Malaysia Blocks UK-Based Critic


July 22, 2015

Malaysia Blocks UK-Based Critic

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-blocks-uk-based-critic/

Claire BrownAfter months of devastating reportage by the UK-based Sarawak Report, the Malaysian government has had enough, attempting to block the internet site, edited and mostly reported by former BBC reporter Clare Rewcastle Brown.  However, almost immediately, social media have come alive with alternate routes to the site, making the government attempt look futile.

Readers attempting to access the site on July 19 were greeted with a notification in Malay and English by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission that “This website is not available in Malaysia as it violates the National Law.” As far as can be determined, it is the first time the government has closed down a website and it is reminiscent of an action by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1986 when, infuriated by detailed reporting on a variety of scandals, he ordered two Asian Wall Street Journal reporters out of the country within 72 hours.

Malaysia’s Center for Independent Journalism condemned the blockage, saying that “For any restriction on the guaranteed right of freedom of expression to be legitimate, it must firstly be authorized by a specific law. There must also be adequate provision for a website that has been blocked to appeal and challenge the decision of MCMC.  

The government’s action came at the end of a week during which it attempted to prove Brown had used documents allegedly doctored by Xavier Justo, a Swiss national now in jail in Thailand, to lay out detailed charges of massive fraud surrounding the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd. state-backed investment fund.  According to local media, Justo downloaded 2 million emails from PetroSaudi International, a Middle Eastern oil exploration company through which stolen funds are alleged to have passed. Justo was once an officer of the company but was paid the equivalent of US$5 million to leave. Apparently he sought to sell the documents to the highest bidder in Singapore. Brown did not pay for them.

Brown, on the Sarawak Report page,  called the commission’s action “a blatant attempt to censor our exposures of major corruption through the development fund 1MDB, including the information that nearly US$700 million of 1MDB-related money was paid into the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s personal AmBank account in KL just before the last election. This information has already long been disseminated and backed up by other major global news organizations, so we can only assume that the MCMC is fearful that we are about to bring out further revelations.”

The New Straits Times, owned by the United Malays National Organization, quoted a Thai Police lieutenant general as saying Justo had confessed to doctoring emails he had obtained from PetroSaudi International. But the Associated Press reported that Thai officials had refused to share any information on Justo with Malaysia.

In any case the allegations against Brown were almost immediately knocked down today [July 20] by an equally detailed report by The Edge Financial Daily, Malaysia’s leading business publication, titled “How Jho Low & PetroSaudi schemed to steal money from the people of Malaysia via 1Mdb.”  The article supports virtually every charge Brown has made against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and the officials of 1MDB.

The 2,800 word article, complete with flow charts, describes in overwhelming detail the money trail by which US$1.83 billion was stolen from 1MDB by individuals connected PetroSaudi International and diverted into various accounts at banks in Singapore, New York, Switzerland and London by Jho Low, the young tycoon and family friend of Najib’s who was instrumental in setting up 1MDB in 2009, as well as two PetroSaudi officials and officers of 1MDB itself.

The government has threatened to pull the publishing licenses of both the financial daily and its affiliated publication The Edge Weekly over their aggressive reporting on 1MDB.

As the charges over 1MDB have continued to pile up – including one by Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal that US$680 million had been diverted from companies connected to the investment fund had ended up in Najib’s own account – Najib’s UMNO allies have pulled out all the stops, using the New Straits Times and other party-owned, Malay-language newspapers, radio and television and an army of bloggers to attempt to discredit the reports. 

Bloggers and government officials over the past three weeks have issued a barrage of charges against Brown, including one by a onetime employee of Radio Free Sarawak, also started in 2010 by Brown that the former employee had participated in faking evidence against the government.  But his charges have been largely discarded, partly because of an email he presented as “proof” had been doctored.  He has never written for or edited the Sarawak Report, Brown said. A picture of a man identified as Brown’s “mastermind” online forger of documents in the UK turned out to be the manager of a bus station in Norwich.

