Again, Putrajaya shows its bark is worse than its bite

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
31 October 2014

In most countries, civil servants who do not obey cabinet directives are disciplined. But in Malaysia, cabinet ministers have to appeal or cajole civil servants to follow government directives or the law.

The latest is the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s move to seize some 300 Christian CDs and books containing the word Allah from Sabahan pastor Maklin Masiau in klia2 last week.

Masiau’s case is not the first, and is most likely not the last despite assurances from Putrajaya that it respects the religious rights of all Malaysians under the Federal Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gani Patail – what has happened to your Sept 9 promise to review the spate of sedition charges?

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s recent explanations have only reinforced public opinion that he has abused his discretionary powers and guilty of double standards in not prosecuting Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Bible while going on a spree with blitzkrieg of sedition prosecutions against Pakatan Rakyat leaders, activists and intellectuals.

Datuk Stanley Isaac, who was formerly head of prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said Gani’s reasoning that Ibrahim’s threat had no seditious tendency and that Ibrahim had “no intention to offend or provoke” are “flawed in law” and had not allayed public discontent over the AG’s decisions.

Isaac said it “boggled” “his mind how the AG could excuse Ibrahim on grounds of his good intention when the law says otherwise and that it also “boggled” his mind how burning the bible would defend the sanctity of Islam.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Growing Islamic fundamentalism seen pushing Malays to quit country

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Malays could be next in line after the Chinese to leave the country, in a bid to escape the growing religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism that leaves little room for free thought and dissent, according to activists and observers.

While Malaysia bills itself as a moderate Muslim nation, recent developments have demonstrated an increasingly conservative and hard-line approach to Islam here that is intolerant of cultures and practices not sanctioned by religious groups and authorities.

Malaysians for Malaysia convener Azrul Mohd Khalib said the Friday sermons prepared by the religious authorities that paint non-Muslims as enemies of Islam, as well as the use of labels such as liberalism, pluralism and humanism to vilify fellow believers, have dismayed and scared Muslims.

“Thinking Muslims are being marginalised and persecuted,” Azrul told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“It is creating a climate of fear, suspicion and prejudice. Because of that, Muslims who do not prescribe to that belief system do not see themselves as being welcomed or even tolerated in this country,” the social activist added.

Azrul said many Muslims have started emigrating in the past 15 years based on anecdotal evidence, noting that Islamic authorities prohibit dissent and discussions of the country’s predominant religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dr. Mahathir’s latest gaffe on Bible burning

— Koon Yew Yin
The Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014

OCTOBER 30 — As the former Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mahathir — as with former heads of state all over the world — has been accorded much respect. Not only that, he is given liberties as befitting a leader who has served the country for over two decades, and whose experience and advice is thought of as being given with the best interests of the nation in mind.

But the public also knows that Dr. Mahathir is approaching — if not already reached — the stage of senility and dotage that is associated with old age. Threfore he is given some slack — in fact more than is due to any other political leader in Malaysia. His past controversial statements — many found in his blog and others made at public events — would fill up more than a book but they are mostly ignored as the ramblings of an old leader trying to remain in the public eye. Read the rest of this entry »

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Working together towards zero corruption

– Dr Ahmad Satar Merican
The Malaysian Insider
29 October 2014

It has been a while since YB Lim Kit Siang touched on the issue of corruption in Malaysia. Two days in a row and he raised a number of things for us to think together.

I’m always following his views on this issue and welcome his views. Based on his recent comment piece, there is one which I agree and would like to share my thoughts on it.

First, we always talk about the “big fish” and “small fish” matter, often in comparing views. We often say that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) only goes after the “small fishes”. In this case the comparison is made with Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the ICAC Hong Kong.

I do agree that the conviction rate of cases by the KPK are quite high compared to the MACC. We also need to recognise that the scope of cases investigated by the MACC and the KPK are different. Read the rest of this entry »

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Its not dotard but Mahathir’s classic perverse illogic believing the end justifies the means – whether lies, sedition or even treason – causing him to defend Ibrahim’s Bible-burning threat

Tun Dr. Mahathir is at it again – thumbing his nose at civil and rational society, declaring that he sees no harm in Perkasa President, Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning call.

Mahathir said it was not a problem calling for the Bible to be burned as long as there were good intentions.

He said Islam allowed for the Quran to be burned and not discarded all over the place, or to be stepped on, if it was no longer used.

“So, burning the Quran with good intention is not a problem”, he said.

