Nik Raina: Free At Last


February 26, 2015

Nik Raina: Free At Last

by Jennifer Gomez@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Nik Raina Nik Abdul AzizNik Raina of Borders

Borders Bookstore Manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz said that legal battle with Islamic authorities over a charge of selling and distributing a book deemed to be against Islam had changed her and made her realise her larger role to ensure other Muslims are not harassed for doing their jobs.

Given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Shariah High Court today, Nik Raina said she had been a shy and reserved person before the raid on May 23, 2012 on the bookstore where she worked, but her ordeal had turned her into a more outspoken person.

Along the way, she realised that she had a role to play in facing up to the charges against her.Nik Raina said most of the management staff at Borders are Muslims, and she feared they could be subject to the same intimidation if she did not stand up for her rights in facing the charges.

“I stand here today not only for myself, but for all my colleagues, especially the Muslims Irshad Manjiwho could face the same action by the religious authorities for merely doing our jobs,” she said outside the court today.

Nik Raina had been charged with selling and distributing the book “Allah, Liberty and Love” by controversial Muslim writer Irshad Manji (right).

The Borders employee said she drew comfort from the company’s top management, adding that Berjaya Group founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan would always tell her when they met at company events, “Do not be afraid”.

Nik Raina said she would never forget these words, which were also repeated to her by Tan’s son, Datuk Robin Tan, after he took over his father’s portfolio in the group.

“He would tell me what his father used to say to me, to not be afraid, that I have done nothing wrong,” she said.Still, Nik Raina never imagined when she took this job over seven years ago that she would get into this much of trouble.

Yet, even after the ordeal, there was nowhere else she would rather work because she felt it was “right” to be working with Borders, she said as she fought back tears.

“From the first day I had my interview with them, it felt like the right place to be, because the interviewers were so welcoming.I would not want to be anywhere else,” she said.

Nik Raina said she felt that the Shariah prosecutor’s submission in court today, where he had told the Judge that the pressure she faced was not his problem, was as though his main intention was to punish her.

Rosli Dahlan (new)Nik Raina’s “Best Lawyer Ever”

This was after her lawyer, Rosli Dahlan, submitted that Nik Raina faced anguish and pressure in having this case hanging over her head for the past three years. “He could so easily say that I went the wrong way and so it was my problem.But he did not put himself in my shoes. And what about the anguish faced by my family, especially my father, who has been so worried about this case?” she said.

Nik Raina was equally emotional when she spoke about the support from Rosli.”He is the best lawyer ever”.

Open letter to the Attorney-General of Malaysia


February 26, 2015

Open letter to the Attorney-General, Tan Sri  Abdul Gani Patail

 Gani PatailHe has plenty of explaining to do

I strongly believe that had an inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was promptly done, we would have found the answers to most of the questions that are, at the moment, bothering us.

FMT LETTER@www.freemalaysiayoday.com

From Shamsher Singh Thind

I write this open letter in response to an online article published by Malaysiakini entitled “I never admitted to killing her, says Sirul”.  Among others, it was reported therein that Sirul Azhar ‘… maintained that he had acted under orders and was being made a scapegoat.’

This news has certainly created another round of global shock waves, since from the beginning, for one reason or another, this trial has been linked to our Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.

I have read another online article published by Asia Sentinel entitled “Sirul Azhar Statement”. This article supposedly contains the cautioned statement made by Sirul Azhar on November 9, 2006 after his arrest.

Sirul purportedly confessed that ‘… I met Azilah at Central Market …[and] [h]e instructed me to observe Malaya Hotel[,] where the woman who was disturbing the businessman stayed [and] [o]n the way there, Azilah talked about a reward of between RM 50,000 and RM 100,000 if the case was settled.’

