Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All Malaysians have special rights

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.

Dr. Azly Rahman
Mail to: http://www.blogger.com/dr.azly.rahman@gmail.com
http://azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com/

"Therefore, the rakyat must unite and never raise issues regarding Malay rights and special privileges because it is quid pro quo in gratitude for the giving in of citizenship (beri-paksa kerakyatan) to 2.7 million non-Malays into the Tanah Melayu federation....Thus, it is not appropriate for these other ethnic groups to have citizenship, only (later) to seek equality and privileges," said Tengku Faris, who read from a 11-page prepared text.

As a Malaysian who believes in a social contract based on the notion that 'all Malaysians are created equal', I do not understand the 'royal statement'. I have a view on this.

If it comes from the Biro Tatanegara (BTN), I can understand the confusion. But this is from a royal house.

This statement was valid 50 years ago, before Independence. This is an outdated statement that is not appreciated by the children of those who have laboured for this nation.

I believe we should look forward to institutionalising 'special rights for all Malaysians'. The word 'special' is in itself special. Culturally it can either denote an enabling condition or a disabling one.

In the study of religion, one is bestowed a special place for living life well or for doing good deeds. In educational studies, 'special education' caters for the needs of those with a disabling physical, emotional or cognitive condition.

In all these, 'special rights' are accorded based on merit. One works hard to get special offers and into special places.

In the doctrine of the 'divine rights of kings', one's special right is the birthright. Louis XVI of revolutionary France, Shah Jehan of Taj Mahal fame, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Revolutionary Iran, King Bumiphol Adulyadev, and the sultans of Melaka were 'special people' who designed institutions that installed individuals based on rights sanctioned through a 'mandate of heaven'.

Such people use specialised language to differentiate who is special and who is not. Court language is archaic, terse, meant to instill fear and to institutionalise special-ness.

The language of the street or market is fluid, accommodating, meant to instill open-ness and institutionalise creativity at its best and further development of the 'underclass' at its worst.

This continuum of language, power, and ideology is characteristic of histories of nations. In Malay history, istana language is enshrined in the hikayat and in Tun Seri Lanang's Sejarah Melayu. Street language used in Malay folklore and in bawdy poems, pantun and stories of Sang Kancil.

Class consciousness, many a sociologist would say, dictates the special-ness of people across time and space. Historical-materialism necessitates the development of the specialised use and abuse of language. One can do a lot of things with words. Words can be deployed to create a sustainable and profitable master-slave relationship.

A better argument

Let us elevate the argument so that we will have a better view of what race, ethnicity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism means.

I propose we review what "special rights of the Malays" mean in light of 50 years of Independence and post-March 8, 2008.

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act.

The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust - or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education.

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.

In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. Its work should not be allowed any more in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared counter-educational activities, especially when they yearn to be free of the shackles of domination.

Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations. History that is being shoved into us or filter-funnelled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandised by historians who became text-books writers.

History need not be Malay-centric. Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays". History must be presented as the history of the marginalised, the oppressed and the dispossessed of all races.

We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia. Malaysia is a land of immigrants.

In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever its shortcomings, it is a land of immigrants and is still evolving. A black man or a woman can become president. This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become prime minster if he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?

No one particular race should stake a claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen, is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen.

That is what 'surrendering one's natural rights to the state' means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honour this - and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.

The history of civilisations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of 'imagined communities'. We must teach our children to make a history of peace among nations. This must be made into a new school of thought: of 'new bumiputeraism' that encompasses all and does not alienate any. Life is too short for each generation to fight over greed.

The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, colour, creed, class and national origin. Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its 'self'. Each fails to realise its DNA-make up or gene map.

Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such. Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept - that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and in Indonesia when Suharto fell.

I argue that we must evolve in the historical presence of historical constructions. The past and the future is in the present. Let us no argue any more over this or those rights. Let us instead treat each other right.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

UMNO’s Tuah-Jebat Dilemma


by M. Bakri Musa

The furor over Tun Mahathir’s quitting UMNO cannot hide an increasingly obvious and ugly reality: Abdullah’s incompetence as Prime Minister. Ranting and raving against Mahathir will not alter this singular fact.

Only an ardent few – his family members, closest advisors, and those beholden to him – believe that Abdullah has executed the duties of his office diligently. These individuals will forever remain faithful to him even if he were to drive the country to ruins. Consider that Saddam Hussein and Shah Pahlavi still have their ardent admirers today.

For others, their only excuse for wanting Abdullah to stay is for “party unity.”

Mahathir’s poser to Abdullah’s putative successor Najib Razak on whether he is loyal to UMNO or to Abdullah is a dilemma shared by all party members. Najib as well as all UMNO members would do well to re-read our classic Hang Tuah-Hang Jebat legend, and in particular ponder the fate of not only the two protagonists but also the sultan and the Melaka sultanate.

In 1987 when UMNO was split, a consequence of the Mahathir-Razaleigh rivalry, the party was weakened but it survived because it had a strong leader. Early in its history when its first president Datuk Onn left the party, the impact was minimal as the party was strong and it had a cadre of capable young leaders like Datuk Razak. This time however, both the party and its leader are weak.

If party members were to shy away from doing the dirty but necessary job of removing Abdullah from the leadership of UMNO, and thus the Prime Minister’s office, then others would by default remove that office from him, and from UMNO. With every delay, Abdullah (and UMNO) gets weaker while Anwar Ibrahim (and his Pakatan Rakyat) becomes stronger.

Seeing Through Abdullah

Like Mahathir, most Malaysians believed in Abdullah, at least initially as evidenced by his overwhelming electoral victory in 2004. Barely four years later, they, like Mahathir, are sorely disillusioned.

Some still believe (or more correctly, hope) that Abdullah could yet salvage his leadership. This hope for a miracle is misplaced. Incompetence cannot be readily remedied, especially in someone with a demonstrated flat learning curve. Besides, the highest office in the land cannot be used as a training ground. We cannot have an “intern” Prime Minister; the stakes are just too great.

If Abdullah could not lead when he had a commanding mandate, what chance is there for him now that his hold is tenuous at best? He is already consumed with putting out political brush fires, distracting him from his most important task of leading the nation. Abdullah is now clearly damaged goods; Malaysia deserves better.

Only a tiny minority saw through Abdullah and recognized his emptiness right from the very beginning. It is more with sorrow than vindication that I admit to being in this group. I would have preferred to have been proven wrong.

I have never met Abdullah; my assessment of him is based entirely on his records and accomplishments, or lack thereof. Perhaps because of this I am not swayed by the man’s put-on piety, seeming humility, or servile loyalty. Those attributes are held in high esteem in Malay culture, which may explain why many, including the shrewd Mahathir, overestimated Abdullah’s ability.

Abdullah was a longtime civil servant rising to Deputy Secretary-General in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports before entering elective politics. Respectable enough achievement, but then that ministry is not exactly the hotbed for super-achievers.

Before being kicked out of the cabinet in 1987, a casualty of the Mahathir-Razaleigh rivalry of the time, Abdullah had served as Minister of Education, and later, of Defense. One is hard pressed to discern his legacy in both positions. A measure of his worth was that the best he could do outside of government was as a ticket agent … in his sister-in-law’s travel agency! That was the private sector’s valuation of his talent and experience, despite having served in two most senior and prestigious portfolios.

Later when he re-ascended the UMNO hierarchy, Mahathir invited him back to serve as Foreign Minister and later, Home Affairs. In the latter position he was responsible for the police. Our current inept and corrupt-ridden police force is his legacy.

Mahathir’s Mistake

You have to give credit to Mahathir. Not only did he admit to his colossal mistake in selecting Abdullah back in 1998, he is also making a vigorous effort to undo it. Admitting to or rectifying your error is a rare attribute among leaders.

