The Game Malaysia and North Korea play over a dead Korean


February 23, 2017

The Game Malaysia and North Korea play over a dead Korean

by Lim Sue Goan@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

The assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Jong Nam would be nothing short of a spectacular movie in the spy thriller genre, should anyone use the recent event as a plot.

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The storyline is roughly there: A fanatical leader of a certain hermit state has been suffering from some kind of persecutory delusion, fearing that someone is going to unseat him from the pinnacle of power. Consequently, he gets his intelligence agency to orchestrate an assassination plan to get rid of his half brother.

So, four intelligence operatives land in the country where the target is found, and pick two young foreign women to carry out the killing. The four men also arrange to catch the next plane out when the assassination goes as planned.

These agents are masters of their trade. One of them had entered the country on January 31 while the other three arrived several days later. They presumably arrived at different times to avert the attention of security authorities.

They later found the two women, one Vietnamese and the other Indonesian, possibly with the help of some other individuals, believing they were the right candidates to put down Kim Jong Nam.

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The plan was drawn up in less than two weeks, including training the two foreign women, acquiring the poisonous fluid, tracking Jong Nam’s whereabouts, conducting site inspection and designing the escape route. The highly efficient plot worked, possibly with a little help from some insiders.

When the female suspects sprinkled the toxic fluid on Jong Nam’s face, the whole incident was closely monitored by the four masterminds from a nearby restaurant. Presumably, they were also ready to put a Plan B into execution if the female suspects had failed. They were supposedly still observing Jong Nam as he sought assistance, right until he slumped in the chair at the airport clinic.

The incident took place at about 10am in the morning, and the four suspects took the 12pm flight to Surabaya on the same day, arriving in Pyongyang on day four after making transits in three countries. The two women could have been abandoned by them, and could have been allowed to be arrested by the Police in order to give them ample time to flee.

From the leaked video of the klia2 CCTV footage, it could be seen that the two women were swift in their action. Their actions were nothing like the “prank” they claimed that they were carrying out for some men.

Elusive agents

The question is: how did the secret agents find out Jong Nam’s flight details and how many of them are still lurking in this country?

We know very little of these elusive agents. Malaysia and ASEAN have been doing a superb job in fighting terrorism, such that we could track down and know of certain militant group’s plans before they had a chance to act.

That being said, we still need to step up our cooperation with regional countries on the sharing of vital information on cross-border spies and secret agents to prevent autocratic regimes from carrying out their barbaric acts on our soil.

All police evidence point straight to Pyongyang, including the prime suspects being North Korean.

North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol has accused the Malaysian government of intentionally delaying the claim of Kim Jong Nam’s body in a bid to conceal the truth while colluding with external forces to tarnish the reputation of his country.

In view of this, it was absolutely necessary for the Malaysian government to take action, such as summoning Kang and recalling our envoy in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang must respect the laws of other countries. Malaysian law requires the next-of-kin to provide DNA for verification purposes before he or she can claim the body of the deceased.

Pyongyang cannot capriciously do what it wants. If the Malaysian Police fail to probe the case thoroughly, how are they going to answer to the international community? Our police have indeed carried out their job in a highly professional manner this time.

Subsequent moves by the Malaysian authorities show that we are ready to do anything even if it means our ties with Pyongyang being at stake. This will effectively prevent ourselves from getting embroiled in any unnecessary “diplomatic war” because mishandling of this matter could cause countries such as China, the United States, South Korea and even Japan to step in.

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Malaysia has always been practicing an independent, neutral and non-allied diplomatic policy, but as a small nation, we must never risk our national interests by throwing ourselves into the whirlpool of international conflicts involving powerful nations.

The evidence we have provided should be sufficient to pinpoint the secret hand behind this dramatic assassination, and get the United Nations to intensify the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

Conventional logic does not apply to an impressionable and tyrannical leader of an autocratic state. It is now time to review our diplomatic policy to stop us from getting sucked into any international conspiracy.

Lim Sue Goan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

 

 

Getting rid of moral, political and other forms of malignancies afflicting Malaysia


January 21, 2017

Getting rid of moral, political and other forms of malignancies afflicting Malaysia

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

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Malignancies are very much on my mind as I write this, as my beloved youngest sister, Mercia, was only on Thursday diagnosed as having one that was massive but possibly hadn’t yet metastasised, and thus was rushed into surgery in the hope that it could be removed before it could become life-threatening by growing even bigger, or spreading out of control, or both.

