The advent of Najib’s New Despotism


The flurry of arbitrary arrests and selective prosecution of Pakatan Rakyat leaders, including Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen, in the run-up to the 57th Merdeka celebrations on August 31, mark the advent of a new despotism in the Malaysian political landscape.

Today alone, PKR vice president and MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli and PKR MP for Padang Serai N. Surendran were in court to face criminal charges, the former for the new-fangled accusation of “defamatory and provocative” statements against Umno members under Section 504 of the Penal Code and the latter a second charge of sedition within 10 days in connection with the Court of Appeal’s ruling that reversed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal in his second sodomy trial.

The last ten days have seen another PR MP and two State Assemblymen hauled to court with PAS MP for Shah Alam Khalid Samad and DAP Penang State Assemblyman for Seri Delima R.S.N. Rayer charged for sedition and the PAS Perak State Assemblyman for Changkat Jering Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin charged with criminal defamation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Other PR MPs who are facing trial for sedition include DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok and PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua.

If the Barisan Nasional government gets it ways to secure not only conviction but also a disqualifying sentence of either fine of over RM2,000 or one year’s jail, it would mean five parliamentary by-elections, namely Seputeh, Batu, Pandan, Padang Serai and Shah Alam and two State Assembly by-elections, viz Seri Delima in Penang and Changkat Jering in Perak.

If we include the possibility of a by-election in Permatang Pauh if Anwar fails in his appeal at the Federal Court on October 28 and 29, then we are looking at the likelihood of six parliamentary and two state assembly by-elections as a result of the recent spate of arrests and prosecution of PR leaders.

It is the height of irony that Najib had announced in July 2012 that the Sedition Act would be abolished as part of his National Transformation Plan to make Malaysia the “best democracy in the world” but in actual fact, Najib is setting a record in invoking the Sedition Act against MPs and SAs, putting to shame Tun Dr. Mahathir’s 22-year “Dark Age” as Prime Minister.

Five MPs (including Karpal Singh) and one State Assemblyman had been charged with sedition in the six-year Najib premiership while the 22-year Mahathir premiership had seen only one MP charged, jailed and disqualified as a parliamentarian – Lim Guan Eng.

Of course, Mahathir had recourse to the notorious detention-without-trial Internal Security Act but this is no excuse for the advent under the Najib premiership of a New Despotism against democratic liberties through resort to Sedition Act and a panoply of undemocratic and repressive laws.

It is not just the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail and Najib who must be held responsible for the New Despotism in Malaysia, but all the Cabinet Ministers and all the Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders who must either dissociate themselves from the democratic regressions or must be held whether as principals or as having aided and abetted in the New Despotism in Malaysia.

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  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 28 August 2014 - 5:01 pm

    All of the cases have no real merit. Worst, some of them completely made-up. It seem utterly senseless to pursue these cases because either they must be dismissed or it will only confirm our institutions and systems are broken and a danger to everyone – possibly creating outraged.

    I have come to the conclusion that what Najib is doing is not the job of results the people want but rather the job he can make excuses and won’t be removed. By keeping the opposition busy and the right-wing of his party confused, he basically become a moving target and not a sitting duck for them to all come down on him and end his career.

    Its a sad state of affairs when our PM is the equivalent of combination of Col Kling and Sgt Schultz (from Hogan Heros)

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Thursday, 28 August 2014 - 6:22 pm

    Needless to say, the new wave of BN despotism is to silence the opposition. Way back in the 1990s, both Dr. M and LKY of Singapore had found a “noble” tactic to silence the opposition, which was by hauling them to court. In Singapore the opposition was sued until they went broke. In Malaysia the opposition was sued until they had no rest and could not concentrate on their work. Such is the ugly face of a pseudo democracy.

  3. #3 by Bigjoe on Friday, 29 August 2014 - 9:04 am

    PLEASE tell Ms. Terasa Kok, while she is using the term “selective procecution” as a legal defense. Its NOT what the AG is doing and not use the term for her PC. What the AG is doing is INDISCRIMINATE ABUSE OF POWER – its the AG who should be charged in court.

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Friday, 29 August 2014 - 10:25 am

    I know everyone is preoccupied with either PAS-PR Selangor MB situation or these reckless nonsensical sedition charges but have anyone checked FGV shares lately? Its 30% below its opening IPO price. Its almost classic Najib – always end up dissapointing and failure (Why Mahathir is angry with him when he know him all his life is beyond me…).

    Someone from opposition should tell the Felda Settlers who bought shares especially on borrowed money – “we told you so”…

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