Najib Razak sought CIA’s Help for GE-14–A Treasonous Act?


July 19, 2018

Najib Razak sought CIA’s Help for GE-14–A Treasonous Act?

By MP Lim Kit Siang

https://blog.limkitsiang.com/2018/07/19/was-the-najib-government-so-shambolic-and-even-anarchic-not-only-that-that-right-hand-does-not-know-what-the-left-hand-was-doing-the-prime-minister-did-not-know-what-was-happening-in-the-pmo/

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The letter of the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA before the 14th General Elections on May 4 seeking US support against Pakatan Harapan must have given Malaysians the shivers, reinforcing the view that the greatest thing to happen in Malaysia was the change of Federal government in Putrajaya on May 9 or nobody can be assured what would have happened to the future of Malaysia.

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Najib Razak–“A progressive leader and a staunch supporter of the US”.

The letter by the Research Division’s Director-General Hasanah Ab Hamid to the CIA painting the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak as  a progressive leader and a staunch supporter of the US while describing the leader of  the Pakatan Harapan Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as “anti-West” should never have been sent by any self-respecting government or official.

It is just not good enough for Najib to now claim that he, as the Prime Minister at the time, did not instruct the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to pen the letter to the CIA seeking US support for the Barisan Nasional against Pakatan Harapan five days before the May 9 general election.

It raised many questions, in particular whether the Najib government was so shambolic and even anarchic that the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing, and the Prime Minister did not know what was happening in the PMO or his governemnt?

If so, Najib is clearly the worst Prime Minister in Malaysian history. But there is an even more serious question – how can a caretaker government pen such a disgraceful and even disloyal letter to the intelligence organ of a foreign government asking for foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Malaysia?

Najib’s claim that he had no knowledge about the letter is a very lame and completely unacceptable. Najib said he did not even know of its existence as “Not all letters have to go through me”.

His claim that agencies, especially those related to intelligence matters, have the autonomy to perform their duties for reasons they think would benefit them must be repudiated in no uncertain terms, and the Pakatan Harapan government must make it clear that no agencies under it have any authority to send such a self-serving and disloyal letter to any foreign government.

I had asked the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, now sole MCA MP for Ayer Hitam, to state in Parliament whether he was aware and approved of Hasanah’s letter to CIA as he was at the time the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, but as expected, Wee completely avoided the subject when he later spoke in Parliament in the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal speech.

Image result for Research Division’s Director-General Hasanah Ab Hamid

Remember him? –Najib’s man in 1MDB

Let Najib turn up in Parliament and justify the despatch of the shocking letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA five days before the 14th General Election, and he should also take the opportunity to explain when Parliament approved the setting up of an intelligence unit in the Prime Minister’s Office and the details about the budget and operations the secret intelligence unit under him.

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MP Lim Kit Siang–DAP’s statesman

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday July 19, 2018)

 

 

Do we really still need a council of elders?


July 19, 2018

Do we really still need a council of elders?

Image result for Anwar and Mahathir

QUESTION TIME | On May 11, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was sworn in at 9.30pm a day earlier as Prime Minister following the May 9 elections, announced a rather abbreviated list of key cabinet ministers which included just three others besides himself – Bersatu’s Muhyiddin Yassin as Home Minister, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng as Finance Minister and Amanah’s Mohamad Sabu for Defence.

Conspicuous by absence was any minister from PKR, the largest partner in the new ruling coalition with 48 seats, compared to 42 for DAP, 13 for Mahathir’s Bersatu and 11 for Amanah, indicating a schism already developing between Mahathir and PKR.

It will be two days later and after a meeting between Mahathir and de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim before the latter’s wife, Wan Azizah Ismail was picked as Deputy Prime Minister.

Simultaneously, Mahathir announced a council of elders, which came to be known formally as the Council of Eminent Persons, headed by his old friend, the rather controversial former Finance Minister and UMNO Treasurer Daim Zainuddin.