Of course, I am not in any position to confirm whether or not both of these online articles are true. However, the contents therein are highly believable. On January 13, 2015, the Federal Court has reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and restored the conviction and punishment set by the High Court but the motive of killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu was never established.

altantuya

No one seems to know until today why the two elite Police Officers from the Special Task Force (Unit Tindakan Khas–UTK) abducted and murdered a foreigner. For the public, it is a natural thing to blame the Police for not doing a thorough investigation professionally. However, my humble opinion is that it is your office that has to be blamed for this blunder.

Let me explain. Firstly, Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly provides that ‘[w]hen any person dies while in the custody of the Police …, the officer who had the custody of that person … shall immediately give intimation of such death to the nearest Magistrate, and the Magistrate or some other Magistrate shall … hold an inquiry into the cause of death.’

Put it simply, the duty of a Magistrate to hold an inquiry, where a person has died in Police custody (and not necessarily in a Police station), is mandatory and not discretionary. This mandatory requirement is reiterated in the Practice Direction No 1 of 2007 (Guidelines on Inquest). Para 3(A)(1)(a) thereof provides that ‘[t]he Magistrate must hold an inquest if any person dies while in the custody of the Police …’

“Cause of death” is defined by Section 328 of the Criminal Procedure Code to include not only the apparent cause of death as ascertainable by inspection or post-mortem examination of the body of the deceased, but also all matters necessary to enable an opinion to be formed as to the manner in which the deceased came by his death and as to whether his death resulted in any way from, or was accelerated by, any unlawful act or omission on the part of any other person.’

Furthermore, Section 337 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that ‘[a] Magistrate holding an inquiry shall inquire when, where, how and after what manner the deceased came by his death and also whether any person is criminally concerned in the cause of the death.’

There is no doubt whatsoever that Altantuya died while she was in Police custody, regardless of whether the arrest itself was sanctioned by the Police. Section 15(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that a lawful arrest is made when a Police officer touches or confines the body of the person to be arrested.

I strongly believe that had an inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was promptly done, we would have found the answers to most of the questions that are, at the moment, bothering us.

I agree with the Courts that motive of killing is irrelevant in securing a conviction under section 302 of the Penal Code. However, without knowing the motive, how was it possible for the Police to conclude that only Sirul Azhar, Azilah Hadri and Abdul Razak Baginda (to a certain extent), with the exclusion of all others, were responsible for the brutal killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu?

There is a legal maxim in Latin that says nemo judex in causa sua, which literally means no one should be a judge in his own cause. This is one of the fundamental principles of natural justice.

The Police cannot be given the task to investigate its own wrongdoings. I can vividly remember that Police investigation had failed to reveal the identity of the person who caused bodily injuries to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on September 20, 1998 at the Bukit Aman Police lock-up.

In fact, the former Attorney General of Malaysia, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Mohtar Abdullah in the concluding part of his press statement dated  January 5, 1999 stated that ‘… I am also of the opinion that the Royal Malaysian Police is fully responsible for the injuries to the Complainant whilst he was in the legal custody of the Police [but] … the investigation which have been carried out so far have not identified the person or persons responsible for such injuries.’ (emphasis added)

However, today everyone knows that the former Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, was the person who had caused the said injuries to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Interestingly, we were able to know this truth only after a Royal Commission of Enquiry was established under the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950. Since the inquiry into the cause of death of Altantuya Shaariibuu was not done in accordance with the law, it was your duty to direct for such inquiry to be carried out. Unfortunately, you did not do that as well.

To make the things worse, you also did not appeal against the decision of the High Court to acquit and discharge Abdul Razak Baginda on  October 31, 2008.

Therefore, in the interest of justice, I call upon you, the Attorney General of Malaysia, to direct a Magistrate to hold an inquiry into the cause of, and the circumstances connected with, the death of Altantuya Shariibuu, in accordance with Section 339(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The restriction under Section 339(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, that a Magistrate cannot make further investigation where a finding of murder or culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been returned against any person, does not apply in this case because that restriction only applies when an inquiry into the cause of death has been carried out and closed.

