Don’t Make Kevin Morais a Hero, says Raja Petra Kamaruddin

November 27, 2015

Don’t Make Kevin Morais a Hero, says Raja Petra Kamaruddin

The bottom line is: Kevin was not a saint and hero as many are now saying he was. He was just one more slime ball and scumbag. And he served his masters in the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), MACC, and the Attorney General’s Chambers to fix up innocent people on fabricated charges. And he was NOT murdered on the orders of the Prime Minister, as some are insinuating. He was murdered because he did dirty deals and those who do dirty deals normally risk that sort of retaliation and retribution. That is called payback.


Raja Petra Kamarudin


RPK and The Dilemma

Anwar Ibrahim was an  enigma to many of you people. Well, at least while he was in UMNO and when he whacked Chinese schools and Hindu temples and helped make many corrupt China men and Malays extremely rich. And then he became God’s gift to Malaysia and the person who was going to become Prime Minister and who will save the country from the very party that he tried to take over but failed — meaning UMNO, of course.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was a dilemma to many of you people. Well, at least when he threw Anwar into jail and detained so many people without trial and killed so many people in Memali and spent RM100-200 billion of the country’s money and destroyed the judiciary, etc. And then he became God’s gift to Malaysia and the person who was going to save Malaysia by ousting Prime Minister Najib Razak and replace him with a puppet who will rule Malaysia by proxy with a Council of Elders telling him what to do.


Kevin Anthony Morais was a scumbag to many of you people. Well, at least when he tried to fix up lawyer Rosli Dahlan on fabricated charges on behalf of the A-G and IGP who wanted to bring down the Director of the CCID who was investigating the shenanigans in MAS that led all the way to those who walked in the corridors of power. And then he became Malaysia’s latest hero because he was murdered for reasons we do not know yet but which everyone assumes must have something to do with the Prime Minister because that story sounds nicer than the other story even if the other story may be true.

Well, Malaysians have short memories, as Dr Mahathir is fond of saying. So they forgot what Din Merican wrote five years ago in December 2010 (READ HERE). Amongst what Din said were:

On Monday December 20, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan will be in the dock of the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court to be adjudged whether he is guilty or innocent of the charge brought against him by A-G Gani Patail using the MACC. That will be the verdict by a court of law.

I have attended Rosli Dahlan’s trial from Day 1 until it ended. I know the charge, I know the facts, I have seen the MACC witnesses in action giving evidence ,and I have heard the MACC DPPs delivering their submissions. I will now pronounce this verdict by the court of public opinion.

The accuser is Senior DPP cum Assistant Director of Legal & Prosecution MACC, Anthony Kevin Morais. He prefers to use his second name as his first and thus he is called Kevin rather than Anthony. Kevin regards himself as learned in the law with wide powers conferred on him by the MACC Act and its predecessor legislations. Kevin does not like to be questioned as to his decision making, a trait passed down from the Attorney- General Gani Patail himself. The philosophy of power that this higher echelon of the A-G’s Chambers subscribe to is that “We command, you abide”.

He looks rather youthful for his age. He is a dapper dresser and is very well-groomed, putting to shame some of the shabby looking lady DPPs. He powders his face, puts on mascara, rouge and lip gloss when he is in court with well manicured finger nails. With such attention to personal vanity, he looks even more attractive outside of office hours.

Kevin’s sexual orientation is unknown although Malaysia Today’s report out of London suggests that he has an older English boyfriend whom he spent time with last Christmas. He is unmarried, and it is doubtful if he ever will, at least not in Malaysia. As such, there is nothing to be said of his family values.

Although born a Catholic, his present lifestyle would invite ex-communication by the Pope in the Vatican. Because of the predominant number of Malays in the Legal and Judicial Service, his flair of the English language places him amongst the more competent government lawyers. Thus he interprets the law as he wants to, and not as how it should be.