It included as its members business tycoon Robert Kuok, former Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas CEO Hassan Merican and prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

That sequence of events indicated that Mahathir was prepared to go it alone if he had to and the appointment of the council of elders probably came as surprise to the other parties in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, especially PKR who was already unhappy with losing the finance ministry to DAP on top of not being consulted.

Now here was a Jedi-like council which was going to hear representations from others and make recommendations. In Mahathir’s words at the press conference, these people (the council) will study a lot of things submitted to them from (events dating back to) 2009 until now because “we want to take action if necessary as quickly as possible. One thing we think is very important is the Ministry of Finance and Defence – we need to have them focus on that, and later Home Affairs have to be advised on what they need to know. That is the decision we have reached this evening.”

Two days after the elections and in the euphoria of the moment after ousting a kleptocracy, very few voiced any reservations and many welcomed the appointment of the council. But on further reflection, is such a council necessary? Or desirable even? Let’s see.

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Tun Daim Zainuddin enjoys the full confidence of Prime Minister because of his record of service as Finance Minister and problem solver.

One major concern about the council of elders is Daim himself and his past. Before Bersatu’s formation and entry into Harapan, Anwar had singled out Daim as one of the leaders who may be corrupt. In a recent interview after Daim’s appointment as head of the council, Anwar had this to say:

“He can contribute […] He must be aware that people are also expressing deep consternation that he has not been able to explain some of the major excesses of the past […] To me if you want to talk about democratic accountability, it must not stop at Najib […] although it does not extend to endless witch hunts.

“I discussed this with Guan Eng also, […] he (Daim) can assist, (but) there are major issues we have to address. He can contribute, I am not saying he should not. But he should be reminded and mindful […],” said Anwar.

Daim, however, in a reply at a press conference, said that “young fellows” were pushing Anwar. “I have met Anwar a couple of times. Anwar is a very polished politician, he knows the ground very well, he knew what the manifesto was.

‘[…] Pakatan Harapan offered Tun M as the Prime Minister for two years [… ] you have to honour the manifesto […] when you sell Tun M as the seventh prime minister you must honour that […] but the young fellows are in a hurry,” he said.

Not everyone happy

Clearly, not everyone was happy with Daim’s appointment as the head of the council of elders. Insiders say that while there are others in the council, all of whom have outstanding credentials, Daim does not listen sufficiently to alternative views. Thus, it may be possible that the final recommendations made would be vetted and diluted by Daim.

Also, committees have been set up under the council of elders to study things such as institutional reform and 1MDB but these reports have to be submitted to the council of elders and not directly to the prime minister or the cabinet, giving excessive power to this council and to Daim who heads it.

Quite alarmingly, the council appears to have forced the resignation of some people through intense questioning and questionable methods, contributing to a sort of witch-hunt under which people are made to feel that they must resign.

Apart from the resignation of Bank Negara Governor Muhammad Ibrahim, the most prominent example of this was when Daim was alleged to have forced the country’s two top judges, Chief Justice Mohd Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal President Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin to quit.

According to a report in Malaysiakini, former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram claimed it was “an open secret” that this occurred during a meeting at Daim’s private office. Sri Ram said Daim, who is also a lawyer, should not have demanded Raus’ and Zulkefli’s resignations, adding it was unconstitutional for anyone other than the Prime Minister to summon the head of the Judiciary.

“Daim is not the Prime Minister and even if he had been asked by the Prime Minister to do what he did, he should have declined and left it to the attorney-general, the prime minister and the cabinet to handle it.

“After all, we do not want to return to the old days when there was no respect for the separation of powers and the due observance of constitutional requirements,” Sri Ram said.

One wonders what was it that Daim said to obtain their prompt resignations when other calls before that for them to resign went unheeded.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is why have this council in the first place when a new government has been elected? The right thing to have done is to have appointed the cabinet as soon as possible, form committees in the various ministries to study issues, co-opt external experts as necessary and use civil servants who know the ground after many years of experience.

The reports can then be presented to the cabinet for discussion, further input and final approval. That way, ministers become fully responsible for their ministries and if these ministers are appointed with some wisdom and due consideration for their abilities, there is no reason why they can’t do a better job than a council of elders which may have tainted members.