Abdullah has yet to learn this essential lesson. Merely uttering that you are taking responsibility, as Abdullah did for his party’s routing in the last election, is not enough; you have to act on it.

The current crisis in UMNO is not, as is widely commented upon, simply a battle between Abdullah and Mahathir. The fundamental issue is Abdullah’s incompetence, and its impact on the nation.

Winning an election is a partial measure of effective leadership; it is not the only or the full measure. Abdullah’s predecessors Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn were both successful at elections, yet when their leadership was found wanting they withdrew gracefully. Britain’s Margaret Thatcher also had the grace to resign when support for her was declining even though she had led her party through three successive electoral victories.

Abdullah has neither the grace nor the competence of Thatcher. He is too syok sendiri (self indulgent) with the perks of his office, with its luxurious corporate jets and palatial mansion, to even contemplate resigning. It is easy to be stubborn in such circumstances. Like a dumb mule surrounded by lush hay, Abdullah will not move. It will continue mindlessly chewing the cud, oblivious of the turmoil it caused. It is well to remember that a mule with too much hay will inevitably succumb to lethal gas bloat.

Many consider Mahathir’s resigning from UMNO an irrational act as that would only hasten the ascent of his old nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim. To me however, Mahathir may be signaling something significant. He must believe (or have reasons to) that Anwar’s chances are real and strong. By resigning now, Mahathir would be spared the fallout from UMNO’s inevitable implosion. He could then with a satisfied smirk remind us, “I told you so, this Abdullah is a disaster!”

Many are wondering why Abdullah is not coming out swinging at his tormentor. There is a reason for Abdullah’s reticence. His entanglement in the UN’s Iraq Oil for Food Program scandal is only a hint and a glimpse.

I am reminded of J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime FBI director who was the most feared and powerful man in Washington, D.C., simply because he held so many secrets of important people. Nobody dared touch him for fear that he would spill the beans.

Mahathir was Prime Minister for over two decades. He is also a shrewd observer of human behaviors and a meticulous record keeper. Think of the many shenanigans committed at home and abroad by our sultans, ministers, and other senior officials that were simply hushed up, let alone prosecuted. Those who are tempted to sneer at the old statesman better have pristine personal and official backgrounds; otherwise they would be well advised to maintain their “elegant silence.”

Notice Mahathir’s immediate stinging riposte to Shahrir Samad and Musa Hitam recently. In so doing Mahathir sends a not-so-subtle message to his other detractors, including those on the Royal Commission on the Lingam Tape, that their stinking laundry too could be aired out for all to see and smell. As Prime Minister, Mahathir must have had more than his share of favor seekers, shameless flatterers, and the outright corrupt who groveled before him. He could easily expose them. If that is blackmail or vengeance, so be it.

I have a different take on Mahathir’s behavior. Far from being blackmail or nasty vengeance, such ugly revelations could prove to be a necessary national catharsis. Much as I hate to see what would be revealed, it would be good to have all the rot finally out in the open. The hope is that the subsequent shame will effect some change.

As a former physician Mahathir knows only too well that the best if not only remedy for a long festering abscess is to lance it wide and deep, letting all that trapped putrid pus out. Only then could the healing begin. If that were to happen, we can all thank Mahathir. The man may yet make his greatest contributions after he retired.


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Monday, May 19, 2008

Damning conclusions from Lingam video findings

Report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip. — Picture by Choo Choy May of The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Datuk V.K. Lingam, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Tun Eusoff Chin and others seriously undermined the independence and the integrity of the judiciary by their actions of fixing the appointment and promotion of judges.

This was the finding of the Royal Commission on the Lingam video clip. This is what commission members concluded about:

Datuk V.K. Lingam

The key question in the hearing was whether Lingam was the Indian man captured in the video clip speaking on the telephone to presumably the former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz.

When confronted with the clip, Lingam told the commission that "it looks like and the voice sounds like me." Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor and other members of the commission were not impressed with this opaque answer, noting that there were direct accounts by witnesses that the man in the video clip was the lawyer.

"It is our considered opinion that Datuk V.K. Lingam had virtually emasculated himself on the issue of his credibility by admitting to his identity in the photographs but refusing to admit his identity in the video clip...Datuk V.K. Lingam took an oath before us to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In refusing to accept that he was the person in the video clip we hold that his credibility was worthless."

They said that at no point during the proceedings did Lingam offer any evidence to show that he was not the person in the clip, offering only bare denials. In fact at the later stage of his testimony, he admitted that he was the one in the video clip but that the statements by him were made in the privacy of his house and that he was drunk and was bullshitting and bragging.

They also gave little weight to opinions expressed by his overseas experts on the authenticity of the clip, noting that one of the experts offered her advice without even seeing the video clip.

The commission noted: "Question that begs to be answered is why if Lingam placed such store in his experts, he did not ask them to take live tests of the person featured in the video clip so as to prove that the Indian man was not him? He provided overseas experts to condemn the Malaysian expert’s qualifications, methodology and conclusions but he had nothing in the other end of the scales!"

Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim

The commission drew adverse inference from the former chief justice's behavior after the video clip implicating him became public knowledge. Fairuz denied that he was the person on the other end of the line to Lingam in letters to the prime minister, deputy minister and the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on Sept 21, 2007.

The commission said that the letters were bare denials and volunteered no information as to why his name should be mentioned in the video clip. "In a situation of such national gravity it is usual for a public officer to invite a full scale public enquiry to clear his name and in certain cases the officer concerned would even offer to suspend himself from further duties whilst his name was being cleared.

"That did not happen here. Whilst it could well have been a Freudian slip we also think that it is not irrelevant that when he was asked by counsel why he described the conversation as a monologue, he said that his voice could not be heard at the other end of the line."

The commission also noted that after the video clip was made public, Fairuz retreated into silence and refused to respond to call from the media. “Tun Ahmad Fairuz could have publicly denied that he was the person at the end of the line and informed the nation that pending a public enquiry into the matter, he was voluntarily suspending himself from further duties. That step would have allayed public confidence in the system."

The commission also noted that judges have been given powers to punish any contempt or conduct by lawyers which scandalises the judiciary. Fairuz explained to the commission that did not exercise the court’s power because he did not want contaminate himself.

"We cannot accept this as a valid reason. He did not himself have to issue Datuk V.K. Lingam a letter to show cause why he should not be held liable for contempt. He could have directed any other judge to do it. At the very least a formal letter could have been issued to Datuk V.K. Lingam to explain," concluded the commission.

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

The commission noted that Tengku Adnan’s name was mentioned 11 times in the video clip and every time it was in the context of what the former deputy minister would or could do to push Fairuz up the judicial ladder.

When the passages in which his name was mentioned was read out to him during the hearing, he denied the truth of the content and said that he never had a conversation with Lingam about these matters.

Later he suggested that Lingam was drunk when captured on the video clip. That was why he kept bringing up Tengku Adnan’s name in the conversation during the telephone conversation.

"This explanation is too facile to be accepted. The Datuk V.K. Lingam we saw on the video clip was certainly not drunk…So why give such an explanation which was no explanation at all? Again, it was one man’s word against another and in all the circumstances of the case we regret to say that it is our opinion that Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was too economical with the truth to be believed."

The commission said it was puzzled why Tengku Adnan did not take any action against Lingam if the statements made by the latter were untrue. "Criminal offences by way of leaking Official Secrets were being alleged but Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor seems to have been quite unfazed," the commission noted.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan

The commission was left incredulous by the businessman’s testimony during the hearing, saying that his answers were a faithful echo of Lingam’s. For example, when he was asked if the Indian man in the video clip was his close friend, Tan remarked: "It looks like him, it sounds like him but I cannot be 100 per cent sure."