Kevin hopes to be a Judge one day to fill in the vacuum left by another Indian Judge with an English sounding name, Justice Augustine Paul, whose eminence was in ruling every piece of defence evidence in Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy I as “Irrelevant”. Consequently, the Good Lord rendered him irrelevant by recalling him to permanent abode six feet underground.

Life was all sunshine and rosy for Rosli Dahlan – he had a good happy family, his firm had expanded, his practice was flourishing. Nothing, it seemed, could have gone wrong, that was until Rosli decided to defend his friend, the former Director of Commercial Crimes Investigations Dept (CCID), Commissioner of Police Dato’ Ramli Yusuff. Since 2006, Ramli was targeted to be eliminated from PDRM by former IGP Musa Hassan and by A-G Gani Patail.

Musa Hassan had to eliminate Ramli because Ramli had discovered his links with the BK Tan syndicate which was about to nationalise and corporatise the illegal money-lending Along syndicates. Gani Patail wanted to eliminate Ramli because Ramli had recommended that the former MAS Chairman, Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli, should be charged for various offences, whereas Gani Patail had already cut a deal with Tajuddin’s proxy – Shahidan Shafie.

You can read more about that case HERE, which Din Merican has laid out in detail.


The bottom line is: Kevin was not a saint and hero as many are now saying he was. He was just one more slime ball and scumbag. And he served his masters in the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), MACC, and the Attorney General’s Chambers to fix up innocent people on fabricated charges. And he was NOT murdered on the orders of the Prime Minister, as some are insinuating. He was murdered because he did dirty deals and those who do dirty deals normally risk that sort of retaliation and retribution. That is called payback.



Bicameral Parliament–The Future of Dewan Negara (The Senate)

November 26, 2015

COMMENT: I am not a legal person, neither is Ramadin-merican in sing Ramanathan. He is an engineer and I am an economist by academic orientation. But I can understand his views on our parliamentary system. In fact, I compliment him for raising the issue of the future role of the Malaysian Senate (Dewan Negara) in our constitutional democracy.

I will, however, take issue with his view that the difference between our Parliament (bicameral) and that of Singapore (unicameral) is because Singapore is a city whereas ours is a Federation of 13 states. That distinction is strictly not a valid one. Both Malaysia and Singapore are independent sovereign nations. Singapore chose to have a Parliament without a Senate for reasons of their own. But that is not an issue. I differ with him since I  do not see any value in a piecemeal approach to democratic reform. Our whole system is problematic.

Of what  use  are a Senate and our Lower House which are mere rubber stamps.  We cannot even have a healthy debate on bills and policies proposed and dictated by the Executive Branch. All our Parliamentarians and Senators cannot influence policy making since they are required to act along party lines,  and  are unable to perform their proper roles in our system of checks and balances as provided for in our constitution and they cannot decide in the interest of their respective constituents.

Tun Dr MahathirOur constitution mandates clear separation of powers between Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive Branch. But over time, our former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made sure that the legislative and judicial branches answer to an all-powerful Executive Branch. We the voters were equally culpable when we gave UMNO-BN under his leadership two-thirds majority to govern after every election throughout his 22-year rule. That enabled Tun Dr. Mahathir to amend the constitution as he saw fit to become a powerful Prime Minister.

Today both Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat are dysfunctional. Our Dewan Rakyat in particular has become a monkey house (with due respects to our distant cousin).

We do not need a rubber stamp legislature because we already have a powerful Executive Branch. Why do we have a Parliament that is just a symbol of democratic governance and elections that are not free and fair. Imagine the millions upon millions of ringgits we can put to better use for nation building.

In reality, we need government, not anarchy. It is an indispensable institution but we have to make it function better. To do so, let us start by undertaking a complete  review of our constitution so that the three branches of government operate as our original constitutional experts designed it at the time of our independence 58 years ago, but one that is adapted to meet our present circumstances and stage of political development.

Let us undertake electoral reform to ensure free and fair elections, revise rules with strict criteria for choosing candidates (including background checks) for elections, establish rules with regard to campaign funding, and undertake systematic delineation of electoral constituencies to prevent gerrymandering.

