Read what I wrote, not what others quote, says Kadir Jasin


June 8, 2018

Read what I wrote, not what others quote, says Kadir Jasin

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim,

Having Kadir Jasin’s article in Sinar Harian and his blog post of June 4, I now ask you what is your game plan and what is your motive in making Royalty a political issue. It is totally unhelpful to Pakatan Harapan government.

Allow Dr. Mahathir who has been given the mandate to govern to lead the country until your turn comes. You will do us a great service if you can refrain from running a parallel government. There shall be only one captain of the Malaysian ship. That captain is Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

I agree with Dato A Kadir Jasin that any institutional reform that the government proposes to undertake should include a critical examination of the role of our esteemed Rulers in our system of governance. Let us eliminate any constitutional ambiguities that may exist. But Malaysia will remain a democracy with a constitutional monarch. —Din Merican

Following criticism from PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, former journalist A Kadir Jasin has urged members of the public to judge him by his writings and not what others quote from it.

In particular, he referred to his column titled “Masukkan Institusi Raja Dalam Reformasi” (“Include the Royal Institutions in the Reform”) that was published in Sinar Harian on May 27, and his blog post dated June 4, titled “Constitution: The King and the Pauper”.

“I will leave it to readers and speakers to judge me based on Anwar’s ‘criticism’ by re-reading and understanding my arguments on those issues,” the Bersatu supreme council member said in a blog post today.

Image result for anwar ibrahim a royalist

He stressed that he was speaking in his personal capacity and not those of any positions he holds.

He was responding to Anwar’s statement last night accusing Kadir of issuing disparaging remarks against the royal institution.

Anwar said that while individuals have the right to express their views, Kadir should have shown more respect and decorum, and give the rulers an opportunity to respond and clarify.

“To give disparaging remarks without giving the rulers the opportunity to clarify, that’s not healthy, especially when you use your position and be seen to be close to people in the government.

“I’ve also seen some of the assertions, and there are some major factual errors there. I think we should be mindful of that,” he told reporters.

He said it had been an “arduous” process to reassure the Malay rulers regarding Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration. As such, individuals should be mindful in making their remarks.

Kadir, who is also the Council of Eminent Persons’ spokesperson, denied that he is using his position to attack the royal institutions because the foreword to his articles clearly stated that the writings are his personal opinions.

He said if there are “questionable” facts in his writings, then those facts should be questioned and the correct facts should be provided.

“If I am mistaken, I will make a correction and apologise,” he said. He also denied questioning the necessity for Anwar to meet the Malay rulers.

“I merely said that the kings don’t need any guarantees or comforts because their position is guaranteed by the constitution.

“I don’t deny the fact that Pakatan Harapan had to work hard to win the support of the Malay rulers, just that I later learned that apart from Anwar, other Harapan leaders also had audiences with the rulers.

“I don’t wish to start polemics with Anwar because this is unnecessary. Anyone who wants to understand what I wrote can read the two articles in the links I’ve provided.

Read what I wrote and not what is quoted and purported by various parties,” he said.

Masukkan institusi raja dalam reformasi

A Kadir Jasin

TINDAKAN kerajaan baharu Pakatan Harapan (Harapan) nampaknya mula memberikan keyakinan bahawa ia sedang mengotakan apa yang dijanjikannya.

Seperti saya catatkan dalam tulisan minggu lepas, pasaran saham, mata wang dan bon tidak mengalami pergerakan negatif walaupun berlaku penyesuaian di sana sini.

Harga di Bursa Malaysia naik sedikit sejak kemenangan Harapan dalam PRU14 9 Mei lalu. Bagaimanapun ia turun pada 23 Mei sebagai tindak balas kepada pendedahan bahawa hutang kerajaan jauh lebih tinggi daripada yang didakwa oleh kerajaan lama.

 

Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, dan Menteri Kewangan, Lim Guan Eng, mendedahkan bahawa hutang kerajaan kini melebihi RM1 trilion (RM1,000,000,000,000) bukan RM685 bilion seperti bekas Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak dakwa selewat 12 Mac lalu.

Selaras dengan janji 100 harinya, kerajaan telah mengambil beberapa langkah bagi mengukuhkan kewangan negara. Antaranya memotong 10 peratus gaji menteri, menutup jabatan dan agensi yang bertindih atau yang menjalankan tugas politik Barisan Nasional (BN). Projek-projek mega dikaji semula dan sesetengah agensi utama mendapat ketua baharu.