This is not dotard but Mahathir’s classic perverse illogic believing the end justifies the means – whether lies, sedition or even treason. Read the rest of this entry »

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The war to restore student autonomy in UM

By Chow Yu Hui
Malaysiakini
Oct 29, 2014

ADUN SPEAKS The night before PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against his sodomy charge, the nation was moved by the brave act of the Universiti Malaysia Students Union (PMUM) who invited Anwar to return to his alma mater to give his final speech.

The venue for his speech was UM’s most historical structure, the Dewan Tunku Canselor (DTC). It is a symbolic structure which witnesses the start and end of a UM student’s academic life.

The student movement which once threatened political power of Umno and BN was first gagged by the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) in 1971.

After various amendments to the Act, Umno/BN succeeded in controlling all universities through oppressing the student leaders, academic staffs and the core value of a university, which is the academic freedom.

And after all these years, we were left asking: ‘Will the UM administration allow a programe involving the Opposition Leader?’ Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Malaysia have a Jokowi?

By Maria Chin Abdullah
Malaysiakini
Oct 29, 2014

As politics unfold in Indonesia, many are impressed with their responses towards democracy building. On Oct 20, Indonesians witnessed a peaceful transfer of power with the inauguration of the seventh president of Indonesia.

Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, had defeated Prabowo Subianto by 6.3 percent in the presidential election on July 9, 2014. While Prabowo had initially submitted an election petition to challenge the results, he had gracefully accepted the court’s ruling when it rejected all his complaints. This sealed the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla team’s presidential victory in the eyes of the law and the voters.

Indeed, President Jokowi’s beginnings have been anything but impressive in his quest to eradicate corruption and build a clean government.

President Joko Widodo had announced his cabinet and he had strategically submitted his ministerial cabinet lineup to the Corruption Eradication Commission for their screening as a show of his commitment to “form a clean government”.

On Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014 the commission had deemed eight of his cabinet selection as inappropriate due to their “alleged involvement in cases of graft and human rights violations.” (The Jakarta Post, Oct 22, 2014). Read the rest of this entry »

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Of burning holy books and sparking chaos

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
29 October 2014

Leave it to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to figure out that burning a holy book is showing it the same respect as Muslims burning Qurans that are old and no longer used.

And of course, it must be done with good intentions, said the former Malaysian prime minister who defended his protege Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the Perkasa chief’s threat to burn Bahasa Malaysia Bibles last year.

“They (Perkasa) have to show respect to the Bible, burn it as how they burn the Quran.”

Dr Mahathir also defended Ibrahim’s statement, saying it was not seditious as claimed by critics, as his intention was not to provoke.

“In other words, he was giving an opinion that could be accepted by Muslims as it was not seditious,” he added.

The acerbic politician is not alone in thinking that Ibrahim’s words were no threat as even the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) have justified the Perkasa chief’s statement as defending the sanctity of Islam.

Both Dr Mahathir and the AGC see no wrong and wonder what the fuss is all about. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview with an Islamic State Recruiter: ‘Democracy Is For Infidels’

Interview Conducted by Hasnain Kazim
Spiegel Online

How does Islamic State think? How do its followers see the world? SPIEGEL ONLINE met up with an Islamic State recruiter in Turkey to hear about the extremist group’s vision for the future.

The conditions laid out by the Islamist are strict: no photos and no audio recording. He also keeps his real name secret as well as his country of origin, and is only willing to disclose that he is Arab. His English is polished and he speaks with a British accent.

He calls himself Abu Sattar, appears to be around 30 years old and wears a thick, black beard that reaches down to his chest. His top lip is shaved as is his head and he wears a black robe that stretches all the way to the floor. He keeps a copy of the Koran, carefully wrapped in black cloth, in his black leather bag.

Abu Sattar recruits fighters for the terrorist militia Islamic State in Turkey. Radical Islamists travel to Turkey from all over the world to join the “holy war” in Iraq or Syria and Abu Sattar examines their motives and the depth of their religious beliefs. Several Islamic State members independently recommended Abu Sattar as a potential interview partner — as someone who could explain what Islamic State stands for. Many see him as something like an ideological mentor.

