Rape, Murder, Hudud?


March 24, 2015

READ THIS:

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/hudud-a-cause-for-hubris-and-hypocrisy

Rape, Murder, Hudud?

by Dr.Azmi Sharom@ http://www.rakyattimes.com

Azmi SharomAs I feared – no one can speak against hudud. Non-Muslims don’t have the right and Muslims must just obey because, according to PAS, this is God’s law.

In fact, if you question it, you deserve to be burnt and raped, as has been the threat against a BFM radio newsreader. I thought murder and rape are also against God’s law. But perhaps in the minds of some, two wrongs do make a right. Or perhaps there is a clause that says that murder and rape are OK as long as they are committed in the name of God.

 I am very angry. I am angry for the following reasons:

As usual, when anything about Islam comes up in this country, there is a tendency for all reason to go out the door. This is shameful because Islam has prided itself on being a faith of reason where knowledge and the written word were emphasised in the very first revelation.

The disgusting behaviour of the thugs who threatened Aisyah Tajuddin of BFM Radio for her participation in a video questioning the implementation of hudud is an insult to the religion into which I was born and raised. Yet, I hear nothing from the “defenders of the faith” against these people. Perhaps it is because they don’t like what Aisyah said? If that is the case, then what they are saying is that if you don’t like what someone thinks and says and if another person threatens serious harm to him or her, it is OK to just keep quiet. In other words, consent through silence.

And already some PAS people are making sounds that this is something that cannot be debated and cannot be questioned. This, from a party that claims to be democratic. “Islamic democrats” – some of their number describe themselves. Where is democracy if we can’t discuss the laws which govern us? Where is democracy when a person lives in fear of being demonised, just because his or her ideas differ from those of the “Islamic democrats”?

Hadi3Haji Abdul Hadi Awang al-Hududu

I have always held the belief that if those in PAS or anyone else wants to implement hudud or any law that they think is so fantastic, then it is their right. If they want to make this a country governed by their Ulama Council, it is their right.

But if you want to change this country, you have to do it by the rules. You must obey the Constitution and you must allow democratic space for full and open discussions. And you must defend the right of people to take part in those discussions.That is the only just way. Or does justice not matter anymore?

 

PAS’ Hudud Folly–PART 2


March 19, 2015

PAS’ Hudud Folly–PART 2

by Bridget Welsh@www.malaysiakini.com

Bridget-Welsh-2COMMENT The introduction of the hudud amendments today in Kelantan have yet another origin beyond democratic dynamics within the party. They are based on a calculated effort to win votes, namely to strengthen the support of PAS’s core supporters and to strengthen the position of PAS vis-à-vis the coalition partners inside Pakatan.

Ironically, the hudud measures do neither, and potentially undermine the party’s standing as a national party and within its own electoral base. In this second piece, I lay out how misguided the revitalized hudud initiative is for a political party whose stated aim is to hold national power.

Over-reacting to UMNO pressure

In the defensive mode of the PAS party leadership, the party have been responding to others rather than setting its own course. The most effective actor influencing PAS has been UMNO.  Opting for offensive attacks, UMNO has successfully convinced PAS that is it losing ground among Muslims.

Despite winning more of the popular vote nationally in G-E13 and winning more seats and gains in their vote share in Malay heartland seats (except Kedah and Perak where party infighting affected results), many in PAS have the perception that they lost ground.

They have also been made to believe that the have lost their core support base among devout Muslims and rural Malays, as they have taken to heart the UMNO propaganda and concentrated on developments in Kelantan and Kedah, where the losses were most evident. The numbers for PAS’s performance are much more positive than the public framing of their performance.

najib-razak-Nik-AzizCollectively PAS lost 3 percent of Malay support, considerably less than in most of the elections historically except 1969, 1999 and 2008. In most of the states their gains were among Malays in termsof numbers. Significant gains in support were also gleaned from non-Muslims, ranging over 7 percent. Of the 21 seats PAS won, 14 of these would not have been possible without non-Muslim support.