Kes penyelewengan 1MDB dan SRC International Sdn Bhd (SRC) dibuka balik. Banyak orang yang berkaitan dengannya, sama ada sedang disiasat oleh SPRM atau PDRM. Ada yang sudah disekat daripada meninggalkan tanah air.

Dalam proses penyiasatan dua kes rasuah terbesar dalam sejarah negara itu, peranan raja-raja menarik minat ramai. Ketua Pesuruhjaya SPRM yang baharu, Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, mendakwa “SPRM hampa” dalam usaha mendapatkan campur tangan Majlis Raja-raja. Beliau membuat dakwaan itu dalam sidang akhbar 22 Mei.

Sejak itu, Majlis Raja-raja telah mengeluarkan kenyataan menyangkal dakwaan berkenaan. Saya tidak berani mengatakan sejauh mana percubaan meminta bantuan raja-raja itu telah dibuat. Yang saya masih ingat ialah pada 5 Oktober 2015 Raja-raja telah mengeluarkan kenyataan meminta kerajaan mempercepatkan siasatan kes 1MDB dan mengambil tindakan wajar ke atas pihak-pihak yang terbabit.

Saya tidak tahu sejauh mana titah itu dipedulikan. Yang kita tahu ialah tidak sampai empat bulan kemudian, Peguam Negara baharu ketika itu, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali mengisytiharkan tidak ada kes jenayah melibatkan 1MDB. Mohd Shukri mendakwa SPRM menemui Majlis Raja-raja dua kali untuk memaklumkan mengenai siasatan 1MDB/SRC yang melibatkan Mohd Najib.

Dalam konteks yang lebih luas, mungkin baik kita menilai semula tindak balas raja-raja terhadap aduan berkenaan 1MDB, khususnya dan hal-hal lain yang melibatkan institusi raja kerana negara kini ditadbir oleh kerajaan baharu.

Kerajaan Harapan mungkin dituduh gagal dalam tugasnya menyelamatkan negara dan menyejahterakan rakyat jelata kalau institusi raja tidak dikaji dan difahami. Ini adalah kerana raja berperlembagaan adalah antara institusi utama negara.

Dalam kempennya, Harapan mendakwa kerajaan pimpinan Mohd Najib telah menodai dan merosakkan banyak institusi utama negara lantas berjanji melakukan reformasi institusi (institutional reforms). Maka wajarlah institusi raja dikaji dan, jika perlu, direformasi.

Hal ini sangat relevan kerana majoriti yang mengundi Harapan adalah generasi muda dan ramai daripada mereka tidak begitu memahami institusi raja. Kata pepatah, tidak kenal maka tidak cinta.

Raja-raja kita adalah raja-raja berperlembagaan. Kuasa dan kegiatan mereka tertakluk kepada perlembagaan. Lebih daripada itu, sumpah jawatan mereka dibuat dengan nama ALLAH. Mereka adalah ketua agama Islam.

Mereka dibayar gaji oleh rakyat jelata dan segala keperluan rasmi mereka ditanggung oleh kerajaan. Dalam keadaan di mana hidup rakyat susah dan kewangan negara sempit, kerajaan tidak boleh sekali-kali membazirkan wang untuk sesiapa pun. Biarlah saya kata macam ini: Istana-istana yang ada itu sudah mewah.

Raja-raja juga tidak kekal. Yang di-Pertuan Agong misalnya boleh disingkirkan oleh Majlis Raja-raja dengan lima daripada sembilan Raja-raja Melayu menyokong ketetapan berkaitan dengannya.

Dalam usaha kerajaan baharu mempertahankan hak rakyat jelata dan melindungi institusi negara daripada sebarang bentuk pencabulan maka adalah penting diambil tahu pembabitan raja atau istana dalam kegiatan-kegiatan tidak rasmi seperti perniagaan dan sosial.

Kalau perlu kita kaji semula perlembagaan dan kontrak sosial bagi mengambil kira suasana dan realiti yang ada pada hari ini bagi mengharmonikan perjanjian antara raja dan rakyat jelata.

Wallahuaklam.