And now, following an apparently successful operation to remove this growth, it’s a matter of waiting and watching to see if the surgeons really did manage to cut it out in the nick of time.

But meanwhile, comforted by the fact that she is under the most expert possible surgical, medical and nursing care in hospital, and in any case still too semi-conscious from the anaesthetic to be allowed phone calls or visitors, I’ve been passing the time while I wait for news of or from her by thinking about malignancy in many of its manifestations.

Not in its medical manifestations, of course, as currently afflicting my sister and countless other cancer-sufferers around the world, as I’m far from qualified to so, but in some of its moral, political and other forms I’m more familiar with.

This project, of course, inevitably puts me in mind of Malaysia, which is notoriously so allegedly riddled with the cancer of corruption as to boggle the mind, due to its chronic infestation by a gang of malignancies posing as Magnificencies claiming that they have been chosen by Allah to lead the nation.

Image result for Najib the corrupter snd the corruptSome Malignancies are deceptively benign, especially of the UNMO type, thanks to the Ulamaks

When in fact these human tumors, from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his UMNO-BN regime cabinet ministers on down to their millions of allegedly illegally public-money-supported minions in the mainstream media, Muslim ‘religious’ authorities and all the so-called civil services, are steadily draining the very life-force out of Malaysia and its populace.

The Cancer in Malaysia’s Body Politic

And there are no apparent protections against the depredations of these high-and-mighty malignancies, let alone a remedy for ridding the nation of them for once and for all, as the very agencies supposed to act as antigens against them, like, most obviously, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), are allegedly actually on the malignancies’ side.

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Paul Low sold out to Najib Razak–Abandoning Principle for Influence and Status

So that Malaysians’ hopes of relief from this sick situation, aside from foreign help that seems forever possible but never actually arrives, seem to be pretty well nil. In fact the only course of action available to the people in their never-ending plight is, apparently, at least according to one of the very malignancies they’re afflicted with, to get over it and ‘move on’.

In the process of arrogantly advocating this course of action to the Malaysians in an interview with French news agency AFP just this week, Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed claimed that Malaysia “must move on” from the 1MDB scandal, adding that “we’ve learned many lessons and are moving forward.”

“Essentially we have to move on and have confidence that a number of issues that came to the limelight as a result of 1MDB will at some point be behind us.”

Whatever that was supposed to mean, except that Mustapa had forgotten to take, or else taken too much of and overdosed on, his psychiatric medication, is anybody’s guess.

But at least he had the clarity of mind to then tell the alleged outright lie that “we have the authorities to go after those responsible for creating the mess. The law is taking its course.”

The law, at least as far as Malaysia is concerned, is doing nothing of the kind, of course, as the magnificent malignancy responsible for creating the mess has long ago arranged to have himself and his accomplices declared entirely innocent of anything whatever.

And as for the idea of ‘moving on’ in general, most of us critics and opponents of UMNO-BN malignancies all the way back to the premiership of Dr M for malignant Mahathir, have no intention whatever of forgiving, forgetting, getting over or moving on from any of the regime’s literally countless financial scams, or indeed any other related scandals like the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu or the deeply-suspicious death of Teoh Beng Hock while in MACC custody.

Nor are any of us planning to ‘get over’ the ever-malignant, ever-ruling, ever-drooling-for-more-loot regime’s latest financial atrocity, the multi-faceted alleged rip-off of Felda settlers, or, for that matter, even slightly impressed by Felda chairperson Shahrir Samad’s lame attempt to euphemise massive thefts from Felda as “leakages”.

Benign new image

And as for malignancy-in-chief Najib’s recent efforts to create a benign new image for himself by means of a ridiculously staged event billed as ‘the first National Transformation 2050 (TN50) town hall session’ in front of a hand-picked audience of stooges and aired ‘live’ by a regime-owned television station, forget it.

Najib’s antics like claiming to be “nervous” in this so obviously staged situation, and having the gall to so stupidly and obviously lie that he “really didn’t know what would happen tonight, good or bad,” or whether he would be stumped for answers simply demonstrated one more time that he’s as incurably mendacious as he’s dangerously, indeed terminally malignant.