After all that, we can decide whether we should retain our present bicameral Parliament (which is like in the UK), adopt the Singapore unicameral model, or use the American model where Senators and Representatives are elected by the American people. In the United States, the Congress, the Judiciary and the Executive Branch perform their  respective roles in accordance with the Constitution. Otherwise, we will be putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

Finally, we as Malaysians have to decide what democratic governance we want  which will be based on a new constitution. We cannot leave this important matter in the hands of politicians, be they from UMNO-BN or the so-called Pakatan Harapan. A national referendum on the new constitution should be conducted for this purpose.–Din Merican

Bicameral Parliament–The Future of Dewan Negara (The Senate)

by Rama Ramanathan

Malaysian Parliament 2

The job of Parliament is to ensure that the Cabinet, composed of the Prime Minister and ministers, carries out the will of the people. The Cabinet is supposed to carry out the will of the people by crafting policies and laws for approval by Parliament and by executing them under the supervision of Parliament.

The Parliament of Singapore is unicameral, whereas the Parliament of Malaysia is bicameral. That means Malaysia has a lower house (House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat) and an upper house (Senate or Dewan Negara) to represent the people, make laws and monitor the Cabinet, whereas Singapore only has one house.

Why is there a difference between Malaysia and Singapore?It’s different because Malaysia is a Federation, while Singapore is a city-state.

In a bicameral system, all policies and laws, except “money bills,” must be approved by both houses. Typically, the lower house – the Dewan Rakyat – is composed of members (MPs) elected by citizens in largely self-governed, distinct geographical areas.

In Malaysia, states and Federal Territories are largely self-governed; so, they elect MPs to the lower house. Because the number of persons living in these areas varies, so does the number of MPs from each area.

For instance, the population of Johor is over 10 times as large as that of Perlis. Should Johor and Perlis have the same number of representatives in the Dewan Rakyat?

The Federal Constitution answered the question in 1957. The answer hinged on the principle of proportional representation.

Under that principle, areas with larger populations get more voices in Parliament, and thus more opportunity to influence national decisions.

That principle still applies. Presently, amongst the Peninsular states, Johor has the largest number of representatives (26) and Perlis has the smallest number (3).

One of the dangers of states with larger populations having greater influence over national decisions is that factors other than size of the population may be ignored in decision-making.

For instance, a policy to accept refugees crossing the Thailand-Malaysia border may put a greater burden on citizens in Perlis than on citizens in Johor. Residents of Perlis may suffer more.

Similarly, if we made an international commitment to stop cutting down our forests, state revenues will go down more in Pahang and less in Johor. Pahang may have to cut spending or raise land taxes; residents of Pahang will suffer more.

In a Federation, the Senate is designed to ensure that the interest of each area is carefully considered before national decisions are made.

In Malaysia, as in most other nations, the upper house (Senate) cannot reject decisions of the lower house; it can only delay them. But this still works as a strong incentive for the Cabinet to craft policies and laws which will not be delayed by the Senate.

The characteristics of a well-functioning Senate which I’ve alluded to above are not today’s reality. The reality is different for many reasons. I’ll list just five.

First, in 1963, when the Federation of Malaysia was created, Sabah and Sarawak were over-represented and Singapore was under-represented in the Dewan Rakyat – instead of in the Dewan Negara (Senate).

This was a tacit acknowledgement of the lack of electoral legitimacy on the part of Senators, whether they are “elected” (with no competition) by state governments or by the Federal government.

Second, Senators appointed by the Yang diPertuan Agong (actually proposed by the Prime Minister) vastly outnumber Senators from the states.

Decades ago, when there were only 11 states, there were to be 22 senators from the states and 16 appointed senators. Today, with 13 states and 4 Federal territories, there are 30 senators sent by the areas and 40 senators appointed by the Federal Government.

Third, the government uses Senatorial appointments to put unelected persons – who cannot be punished by voters at elections – in Ministerial offices.

Fourth, the Cabinet bypasses Parliament and works through ministerial dictates.