* Penulis ialah Tokoh Wartawan Negara dan kandungan kolum ini adalah pendapat peribadi beliau semata-mata

The Attorney-General – The Promise and the Reality


June 5, 2018

The Attorney-General – The Promise and the Reality

The position of Attorney-General, should have gone to a Member of Parliament- cum- Cabinet Minister in the interest of public accountability and to avoid the dangers of a conflict of interest.

COMMENT

By Chandra Muzaffar

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The appointment of Tommy Thomas as the new Attorney-General has generated renewed interest in the ruling coalition’s Election Manifesto. In the Manifesto, Pakatan Harapan has articulated lucidly in Janji (promise) 15 the importance of separating the office of Public Prosecutor from that of the Attorney-General. Because of the danger of a conflict of interest, it argues that the two roles should be separated. It pledges to take immediate action towards this end.

Image result for chandra muzaffar

 

The Attorney-General would be chosen from among qualified Members of Parliament and he would be appointed as a Minister serving as the legal adviser to the government. The Public Prosecutor on the other hand would have autonomy to conduct prosecution without fear or favour.

The Pakatan Harapan government has not lived up to this pledge. Thomas is not a member of parliament. He is not accountable in the legal sense to the people through an elected parliament. Of course, he is required, like all other public officials, to uphold the Malaysian Constitution. While his formal appointment is by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, his real nexus of power is with the Prime Minister. It is the Prime Minister who will exercise authority over him and direct his actions.

We have witnessed in recent times what this nexus between the Attorney-General and Prime Minister can lead to. The former Attorney-General protected Prime Minister Najib Razak though the latter’s misdeed was blatant. The A-G saw himself as serving Najib’s interests.

One of the reasons why such stark abuse of roles did not occur in the sixties and seventies was because the Attorney-General in those years was responsible to Parliament through the Cabinet. This practice was brought to an end in the early eighties with the ascendancy of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. Parliamentary accountability was replaced with a direct relationship between the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister.

Dr. Mahathir is of the view that Thomas has the skills to fight the 1MDB case in court. If specific skills are needed the government can always draw upon the services of legal brains at home and abroad. They can be appointed as consultants or public prosecutors as they were in the past in the Batu Putih case or in the second Anwar Ibrahim trial. Tommy Thomas himself can play that role instead of installing him as Attorney-General.

The position of Attorney-General, I reiterate, should have gone to a Member of Parliament- cum- Cabinet Minister in the interest of public accountability. I had hoped that since at least ten Cabinet positions have yet to be filled and there has been no appointee so far from Sabah or Sarawak an MP from one of those states would be made the Attorney-General. Since it is a senior position it would raise the status of law-givers from those states. It would also make the citizens of Sabah and Sarawak feel that they matter to the Malaysian Federation.

Image result for Baru Bian

MP for Selangau, Sarawak Baru Bian–Minister of Law in M-2.0 Cabinet?

There is an MP with a legal background from Sarawak who would have fitted the bill. Baru Bian, the Pakatan Harapan MP for Selangau is an experienced advocate and solicitor who for decades has fought for native land rights. There is no reason why legislators like him — a Christian Bumiputera — should not be conferred the exalted role of Attorney-General in the Federal Cabinet.

Tommy Thomas, whatever his strengths, will continue to be burdened by concerns that have been ventilated through the alternative media. What is his record in prosecuting high profile criminal cases? How fluent is he in the national language which is after all the principal language in the administration of justice in our country? Why did he abandon the nation in the wake of the 1987 ISA swoop and the 1988 judicial crisis when some of us went to jail and campaigned against great odds for justice for the sacked judges?

Chandra Muzaffar is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Yayasan 1Malaysia.

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

 

End the Constitutional Standoff –Make Tommy Thomas Malaysia’s Attorney-General


June 5, 2018

End the Constitutional Standoff –Make Tommy Thomas Malaysia’s Attorney-General

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

The current constitutional standoff over the appointment of prominent lawyer Tommy Thomas as Attorney-General is totally unnecessary and the concerns over it are utterly misplaced. There is no requirement under the law to appoint a Malay and it is a fallacy to imply that a non-Malay Attorney-General cannot protect the rights of all people including Malays.–P.Gunasegaram

Image result for tommy thomasTommy Thomas–A LSE trained and brilliant  Constitutional Expert and Passionate Malaysian

 

QUESTION TIME | The current constitutional standoff over the appointment of prominent lawyer Tommy Thomas as Attorney-General is totally unnecessary and the concerns over it are utterly misplaced. There is no requirement under the law to appoint a Malay and it is a fallacy to imply that a non-Malay Attorney-General cannot protect the rights of all people including Malays.