To most middle-class Malaysians, the government’s campaign against Brown and the international media including the New York Times and the Washington Post carries little weight. It is clear, especially since the stories have been backed up by local reporting on The Edge Financial Review, Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini and other websites, that 1MDB faces a huge financial crisis.  It has struggled to find the money to meet its loan obligations and a planned IPO looks dead for the foreseeable future.  It has dismissed its auditors twice after they refused to issue unqualified reports. 

But the question is how the scandal plays in the kampungs, the rural villages in the Malay heartland that provide UMNO with a reliable supply of votes.  UMNO’s support has been draining away in successive elections although now, with the opposition near collapse, and with an election three years away, it remains to be seen if UMNO can repair itself.  Its component parties in the Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition, have become irrelevant.  The next big test is the Sarawak state election, which must be held before August 2016.  At the moment, say political analysts in Kuala Lumpur, the Barisan holds a strong lead, if not an insurmountable one.

Should Najib resign?


July 11, 2015

Should Najib resign?

by Hafidz Baharom

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Personally, yes. He has tarnished the office of Prime minister with his continued failure in doing the one thing he had to do: lead. And quite frankly, I would rather he do so before succumbing to his “media triggered” depression, letting this country fall further into economic ruin and then promoting a “Twinkie defence”. Or, before he calls for martial law.

Najib must resignSo respectfully, it is time to clock out, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. And I’ll tell you why? In fact, I’ll write it out. The recent exposé by The Wall Street Journal has eroded whatever little confidence I have in the Prime Minister’s government, but I doubt his die-hard fans are quite in that position yet.

These are probably the same people who think the Titanic was an unsinkable ship that did not sink. Or to use Monty Python, still believe the parrot isn’t dead and is just “pining for the fjords”. Malaysians are a sarcastic and humorous people who have recently been able to channel this – directly or indirectly – through social media.

And with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) public relations quagmire and the currently happening probe into how the Prime Minister had millions (or billions) placed into his personal accounts, the authorities have taken measures to try and keep this “parrot” alive through any means necessary.

Let us look at what is being suggested by these – for a lack of a better word – morons. First we have the conspiracy theorists, which include the Prime Minister himself. Initially, he had accused former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of conspiring against him with the foreign press. When this was too ridiculous for the press to buy, or even the general public, he moved on to saying that the Dow Jones was conspiring to topple his government.

While there is a task force which is investigating these allegations, our Attorney-General found it necessary to task the police to look for who leaked the documents, even without first confirming that these documents were real or faked.

You read right. Insofar as the scandal has surfaced, the documents have been branded as “tampered documents” without any proof or revelation of the authentic ones from the parties involved. Why? Is it because the documents are classified under the Official Secrets Act, perhaps? And yet, a task force was established to investigate these allegations by an American newspaper based on these documents, and the Prime Minister is mulling action against the paper.

Personally, I would like to see this in court simply to see our Prime Minister take the stand and have the government prove that the documents released were  not real, untampered and untrue. It would allow the Sarawak Report, The Edge and The Malaysian Insider to then sue the Malaysian government for defamation and be vindicated.

Also, since the Journal is not published in Malaysia, it is outside the jurisdiction of the Royal Malaysian Police. In fact, can the Police actually take action against the Journal in any way or form since it is published and read online?

I sincerely doubt it. I’m guessing it is the same reason both Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s Malaysia Today and Clare Rewcastle Brown’s Sarawak Report are based beyond our borders. Perhaps our internet regulator will consider adding both websites in their Green Wall list – a list of websites inaccessible to the Malaysian public.

Speaking of which, we had a regulator weigh in saying that spreading false news on 1MDB was punishable by law. The Malaysian Commission for Multimedia and Communication (MCMC) found it necessary to even post this on Facebook.

Pro-government supporters are even considering the shutdown of the social network for nothing more than allowing Malaysians their right in expressing their views in the most hilarious and sarcastic ways possible – something that was guaranteed when we were granted Multimedia Supper-corridor (MSC) status.

