Anwar Acquitted


(Countdown – 347 days to “doomsday”)

Read:-

(What’s next for Anwar, now that he has been acquitted by the court? Hopefully it is on getting down to business for the betterment of the country and not Sodomy 3.0. Cartoon source: Zunar – Malaysiakini)

Probably a welcome turn of things for Pakatan Rakyat so early in 2012:-

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been acquitted of sodomy after a two-year trial. Judge Zabidin Mohamad Diah said DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution was unreliable and discharged the case.

Mr Anwar had been accused of having sex with a former male aide. He had faced up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. But the judge said that there were questions over whether DNA evidence had been contaminated.

“The court is always reluctant to convict on sexual offences without corroborative evidence. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged,” the judge said.

(Source)

Now that the sodomy charges are out of the way, Pakatan under Anwar should be free enough to focus their energy on making the case to the people that they can run the country better than the current government or at least keep the government on their toes to reduce wastage, mismanagement of public funds and curtail corruption.

With the recent sacking of rebel Hasan Ali, Bersih 2.0’s demands met by the EC to some extent, good financial position in Penang as evident in the Auditor General’s report, all is needed now is a clean up of allegations of corruption in PR run state, less of infighting, a greater push for dedicated and high quality candidates & representatives and a finer focus of real issues facing the country instead of dirty politics for PR to do better in the next general elections.

They should…for time before the next elections is short…

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A Real End of ISA?


I thought it will never be repealed…

(It may finally end but the question is why now and why not in 2009 or in 2010? Any law that allows the Government to hold anyone without any trials, no recourse to the courts and at the sole discretion of certain politicians in power is dangerous, unfair and allows for gross abuse. Poster source: Mob’s Crib)

Mention of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the past, one would think of national security, proactive actions to curtail attempts to create chaos and violence – that is until this happened in 2008:-

Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter of the Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew, was arrested Friday under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial. She was, however, freed Saturday. An opposition lawmaker and the editor of a pro-opposition news Web site were also detained under the ISA on Friday, but have not been released.

The action has drawn widespread criticism from opposition politicians, the Bar Council, human rights groups and now even by some in the government-controlled media.

Tan’s arrest “will go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not most ridiculous,” Wong Chun Wai, the editor of the influential Sunday Star, wrote in a signed opinion piece.

On Saturday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the three detentions by saying they were necessary to prevent racial conflict. He said Tan, an ethnic Chinese, was arrested because police received information that her life had been threatened.

If that was the case, police should have given her protection instead of arresting her, said Malaysian Chinese Association youth wing chief Liow Tiong Lai. “It is not a clever excuse,” he said in a statement.

“To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice,” Wong wrote. “In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks,” he wrote.

(Source)

When Najib took over the PM seat in April 2009, one of the first right thing he did was to release 13 people including the 2 key Hindraf activists from ISA detention. That act was laudable even though the arrests under ISA should not have happened in the first place. But back then there were no immediate plans to abolish ISA. Not in 2009 or in 2010.

So it was a big surprise to hear Najib in late 2011 announcing that the ISA will be abolished. It is a big surprise because only recently we saw the manner of his administration reacting on the Bersih 2.0’s electoral reforms rallies.

At this point, it is not clear if the announcement was made in good faith or to deny the Oppositions an important issue for up-coming general elections or simply a delaying tactic whilst a more terrible, severe laws are put in place (perhaps to ensure those in power remains in power?). We will only know what was the real intention once ISA has been actually repealed and the details of the new laws (which Najib says will be enacted to maintain peace, harmony and prosperity) comes under greater scrutiny.

But first, let’s look at the quotable quotes namely the “180 degree turn statements” from the politicians from ruling party who earlier did not actively pushed for abolishment of such draconian laws:-

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek – the announcement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the Internal Security Act (ISA) repeal was not a mere “proposal”. “It is something which will be implemented,”

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – There should be no doubt over the government’s intention to do away with the Internal Security Act

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – Barisan Nasional heeded the voice of the people when it decided that the emergency ordinance and Internal Security Act should be abolished

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – the move to abolish the ISA would place Malaysia “on the moral high ground”

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – The Government’s move to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) is in accordance with efforts to uphold basic human rights

After hearing words like “basic human rights”, “moral high grounds”, “heeded the voice of the people” from the very people who failed to uphold it when it was badly needed – don’t you feel you want to puke?