Also, these ministers are eager to work, fresh, and many of them experienced. Barring at most three, the rest are untainted by previous hints of corruption or abuse of power.

In any case, that is what one would expect in a functioning democracy. The so-called council of elders is therefore unnecessary and ultimately it is a body that bypasses the role of the cabinet in the decision-making process of the country, giving advice directly to the PM.

The life of this council should not go beyond the hundred days allocated to it.

This is the third part in a series of articles on Malaysia post-GE-14. The others were:

Part 1: Mahathir’s patently unfair cabinet

Part 2: Did Mahathir win the general election?


P GUNASEGARAM has nothing against the council personally, most of whom he has great respect and admiration for and has interacted with in the past. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

Anwar Ibrahim’s Presidency will give Parti KeADILan Rakyat a much needed boost


July 19, 2018

Anwar Ibrahim’s Presidency will give Parti KeADILan Rakyat a much needed booster

by Phar Kim Beng

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for anwar ibrahim
No Malaysian leader has endured so much humiliation, pain and anguish in the cause of justice and freedom and no politician is better to be next Prime Minister of Malaysia  than Anwar Ibrahim. PKR will get a huge boost under his presidency. –Din Merican

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2148930/anwar-ibrahim-qa-malaysian-democracy-icon-prison-dissent-and

COMMENT | May 9 was not so much about the fate of Malaysian democracy per se but the extent to which Malaysians were willing to go along with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was then still in prison, though that seems so distant now, to collectively undergo the spiritual politics of rejuvenation.

Since 1998, Malaysians who dislike the polarisation of the country, invariably into one versus the other, has had to keep their mouths shut. Instead of wanting both Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar to rekindle their dynamic economic partnership which saw the fastest GDP growth in the mid-1990s, at least prior to the dawn of the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Malaysians have had to go along with weaker successors of Mahathir.

The disastrous selection of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak only goes to prove this point. Between 2004 and 2017, Malaysia has lost 13 precious years.

Indeed, Anwar’s comeback into the presidential politics of PKR has nothing to do with partisanship. Rather, this an opening to the return to a golden era, where the best of the Malaysian leaders can stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, preaching and practising progressive and inclusive politics.

If Amanah has Mohamad Sabu, Salahuddin Ayub, Khalid Samad, Hanipa Maidin, Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Mahfuz Omar, all superb parliamentarians, then it is about time Anwar step up to the podium to claim his rightful place – at the top – in PKR too.

Image result for anwar ibrahim

Two Intellectual Giants of ASEAN–President B.J.Habibie and Former Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim–enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on personal admiration, loyalty, and mutual respect.

One might recall that Anwar was among the first of the ministers of education to speak at the conference on “Islam and Confucianism” at the Crystal Crown Hotel in Petaling Jaya in 1996. One would vividly remember him taking down the notes when other speakers were speaking.

Professor Tu Wei Ming at Harvard University was there, as was the likes of Professor Osman Bakar, a top historian in Islamic science. The latter even claimed that it was impossible for the vast majority of Chinese not to have received at least some messengers from God. Thus, one should look carefully at the message of Taoism and even Confucianism. Perhaps, just perhaps, these two creeds contain some monotheistic codes that mirror that of Islam and other Abrahamic faiths. Osman’s edited book ‘Islam and Confucianism: A Civilizational Dialogue’ published by Universiti Malaya contained some of these reflections.

Interestingly, the experience in Malaysia must have had a deep and lasting impression on Tu from Harvard too. In 1998, when I was in his seminar on ‘Confucianism and the Chinese Classics’, Tu affirmed that “having travelled the world over, he has now come to the conclusion that there are people who saw themselves as Confucian Catholics, Confucian Jews, even Confucian Muslims.” Tu, then added his own criteria, on what made them Confucian.

One, such Confucians would have to have a love for humanistic ethics, invariably, the effort to refine the heart and mind without fail. Each and every word and action would be carefully measured and performed, in order not to offend anyone; as is demanded by the Confucian rites of “li” (polite decorum).