And thus, for the sake of the survival and future health of the Malaysia, he and his fellow UMNO-BN ugly growths must be surgically removed from the nation’s body-politic without further delay, and if necessary without anaesthesia.


 

Image result for Dean JohnsDEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’, ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.

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

Economic Crises and the Crisis of Economics


January 17, 2017

Economic Crises and the Crisis of Economics: Economists should learn to be humble and accept their own limitations

by Paola Subacchi@www.project-syndicate.org

Paola Subacchi is Research Director of International Economics at Chatham House and Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna. She is the author of The People’s Money: How China is Building an International Currency.

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Is the economics profession “in crisis”? Many policymakers, such as Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s chief economist, believe that it is. Indeed, a decade ago, economists failed to see a massive storm on the horizon, until it culminated in the most destructive global financial crisis in nearly 80 years. More recently, they misjudged the immediate impact that the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote would have on its economy.

Of course, the post-Brexit forecasts may not be entirely wrong, but only if we look at the long-term impact of the Brexit vote. True, some economists expected the UK economy to collapse during the post-referendum panic, whereas economic activity proved to be rather resilient, with GDP growth reaching some 2.1% in 2016. But now that British Prime Minister Theresa May has implied that she prefers a “hard” Brexit, a gloomy long-term prognosis is probably correct.

Unfortunately, economists’ responsibility for the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent recession extends beyond forecasting mistakes. Many lent intellectual support to the excesses that precipitated it, and to the policy mistakes – particularly insistence on fiscal austerity and disregard for widening inequalities – that followed it.

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Some economists have been led astray by intellectual arrogance: the belief that they can always explain real-world complexity. Others have become entangled in methodological issues – “mistaking beauty for truth,” as Paul Krugman once observed – or have placed too much faith in human rationality and market efficiency.

Despite its aspiration to the certainty of the natural sciences, economics is, and will remain, a social science. Economists systematically study objects that are embedded in wider social and political structures. Their method is based on observations, from which they discern patterns and infer other patterns and behaviors; but they can never attain the predictive success of, say, chemistry or physics.

Human beings respond to new information in different ways, and adjust their behavior accordingly. Thus, economics cannot provide – nor should it claim to provide – definite insights into future trends and patterns. Economists can glimpse the future only by looking backwards, so their predictive power is limited to deducing probabilities on the basis of past events, not timeless laws.

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And because economics is a social science, it can readily be used to serve political and business interests. In the years leading up to the financial crisis, global economic growth and profits were so strong that everyone – from small investors to the largest banks – was blinded by the prospect of bigger gains.

Economists employed by banks, hedge funds, and other businesses were expected to provide a short-term “view” for their employers and clients; and to dispense their “wisdom” to the general public through interviews and media appearances. Meanwhile, the economics profession was adopting more complex mathematical tools and specialized jargon, which effectively widened the gap between economists and other social scientists.

Before the financial crisis, when so many private interests and profitable opportunities were at stake, many economists defended a growth model that was based more on “irrational exuberance” than on sound fundamentals. Similarly, with respect to Brexit, many economists confused the referendum’s long-term impact with its short-term effects, because they were rushing their predictions to fit the political debate.

Owing to these and other mistakes, economists – and economics – have suffered a spectacular fall from grace. Once seen as modern witch doctors with access to exclusive knowledge, economists are now the most despised of all “experts.”

Where do we go from here? While we should appreciate Haldane’s candid admission, apologizing for past mistakes is not enough. Economists, especially those involved in policy debates, need to be held explicitly accountable for their professional behavior. Toward that end, they should bind themselves with a voluntary code of conduct.

Above all, this code should recognize that economics is too complex to be reduced to sound bites and rushed conclusions. Economists should pay closer attention to when and where they offer their views, and to the possible implications of doing so. And they should always disclose their interests, so that proprietary analysis is not mistaken for an independent perspective.

Moreover, economic debates would benefit from more voices. Economics is a vast discipline that comprises researchers and practitioners whose work spans macro and micro perspectives and theoretical and applied approaches. Like any other intellectual discipline, it produces excellent, good, and mediocre output.

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But the bulk of this research does not filter into policymaking and decision-making circles, such as finance ministries, central banks, or international institutions. At the commanding heights, economic-policy debates remain dominated by a relatively small group of white men from American universities and think tanks, nearly all of them well-versed devotees of mainstream economics.