I say this because these are very people (namely Mahathir and Badawi) who were in a position to do something on ISA in the past and yet did nothing but when Najib announced it, they jump into wagon band applauding it. And despite that, it is apparent that on the other end – assuming the PM is serious with his plans for ISA, it is not going to be smooth road ahead:-

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz – we can’t just abolish the acts overnight without considering national security,

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein – Those currently detained under the Internal Security Act would remain in custody until the new laws are passed

A reader at The People’s Parliament – It’s a gimmick. Just like when the Anti-corruption Agency was replaced by the MACC, it was promised that the MACC would be like the Hong Kong Anti-corruption Agency where corruption would have zero-tolerance

Former PM, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – Datuk Seri Najib Razak should expect hardliners in Barisan Nasional (BN) to resist his plans to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other security laws because they want to maintain the old ways to silence critics.

There is no doubt that many especially the Oppositions are taking the stand of waiting and see whether the abolishment of ISA will actually take. At this point, there are many uncertainties.

What is the form of the new laws that is going to replace ISA? Will it end up as another “new wine in old bottle”? And the Home Minister have ruled out the immediate release of ISA detainees until the new law comes in force. That means these detainees will remained locked up in Kamunting with an uncertain future. And why the PM did not call for emergency sitting of the Parliament for the abolishment of ISA and amendments of other restrictive laws to be tabled and approved?

Najib have been talking about transformation, high-income nation and of course, the role of 1Malaysia in his administration. No doubt there have some success in this but implementation of it have somehow tainted by inter-party politics and anti-Opposition political driven motives, driven by people who put the politics ahead of the country.

The promise to abolish draconian laws like ISA is always welcomed. No doubt, the Government of the day has the right to take drastic actions to ensure peace and security for its citizens and in doing so, may do so in denial of individual basic rights. But it has to be done without any double standards. Reasons used by the Government in the past to arrests citizens under ISA unfortunately have not been applied in the same manner & force on those closely linked to the Government and ruling political party. This is why there have been a greater call for the repeal of such laws. Laws that lately seemed to be frequently used to enforce the power position of the Government and silencing of those who are against the Government.

We are not sure sure the nature and the scope of the new laws that will replace ISA. We just hope it does not turn to be another case of ACA turned MACC gone bad (after Teong Beng Hock, it seems they still have problems at its end). And if Najib is indeed serious in making positive changes to promote the uphold of human rights and dispel the doubts that Government is indeed serious to do away with laws like ISA, he should not waste time getting repeal process in motion. And it should be done before the next general elections (the same goes for his promise on electoral reforms).

Najib have spoken but whether things spoken will translate to actual action, we need to wait and see. Najib is moving in the right direction and he need to keep up the momentum to ensure his promise cascades down his administration and political circle, otherwise it will end up as another election gimmick.

Read Also

Peanuts, Not Sweeping Reforms

To Be A Statesman Or To Remain  A Politician

Crystal-ball gazing: ‘ISA’ finally repealed in 2025

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Bersih 2.0: Reform Cause Torpedoed?


Ya, ya still on Bersih 2.0 rally but this is the last one, I promise…

(The famed stand-off between the peaceful protestors and police who bend on breaking up the rally at whatever the cost. Poster source: Mob’s Crib)

It has been interesting reading everyone’s post rally experiences, opinions and suggestions over Bersih 2.0’s recent rally and there have been gems such as these:-

The iconic image of Bersih 2.0 was refreshing; that of its leader Ambiga Sreenivasan, former Bar Council President, serenely leaving the Istana after an audience with the King. The symbolism could not be overstated, for the Najib Administration had earlier declared her organization illegal! Only those retarded would miss the message, and they are precisely the types we are dealing with here. (Source)

And this

The police formed a human barricade, arms crossed, and barbed wire at the entrance of the road just a short distance from the Stadium. A. Samad Said came and talked with the policemen. Such a frail man, but so strong. We sang Negaraku … and we sang it from the heart. (Source)

And more here, here and here and I must say that it has been very inspiring indeed.

But then on the other side of the coin, there has been more than a handful of blogs that had questioned the legality of the rally and its negative impact on the country (it was no surprise that some of these blogs are run by well known pro BN, pro Najib bloggers). There are also others who claim that the sanctity and independence of the rally has been hijacked by politicians for their own political mileage. Yes, it is possible but then again, where do we mark the line between ordinary Malaysians who want to see positive change to a corrupt system and politicians who may or may not have hidden agendas. Then there is the question of why one needs a street rally to give the demands to the King when the organizers could have slip it in when they met the King, days before the rally (this one probably needs another detailed analysis on the need for publicity in order to make the maximum impact on the cause but not now).