But in politics, it is not reality that matters, but perception. Malaysian politics still centres around Malay politics, and for PAS there has been a growing sense that it is not winning Malays. In fact, there is a deep-seated fear that they are losing their core supporters. In fact, in some ways, they are right. PAS did lose among some devout Muslims, it lost in some rural areas, and it lost among women.

Part of the explanation lies with the appeal of other Pakatan parties for Malay votes, as PKR and even DAP has won over support. The main reason is UMNO’s successful efforts to infiltrate PAS’s core through support for religious education, funding to religious organizations and more effective engagement with young voters on the issues that matter to them, notably with a concentration on bread and butter issues.

For some analysts there has been a focus on UMNO’s confrontational race and religious campaign as the decisive factor undermining PAS, with PAS portrayed as betraying Islam. My own view places greater emphasis on UMNO’s calculated efforts to cut off PAS from its social networks, the critical use of resources and the ineffectiveness of PAS’s electoral campaign on a national scale.

These issues remain open for debate, but what is relevant for the revitalisation of hudud is that PAS believes it needs to appeal to its core – devout Muslims and rural Malays.

Standing tall, winning respect

In going back to hudud, PAS is also responding to another set of insecurities, the Democratic Action Party in particular and its discomfort in Pakatan more generally. The issues here are complex – racism, religious differences, style, strategy and personalities.

All the parties in Malaysia are grappling with an electorate that is less race oriented, but a political context that continues to be racially analyzed and framed. Racism is still deeply embedded, and had been stoked intensely in the past two years as UMNO fans discord for political ends.

Pakatan parties are also not immune from the issues of race as well, with considerable misunderstandings and cultural differences. The challenges of bridge-building on religion are even more challenging, particularly for PAS.

The G-E13 campaign and its aftermath has left an imprint on PAS, who has been portrayed as weak vis-a-vis its Pakatan partners.  It is seen as the weakest link. PAS was blamed by some for ‘not performing’ in the last election and it has been consistently portrayed as ‘the problem’.

This has fed insecurities. The image of PAS in the Malay language press has fanned these sentiments by building up the portrayal of the ‘weakling’. As the hudud issue has evolved the non-Muslim mediums have moved to portray PAS as the ‘villain’, with ‘aggressive’ DAP seen to be leading the accusations.

This has not sat well in PAS, even among the more progressive elements. PAS wants respect, it wants to be treated fairly and many feel that the response of its Pakatan partners have crossed lines. Hudud is in part about fighting back, for the party to be seen out of the shadow of others. Thus hudud has become yet another political tool to show UMNO, DAP and PKR that it is its own party.

Hudud is push, not pull

Sadly, this is a counterproductive strategy. By going forward with the hudud amendments, PAS has neither secured its Malay core nor secured its electoral gains. To explain my argument, I draw on surveys on hudud and focus groups.

Let me unpack my analysis. First of all, hudud is not as important a pull factor for Malays and even devout Muslims as PAS believes. Second, hudud is more alienating for some Malays and non-Muslims than PAS believes. Third, hudud serves to showcase PAS’ shortcomings as a party in national government, with a narrow focus that excludes and portrays negativity.

There have been two surveys conducted on the hudud issue, the Merderka Centre’s Survey of April 2014 reported in the press and the Asia Barometer Survey last September-October, coming out in a book later this year and outlined here. The findings are reasonably consistent.

I draw from the ABS findings, as I have run a series of tests to examine how hudud compares to other electoral issues such as the economy and corruption and importantly this survey includes East Malaysia.

Some observations:

  • The majority of Malaysians do not agree that the country is ready for hudud.
  • While a majority of Malays do agree the country is ready for hudud, there is a large share of Malays – 30.6 percent, who do not and many who have a lukewarm support for hudud, 28.8 percent. This is by way of saying only a third of Malays strongly support hudud.
  • Overwhelmingly, non-Muslims do not support hudud, with a larger share of non-Muslims strongly disagreeing with hudud than Malays who strongly support hudud.
  • A small share of non-Muslims believe the country is ready for hudud.
  • Females, including Malay females, disproportionately do not believe the country is ready for hudud.
  • There is considerable regional variation in the support for hudud, with support in the Eastern states of Kelantan and Terengganu considerably higher than the northern (Kedah, Perlis and Penang) and southern regions.  Strong support in the Eastern states for hudud does not translate into a majority.
  • East Malaysians have the least support for hudud.