Two, concurrent to these efforts, the believer must also try to use the heightened spiritual and ethical awareness to help the reforms of their countries/communities, ultimately the world writ large. These are not easy duties to perform. But to be a Confucian, Tu argued, one has to be at the forefront of constant action, especially if the mind and spirit have been reconciled as one.

After 10 and a half years in prison, all of which have been pardoned on the ground of miscarriage of justice, it goes without saying that Anwar is ready to serve Malaysia and the world.

Deeper questions

Lastly, all Confucians, must at all points ask themselves what make their similarities common across all religious and spiritual realms. In other words, a Confucian is one who seeks peace and truth, but is constantly pulled to the fore to ask ever deeper questions that can transcend all humanities. It is this spirit of perpetual curiosity, invariably, humility, that makes a Confucian Confucian. Not power over others. But power over oneself, what Islam may call “jihad al-akbar,” the greater conquest of the inner soul.

Since Tu was speaking in a combination of refined English and Chinese during the Harvard seminar, there was no way that he was taking this line of thought lightly. In fact, having attended the Confucian seminar in Malaysia, then in Harvard, both by Tu, I knew that his own intellectual crystallisation on Islam had been touched by his encounter with Anwar. During seminars, Tu would often ask if Anwar was well.

If Tu were to meet Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya, Tu would have found equally good things to say about Mahathir as well. Rare is a man of 93 returning to politics to correct what had been done before. This, too, would fall under the Confucian concept of “self-rectification.”

As things are, Tu has become the director of Yenching Institute in Beijing University. There has been no recorded encounter between Tu, Mahathir and Anwar as yet. And, if Tu and Anwar were to meet again, one can certainly be sure that they will immediately send intellectual sparks flying.

In seeking to be PKR president, Anwar has positioned himself in a good Confucian and Islamic light – he is ready to serve. Besides, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Nurul Izzah have given Anwar much to be proud of. The focus is on getting to the policy and intellectual battlefront in Malaysia.

Thus, it makes perfect sense to see the return of the Confucian gentleman that is Anwar Ibrahim, whose famous words, “Wor men shi ii jia ren” (We are all one family) will always ring true, and never hollow.


PHAR KIM BENG is a Harvard/Cambridge Commonwealth Fellow, a former Monbusho scholar at the University of Tokyo and visiting scholar at Waseda University.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

History: From a Burmese prison to Tunku’s home


July 13, 2018

Note: I will away from Phnom Penh from July 14- 17 and being outstation, where I will not have access to a computer, I am taking a break from blogging. But I will back soon enough.–Din Merican

History: From a Burmese prison to Tunku’s home

Image result for Photo Journalist Kim Gooi
 Photojournalist Kim Gooi

 

MALAYSIANS KINI | In 1977, the Bangkok-based photojournalist Kim Gooi was sentenced to a year in a Burmese prison.

He was said to have violated immigration laws after he slipped into the rebellious Shan State. He thought he would die in jail.

Death was common in Burmese prisons, the “hell on Earth” he describes in “The Poet of Keng Tung Jail,” published in 2013. The book chronicles the horrors he faced on the inside, along with poems written by a fellow inmate and some of Kim’s photographs.

Yet prison was also the place where Kim would meet those who would eventually lead him to Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.

To Kim, the encounter with Tunku in 1978 was “a gift from above,” one of many recollections which he contributes to “Dialog: Thoughts on Tunku’s Timeless Thinking,” a 270-page compilation of anecdotes and essays by Malaysians about the country’s first prime minister.

While in prison, Kim was asked to pass a message to Tunku by a Burmese Muslim leader from Rangoon. At the time, 200,000 Muslims had just fled to Bangladesh due to persecution by Burmese authorities. It was also when Tunku served as the secretary-general of the World Islamic Council.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haji is No. 1 and will always be Numero Uno in  our pantheon of Malaysian Leaders

Kim was uncertain if Tunku would meet a “nobody” like him, but he took his chances and wrote to Malaysian Islamic Welfare Organisation (Perkim) anyway, as Tunku was head of the Penang branch.