Even going so far as to say it would make Malaysians more “productive”. Perhaps they would be so kind to practice what they preach and do so themselves, to set examples for the rest of us.

Of course, the typical UMNO leaders have also weighed in by saying that this is a foreign, Jewish conspiracy, but that is so overplayed by this government and its supporters that it rings on deaf ears. And then we have a leader of a bank who insisted on voicing his dissatisfaction and questioning the authenticity of the documents on social media, being shared by pro-government factions and being proven wrong. Sadly, his recant was not shared with the same enthusiasm as his calling the Journal stupid.

And he’s now being investigated by his employers, a move that I also do not support. We must not stifle anyone’s ability to express their thoughts on social media, and we should know where to draw the line between our individual and our jobs in the realm of social networks. For many reasons, this has been blurred drastically in the last decade when employers, the authorities and even insurance companies decided it a valid source of information.Even journalism has taken entries on Facebook as a source of news, as experienced by a fellow The Malaysian Insider columnist.

But all this makes it necessary for us to question a few things. Primarily, our government has embarrassed itself through its inability to follow up on former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s promise for reform towards transparency, especially in the case of 1MDB.

Instead of allowing Malaysians and its stakeholders to openly view the wheeling and dealings of this company under the Ministry of Finance, the company chose to shun the press to the point of refusing to even allow reporters covering them from viewing their pitch at property events.

Even the Pime Minister himself destroyed his credibility in the court of public opinion. From being too fast on the draw during Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict, his “golf diplomacy” trip to Hawaii during the worst flood since 1971, the insistence on flying to the Middle East during earthquakes in Sabah, yet the quick draw ability to comment on “gay parades” and 24-hour eateries callously shows his failure in setting priorities for a country.

Adding on to this was his no-show from the ironically named “Nothing2Hide” closed door forum, his insistence on continued sniping instead of a face to face session with Mahathir, the MARA scandal and even the continued hiring of people to help his faltering public image.

Goons in Malaysia's CabinetAll I can say is, this government was led by an ineffecive leader and an even worse a Cabinet that has led to the exhaustion of their political capital built up in the past 60 years, all spent up in the last decade. But don’t take my word for it. Let us wait for Merdeka Center to conduct their poll. Better yet, take a look at the Edelman Trust Barometer. In 2012, the Malaysian government scored 52%. In 2015, that number went down to 45%.

Erosion of trust, inability to defend the nation, an ineffective cabinet of dunces, a public persona of ridicule and allegations of underhanded dealings and nepotism, and more importantly, bankrupting the ruling party’s political capital, all of which have been highlighted by both government and alternative media.

Looking Back: Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions


May 20, 2015

Looking Back: Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions

By Jonah Fisher

This week (in August 2013), religious violence has once again flared in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Hundreds of Muslim homes have been burnt to the ground in Sagaing region after being attacked by Buddhist mobs.

In just over a year, more than 200 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed and many more displaced as unrest has spread from Rakhine state in the west to towns across the country. Many are blaming a controversial monk and the nationalist organisation he helps lead for the rising tensions.

wirathuMonk Shin Wirathu at work.

This morning, he is lecturing on the importance of avoiding sexual misconduct.”Yes, venerable monk,” the young men chant in unison, as Wirathu softly delivers his advice on the need to avoid temptation.

When the class is over, he shows me outside. On the wall of the monastery courtyard are graphic posters of the Buddhist victims of recent religious and ethnic violence in Rakhine state in western Myanmar.

They are unpleasant viewing. The pictures from October last year show dead children with their heads cut open and the bodies of women with their internal organs spilling out of their torsos. Wirathu said he put them up as a reminder to Buddhists that the country is under attack from Muslim “invaders”.

“Muslims are only well behaved when they are weak, ” he said. “When they become strong, they are like a wolf or a jackal; in large packs they hunt down other animals.”Wirathu believes there is a Muslim “master plan” underway to turn Myanmar into an Islamic state.