The commission noted that the congruence of his answer with that of Lingam’s was too exact not to draw adverse comment. "Tan Sri Vincent Tan is talking about a man he has known intimately for over 20 years and he still refuses to give mouth to reality before his very eyes.

"A little later, he gives the reason, 'I cannot be sure 100 per cent because with modern technology, I don’t know what is the motive behind this.' In other words he is suggesting that the video clip may have been tampered with. All this is such a faithful echo of Datuk V.K. Lingam’s own testimony that it is very hard not to make an inference that there has been some confabulation here between them."

In their report, the commission said it was clear from Tan’s testimony that he, Lingam, Tengku Adnan and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad are long term friends and business associates "whose lives are inextricably linked both personally and in the tentacles of Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s business empire and various business projects which require the PM’s political backing."

In his testimony, Tan denied that he had ever discussed the appointment of judges, especially the elevation of Fairuz with Dr Mahathir.

"When it was roundly put to him that PM did admit that he could have taken the views of Tan Sri Vincent Tan into account in the selection of judges, Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s answer was that he could not remember this but went on to say (notwithstanding he had just said that he could not remember) that he had definitely not discussed about judges," said the commission.

Members of the commission said that documents produced before them showed that Tan was involved in a string of high profile commercial cases. And in all the cases, Lingam was his lawyer.

"It is hard to believe that Tan Sri Vincent Tan would not have taken a very keen interest in the identity of the judges who were trying the cases," said the commission, adding that Tan tried his best to distance himself from Lingam.

"But the background of joint holidays together, and the fact that they even communicated with each other by intercom shows a closeness between them which cannot be discounted and must give rise to an adverse inference on Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s credibility," said the commission.

Tun Eusoff Chin

The commission said that the credibility of the former chief justice was in tatters after he gave evidence regarding his relationship with Lingam. In his sworn testimony, Eusoff said that there was nothing special about his ties with the lawyer.

This issue was important because in the video clip, Lingam seems to suggest that because of his close relationship with Eusoff, he was able to get his own way in a number of matters.

The commission noted that evidence showed that Eusoff and his family spent almost the entire holiday in New Zealand in 1994 with Lingam. At the hearing, the former CJ said that he bumped into Lingam and his family at Changi Airport but admitted that they were on the same flight to Auckland, went to the zoo and bird park together, went on a fishing trip together and took a few internal flights in New Zealand together.

Eusoff put his travel arrangements and itinerary down to coincidences. “Given the amazing number of alleged coincidences, which can be extracted from the whole trip from Singapore to New Zealand and back, we need no more than mere common sense to detect the incredulity of that proposition," the commission ruled.

In their report, the commissioners also drew attention to the testimony of Thirnama Karasu, Lingam’s brother. Among other things, this witness said that he had driven Lingam to Eusoff’s house on several occasions in 1995 and 1996. On one occasion, he delivered a briefcase and a brown envelope on behalf of his brother to the CJ.

Eusoff and Lingam denied all these allegations but the commission noted that Karasu was subjected to intense cross-examination by counsel for Eusoff, Lingam and Tun Ahmad Fairuz but was unshaken. They also alleged that he was suffering from a mental disorder and was motivated by vengeance and greed.

"When the evidence of Karasu is examined against the rebuttals and denials relating to the events highlighted, we are of the view that his version of the events is more probable than that of his detractors," said the commission.

In the final analysis, the commission noted that the effect of all the testimonies showed that not only was Eusoff and Lingam extremely close “but there was a strong prima facie case made out that their proximity was such that the relationship far from being normal was quite inappropriate."

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

The commission noted that Dr Mahathir did not follow the constitutional process of consulting the then Chief Justice Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah in the appointment and promotion of judges. For example, when the then PM rejected Dzaiddin’s choice of Tan Sri Malek Ahmad to fill in the vacancy as the Chief Judge of Malaya, he did not give any reasons.

Instead, he directed Dzaiddin to choose between Tun Ahmad Fairuz and Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah as the next CJM. The commission noted that they was evidence that Lingam and his collaborators sabotaged Malek’s candidacy by influencing Mahathir. In the video clip, Lingam told Fairuz that Malek was considered anti-Mahathir.

“Tan Sri Malek Ahmad was a victim of character assassination by third parties who had their own axe to grind...This would not have happened if the PM had consulted Tun Dzaiddin as to why Tan Sri Malek Ahmad was considered to be unsuitable for appointment to the post of CJM. Nor were there reasons given why the PM considered Tun Ahmad Fairuz or Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah better candidates. PM’s letter was nothing short of a 'Hobson’s Choice' that one of the two should be chosen because they were PM’s favoured candidates."

The commission ruled that an exclusive right in the executive to appoint judges without consultation is inimical to the doctrine of separation of powers and destructive of judicial independence.

Worse was to follow when Dzaiddin proposed five individuals as High Court judges in a letter to the PM in October 2001. This time the Chief Secretary to the Government picked the names of five names of serving Judicial Commissioners for Tun Dzaiddin to choose two out of the five names.

No reasons were given to Dzaiddin why his choices were rejected.

“The PM cannot remember the reasons. His KSN (chief secretary) does not know the reasons. But there was somebody else who claimed to know the reasons. That somebody else is Datuk V.K. Lingam and he said that he achieved this with the participation of Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor when all three of them went to see the PM with this objective in mind," noted the commission.

In the video clip, Lingam discussed Dzaiddin’s letter to the PM in October 2001 and told Fairuz that moves were underway to block the appointment of some of the names nominated by the then CJ.

The commission noted that the Constitution makes clear that the PM has to consult the CJ on appointments to the Bench. “These were serious defaults in the constitutional process, because the mandatory requirement of consultation had not been compiled with by persons who had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. This kind of misbehavior is so unprecedented that were it not for the release of the video clip it may never have come to light," it added.


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Saturday, May 17, 2008

RIGHT ROYAL POLITICIAN

Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar has always been out of the Malaysian political radar. Thus, it was ironic that the name of this low-profile younger brother of the Sultan of Pahang was on the lips of many when he marked the beginning of his political exit by rejecting the deputy FOREIGN minister’s post. He talks to R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez about this and his reservations about Umno.


"This jawatan is not for ever, you know.
One day, you’ll be an ordinary person walking
into a bookshop and people will spit at you. Malu!"

You are one of few members of the royal household who ventured into politics. What were your reasons?

The 1987 Umno crisis. It was a hell of a fight and when Mahathir did not allow Tengku Razaleigh’s followers to join Umno Baru, the party was deregistered, and then several events like the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas. So I thought I would like to be part of the movement to correct the situation and help people like Tengku Razaleigh correct situations like the involvement of political masters in the judiciary. Of course he (Mahathir) says there was no such thing, but we all know that he got involved.

So I thought I could help the people. Although I was in a position to do so, we could only do so much to highlight the problems.

So you were a Semangat 46 member before you became an Umno member?

I was a member of the Pekan Lama Umno branch around 1983-84. I stood against Sabaruddin Chik in Temerloh but lost by 3,000-over votes. To me it’s not a matter of losing but being able to put your point across. It’s okay. This is a better way, through elections, instead of taking to the streets.

What changes would you like to see in Umno for the betterment of the country?

For a party that has done a lot of service to the country since independence … whether it’s Umno, MCA or MIC … its members sacrificed in order to contribute to the party funds. And those were big sacrifices. Now it’s the other way – people join Umno to get something out of it. Instead of political gain, they also want financial gain. They join for other reasons, not to contribute to society.

