On Knowledge and statecraft


January 24, 2017

On Knowledge and statecraft

by Muhammad Husni Mohd Amin

http://www.thestar.com.my

Image result for Najib, Zahid Hamidi and Hishamuddin HusseinThe 3 UMNO Goons–Dr. Zahid Hamidi, Hishamuddin Hussein and Najib Razak. They do not qualify as Philisopber-Kings. They are Malaysia’s penyamun tarbus.

 

IN Plato’s Republic, the philosopher-king is a leader who loves and embodies the cardinal virtues of wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. Therefore, the community that produced him would dispense with the mechanisms of democracy meant to curtail misuse of power by corrupt politicians who preyed upon the masses because of their ignorance.

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all those others that have been tried.” This may only refer to the inadequacies of the present set-up in producing leaders who do not require constant oversight.

The leader reflects the people. The Prophet said, “As you are, so shall your leader be.” He also said, “Each of you is a shepherd (ra‘in) and each of you is responsible for his flock (ra‘iyyah)”.

The Arabic word ra‘iyyah, from which the Malay word rakyat originated, has its root in ra‘in, which also means guide, guardian or caretaker. In the worldview of Islam, both the leader and the people form a unity; they are like a single body.

The Prophet also prophesied the emergence of leaders (umara) who “will be corrupt but God may put much right through them”. Therefore, the people are obliged to be thankful when leaders do good and patient when the leaders commit evil.

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The Proof of Islam, Imam al-Ghazali, in his Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences), stated that religion is established through the sultan, who is not to be belittled.

We should not justify a wrongdoing when it is proven, but our limited senses may often lead us to believe that no good may come out of the things we perceive as evil because we think evil is the absence of good.

While weed follows the cultivation of rice and there seems to be no good in growing weed, it does not stop us from planting and harvesting the rice.

A well-known Sufi figure, Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad, said, “If I had one supplication that was going to be answered, I would make it for the sultan, for the sultan’s well-being and righteousness means well-being for the land and its people.”

Another Sufi figure, Sahl al-Tustari, was once asked, “Who is the best among men?” He replied that it was the ruler, which surprised his inquirers because it was thought that rulers were the worst.

Sahl continued, “Don’t be hasty! God Most High has two glances every day: one is for the safety of the Muslims’ possessions and another for their bodies. Then, God looks into the Register of Deeds and forgives him all his sins (for his protection of both).”

But the precondition for forgiveness is that the ruler must protect both.The establishment and statecraft of our centuries-old Malay sultanates mirrored those in Islam’s civilisational epicentre, which in turn were modelled after the Prophet’s Medina.

While colonial rule modernised our country’s administration, it did not abolish the sultanates but merely interrupted them. However, colonisation also displaced the ulama’s traditional role in advising the Rulers.

It also severely impaired the ability to follow the Prophetic practice called shura in consulting scholars and learned men as well as the ability to recognise and acknowledge them properly. This is the reason for today’s greater need for checks and balances.

Even so, we are lucky to be blessed with a unique system that combines constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. This is the time when rulers work closely with the ruled towards the common good.

While our Rulers do not interfere in politics, adherence to royal protocols should not conceal the fact that the Rulers are in the best position to decree the people so that they would choose the best stewards for the nation.

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UMNO is full of learned members –the dedaks led by Big Momma

The counsel of learned people is important in guiding a ruler’s politics because statecraft is like a knife in the kitchen – a housewife could wield the knife as a utensil or a burglar as a weapon.

Muhammad Husni Mohd Amin is senior research officer at Ikim’s Centre for Science and Environ­ment Studies. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Racism has to be opposed from the top down.


January 20, 2017

Racism has to be opposed from the top down.

by Azmi Sharom
Image result for racist najib razak

DEMOCRACY takes power away from the few, or the one, and places it in the hands of the many. Which is why we hear phrases like “people power” and “returning power to the people” bandied around when speaking about democratic reform.

Image result for mahathir mohamad

A Born Again Democrat. The late Lee Kuan Yew called him an Ultra.

Theoretically, if there is a free press, fairly delineated constituencies, independent state agencies and a respect for human rights, then the government of the day will be a reflection of the will of the people.

We, the ordinary men and women, choose our leaders. We can also “fire” them by voting them out. Therefore, we have ultimate power. However, just because power ultimately lies with the people, this does not mean that leaders have to bend to the will of the people all the time.