I will end my open letter with a quote from an Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke. He said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Shamsher Singh Thind is a law lecturer in Penang

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

Malaysia’s teetering state investment fund plagued by scandal


February 25, 2015

Malaysia’s teetering state investment fund plagued by scandal

By (02-23-15)

http://www.biv.com/article/2015/2/malaysias-teetering-state-investment-fund-plagued-/

1MDB-The Scandal

By meeting a repayment deadline for the first time in months, Malaysia’s troubled sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, seems to have staved off a debt crisis that threatened the country’s entire banking system.

Ananda KrishnanReports in Kuala Lumpur say Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan came up with the $693 million that the fund, known as 1MDB, was due to repay by February 18 to the country’s largest bank, Malayan Banking Bhd, and a smaller financial house, RHB Capital Bhd.

While the payment appears to have given 1MDB some breathing space after the fund repeatedly failed to meet debt repayment deadlines, it has done nothing to remove questions about the $14.5 billion in debts the fund has accumulated since its founding in 2009.

1MDB was created as a vehicle for investment of state profits from the country’s oil and gas resources. But it has borrowed heavily from local banks to invest in power plants. 1MDB plans a public offering of shares in these assets some time this year, with the aim of raising around $4 billion.

But from the start, 1MDB has been surrounded by questions and scandal. Many of the questions stem from the fact that the fund’s “chief economic adviser” is Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak. Although no direct lines are drawn, media and political criticism of the travails of 1MDB frequently include references to the extraordinary amounts of money being spent on property and luxuries by Najib’s family and close relatives.

Riza AzizAt the same time, a flamboyant young Malaysian financier, Jho Low, who persuaded Najib to set up 1MDB, has bought multimillion-dollar properties in the United States on behalf of the Prime Minister’s stepson, film producer Riza Aziz.

Much of the significant reporting on the issues around the management of 1MDB has been done by The Edge, Malaysia’s bestselling business newspaper, which is owned by Tong Kooi Ong. Tong is well known in Canada as the owner of Toronto-listed Taiga Building Products Ltd., the largest wholesale distributor of building materials in Canada and California. Tong has filed a suit against Low, who Tong believes was behind a defamatory blog attack after The Edge published details of 1MDB’s troubled internal affairs.

The latest reports from Kuala Lumpur are that all employees of 1MDB have been ordered to take their office-issued computers and smartphones to the company’s information technology department to have their hard drives wiped clean. The company says the move is to counter an attempted hacking of the fund’s system. But some observers have noted that when Tong’s legal action gets to examination for discovery, there will be nothing in 1MDB’s records for his lawyers to find.

Tong isn’t the only one pushing back against blog attacks associated with criticism ofNazir Razak 1MDB. Another is the Prime Minister’s brother, banker Nazir Razak, who has also launched legal action against Low. Nazir, Head of CIMB, Malaysia’s fastest-growing bank, has had a very public falling-out with his brother Najib over the flaunting of excessive wealth by the Prime Minister and his wife. In January last year Nazir wrote a long article for an online business news site about their father, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, Abdul Razak, and his absolute refusal to use public funds for his own and his family’s personal expenses.

altantuyaThe 1MDB questions also spark memories of unresolved questions around the 2006 murder of Mongolian model and interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu – who allegedly was Najib’s ex-mistress – by Najib’s bodyguards. Najib was then the Defence Minister, and French investigators have found his policy adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda, was paid over $200 million in bribes by the French manufacturers of three submarines Malaysia was buying for $2 billion.

Jonathan Manthorpe (jonathan.manthorpe@gmail.com) has been an international affairs columnist for nearly 40 years.

Release Nik Raina from this Persecution !


February 24, 2015

COMMENT: It has been 3 years since JAWI raided the Borders Bookstore at Mid-Valley, Kuala Lumpur. I have been writing since it first came to light in 2012 about the plight of Nik Raina who was accused of selling Irshad Manji’s book,”Allah, Liberty and Love”

I wanted to tell the Malaysian public that Nik Raina was denied her freedom to get on with her life and work by overzealous religious functionaries despite the fact that both the High Court and the Court of Appeal had ruled that the raid on Borders Bookstore was wrongful and illegal.