“To my surprise, Perkim replied after a few days. They even asked for my mugshot as they wanted to print my letter to Tunku which detailed the plight of the Burmese Muslims,” Kim said in an interview with Malaysiakini.

He then managed to get the phone number of Tunku’s secretary, and fixed a date for a meeting.

“These are all very happy occurrences. I felt rewarded. A small occurrence, but this was something that filled my heart (with joy),” Kim recalls.

Image result for Photo Journalist Kim Gooi with Tunku Abdul Rahman

https://kimgooi.wordpress.com/category/home/

“I didn’t know what to expect as I’d never met Tunku before. There was a bit of apprehension on my part as I waited for him in his office,” said Kim, who has written for various news outlets in the US, UK, Australia and Malaysia, including New Straits Times, Harakah and Malaysiakini.

Kim couldn’t take his eyes off the mementos and gifts in Tunku’s office, including several tongkats and a tiger skin rug.

“Then Tunku came down, shook my hand and offered me coffee and cigarettes. I realised it was so easy to talk to him, there were no airs about him.”

Tunku was a “gold mine of information” and had a talent for making people feel at home. As Kim recalls, Tunku was generous, and had great empathy for common folk.

And so it was to his delight that soon after, he got the chance to meet Tunku again.

Kim’s passport was still under Malaysian custody. He had a new job waiting for him in Bangkok, but he knew it could be months, maybe years, before he’d get his passport back, as a friend in a similar situation said it would.

An officer at the Penang Immigration Department suggested that he ask Tunku for help. It didn’t occur to Kim that Tunku still wielded a lot of influence in the government.

And true enough, Tunku issued him with a letter of support. With that letter, Kim was able to get his passport from Immigration. His career was saved.

“Tunku was my saviour, redeemer, he saved my life and career and gave me a second chance.”

Since then, Kim has had a special bond with Tunku. When the Kedah prince visited Bangkok, Kim helped to round up a host of local and foreign journalists to attend his press conference.

Kim loved attending events organised by Tunku, like his birthdays, which he said was a real “sight to behold.”

“There were lots of Malaysian delicacies, but there were also a multiracial mix of guests at his parties, and lots of children, Tunku loved children. He was more than just a politician.”

Today, Kim lives in a modest terrace house in Tanjung Bungah with his family. He’s maintained a bit of his “hippie” lifestyle. Books and photographs lay scattered on the floor of his living room. His tiny garden is overgrown with plants and grass.

Dressed in a flowery orange shirt and sarong, he gives off the vibe of someone who’s seen it all. Now 70, Kim is an ardent practitioner of Chinese art and health. He still plays the blues on his harmonica, and still lives by his Taoist beliefs.

Here, in his own words, Kim talks about how certain world events shaped his life and career.

I AM INSPIRED BY TAOISM AND CHINESE SCHOLARSHIP AND CULTURE. Some may call me a “Chinese chauvinist,” but behind all these teachings is a universal humanitarianism. It is the only philosophy that can save mankind.

I STARTED MY CAREER IN JOURNALISM during the height of the hippie era. It was an incredible time of hope and optimism for the world.

MY CAREER WAS VERY MUCH INFLUENCED BY MUSIC, POETRY, PHILOSOPHY, AND DRUGS. It was all things combined. The hip word then was that these things were “groovy” and “cool.” I was called a hippie since my days at the polytechnic in Singapore, as I often wore blue jeans.

IN MY CAREER, I HAVE MET MANY WRITERS, SINGERS, POETS who introduced me to the world of photojournalism. They read a lot, and I learned from them. They also taught me how to travel the world, take photos, and get paid for it.

HIPPIES WERE FANTASTIC. They were highly educated and thoughtful people, and totally disillusioned with American culture, which we should emulate today, as it is the most rotten culture.

