.39
Timely and effective adjudication – 0.53

Source here, p110.

What the data by this organisation seems to indicate – the index is based on over 100,000 households and 2,400 expert surveys to measure how the rule of law is experienced, but we do not know the details of this sampling for Malaysia – is that one out of every two cases of civil and criminal justice in the country is tainted by discriminatory or corrupt action by the law enforcement agencies, including the judiciary.

Public attention – local and international – has tended to focus on issues related to fundamental rights and freedoms, constraints on government powers, and open government.

However in a robust and thriving democracy, it is equally important to ensure that the rule of law – as experienced in practical, everyday situations by ordinary people – is also subject to scrutiny and reform so that it is fair and impartial in all aspects.

A good example of such public examination is that recently conducted by British Columbia in its 2012 Justice Reform Initiative which resulted in a white paper and road map for justice reform in the state. We are sorely in need of such an initiative or minimally a clear and useful dialogue on this often neglected aspect of the Rule of Law. Perhaps the Bar Council can take the lead in this exercise.


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.

 

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.

The Art of the Protest


November 22, 2016

The Art of the Protest

Poland has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Recently, a government-backed bill sought to go further, punishing women who had abortions with up to five years in prison. Last month, Polish women responded with a one-day strike. On Oct. 3, tens of thousands of people, most of them women dressed in black, protested in major cities.

Poland is run by a nationalist, right-wing Roman Catholic party that controls Parliament, has taken over independent media, is disregarding rulings of the Constitutional Court and now proposes creating a militia outside the command of the armed forces.

It would not seem to be a government that would listen to such a protest. But three days later, its legislators voted down the abortion bill. Why? The government saw the size and speed of the mobilization, and its high concentration of young people, as a threat — one it worried could grow.

Yet they are not powerless. Seldom, in fact, has an out-of-power opposition been able to count on more resources — in broad support, political clout and moral authority.

But how these resources are used is what matters.If the purpose is to allow despondent or angry people to vent and show solidarity, then the anti-Trump protests going on in major cities already do that. But they will not reverse the election results, or alter what President-elect Trump seeks to do.

Protests can change policies, however — and often have. In other countries and throughout American history, ordinary citizens banding together have triumphed over governments, even when a single party holds sweeping control. Many of those protests used resources that the opposition to President-elect Trump enjoys today. They can learn from how those victories were won.

Plan, plan, plan. A half-century after the street struggles in Birmingham, no American movement has yet surpassed the strategic mastery of the civil rights movement. Civil rights leaders were fighting a war — nonviolently, but a war nevertheless — and they planned it as such. They mapped out protests to create escalating drama and pressure. They ran training schools for activists, teaching them how to ignore provocations to violence, among other lessons.

Provoke your opponent, if necessary. The turning point for civil rights came when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference allowed children to march in Birmingham (a decision criticized by many, including Malcolm X). Bull Connor, the city’s commissioner of public safety, ordered the police to turn attack dogs, night sticks and fire hoses on children marching peacefully — some of them 6 years old. The scenes made the nightly news and the front page of newspapers around the country.

The movement won by making a strong moral appeal to public opinion. It showed protesters making sacrifices for their cause. It lured opponents into violence that finally swayed the views of whites — a tactic similar to the playbook of Mahatma Gandhi in India, of forcing an oppressor to show his ugliest face. When that sight tips public opinion, government often listens.

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Protestors organized by ACT UP on the street in front of the New York Stock Exchange in 1989. Credit Tim Clary/Associated Press

Think national, act local. Protests are most effective when they aim for an achievable goal in one location, knowing that the real battle is for national public opinion. Movements work on two distinct levels, Mark and Paul Engler wrote in their important analysis of nonviolent strategy, This Is an Uprising. On a local level, the civil rights movement often failed; for example, the concessions won by the Birmingham protesters were vague and modest. But it was Birmingham that finally gave momentum to the passage of federal civil rights legislation.

Use humor. In Serbia, the Otpor movement mobilized the country against the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by using pranks to cut through fear. Its daily fare consisted of street actions that painted Milosevic as absurd: When the tyrant dedicated a new bridge, Otpor built one out of Styrofoam and held its own ceremony.