Any person who knows the law and who is capable will be able to protect and preserve the rights of all people as provided for in the Federal Constitution and any special privileges granted to the various communities aimed at safeguarding their livelihood and way of life. There are few available who are as qualified for this as Thomas.

As usual, those opposed to Thomas’ appointment have put a racial and religious spin on it which is irrelevant to the question as to whether he is suitable for the position of AG. If there are fears of any interference in the religious courts, there is a specific provision under the constitution.

Image result for The Agong  and Dr. Mahathir

The King says “Let us make a deal”. Dr Mahathir to the King, “I can be generous. What  do you want, King?”–A Parody

Section 145 (3) states that the Attorney-General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a syariah court, a native court or a court-martial. It’s clear his jurisdiction does not extend to syariah courts.

Here are 10 reasons why Thomas should be accepted for the post of attorney-general when the rulers’ council meets today.

1. The Pakatan Harapan government unanimously picked him for the post, reports say. This is top of the list. According to Section 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court to be the Attorney-General for the Federation. That is as clear as can be. It is the Prime Minister who appoints the Attorney-General and the King sanctions the appointment accordingly. If the King has any reservations it is up to him to discuss with the Prime Minister, and if the prime minister stays firm on his choice, then the king needs to act accordingly. That is the law, as Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has explained. And he has firmly indicated that he is not changing his mind about the appointment.

2. He is capable. Thomas, who holds an LLB Hons. and an MSc from the London School of Economics, has a reputation for being a very capable and competent lawyer and is highly respected in and out of the legal fraternity.

Here is an extract of his profile: “As a barrister of more than 40 years standing, Thomas has had the privilege of appearing as counsel in landmark cases in various branches of the law in all the courts of Malaysia, including the Privy Council in London, which was Malaysia’s highest court until 1985. Thomas has had more than 150 reported cases and countless unreported cases. He has been singled out consistently and regularly as one of Malaysia’s leading litigation lawyers by independent international publications such as The Asia Pacific Legal 500, Which Lawyer, Who’s Who Legal (The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers), Commercial Litigation Lawyers of Asia and Chambers Asia.”

3. He is experienced. His forty years covers a lot of ground. His profile says he has acted in ground-breaking high profile litigation involving two state governments in relation to their offshore oil and gas claims. He has also acted for two other state governments in constitutional and judicial review disputes. He has represented regulatory authorities as lead counsel in their complicated civil litigation matters at the apex court. Thomas is regularly consulted by other law firms and appointed senior counsel in their litigation. He often appears as lead counsel for the Malaysian Bar in intricate and controversial cases.

4. He knows the constitution. Much of his cases involve constitutional issues and his interests in the rights of people and organisations has meant that he is up to date with the many changes in the constitution that has taken place over the years. Given the reform agenda of the Harapan government, he will be strongly positioned to give appropriate advice and help initiate legal reform of which there will be many.

5. He knows corporate law. If prosecution of 1MDB offences is to be efficient, thorough, fair, and effective there has to be clear understanding of how the money was embezzled and stolen. Here are his corporate credentials: “In the corporate field, he has appeared in company, liquidation, receivership and insolvency matters. In the commercial sphere, he has acted in banking, hire purchase, contract, intellectual property, sale of goods, wills, trusts and land law cases. Thomas has appeared in complex litigation involving bonds and other sophisticated financial instruments. In public law, Thomas specialises in constitutional and administrative law cases. He has also been very active in statutory interpretation disputes ranging from petroleum, asset management, securities law and local government.” This experience in corporate law is vital to effectively prosecute cases involving 1MDB where transactions are multi-layered and complex.

6. He is smart. Thomas also knows when he is out of his depth and is smart enough to get the help he needs to understand issues better. He grasps things very quickly and his wide interests, as well as a strong reading habit, ensures that little that is important escapes his scrutiny – a very necessary quality for a good Attorney-General. I once read a long article he wrote on the world financial crisis and was quite impressed by the grasp this non-finance professional had on the subject matter.