Fifth, though the constitution provides (Article 66), for the Senate to initiate Bills which may eventually become law, I’m not aware of the Senate ever having done so. Neither am I aware of any Bills defeated in the Senate.

The Senate was designed to be a tiger. It has neither roared nor taken prey because the ruling coalition practices “winner takes everything” politics, not politics which acknowledges the Cabinet is subject to Parliament; not the kind that works for compromise and the best satisfaction of the people’s will.

What are Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan’s plans for the Senate? Will they misuse, terminate, revive or re-invent the Senate?

Obama to Najib: Release Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience

November 23, 2015

Obama to Najib: Release Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience

by John R. Malott


One person told me that Najib’s response was that he had to follow Malaysia’s legal system. To me, it is ironic that Najib wants to hide behind Malaysia’s legal system, because he certainly has had no hesitation to use and abuse it for his own political ends.–John R.Malott

I have heard from five people, both Malaysians and Americans and all in a position to know, that during his meeting with Najib Razak on November 20, US President Barack Obama called on the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib to release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

The request reportedly was made on humanitarian grounds, because of Anwar’s deteriorating health. But the US government position that Anwar’s trial was flawed and politically-motivated, and that Anwar is a political prisoner, is a matter of record.

One person told me that Najib’s response was that he had to follow Malaysia’s legal system. To me, it is ironic that Najib wants to hide behind Malaysia’s legal system, because he certainly has had no hesitation to use and abuse it for his own political ends.

And it’s not just against the opposition anymore. Now he’s going after critics in his own party, as well as investigators who have gotten too close to the truth.

A lot has happened since the famous golf game last December. Starting with Anwar’s conviction in February, there was that major front page expose in the New York Times, detailing all the allegations of corruption surrounding Najib and his family.

Sarawak Report started exposing more and more documents about 1MDB and the missing billions. The 1MDB reporting was all very complicated and convoluted, because the paper trails were hard to follow. But then The Wall Street Journal published an article that everyone could understand. US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had allegedly ended up in Najib’s personal bank account, and for weeks he could not explain how it got there.

And then, just like magic, most of that money allegedly went overseas again – but no one knows where, and Najib isn’t talking. Everyone could understand that story – you don’t need an MBA in international finance. Then New York Times reported that Najib and his family were under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. What a name!

As for human rights and democracy, Najib’s crackdown on the opposition has been reported widely in the Western press. Human Rights Watch recently put out a 151-page report on the “climate of fear” that Najib has created. Unprecedented – 151 pages! Then there was that United Nations group that recently called for Anwar’s release.

Obama is a lawyer. He now understands that the evidence is overwhelming and that Najib is not the man he thought he was. As I have said before, Obama is not the only world leader who believed Najib’s rhetoric of reform. But put it all together, and with all the news this year, it reached the point where Obama finally recognised the reality about both Malaysia and Najib.

Change in stand

Last February we launched the White House petition on ‘We, the People’, which called for making Anwar’s release from prison a priority for US foreign policy. That has now happened.

But that is not thanks to me or the petition, it is thanks to the great investigative reporting in the world press, on Malaysian websites, and on Sarawak Report. Especially, it is thanks to the courage of so many Malaysians who refuse to be intimidated by the heavy hand and threats of Malaysia’s Home Minister and Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

ambassador-john-malottI agree totally with what Obama told the civil society leaders whom he just met in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. America has many interests in Malaysia – and not just the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). It includes our longstanding trade and investment ties, military and foreign policy cooperation, and working together on so many issues like refugees, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, and the environment. But I am glad that human rights and democracy are once again on the list of our priorities in Malaysia.

I have been critical of Obama’s hands-off stance on human rights in Malaysia over the past few years. But now I have to say thank you. Not only did he discuss these matters with Najib, he is the first President to actually call for Anwar’s release from prison since Anwar was first jailed in 1998. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W Bush ever went that far.