He only agreed to an interview following a period of hesitation. But after agreeing to a time and saying he would name a place in due time, he let the appointment fall through. The next day, though, he arranged another meeting time, to take place in a public venue. And this time, he appears: a man with brown eyes behind frameless glasses. He seems self-confident and combative. He orders a tea and, throughout the duration of our meeting, slides his wooden prayer beads through his hands. Read the rest of this entry »

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UM should withdraw its police report, admit it has made a colossal blunder in the campus lockdown and power black-out and enlist student/alumni/academician support to restore academic freedom to regain international repute for academic excellence

The University of Malaya should withdraw its police report allegedly over “trespass” on its grounds when students and supporters defied a lockdown and blackout of the university campus on Monday night to attend Anwar Ibrahim’s talk on “40 years: From UM to prison” at Dataran Dewan Tunku Canselor.

The University of Malaya administration should take an enlightened attitude to what happened on Monday, admit it had made a colossal blunder in the lockdown and power black-out of University of Malaya and enlist the support of university students, alumni, academicians and the Malaysian public to restore academic freedom to regain the university’s international repute for academic excellence in its early decades.

Of course, the university administration can go on a witch-hunt and vengeful campaign to penalise students and even academicians for what happened on Monday night, but this would be an even greater disservice to its national and international reputation and would do nothing to restore its repute as the country’s premier university. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign

The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.

What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.

Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible? Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Dog Issue – A Petty Problem?

by MASTURAH ALATAS
CounterPunch
October 27, 2014

On Sunday, 19 October 2014, as I was scrolling through Facebook posts, one image struck me in a way no other has in a long time. I have several Malaysians on my friends list, so it is not unusual for me to see pictures of hijabed Malaysian women show up in my news feed.

But this one of a young Malay woman, her head covered with a yellow tudung, was completely different. It accompanied a Malaysian Insider report headlined ‘ ‘I want to touch a dog’ event an attempt to insult Malaysia’s clerics’. What was striking about the image was that it showed this woman actually holding a dog, a Pomeranian, its open mouth, tongue dangling, just inches from her smiling face.

The event was held in the middle class suburb of Bandar Utama just outside Kuala Lumpur, and drew hundreds of participants. It was aimed to break the taboo that many Malaysian Muslims have against dogs, remind participants that dogs are God’s creatures, too, and educate them about dog rescue and cleansing practices after handling a dog.

I instantly recognized the subversive value of the image. A Malay touching a dog? But we are told that Malays don’t touch dogs because they believe their religion, Islam,—in particular the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Malaysia—tells them that dogs are unclean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anwar brought out the worst in UM

– Thulsi Manogaran
The Malaysian Insider
28 October 2014

It has been long written by William O. Douglas that the most important aspect of freedom of speech is the freedom to learn. All education is a continuous dialogue comprising of questions and answers that pursue every problem on the horizon. That is the essence of academic freedom.

I am not a big fan of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but I stand for academic freedom and freedom of speech. Anything that curtails the intellectual growth of my fellow Malaysians is a barrier to the nation’s growth.

I stand against suppression and indoctrination especially in the field of education. By now, we all know the reaction from Universiti Malaya’s administration on the close down of the entire university. UM staff were sent home early and classes cancelled. All entrances were locked.

However, what happened thereafter in UM is proof that no amount of suppression can work to curtail progress and change. Malaysia’s social landscape is changing and it is time those in power remember and accept the fact that you are in control because we, the rakyat, gave you control. Read the rest of this entry »

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No end to history?

by Narayan Ramachandran
Pragati
October 13, 2014

While liberal democracy may be the least imperfect system yet known to man, it is not very clear whether mankind will pursue this desirable destination without long and costly detours.

Twenty-two years ago, American political scientist and author, Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama wrote a treatise on western liberal democracy called The End of History and The Last Man. Fukuyama wrote with authority and confidence and argued that the dominance of western liberal democracy may well signal the arrival of a ‘final’ type of government – an end to the historical evolution of political systems.

Fukuyama claimed to have been inspired by Alexendre Kojeve, a Russian-French philosopher of Hegelian persuasion – who coined the term the “End of History”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lock-down/shut-down of University of Malaya to prevent Anwar from speaking to students is latest example of “first world infrastructure, third world mentality” afflicting our universities which will condemn the nation to a future of mediocrity

Imaging the lock-down of the University of Oxford and the shut-down of all electricity supplies to plunge one of the leading universities in the world into darkness just to deny the British Opposition Leader, Edward Miliband from returning to his alma mater campus to address the undergraduates?

Or imaging the lock-down of Monash University and the shut down of all electricity supplies to prevent the Australian Opposition Leader William Shorten from addressing students in his alma mater university, which had advertised itself online thus: “Monash is ranked in the top one per cent of world universities – 91st in the world – according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013/14”. (Monash this month improved its franking in the THE World University Rankings in 2014/15 to No. 83).