The views held by this coterie are disproportionately represented in the mass media, through commentaries and interviews. But fishing for ideas in such a small and shallow pond leads to a circular and complacent debate, and it may encourage lesser-known economists to tailor their research to fit in.

The public deserves – and needs – a marketplace of ideas in which mainstream and heterodox views are afforded equal attention and balanced discussion. To be sure, this will take courage, imagination, and dynamism – particularly on the part of journalists. But a fairer, more pluralistic discussion of economic ideas may be just what economists need as well.

UMNO Rule for 5 more Years?


December 18, 2016

COMMENT: UMNO Rule for 5 more Years?

by Narhaniel Tan@www.malaysiakini.com

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Five more years under greedy Rosmah Mansor?–God Help Malaysia

Are we truly prepared for five more years under UMNO? Should DAP and PKR be thrown out together with PAS?

In the aftermath of the US elections, I came across one article by Kurt Eichenwald that I can probably best describe as… memorable?

It opens as such:

“On Friday, I almost assaulted a fan of my work. I was in the Philadelphia International Airport, and a man who recognised me from one of my appearances on a television news show approached. He thanked me for the investigative reporting I had done about Donald Trump before the election, expressed his outrage that the Republican nominee had won and then told me quite gruffly, “Get back to work.” Something about his arrogance struck me, so I asked, “Who did you vote for?”

He replied, “Well, Stein, but – ” I interrupted him and said, “You’re lucky it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face.” Then, after telling him to have sex with himself – but with a much cruder term – I turned and walked away.

A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win.

I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson – or who didn’t vote at all – and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election. If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.”

Drinking poison to quench thirst?

Let me insist at the outset that I do not quite share Eichenwald’s self-righteous anger, nor would I generally condone employing the approach he did (then again though, I’m not the one who just got Donald Trump as his president. Poor guy.).

The points he raises though, certainly bear some reflecting on. I was reminded of this article when I read one of the comments about PAS in Malaysiakini’s Your say, which suggested that allying with PAS was akin to drinking poison to quench one’s thirst. My compliments on a vivid and highly effective metaphor.

I truly do respect all political opinions. I daresay the commentator, one self-styled ‘Existential Turd’, could even be correct for all we know. Perhaps allying with PAS will indeed only solve short-term problems while creating bigger long-term ones.

I think that if we are objective about all available evidence, we must certainly concede that possibility.In the same breath, and judging from the same pool of evidence,

I do also believe however that we must also concede the possibility that the opposite is true – perhaps rejecting PAS is what will solve short-term problems, while creating long-term ones. It’s not necessarily easy as yet to say for sure which is which.

The problem with not voting Hillary Clinton

Eichenwald spends the rest of his article ranting about liberals who refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because she did not live up to their high ‘standards’. What he simply couldn’t stand was people complaining that Trump won, despite having themselves failed to vote for the one candidate who had a chance of beating him.

I’m not here to add to his rant; and given all the misleading information that was in the media in the lead-up to the election, perhaps some Americans can be forgiven for thinking that they did not need to vote for Clinton in order to prevent a Trump presidency.

I do concur somewhat though, with Eichenwald’s sentiment that those who did not vote for Clinton are perhaps not the best qualified to be expressing outrage regarding Trump’s victory. I think it’s fair to expect such people to instead take some responsibility themselves for the outcome, rather than rage at others.

Battles vs the war

The obvious parallel here is that those who eschew any sort of cooperation with PAS should be prepared to face the consequences of another Barisan Nasional victory in the next general elections.

Of course, there are some who insist that the opposition can win the next general elections despite three corner fights with PAS. I don’t think I’m exaggerating excessively though when I express my doubt that any serious, objective political analyst sees that as a likely scenario.

Let me preface the following by stating my beliefs strongly: I think it is a perfectly valid and defensible position to believe that it is worth sacrificing battles in order to win a war, however many general elections down the road of the distant future.

If PAS truly is as bad and hopeless as some people think, then yes, it could make sense to three corner everything, lose the next general elections and hope for better sometime in the years or decades to come.

I’m not saying that this is what I believe, but I am saying it is in theory a defensible position.