And as time goes by, I see more and more of this happening. Today because of the quota system, you won’t be getting the right people at the top, because those who got to the top may have used some way or other to get to the top. You may get the votes because you do certain things, but you know very well inside you that you are not the right person, but through your influence … like the former vice-president who used money politics, he got up there and got disgraced. And if Umno continues with this, where the wrong people sit at the top, it will destroy the party as the right people who really want to serve cannot get there. We want people with the credibility, the knowledge and the experience.

I can put this question: Even if you are the president of the party today, are you really the most popular person in the party? I would put a question mark! It’s true because of the system. But if three million people could vote, then we will know if he is the most popular person in Umno. But we don’t have this system of referendum in the country today.

So, what kind of reforms are you looking at?

Get rid of the quota and maybe get a bigger number of delegates where money politics cannot penetrate. If you have 30-40 thousand people voting, it will be difficult to buy votes, right? A thousand plus, very easy!

Talking about the vice-president being involved in money politics, do you think Umno has learnt from this or do you think it will continue in the coming party polls?

No. People who are used to doing it will continue to do it.

What is holding Umno back from having good people? Why are professionals reluctant to join the party?

It is how the leader perceives it. When you are outspoken, it doesn’t pay. You become a nuisance, sort of a maverick. For me, I will say it if something is not right. Whether you like what I say is secondary, but I will point it out if it is wrong, at the risk of me being unpopular with the leadership.

You were one of those who did not really vie for party positions. How did you survive in Umno by being unambitious?

Well, I contested for the supreme council twice, and got over 700 votes, but I never got myself involved in any wrongdoing. I believe my conscience is clear. I offer myself to serve. I leave it to you-lah! If you feel I’m not good enough, it’s not my problem-lah. To me, position is just a conduit to get things done for the people. You can do a lot more if you have position. It’s not something that is glamorous so you can be sombong (cocky) about it. I don’t need titles. The moment I was born I had a title and though today I am no longer deputy minister, I can still walk with my head held high. People still respect me. Respect is something you earn. People look at you as a person. They don’t care a damn if you are a minister or not, if you act like a hooligan.

I believe I can still contribute even as an ordinary MP. That’s why I rejected the deputy minister’s post, do a bit of business, serve the people of Jerantut. This is my last term. I am also getting old.

So rejecting the deputy minister’s post was not because you were disappointed at not being made a full minister?

I wouldn’t say that. In fact I was happy to get out. I said "if you cannot put me up, then I will go". Give others a chance. I can do more on the outside.

So if you were promoted, you would have stayed?

I would have continued, as then I can help people more. As a minister you have more power. A deputy minister has got no powers … powerless actually, just answer questions in Parliament. You want to put forward ideas which you cannot as a deputy minister.

Tengku, did it occur to you that to survive in Umno, you need to align yourself with someone? That’s why you got only 700 votes.

Why should I align myself with anybody? I am aligned with Umno!

Being a lone ranger does not show political savvy as people cannot gauge your support for particular camps.

But if Umno has changed, when we have good people in Umno, they will appreciate people like me. Problem is you don’t have many good people in Umno today; so they won’t appreciate people like me. Only good people appreciate good people (laughs).

If there are good people in Umno, they should appreciate what I have done. I think there are only 30% of good people in Umno. The 700 people who voted for me are good people. The quality of delegates is diminishing.

Like Pak Lah, when he was out in the cold, he was voted back into Umno. These are the good people who voted for him because they thought this man could do something good for Umno.

Why has Umno deviated from this founding principle that it takes care of all races?

Somewhere, somehow, people got greedy. And this is something that started during Mahathir’s time. If you look at all the big projects that have been given over the last 15-20 years, I think it is between 12 to 20 companies that keep getting these projects.

If you talk about Indians, in my area there about 1,400, and I know some of them are suffering. In Kampung Muhibbah – the land that they stayed on for over 20 years – they were never given any titles. I solved the problem in a matter of months. That’s why the Indian community is still supportive of me there.

The orang asli also, they need to be looked after. The Indians and orang asli – 95% supported Barisan Nasional. They did not know any other party. Why can’t we help them? Also some Chinese, the Malays – many have supported the BN. We should take care of them. Repay them for keeping this government in place for 50 years.

But then, look at the election results. These are the people who said "enough is enough!". They said "you never helped us. For all the loyalty we have shown, you did not help us".

Actually, they wanted to give the BN a wake-up call. I don’t think they expected such results.

Look at Hindraf. If things were looked into seriously to help the Indians, they would probably have been happier with us.

That’s why I said, as a wakil rakyat (people’s representative) you cannot be arrogant. The rakyat is the boss. Even the prime minister, when he goes back to his kawasan (constituency), he is the wakil rakyat.

That is the dilemma of some leaders, where you have to wear two masks. At the kawasan they are MPs and they wakil everyone; at the Umno level, they say I don’t need the votes of the Indians or Chinese.

You cannot say those things. When you contested in the election, you contested under the BN banner, not Umno. I have 28% Chinese votes in Jerantut. I need every vote.

What kind of reforms would you have instituted had you been in the Cabinet? What kind of reforms have you pushed for?

In those days, the party had some control over the government. Anything that the Cabinet is going to discuss, at the supreme council level, if the party feels this is not what the government should be doing – things would have to stop there and then. Today, there is no sensitivity between party and government, no good rapport between the party supreme council and the Cabinet. We should go back to those days, where there was some check and balance. Discuss with the parties in the coalition.

Also, all projects must be (by) open tender. No more direct negotiations, may the best person win. These days, we tell people no "direct nego", but we know these things are still happening. I have already suggested that we scrap the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). Every ministry must have its own intelligence unit to study projects and proposals. Sometimes we make them too strong and high-handed, especially the officers there. Sometimes some proposal gets stuck there. If you have a small EPU in every ministry, let the ministry do the evaluation and bring up to the Cabinet. If the Cabinet is not happy, go back to the ministry, re-evaluate. Otherwise, there is bureaucracy ... ministry blames EPU, EPU blames ministry, ding dong ding dong, it goes on for months.

Also you must pay government servants and ministers private sector rates, but … no second chance. Whether minister or deputy minister, if you do something wrong, you are sacked or go to jail, then we will see how effective it is to reform the civil service.

The problem now is that only the small fish are getting caught. They tried to make an example of (former land and cooperative development minister) Kasitah Gaddam but in the pecking order, he is quite small.

The big fish also must catch-lah. That’s double standards, right? No one is above the law, including the PM. He said so himself. Even if he is the prime minister, that does not mean he is an angel. If he did something wrong, then he should also face the music.

The problem is that the enforcement agencies are beholden to the politicians.

You are a public servant. You have your guidelines. If you feel something needs to be made known to the public, you make it known to the public even at the expense of your job. If you think you are right, then you should not kow-tow to the political masters. You must be a civil servant of some calibre.

If the PM asks me to do something wrong, I won’t do it. My conscience is clear, even if I lose my position. This jawatan (position) is not forever, you know. One day, you’ll be an ordinary person walking into a bookshop and people will spit at you. Malu! (shame).

Can you tell us about your four years as deputy transport minister?

There were things done before my time and before Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy’s time. We as members of the government felt there were things that were not supposed to be done, but we have to defend collective decisions.

Also there is a lot of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy invites corruption. If things can be done fast, it will cut down on corruption. Also, the federal projects that go down to the state, a lot of hiccups and I’m sorry to say that at the state level, they cannot understand what the federal government wants to do.

Many government servants also do not understand the concept of privatisation. They need to be open to having the private sector involved in the decision-making process

But like I said before, government servants must be paid well. We are so far behind other countries in this respect. You get what you pay-lah! Good pay means you get good things, this is the world today.