I hope that this more visible and active US effort will continue, but not just to secure Anwar’s freedom. We need to be even more vocal in Malaysia and around the world in addressing human rights, political freedom, and religious and racial discrimination. Free and fair elections are essential to change. Corruption, the abuse of the legal system, and special treatment for government-linked companies (GLCs) hurts American companies trying to do business in Malaysia as much as it hurts Malaysian companies.

America needs to stand clearly on the side of those Malaysians who are seeking the changes that will lead to a brighter future for Malaysia. The current trajectory – with more and more Malaysians themselves starting to refer to their own country as a “failed” or “failing” state – should be of concern to everyone, and not just Malaysians.

This needs to be a coordinated international effort, working with the UN, human rights NGOs, and like-minded governments from around the world. It should not be just America alone, for the reasons that Obama described in his talk at Taylor’s University to the young Southeast Asian leaders. America should not be seen as the “nanny state,” lecturing others and ignoring its own shortcomings.

Malaysia, Najib, and the ruling party need the international equivalent of a “family intervention,” sort of a “Friends of Malaysia” grouping, where out of concern and love you try to break through the pattern of denial and help the person – or in this case, the country – get the “treatment” it needs before it destroys itself.

Finally, I am confident that there will always be courageous Malaysians who will continue to struggle for true democracy and political freedom, against the growing authoritarianism in their country. I hope their numbers will grow. For in the end, while the outside world can be supportive, only the Malaysian people can bring change.

As Obama said many times, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

JOHN R.MALOTT is former US Ambassador to Malaysia and a true friend of Malaysian Civil Society. We are grateful that Ambssador Malott continues to play an important role for us in Washington DC. American legislators in Congress need to know about developments in Malaysia. We cannot rely on our Ambassador in Washington, Dr Awang Adek, who is a UMNO politician and Najib’s personal emissary to the Obama administration, to speak up for us since he is a stooge. I also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Malaysians who are living in the Washington Area for their support.–Din Merican

Malaysia: US President met Civil Society Leaders

November 21, 2015


Malaysia: US President met Civil Society Leaders

President Barack Obama meets Malaysian civil society leaders

US President Barack Obama was familiar with the problems facing Malaysia including corruption and the erosion in the Rule of Law, said civil society leaders who met with him today.

Negaraku patron Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan said they sought to raise as many issues as they were able in the brief time allotted, but said she believed that Obama already knew the salient points of the topics they discussed.

In the Gallery

  • White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice (second right) joins President Barack Obama in a roundtable with civil society leaders, including National Human Rights Society’s Ambiga Sreenevasan (from left), Nisha Ayub of Justice for Sisters and Malaysian Bar Council’s Steven Thiru, in Kuala Lumpur, Nov 21, 2015. — Reuters pic

She said Obama also assured them that the US’ dealings with nations accused of abuses did not mean that his country was not concerned over the various issues raised against such governments.

“We raised what you would expect us to raise, which would be the corruption, 1MDB, TPPA, the arrests of civil society members…” Ambiga said when pressed to divulge the topics broached during the rare meeting.

BERSIH 4.0 Chairman Maria Chin Abdullah then interjected to explain that the arrests they had complained about were those involving civil society groups as well as local lawmakers.

Chin said the arrests were of concern given the proximity of the next general election, claiming that such arrests would prevent the federal and state lawmakers from contesting.

In Malaysia, only convictions that result in prison terms of over 12 months or fines of above RM2,000 result in disqualifications from becoming a lawmaker.

Ambiga also said that they impressed upon Obama the deterioration of institutions and Rule of Law in Malaysia, citing the alleged interference in the investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd, among others.

She said they had pointed out the manner of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s removal as Attorney-General as well as alleged meddling into the proceedings of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Accounts Committee, among others.

“Since the last time he came here, things have gotten worse. We made that very, very clear… ” she said.

Bar Council Chairman Steven Thiru, who was also in the meeting, said he had informed the US President of Malaysia’s regression in the Rule of Law, and that of many of the institutions vital to a healthy democracy.