7. He is independent. Everybody knows that Thomas has an independent, original mind and is not afraid to speak up. More importantly, he is not the type of person who is going to be influenced by anyone, including the person who appointed him, when he decides on his cases. One can be sure that if a person is charged, there is a reason to charge him and if he is not there is a good legal reason for that as well.

8. He can suggest ways how the Attorney General’s post can be kept independent. After having seen the abuse of the attorney general’s position over years and decades, Thomas will have suggestions of how this post can be kept independent. He is the type of person who will want the post to remain independent for eternity.

9. He is fair, fearless, straight and incorruptible all of which are great qualities to have in an A-G which we have lacked terribly in the past few decades.

10. Finally, he cares about the country. We need an attorney general who will care deeply and passionately about the consequences of his actions on the well-being, future and direction of the country and will at all times act in the nation’s best interest but according to the law. We can’t have attorneys- general, of all people, continue to frustrate the rule and application of the law equally to everyone.

I am sure there are other reasons. Personally, in this current environment, I believe there is no better choice than Thomas for Attorney-General but I never thought that the Prime Minister will actually propose him for the post. Now that he has, there is no reason why Thomas should not be appointed forthwith as all “reasons” for not wanting him are extremely frivolous, and should I say, vexatious too.


Disclosure: P Gunasegaram considers Tommy Thomas to be a good friend of his. 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.

Duty of the Malaysian King


May 13, 2018

Duty of the Malaysian King is to preside over smooth and orderly transition of power, not a hindrance

by Dr. M Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

Image result for The King of Malaysia

 

Every year Malaysia spends billions of her precious revenue paid for by the rakyat through GSTs and other taxes to maintain the Agung and his fellow nine brother rulers, as well as the four sultan wannabes – the governors of Sabah, Penang, Melaka, and Sarawak – together with their assorted, expensive multitude of hangers-on. The Agung’s new palace alone cost over a billion, quite apart from the running expenses.

The one crucial and very visible duty of the Agung, sultans, and governors is to ensure the smooth and orderly transition of power, as with following an election or resignation of the Prime Minister, or in case of the states, Chief Minister.

It is difficult to say anything positive on the role of the Agung who is from Kelantan in the transition between Najib and the newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir. During the more than 24-hour period following the 14thGeneral Election, Malaysia was, as Mahathir reminded everyone, without a government. That is dangerous when you have thousands of illegal immigrants at her borders and warships of great powers prowling the seas beyond.

Indonesia and the Philippines do not have ceremonial heads yet both handled their transitions of power far more smoothly even in more perilous conditions than what Malaysia went through in her immediate post-GE14 days.

If the Agung, sultans and governors could not handle the smooth transition of power during a stable and peaceful period, could Malaysians depend on them during tough and more challenging times?

Image result for The King of Malaysia

Malaysians had a preview of that back with GE-13 in Perak. Then we had a sultan who was a former Chief Justice (Lord President then). Yet he too became embroiled in the political battle. He was far from being part of the solution. It looks like the circus is going to be repeated with GE-14, this time with his Oxford and Harvard educated son as sultan. The show has not yet begun. Stay tuned! Negri Sembilan has a clear winner but its ruler has yet to swear in the new Chief Minister. And that ruler has a law degree!

If the Agung, sultans, and governors are not part of the solution, then ipso facto they are part of the problem. Time to reexamine their roles and pose such basic questions as whether the nation still needs them.

The history of Malay sultans has not been illustrious. I did not study history and as such I am ignorant of the supposedly glorious days of the Malacca sultanate and the exploits of its luminary knights like Hang Tuah. I can only draw on the experiences of my lifetime, having been brought up in a village in the shadow of the Royal town of Sri Menanti.

As could be expected, I was used to the tantrums of those spoiled royal brats having attended the same religious school in the afternoon with some of them. Later when they became adults, they did not change. Only the expressions of their tantrums did, and with far greater consequences. Those are tolerable to me now as I no longer live in Malaysia. If anything, I am bemused.