Then I read Aizuddin Danian’s post titled “How Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms?” Aizuddin Danian had always made sense in his blog and it worth the read all the time. Aizuddin Danian makes 3 points as to why Bersih torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms:-

1. 50,000 people do not make the majority. As with any large demonstration, they do make a hell of a noise, enough for the international Press to take notice, enough for the nation to be talking for weeks over the issue. But, it is still a relatively small number. How many people who between now and the date of GE13 will change their minds again for whatever reason that might come up. It’s too soon still to tell if the primary impact of the rally yesterday will hold true till the next time voters are asked to visit the polls

2. The rally yesterday was illegal. As much as the Opposition say they want the rule of law to prevail, it seems rather convenient that when the rule of law goes against them, they choose to ignore it, then cry foul when the authorities enforce it. When Bersih asked for the rickety Stadium Merdeka of 30k capacity to be the venue of their 50-100k rally, what would have been the responsible thing to do? It’s almost as though the request for such a small venue was made in bad faith, calculated to be denied so that Bersih could regain the moral high ground after losing some during the King’s surprise intervention.

3. For the Government to agree to the 8 electoral reforms (several of which have absolutely nothing to do with the elections but are more political in nature, some of which the Opposition themselves can’t claim to be free of, see PKR’s recently concluded internal “elections”), would set a dangerous precedent for the future. The moment any Government allows itself to be blackmailed (“do this or else we take to the streets”), it legitimizes the strategy of the mob. Get the mob onto the streets and the Government will give in. That’s just wrong, no matter how valid the demands

As I said, Aizuddin Danian had always made sense and he is entitled to his points, no doubt but here’s why I don’t think Bersih had torpedoed the cause of electoral reforms.

“….50,000 people do not make the majority…”

1. To tell you the truth, we will never know how many Malaysians really backed Bersih 2.0 (at least by actively going down to the streets for rally on 9th July 2011), not with the daily demonization that Government has been spilling on the Government controlled medias and the various threats that has been aimed at potential rally participants for many weeks now by the Government, the police, ruling political party members, that ball-less clown and some martial art Mahaguru. So, if despite all that you get 50,000 on the street, it can be considered as simply amazing and cannot be considered as a small number. Especially when we have also not included those passive supporters of Bersih who did not go down to the streets but agree on the purpose of the rally.

And there is this issue of people shouting at the rallies in support of the oppositions but doing something else when it comes to the actual voting day. It is not new and we have seen it happening at every general election. It is something that Bersih organizer has to work on even though the rally has now ended. They have to be consistent and ensure continued awareness of the election process weaknesses and the need for reforms.

Please don’t wait for Bersih 3.0. Yes, it may be still too soon to tell if Bersih 2.0 has made the positive impact but if nothing is done to keep up the notion of changes for free and fair elections, you can expect the process to remain unchanged for the next general election as well. The ball is in Bersih 2.0’s court now on this matter.

“…the rally yesterday was illegal…”

2. To say that the rally was illegal without due consideration on the Government’s response on the rally would be unfair to the organizers. The power to determine the legality of the rally unfortunately had fallen on the Government and it is simply convenient (and beneficial) for them to label the rally as illegal. We need to first consider if due consideration has been given to the permit application. We cannot ignore the fact that Bersih did attempted several times to obtain police permit. Public order and safety was cited as the overriding factor to deny the application.

This may been valid but the very nature of the Government of strongly opposing Bersih 2.0 from day 1 seems to paint a picture that decision may have been made in a rush and without any viable option for Bersih. If indeed public order and safety was the overriding factor to deem the rally as illegal, then what did police do to allow the rally to proceed whilst ensuring public order and safety remained intact? Was there any suggestion given to Bersih 2.0 (discounting the last minute ditch to offer police permit if the rally was held in PR led state)? Did they provide Bersih 2.0 with a list of rally conditions such as limiting number of people allowed to rally, setting a predetermined location where it is easier for the police to control the crowd and specific time for rally to start & end?

As I recall, there was none, to an extent, after meeting with the King, Bersih 2.0 had to even ask the police to dictate the route of the rally but it was rejected outright as well. Other than simply denying permit which now makes the rally to be illegal, there was no serious attempt to allow Malaysian to have peaceful rally and present their demand to the Government.