Sure we can vote them out (theoretically), but while they are in authority, they have a degree of freedom to do what they may deem to be right, even though the people might not like it. This is known as leadership.

This is why unpopular but ultimately worthy policies and legislation come into place. It takes leadership to do this. A person who is scared of losing popularity, especially among his core supporters, to the point of supporting noxious views, does not have leadership qualities.

Which is why if a government believes in certain things, the leaders must speak up accordingly. Conversely, they must speak up against things they don’t believe in.

Image result for racist najib razak

You are known by the company you keep: Hadi Awang, Zakir Naik,  Rani Kulop, Jamal Ikan Bakar, et.al

Let me give you an example. If a group spouts obnoxious racism, a true leader would speak out against it, even if the group members are among his supporters. If he does not do so, what it means is that he is condoning such views. Even if he is keeping silent so as to not alienate his support base, he is acting in a cowardly fashion and is in effect legitimising racism.

Now, I am saddened by the fact that racism in Malaysia is alive and well. When writing and teaching, I have consistently argued for us to move away from such attitudes. I honestly thought that there were more and more Malaysians who are of the same view. Sadly this is not so.

Surveys have shown that most Malays will vote based on race.This is depressing to the extreme. Yet, this is also the reality.

One of the reasons Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the chosen Prime Minister candidate for Pakatan Harapan is so that he can woo the Malay vote. I am presuming his Malay nationalist background will make him palatable to those who still think along those lines.

This is the political reality, and it is beyond sad. Now, Pakatan has always claimed to be non-racially motivated. Yet they have to pander to a racially motivated electorate. This is realpolitik and it is upsetting yet understandable.

The question is, if Pakatan wins, will it try to move the nation away from such repulsive racist thinking? Will it be able to show some true leadership?

  • Azmi Sharom (azmi.sharom@gmail.com) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

 

Malaysia: The Constitution is Supreme not Speaker Parliament Pandikar Amin !


January 13, 2018

The Constitution is Supreme not Speaker Parliament Pandikar Amin !

by Din Merican in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Image result for Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia

Speaker of Dewan Rakyat or  a Buffoon?

On Thursday  January 11, 2018, I noted that the media in Malaysia reported about an interesting incident in Court where a former Member of Parliament — the son of the late Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr.  Ismail Abdul Rahman— filed a suit against the Speaker and Secretary of the Dewan Rakyat for wrongfully tabling a Bill by PAS Chief Hadi Awang (“Hadi’s Motion”) seeking to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (“RUU355”).

It was reported that Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail (pic below) had challenged in court that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia committed contempt against the Sultans by playing politics in Parliament when he allowed the tabling of Hadi’s Motion and RUU355. This was unconstitutional as the Conference of Rulers, as the Heads of Islam, had not been consulted with earlier in breach of Art. 38(2) and Art 38(4) of the Federal Constitution.Tawfik also contended that the RUU355 itself is in violation of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution and would create inequality in the law amongst Malaysians especially Muslims for purported Syariah criminal offences.

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Tawfik  Tun Dr. Ismail

Hadi’s Motion had caused a great deal of unrest and showed it was nothing more than a political game. Sometime in March 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Zahid Hamidi announced that UMNO had a pact with PAS and the RUU355 will be tabled by him as a Government’s Bill. Subsequently, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that BN component parties were against it and that it will not be a Government’s Bill. Zahid lost face and got played out by Najib. Serves him right for trying to play politics with religion!

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Butch Minister Azalina Othman Said (2018)

I recalled there was widespread discontent and anger on April 6, 2017 when Speaker Pandikar played a trick on the opposition. After tabling Hadi’s Motion, the butch Minister Azalina Othman proposed that the House sitting be adjourned. Pandikar then quickly ended the session and ran out to the calls of “Takut” and “Ayam”. That was how RUU 355 came to be tabled as first reading in Parliament without any debate – by trickery.

Such is the quality of this cowardly Speaker who goes by the name of Pandikar but who behaved like a pondan. When asked to explain his unusual conduct, Pandikar tried to show he is smart when he answered -“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool!”

Again in court, Pandikar did not dare fight Tawfik. Instead he asked the A-G Chambers to strike out Tawfik’s suit. Pandikar claimed that as Speaker he has absolute power and is not subject to the courts by claiming Parliamentary supremacy.