If he is right, it is a long-term project. Latest estimates suggest that of Myanmar’s 60 million people, 90% are Buddhist and about 5% Muslim.

“Over the past 50 years, we have shopped at Muslim shops and then they became richer and wealthier than us and can buy and marry our girls,” Wirathu said. “In this way, they have destroyed and penetrated not only our nation but also our religion.”

Master Plan

_69534222_joonmosque

Wirathu’s solution lies in a controversial nationalist organisation called 969. It calls on Buddhists to shop, sell property and marry within their own religion.Small, brightly-coloured stickers have been distributed to clearly brand businesses as Buddhist-owned.

Supporters of 969 argue it is a purely defensive organisation, created to protect Buddhist culture and identity. Listening to the rhetoric of Wirathu and 969’s leaders, there is no doubt it is squarely aimed at Muslims.

“In the past, there was no discrimination based on religion and race. We all stayed together in a brotherly way,” Wirathu said. “But when their [Muslim] master plan has been revealed we can no longer stay quiet.”

From Rakhine state in the west, to more central towns like Meiktila and Okkan, the link is being made between heightened religious tensions and the preaching and activities of monks and 969.

The outbreaks of violence usually have a depressing symmetry. A small flashpoint, often a crime or perceived insult, perpetrated by a Muslim against a Buddhist, triggers a disproportionate wave of reprisals against the entire Muslim community.

Ten years ago, under the military junta, Wirathu was jailed for his anti-Muslim views. Now in these times of change, his message is widely disseminated through social media and DVDs. Far from being condemned, Wirathu now has backing from the very top.

In June, as his infamy reached its peak, Wirathu appeared on the front cover of Time magazine labelled “The face of Buddhist terror”. Burmese monks were outraged and Myanmar’s President Thein Sein quickly leapt to Wirathu’s defence. The Time issue was banned and a statement released with the President lauding Wirathu as a “son of Lord Buddha”.

‘Obstacle to reform’

_69534220_smarnyinyiSmar Nyi Nyi 

There is no shortage of theories inside Myanmar as to why Wirathu is now flavour of the month. One theory is that continuing ethnic and religious violence could be used by the military as a pretext for maintaining a dominant role in Burmese politics. It is certainly an argument Myanmar’s generals have made before.

kaylarsa

“We are also wondering about this,” Kaylar Sa (above), a monk jailed for his part in the Saffron revolution of 2007, told me as he chain-smoked his way through a pack of Red Ruby cigarettes. He pointed out that the government has acted decisively and violently to end monk-led demonstrations against an army-backed copper mine last year, and yet now was unwilling to tackle them over hate speech.

“At the moment, we firmly believe that the 969 movement is unnecessary,” he said. “If this movement continues to be taken seriously, it could become an obstacle to democratic reform.”

A short drive from Wirathu’s monastery, Muslim volunteers guard Joon Mosque, the biggest in Mandalay, each night. The men told me that in the event of a Buddhist attack, they expect no protection from the (Buddhist-dominated) police or the army.

Smar Nyi Nyi, a veteran of the 1988 student uprising and one of the elders at the mosque, took me to one side. He expressed views that many Burmese share, that shadowy elements within the establishment are stoking the unrest.

“Everybody is talking about the violence between Buddhists and Muslims,” he said. “Nobody is interested in the dam on the Irrawaddy River. No one is interested in the gas pipeline. If somebody is controlling things, he is a smart man!”

Some Muslims cling to the hope that there exists a silent majority of moderate Buddhists appalled by recent events, secretly rooting for them.

“Most of the Buddhists, they are just onlookers ” a retired Muslim doctor tells me with a shrug. “A few might pass a heartfelt regard and say they’re sorry, but that doesn’t come above the surface.”

For Wirathu, each fresh outbreak of religious conflict reinforces his view that Myanmar is part of a global war on militant Islam and that he is being badly misunderstood.