Taking responsibility for more Najib, more UMNO, more BN

What I am also saying is that if this is your belief and the road that you choose, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences of continuing to live at least another five or so more years under Najib Abdul Razak, UMNO and BN.

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This means, that you will bear some responsibility for the continued alleged rape and pillage of our country’s resources, continuing human rights abuses, the lack of judicial reform, ongoing repression of the media, the ongoing sale of our country to China, and so on.

If you believe it is all worth it, you are a hundred percent within your God-given rights to your belief; but the responsibility still applies, and no one will know whether it was all justified until some distant day in the future.

Again, despite all the implications one might read into these arguments, I believe there is simply not enough clear evidence (to an outsider like me at least) to provide a simple answer to the question as to whether PAS should be given a meaningful role in the opposition (it is perhaps worth noting that the ‘meaningful role’ PAS has declared it’s looking for amounts to a maximum of 70 out of 222 seats in Parliament).

I do feel however, that for most of the people vocally opposing any more association with PAS whatsoever, there is perhaps an iota of bias – something of a dislike, perhaps, of the ‘type’ of people in PAS, and the ‘type’ of people that they represent (almost exclusively for now, given the evident nascency of Amanah and Bersatu).

Those ‘type’ of people however, are much larger and politically significant than most of us urbanites care to understand; and they are 100 percent as much Malaysian as the rest of us.

If PAS should be abandoned, so should PKR and DAP

Many commentators brought up the issue of trust, and how PAS essentially deserves none of it. I suppose that is one of many interpretations, and about as fair as any of the others. My own interpretation however, is that if PAS deserves distrust, then so does any existing opposition party.

I could be wrong of course, but my reading is that PAS has not betrayed its advertised principles any more than PKR or DAP has. I’m sure that will be a controversial statement, and maybe saying so makes me sound like exactly the type of liberal that Eichenwald was ranting against.

I’m also quite confident that a sizeable number of the usual suspects will rage at such an equivalency; the arguments of those who defend DAP or PKR (or PAS) no matter what however, will probably be taken rather less seriously. In any case, debating this claim at length would require the space of one or more additional articles.

If you want to abandon one of the former Pakatan Rakyat parties on principle, abandon them all. Abandon all of the old generation. Build something new, something untainted, something truly grounded in real values. I guarantee you there are enough principled, compassionate and able Malaysians to make it happen.

Congratulations to the People of Thailand


December 3, 2016

Congratulations to the People of Thailand

by AFP

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn becomes Rama X of Thailand’s Chakri Dynasty, but will not formally be crowned until after his father’s cremation, which is expected next year.

King-Rama

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn became the King of Thailand late Thursday, opening a new chapter for the powerful monarchy in a country still mourning the death of his father.

The 64-year-old Prince inherits one of the world’s richest monarchies as well as a politically febrile nation, 50 days after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death.

After weeks of complex palace protocols the Prince was invited by the head of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to ascend the throne in an event broadcast on all Thai television channels.

“I agree to accept the wishes of the late King… for the benefit of the entire Thai people,” said Vajiralongkorn, wearing an official white tunic decorated with medals and a pink sash.

The sombre, ritual-heavy ceremony at his Bangkok palace was attended by the Chief of the NLA, junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha, and the powerful 96-year-old head of the privy council, Prem Tinsulanonda.

Red-jacketed courtiers looked on as a palace staff member, shuffling on his knees, presented the new King with a microphone through which he delivered his few words of acceptance.

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His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn then prostrated himself, hands pressed together in respect, to a small shrine topped by a picture of his father and mother —Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Kitiyakara.

He becomes Rama X of Thailand’s Chakri dynasty, but will not formally be crowned until after his father’s cremation, which is expected next year.

Bhumibol’s reign, which ended on October 13, spanned a tumultuous period of Thai history pockmarked by a communist insurgency, coups and street protests.

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It also saw breakneck development which has resulted in a huge wealth disparity between a Bangkok-centric elite and the rural poor.To many Thais, Bhumibol was the only consistent force in a politically combustible country, his image burnished by ritual and shielded by a harsh royal defamation law.

The United States offered its congratulations to the new King, saying it looked forward to strengthening ties with Thailand. “We offer our best wishes to his majesty and all of the Thai people,” the State Department said.