PEOPLE OF MY GENERATION ADORED THE USA. But from the hippies I learned the other side of the story. Look what they have done to the whole world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and with the secret bombings in Laos.

BEING A JOURNALIST INTENSIFIED ALL THESE FEELINGS. I came face to face with American hypocrisy and lies, but at the same time, my experiences also led me to see that they have the “best” and “worst” the world has to offer.

THESE DAYS, JOURNALISM IN THIS COUNTRY IS VERY SAD. The world of journalism which I grew up with is no more. In my time, evidence mattered, and statements published were real, but today, you don’t know what is, with all the fake news on the internet.

From Merdeka Day to Malaysia Day, Malaysians Kini will feature personalities known to Tunku, as well as their memories about him. Their detailed recollections are featured in the book “Dialog: Thoughts on Tunku’s Timeless Thinking.”


MALAYSIANS KINI is a series on Malaysians you should know.

Previously featured:

War has no victors, says last surviving WWII vet

The one-man Malay literature archive

The last of generations of storytellers

Sarawak’s sape travels across the South China Sea

Art for the people – Manjat’s work transcends controversy

Don’t Kiss the Hand that Beats You


July 12, 2018

Don’t Kiss the Hand that Beats You

by Fadiah Nadwa Fikri

Image result for fadiah nadwa fikri oxford

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri@Oxford

https://malaysiamuda.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/jangan-engkau-cium-tangan-yang-memukulmu/

“To be free does not and cannot mean to only be free from the visible concrete prison walls in our midst. Freedom must mean that we are collectively free from invisible walls that have long been erected to rob us of our dignity. To be free is to persistently and collectively stand up against and resist institutional dehumanization in all its forms.”–Fadiah Nadwa Fikri

Jangan Engkau Cium Tangan yang Memukulmu

 

Artikel versi Bahasa Melayu boleh didapati di sini.

Upon his release from prison, former Opposition Leader and Prime Minister in waiting Anwar Ibrahim shared his thoughts on his winding political journey and went on to say something that was exceptionally profound – that the value of freedom was the lesson he learned from prison life. Three years flew by. A man’s liberty was taken away and shackled to prison walls. To spectators of this political episode, Anwar’s incarceration felt like a long absence.

In his absence, ordinary Malaysians continued to deal with their everyday struggles amidst the mundane and intolerable suffocating reality. Some struggled to navigate and make sense of the meaning of freedom, having been forced to live in a bigger prison surrounded by impenetrable walls invisible to many.

When May 9 happened, the country went into immense shock. To witness the fall of an authoritarian government which had been clinging on to power for 61 years was not an impossibility. It is undeniable that the change of government enabled, among others, the release of the former Opposition Leader. The picture of Anwar, swarmed by a sea of journalists, held tightly in his family’s arms, finally free from imprisonment was a sight to behold. The celebration continued late in the night, where thousands of supporters assembled at Padang Timur to listen to his freedom speech.

While the majority of Malaysians were still immersed in the indescribable euphoria, trying to wrap their minds around the change and what it meant for the country, the internal power struggle among the political elite started to rear its ugly head. Realizing how fragile the transition was, some started to question the drama that was unveiling before the nation. There were voices who were quick to tell critics to bite their tongues and have faith in people occupying positions of power.

The terrain on which this internal power struggle was taking place was clearly off limits to ordinary people – including the very people who elected those who are now at the helm of the government. This is the harsh reality associated with representative democracy – a reality we rarely talk about and examine, in which political participation is mainly confined to the ballot box whose final outcome would subsequently be handed over to the ruling elite. In defence of this reality, people are often told to wait another five years if they wish to change the government. Who has the luxury to wait another five years? This question must not be left unanswered.

Image result for anwar ibrahim and the sultan of johor

Any attempt to break the fortress built around this existing system in order to democratize the space for people to assert their political existence is often met with harsh criticism and rebuke. As a result, the power to shape the future and direction of the country remains in the hands of the privileged few, thus further alienating the voices of the many, in particular the marginalized. Genuine democracy which seeks to place people at its heart therefore remains out of reach.