Did you find good civil servants whose ideas were shot down and their progress stifled?

I’m sure it happens. But in the ministry during my time there, I was always open to good suggestions. We are quite okay. We work well with our officers.

What would you perceive to be the ideal Malaysia?

I think we must go back to our roots, take a good look at where we came from and where we went wrong. The whole foundation of Malaysia as a people is cracking. We have been lost and we need to go back to the starting point.

Maybe we should start with dismantling communal politics. As the last election showed, race-based politics is out of style.

Barisan Nasional itself is already ready for it.

You think so? Why can’t we just have Barisan Nasional?

Someone should suggest it. There’s nothing wrong. You see, if you are an Indian and you talk about strengthening your community at a platform full of Indians, if I am sitting there, I will not take offence. Depends on where you say it and how you say it. If I am a Malay speaking about uplifting the Malays and killing all these jealousies, it is okay, but you cannot say "I want you to be better than the Chinese or Indians, so we should suppress them".

Why should I get offended if you are talking about uplifting the Indians? But if you say "go to hell with the Malays", sure-lah I get offended.

We have co-existed for so long. Mana ada problem dulu? (There weren’t problems then). Look at Tun Tan Siew Sin, how he took care of the country’s money. I have full respect for him. I don’t hold a grudge because he is Chinese. He is one of the best finance ministers we ever had. Tun V.T. Sambanthan and Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam ... they were great leaders.

How did we come about this communal thing? We had no issues before.

In my kawasan, I speak about strengthening Umno in front of Indians and Chinese. They have no problems.

When I go to the Indian area, I tell MIC "you must tell us what you want", and if I have programmes with Indians, I go through MIC.

At the height of the Hindraf issue, I had programmes with the Indians. I asked them how many went for Hindraf? Only one person, and he is not even a voter from Jerantut!

I said "why didn’t you go? You should have all gone just to listen to what they had to say. Nothing wrong with that".

If you are an open-minded person, there will not be any problems. These are narrow-minded politicians.

That’s the problem. These politicians feel they have to play the race card just to fish for votes, even if it means offending the other communities.

The bloody fools should not be talking like that.

If you read some statements these politicians have been making, they are all preparing for the party AGM. We are liberal people and can recognise political rhetoric, but what about those who are not so discerning? They will take rhetoric for reality and react.

That’s why I said these are wrong leaders. Umno has put wrong people in place. You remember those days – Tunku, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, even Mahathir – where were there problems?

Didn’t the rot start with Mahathir?

Mahathir is a very liberal person, you know.

But he allowed people to say this. Mahathir has done great things for the country, but he messed up the judiciary and condoned corruption.

Yes. Correct. You are right.

Is Pak Lah still the right man to lead Umno?

For the moment. He cannot resign now. Give him some time to reorganise the party and then step down. He cannot be wholly faulted for the poor showing in the election, but as the leader he must take responsibility.

He has to go before the next general election but not now. And this time, he has to serve the full term. It was bad timing this time around with so much unfinished business … the Khairy factor et cetera. He still had one year for damage control and I think he should have taken advantage of this.

Somehow his image as a leader has taken a beating and he will never recover from it.

This article was printed from Welcome to Sun2Surf
Article's URL: http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=22109

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

DISRESPECTFUL TO ISLAM? Porah!

Malaysia Today
Posted by Super Admin
Thursday, 15 May 2008

No, Karpal Singh was not disrespectful to Islam. Karpal Singh is as ‘Islamic’ as they come. Karpal Singh has done what 15 million Malay Muslims would not do. Karpal Singh has done what 15 million Malay Muslims should have done.

NO HOLDS BARRED

by Raja Petra Kamarudin

'Karpal disrespectful to Islam'

IPOH: Insulting the Malay rulers is tantamount to being disrespectful to Islam, said Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria.

He said this was because the Federal Constitution had stated that the sultans, or rulers, and the King are the heads of Islamic affairs.

"DAP chairman Karpal Singh, in questioning the authority of the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah, was disrespectful to the Federal Constitution.

"As a citizen of the country, Karpal had been disloyal to the rulers and hurt the feelings of the Malays," he said.

Harussani said although the Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament had a right to talk about laws, the Sultan had the power over religious matters and it was a sensitive issue to the Malays.

"The various ethnic groups in Malaysia live in peace and harmony and the action by Karpal would only anger the rakyat," he said. (The New Straits Times)

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Govt decides to retain ISA without any amendment

The government reiterated Wednesday that the Internal Security Act (ISA) has to be retained, not for any political purpose but as a preventive measure to curb and handle activities threatening national security.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said that as such the government had decided to retain the ISA in toto without any change despite pressure from certain quarters including the Opposition.

"Malaysia is a cosmopolitan country comprising various races, religions and cultures, and this law has to be retained to thwart any threat before it emerges. As such, for the moment, the government has no plan to abolish the ISA," he said when winding up debate for his ministry on the motion of thanks for the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat.

Records show that the ISA had been used to contain threats posed by militant terrorism, falsification of Malaysian travel documents, smuggling by illegal immigrants, spying by foreign agents operating in Malaysia, and racial extremism.

Syed Hamid said detention under the ISA was not aimed at penalising but to rehabilitate the detainee.

He also said that the ISA was not a draconian law because it did not deny the detainee his or her fundamental rights.

Syed Hamid said the ISA had helped the country thwart activities threatening national security, which enabled the people to enjoy peace, economic growth and intensive development. (Bernama)

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It is reported that when Abu Bakar took over as the First Caliph of Islam soon after Prophet Muhammad’s death (S.A.W.), he was asked: how would the people of Medina be assured that he would be a just and righteous leader? It is further reported that in reply to this question, Abu Bakar removed his sword from his person and placed it before him on the floor and then said that if he ever deviated one iota from his duty then they were to take his own sword and end his life.

That was the example of Abu Bakar, the First Caliph of Islam whom Muslims believe was one of the four ‘Rightly-Guided’ Caliphs. And if Abu Bakar is believed to be Rightly-Guided then surely he knows what he is talking about and it can only be God and no other that had guided him. Would Abu Bakar then be wrong in what he said and could he have instead been Wrongly-Guided? No, no Muslim would ever believe Abu Bakar had been Wrongly-Guided. They will swear with their life that Abu Bakar had been Rightly-Guided and that it was no less than God that had guided him.

Abu Bakar was one of the Companions of the Prophet. Muslims believe he can do no wrong and that he had already been assured a place in heaven even before he died. Yet Abu Bakar not only asked the people of Medina to take him to task if he erred. He asked them to take his life with his own sword, the Sword of Islam. Can anyone lesser than Abu Bakar be expected to do less than this? If Abu Bakar should be killed with his own sword if he did not rule justly and righteously, should any lesser fate befall those lesser than Abu Bakar?

This is not what I say. This is what Islam says. And would Islam lie? Would Islam mislead us? Would the Holy Scriptures be in gross error? Abu Bakar should be killed if he was not just and righteous. Abu Bakar is not infallible. Abu Bakar is not perfect. Abu Bakar is only human. And as a mere mortal, as one who can easily err, Abu Bakar wants to suffer execution by his own sword. That is what is expected of a Ruler of the Muslim faith. And would anyone lesser than Abu Bakar be above this First Caliph of Islam?

No, Karpal Singh was not disrespectful to Islam. Karpal Singh is as ‘Islamic’ as they come. Karpal Singh has done what 15 million Malay Muslims would not do. Karpal Singh has done what 15 million Malay Muslims should have done. Karpal Singh did what the First Caliph of Islam, Abu Bakar, said that God had Rightly-Guided him to do.