Banish both thoughts, for it would be completely unthinkable that such silly notions would be entertained by any self-respecting university administrator or even political leader in United Kingdom – just as it would be completely unthinkable that world-class American universities like Harvard, Stanford, California Institute of Technology or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) would be locked down or their electricity supplies completely shut down to prevent Opposition politicians from returning to their alma mater universities to speak to the university students.

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s indictment of Malaysia a decade ago as “a nation of first-class infrastructure but third-world mentality” is even more telling and relevant today in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Malaysia in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why is Universiti Malaya afraid of Anwar Ibrahim?

— P Ramakrishnan
Aliran
October 27, 2014

OCTOBER 27 — We can understand why Barisan Nasional, particularly Umno, is so terrified of Anwar Ibrahim. If anyone can send the BN packing off from Putrajaya, it has to be Anwar.

He is the only one who can hold Pakatan Rakyat together and mount an effective challenge to unseat BN from Putrajaya. He is the only one who can galvanise the Malays and non-Malays to come together to bring about a change in government.

Anwar is undoubtedly a political threat to the BN’s power and position. So they fear him — with justification!

Why is Universiti Malaya afraid of Anwar? Is he any threat to UM? What kind of threat does he pose to UM? Why are they imposing a ban on his speaking engagement at the invitation of the UM Students’ Council? Read the rest of this entry »

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In UM student protest, leaders see third-wave rising for reform

By Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
October 28, 2014

PETALING JAYA, Oct 28 ― Malaysia looks to have a brighter future with a new generation of student activists who last night stood up to an authoritarian administration to preserve their academic freedom, several civil society leaders and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers said.

The prominent speakers at a fundraising dinner attended by close to 1,000 people here last night pointing to the mammoth in-campus demonstration in Universiti Malaya (UM) led by its student council to show solidarity for alumnus Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who returns to the courtroom today to challenge his controversial second sodomy conviction.

“I say we need a third wave of uprising. An uprising of the people of Malaysia to fight and arise,” said DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, to much applause from the crowd.

According to the Gelang Patah MP, the “first wave” happened in 1998 following Anwar’s sacking from government and first sodomy charge. That period in time has come to be knows as the “reformasi” period.

The “second wave”, Lim added, was in 2008 when PR was formed to go toe-to-toe against the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition in the 12th General Elections. Read the rest of this entry »

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Speaking about context, what about other sedition cases?

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
27 October 2014

Context, the Attorney-General Chambers said today, was the important ingredient to consider when deciding whether Datuk Ibrahim Ali committed sedition when he threatened to burn bibles that contained the word “Allah” last year.

“As decided by the court, before a statement is said to have seditious tendencies, the statement must be viewed in the context it was made …

“When studied in its entire context, Datuk Ibrahim’s statement is not categorised as having seditious tendencies.

“It was clear Datuk Ibrahim Ali had no intention to create religious tensions, but was only defending the purity of Islam‎,” the AGC said, noting the Perkasa chief also said: “This is not a sentiment or (an attempt) to provoke religious tensions, but to defend the purity of Islam which is clearly (stated) in the laws.”

“He also did not commit any offence under Section 298 or 298A of the Penal Code as he was clearly defending the purity of Islam.”

Right. So the context is this, Ibrahim was not charged because he said he was not attempting to provoke religious tensions but was defending the purity of Islam.

Well, to put it in context, that is a half-baked explanation by the AGC, a comment after the fact.

In any court, this type of mitigation would have been laughed at. Read the rest of this entry »

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Students come together in defiance of UM

by Muzliza Mustafa and Lee Shi-Ian
28 October 2014

The students who forced themselves into the University Malaya campus tonight to listen to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speak said the situation would not have come to this if only the university’s administration had not banned the event.

Many felt that the failure by UM in acknowledging academic freedom and the rights of students was what pulled the crowd together.

Wei Yan, 21, a student from UM said what happened last night was historical as students stood united in support of each other.

“This is big. It is not about politics. I just believe that he (Anwar) as an individual should be allowed to address the students in campus, like other leaders. He has given speeches before, but it was outside. This is good because the students could listen and digest what he said,” said Wei Yan.

The event, ‘Pidato Anwar Ibrahim: 40 Tahun Dari UM ke Penjara’, had been declared illegal by UM vice-chancellor of student affairs Professor Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof.

But the crowd, which numbered about 2,000, forced their way through the main gates before Anwar arrived and spoke for about 20 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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