The unending internal power struggle reached a whole new level when the picture of Anwar, bending down, kissing the hand of the Sultan of Johor emerged on the internet. Given the Prime Minister’s strained relationship with the monarchy, there are no prizes for guessing why the Prime Minister in waiting did what he did. What is disquieting about the act captured in the picture is the indefensible feudal culture it’s embodying and the catastrophic consequences it’s transmitting.

It bears reminding that to most of the rest of the world, monarchy was rendered obsolete a long time ago. History has shown that the absurdities on which the institution was built can no longer be tolerated, defended, and justified. To situate a class of people above others by virtue of their aristocratic birth could not be more revolting a notion – a notion that stands in contradiction to the concept of freedom and human dignity.

As people constantly rise to reclaim the meaning of freedom and human dignity in a world that is plagued with institutional dehumanization, this indefensible notion of subjugation raises a number of questions which demand answers. Why do people who bleed red just like everyone whom unconditional submission is forced upon deserve such privilege? Why do people who perpetually live off the backs of those who are struggling to survive and live a dignified life deserve god-like treatment and adoration? Why are people who are unilaterally endowed with immense power and wealth extracted from people they subjugate immune from accountability?

The answers to these questions lead us to one inevitable conclusion: not only is the monarchy anti-democratic, it is also a direct assault on our very dignity which is inherent to our existence as human beings. While proponents of this feudal relic would argue that the monarchy as it exists today is nothing but a neutral constitutional adornment, the fact however demonstrates the contrary. One must look beyond what is written in the Constitution in order to understand the politics this institution practices, whose interest it truly represents, and whose side it is on.

Image result for The Crown Prince of Johor

One month before the recent general elections, the Johor Crown Prince, popularly known as TMJ, unreservedly told the whole nation not to bring down the government – the government which had been ruling the country with an iron fist for 61 years. The Crown Prince’s act of uttering these words shortly before the elections, while many people were engulfed in simmering anger, struggling to escape the oppressive situations they had been subjected to for so long, was indeed a calculated move.

The act was clearly executed out of fear of the unknown – fear of losing the privilege and power accorded to the monarchy by the oppressive government who was complicit in subjugating the people, should a change of government become a reality. This particular event which is in no way an anomaly is proof that the institution has never been neutral. It’s as clear as day that the side of the people is the side it has never been on.

As for believers of this archaic institution who contend that it is a symbol of unity, standing on the side of the oppressor while many are denied the right to good life in a country that is structured by domination, inequality, and exploitation only speaks of one kind of unity: unity in oppression.

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim and The Sultan of Selangor

To be free does not and cannot mean to only be free from the visible concrete prison walls in our midst. Freedom must mean that we are collectively free from invisible walls that have long been erected to rob us of our dignity. To be free is to persistently and collectively stand up against and resist institutional dehumanization in all its forms. As Judith Butler puts it:

“Indeed, if resistance is to bring about a new way of life, a more livable life that opposes the differential distribution of precarity, then acts of resistance will say no to one way of life at the same time that they say yes to another. For this purpose, we must reconsider for our times the performative consequences of concerted action in the Arendtian sense. Yet, in my view, the concerted action that characterizes resistance is sometimes found in the verbal speech act or the heroic fight, but it is also found in those bodily gestures of refusal, silence, movement, refusing to move, that characterize those movements that enact democratic principles of equality and economic principles of interdependency in the very action by which they call for a new way of life more radically democratic and more substantially interdependent.”

 

 

 

Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?


July 12, 2018

Pakatan Harapan: What is so special about this Naik Fella from India?

By Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad protects an Indian Cobra

What’s so special about Zakir Naik? Why is he so uniquely deserving of Putrajaya’s support and attention?

These are among the many questions that Malaysians are asking in the wake of the government’s decision to allow him to stay; so far no satisfactory answers have been forthcoming.