Yes, religion comes under the Rulers. The State Mufti is appointed by the Ruler. The State Director of the Religious Department is appointed by the Ruler. But not all men of the cloth are the example of Abu Bakar. Not all Rulers are the epitome of the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs of Islam. There are amongst them some with the scruples of the scum of the earth.

Some Directors of the State Religious Departments are crooks and scoundrels. RM200 million has disappeared from the Selangor State Religious Department. RM200 million in zakat money collected by the previous government has gone missing. RM200 million in money that Muslims paid in the name of God has passed into the hands of the devil.

Oh how I wish Malaysia practiced the Islamic law of Hudud. How I wish we could cut off both their hands for the crime of stealing RM200 million that Muslims paid in the name of God. No, hand cutting is not enough. Theirs heads should be removed from their shoulders and their bodies left to rot in the sun as an example that anyone who ‘steals from God’ should not be allowed to continue with their miserable lives.

No, taking Rulers to task is not disrespectful to Islam. Taking Rulers to task is the greatest respect one can give Islam. And it needed a man like Karpal Singh to do the Islamic thing. I am a Malay. I am not hurt by what Karpal Singh did. I am happy with what he did. The Directors of the State Religious Departments are not saints. Some have the characteristics of the devil. They must be removed. They steal from God. They should be punished according to the Islamic law of Hudud. Unfortunately this can’t be done.

Now they want to retain the Internal Security Act without any amendments. Who in Parliament voted in favour of this? This goes against Islam. This defies Islam. Islam forbids this. These Parliamentarians who voted in favour of the Internal Security Act are enemies of Islam. These Parliamentarians who voted in favour of the Internal Security Act are the enemies of God. But I will not declare their blood as halal. If I do that then I can be punished under a ‘kafir’ British law called the Sedition Act. But this is not God’s law. This is man’s law. This is a law that allows Rulers to defy God and allows Rulers to violate God’s law.

To insult or defy Rulers goes against Islam, say the men of the cloth. Is this so? Well, then Rosmah, the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, has committed a serious crime and should be punished. Rosmah phoned His Highness the Sultan of Selangor and scolded him. Rosmah spoke to His Highness the way you would scold a dog that shit on your new carpet.

Rosmah is angry that Raja Petra Bin Raja Kamarudin wrote an article called Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell. And Rosmah phoned His Highness the Sultan of Selangor and shouted at him. That is worse than what Karpal Singh did.

Rosmah wants to become the ‘First Lady’ of Malaysia even though the First Lady is the Agong’s consort. But Rosmah has committed treason against the Ruler. 200 years ago Rosmah would have been put to death. Today she will be rewarded with a RM100 million budget to renovate the Prime Minister’s residence in Putrajaya when her husband becomes Prime Minister.

And Raja Petra Bin Raja Kamarudin now challenges Rosmah for her to deny this allegation. Or maybe she would like to make a police report instead. That is what they normally do anyway when they are not able to reply. Porah Rosmah. Please don’t phone my cousin His Highness the Sultan of Selangor. Please don’t shout at my cousin His Highness the Sultan of Selangor. The Perak Mufti said that if you do that then you are disrespectful to Islam. You are only the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister who shall never become the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This quarrel is between you and me. Leave my cousin His Highness the Sultan of Selangor out of it.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Malaysian Political Blogger Charged with Sedition

By Jed Yoong - Asia Sentinel
6 May 2008

Questions over the alleged involvement of the deputy prime minister in a murder case earn a stint in jail

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of a popular Malaysian website called Malaysia Today, was ordered jailed Tuesday on sedition charges after a flame-throwing article last month that linked Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to the murder case of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu and accused Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of withholding evidence about the case.

Altantuya was executed on October 20, 2006, allegedly by two of Najib’s bodyguards at the request of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib’s closest friends. She had flown to Malaysia to confront Abdul Razak, who jilted her, and to ask for money for support when she was executed with two bullets in the head and her body was blown up with plastic explosives in a patch of jungle near the suburban city of Shah Alam. She was last seen being bundled into a car and driven away from Abdul Razak’s house.

The article, titled “Let’s Send the Murderers of Altantuya to Hell,” highlighted a series of controversies and irregularities in the trial of Abdul Razak and the two bodyguards, and questioned whether Najib is immune from Malaysia’s laws. The murder trial has been droning on for nearly a year, raising questions of whether it is being deliberately delayed because of the closeness of the three to top political figures.

Stung by the questions, Najib’s press secretary, Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, issued a statement defending his boss’s innocence on April 29 and threatened legal action if allegations in the press and elsewhere of Najib’s involvement in the case continued. The statement also denied that Najib had anything to do with erasing the victim’s immigration records, or that he had ever met her. Many questions were left unanswered, however, with bloggers subsequently questioning the statement and with questions seemingly growing to the point where observers are beginning to question Najib’s viability to succeed Abdullah Badawi when the prime minister ultimately decides to step down.

The police showed up at Raja Petra’s door last Friday to question him about the matter. He refused to cooperate. On Tuesday, he refused to pay RM5,000 in bail Tuesday in protest of what he called “political harassment” after being charged, and elected to go to jail instead. There was no indication when he would be released.

"Is it seditious to influence people against corrupt leaders? There is nothing seditious," he told reporters outside the court where he was charged.

The sedition charge is unusual to say the least, since such charges are laid for conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state. Although scathing, his questions over allegations that the deputy prime minister was connected to the case hardly appear to constitute inciting rebellion. Some legal authorities in Kuala Lumpur had expected Najib to file suit for defamation, although others pointed out that a civil suit for defamation would expose the deputy premier to motions for discovery and questioning over his relationship, if any, to the dead woman.

The leadership’s depth of irritation over Raja Petra is evidenced by the fact that he has been charged although he is a member of the royal family of Selangor. It is extremely rare for royalty to be charged for any criminal offenses. Some members of royalty have literally got away with murder. However, as a continuing thorn in the side of Malaysian government leaders, he has been arrested and questioned before. Malaysia Today, he said in an interview last year with local media, gets as many as 1 million hits a day.

In the offending article, Raja Petra called attention to the prosecutors' sudden announcement before the start of the trial that only three people were involved in the murder and the abrupt change in the prosecuting team who built the case and subsequently resigned.

The article also charged that an affidavit filed by Razak Baginda after his arrest said he accused had gone see Najib and Rosmah Mansor, Najib's wife, about his problems with Altantuya. It also said that Najib had written to the Malaysian embassy to support Altantuya's visa application and that a photograph exists of Altantuya, Najib and Baginda taken in Singapore that was taken in Singapore. Najib has sworn to Allah that he had never met the woman. Rosmah last week also denied any involvement in the matter.

The most explosive part of the article suggested that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi might be holding on to evidence given to him which implicates Najib to “keep Najib in line” and accused the prime minister of being an accessory to murder, adding that “burying evidence that will affect the outcome of the trial and interfere in seeing justice done renders Abdullah as guilty as those currently on trial and those who also should be on trial but are not.”

Opposition politicians condemned the sedition charge as political intimidation and asked for justice to be served. The nonpartisan reform organization Aliran commented that the arrest "only raises more questions. It raises suspicion that it is meant not only to politically bludgeon Raja Petra but also to make an example of him for the rest of the blogging fraternity and civil society."

“This is more political harassment of bloggers. Is this part of the reforms that the prime minister is talking about? Is this the new open government?” William Leong, the People's Justice Party treasurer and Raja Petra’s lawyer, told reporters.

“The case has dragged on for far too long. It is undermining public confidence in the system,” said Lim Kit Siang, the founder of the opposition Democratic Action Party, which his son now leads, said when asked about his views on the case.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Faux Pas By Datuk Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad

By Little Bird

Tengku Sarifudin faux pas is not pronounced 'fox pass'. It is pronounced 'four par'. It means a bad mistake, a false step.

