Malaysian Politics reminiscent of the Suharto Era


June 15, 2015

TEMPO: Malaysian Politics reminiscent of the Suharto Era

by Ram Anand@www.themalaysiainsider.com

bambang_harymurti_tempo_FBpic_150615Political developments in Malaysia, including Putrajaya’s crackdown on critics, resonate with Indonesians because they remind them of times under the late Suharto who ruled for 31 years, said a senior editor of Indonesia’s Tempo magazine.

Bambang Harymurti said following the magazine’s report in April on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, there has been increased interest among Indonesians in Malaysian affairs.

The article in Tempo, titled “Hidup Mewah Sang Perdana Menteri” (The Luxurious Life of the Prime Minister), discussed at length the couple’s reported purchases, including Rosmah’s range of expensive Birkin handbags and jewellery.

Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim had then said there was no need to scrutinise their spending habits because Najib came from an upper class family.

“The Prime Minister is of high-standing and noble descent (berdarjat dan bangsawan). His spending is not a problem if he can afford it,” he reportedly said.

Zahrain had also said that he would meet Tempo editors, but that did not faze the weekly, Bambang said. “We are even more interested now, because things are tightening in Malaysia now, we heard.

“Even cartoonists are being arrested. So we are concerned about our media colleagues here,” Bambang told The Malaysian Insider in a phone interview during a recent visit to Malaysia.

He was referring to cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, who was arrested and currently faces 9 sedition charges over his tweets criticising the judiciary following former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction in February.

Zunar is among many opposition leaders, activists and journalists who have been investigated or charged under the Sedition Act since last year.

Dejected Najib with FLOMWith loads of Money but still unhappy

Five editors from The Malaysian Insider were also detained in late March over a report on the implementation of hudud law in Kelantan.

“All this reminds us of Indonesia under the time of Suharto,” Bambang said. He described the interest shown in Najib’s lifestyle as deja vu for the popular magazine.

“That news was very hot at that time, and it was started by the Malaysian press,” he said.

“But it’s of great interest to Indonesia because we are neighbours and also because of the proximity of the issue; we have been there before,” he said.

He also said that Zahrain’s reported attempt to meet Tempo editors over the Najib article possibly did not reach the higher management.

“I have not heard any follow-up to that. Maybe it was handled by the editor without it reaching very high up in the organisation,” he added.

Tempo was started in 1971 but was banned during Suharto’s rule after being cited as a threat to national stability.

Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 31 years before he resigned following mass protests known as reformasi, was widely known as a dictator who clamped down on freedom of speech during his military-backed reign.

Malaysia’s Creeping Authoritarianism – Wall Street Journal


The government arrests Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his daugther Nurul Izzah in 2012. ENLARGE
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his daugther Nurul Izzah in 2012.
PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Malaysian politics are moving down a dark path. A month after the country’s highest court upheld the conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on trumped-up charges of sodomy, police on Monday arrested Mr. Anwar’s daughter for violating the Sedition Act, a colonial-era law increasingly used to chill political debate.

Nurul Izzah Anwar’s apparent offense was to criticize the judiciary last week in Parliament, where she is opposition vice president. In addition to reading a statement from her father condemning his trial as a political conspiracy, Ms. Nurul Izzah condemned Malaysia’s Federal Court for “bowing to political masters” and being “partners in a crime that contributed to the death of a free judiciary.”

Western diplomats have also criticized her father’s prosecution. “The decision to prosecute Mr. Anwar, and his trial, have raised serious concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts,” the U.S. State Department said last month.

Mr. Anwar was convicted on similar sodomy charges in 1999, only to have the conviction overturned after six years in prison. This time his accuser met with senior government officials—including Prime Minister Najib Razak, then the deputy prime minister—days before the alleged incident, but judges blocked Mr. Anwar’s lawyers from questioning those involved.

Mr. Anwar is 67, so a five-year prison sentence and additional five-year ban from politics could end his career. His multireligious coalition won 53% of the popular vote in 2013 but never took power from the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has controlled Malaysia during its nearly six decades since independence.

The persecution of the Anwar family is a further blot on UMNO’s reputation. Mr. Najib promised to repeal the Sedition Act in 2012 but has since used it against more than a dozen opposition politicians, academics and even cartoonists such as Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known as Zunar. In November he proposed strengthening the law with new provisions “to protect the sanctity of Islam and other religions.”