There is, therefore, no justification to charge Nik Raina Section under Section 13 (1) of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act. Instead, the Shariah Court should exercise its judicial discretion under Section 96 (g)‎ of the Shariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997 to discharge her.

Rosli and Borders1Lawyer Rosli with the Borders Team
I wish to congratulate Borders Malaysia for standing up for its employee and thank Lawyer Rosli Dahlan (above) for doing an excellent job on behalf of Nik Raina and her employer. Let us hope that good sense and justice will prevail on February 26, 2015. –Din Merican
image
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEStatement by the COO of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, Yau Su PengRELEASE NIK RAINA FROM THIS PERSECUTION!Kuala Lumpur
24 February 2015

1. On 23rd May 2012, enforcement officers of Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah (‘JAWI’) raided Borders bookstore, seized several books and examined Borders’ Muslim and non-Muslim employees.

2. On 19th June 2012, Borders’ Muslim store manager, Nik Raina binti Nik Abdul Aziz, was charged in the syariah court, for an offence of distributing publication that is offensive to Islam under section 13 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997. Since then Nik Raina has been on bail and is required to appear in the Syariah Court whenever ordered to do so.

3. On 22nd March 2013, the Kuala Lumpur High Court declared that the raid on Borders and the prosecution of Nik Raina were wrongful and illegal.

4. On 2nd April 2013, the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie of JAWI filed an appeal against the order of High Court. Thereafter, since 7th October 2013 the Syariah Court has postponed the syariah proceedings until JAWI’s appeal in the Court of Appeal is disposed.

5. On 30th December 2014, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed JAWI’s appeal and upheld the High Court’s judgment that the enforcement actions against Borders and the prosecution against Nik Raina were wrongful and illegal.

6. On 31st December 2014, solicitors for Borders wrote to the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie of JAWI and the Syariah Court requesting for the syariah criminal charge to be withdrawn in view of the judgment by the Court of Appeal. The Ketua Pendakwa Syarie did not reply to Borders’ solicitors.

7. By a notice dated 12th January 2015, the Syariah Court fixed the syariah criminal proceeding for mention on 26th February 2015.

8. The management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, as the owner of Borders Bookstores, calls for an end and a closure to the criminal proceedings against Nik Raina. It has been three years since this incident happened. It has been three years since Nik Raina lost her absolute freedom to become a person who is currently under bail. It has been three years that Nik Raina has had to endure adversities in her life including being looked upon with suspicion by the Muslim community. Much cost and expense have been incurred to defend Nik Raina in the Syariah Court and to protect her rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution in the civil courts.

9. Since then two superior courts, namely, the High Court of Malaya and the Court of Appeal have delivered clear pronouncements that JAWI’s actions and the prosecution against Nik Raina were wrongful and illegal. It is time that this matter is put to rest. It is time that the Syariah Court exercise its judicial discretion under section 96 (g) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997 to discharge Nik Raina. There are clear and settled judicial precedents that empower the Syariah Court to do so. Section 96(g) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (which is a reproduction of s.173(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code) provides:

“ s. 96(g) – nothing in paragraph (f) shall be deemed to prevent the Court from discharging the accused at any previous stage of the case if for reasons to be recorded by the Court it considers the charge to be groundless.”

10. The two judgments of the High Court and the Court of Appeal mean that the current syariah criminal charge against Nik Raina is groundless. It is to be noted that there has been no stay of execution against the two judgments which means that they are effective and must be complied with at all times. It is to be noted that JAWI has only filed a motion for leave to appeal to the Federal Court. JAWI has not obtained that leave and as a matter of fact there is no appeal pending. Even if JAWI wish to preserve its position, there is no legal justification for the syariah proceedings to be prolonged.

