Will this be Mahathir’s finest moment?


December 17, 2018

Will this be Mahathir’s finest moment?

by Kim Quek

https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/456486

 

COMMENT | I refer to Rais Hussin’s article “Mahathir’s resignation is not an option” which is a response to my own “Mahathir must step down to save Reformasi.”

Reviewing the above two articles, I would contend that the issues at hand are: The potentially devastating impact on Pakatan Harapan arising from the anticipated mass migration of defecting UMNO MPs to Bersatu, and whether Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should step down at this juncture.

Defecting UMNO MPs

What motivates UMNO MPs to defect in the first place?Considering that the intention to defect occurred so soon after losing the election, the probability of this being motivated by a drastic change of political ideology is almost nil.

Such speedy decisions to switch camp from the opposition to the ruling coalition are invariably prompted by the desire to seek greener pastures, as well as to escape criminal investigation and prosecution, as almost all of them have been tainted by corruption during the corrupt rule of UMNOo and Najib Abdul Razak. They are pure opportunists, and many are intended escapees from the law.

Their massive influx would reflect the complete lack of integrity and principles of Harapan in general and Bersatu in particular.

Fatally for Harapan, it will be taken as a grand sell-out of the electorate, who had voted Harapan to power precisely because they had been repulsed by the despicable UMNO leadership.

And whatever Bersatu may say, it can not remove the widespread perception that it is implicated in such mass movement of defectors.

Former minister Hamzah Zainuddin’s declaration of 36 UMNO MPs having signed a pledge of loyalty to Mahathir is the latest incident, among many others, that has given fuel to such perception.

Mahathir as a reformist PM

What is the root cause of UMNO’s decadence, which subsequently leads to its almost instant virtual collapse?

Answer: racism and corruption. The former breeds the latter, in addition to fracturing the country along racial lines, breeding mediocrity and brain drain which have caused our prolonged economic malaise – all under UMNO’s hegemonic rule.

The Reformasi movement founded by Anwar Ibrahim in 1998 was precisely intended to overcome all these vices, which includes wiping out corruption, restoring justice and equality, reforming the tattered institutions and restoring the rule of law, thereby putting the country on the path of healthy national integration and robust economic growth.

The Harapan coalition has therefore an enormous task at hand. In addition to reforming the broken institutions, the impaired governance and restoring the rule of law, it must at the same time tackle racism which is the mother of these evils.

Among these urgent tasks, institutional reforms and reform of biased mindsets on race and religion of the majority of our populace are basic, the success of which should serve as a solid foundation upon which ‘New Malaysia’ will thrive.

It goes without saying that to successfully implement such a heavily reform-loaded agenda, the leader must be a reformist of deep conviction of such reforms.

In this respect, Mahathir’s background would make him ill-fitted as leader of this reformist coalition, considering the fact that most of his current task would involve dismantling or reforming or rebuilding the governance infrastructures which he built during his long reign as UMNOPresident and Prime Minister.

And this is reflected in his delay or refusal to repeal many repressive laws, to abolish racist institutions, to reveal comprehensive recommendations for institutional reforms.

It is also reflected in his lack of enthusiasm to reform the biased mindset on race and religion, and the lack of action to gradually and strategically phase out pervasive racial discriminations and reintroducing meritocracy in education, state-controlled enterprises and public service.

While it is unfair to demand full performance on such reform agenda from Mahathir, in view of his political background, the same cannot be said of Anwar, founder and leader of the Reformasi movement and successor-designate to Mahathir.

Anwar would be a shoo-in for this task. Apart from being the architect of the reform concepts of this movement, he was also instrumental in formulating the election manifestos for the 12th and 13th general elections, which later served as a blueprint for the manifesto which helped Harapan to win a sweeping victory in the 14th general election.

Anwar has built up the movement from cradle to its present maturity, for which he has endured incomparable sufferings and political persecution almost continuously throughout the past two decades of struggles.

He is not only the most knowledgeable person on such reforms, but he also has the grit, guts and gumption to see the reforms through to their fruition.

Mahathir’s finest moment?

Mahathir is a politician extraordinaire. He is unique in modern history. After autocratically ruling the country for 22 years, he returned to the political scene many years later to lead a reformist coalition and succeeded in overthrowing the decadent regime which had ruled uninterrupted since independence 61 years ago and crowned himself Prime Minister at the incredible age of 93.

He has made many mistakes in the past, but he has also made the greatest contribution to the country – dethroning the almost unbeatable, corrupted-to-the core autocracy, thus giving the nation a new breath of life.

However, his greatest challenge is yet to come.