He said the US could not sit idly by while countries undergo regressions in this area. “I made a very strong point to him that what we see here today is the unparalleled erosion of the Rule of Law by people who talk about the Rule of Law, but really what they mean is rule by law,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier, Chin said she had also highlighted the incongruity between Putrajaya’s globally professed moderation and its actions at home that appeared to encourage extremism, including the tacit support for the pro-Malay “Red Shirts” rally here on Malaysia Day.

Obama met today with several leaders of Malaysian civil society, during which he said the “US stands behind the important work that they are doing on a day-to-day basis.”

Maqasid Shariah Foundation of Pakatan Harapan common policy?

November 20, 2015

COMMENT: I put a Question Mark to the M-Shariah idea because I think abd21-seatvthis is another label. In reality, it is old wine in a new bottle. How different is this from the Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy framework of yesteryear which was hardly practised in Penang and Selangor? Just because PAS is being replaced by bunch of equally misguided Islamists  we must be served with M-Shariah so that Pakatan Harapan can garner votes in GE-14.

Like UMNO, Pakatan Harapan is seeking power. After that like existing opposition politicians and those in UMNO-BN, they become distant from their voters. What is worse, as we have seen with Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Perak (from Parti KeADILan and DAP), they can be bought by UMNO-BN like cheap commodities. No wonder, UMNO-BN does not take this new coalition seriously. Malaysia’s political culture is founded on the idea that cash is king.

Din MericanY2The bottomline is that M-Shariah is the agenda of an Islamic state in Malaysia. I also need to be persuaded that the new coalition can hold together long enough to form the next government. We should take religion out of politics and maintain Malaysia as a secular state based on our constitution and the Rule of Law. –Din Merican

Maqasid Shariah –Foundation of Pakatan Harapan common policy?

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Saifuddin Abdullah2
Now Pakatan Harapan Secretary-General

Pakatan Harapan will base its new common policy framework on the “maqasid shariah”, an Islamic concept that seeks to put universal justice and the common good above all else, the opposition bloc’s new secretary-general Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah announced last night.

Speaking at a forum entitled “Maqasid Shariah: A National Agenda?”, the former UMNO leader said the focus will be on ensuring good governance and fairness to all regardless of their faith or race, but did not explain in greater detail.

“I think maqasid shariah will be one of the important approaches that we will be using in the context of Pakatan Harapan’s common policy framework.In fact, it was already there in the Pakatan Rakyat’s muafakat rakyat… the maqasid shariah was already there,” Saifuddin told the forum.

Maqasid shariah literally means the higher objective of Islamic laws, which aims to ensure that justice supersedes the objectives of any particular law, whether divine or man-made.

Unlike many of the strict doctrine proposed by conservative Islamists, including PAS, maqasid shariah is a concept that allows for flexibility in the implementation of Shariah or Islamic laws, so as long as the end result is the indiscriminate deliverance of genuine justice.

Dr Zul

Other panelists at the forum, Parti Amanah Negara’s Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (above), PKR’s young Islamic scholar Wan Ji Wan Hussin and DAP Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari, agreed that the ideals of the maqasid shariah are in fact already shared by humanity.

“Anything that aims to bring goodness and fairness is the real Shariah… it is the real maqasid shariah,” Wan Ji explained. “If I am to look at the best country [that practices genuine Islam] I would say it’s Sweden,” he added, referring to the Scandinavian nation noted for its equitable socio-economic policies.

The young PKR scholar said the problem with Muslims is their fixation with Islamic terminology as the defining trait of Islam, instead of understanding that the religion promotes universal goodness, be it in the form of Islamic or any other laws.

Malaysia 2050

Zairil, citing his experience of meeting with a key leader of the Tunisian revolution during a DAP trip to the Middle East recently, described how Islamists in the Northern African country believed that Islamic ideals could be delivered through secular laws.

He said Tunisia’s giant Islamist party controls the country’s Parliament after the overthrow of the Ben Ali dictatorship, but had agreed to keep its constitution secular as it felt that as long as the new laws would ensure justice to all Tunisian, it is deemed to be Islamic.