11. Therefore, when this matter is called before the Syariah Court on 26th February 2015, there is no basis either for the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie of JAWI or the Syariah Court to postpone this matter any further. At the very least, Nik Raina should be released by way of a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA). In that manner, Nik Raina’s freedom and personal liberty can be duly restored and neither JAWI nor anyone else will suffer any prejudice.

12. The Board of Directors and Management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd implore the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie and the Syariah Court to act in consonant with constitutional principles and the Rule of Law in order that justice may prevail for all and that Nik Raina’s fundamental rights as a free citizen is restored.

 

ABOUT BORDERS MALAYSIA

Borders in Malaysia is operated by Berjaya Books Sdn. Bhd. and is now wholly owned by Berjaya Corporation. Borders Malaysia goes beyond offering quality books, with educational and entertainment items. The first Borders Malaysia store opened its doors for business in 2005 at Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur. Today, there are six Borders Malaysia stores. They are located at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara; The Gardens, Mid Valley City; Tropicana City Mall, Petaling Jaya; Bangsar Village II, Bangsar, Queensbay Mall, Penang and IOI City Mall, Putrajaya.

Borders Malaysia offers a selection of almost 200,000 book and magazine titles. The urban bookstore chain believes in developing the culture of reading and aims to promote English literacy. To achieve this it looks to making reading and learning fun and exploratory. Another key characteristic of Borders is the personal service and the warm, reader-friendly ambience. There are also Borders Express stores, which cater to the specific needs of niche customers; there are two currently, located at Berjaya Times Square and Bangsar Village II.

For media enquiries, please contact Liza Ramli on +6019 387 4612
or e-mail lizaramli@lizaramli.com

 

Stop persecuting store manager, Borders tells JAWI

by The Malaysian Insider

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/stop-persecuting-store-manager-borders-tells-jawi

Nik Raina 2014

Borders Malaysia today demanded that store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz (above)  be freed from further persecution by religious authorities, two days before she is to appear in the Shariah Court for allegedly selling and distributing a book contrary to Islamic laws.

In a statement, Borders Malaysia said that the charge was groundless as both the High Court and the Court of Appeal ruled that the 2012 raid on the bookstore had been wrongful and illegal.

“The management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, as the owner of Borders Bookstores, calls for an end and a closure to the criminal proceedings against Nik Raina. It has been three years‎ since Nik Raina lost her absolute freedom to become a person who is currently under bail. It has been three years that Nik Raina has had to endure adversity in her life including being looked upon with suspicion by Muslims.”

The Shariah Court fixed the criminal proceeding for mention on February 26. Nik Raina was charged under Section 13 (1) of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act and if convicted could be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to two years, or both.

Borders Malaysia said the Shariah Court should exercise its judicial discretion under Section 96 (g)‎ of the Shariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997 to discharge her.

It said ‎the Federal Territories Islamic ‎Religious Department‎ (JAWI) had not filed a motion for leave to appeal to the Federal Court the decision made by the Court of Appeal last year.

“Even if Jawi wishes to preserve its position, there‎ is no basis either for JAWI or the Shariah Court to postpone this matter any further.

“At the very least, Nik Raina should be released by way of a discharge not amounting to an acquittal. In that matter, Nik Raina’s freedom and personal liberty can be duly restored and neither Jawi nor anyone will suffer any prejudice.”

On December 30, the Court of Appeal decided that JAWI ‎was wrong in raiding and seizing copies the controversial book “Allah, Liberty and Love” by Irshad Manji‎ from a Borders bookstore, upholding a lower court’s decision.

The book was seized before an edict banning it was issued and Jawi’s actions were deemed illegal and unconstitutional.

A three-man bench, led by Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, also held that JAWI’s actions against Nik Raina was unconstitutional and illegal and said her arrest and prosecution must be quashed.

This case has also shone a spotlight on the country’s parallel systems of civil law and shariah law, with the majority Malay-Muslim population being bound by the shariah.

The three respondents in the case were Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, Borders assistant general-manager of operations and merchandising Stephen Fung, and Nik Raina.