At this moment, when the mass of UMNO defectors are at his doorstep ready to boost up his relatively small party, will he embrace them to strengthen his hand to rule to his heart’s content?

Or will he have the wisdom at this final hour to recognise the sacrosanct call of history – relinquish power now, and let his reformist successor lead the next leg of the nation’s journey?

The former choice would almost certainly cause the coalition to lose credibility with its supporting electorate and cause dissension within the coalition and demoralise the entire reform movement.

While the latter choice would give a fresh impetus to the current reform agenda that would enable the nation to scale new heights and make this his crowning moment that would seal his status as founder of the ‘New Malaysia’.

Whatever Mahathir decides, it may mark another turning point for the country.


KIM QUEK is the author of the banned book The March to Putrajaya, and bestseller Where to, Malaysia?

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

A Tale of Two Malays


December 5, 2018

A Tale of Two Malays

by Tajuddin Rasdi

www. freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Asri and Mahathir

In this article I present my views on the different responses and approaches of two Malay and Muslim educated leaders to raise questions about nation building. The two personalities  are Prime Minister Dr Mahathir. Mohamad and the “respected” mufti, scholar and academic Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

The scenario in question is the recent Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple incident. I do not view the temple incident as a racial one even though the police have established that the clash was between 50 Malay “hired thugs” and the devotees of the temple.

Image result for Asri and Mahathir

From the excellent police report and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement, we can gather that these Malays were hired to solve the problem of vacating the land in order for commercial development to take place. The company to which the land belongs has since denied it was involved in hiring thugs.

Image result for Malay thugs

I have heard whispers of this kind of thuggery being undertaken to resolve the problem of vacating people from state and private land. I have also heard whispers that police often turn a blind eye to such actions. I hope these whispers are not true but the glaring events at the Seafield temple have confirmed my personal fears that there may be truth to many of them.

Whatever the real and intended purpose of the Malay “thugs”, I am convinced it was not a racial conflict but a simple “Melayu-thugs-for-hire” one. But politicians, clerics and opportunists have grabbed on to this incident to colour it as a racial conflict. When I read that 70 Malays turned up later that day, I feared the worst but thankfully, our police force was at its best.

When Asri came out with a forceful statement about taking a harsh approach in dealing with “illegal temples”, I feared it would only aggravate the situation, especially with sentiments over the ICERD still strong.

Although Mahathir has reversed the government’s earlier decision to ratify the UN treaty, many, including the “respected” cleric, seem to be egging on a demonstration that I fear could pull this country apart. We know the damage that was done by the previous Jamal Yunos-led Red Shirts rally.

Here I wish to draw attention to the approach of Mahathir on the temple issue: he showed exemplary leadership in putting Malaysian, “Malaysianness” and nation building above the idea of “Malayness”, “Islamicness” and “Tanah Melayu-ness” of those in PAS and Umno, and now – sadly – Asri.

One excellent character trait of Mahathir that I admire is that he can stand firm, no matter what the ulama, royalty and politicians throw at him. From his writings, speeches I have heard and media statements, Mahathir does not come out as a simplistic “my race above all” thinker like Zahid Hamidi and Ibrahim Ali, nor does he comes off as an “Islam above all” thinker like Hadi Awang or Asri.

He has his own personal views of Islam which I have read, his own idea about Malaysia’s history as well as his own personal formula on how Malays should change. He even admitted his failure to change the Malays, giving as proof the vast corruption by Malay elites, including in UMNO and the civil service. He dumped UMNOo… twice! Yes, UMNO dumped him once, but he did it twice. He is even said to be engineering UMNO’s elimination and a reboot of his own version of “Malay-Malaysianess” in PPBM.

Personally, I think it will never work as he is too old and may not have time to train Malays in the new “Malay-Malaysian ideology” so that they become progressive and critical-minded Muslims with a Japanese work culture.

That model of “Malay-Malaysianess” never took off even when he was the leader of UMNO.

But what I admire most about the way Mahathir handled the Seafield issue is that he was decisive and humanitarian and he did it with a Malaysian finesse. The government has ordered the status quo to be maintained and for the rule of law to take effect.

The matter has been taken to the courts again by some devotees, and a few millionaires have started a campaign to raise funds to buy the land from the owner. I suspect Mahathir may have had a hand in the idea of buying the land.

Mahathir may have lost his credibility as a Malay, a Muslim and a leader among kampung-educated Malays, bandar-educated Malays and university-educated Malays. But he has won my respect and that of the non-Malays and the very, very few thinking Malays.

He has lost the Malay political mileage that is badly needed to restabilise Malaysia as well as prop him up as the PPBM and Pakatan Harapan leader. I think it is a costly price that he has paid personally, but Mahathir is no stranger to such sacrifices.