Creeping authoritarianism won’t slow UMNO’s rising unpopularity among young people, urbanites and ethnic minorities. Nor will it help Malaysia’s ties with the U.S., which are important for combating terrorism; Malaysian police arrested 19 Islamic State supporters plotting attacks around Kuala Lumpur last year. Nurul Izzah Anwar and Anwar Ibrahim should be released for their own sake and that of a democracy sliding into repression.

ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network


February 27, 2015

ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network

by Marion Tharsis (02-26-15)@www.malaysiakini.com

Logo-Astro-01

Today, ASTRO enjoys an unwavering dominance of the cable television network  in Malaysia. Consequently, we have to follow, and accept, any implementation changes to their existing packages whenever they feel like doing it.

They no longer have the courtesy to call you to seek your acceptance or offer any explanation as why these changes need to be implemented.Their current trend of operation is, just splash the news about imminent changes on television and expect us to ‘swallow’ it.Call their customer service and you will get a ‘dumb’ reply.

I just want to highlight two recent encounters that I have been subjected to. Firstly,Ananda Krishnan ASTRO increased its high-definition channels that are included in the package I subscribe to. By doing so, I have to pay more without any consent of mine or prior formal advisory. Secondly, out of the blue, ASTRO splashed a news banner on television to advise all Sports Package subscribers that the Golf Channel will no longer be included in this package, effective February 26, 2015. Pay more – if you want channel back!

And if we wish to view this popular sport, we have to pay for it as and when we want it. Here again it, this was done without any formal advice or consultation with the subscriber.One if the main reasons why I subscribe to the Sports Package is because of this Golf Channel and now I am deprived of it.

Want it back, I have to pay more – which I think is absurd and ridiculous. Logically speaking, the cost of this package should be reduced, but this is not the case. You still pay the same amount. But then again, if monopoly exists, then we are ‘slaves’ to it, without any other choice.

I am sure there are other cable television operators who want to establish their networks in Malaysia and I think they should be given an opportunity to do so, just to allow some competition and break this monopoly.

Otherwise, ASTRO will get bolder, and change and implement according to its whims and fancies, without due respect or concern for the subscribers. As it is, we are given channels that are of no use to us, but ASTRO says it is “under the package” and you have to accept it. What a rip-off!

Kassim Ahmad: Stay Granted vs JAWI!


January 14, 2015

Newsflash: Breaking News

Kassim Ahmad: Stay Granted vs JAWI!

by Din Merican

Last week January 6, 2015, Public Intellectual Kassim Ahmad was devastated that Judge Asmabi dismissed his Judicial Review application despite seeing all the illegalities committed by JAWI in breaching their own laws, the laws of other states and the Federal Constitution just to arrest Kassim Ahmad and abduct him to Kuala Lumpur.

On January 8, 2015, Kassim’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan filed his appeal to the Court of Appeal. On January 9 the lawyer filed a Stay Application to hold back the syariah prosecution from proceeding. On January 10, Judge Asmabi Mohamed heard arguments from Rosli Dahlan and Senior Federal Counsel Shamsol Bolhassan. Judge Asmabi orderd the court’s doors to be locked and declared the open court as her chambers. Reporters were barred from coming in.

Rosli further argued that the warrant of arrest issued by the Putrajaya Syariah subordinate court was in breach of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (FT Syariah CPC) and Kedah Syariah Enactments. Kassim, argued Rosli, was wrongfully charged before the Syariah subordinate court and hence the charges were also illegal.

Rosli  argued that the warrant of arrest issued by the Putrajaya Syariah subordinate court was in breach of the Federal Territory Syariah Criminal Procedure Code (FT Syariah CPC) and Kedah Syariah Enactments.Kassim was wrongfully charged before the Syariah subordinate court and hence the charges were also illegal.

Judge Asmabi also fixed clarification and decision to this morning January 14. However, this morning was also fixed for the Syariah Trial. The Syariah prosecutors refused to back down. They disregarded Rosli’s request for postponement. They insisted that he must come. But Rosli can’t be in two courts at the same‎ time, one in Jalan Duta and the other in Putrajaya.

Rosli laid down these facts to Judge Asmabi including the fact that JAWI instituted disciplinary action against Rosli for acting for Kassim in filing the Judicial Review. They wanted to disqualify him from ever appearing in the Syariah Court. They wanted to make sure that they do not have an opponent like him ever again.