But Zairil said the opposite is seen in a majority of the Islamic world, where a narrow interpretation of Islam by a territorial few have made it a feared religion.

Zairil Khir Johari

“There is a need to push for a bigger version of Islam, magnanimous, inclusive and certainly not exclusive… Islam should be attractive, it should be attractive to the non-Muslims, but right now as it is non-Muslims are scared of Islamic laws,” he said.

Tunisia has since been recognised as a model modern Islamic state worldwide, Zairil added.

Going viral in Cambodian Cyberspace

November 19, 2015

COMMENT: Times are changing in Cambodia as a result of peace, Din Merican at his UC Officepolitical stability and economic development following the formation of the Royal Government in 1993 (although the civil war did not end until 1997). Phnom Penh and the provincial cities and towns are now bustling with economic activity.

Education is a top priority – at least in the private sector – and the availability of the internet is helping in the process of intellectual development of the Cambodian people. Students I meet at the University of Cambodia have e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts and enjoy internet facilities on campus. Twenty-four-hour internet services are available and shops, cafes and hotels provide internet and wi-fi services.

Students have hand phones to communicate via internet. But internet penetration is second lowest in ASEAN after Myanmar. That means that HE Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and his Cabinet colleagues and local officials must rely on people to people dialogue, the television and the mainstream media to explain government policies.

Hun Sen at UNGAWith regard to social media, credit must be given to the Royal Government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen for making this possible.  Cambodia has a young population (average age below 25) which has forgotten what their parents and elders went through during the period of the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge reign of terror and the years of international isolation and the sacrifices they made to end the civil war and achieve peace and reconciliation. As a result, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his colleagues face the challenge of managing expectations.

Based on my discussions with graduate students at the Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, I know that the Royal Government is not taking its people for granted. It is creating jobs and business opportunities for Cambodian SMEs, and attracting foreign direct investments into the country. For this to continue, Cambodia needs political stability.

So in my view, adversarial politics is not the way forward for Cambodia in the short term to medium term. What Cambodia needs is a people-centered government. Samdech Hun Sen does not deserve the treatment he received from Cambodians in New York when he attended the UNGA last October.

There is no censorship of information. However, it is natural for any government to ensure that the internet is not used to deliberately disrupt public order and create unrest. Cambodia is no exception. –Din Merican

Going viral in Cambodian Cyberspace

by Sebastian Duchamp

Social media is on the rise in Cambodia, and it may just mark the beginning of the end of the systemic culture of judicial impunity, as well as the long-dysfunctional democratic system.

A Popular TV Station @ University of Cambodia

To shine some context on the matter, social media vigilantes have been busy linking brutal attacks on two lawmakers outside the National Assembly building in late October to military units and Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) loyalists, specifically the Naga Youth Federation; the sworn protectors of Prime Minister and CPP leader, Hun Sen, who had earlier been protesting outside the house of Kem Sokha, the Vice President of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP).

With many Khmer ‘netizens’ taking to social media to identify more suspects – as there were clearly a large number of protestors – and linking them directly to Hun Sen’s son, Hun Many, it appears that the authorities may be acting in the interests of the people; something rarely seen in Cambodia.

In early November, prosecutors arrested three Cambodian soldiers who turned themselves in for taking part in the attack, and announced they would not be looking for any more suspects.  The same prosecutors – who are rarely said to react without being paid – have recently decided to reverse this decision and have announced, based on the circumstantial evidence revealed by the viral video, that they would continue the search for suspects linked to the beating.

Modern Cambodian Monka

All of this begs the question, just how much of a threat does social media pose to Hun Sen’s control of the state apparatus that has blessed him with almost uninterrupted rule over the country since 1979?

The short answer, is that it represents perhaps one of the biggest challenges in recent times to the strongman’s rule, and largely serves to discredit his public announcements that there would be civil war if the CNRP won.