Well-deserved reputation

Any which way you look at it, Naik is a highly polarising demagogue. Considered one of the most influential Wahhabi ideologues in the world, he aggressively propagates a version of Islam that even Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman says is in need of reform, and which, incidentally, the National Fatwa Council (NFC) of Malaysia declared “has no place in Malaysia”.

Countries as diverse as Canada, India, the UK and Bangladesh consider him an extremist who seems to endorse terrorism. Some countries have denied him entry as well. Bangladesh alleges that he inspired a terrorist attack in Dhaka in 2016 which left 22 dead. India’s National Investigation Agency is also investigating his foundation for alleged money laundering.

While he consistently denies these allegations and claims that he has been misunderstood or taken out of context, it’s hard not to conclude from even a cursory viewing of his many YouTube offerings that his reputation for extremism is well-deserved.

Dishonest and deceitful

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Now that he is in the dock of public opinion, and desperate for refuge in Malaysia, he is attempting an image makeover, claiming that his “primary concern” has always been “to foster social harmony”. He is, of course, being utterly dishonest given that he has a long history of being extremely intolerant, insulting and demeaning of other faiths.

And when cornered by his own remarks, he immediately cries that he is but a victim of some vague conspiracy against Islam, part of a “broader objective of demonising Islam and Muslims”, never mind that it is his own hate-filled invective that does more to demonise Islam that anything else.

Skillfully exploiting our divisions

While many of us might shudder at the thought of someone like Naik being turned loose in a country like ours which is struggling to contain religious and racial extremism, he has apparently no shortage of supporters. With the Wahhabi narrative already well-established in the corridors of power, the NFC’s opinion notwithstanding, he is of course a perfect fit. His choice of abode – in Putrajaya – is itself very telling.

He also seems to have adroitly exploited Malaysia’s political, racial and religious divisions to his advantage, endearing himself to many in UMNO and PAS by his endorsement of both Islamic and Malay supremacism. And they, in turn, have showered him with a level of praise, privilege and protection that he never found anywhere else. No surprise then that he loves it here.

Legal obligations

The Indian government is now apparently seeking to extradite Naik (who remains an Indian citizen) to face money laundering and terrorism-related charges.

Ultimately, extradition is a legal matter subject to treaty obligations which the courts must decide upon. The government must take a principled stand and affirm that it will respect its legal obligations. To do otherwise, to insist that Naik be treated differently from others in similar situations, would undermine the government’s own oft-repeated commitment to the rule of law.

Does Naik deserve to be here?

Beyond the issue of extradition, however, is the larger question of whether or not he deserves to be a Malaysian permanent resident. A strong argument can be made that extremists like Naik do not deserve residency status in our country.

His values, his actions and his worldview stand in sharp contrast to the kind of tolerant, respectful and inclusive nation we are trying to build. He has nothing to contribute to making our nation a strong, united and prosperous one. He is but an intolerant religious bully who does not deserve our respect let alone our protection.

And don’t forget that this is also the same opportunist who, convinced that UMNO would rule forever, insisted at a seminar last year that Muslims ought to vote for a Muslim leader who might be corrupt (read Najib) rather than a Muslim leader who depends on non-Muslim support (read Mahathir).

Of course, once Najib lost power, he immediately ingratiated himself with Putrajaya’s new leaders and now sings their praises. And this is the man that some in Pakatan Harapan are now defending.

Naik doesn’t belong here. If he doesn’t have the courage to return home to India to answer the charges against him, let him find sanctuary in Saudi Arabia; after all, he is a great admirer of the Wahhabi clerics who hold sway there.

Government owes us an explanation

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In the interest of transparency, the government has an obligation to explain why it refuses to extradite him and why he deserves to remain in Malaysia.

As well, the government needs to clarify whether it is paying for Naik’s ever-present security detail, whether he is receiving financial support of any kind from the public purse, and whether he is being considered for Malaysian citizenship now that India has withdrawn his passport.

Whatever it is, the government should not underestimate how deeply offended many Malaysians are with Naik and how deeply disappointed they are by the inexplicable and shocking decision to continue offering him sanctuary here.

Dennis Ignatius is a former ambassador.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.