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.

 

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17


July 20, 2014

MY COMMENTWe have been hit by two tragedies, MH 370 and MH 17 a few days ago,Din Merican both within a space of four months. MH370 is still shrouded in secrecy and  it is a public relations disaster; our leaders and public and security officials handled the foreign media poorly. MH17 was brought down by Russian made missiles in the hands of Ukrainian rebels backed by  Prime Minister Putin’s government. Our political leaders and officials are again in the eyes of media. Let them handle the situation better this time.

Those who are behind this dastardly violence must be brought to account. Our diplomats and those of countries which lost their citizens and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon must act in concert to ascertain the facts about the downing of this ill-fated 777 aircraft. At home, the new Transport Minister has to ensure that there are no cover-ups, blame games, excuses, and conflicting or contradictory statements. Please provide facts as they come to light, and do it well and ensure that there are no fumbles.

I am glad that our Prime Minister has allowed debate in our Parliament on MH37. I hope Parliamentarians on both sides of Dewan Rakyat can be rational and constructive in their deliberations so that we can achieve consensus on what we should do to restore national self confidence and pride in our national flag carrier, Malaysian Airlines.

No shouting matches please. Bung Mokhtar types must not be allowed to disrupt the debate or make fools of themselves. In this time of national crisis, UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat must stand together. The debate should result in a plan of action for the government. To nudge the debate along orderly lines, there should be a White Paper to Parliament on MH17 in which the government can present its views on what it has its mind to deal with the aftermath of MH 17.Din Merican

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-07-18/malaysia-can-t-botch-another-air-tragedy

Malaysia can’t afford a botched handling of MH17

by William Pesek (07-18-14)

There’s nothing funny about Malaysia Airlines losing two Boeing 777s and more than 500 lives in the space of four months. That hasn’t kept the humor mills from churning out dark humor and lighting up cyberspace.

Liow_Tiong_Lai-MH17_PC

Actor Jason Biggs, for example, got in trouble for tweeting: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysia Airlines frequent flier miles?” A passenger supposedly among the 298 people aboard Flight 17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday uploaded a photo of the doomed plane on Facebook just before takeoff in Amsterdam, captioning it: “Should it disappear, this is what it looks like.”

That reference, by a man reportedly named Cor Pan, was to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, whose disappearance in March continues to provide fodder for satirists, conspiracy theorists and average airplane passengers with a taste for the absurd. On my own Malaysia Air flight last month, I was struck by all the fatalistic quips around me — conversations I overheard and in those with my fellow passengers. One guy deadpanned: “First time I ever bought flight insurance.”

MH17 CrashThere is, of course, no room for humor after this disaster or the prospect that the money-losing airline might not survive — at least not without a government rescue. This company had already become a macabre punch line, something no business can afford in the Internet and social-media age. It’s one thing to have a perception problem; it’s quite another to have folks around the world swearing never to fly Malaysia Air.

Nor is no margin for mistakes by Malaysia or the airline this time, even though all signs indicate that there is no fault on the part of the carrier. The same can’t be said for the bumbling and opacity that surrounded the unexplained loss of Flight 370. Even if there was no negligence on the part of Malaysia Air this week, the credibility of the probe and the willingness of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to cooperate with outside investigators — tests it failed with Flight 370 — will be enormously important.

As I have written before, the botched response to Flight 370 was a case study in government incompetence and insularity. After six decades in power, Najib’s party isn’t used to being held accountable by voters, never mind foreign reporters demanding answers. Rather than understand that transparency would enhance its credibility, Malaysia’s government chose to blame the international press for impugning the country’s good name.

The world needs to be patient, of course. If Flight 370’s loss was puzzling, even surreal, Flight 17 is just MH 17plain tragic. It’s doubtful Najib ever expected to be thrown into the middle of Russian-Ukraine-European politics. Although there are still so many unanswered questions — who exactly did the shooting and why? — it’s depressing to feel like we’re revisiting the Cold War of the early 1980s, when Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet.

More frightening is how vulnerable civilian aviation has become. Even if this is the work of pro-Russian rebels, yesterday’s attack comes a month after a deadly assault on a commercial jetliner in Pakistan. One passenger was killed and two flight attendants were injured as at least 12 gunshots hit Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-756 as it landed in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was the first known attack of its kind and raises the risk of copycats. The low-tech nature of such assaults — available to anyone with a gripe, a high-powered rifle and decent marksmanship — is reason for the entire world to worry.

The days ahead will be filled with post-mortems and assigning blame. That includes aviation experts questioning why Malaysia Air took a route over a war zone being avoided by Qantas, Cathay Pacific and several other carriers. The key is for Malaysian authorities to be open, competent and expeditious as the investigation gains momentum. Anything less probably won’t pass muster.