Returning to the argument about why hudud amendments hurt PAS electorally, let me draw from the survey and my other analyses. To the point of attracting voters, numerically, the core strong support for hudud remains a minority nationally and even in the Eastern states of Kelantan.

Importantly, however, when these voters were asked – as they were in The Malaysian Insider survey and multiple other surveys such including the ABS – what is important in voting and whether hudud is important vis-à-vis other factors, hudud is less important. Religion generally only ranks high as a determinant for voting for a small share of the electorate, less than 15 percent, with this divided equally among Muslim and non-Muslim voters.

Hadi3To put this differently, hudud is not a vote-getter – resolving problems, bread and butter issues, good governance, honest government, good respected leaders and much more count more. Hudud does not win votes – good policies and good government do!

Introducing hudud does however lose votes for PAS as a party. There is serious trust deficit for this Islamist party, among non-Muslims, women and among some Malays. Focus groups identify the main source of distrust as hudud. It is not religion specifically, as many Malaysians across faiths want a moral government, but the perception that hudud is about ‘restrictions and control’, ‘unfairness’ and ‘backwardness’ – the respondent’s words.

When voters were asked why they voted for PAS that never had before, the reasons were ‘Pakatan,’ ‘ABU’, ‘Change the government’. The affinity to PAS specifically was weak. Hudud never came up.

When it was broached and voters were asked how they would vote if hudud was implemented, the response that emerged as ‘ABP’ – Anything but PAS. This provoked much stronger negative reactions than support for hudud among even the strongest PAS supporters.

The take-away is that hudud pushes away the voters that offer PAS an opportunity to move out of its core political base or even to strengthen its base within its core. With hudud, at this time based on these surveys, PAS, would not be elected on the national level and definitely not on its own.

Allah Issue SupportersA final finding is that by moving forward with hudud PAS has reinforced a negative image of itself among the electorate. It is seen as a one-note party – hudud, hudud, hudud – with many people not liking the rhythm or the song. The image of hudud remains significantly negative among the majority of the electorate who see this about punishment rather than empowerment, backwardness rather than the future and inadequate as a basis of government.

The Kelantan amendments may change this perception, but based on the studies to date, negative perceptions dominate.

The Kelantan and ulama leaders in PAS are going ahead. There has been little in-depth study of the impact of the hudud messaging on voters and this will be crucial as the situation evolves. The message sent so far is that the PAS leadership seems to prioritize their core support base rather than being a national party, and may not even bring them the gains they hope for.

Part I: PAS’s hudud folly – a political putsch

Part III will look at the implications of hudud for Pakatan and PAS’s longer term, highlighting that this experience offers opportunities to strengthen PAS and Pakatan.


BRIDGET WELSH is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for East Asia Democratic Studies of National Taiwan University and can be reached at bridgetwelsh1@gmail.com.

In campaign to defend democracy, U.S. should start with Malaysia


Najib and ObamaThis Big Talker engages in Empty Rhetoric, and in Barack Obama he finds a willing Partner to hoodwink the Malaysian People

Najib wants to have his cake and eat it too. He serenades President Barack Obama and promises to be all sorts of moderation. Najib is manifestly dishonest in the press conference standing next to Obama when asked about the Anwar case. He talks about making Malaysia competitive in the 21st century in speeches to the Council on Foreign Relations and to business leaders around the world. But at home he’s doing the same old same old thing – persecuting political opponents, stifling debate on campus and suffocating academic freedom. He cannot have it both ways.He must stop the bull and get down serious business of governance.