The idea of having the rally in a stadium was made only after Najib opened his mouth and implied that police permit would be granted if the rally was held in a stadium. He did not say which stadium but the option of having it in Stadium Merdeka somehow made bloody sense. It is iconic and it is where Proclamation of Independence was done. It was a perfect choice. And once again, the Government and the police could have dictated the number of protestors allowed inside the stadium and work together with Bersih 2.0 organizers to enforce it. But in the end, this did not happen as well. Despite opening his mouth and making the offer for the rally to be held in a stadium, the Government then backtracked and used the police as the front to delay any kind of rallies from taking place.

“…set a dangerous precedent for the future…”

3. Before we can say that by accepting the demands, it sets a dangerous precedent and allows the Government to be blackmailed, we must first consider what the demands are. Were those demands is something critical and more importantly reasonable?

Let’s look at the demands by Bersih 2.0 and see whether it passes the simple test of reasonableness. Did Bersih 2.0 demanded for a statue of Anwar’s grandfather to be erected in the middle of the city? No, that would have been highly unreasonable and the Government would have been in their rights to refuse to such demands outright. Or did Bersih 2.0 request that RM1 million compensation to be paid to each Malaysian like how Hindraf did several years ago? No, because that means good taxpayers money to be wasted on something unsubstantiated and worthless. So, what were the Bersih 2.0’s demands and whether those demands reasonable?

Let’s recap the demands once again:-

1. Clean the electoral roll
2. Reform postal ballot
3. Use of indelible ink
4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
5. Free and fair access to media
6. Strengthen public institutions
7. Stop corruption
8. Stop dirty politics

Take a good look at the list and close your eyes and think – are those demand reasonable or unreasonable. If the demands are reasonable, then why it is not implemented earlier and why when another party highlights the weaknesses and improvements, it is considered as blackmailing the Government? Why the refusal to review the demands without any due consideration? No doubt some of the proposed reforms is political in nature but in Malaysia where fine line of processes being independence from influence of politics is often blurred, reforms (political in nature or not) is still needed for a better Malaysia. The Government simply needs to find the political will to make the changes – if not all, part of them.

Of course, the ruling political party has their reasons not to make the changes to the election process – the loopholes favors them in certain ways, hence the public rally by Bersih 2.0 with plenty of participation from the opposition political parties. And we are not talking about violent mob running loose on the streets with sole aim to create uneasiness and trail of destruction. We are talking about ordinary Malaysians on a peaceful rally requesting for the reforms of the electoral. In that sense, it is not wrong considering how valid the demands are.

The strong participation of Pakatan Rakyat politicians in Bersih 2.0 somehow had clouded the NGO’s thrust for electoral reforms. That I must agree. It however does not mean that electoral process has been too perfect and does not need of any reforms. It does and Bersih 2.0’s demands should form the basis of reforms that the Government and the Election Commission should be considering to ensure that the people’s votes are properly translated to electing the right people to the Parliament and State Assemblies and these elected politicians do their job in the interest of the country and people instead for themselves and the political party that they belonged to. The fact that the Opposition had won some seats should never be used as the yardstick to gauge the how free and fair our elections been.

All we asked for due consideration on something that should been done a long, long time ago. That is all.

Malaysian MPs these days


[This is going to be one long post before the holidays and my 2nd trip to Bangkok next week]

Before we start, let’s get some definitions right, shall we? It is clear that some people have forgotten its real meaning and purpose:-

Conscience = the awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong

Principle = a rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle or the collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments

Member of Parliament = a representative elected by the voters of an electoral district to a parliament

It’s tough to be a good MP these days. The real good ones are either in the Opposition or in the “wilderness” after being suspended. Others are quietly sitting down in corner and have decided to play safe.

The recent direction of Pak Lah to stand along party line instead individual conscience is one good screw to the back. Pak Lah unfortunately decides to be the tough guy at the wrong time, wrong place and for the wrong issues (at critical times, he shows his sad and soft side – once again at the wrong time, wrong place and for the wrong issues).

It does not matter if you have been doing a great job in your constituent (to the extend people worship you) or to some extend of asking law enforcement to close one eye to “help people” in your constituent but once you are in Parliament, be ready to kiss your conscience and principles (if there one all this time) good bye. The party whip stares at you at the front door. That is unfortunate – because for someone who was voted by the masses on the presumption that he will fight for the rights of the people and country, adhering to party contradictory interests can be detrimental at times. People would start to lose confidence even if you are one of the good guys around.