What matters to him is a clear and unadulterated vision of where Malaysia should be heading, a vision very few Malays understand and are willing to follow, both in the opposition and in the government. Mahathir has put his political career on the line for the sake of a peaceful Malaysia.

The same can be said about the ICERD issue. Many have criticised him for “backtracking” from his tough talk at the UN but I think it takes guts and a visionary leader to go against one’s “reputable standing” and make decisions within a dynamically changing socio-political scenario. Other politicians would have taken more time to weigh the political cost and delay their decision, but Mahathir was quick, decisive and clear over both the ICERD and Seafield issues.

In contrast, let us look at how Asri responded to the temple issue. A day after the reported clash, I was shocked to read his harsh statements encouraging the authorities to come down hard on the Indians with regard to the many “kuil haram” on land not belonging to that community. Although many Muslims I know will side with him in this very popular statement, I think it is selfish and immature with respect to the idea of nation building.

Although I have admired Asri for his academic and religious views framed in an intellectual stand on many issues, his statements suggest his stand on Indians is far from friendly. The first clue to this attitude was given in his Facebook posting about Hindus attacking Muslims in India as well as the burning of widows. He made those statements in defending controversial preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India. I have also heard his veiled attempts at making Hinduism look bad by associating it with the abhorrent caste system.

I will answer his criticism of the Hindu religion by giving three points. Firstly, it is most difficult to discern the principles of a religion from the cultural practices of the adherents. Until I read 20,000 hadiths, I never knew that Malays were practising “Melayu-Islam” and not the Prophet’s Islam. When Asri criticised harshly many of the attitudes and practices of the Malays using hard textual evidence, many Malays despised him but I agreed 100% with what he said concerning this matter.

I have read the hadiths and so I know. Most Malays do not read and they depend on clerics like Azhar Idrus or Zamihan Mat Zin to fill them in on what Islam is. I am 200% behind Asri in his “war” against the Malays and their ethno-centric interpretation of Islam.

Having said that, I have to ask: does Asri know enough about Hinduism to separate the cultural practices or attitudes from the philosophical teachings of that religion? I have read several books on Hinduism, including the Bhagavad Gita and the meditative techniques stemming from that faith, and I find them filled with the wisdom of the ages.

Hindus dissected the self, the ego and the mind long before Prophet Muhammad was born. Much of the concept of “self” by Muslim scholars such as al-Ghazali and Rumi echo the same teachings – not because they have been “influenced” but because of the generality and universality of the messages.

Most Muslims have a narrow window, framed in the 1,400-year scholarship of Islam, and refuse to take a walk outside of that box into the world of human civilisation and strive to understand who they are and how best to behave or act in a community of communities.

Secondly, with respect to the caste system, most societies, even the Malays, practise them. Abdullah Munshi detested the difference in punishments meted out to peasants, guards of the Rajas, the bangsawan or aristocrats and the Rajas, saying they were un-Islamic. To him all men were equal under Allah. I have many Hindu friends and I have never heard of widow burning or the imposition of the caste system; neither have I heard them threaten people of other faiths.

Thirdly, if Asri considers all Hindus as terrorists for atrocities committed against Muslims by some, then what of the Islamic State fanatics bombing here and bombing there, using lorries and other vehicles to knock down and kill non-Muslim civilians? Certainly Asri would point out that Islam the religion is free from such heinous acts and that those who do these things do not reflect Islam which offers a message of peace.

If that is so, why can’t Asri see the “terrorist Hindus” as a party totally different from Malaysian Hindus such as P Ramasamy and P Waytha Moorthy who are fighting peacefully in the political arena for the betterment of their own race? Clearly Asri has not acted with wisdom or out of consideration for the peace and safety of the many Malaysians in making such statements. He thought only about his own race and faith.

Thus, in conclusion, we can see two sons of Malaysia, two sons of the Melayu culture and two sons of Islam having two divergent approaches and attitudes towards the idea of building a peaceful nation.

One of them cares about all life in Malaysia while the other seems to care only about those of his race and religion. One has a long view of Malaysia’s future in the global community while the other has views limited to what is important to his own faith.

Malays have to decide who they should follow.

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

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ICERD Controversy Needs More than Politics to Resolve


November 26, 2018

ICERD Controversy Needs More than Politics to Resolve   

 

by Tawfik Ismail and Lim Teck Ghee

Two recent commentaries on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) ratification controversy have argued that it is necessary for the government to make known its position on the issue.