On to more substantive matters, right after WWII, also within my memory, Malay sultans gave away the sovereignty of the whole peninsula to the British in return for some measly pensions. Only the wisdom and bravery of Datuk Onn Jaafar stopped that. He did it even after the sultans had signed the papers! Those early colonials should have tried Najib’s current morality of “cash is king.” Or maybe they did, but the first UMNO President, Tunku Abdul Rahman was unlike its current one!

Image result for tengku mahkota johor

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad represents the sovereignty of the Malaysian People. He is the 7th Prime Minister.

Back to the colonials after WWII, I wonder why they did not just banish those sultans to join their uncles and f th who had been earlier shipped out to Madagascar and the Christmas Islands?

Further back in history, the Sultan of Johore gave away Singapore to the British, again for a few measly pounds and the knighthood of some ancient medieval order.

Back to my childhood in the early post-war period, I remember accompanying my mother fishing in the river with the other women in the village, including the future first Queen of Malaysia. There was nothing regal about her in a tattered cheap sarong fighting over the choice fishing holes in the muddy river.

A few years later, Merdeka. There she was, regal in her glittering tiara. She had not changed. We had put her up there.

I wonder who coined the canard that sultans are defenders of the faith. Islam does not need defenders, least of all from these characters.

I wish Malaysian economists would study the opportunity costs of these sultans. We could send scores of Malays to the Harvards of the world at the price of maintaining one of them. That would be a wiser expenditure of precious public funds.

These thoughts percolated through me as I saw clips of Prime Minister Mahathir being yanked back and forth to the Istana the day after the election. The Palace should release the Agung’s schedule of that day to show the people what was so important that the Agung had to delay Mahathir’s swearing in. It would also be interesting to subpoena Najib’s as well the election chief’s cellphone records for that day.

The Agung was not part of the solution in the immediate confusion of post GE-14. Instead he embarrassed the nation.

Malaysia’s ‘Fake News’ Crackdown Begins


April 21, 2018

Malaysia’s ‘Fake News’ Crackdown Begins

 

By John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com

Image result for malaysia's fake news commander-in-chief najib razak

If there was any doubt what the draconian “fake news” bill passed by Malaysia’s Parliament was about, it has been pretty much put to rest by a statement by Mazlan Ismail, the Chief Operating Officer of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Commission that 1,500 news stories are being investigated by the authorities.

On April 4, the Parliament passed the controversial law over objections from civil society groups and international rights bodies including Amnesty International, which called it an “assault on freedom of expression.” The measure mandates up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of RM500,000 (US$129,300) and is aimed at not only domestic critics but international ones as well such as Asia Sentinel and the Sarawak Report, both of which have been banned from internet circulation in the country.

Image result for mazlan ismail mcmc

Critics complain that there are no criteria for determining what constitutes “fake news” other than what the government deems to be fake news.

Although the bill was passed to “promote national security,” according to government officials, opponents said its real purpose is to protect the government in advance of the 14th general election, which is scheduled to be held May 9. The government is struggling to protect itself from criticism over allegations of the misuse of at least US$4.5 billion from the state-backed 1 Malaysia Development Bhd. The US Justice Department has sequestered an estimated US$1.2 billion of assets owned by members of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s family and close friends.

The government faces an insurrection led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading a seemingly energized opposition in the effort to bring down Najib and UMNO. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, called prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, functions as a conspicuous martyr due to be freed from more than three years in prison in early June.

Virtually all criticism has been stilled, with the mainstream media in the hands of political parties aligned with the government.  However, Malaysia has one of the most energetic social media in Southeast Asia, with dozens of websites criticizing the government and alluding to a long list of scandals perpetrated by the Barisan Nasional and its leading political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

The communications ministry’s Mazlan Ismail said 99 per cent of the false news originated from locals staying in Malaysia.

“The remaining one per cent are from Malaysians who have migrated in countries such as Sweden and Australia,” he told reporters at the launch of MCMC’s Malaysian ICT Volunteer with Institutes of Higher Education.  He charged that critics ae using “fake social media accounts” to spread criticism, according to an April 18 story in the Straits Times, which is owned by the UMNO.

“A majority of these false news came from fake accounts or anonymous accounts,” he said. “Once the false news has become viral shared through various platforms like Facebook, they will immediately shut down the accounts. It is like a guerilla warfare. At least 30 percent of the fake news is being disseminated in such manner.”