The appeal was filed by JAWI, the Home Minister and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic religious affairs, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

The parties were appealing against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to allow Berjaya Books’s judicial review to quash JAWI’s actions in seizing Irshad Manji’s book from the bookstore.

On May 23, 2012, Jawi had conducted a raid at the bookstore and subsequently Nik Raina was accused by the religious authority of breaching the hukum syarak by distributing or selling the book “Allah, Liberty and Love”.

When JAWI conducted the raid, the book had not been banned and Nik Raina was not responsible for the buying and stocking of books and merchandise in Borders stores.

Despite a number of representations made by her lawyers on Nik Raina’s behalf, JAWI insisted on prosecuting her.

On June 18, 2012, Borders filed for leave to commence a judicial review on the legality of the raid, the process and prosecution of Nik Raina at a time when there was no ban of the publication.

The High Court subsequently granted leave for Borders to commence judicial review proceedings against JAWI for raiding, searching, seizing of publications and subjecting to examination and investigation Borders’s Muslim and non-Muslim employees.

They also sought legal clarification on the arrest and prosecution of Nik Raina for distributing by way of selling Irshad Manji’s book (in English) and the Malay translation “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” which is said to be against Section 13 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.

The Home Ministry banned the book on May 29, and the ban only came into effect on June 14, three weeks after the raid.

The then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, in his affidavit filed in the High Court, stated that JAWI had powers to seize books that are in violation of Islamic law even if they are not banned by the ministry.‎

“Although there had been no Prohibition Order on the date on which the book was confiscated by JAWI, the department is empowered to seize the book because the book had contravened Section 13 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997,” he wrote in his affidavit at the time.

On March 23 last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that Jawi had acted illegally in raiding the Borders bookstore at the Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur and seizing the book.

Justice Datuk Zaleha Yusof said in her judgment that JAWI had also acted illegally in charging store manager Nik Raina, a Muslim employee, at the shariah court in Kuala Lumpur. Following the judgment, Jawi filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision.

Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow


February 23, 2015

Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Baru Youth Chief, is smarter than we credit him. The fiercely ambitious Oxford graduate is taking the initiative, showing UMNO Baru that he can lead.
Khairy Jamaluddin

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is facing his worst nightmare. His spectre is a Malaysian in an Australian detention centre. Khairy needs to prove that he will be ‘prime minister material’ if the top post becomes vacant.

Khairy is showing signs of being bored with his day job as Youth and Sports Minister. After Malaysia’s dismal performance in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Khairy’s focus should be on promoting and improving our performance in sport. He should engage more young Malaysians.

The Ambitious Shafee Abdullah

Proving that he has too much time on his hands, the Minister has instead organised a roadshow. His co-star is the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy 2 trial, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.  They are trying to convince the public that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict was a just one.

There is probably an ulterior motive to the roadshow. Shafee has his sights set on being the next Attorney-General, whilst Khairy is taking pole position in the race to be the Prime Minister.

To most UMNO Baru members, Khairy shows promise and this will probably upset Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, whom many consider to be another potential Malaysian Prime Minister.

Hishammuddin’s credentials? He spoke English better than any of the government officials who gave press conferences for MH370. His popularity received a boost after photos of him were circulated, sitting in a cramped economy-class seat en route to a meeting in Australia.

Nevertheless, Khairy has other endearing qualities. He has political pedigree by virtue of his father-in-law, former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Khairy’s English is heavily accented, unlike most of his peers. He was educated in Singapore (United  World College South East Asia) and England (Oxford), and spent his childhood globe-trotting as the son of a diplomat.

KJ-Askar-Wataniah

Appearance counts – Khairy wears bespoke suits, because he knows that to look good is half the battle, especially when impressing his design-conscious supporters. Most important of all, Khairy is a “real man”. The reservist in the Territorial Army  (above) underwent commando style training, and has obtained his parachute wings. When some tudung-clad Malay girls were hugged on stage by K-Pop performers, Khairy was dismissive and tweeted, “…I hope Malaysian girls return to tall, dark and handsome men and not pale, skinny and pretty men. Those are not real men.”