Image result for icerd malaysia

According to the Sik-Bisik Awang Selamat column of Utusan Malaysia those who oppose ratification have a valid concern in that it will challenge the constitution which affects the special rights of the Malays, the bumiputeras and the Malay rulers. The column noted that the issue will continue to divide the nation as long as the government  drags its feet and does not come out with a clear and definitive decision. The Utusan writers also pointed out that If the politicians cannot take a firm stance on the issue, how can they expect to convince the populace?

 

The second commentary by Dr. Musa Mohd Nordin and Dr. Awaluddin Mohamed Shaharoun makes the point that that UMNO-PAS politicians are using the issue to create instability in their efforts to topple the Pakatan government. They also provide a necessary reminder to the public that PAS president, Hadi Awang, in an Utusan Melayu report dated 15 September 1985, then in his capacity as Terengganu State Commissioner, “pledged to abolish Malay rights if PAS came into power”. More specifically, he added that these include “the removal of Malay Reserve Land, National Economic Policy or other policies which only served the Malay interest. PAS promised that all races would be equitably treated”.

Image result for icerd malaysia

Anti-ICERD rally is now void of reasoning

Although diametrically opposed in their support of the political parties, both sets of commentators seem to agree in assigning the primary responsibility for resolving the controversy to the political leaders of Pakatan and Barisan.

A politically driven top down authoritarian approach to managing this controversy now has taken place with the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office that the Pakatan government has decided against ratifying the ICERD.

 

According to the PMO statement, “The government will continue to defend the Federal Constitution, in which lies the social contract agreed to by representatives of all races during the forming of the nation.”

 

While this clearly hasty and apparently panicky decision may have the effect of dousing the inflamed sentiments and views of some members of the public, it is at best a temporary band-aid or cooling agent.

What has happened is that the ICERD issue and the question of Malaysia’s ratification – for better or for worse – has become and will remain a cause celebre which will continue to generate widespread controversy, fierce campaigning by opposed groups and heated public debate.

 

To ensure that the ICERD ratification issue is not further hijacked by political parties and politicians for their own agenda,  a final government position needs to be made which takes into account the views of all stakeholders and the larger citizenry.

We propose the following process of examination and analysis to take place:

 

  1. The main objections expressed against ratification relate to concerns about how the international treaty will adversely affect the special position of the Malays, the other Bumiputeras, the Malay rulers, the Malay language, etc..

  2. In addition, the latest statement by PMO brings in a related but new issue of the ‘social contract’ agreed to by the various communities at the time of independence which the ICERD ratification apparently will conflict with.

  3. All major stakeholders – apart from political parties – should review the provisions of the ICERD and determine how the country’s act of ratification will exactly impact on each of their positions as well as on the so-called ‘social contract’.

  4. In particular, each major stakeholder identified by critics of the ICERD as having their position or rights or interests adversely affected by the treaty ratification – the Rulers Council, JAKIM and other Islamic bodies, social, cultural, language, academic, and other Bumiputra bodies and organizations should take the opportunity to give priority to this exercise and  communicate their findings and conclusions to the public and the government. In this way, they can either refute or confirm the concerns made by others on their behalf.

 

Silence from non-partisan and non-politically aligned key stakeholders will not serve the nation well.  We are all aware that fear and insecurity are being fanned and manipulated by the anti-ICERD Malay faction and this will not stop soon.

Finally, we note that the best way of responding to those who claim to represent or speak up on behalf of the Malays is to remind them of the wisdom of our past leaders in building the nation.

Image result for tun dr ismail abdul rahman

One of the most influential leaders of our recent history, Tun Dr. Ismail, has explained that:

“The Special Position of the Malays [is] a handicap given to the Malays with the consent of all the other races who have become citizens of the country so as to enable the Malays to compete on equal footing for equal opportunities in this country. That and that alone is the only aim of the Special Position of the Malays.”  (From Ooi Kee Beng, “The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr. Ismail and his Time”, p. 225).

 

We believe that the ultimate national position on ICERD ratification – whether for or against it – should be derived from historically informed, empirically driven, truth-finding, objective and independent analysis along the lines we have set out. This alone can enable us to break the deadlock over the issue and be acceptable to the great majority of Malaysians who want the country to put this issue behind them and to move on.

Image result for tawfik ismail

*Tawfik Ismail, eldest son of Tun Dr Ismail, is an alumni of St. John’s, Royal Military College and Oxford University. He represented Sungei Benut as Member or Parliament from 1986 till 1990.

Image result for lim teck ghee

Dr. Lim Teck Ghee is a public policy analyst and author of the book, Challenging Malaysia’s Status Quo.  He is also co-author of the recent book on the 14th GE, Anatomy of an Electoral Tsunami.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.