Although there doesn’t seem to be any reliable statistics, I did some number crunching based on available resources.  Out of a population of 15 million, a good estimate of the number of Facebook users would suggest that there are somewhere between 1.4 and 1.5 million Cambodian monthly active users, a 12 per cent increase in users between 2014 and 2015.  The vast majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 25, and are increasingly using more affordable mobile devices.

There are three reasons why this huge increase in interest and availability of social media. Firstly, it encourages a new level of trust – all but obliterated under the Khmer Rouge regime – and open discussion among the Cambodian people.  The confident growth of societal stability represents a healthy sign for any peaceful transition of power, which is undoubtedly a key precursor for any stable democratic regime to prevail.

Two young boys surfing the internet and chatting online at an internet shop, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Southeast Asia

Two young boys surfing the internet and chatting online at an internet shop in Phnom Penh city. This is a positive development for Cambodia.

Secondly, given that print media (which rarely makes it to rural areas anyway, where much of CPP’s support lies) and traditional radio or television broadcasting companies are largely owned by CPP-linked elites, unregulated outlets such as Facebook pose an unprecedented forum for voicing discontent.  This poses quite the thorn in the side of Hun Sen.

Both major party leaders, Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, have official pages on Facebook, and it is fairly clear who has more support.  If ‘likes’ are anything to go by, Sam Rainsy clearly eclipses the incumbent Prime Minister; leading by 500,000 total page likes – which have risen at a fairly constant rate week-on-week – to 1,820,588 at the time of writing.

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, currently at 1,330,541 total page likes, is trailing his opponent in his Facebook escapade.

Most dubiously, according to Facebook’s own statistics, Hun Sen’s total page likes increased by an erratic 14 per cent in a week.  The peak happened to coincide with the Myanmar elections on 8 November, although it is unclear what to make of this.  What is clear, is that it looks more like a heartbeat surge in popularity, compared to the more credible steady climb on Sam Rainsy’s page.

What is also clear, is that Hun Sen appears to have been greatly saddened by recent protests on visits outside the country to New York and Paris, which many speculate may have precipitated the protests and beatings against CNRP lawmakers.

The Prime Minister has recently been taking a more personal tone against his rival in his latest address to the Khmer diaspora in Paris that even went as far as reflecting on his offspring’s superior academic achievements in comparison to those of Sam Rainsy.  In Cambodia, school grades, of course, don’t always reflect academic ability; and are often an indicator of how much one is willing to bribe their way to success.

Whether these likes are those of genuine supporters, imaginary friends, or those engaging in schadenfreude can only be a matter of speculation.  After all, what’s more enjoyable than watching a well-entrenched strongman implode under the sheer weight of his own ego?

Thirdly, and most importantly, unlike the unfortunate Hun Sen, the CNRP knows how to use social media effectively.  The professional and often emotionally-charged videos (that are often accompanied by a soundtrack that would make John Williams blush) and photos that Sam Rainsy regularly posts on social media stand testament to this.  They also reveal a politician standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Khmer people; something that  Hun Sen repeatedly fails to pull-off.

On a side note, in reaction to the NLD’s sweeping victory in the Myanmar general election, one Khmer netizen replied to a post by opposition leader Sam Rainsy on his Facebook page, “…regrettably that Cambodia country is seems to be late and have to wait for 2018. Cheer! [sic]” 2018, of course, refers to the year of the next general election.

The mood in Phnom Penh, which already has seven CNRP lawmakers compared to the CPP’s five, is that Hun Sen may finally lose the 2018 general election, and with the cat out of the bag so to speak, his loss may be definitive this time.

Sebastian Duchamp is a pen name. The author is a scholar and keen observer of Southeast Asian politics and society.

Please note that my view is that a true scholar does not need to hide under a cloak of anonymity. He should be open and impartial and should not  take a position which is obviously pro-CNRP and Sam Rainsy.–Din Merican 

Editor’s note: On 16 November Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and now faces a potential two-year jail term upon his return to Phnom Penh from South Korea for an older charge of defamation.