To his credit, Khairy did not ask the girls to be investigated, unlike some of his party members.

Has Khairy done enough?

At UMNO Baru’s last General Assembly in November, Khairy proved his racist credentials with his outburst against non-Malays, warning them not to question Malay rights. Despite his image of a tough guy, Khairy has a sensitive side to him. The traditional practice is for the UMNO Baru Youth leader to be given a ministerial role, but in 2009, Najib snubbed him. Dejected, Khairy hinted to reporters that he might go on study leave and not stand for election in GE13. Pigs can fly!

So, has Khairy – the Youth and Sports Minister – done enough to upgrade sporting facilities in schools, universities and public areas? How has he promoted a more healthy and productive lifestyle in our youth?

Has his ministry successfully discovered and nurtured young, sporting talents? Current stars like world squash champion Nicol David will eventually retire, and Lee Chong Wei is embroiled in alleged abuse of drugs. These – and other ageing stars – will soon have to be replaced. They do not have the qualities of Peter Pan, like some who are still members of ‘UMNO Baru Youth’ although middle-aged.

Does Khairy possess the political will to clean up doping and corruption in sports, especially in football? We need new faces and an injection of fresh, creative ideas to promote sports. Is Khairy afraid of getting rid of the deadwood amongst sports officials?

When will he persuade his party that racism in sports is bad? Before racism crept into the sports arena, there were sporting heroes from all the communities. Competition is healthy, and racism should also be avoided when selecting sporting officials.

Najib’s future is looking bleak and his problems are not caused only by his fiscal measures, his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the goods and services tax (GST), or the Sodomy II fallout.

Perhaps, this roadshow is to make Khairy stand out from the crowd and prove his worth. Both Najib and Khairy know that in the dog-eat-dog world of UMNO Baru, there are enemies around them and it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Najib is aware that his adversaries are circling him, like hyenas waiting for the kill. The stakes are high. No one can be trusted and people are watching their backs.

Is Khairy trying to justify Anwar’s conviction or is he trying to promote himself?

Anwar Ibrahim’s Return to Sungei Buloh and its Implications


February 21, 2015

Anwar Ibrahim’s Return to Sungei Buloh and its Implications

Najib Razak, Rosmah MansorNajib needs Divine Help

The verdict is finally out. After months of speculations over Anwar Ibrahim’s fate, the Malaysian Federal Court has upheld the guilty verdict for the former Deputy Prime minister over the charge of sodomy. The verdict was particularly surprising for some within the Opposition circles who were confident that Anwar would be freed. The verdict has in theory sealed Anwar’s political fate given that he will be in prison for five years and be barred from assuming political office for another five years. This – at 77 – would render him too old to become the next leader of the country. The verdict is likely to have long term consequences for both Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Malaysian politics.

Prosecuting Anwar Ibrahim

anwar_ibrahim2Anwar will not surrender

Anwar Ibrahim is a key figure in Malaysian politics. He will long be remembered for changing Malaysia’s political landscape. Dismissed as a spent force following his ouster from the ruling party – the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) – and subsequent jail term for sodomy and corruption, against all odds, he rose from the political doldrums to lead the PR to its best electoral performance in 2008. In 2013, the coalition bettered this performance by winning the popular votes.

Drawing a lesson from the old play book of former Prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamed, the Malaysian government appealed against his earlier acquittal for sodomy. The charge was first brought against him by a former aide, Saiful Bukhari. The court proceedings were viewed by many as clearly biased against the defence team. For instance, the court allowed DNA evidence obtained illegally to be admitted in the case.

The perception that Anwar has been unfairly treated by a corrupt government will once again galvanise support for the opposition leader especially amongst younger Malaysians. Hence, the guilty verdict has created a martyr out of Anwar and this could potentially be more threatening to the Malaysian government.

Can PR survive without Anwar?