“His father, King Bhumibol, ruled the Kingdom of Thailand with vision and compassion for 70 years and was a great friend of the United States. The United States and Thailand enjoy a longstanding, strong, and multifaceted bilateral relationship, and we look forward to deepening that relationship and strengthening the bonds between our two countries and peoples going forward.”

Into the limelight

Monks chanted blessings at Buddhist temples to mark the new monarch’s ascension — an era-defining moment for most Thais who for seven decades knew only Bhumibol as their King.

His Majesty Vajiralongkorn does not yet enjoy the same level of popularity.He spends much of his time outside of the public eye, particularly in southern Germany where he owns property.

He has had three high-profile divorces, while a recent police corruption scandal linked to the family of his previous wife allowed the public a rare glimpse of palace affairs.

Thursday’s ascension ends a period of uncertainty since Bhumibol’s death prompted by the Prince’s request to delay his official proclamation so he could mourn with the Thai people.

Thailand’s constitutional monarchy has limited formal powers but it draws the loyalty of much of the kingdom’s business elite as well as a military that dominates politics through its regular coups.

Analysts say  His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, untested until now, will have to manage competing military cliques.

In a brief televised address after the ceremony, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who as army chief led the 2014 coup, praised the new King “as the head of the Thai state and heart of the Thai people.”

The Thai monarchy is protected from criticism by one of the world’s strictest lese majeste laws, carrying up to 15 years in jail for every charge of defaming the King, Queen, heir or regent.

That law makes open discussion about the Royal Family’s role all but impossible inside the Kingdom and means all media based inside the country routinely self-censor. Convictions for so-called “112” offences — named after its criminal code — have skyrocketed since the Generals seized power in 2014.

Experts say most have targeted the junta’s political opponents, many of whom support the toppled civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The emergence of Yingluck’s brother Thaksin in 2001, a vote-winning billionaire seen by many of the rural poor as their champion, prompted the recent round of political conflict. The army and royalist establishment have toppled two governments led by the siblings, accusing them of nepotism and corruption.

 


September 12, 2016

Waiting in Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam

by Cmdr (rtd) S Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

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To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.”

– Raymond Williams

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wants to tell people that the Islamic State (IS) threat is real. All I can say is that I have been trying to tell people the same for the past couple of years. The UMNO Number Two also reassured the rakyat that the IS threat “was not a manipulation, publicity stunt or fiction,” which is just goes to show you the level of cynicism of most Malaysians right-thinking folks when it comes to official statements from Putrajaya.

But hang on a minute. The DPM made two extremely cynical statements that only justifies the level of cynicism thrown UMNO’s way. The first statement, “…the people in the country who joined the militant group did not have strong religious or educational background” and the second “They are people who are frustrated over something which only they know. So this disappointment is translated into a form of escapism.”

With regard to the first statement, while it may be true that youths signing up for jihad with IS are disenfranchised in terms of education, nobody could argue that their religious sympathies were anathema to the ideology of IS.

In my piece ‘The Merchants of Hate’, I wrote, “For years, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses told Malays that they were under siege. This is not a defensive posture. In reality, this is exactly what extremist groups like IS need. They need young, foolish men filled with a sense of superiority fueled by unearned self-righteousness to carry out barbaric acts in the name of promulgating their scared religious beliefs. This, coupled with the rampant corruption and all-consuming hypocrisy, is fertile ground for groups like IS.”

Furthermore, when it comes to Islamic terrorism, Malaysia has produced its fair share of “educated” Muslim psychopaths who have blazed a trail of destruction and waged war against their fellow Muslims in South-East Asia. The BBC obituary for Noordin Mohammad Top for instance reminds us: “Officials believe the Malaysian-born former accountant orchestrated a series of attacks across Indonesia. Noordin was thought to be a key recruiter and financier for the regional Islamist militant group, Jemaah Islamiah, but analysts say he formed his own more hard-line splinter group.”

Therefore, I will say it again. With UMNO and the opposition funding Islamic entities who moral police the Muslim polity, with federal and state apparatus used to define Islam as monolithic for political purposes and lastly but definitely not least, the inclusion of an Islamic cult – PAS – into mainstream Malaysian politics – and both UMNO and the opposition are to be blamed here – can anyone seriously argue that Malaysia is not fertile ground for idiots wanting to join IS?