Not to be fooled by Pandikar’s cowardly ways, my friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who represented Tawfik, pointed out that Pandikar was misleading the court by relying extensively on English cases on parliamentary supremacy and privilege. He showed that the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy does not apply in Malaysia as it does in the UK. In Malaysia, even the Speaker is subject to the Constitution and the Court is the bulwark to ensure that the Speaker does not abuse his powers.

The most interesting part about Tawfik’s case is that all previous lawsuits were to strike down bad laws by Parliament. This is the first time that the Speaker is being sued for abusing parliamentary privileges and claiming he is above the constitution and the Court. I hope Judge Dato Wira Kamaludin Said will deliver the correct decision in law and put this Speaker Pandikar in his proper place.

 

The RUU355 case filed by Tawfik and argued by Lawyer Rosli reveals the abuse of parliament by the politicians to pass bad laws for political mileage without concern for the Rakyat especially Muslims. It also shows treason by the Speaker by his disloyalty and disregard to the Conference of Rulers by flexing his muscle that he is more powerful than the Malay Rulers, when he arrogantly  announced :

“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool.”

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan

I have just managed to obtain a copy of Rosli’s written rebuttal to the A-G Chambers’ argument which shows that the Speaker of Parliament is also subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. I would be pleased to share it with you who are legal eager beavers if required.

From the grapevine, I heard that Rosli had the assistance of Emeritus Professor  Dato Dr Shad Faruqi, the eminent constitutional expert of Malaysia. I whatsapp Rosli to ask if it was true that the most eminent academia in Malaysia is supporting him. As usual, Rosli is tight-lipped about the cases he handles. However, his cryptic answer was very revealing. He said – “Isn’t it good for the country if they are behind me as they see this as ultimate Patriotism in fighting for the Rulers , the Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

I hope Rosli and Judge Kamaludin will show to Speaker Pandikar who is the ultimate bloody fool!

Also read:

The plaintiff’s written rebuttal

 

Malaysian Opposition Coalition’s Political Blunder–The Return of Mahathirism is a regressive move


January 10, 2018

Malaysian Opposition Coalition’s Political Blunder–The Return of Mahathirism is a regressive move

The notion that this represents change is laughable and reflects poorly on the opposition.

ttps://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/choosing-a-nonagenerian-former-pm-to-head-malaysia-s-opposition-is-a-regressive-move-1.694027

by Sholto Byrnes

Image result for dr. mahathir mohamad
The notion that Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the age of 92  represents change, let alone fresh blood, is laughable and reflects very poorly on the opposition’s confidence. 

 

The announcement last weekend that Malaysia’s opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), had chosen Dr Mahathir Mohamad as its candidate for Prime Minister made international headlines for two reasons. Firstly, Dr Mahathir has been the country’s head of government before, for a record-breaking 22 years from 1981 to 2003, during which (and afterwards) his governing style was described as “authoritarian”. With trademark sarcasm, the good doctor now one-ups that by conceding that in office he was nothing less than a “dictator”. He is not renowned as an advocate for reformist democracy, which is what PH claims to stand for.

Secondly, he is now 92, which would make him the world’s oldest leader if elected. Opposition columnists have ludicrously compared Malaysia, much praised by the World Bank, the IMF and other international bodies for its current government’s reforms, prudent economic stewardship and excellent growth, with Zimbabwe. In fact, it is the latter’s former President Robert Mugabe, a 93-year-old gerontocrat deposed ignominiously last year, who was so close to Dr Mahathir that the BBC’s John Simpson once paid him the backhanded compliment of calling him “a kind of successful, Asian Robert Mugabe.”

Malaysia’s opposition is now effectively helmed by two leaders from 20 years ago: Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim, the Deputy he sacked in 1998 and humiliated after the latter was charged and then jailed for sodomy and corruption. Anwar is currently in prison on a second sodomy charge. His wife, Wan Azizah, is nominally PH’s candidate for deputy prime minister but should the opposition win, its plan is for Anwar to be given a royal pardon, enter parliament via a by-election and then take over from his former nemesis as prime minister.

The notion that this represents change, let alone fresh blood, is laughable and reflects very poorly on the opposition’s confidence not only in its younger cadres (and by younger, that means 50 and 60-year-olds) but also in those who have always opposed the Barisan Nasional (BN) governing coalition, which has never lost power since independence.

Theirs has not been an easy road. Many were imprisoned by Dr Mahathir for no good reason other than that their vehement opposition inconvenienced him. They are entitled to feel bitter at having to kowtow to their former jailer. And while Dr Mahathir might still be very sharp – his tongue has lost none of its spikiness – they cannot be oblivious to the fact that proposing a man who could be 93 by the time he became prime minister again opens the country to international ridicule. (Any who doubt that should imagine the incredulous laughter if either George HW Bush, currently aged 93, or Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a sprightly 91, were to seek to return to the presidencies of the US and France, respectively.)