The Communications Ministry on April 17 accused “certain movements” of using the social media or Internet, “to actively spread propaganda of contempt against the government,” saying the certain movements were “like `factories’ churning false news with its primary aim to dispute the integrity and efficiency of the government, as well as targeting the Malays and Islam.”

Mazlan told reporters it is difficult to identify the “mastermind to the offence since false news could be disseminated by anyone with internet access. In the past, such `factories’ will have offices. Now, these factories can be in someone’s bedroom or at any place.”

One blogger, in an email to Asia Sentinel, suggested that the Communications Ministry investigate Najib himself since he has delivered several demonstrably false statements including threatening to sue the Wall Street Journal in 2015, said the US$681 million that appeared in his personal bank account came from Saudi Royalty, and many others.

Action has been taken against more than 40 people for improper use of network facilities or network service and 10 have been charged in court, according to the Communications Ministry.

“We are in the process to remove 4,618 fake social media accounts which spread false news, based on the respective social media platform’s terms and conditions.,” a ministry official told the Straits Times.  “A small number of false news, however, were originally spread in foreign countries, but have been translated and adapted to Malaysian context by irresponsible parties.”

 

Impeachment is designed for Donald Trump(?)


October24, 2017

Impeachment  is designed  for Donald Trump?

Impeachment is as much for people who shatter our norms as those who break our laws

 b


The Founding Fathers feared characters such as Donald Trump. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — “Mad” King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about.

The very embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared is now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

 Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation” — theft of public funds — “or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,” as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we “expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”

Trump’s many ties to Russia spring immediately to mind, of course. What’s provable so far — denying electoral harm perpetrated by Russian actors, hiding his efforts to conduct business in Moscow during his 2016 campaign, leaking state secrets to the Russian ambassador at a White House meeting, numerous contacts between his top staff and family and Russian agents — resonates deeply with this core concern expressed by the Founding Fathers.

The possible involvement with a Russian scheme to corrupt the election process was something else the framers worried about, with George Mason, at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, calling for impeachment for any president who “might engage in the corrupting of electors.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, the man investigating his administration’s Russian connections, is clearly an impeachable act, according to Madison. He wrote that if “the President can displace from office a man whose merits require that he should be continued in it … he will be impeachable … for such an act of maladministration.”

Constitution-signer Abraham Baldwin of Georgia likewise seemed to be speaking about the Comey firing way back in the first Congress, when he noted that if a president “in a fit of passion” removed “all the good officers of government,” he should be susceptible to impeachment.

But Baldwin had in mind a more pressing fear: a president who didn’t live up to his constitutional duty to properly staff the executive branch, including the various departments such as the State Department — say, by removing appointments of a previous administration and not replacing them. Sound like anyone you know? According to Baldwin, the duty of Congress in such situations was to “turn him out of office, as he had others.”

Another attribute the Founding Fathers feared in a president was the abuse of the power to issue pardons. Mason, at the Virginia constitutional ratification convention, worried in fact that the president might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised against himself,” or before indictment or conviction “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.”

Whether Trump is considering a self-pardon is unknown, but it is fairly widely speculated that, with the August pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, he was signaling to the likes of former campaign aides Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn that they too might be pardoned for disregarding valid orders and laws. To which the words of Madison would apply: “if the president be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him,” he should be impeached.

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And on it goes. The Founding Fathers tried to prepare the country for the possibility of someone not only corrupt and venal — whereby impeachment was “an essential check … upon the encroachments of the executive,” as Alexander Hamilton put it in the “Federalist Papers” — but also from someone simply unable to perform the job, whether through incompetence, ignorance or incapacity. (The first successful impeachment conviction in our history, for example, was of an elderly federal judge who had slipped into dementia.)

As Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, taught: The president “cannot act improperly, and hide either his negligence or inattention; he cannot roll upon any other person his criminality … and he is responsible for every nomination he makes … far from being above the laws, he is amenable to them … in his public character by impeachment.”

But prescient as they were, what the framers may not have anticipated was someone who epitomized so many of their fears at once — someone like Donald Trump — being elected to the presidency in the first place. They hoped that the electoral college system would prevent that from happening. But in the event that didn’t happen, they added an additional fail-safe: impeachment. It’s now up to Congress to fulfill the framers’ vision.