While President Obama is unlikely and incapable of doing anything publicly, this type of negative press undermines countless man hours of Najib’s PR machine that has been at work since 2009. They will have to start working on another scope of work at the cost of 20 or 30 MM to repair the damage. Send the bill the the Rakyat! – Rusman

 From the Washington Post

AT THE United Nations in September, President Obama, citing “relentless crackdowns” around the world against dissent and civil society, promised“an even stronger campaign to defend democracy.”Even when it was “uncomfortable” or “causes friction,” he pledged, his administration would step up to defend persecuted activists and “oppose efforts by foreign governments to restrict freedoms of peaceful assembly and association and expression.” So far we haven’t seen much follow-up on that promise, but the opportunities to do so are abundant.

One of the most urgent lies in Malaysia, a U.S. ally (can we say a poodle!) that has launched an extraordinary crackdown on opposition leaders, academics and journalists. In the past two months, the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak has charged nearly two dozen activists under an outdated colonial-era sedition law, that mandates three years in prison for acts that “excite dissatisfaction” with the government. Mr. Najib promised as recently as 2012 to repeal the law; instead, the government is prosecuting critics merely for speaking out, publishing articles or uploading videos.

At the same time, the government has revived an odious criminal case against Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the Opposition and one of the Muslim world’s foremost liberal democrats. Mr. Anwar was charged in 2008 with homosexual sodomy, which Malaysia shamefully still treats as a crime. Though he denied the charge and was acquitted in a 2012 trial, an appeals court this year reversed the verdict and handed him a five-year prison sentence. This week his final appeal is being heard by Malaysia’s highest court. If he loses, the 67-year-old Mr. Anwar will be imprisoned and banned from politics. Even if he wins, he, too, faces prosecution under the sedition law.

It’s not hard to guess why Mr. Najib might have broken his pledge to repeal the statute and reversed what was previously a cautious march toward greater freedom in his majority Muslim country. Last year, his ruling party for the first time lost the popular vote in a general election, to a coalition led by Mr. Anwar.

Gerrymandering preserved the government’s parliamentary majority, but the ruling establishment Mr. Najib leads appears to have set out to crush the opposition before the next election, due in 2017. The campaign is particularly destructive because Malaysia, unlike many other majority Muslim countries, does not currently face an internal terrorist challenge, though some Malaysians are known to have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State. By eliminating peaceful means of opposition, Mr. Najib risks making extremist options more attractive.

Mr. Obama has made a point of cultivating Mr. Najib and his government as part of his policy of “rebalancing” toward Asia, and so far the administration has had little to say about the political crackdown. Perhaps, Obama wants to ensure that Malaysia sign the one sided and much criticised TPPA In March, it cautiously expressed concern about Mr. Anwar’s prosecution. But as Mr. Anwar has argued his appeal this week there’s been no sign of the “stronger campaign” Mr. Obama promised. The verdict is expected next week; if Mr. Obama is genuinely willing to incur “friction” with allies in defense of human rights, now is the time to do it in Malaysia.

Obama in Malaysia: A Strategic Partnership?


by Joshua Kurlantzick via Council on Foreign Relations
April 8, 2014

During his upcoming late April trip to Asia, President Obama will visit two nations in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines, in addition to stops in Northeast Asia. The White House already has been briefing reporters on the overall messaging of the trip, and the specific themes the president plans to hit in Malaysia and the Philippines. In Malaysia, it appears from several news reports and from speaking with several administration officials, President Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s self-promotion that Kuala Lumpur is a successful and democratic nation, an example of other Muslim-majority countries, and a force for moderation in the world. The president apparently plans to hit these themes despite the regional anger at Malaysia’s handling of the Malaysia Airlines vanished plane, which exposed to the world many of the problems with Malaysia’s governance.

No matter, say some Southeast Asia experts. Some of Obama’s advisors, and many Southeast Asia experts, are urging the president to use the trip to cement a strategic partnership with Malaysia and establishing a roadmap for the kind of higher-level strategic cooperation that the United States already enjoys with Singapore and Thailand, among other countries in the region.