I have just read the letter by the DPM's Press Secretary Sarifuddin Ahmad rebutting an article written by RPK in this Blogsite and also RPK's reply to Sarifuddin.

As Press Secretary to the DPM, you should know more than anyone else that politics is all about perception. The real truth can be something else. The trick is, Sarifuddin, to move the perception and the truth of a matter both in the same direction. Then you have what the physicists call 'resonance' - elections are won, leaders become idols, philosophies become written in stone and other such things - when you resonate.

My personal view is that lately, say over the past 20 years, the UMNO politicians have simply lost their ability to think things through properly, especially when they are in a tight spot. Even when there are no tight spots, UMNO politicians are not capable of strategising well or paying enough attention to that which is obvious and using their common sense. Hence they fumble easily and really look the idiot.

Your reply to Raja Petra's article is a fatal mistake, a faux pas.

I recall during the time of Anwar's downfall, there was a Chinese Muslim lawyer in Anwar's 'Institut Kajian Dasar' by the name of Faiz or something (who ran an expensive books shop too) who made the greatest mistake of making a Police report over the book '50 Dalil....' by Khalid Jeffri. That got the Police rolling which led them to reinvestigating the Police raid on the house of Dr Ristina in Bangsar. After that it was just a matter of tracing things backwards to nail the 'abuse of power' angle. Right or wrong, agree or disagree, that Police report started the sequence of events which led to Anwar's first trial for abuse of power.

Daim had advised Anwar 'Dont make any Police reports about Khalid Jeffri's book. Just leave it alone'. But just like you now, Anwar was concerned about public opinion and perceptions about him in the public eye. By the way has anyone seen or heard this Faiz character anywhere? Just curious.

Your reply to RPK has only given more credibility to RPK as well as to the Blogsite Malaysia Today. You speak on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. You have deemed it necessary to reply to a Blogsite that your cohorts have labelled as being run by 'bored housewives', full of lies, etc. It would have been better if you (or Datuk Najib) had chosen to remain silent and just ignore the Blog. Now you have muddied the public's perception even further. As I said the UMNO boys just cannot think anymore.

There is also some desperation that is perceptible in your reply. As I said it is all about perception. But in this case what has transpired so far in Court seems to create a resonance with the public's perceptions of the matter. That is a powerful combination. I refer the truth of the matter that has actually been established through the Court and reported in the Press. And they do not seem to favour your view. It will get even murkier if the court acquits Razak Baginda and/or Azilah Hadri. I dont know about Sirul.

Before saying further we must discuss again the unusual treatment of high profile murders in our country. There is a record of high profile murders not getting proper treatment (and remaining unsolved too) despite going through the legal process.

The first one is of course the murder of Mustakizah during the time of Megat Junid. I believe Mustakiza's murderers were never found. It was widely known that Mustakizah was having a relationship with the late Megat Junid and that she may have been pregnant with his child. Yet this angle was never explored in Court. The Court of Laws was satisfied but can you blame the Court of Public Opinion which was not very convinced - till this day?

Then we have the high profile murder of Siti Hasleza in Perak. This pretty girl was killed with a 'karate chop' and then thrown over a bridge onto some rocks while she was possibly still alive. The men who killed her were caught, tried and found guilty. But those tried included an Indian labourer, a bomoh type character, one minor royal and even a Chinaman (I think).

The question that the Court refused to pursue or investigate was 'what did the pretty Malay girl, who was the second wife of a Malay Royal, have to do with these jokers, especially the Indian labourer, that they wanted to kill her?' Does an Indian labourer working the fishing boats in Kuala Kurau get up one fine morning and simply decide 'Well today I am going to find a pretty Malay girl, preferably one married to a Malay Royal, kill her and then throw her over a bridge in Batu Kurau'?

But this was exactly the truth established in the Court of Law. Who can argue with that? It was a Court of Law.

But the Court of Public Opinion knows that this was shoddy workmanship by the Court. Everyone knows that another woman was involved, who had hired the Indian labourer and the others to get rid of Siti Hasleza. But that woman was never arrested by Police, never charged in Court and never even questioned. Just like in the Altantuya case where the AG's office announced way ahead of everything else 'Only three people are involved, we are not pressing charges against anyone else' the AG never went beyond the actual perpetrator's of the murder without investigating the dalang or conspirator behind the affair.

By law and by fact, it was established that the Indian labourer and the others had killed Siti Hasleza. There was no argument about that. But what was their motive and what was the overall motive behind the murder of the girl? Why did she have to die? The Court has sidestepped this question.

Now, Sarifuddin, do you think that the Court of Public Opinion is stupid? Do you think that the Court of Public Opinion cannot read, cannot question and cannot think? Until this day these questions about the Siti Hasleza murder remain unanswered. What do you suggest the Court of Public Opinion should do? Vote for the BN? Wake up.

Then we have the high profile murder of Norita Shamsudin in Kuala Lumpur. Norita was found dead by her room mates. She was found dead sprawled in her bed. When the Police were called, two Indian detectives were the first on the scene. This was reported from the Court proceedings. When they arrived, these two Indian detectives closed off the room door and spent about three hours alone with Norita's body. No other police were allowed inside the crime scene. Then early in the morning, the two detectives left. Nothing has been heard from them or of them since. They were never called as witnesses in the Court case. Have they been sucked up into the sky by alien spaceships?

But when the Police Forensics team entered the room after them, Norita's body was found in a different position - with her hands tied and stuff. What type of Police training is it where detectives tamper with evidence and distort the crime scene? And why would they want to do that in the first place? Is that acceptable Police behaviour?

Then they arrested a patsy, a fall guy, and made huge Press reports about him as though he was a serial killer. Then the Court case became a joke. From day one, the Prosecution team bungled and fumbled all the way, as though they wanted to lose the case, close the file and be done with it. The Defense just smiled all the way through.

It soon transpired in Court that witnesses had glimpsed another dark-skinned man, with a bad body odour who was in the apartment when Norita's friends came home. Someone even shouted at this dark-skinned, bad smelling man and saw him running away.

Then there was the case of Norita's handphone. Despite so many other handphone records being subpoenaed, records of Norita's phone calls on the fateful night she was murdered were never presented as evidence in Court. Why? Maybe like Altantuya's passport records, Norita's phone records have also been mysteriously erased.

And as can be expected, the poor accused, the fall guy, was found innocent and released. The murder is not solved. But the Police and the AG have since refused to reopen the case. My question is : most certainly they have Norita's phone records. Surely they know who she spoke to on the night she was killed. There was also DNA of more than one male found on Norita. Surely they could at least cross reference the DNA with some of the people she spoke to on that same night? Has this been done? If not why not?

So Sarifuddin, this was what was presented (OR NOT presented) as evidence in the Court of Law in this beautiful country of ours. Do you honestly think that the Court of Public Opinion will accept this type of shoddy and tidak apa simplicity? Apa you ingat kita semua bodoh ke?

Then we come to the Altantuya case. What was the motive? Why was she killed? This is a general question. And to be more specific why did Sirul and Azilah have to kill her? Sirul and Azilah never met her before. Did Sirul and Azhar just get up one morning and say 'Hari ini jom kita pi cari sorang pompuang Mongolia, kita culik dia, kita rogol dia, kita tembak dia lepas tu kita letup dia.' Maybe you would like to suggest that Sirul and Azilah were related (or went to the same school) as that Indian labourer in Kuala Kurau.