So why has Malaysia’s opposition proposed him as their leader? Ah, but Dr Mahathir has changed his tune, some will say and has even recently apologised. Firstly, he said sorry for nothing specific and secondly, he then suggested it was Malay custom to apologise for possible past mistakes. However, whatever charges might be laid against him over possible wrongdoing during the course of his premiership – and opposition activists have in the past called for him to be put on trial for them – he is essentially unrepentant.

Image result for Karpal Singh

The late Karpal Singh would have vehemently opposed this appointment on principle, No wonder, for this coaliition is no alliance of principle. It is one of convenience.

The late Karpal Singh, the formidable Indian national chairman of the mainly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP), would never have stood for it. His daughter and others with a long record in the opposition cannot stomach Dr Mahathir at the top and have said so vocally, as have some significant members of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (PKR).

No wonder, for this is no alliance of principle. It is one of convenience. And if the current Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, had been prepared to act as Dr Mahathir’s tame supplicant and do everything his former boss wanted, this would never have happened. For ever since he stood down from the premiership, Dr Mahathir has not been able to let go. First he undermined his handpicked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and then Mr Najib – not for any malfeasance on their parts but for the crimes of not taking his “advice” as orders and for not indulging his dynastic ambitions.

Paradoxically, Dr Mahathir’s appearance at the head of the opposition pact is actually a testament to how strong a position Mr Najib has built over the last two and a half years. Recognising that it was Chinese faces who had the track record and the visibility in the opposition after Anwar’s jailing, PH is now trying to hide them behind a facade of Malay politicians to win the crucial votes of the majority Malays.

But their new alliance is incoherent, with politicians having entirely contradictory records on matters of civil liberties and free speech, for instance – and, worse, deceitful ones, claiming that the goods and services tax that the current government has introduced could be removed, with no real plans for how they would replace the vital revenue.

There are decent people in the opposition, whom I have come to know personally. But this new top ticket drives a coach-and-horses through the opposition’s old principles and thus through whatever moral authority they had.

Malaysia has a good government that has won accolades for its determined fight against violent extremism and its successful economic transformation programme. It deserves a better opposition. And there’s a certain 92-year-old who deserves the gratitude of his people for services past – but also a retirement he has put off for far too long.

Sholto Byrnes is a senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia

Stay Engaged Politically to survive another year of Troll-in-Chief DJ Trump by John Cassidy


January 4, 2018

Stay Engaged Politically to survive another year of Troll-in-Chief DJ Trump

by John Cassidy

https://www.newyorker.com

Image result for DJ Trum
The Trumpf
By 10:30 in the morning on the first workday of 2018, the Troll-in-Chief had already used his Twitter account to lash out at Iran, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Kim Jong Un, the New York Times, Democrats, and his own Justice Department. He had also claimed credit for the fact that there had been no fatalities anywhere in the world on commercial jets in 2017. (“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation.”) On Tuesday night, he posted what may have been his nuttiest tweet yet, boasting that his “Nuclear Button” was bigger and more effective than the one Kim claimed to have on his desk.
Image result for DJ Trum
Malaysia’s Troll and D’Trumpf–2 of a kind

Is Trump ever going to zip it in 2018? Of course not. He lives in his own febrile and self-centered world, where the traditional rules of political discourse don’t apply. Since any thought of him changing is fanciful, we are in for another year of enervating acrimony at home and unnerving jitters on the international front. As the Russia investigation continues, Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill and in the conservative media will step up their efforts to discredit Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and his team. As the controversy about professional football players kneeling during the national anthem fades, Trump will also be on the lookout for new racial issues that he can use to rile up his base. And, as long as he follows the G.O.P. line on policy issues, the Party’s leaders on Capitol Hill will continue to support him and make excuses for his behavior.

That isn’t a complete tour of the 2018 horizon, however. In addition to lamenting Trump, the more important (and more rewarding) thing will be to respond to him politically. Last year, large numbers of Americans did just that—marching in protests, lobbying their elected representatives, making whatever financial contributions they could, and campaigning in local political elections. Come January 20th, many of these Trump antagonists will be back on the streets, taking part in this year’s Women’s March. (More than two hundred and fifty marches and events are planned.)