This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing. According to this logic, if President Obama were to bring up such unpleasant issues as the Malaysian government’s crackdown on opponents over the past year or its unwillingness to reform pro-Malay policies that have entrenched a culture of graft and self-dealing at many Malaysian companies, that would sink the visit.

Under Najib, Malaysia and the United States have, on a strategic level, moved beyond some of the acrimony of the Mahathir and Abdullah years, and have made progress on a wide range of military-military and diplomatic cooperation. Najib definitely deserves some credit for this rapprochement, though growing Malaysian fear about China’s South China Sea policies are probably the main driver behind closer strategic ties with Washington.

But simply ignoring the disastrous Najib policies on human rights, political freedoms, and economic liberalization would not be a wise move by Obama. For one, it would play into the narrative that Obama cares little about rights and democracy promotion, a narrative that has gained significant force not only in Washington but also among many Southeast Asian activists and young people in general. And ignoring Malaysia’s opposition politicians, who won the popular vote in the 2013 national elections and enjoy their strongest support among young Malaysians, would be alienating the biggest growing pool of Malaysian voters. As in other countries in the region, like Cambodia and Indonesia, these young voters are increasingly favoring opposition parties or new figures like Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, breaking from long-ruling, autocratic parties. The United States should be cultivating these young voters who will prove critical to the region’s democratization. This new generation will eventually power the Malaysian opposition, in some form, to the prime minister’s office. It would be a shame if the United States president had ignored them, and their party leaders, before then.

Rosmah’s Gifts and Ethics


April 28, 2013

Rosmah’s Gifts and Ethics

FLOM

Recently Caretaker FLOM, Rosmah Mansor, said that she accepted all the gifts offered to her by foreign dignitaries because it would be rude not to accept them and what was a poor FLOM supposed to do?

“When people give you something, of course it’s not nice to reject it,” Rosmah wrote in a self-titled biography launched yesterday by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“And when I’m given the gifts, I wear them. Why would you want to just keep them in a safe when the items were given sincerely, are beautiful and can be used? It’s a waste if they’re just kept in a safety deposit box,” the wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak added. (from Malaysian Insider here)

Well clearly there is another way to handle these situations. The Daily Beast is reporting that the Sarkozy’s used to lavish their friends with expensive gifts. The Obama’s received from the Sarkozy’s over $41,000 worth of bags, towels, etc. Hillary Clinton received three Hermes scarves.

How does the United States handle this? It’s simple. Sitting elected officials are not permitted to accept gifts from anyone. There are Ethics Committees in all branches of the US government that regulate what employees of the US government are allowed to receive and not receive. For example here is a snippet form the Senate Ethics Committee website:

No Member, officer, or employee shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided by the Gifts Rule.

A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift, other than cash or cash equivalent, having a value of less than $50, provided that the source of the gift is not a registered lobbyist, foreign agent, or private entity that retains or employs such individuals.  The cumulative value of gifts that may be accepted from any one source in a calendar year must be less than $100.  Generally, gifts having a value of less than $10 do not count toward the annual limit.  See Senate Rule 35.1(a)

The White House/Executive branch has similar rules outlined in detail here. It’s clear why such rules need to be in place. When you are in the seat of power, small (or large) gifts from foreign and domestic agents can be used as leverage in any sort of negotiation that comprise the integrity of the relationship. The onus should be on the public servant to want to defend his integrity to the fullest degree.

Which takes us back to Rosmah’s absurd statement. It speaks for itself when you’re talking about a party which is propped up by patronage and corruption. Accepting a few Hermes scarves, Rolex watches etc. is practically a non-issue when you think about the billion of dollars squandered away in no-bid contracts, flawed procurements and under the table deals.

The need for greater transparency in these dealings is essential. But fundamentally, people must elect leaders who they believe have a strong ethical compass that would make them think twice about these types of transgressions.–Din Merican

Parliament Dissolved Finally !