“We don’t use drones – we haven’t killed [Osama] Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein or the Taliban,” he told me.”We are just preaching and posting on the internet and Facebook for the safety and security of our nation. If we are all protecting our own nation who’s the bad guy – Wirathu or Barack Obama?”

Don’t turn our backs on Refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh


May 19, 2015

Refugees from Myanmar

Malaysia is not turning  its back on refugees. It has been giving humanitarian assistance.This problem of human trafficking  and racial discrimination has a beginning somewhere, usually in their home countries. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh have a responsibility to ensure that they take care of their own people and not burden their neighbours with their domestic problems. This is their primary duty that cannot be imposed on Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It should not even be a matter for negotiation.

It is time both these countries own up to their own failures to care and protect their own people by providing education, health care and jobs. For all my criticisms of Malaysia’s political leadership on many issues, I can say with pride that our government  and people are compassionate and helpful to displaced peoples since the days of the Vietnam War. But we cannot be burdened by this. It has become a regional and international one. ASEAN and the international community must act. Pressure must be brought to bear on both Myanmar and Bangladesh..–Din Merican

Don’t turn our backs on Refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice…
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, Act 4 scene 1
Greatest English dramatist & poet (1564 – 1616)

The news that Malaysia had turned away two leaky boats packed to the nearest inch with hundreds of starving and malnourished Myanmar and Bangladeshi men, women and children was met with much dismay and horror by not only the international community, but also Malaysians.

These are refugees and migrants who have fled ethnic persecution and poverty only to be exploited and trafficked by people who viewed their human cargo as little more than a liability and nuisance that needed to be abandoned when things got too hot. They had no qualms leaving pregnant women, children and infants to suffer and die on those fishing boats stranded and adrift for months at sea.

Many are sick, weakened by hunger and thirst as a result of their ordeal. The bodies of those who died on these boats were tossed overboard.

Rather than show leadership in helping to tackle this humanitarian problem in a humane and compassionate way, our government decided to go the Australian way of dealing with the boat people: turn them around, point the boats in the opposite direction and make it someone else’s problem.

There are malnourished, sick, pregnant and dying adults and children on those boats. Where is our compassion for our fellow human beings?

One of those boats barely made it to Indonesian shores before sinking. More than 700 people were saved by fishermen. If that boat had sunk with all lives lost and knowing that we had a chance to save them, whose conscience would that be on?

The Malaysian government, as the proud chair of this year’s “people centred” Asean, has done us all a disservice by responding to this humanitarian crisis in a way that is callous, inhumane and lacking in compassion and humanity. Turning back the boats and treating it as somebody else’s problem makes a mockery of the “people centred” theme and caring society that we often thump our chests about.

The response by a minister that the boats should instead go to Cambodia or Philippines shows either his inability to read a map or the lack of understanding and appreciation for the desperate humanitarian situation.This “ping-pong” game with human lives is a travesty, inhumane and it must stop.

Why can’t ASEAN be known for once for being able to mobilise effective regional humanitarian action and cooperation? As chair, Malaysia should lead the way.We are better than this.

From the outcry and anger heard from thousands of Malaysians who have expressed their disapproval and anguish at the government’s actions that have exacerbated a humanitarian emergency, we know it was the wrong move to make.

True, nobody likes unwelcomed guests who could become considered a burden to resources. But no one wants to flee their own country, leave everything behind and be exiles away from home and loved ones. They did not come for fun, or by choice. They escaped persecution, extreme poverty and death in their own country. They come from different cultures and languages. They risked their lives to get here seeking sanctuary and protection. Are our hearts so small that we turn them away?

We are taught that we should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”It is not too late to save hundreds of lives.Rohinyga and Bangladeshi refugees are transported to a navy boat where they will be taken to mainland Malaysia, after they landed at Pantai Pasir Berdengung beach in Langkawi May 14, 2015. — Reuters pic

Rohinyga and Bangladeshi refugees are transported to a navy boat where they will be taken to mainland Malaysia, after they landed at Pantai Pasir Berdengung beach in Langkawi May 14, 2015. — Reuters pic

Last week, thousands of desperate people landed in Langkawi in rickety boats. The police and immigration authorities are overwhelmed. Non-governmental organisations such as the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (MAPIM) are mobilising to provide food, water as well as medical attention. It’s a colossal task. Please donate supplies as they are in constant need and they are fast running out.