As for the second statement, does Zahid really expect us to believe that he, and by extension the government, does not understand the motivations for people joining IS?

Forget the sex slaves – it sure beats dating – that is promised to repressed young men who join the jihad (was that the escapism that the UMNO Deputy President was alluding to?), the reality is that when the state-endorsed Islam rejects diversity, when the state-endorsed Islam encourages Muslims to reject other forms of Islam, when the state-endorsed Islam cannot account for the class divisions and the resulting inequalities, you are going to get young men – educated or otherwise – joining movements that promise an Islamic paradise here on earth.

Why do you think that PAS’ Islamic propaganda is extremely effective in rural populations who see the decadence in UMNO? Why do you think a religious leader like the late tok guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and his austere Islam was attractive to a voting demographic who rejected the materialism and corruption of UMNO?

In study after study of failed or failing Islamic governments, the recurring theme is how secular governments are unable to address systemic inequalities and corruption, which allowed the Islamists to gain the moral high ground.

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In one of my answers to questions raised by PSM’s Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, I said, “I recognise (as do many other Malaysians, including Muslims) that Islam in this country is affected by the petrodollars of the Saudi regime, as evidenced by the so-called donation to our current Prime Minister for defending Islam. I recognise that there is a deliberate effort by the House of Saud and its tributaries to silence the diversity in Islam. I recognise that the religious schisms within Islam affect minority Islamic brethren the world over and that, being true to their faiths, they are being hampered by the stratagems from palaces in Saudi Arabia.”

This, of course, brings us back to the question of the meddling Middle Eastern influence that plagues Islam in this country. We do not have to look far to understand why Indonesia has movements that reject this interference. Last year the BBC ran an article titled ‘Is Indonesia winning its fight against Islamic extremism?

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The article was interesting in many ways, especially in its description of Archipelago Islam (AI) or Islam Nusantara, but what should be acknowledged is the overt manner in which Indonesian political and social bodies reject the influence from the House of Saud.

Consider what Yenny Wahid, daughter of the late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) and activist, said, “We’re not just coming up with a counter narrative, we are coming up with a counter identity, and that’s what AI is all about. We believe we’re good Muslims but to be a good Muslim we don’t have to accept the recipes that are handed out by some radicals from the Middle East.”

In a 2004 piece, titled ‘The religious sources of Islamic terrorism’, Shmuel makes the argument that the West and Muslims have to tackle the problem in tandem. While some readers, especially Western ones, take exception to some of his arguments about reassessing certain sacred ideological cows, Malaysian readers should take note of the section titled ‘The dilemma of the moderate Muslim’.

Malaysians would understand where Shmuel is coming from when he writes, “Facing the radical Weltanschauung, the moderate but orthodox Muslim has to grapple with two main dilemmas: the difficulty of refuting the legal-religious arguments of the radical interpretation and the aversion to – or even prohibition of – inciting an Islamic Kulturkampf which would split the ranks of the ummah.”

Shmuel outlines the argument that many Malaysians can relate to in the section titled ‘Fighting hellfire with hellfire’, where he writes, in essence, the radical narrative, which promises paradise to those who perpetrate acts of terrorism, must be met by an equally legitimate religious force which guarantees hellfire for the same acts. Some elements of such rulings should be, inter alia:

  • A call for renewal of ijtihad as the basis to reform Islamic dogmas and to relegate old dogmas to historic contexts.
  • That there exists no state of jihad between Islam and the rest of the world (hence, jihad is not a personal duty).
  • That the violation of the physical safety of a non-Muslim in a Muslim country is prohibited (haram).
  • That suicide bombings are clear acts of suicide, and therefore, their perpetrators are condemned to eternal hellfire.
  • That moral or financial support of acts of terrorism is also haram.
  • That a legal ruling claiming jihad is a duty derived from the roots of Islam is a falsification of the roots of Islam, and therefore, those who make such statements have performed acts of heresy.

Somehow, I doubt we will ever see these types of fatwas coming from either the opposition or UMNO.

Writer’s note 1: Dar al-Islam means House of Islam as opposed to Dar al-Harb, which translates, to House of War.

Writer’s note 2: Anonymous_1388826428, is correct. House of War is Dar al-Harb. It was an editorial mistake made by me – the author – when transcribing from my notes. I thank Anonymous_1388826428 for pointing out this mistake.