Ok, forget about conscience and principles (who am I kidding here – it is almost non existence in politics), some MPs these days go one step further, they also forgo the use of the brain (a few lose their balls too). Perhaps it is due to the “feng shui” of the Parliament building or having the wrong people voted in, Parliament these days has turned into one big circus – with plenty of clowns roaming around and making a big mess of it. Talking and arguing about trivial things has become more important than talking about national issues. The late MGG Pillai had a good post about this in his post titled “In Malaysia’s Parliament, what a minister should wear is more important than the Ninth Malaysia Plan

Some unnecessary antics by some of the MPs for cheap publicity and political mileage make the ordinary rakyat on the street want to puke blood (ya, it is that bad sometimes). It leads him/her to ponder on the question – “Did I vote this idiot in?”

Let’s track back some of the “unwritten” rules that govern the Malaysian MPs in Parliament these days:-

1. Opposition’s motion is to be rejected at all cost irrespective of the fact that the motion is urgent and is made in the best interest for the country (Pak Lah made it crystal clear in the last few days – so much so for Wawasan 2020)

2. Party Whip is the general rule and is not the exception (by definition, it is often used for making sure the government does not lose important votes, or that the governing parties proportion of the vote is not overtaken by opposition parties but it does not look that way in Malaysia). Oh wait – party whip is the only rule.

3. Trivial issues is far more important to be discussed in Parliament than national issues (such as dress code being more important than 9th Malaysian Plan)

4. Party interest comes first before national interest (once again look at No.1)

5. Issues facing one race are more important than issues facing all Malaysians

6. Any critical or embarrassing (to the Government) issues raised by the Opposition should be labeled as racist or politicizing unwanted issues

7. Parliament is merely a rubber stamp of the executive – so forget about nonsense like conscience or principles (since Mahathir time – this notion has been strengthen with “concrete and steel”)

8. Whatever things done by the executive no matter how stupid it looks is to be labeled as “this is what the people wanted” despite a clear protest from the masses (Anyone recall the incident with some bridge down south?).

9. The people who voted the MPs are to be assumed as not having the right mentality to accept new changes (like live broadcast of the Parliament sessions and as recent as showing documentary).

10. The people are forever forgiving and tolerance, so the same mistake can be done over and over again.

11. Dare to go against the party views – then be prepared to be suspended or struck off from the list of candidates for the next general election

12. Being a MP is a heredity privilege – it passes on from father to son to grandson (some may include son in law as well). The people who do the voting have little say in this.

It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely and it seems to be case in Malaysian Parliament – the let-go of the MP for Jasin from punishment is one good example. Despite the obvious facts, he was found not guilty (wow!). It is obvious that some MPs are riding high on people’s tolerance for parliamentary inefficiency some time now. It’s is a good time to teach a lesson to these MPs that the people are the ultimate boss for their seat – not the party whip, party leader or certainly not the few outspoken clowns in Parliament.

You think it is not possible? Look at the facts from the 2004 General Election again (let’s take a few states for comparison, I am lazy to check all):-

Number of MPs

Penang – BN (70%) Opposition (30%)

Perak – BN (88%) Opposition (12%)

Selangor – BN (100%) Opposition (0%)

Wilayah P KL – BN (73%) Opposition (27%)

Number of votes

Penang – for BN (56%) against Opposition (44%)

Perak – for BN (58%) against Opposition (42%)

Selangor – for BN (64%) against Opposition (36%)

Wilayah P KL – for BN (59%) against Opposition (41%)

Number of MPs voted in does not mean the number of voters voted them is of the same percentage. In some States, the Opposition managed to garner an almost 45% of the votes and some lost the seat by mere hundreds votes. So, for those MPs who thinks that since they have a landslide victory over the Opposition and thinking of taking things for granted, all it needs to swing the number of votes is for the MPs to maintain the unparliamentarily antic and a proper push by the Opposition.

After all, we do not want to vote in people who do not wish to represent us in the Parliament; otherwise we would be left standing like the village idiot then, don’t we?

Del.icio.us Tag: Parliament

Read also:-

A dummies’ guide on how to behave like a Malaysian Politician in time of crisis

Clowns in Parliament!

Is Parliament turning into a Zoo?

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