A number of initiatives are being set up to help those at sea. Due to the logistical challenges, these are being worked out carefully and will be announced soon by their respective organisers.

Hundreds of Malaysians have come forward offering their services, donations of money and in kind to help those who have already landed and those still at sea. Just as it was during the floods late last year, these are Malaysians at their best and it shows what good we are capable of doing.

Come on Malaysia! We can do this. Let’s find it in our hearts and reach out to them with compassion as fellow human beings and prevent a humanitarian disaster on our watch.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/azrul-mohd-khalib/article/dont-turn-our-backs-on-them#sthash.I9Ma32QO.dpuf

1MDB: Stop your delaying tactics, Mr. Auditor-General


May 8, 2015

Stop  your delaying tactics Mr. Auditor-General, where is your 1MBD Report?

By RK Anand@www.malaysiakini.com

As the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) morass becomes more convoluted, PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli turns his attention to Auditor-General Ambrin Buang.

With the latest revelation of Tabung Haji’s deposits being used to purchase government land given to 1MDB at an inflated price, Rafizi said there is no doubt that the firm’s mess has seeped through to other important institutions, known and unknown.

“Tabung Haji now joins the infamous KWAP (pension fund), smeared by their lack of financial common sense and prudence in giving out loans or buying government assets from 1MDB.

“Of course, the biggest fear is whether other institutions, including EPF (Employees Provident Fund) and PNB (Pemodalan Nasional Bhd), have had similar dealings with 1MDB so far.It could be that these institutions are also about to enter transactions with 1MDB – so the best thing for them is to declare that they will not enter into any transactions with 1MDB,” Rafizi told Malaysiakini.

Since the 1MDB issue has ensnared other institutions that form the bedrock of the nation’s economic and social stability, Rafizi said the Auditor-General could no longer drag his feet.

“Without a formal certification of 1MDB’s problem, with a complete diagnosis of its lack of governance, it is difficult to expect the managements of these state institutions with great public interest to stand up and oppose instructions.

“They need something to fall back to when they are penalised for defending public interest.Hence, this it why it is of utmost urgency that the audit by the Auditor-General cannot be delayed, not a single minute more,” he added.

Growing public anger

The PKR Vice-President is dismayed that the auditor-general has not even outlined the expectation of when this would be completed.

“The announcement for the auditor-general to probe 1MDB now runs the risk of being seen as a mere announcement, meant to pacify public anger then, hoping it would go away.

“It has not, and it will continue to grow. But most importantly, we need the Auditor-General (Ambrin, left) to complete the audit in order to prevent more money from flowing into 1MDB.

“If no announcement is made in the next one one or two weeks on the completion of the audit, I expect heated debate on this in next parliamentary session that begins on May 18,” Rafizi added.

On March 4, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had ordered a vetting of the debt-laden firm’s accounts and promised action if financial wrongdoings were detected.

On March 10, Ambrin said the audit has commenced. The 1MDB fiasco is also the most prominent weapon in former Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s arsenal with regard to his campaign for Najib’s ouster.

The Ugly Face of the Malay psyche on display


March 25, 2015

The Ugly Face of the Malay psyche on display

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

It takes a brave Malay woman to say what the whole nation is thinking, and it is amazing how many Malay men cannot wait to show the world the ugly face of the Malay psyche.

The threats of physical violence and rape on BFM host Aisyah Tajudin, for her satirical take on the Kelantan hudud law, have proven that despite receiving the ‘best education in the world’, many Malays remain shallow, servile and seriously stupid. Only insecure, egotistical Malay men would feel threatened, not just by the truth, but by a woman, and worse still, a Malay woman.