Do people just get up in the morning in our country and then go out and find exceptionally pretty young women and kill them by the most horrendous and unusual means? But this is what the Court of Law in this country will want us to believe. Sarifudin do you expect the Court of Public Opinion to be as easily convinced?

Then, just like in the Norita Shamsudin case, it appears that this case has also been thrown by the Prosecution. In the Norita case, there was a dark-skinned man, with a bad body odour who was seen running away. In this Altantuya case, a very straight talking Police woman testified that a Suzuki Vitara appeared driven by a man wearing a baseball cap. Azilah spoke politely to Altantuya who then got down from one car of her own free will and got into the Suzuki Vitara, alone with the man with the baseball hat who then drove away with her. That was the last time Altantuya was seen alive. She was NOT last seen with Azilah.

RPK has said that the registration number of the car and the identity of the owner have been made known. Yet the Police say they cannot trace the owner of the car or the person to whom he sold the car (if the car had been sold). This is really spooky. Betul ke ni?

But again we want to know the motive? Why would Sirul and Azilah want to kill a Mongolian woman whom they have never met before in their lives? And we know from Razak Baginda's Affidavit that there is a man by the name of Musa Safri. Musa is Najib's ADC. We know that as Najib's bodyguards Azilah (and Sirul) must take orders from Musa.

If there was no Immigration record of Altantuya ever entering or leaving the country did she slip into the country in a secret submarine (no pun intended)? Since it is not likely that she came by submarine, who erased her travel records and how?

So you see, Sarifudin, the Court of Law in this country has a terrible record of probing the right questions and the motives behind this type of high profile murders. Yet we are expected to accept the Court's findings because they are the findings of a Court of Law.

But the Court of Public Opinion does have its own mind. Sarifuddin, may I make a suggestion. If you just happen to know of anyone who is in the habit of resorting to, shall we say, draconian measures to solve their problems, please tell them to stop. There is more, much more to life than resorting to actions that we may regret later on. There are also easier ways to do things. Granted that the faculty of thinking may be quite retarded in this country, n'theless it is still possible to think things through instead of just blasting a way through the rocks.

As for Dato Najib, I feel that he is quite incapable of hurting even a fly. The guy is quite a limp noodle. Dr Mahathir says he is a penakut. The Court of Public Opinion will also agree that Najib is a penakut. The Court of Public Opinion will not likely attach much blame on him. But there may be stiffer noodles in his kitchen. Sarifudin, maybe Najib needs to get a new maid for his kitchen. Why live with indigestion? Think.

Malaysian Deputy Premier Denies Murder Links

Asia Sentinel

Najib Tun Razak says he had nothing to do with the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. So why won’t he testify in court?

In a blistering defense of his boss’s innocence, Najib Tun Razak’s press secretary Tuesday issued a statement that neither the Malaysian deputy prime minister nor his wife, Rosmah Mansor, had anything to do with the October 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

In the statement, made to the Malaysian internet publication Malaysia Today, the press secretary, Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, threatened legal action if allegations in the press and elsewhere of Najib’s involvement in the case continued. The statement also denied that Najib had anything to do with erasing the victim’s immigration records, or that he had ever met her. Many questions were left unanswered, however.

Although Najib, whom many see as the heir apparent to the prime minister’s post, has neither been questioned nor asked to appear in the marathon trial of his friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, and two of his bodyguards for the murder of Altantuya, his reputation has been considerably tarnished by his apparent links to the victim and the accused. Some media have questioned his suitability to take over as prime minister when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gives up the post.

Abdul Razak, 46, who had been Altantuya’s lover, is charged with abetting the slaying, which prosecutors say was carried out by Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, both of whom were assigned to Najib’s elite police bodyguard detail. The 28-year-old woman was shot on October 20, 2006, and her body was blown up with explosives available only to the military. Altantuya was last seen in front of Abdul Razak’s house, being pushed into a car and driven away.

The trial of the three, originally scheduled to last just 26 days, has been droning on since June 2007 and has raised suspicions that it is being deliberately delayed to cushion public opinion for an eventual mistrial or exoneration because of the political influence of those involved. So far, 75 witnesses have been called, but the trial has been in recess for several weeks for reasons that are unclear. Altantuya’s father, Mongolian psychology professor Shaariibuu Setev, returned to Malaysia last week to demand justice for his daughter. He managed to attend the opening of the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia's parliament, on Tusday, where he spoke briefly to the prime minister before Badawi offered him a cursory greeting and a promise that "Justice will be served." Najib was also in parliament but Setev failed to speak with him.

The statement by Najib’s aide hardly settles matters. For instance, he describes as “hearsay” allegations that the immigration records of Altantuya, her cousin, Namiraa Gerelmaa, 23 and a third Mongolian woman had been erased after the three came to Kuala Lumpur from Mongolia to confront Altantuya’s former lover and to demand money from him. The victim had claimed that Abdul Razak fathered a child with her.

Gerelmaa told the court in June 2007 that the records had been erased but no attempt was made by either defense or prosecution lawyers to find out how or why the records disappeared. Gerelmaa also said she had seen a picture of Altantuya at a dinner with Najib and Abdul Razak, but lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense immediately protested and no attempt was made to find out where she had seen the picture or if indeed the picture existed. It has not yet surfaced.

Najib’s aide also described it as “strange” that “no legal attempt had been made to produce this picture as evidence in court to date by (the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat) as it appears it is only admissible in the public opinion court.”

Sariffuddin, the spokesman for Najib, also described as “baseless” public allegations that the murder of the translator was linked to Malaysia’s 2005 purchase of French submarines. Altantuya is known to have accompanied Abdul Razak to Paris at a time when Malaysia’s defense ministry – with Najib as defense minister ‑ was in Paris negotiating through a Kuala Lumpur-based company connected to Abdul Razak to buy the submarines.

Najib, Abdul Razak and Altantuya were in Europe at exactly the same time. Najib visited a naval base where Malaysian navy submariners were training, and, according to the log of an Australian submariner association, presented jackets made available by Abdul Razak’s company to the crew.

Najib could easily clear up all the allegations and suspicions, observers say, by appearing in court under oath with his diaries, telephone logs and other data to prove his contention that he never met the victim.

Similarly, the public in Malaysia has been awash in reports that female Police Lance Corporal Rophaniza Roslan, 29, who accompanied the accused, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, to Abdul Razak’s house, where they are alleged to have bundled the translator into a car to take her to her death, was the bodyguard of Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor. The lance corporal was held by police after the murder but was released. The prosecution attempted to impeach her as a witness during the trial. But despite the widespread rumors over her connection to Najib’s wife, neither the prosecution nor the defense raised the issue in court. Lawyers have not asked for details of her employment.

If Najib were to appear in court, he could certainly explain how it was possible for Abdul Razak to use his bodyguards to remove the victim from his residence. A deputy police commander, who is an associate of the two bodyguards, testified that members of the bodyguard unit are required to follow the orders of their superiors without question; he described the bodyguard members as being “like robots” who only respond to orders from superior officers. Abdul Razak, a civilian and a mere friend Najib’s, was not a superior officer in any sense.

Najib could also be called upon, as defense minister, to explain how the two bodyguards were able to get their hands on military explosives to blow up the translator’s body.

Najib, according to Tuesday’s statement, “has been very restrained and guarded in making any public statement on the matter since people known to him have been implicated and have been charged in court. It could be misinterpreted or seen as interfering in the case since the court proceedings is ongoing.”

The statement concludes that the Deputy Prime Minister “also shared this sentiment (that the case is not about politics and should not be dealt with as such) and should seek out the truth, and justice should be served.”

With the case still unfolding, however slowly, the next step, for many observers, would be for Najib to appear in court. That might do more to obtain justice than issuing a public relations denial.