Although some commentators have lamented the opposition to Trump as evidence of growing political polarization, it actually indicates healthy democratic resistance to a rogue President, who, in the words of Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times, “violates the behaviour and attitudes the world expects of a US president” on a daily basis. And this year, unlike 2017, will provide an opportunity to deliver a rebuke of Trump where it counts most: at the ballot box, in nationwide elections. If Republicans lose control of Congress in November’s midterms, Trump will become a lame duck, and the chances of his being impeached may rise sharply. For Trump’s foes, the prospect of such an outcome should provide sufficient motivation to overcome @realDonaldTrump fatigue.

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The possibility of Democrats surging politically in 2018 is real. In the Senate, the Democrats need to pick up two seats—their most hopeful target states seem to be Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee. In the House, some political experts think that the Democrats will have to win the popular vote by about eight percentage points to gain the twenty-four seats they need, because of Republican gerrymandering. But that also seems possible. According to a CNN poll that was released just before Christmas, the minority party has an eighteen-point lead among registered voters on the generic congressional ballot. The FiveThirtyEight poll average which combines the results of numerous surveys, shows the Democrats with a lead of twelve percentage points. Based on the recent polls, the G.O.P. is “in worse shape right now than any other majority party at this point in the midterm cycle since at least the 1938 election,” Harry Enten, FiveThirtyEight’s senior political writer, pointed out.

Republicans will be hoping that tax cuts give a further boost to the economy, which is already doing well, and that this translates into more votes for them. In a normal electoral cycle, that might be a reasonable supposition. But this is the Trump cycle. So far, healthy job growth and a rising stock market haven’t prevented Trump from dragging his Party down with him. According to the Real Clear Politics poll average, the President’s approval rating is now 39.8 per cent. That figure shows a slight improvement since the middle of last month, but Trump’s popularity numbers continue to languish at record lows compared to those of his modern predecessors. And even if the tax bill does stoke the economy generally, it could create problems for Republicans in places like California, New Jersey, and New York, where some high earners and property owners will end up facing higher tax bills. In California, the Republicans hold fourteen congressional seats, and the Sabato Crystal Ball Web site now ranks seven of them as competitive. It’s hardly surprising that of the twelve Republican members of Congress who voted against the tax bill, two are from California, four are from New Jersey, and five are from New York.

At some point in the ten months between now and the midterms, Trump may be tempted to try to break out of the political box he is in by firing Mueller. The fact that he hasn’t done this already is another reflection of how, so far, the American political system has largely managed to contain him. Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, recused himself from the Russia investigation, and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, recently told Congress that he believes Mueller is abiding by the terms of his appointment. To get rid of Mueller, Trump would have to get rid of Rosenstein, too, and then find somebody else at the Justice Department to carry out the firing order. If he did that, there would be a huge outcry, and members of Congress facing reëlection in November would face a great deal of pressure to appoint another special prosecutor. For now, Trump has held his fire, and the Republican leadership, or most of it, has supported Mueller. However, as Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, recently pointed out at the Lawfare blog, “The ultimate check here, as always, is the American people. … At the end of the day, the voice of the people is what ensures that Congress does the right thing and that the president does not defy the law.”

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This is yet another argument for engaging in the political process in 2018. But staying engaged isn’t the same thing as being permanently addled, obsessing over every offensive Trump tweet, or lumping everyone who voted for him in with alt-right activists and neo-Nazis. It means exercising patience, ignoring some of his verbal provocations (many of which are attempts at distraction), pointing out that his policies are hurting the very people he is claiming to represent, and, above all, committing to beating him and his allies politically. As the recent elections in Alabama and Virginia demonstrated, Trump and the Republicans can be defeated at the ballot box. Surely, the best way to survive the second year of the Trump era is to work calmly and deliberately toward that objective.

Noami Klein–NO is Not Enough


December 31, 2017

No is Not Enough

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My blogging friends, I want to end 2017 with this Naomi Klein interview. Here she talks about her latest book, No is Not Enough. Her focus is on the character and personality and branding of the 45th President of the United States, HE Donald J. Trump.  But her insights are also apply to leaders in countries like Malaysia (Najib Razak), South Africa (Jacob Zuma), Zimbabwe (Robert Mugage) and other corrupt and abusers of power.

It is not enough for us to say No; we must also make act to make regime change a reality. Zimbabweans and South Africans have acted. Now Malaysians must show the rest of the world that they can do the same. –Din Merican