Srdja Popovic, an Otpor leader, calls this “laughtivism.” (Here is a Fixes column about his strategies.) It does more than counter fear. Humor breaks down defenses, creating an openness that allows people to consider your argument. “If the joke is good, even the police get it,” said Ivan Marovic, another Otpor leader.

When appropriate, be confrontational. It is hard to imagine how marginalized people with AIDS were during the Reagan administration — and how hopeless their cause, both medically and politically.

No group more proudly claimed the title of “outsider” than Act Up, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, founded in March 1987 in New York. Many of its members were dying. They were despised and reviled.

The Englers call Act Up an example of the power of the extreme outsider strategy: change through confrontation. It was noisy and angry. It was the first group ever to close down the New York Stock Exchange. Members scattered the ashes of loved ones on the White House lawn. They held a “Stop the Church” demonstration in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Act Up’s polarizing language, actions and style put off even some influential gay men, who told the group it was hurting the cause. (The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had heard the same criticisms.) But even many who were repelled by Act Up’s approach still heard its message.

Although people condemn your tactics, they can still support your issue, the Englers wrote.

By pulling from one extreme, Act Up shifted broad public opinion. The group started a global AIDS activist movement. It played a major role in changing the rules to expedite new AIDS medicines — and then it helped to bring down their cost. It forced insurance companies to cover treatment. It procured a patient voice in treatment. It was a major force behind the Ryan White CARE Act, a federal program for uninsured and underinsured people with AIDS.

Pull out the pillars. Gene Sharp, an American academic who is the guru of strategic nonviolence, argues that every leader, no matter his power, relies on obedience. Without the consent of the governed, power disappears. The goal of a civic movement should be to withdraw consent. Pull out the pillars, and the whole structure falls.

Senior citizens and his police were two of Milosevic’s most important pillars. Otpor members worked on both whenever they were arrested (which was quite often). Grandparents got angry when high-school students were repeatedly arrested or accused of terrorism.

And every arrest presented a chance to talk to the police. At the barricades, Otpor led cheers for the police. Over time, the police got to know the students they kept arresting, and some came to admire the youths’ commitment to nonviolence. “Police officers would complain to us about their salaries,” said Slobodan Homen, an Otpor leader. He offered some advice for Milosevic: “If later you order these people to shoot us — well, don’t count on it.”

This strategy also works for policy change. Advocates for gay marriage won early victories among many churches, the American Bar Association and child development experts. This helped transform influential opponents of gay marriage into influential allies.

The most important pillar on policy matters is Congress: Presidents need to pass their bills. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush failed to pass signal legislative priorities, despite controlling Congress. This was not because of grass-roots activism, but because of lobbying and spending by powerful and wealthy groups.

Under Mr. Clinton, health care reform fell victim to, among other things, “Harry and Louise” ads featuring a fictional couple, financed by the health insurance industry.

Mr. Bush’s top priority in 2005, when he had just won re-election and control of Congress, was to allow people to invest their Social Security contributions in private accounts. It was the focus of his State of the Union speech and town meetings he attended around the country. Yet he could not get it through Congress. “The simplest explanation is that President Bush overestimated the amount of political capital he had banked,” wrote William A. Galston of the Brookings Institution. “After all, he had prevailed by the smallest popular vote margin of any president re-elected in the 20th century. And there was evidence that the campaign’s bitter, divisive tone had taken its toll. As President Bush’s second term began, he enjoyed the lowest approval rating — just 50 percent — of any just-re-elected president since modern polling began.”

Exploit galvanizing events. During the 1970s, the United States built nuclear power plants. Lots of them. The first major protests came from the Clamshell Alliance, formed in 1976 to oppose the construction of the Seabrook Station plant in New Hampshire.

The Clamshell Alliance failed to stop Seabrook’s construction, but it gave rise to a grass-roots antinuclear movement. Groups around the country staged protests and sit-ins that slowed the pace of new reactor construction.

Then on March 28, 1979, Reactor Number 2 at the Three Mile Island station lost coolant and suffered a partial meltdown. The nuclear reactor industry never recovered.