While it was Anwar’s political savviness that initially brought the three opposition parties, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and People’s Justice Party (PKR) together, he has in recent times been the source of contention between the three parties. Both PAS and DAP leaders have registered their displeasure in what they deem as Anwar’s unilateral style of decision-making.

Matters came to a head when Anwar initiated the controversial change of Selangor’s chief minister. Both DAP and PAS leaders were incensed by the failure of Anwar to consult them on the issue. However, it was the conservative PAS leaders including party president, Hadi Awang who refused to support the candidature of Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the new chief minister. This tension was further exacerbated when PAS recently announced that the party will be tabling a hudud bill in the Kelantan state assembly, a move clearly rejected by its PR partner, the DAP.

While some have argued that these developments are clear signs that the PR is at a brink of collapse, the recent court verdict might be the instrumental factor that could reverse this trend. First, the jailing of Anwar could unite the opposition in the face of adversity. In a sign of solidarity with Anwar, all PR leaders attended the PR’s presidential council meeting in February. This was the first time that Hadi attended the meeting in more than a year. Second, this development will force PAS leaders to rethink their political strategy.

Even the most hard-core of the party’s supporters are likely to demand party leaders to focus on the bigger issue of justice and unseating the BN government in the next election knowing fully well that the political mileage that PAS is likely to gain. Most importantly, the younger leaders of PR who have had significant experience working within the PR framework are likely to come forth in charting the future direction of the party.

Privately both PAS and DAP leaders admit that members of the two parties work closely at the grassroots level. In other words, the opposition alliance can still survive without Anwar. Perhaps with Anwar being out of the picture, the argument can even be made that the PR has a better chance of surviving since all parties must now coalesce around the new opposition leader.

Azmin Ali–Key Contender for Parliamentary Opposition Leader

Azmin AliPerforming well as Selangor’s Chief Minister

There is little doubt that Azmin Ali will emerge as a key contender for the position of Opposition leader. Both the top leaders of PAS and DAP, Hadi Awang and Lim Kit Siang do not have a national appeal and are viewed as divisive figures. Wan Azizah, Anwar’s wife is likely to be rejected by PAS. The party had – earlier last year – rejected her candidature as chief minister of Selangor. This leaves Azmin as the most qualified candidate who is acceptable to both DAP and PAS. Like Anwar, Azmin possess the charisma and political savvy reflected in his current tenure as Chief Minister of Selangor.

Najib’s Political survival

Najib as 1MDB advisorHe’s looking Lost

The recent verdict has also discredited the current administration and Prime Minister Najib Razak even further. Regardless of whether the Malaysian judiciary has been impartial in this case, the Malaysian and international public perception is that the case and final verdict was politically motivated. Anwar’s conviction has been blamed on UMNO and Najib himself. Public sympathy for Anwar might trigger a bigger swing away from UMNO and BN especially amongst the younger voters. Anwar himself predicted that his imprisonment will result in an increase in popular votes for the opposition.

Some UMNO conservatives have applauded the verdict. Zainuddin Maidin, former information minister and a staunch ally of Dr Mahathir, praised the judges for placing the integrity and sovereignty of the country’s laws above everything else. This does not mean that attacks against Najib have ceased from this group. In the immediate aftermath of the verdict, Dr Mahathir seems to have upped his ante noting that there is “something rotten in the state of Malaysia”. In essence, he is suggesting that the Malaysian political system is in a state of decay.

The falling oil prices, plunging commodity prices and soaring household debt, suggests dire straits ahead for Malaysia and Malaysians. Increased public sympathy for Anwar, internal opposition and a looming economic crisis have left doubts as to whether Najib can survive as Prime Minister of Malaysia. Najib’s survival currently hinges on whether any senior UMNO leader is willing to mount a challenge against his leadership.

Anwar Ibrahim’s imprisonment has far-ranging consequences not only for the opposition and Malaysians, but also for the government. It could prove to be the Najib and UMNO’s Achilles heel.

Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman is assistant professor and coordinator of the Malaysia Program at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).