Finally the Judge saw how oppressive JAWI can be.‎ Finally something pricked the Judge’s conscience after Rosli showed all the facts and the law that are all in Kassim’s favor and there was just no reason for the Judge to still rule against Kassim. Finally, Rosli’s perseverance paid off. And it helped that this morning reporters were in court to hear further arguments from Rosli and SFC Maisarah which clearly showed that the facts and the law were all in Kassim’s favor. Rosli was unmincing in his words in pointing out that the Federal Counsel had misled the court in the cases cited.

Just now at 12.30, Judge As‎mabi relented. She held that the civil High Court can stay JAWI and the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie from proceeding with the Syariah Prosecution in the Syariah Court. ‎Rosli thanked the Judge profusely and then ran off to go to the Syariah Court in Putrajaya. What drama!

Congrats to Kassim Ahmad. Congrats to Rosli Dahlan. And shame on you JAWI and the Ketua Pendakwa Syarie for acting in such oppressive way. In the end, that became JAWI’s undoing. In the end, the Judge had to look into her conscience and decided enough is enough. Kudos to Judge ‎Asmabi.

Much as the Judge did wrong in not granting the Judicial Review, she still had judicial wisdom and conscience not to perpetrate an injustice. Kassim Ahmad is 82 yrs old, frail and sickly. What good does JAWI achieve in doing all these? In the end, JAWI will only earn public displeasure and disapproval.

To Kassim and his lawyer, I say well done. I say your fighting spirit will help develop a more robust law. Your fighting spirit will inspire younger people that the history of Man has shown that you cannot imprison the mind.

That is what democracy is about. That is what the Rukun Negara states that Malaysia shall be a democratic society where pluralism of cultures and beliefs are embraced and liberal ideas shall flourish. Judges must therefore uphold the philosophy of the country and the Federal Constitution!. Hidup Malaysia!

READ: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/jawi-barred-from-acting-against-kassim-ahmad-rules-court-bernama

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan


December 28, 2014

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan

NAJIB / BANJIRPM Najib with Dato’ Seri Mustapha Mohamed

http://www.nst.com.my/node/66520

Excerpt of Q&A with Dato’ Seri Najib Razak at the press conference during his visit to Kelantan yesterday (December 27, 2014).

Question (Q): Why is a state of emergency not declared for the floods?

Prime Minister: There are many implications. Firstly, if we declare, insurance companies will be exempted from paying compensation for damages to properties and vehicles. When we declare (emergency), it means a “forced measure” category that insurance companies need not make settlements. Secondly, we are already moving within an emergency situation now as government machinery has been directed to perform at its maximum level.

Q: Will BR1M be paid in three stages?

PM: BR1M will still be in three stages but the (first) payment will be speeded up to the middle of January.

Q: Any help from outside?

PM: So far we have received none and we can manage this on our own.

Q: Has the government made any assessment of the damages caused by the flood?

PM: We have not done it as the flood is still here. If we make an estimation now, the damages will not be the overall value as we do not know how long more the flood will last.

Q: When will the RM500 million be disbursed to flood victims?

PM: Next year when the flood is over and the victims have returned home. They certainly need a sizable budget and that is why we will distribute the funds.

Q: How do we assist flood victims when the situation is very bad?

PM: We have decided that the committee which is chaired by Dato’ Seri Mustapa Mohamed will ascertain where there is a landing point, we will send help using helicopters. The Armed Forces have been carrying out such operations. Additional food supplies, seven days worth, are being flown via Charlie (transport aircraft) which is carrying out five, six sorties now.

Q: Could you tell us about your visit to meet US President Barack Obama?

PM: Actually, when President Barack Obama visited Malaysia, he had mentioned to me that if I was in Hawaii while he was there, he wanted me to play golf with him.

Golf Diplomacy

Playing golf is not something which is strange or out of the ordinary because from the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Dr Ismail, playing golf with other world leaders is something that can be called golf diplomacy.

I played golf to build relationship with world leaders to benefit the country. It doesn’t mean we agree to everything, but only on things that benefit Malaysia. Such social ties will benefit Malaysia. I made the decision to do that (play golf) as I was invited by him (Obama) and it was difficult for me not to do so as it had been planned earlier. However, every day when I was overseas, I received latest updates on the flood situation.