Three Mile Island came 13 years after another partial meltdown, at the Fermi 1 reactor outside Detroit. Haven’t heard of it? One reason is that at the time, there was no movement ready to respond.

Events that galvanize public attention occur frequently. Most lead to nothing. But a few become sparks for sweeping change. What makes the difference is the existence of a prepared movement.

Thankfully, a galvanizing event need not be a nuclear meltdown. It does need to be an attention-grabbing drama where one side holds the moral advantage. When activists don’t have one, they have sometimes created one: think Bull Connor’s dogs, or Gandhi’s Salt March.

President-elect Trump has no popular mandate (Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin larger than John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard M. Nixon in 1968, or Al Gore in 2000). Even many who voted for him do not endorse some of what he advocates or represents. Many traditional pillars of Republican administrations are less than firm in their support, beginning with the wary Republicans in Congress — and some are starting out opposed, notably much of the foreign policy establishment. The president-elect, as Mrs. Clinton said, can be “provoked by a tweet.” He is impulsive. His campaign set a new standard for what Galston called a “bitter, divisive tone.” He and his advisers hold bigoted views that overwhelming majorities of the American people reject as immoral.

What terrifies many people about a President Trump, in other words, is also what makes, for civil resistance, a uniquely promising moment.

Nationalism in Malaysia in Extremis


November 17, 2016

The Edge logo

Nationalism in Malaysia in Extremis

by Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

Image result for Hidup Melayu

Malay Nationalism or Tribalism ala Ku Kluk Klan

One thing that shocked me when I first went to Sweden for my studies 35 years ago was how dirty a word “Nationalism” was in Western Europe. This reaction, I realized, was very much a reflection of how the concept was positively implanted in my mind while a schoolboy in Malaysia; but it also demonstrated how greatly human experiences can differ in different parts of the world.

More importantly, it revealed to me how strongly we are intellectually captured by the language use of our times and our location.

But the Swedes are very proud of their country, so how come nationalism is frowned upon so badly? The same thing applied throughout Europe, at least until recently. Excessive immigration over the last two decades, coupled with declining economic fortunes and waning self-confidence has buoyed the ascendance of ultra-rightists groups in all countries throughout the continent.

So why was Nationalism so despised? Europe is after all the home continent of the Nation State.

For starters, Europe was always a place of endless wars often fought ostensibly for religious reasons between feudal powers. The arrival of the Nation state ideology helped to lower the frequencies of these tragedies, but only to replace it soon after with non-religious types of rationale for conflict. The American Revolution and French Republicanism added the new phenomenon of “government by the people”. The French case also brought into the equation the Left-Right Dimension that would define politics and political thinking for the next two centuries.

This conceptual division between Popular Mandate and Elite Rule expressed sharply the rights of common people on the one hand, and the role of the state on the other. Once this gap was articulated, conflating the two poles anew became a necessary task.

The three major articulations in Europe of this mammoth mission to bridge the divide and achieve a functional modern system were Liberal Democracy, Communism and Fascism. While the Anglo-Saxon world championed the first, Stalin’s Soviet Union perfected the second and Adolf Hitler developed the third to its insane conclusion. In Europe, it was basically these three actors who fought the Second World War.

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Malay Tribalism in Action

In Asia, Japan’s brand of state fascism ran riot throughout the region, rhetorically championing nationalism in the lands it took from the European colonialists.

While the National Socialism of the Third Reich died with Hitler, Fascism lived on in Franco’s Spain until 1975 and Nationalist Communism of Stalin continued in Eastern Europe until the early 1990s.

Nationalism in the rest of Europe after 1945 came to be understood with disdain as the longing of the Nation State for purity and autonomy taken to pathological lengths. It is after all always a defensive posture, as is evidenced today in its return in the form of right-wing anti-immigrant groups.

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Maruah Melayu dijual ka-Cina untuk membela masa depan politik Najib Razak–Jualan Aset 1MDB

In Malaysia, nationalism was—and for many, still is—the most highly rated attitude for a citizen to adopt.There are obvious reasons for this, given the historical and socio-political context in which Malaysia came into being. Constructing a new country out of nine sultanates, the three parts of the Straits Settlements, with Sabah and Sarawak on top of that, was a more daunting task than we can imagine today. Furthermore, the contest was also against other powerful “-isms”, especially Communism and Pan-Indonesianism. These threatened to posit what are Malaysia’s states today in a larger framework, and would have diminished these territories’ importance and uniqueness.