The rakyat’s problem is that Malaysia’s religious men aspire to become politicians, and its politicians pretend to be religious men.

The latest hudud debacle has very little to do with religion. It is about power. Power over the Malays in Malaysia. Power to overcome any non-Malay resistance. And power to crush any opposition, especially from progressive Malays, who represent the biggest threat.

Aisyah (above) wanted to liberate Malay minds, not conquer their bodies. Her video was for people to reflect and to ponder. She did not force her message on others, if they did not wish to accept them.

Aisyah discussed important issues, so we may understand some of our country’s problems. If she didn’t care for her country, she would have chosen to remain quiet, like 97 percent of the population.

The Malays are creative and in the olden days, songs, sajak (poems) or bangsawan (opera/plays) would relay any messages, from rulers to their subjects. Aisyah is merely continuing a rich Malay tradition. The Malays who reacted badly to her satire, are an uncultured lot.

Aisyah appealed to the Muslims’ faith and their compassion. The Malays who threatened her, revealed everything that Islam does not represent.The BFM host used ingenuity to drive home a message about hudud, in Kelantan. The bigots revealed their stupidity and inability to use their intellect, to counter her point of view. Their threats, to rape and kill, will force more moderate, but silent Muslims, to speak out. These bigots have also stained the moderate face of Malay Muslims.

BFM should not have apologised for making and airing the satirical video. The company probably had no choice. The government issues permits, and can shut down companies. In the past, companies had their computers seized, their editors harassed, their Muslim writers accused of being lesbian, gay, apostate or atheist, and issued with death threats, violence or legal action.

In the Charlie Hebdo massacre of January 7, terrorists used Islam as their excuse to mow down several people, including a Muslim Policeman. Disagreeing with the cartoonists, does not give the men a licence to kill. The terrorists’ actions further tarnished the image of Islam and gave the impression that Muslims lacked the ability to enter into intelligent discussion.

Silencing freedom of expression

The day after the Paris carnage, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said that Malaysia needed the Sedition Law to prevent such attacks on Malaysian soil. The terrorists used bullets, in Paris, to silence freedom of expression, but Khalid uses the Sedition Law, to curb freedom of speech.

The IGP claimed that his role of policing Twitter, was to act like the referee of social media, and stop troublemakers. So, why are tweets from extremist and racist UMNO Baru politicians not censured? Khalid should leave Aisyah alone, and arrest the men who threatened her.

NIK RAINA INTERVIEW Using a slew of laws like sedition and blasphemy to condemn Aisyah, just shows his desperation. The IGP is mimicking the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department’s (JAWI) relentless pursuit of the Borders manager, Nik Raina Abdul Aziz (above).

Malays brought up on UMNO Baru’s diet of race, religion and royalty, have had their brains sucked dry. They have long forgotten how to think, to rationalise and to analyse.

By all means, blame UMNO Baru, but do not forget their new partners in crime, PAS. Both parties are desperate to take control of the Malay mind, but more importantly, their votes. It is all about power. Sadly, the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s experience of both him and PAS being betrayed by UMNO/Umno Baru, have already been forgotten by the PAS ulama.

PAS President Hadi Awang is desperate to force hudud through Parliament. This is about power. When it comes to absolute power, religion becomes a pawn, and a means to an end.

Hadi has fallen into UMNO Baru’s trap, and we are now being distracted by hudud, instead of tackling major issues like 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), corruption, the goods and services tax (GST) and the flood victims.

Malays can still be pious without having to become wannabe Arabs. Malays are in danger of losing their history and their culture, which go back several centuries, long before Parameswara was born.

If Malays do not reclaim their true identity, the only reference to Malay culture will appear at cultural shows, for the benefit of tourists, and at Tourism Malaysia performances worldwide. The religious indoctrination by power-hungry Malay men, has reduced Malays to a poor imitation of Arabs, and turned multi-cultural Malaysia to a ghetto-nation.

Hudud does not belong in multicultural Malaysia. Aisyah’s video made us think, and that is what the bigots fear most.