April 3, 2013

Parliament Dissolved Finally!

Yeah, This is the Way, Man

  I want a Responsible and Honest Government

http://www.malaysiakini.com

After months of playing a guessing game with voters, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has announced the dissolution of Parliament today, paving the way for the 13th General Election.

NONEHe said this in a 15-minute ‘live’ telecast on all television stations at 11.30am, following an audience with the Agong early this morning.

“This morning I had met the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and sought his permission to dissolve the Parliament. And he had given his consent for the same,” Najib announced.

However, Najib made a mistake during the live broadcast on the date of dissolution, reading the year 2013 as 2012. “This morning, I have sought an audience with the Agong and delivered the instrument of dissolution to His Majesty for the consent to dissolve the 12th Parliament today, April 3, 2012.”

Najib called on all state assemblies to be dissolved today as well, to enable state and parliamentary polls to be held simultaneously.

The Election Commission (EC), according to law, will have to fix the date for the election, which must be held within 60 days.

NONE“I advise all state leaders to face their respective heads of state to seek permission for dissolution of state assemblies as well so that we can have simultaneous elections across the country,” he said.

Najib, who was wearing a red tie, was flanked by his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, and made the announcement in the presence of all of his cabinet ministers.

The announcement falls on the fourth anniversary of Najib’s tenure as Prime Minister, and he asked the rakyat to remember the “transformation” that the government had been under way in the past four years under his leadership.

“In these four years you have witnessed the national transformation has taken place,” he said, stressing that his is a “responsible” government.

Only official media were allowed to broadcast the announcement from within Najib’s office in Putrajaya. Previous Prime Ministers who were known to take questions from reporters after declaring the dissolution of Parliament.

Reporters from other media waited in the rain outside the office, as they were not permitted to enter or take shelter in the security station’s waiting area.

However, the reporters – some of whom arrived as early as 8am – were told at around noon that there would be no press conference.

“We initially thought there was going to be a press conference. That is why we all came and camped outside, but then we were told at the last minute that we can only watch via ‘live’ streaming,” said a disappointed reporter who did not want to be named.

“It would have been okay if we were allowed to watch inside (instead of waiting in the rain).”

Over to EC

Contacted later, Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the commission will call a meeting to decide the date for nominations and polling.

abdul aziz yusof spr chiefThis can only be done after the EC receives a letter of notification from the speaker of Parliament, he said.

Asked when he expects to receive the letter, Abdul Aziz (left) said: “Maybe today or tomorrow or Friday or Saturday.But once we receive the notification letter, we will meet to fix a date for the polls.”

Soon after Najib’s announcement, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim revealed on his Twitter account that he will seek an audience with the Selangor Sultan in the shortest possible time.

“Thank God, finally the Parliament is dissolved. I will seek an audience with Sultan as soon as possible to discuss the status of Selangor state assembly,” reads his Twitter posting.

According to law, the general election must be held within 60 days of dissolution of Parliament.

Nevertheless, it is speculated that EC is likely to pick a date in early May.The minimum campaign period is 10 days, a new requirement imposed by the EC in line with a recommendation by the parliamentary select committee on electoral reform.

Najib will be seeking his first mandate since assuming the post of Prime Minister on April 3, 2009, after taking over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Today marks the fourth year of Najib’s premiership.

In 2008, Abdullah had led BN to its worst ever electoral outing, losing five states as well as its long-time hold on a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

There are 222 parliamentary seats currently up for grabs, with the BN holding 135 seats, Pakatan Rakyat 75, and 12 in the hands of Independents and three other parties.

Pakatan controls four states – Selangor, Penang, Kelantan and Kedah – while BN has nine under its belt.

This time around, Najib is seen as facing an increasingly cohesive federal opposition, which aims to unseat the BN and install Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

This election will see a huge number of new voters – an increase of 3 million, or 25 percent, since 2008, making it the biggest spike in Malaysia’s electoral history.

Goodbye to 12th Cabinet

To 12th Cabinet,Thank You For Your Service