Putting a new regime in place of the retreating British required a rallying idea; and what better than the very fashionable image of a new nation to whom all should swear allegiance. Malayan nationalism was thus born.

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For Inclusive, Liberal and Progressive Malaysia–Escaping the Nationalism Trap

It is no coincidence that the path to independence became much easier after Malaysia’s major political party, UMNO, decided under Tunku Abdul Rahman to change its slogan from the provincial “Hidup Melayu” [Long Live the Malays] to the inclusive “Merdeka” [Independence].

But already in that transition, one can see the problem that Malaysia still lives with today. Is Malaysia the political expression of the prescriptive majority called “Melayu” [later stretched to become “Bumiputera”], or is it the arena in which the multi-ethnic nation of “Malaysians” is to evolve?

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Nationalism in essence, and most evidently so in its narrow ethno-centric sense, is defensive and fearful, and understood simplistically and applied arrogantly very quickly show strong fascist tendencies. The issue is therefore a philosophical one.

What Malaysia needs today, is to accept the regional and global context that sustains it, and work out as best it can a suitable balance between Popular Mandate and Elite Rule which is clearly less belaboured and less painful than the cul-de-sac alleyway it has backed itself into.

OOI KEE BENG is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute) and the Editor of the Penang Monthly (Penang Institute). He is the author of the prizewinning The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (ISEAS 2006).

Adam Adli–Challenging the Corrupt and Unjust


November 16, 2016

Adam Adli–Challenging the Corrupt and Unjust

by Mariam Mokhtar

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Activism, or doing what you think is right for the nation, comes at a heavy cost.

Image result for Adam Adli and Din Merican

The Iconic Che Guevera

One student has seen his dream of becoming a lecturer dashed because of his activism. He has been in and out of court rooms. He has been threatened with jail. He has been put on remand and he has been fined. When he is not defending himself, he is trying to sort out the nation, which he believes is run by the corrupt and the unjust.

Would you want to swap places with Adam Adli, the student who shot to fame when, on an impulse, he lowered a flag bearing the image of PM Najib Abdul Razak?

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This young man had everything going for him, but his conscience was pricked by issues of justice, governance and democracy. Little did he realise that following the dictates of his conscience would lead to his downfall.

While most of us suffer quietly or moan in the company of friends, the proactive Adam sought to open our minds, show us what it means to fight repression and tell us that when votes are stolen, the country is no longer operating as a democracy.

It all started in December 2011, when Adam, who was then studying at the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, lowered the flag depicting Najib’s image and replaced it with a flag bearing the words “Academic Freedom”.

He was only trying to expose the repressive nature of the Universities and University Colleges Act.

An unforgiving university administration suspended his student status, first for 18 months and then indefinitely. He could have graduated by now and could be living his ambition of teaching in a university.

But the suspension could not cow him. He continued with his activism. In May 2013, at a forum at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Adam questioned the results of the 13th general election and urged Malaysians to get rid of the current government. That speech cost him dearly. He was found guilty of sedition in September 2014.

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Activists for Freedom, Justice and Human Dignity

Adam is appealing against his conviction. He hopes that like his mentor, Hishamuddin Rais, he will escape jail and be fined instead.But the prosecution is appealing against the High Court’s decision to allow him to pay a fine of RM5,000 instead of going to jail.

On Monday, Adam was told that his appeal would be deferred until December. Perhaps this is another tactic to wear the student leader down.

Adam once said, “Why should university students be afraid of those whom we have elected. They should work for us. Do not be afraid to criticise our leaders, no matter who they are.”

Whatever their reasons for prolonging Adam’s mental agony, little do the authorities realise that he is the new face of the fight against the Sedition Act. He is one of our catalysts for change.

What a pity it is that the authorities would persecute Adam, who is upholding justice, but allow Red Shirt leader Jamal Yunos to run free even though he threatens to harm others, especially those fighting to realise true democracy in Malaysia.

The secrets to Trump’s shock victory–A Message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO


November 10, 2016

My message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO, Do not take us for granted. You cannot stop change when the time is right–Din Merican

I have consistently stated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and temperamentally prepared candidate  ever in the history of US politics for POTUS. I was confident that she would have given her Republican rival a trashing on November 8, 2016 as I watched the event live on CNN at the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh. I was wrong.

I was shell-shocked when she lost to a political novice who will now occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC next January. The American voters have spoken; they want change and they go it.

I respect that and congratulate Donald Trump on his success. To Secretary Hillary Clinton, I say thank you for your gallantry and statesmanship.

If there is any consolation  for me and others who favored Hillary, it is that she won the popular vote convincingly. But in America, the winner must command 270 electoral votes ( Donald Trump got some 280 plus votes) to be POTUS. Not only did Trump become President-Elect but he also helped the Republicans gain control of the Senate and the House of  Representatives. He, therefore, deserves credit for beating the odds.

Let me say a few words about the politics in Malaysia. It is divisive and racist. Our government is dysfunctional. Our leaders in Putrajaya are corrupt and incompetent; our Parliament is a rubber stamp; our judiciary no longer administers justice; our civil service is an extension of UMNO;  our economy is tanking; our foreign policy is heavily tilted towards China for Najib’s political survival; our nation is deeply in debt; the cost of living is rising; and 2017 promises to be a  difficult year for every Malaysian except for Najib and family and the UMNO cronies.

Ignore the signs at our own peril. Of course, there are people like Ramon Navaratnam and other self-appointed apologists like him who think otherwise.

Do not take the rural Malays and other Malaysians for granted. No power in the world can stop change from happening when the time is due.  Change is long overdue in Malaysia. Our patience has been tested to the limit. For optimists like me, change is coming sooner rather than later. All we have to do is to make it happen.

The politics and administration in Putrajaya is as pathetic as that in Washington DC. The Americans have spoken and Malaysians will do the same with Najib Razak and UMNO. Ignore our concerns and you will face defeat and may end up in jail for 1MDB and other misdemeanors.–Din Merican

 

The secrets to Trump’s shock victory

by Nathaniel Tan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: Donald Trump wins. My wife puts it best: “We live in the Age of The Kardashians. As long as you can create enough hoopla as a one-man circus, you can make it.”

For some reason, she also always refers to Trump’s “locker room” comments as “catch the kitty”, and seems to think that anything to do with cats always wins.

On more serious notes, let’s speculate and reflect on how Trump won, and what we might learn from this debacle.

Repeating Bush’s victory conditions

My view is that Trump won in circumstances similar to those which propelled George W Bush to victory in 2004.

These men share a number of similarities. They were widely denounced around the world as idiots, they ran a campaign amidst a backdrop of global terrorism, and they faced rather placid, uninspiring Democratic nominees.

Image result for Hillary gracious in defeat

Bush’s chief strategist was Karl Rove, and he had a devastatingly simple approach for 2004.

He said: Look, there are millions of right-leaning Americans out there who aren’t voting. Forget compassionate conservatism and centrism, swing hard to the right, inspire right-leaning Americans to come out and vote (when they usually don’t), overwhelm the opposition.

This ended up working beautifully. Rampant fear-mongering, and positioning Bush as a decisive, hawkish leader opposed to John Kerry’s flip-flopping weakness led to a resounding electoral success – while the rest of the world watched on, dumbfounded.

Twelve years later, we appear to be experiencing very similar disbelief and shock – and likely for very similar reasons.

Voter turnout appears to be reaching record highs this year, suggesting that Trump has somehow inspired a lot of people who don’t usually follow politics to come out and vote for him.

Political messaging – the simpler the better

My guess is that inspiration stemmed from simple political messages. I’d bet that for voters the world over, the primary reason for voting for one candidate or another can be summarised in less than three sentences at most.

The results suggest that Trump’s message that foreigners were ruining America for (mostly white) Americans because of weak leadership struck a simple chord, and gave people a convenient outsider to scapegoat – which is always easier than looking inwards.

Combined with rampant fear-mongering and the IS bogeyman, Trump likely succeeded in selling the story that he was the best candidate available to protect America against the many threats it apparently faced. Indeed, terrorism is in some ways the Republican party’s best friend.

Trump’s anti-establishment attacks probably also resonated, especially against Hillary Clinton’s epitomisation of the established, entrenched and privileged political elite. Bernie Sanders would have likely fared better in this regard, but it’s hard to say whether that would have been enough to beat Trump.

Trump’s criticisms of the establishment were not entirely off point either. The old lumbering structures have developed over time (and not just in America either) to favour incumbents, and to encourage keeping power in the hands of an elite club. Sanders’ defeat is a case in point.

We also cannot discount the possibility that many Americans might not have been ready to vote for a woman president.

Twitter no, nuclear weapons, yes

Whatever the reasons, most people with any progressive leanings are reeling from the results.

Nobody seemed to believe Trump could win. Clinton was already shifting her focus from the traditional swing states and targeting traditionally Republican states in anticipation of some sort of landslide victory.

Even Trump seemed to run out of steam the last couple of weeks, making comments that seemed to lay the ground for post-defeat strategies.

With the votes being counted though, it seems that America’s nuclear arsenal is now being put in the control of a man whose own staff couldn’t trust with a Twitter account.

Global fallout

The global implications of this election are scary indeed. It sounds like Vladimir Putin will be delighted to have an American president that admires him, and around whom Putin can probably run circles.

Image result for The Corrupt Najib Razak

It feels like it’s been a season of swinging to the right. Britain votes out of the European Union, fueled by sentiment similar to those espoused by Trump. Rodrigo Duterte is voted into power in the Philippines; called by some the Trump of Asia, he promptly abandons traditional ally America in favour of authoritarian China (and Najib Abdul Razak soon follows suit).

Trump isn’t likely to be someone who truly respects human rights, and probably has more in common with dictators than American presidents of the last century. What scary things these portend for global geopolitics only time will really tell; so far, crashing global markets have expressed their opinion in no uncertain terms.

Perhaps there are some things we can learn from this locally as well.

Exiting our urban bubbles

The most obvious lesson is not to be overconfident of course.Another lesson is to never let our urban bubble prevent us from understanding a demographic as a whole.

The media made it look like the entire world (understandably) thought of Trump as a buffoon. This was probably largely true of many urban Americans; but urban Americans and the America the media imagines (or rather sells to) don’t decide elections.

Malaysia has a similar significant urban/rural divide. All major urban areas have solidly voted opposition in recent elections, but Barisan Nasional remains firmly in power off the back of rural support.

It’s an area and a (much less visible) demographic that the opposition truly does not understand well, and surrounding oneself with like-minded urbanites is unlikely to change this status quo. As an aside, this is also probably the reason PAS’ relevance will be unlikely to diminish anytime soon.

The third-party effect

Worth noting as well is the effect of third-party candidates. After Trump and Clinton, the two most significant candidates for president were Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

At at least one point in the night, Johnson and Stein were having a visible effect on the elections. Their combined number of votes at that point in Florida and Michigan – key battleground states – were double that of the difference between Trump and Clinton.

This means that if (a very big hypothetical of course) those individuals voted for Clinton instead of Trump, there’s a good chance the election would have gone to Clinton instead.

As our next general election approaches, I think it is safe to say that three-corner fights will almost certainly result in BN victories.

This is not to say that we should blindly support whichever Pakatan we still believe in. I believe that in the long run, our best hope lies in a movement which does not really exist yet.

In the meantime, while it is foolhardy to say that one on one fights will guarantee victory against BN, I think it is equally foolhardy to imagine that three (or more) corner fights will produce anything but a BN victory.

Bridging gaps

It’s easy to rant and rave about how America will truly elect any idiot whatsoever President.

In the end though, if we don’t want to continue living these realities, we really have to move out of our comfort zones, stretch out our imagination and really develop better respect for those who live far away from us, watch different TV shows, and vote differently.

Only then can we start bridging the gaps we need to in order to make our aspirations come true.


Harvard educated and smart NATHANIEL TAN has only ever caught actual kitties; never metaphorical ones.