Archive for September 29th, 2007

Lingam Tape – Abdullah should chair next Cabinet meeting to disband 3-man panel and set up RCI

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must reconsider and set up urgently a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape scandal as the three-man panel chaired by Tan Sri Haidar Mohamed Noor, tainted by his role in the 1988 judicial crisis, is just untenable and unacceptable.

Haidar has still to satisfactorily account for his role in the infamous episode in the 1988 judicial crisis where as Supreme Court Chief Registrar, he locked the doors of the Supreme Court and concealed the Supreme Court seal to frustrate the course of justice and prevent the Supreme Court from issuing an injunction to stop the Judicial Tribunal from continuing with its proceedings to discipline the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas — which also led to the subsequent expulsion of Datuk George Seah and the late Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh as Supreme Court judges.

This unsavoury episode can be found both in Salleh Abas’ “May Day for Justice” as well as “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia” by the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, who was formerly Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and justice.

However, an even more important consideration as to why there must be a Royal Commission of Inquiry is that the issue which has shattered public confidence and caused the “March for Justice” of some 2,000 lawyers last Wednesday was not just the Lingam Tape, but the even more important issue of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary and the rot in the system of justice since 1988.

University of Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom put it very well when he wrote in his Star column today “Judiciary must be protected”: Read the rest of this entry »


Burma carnage – call on ASEAN Parliaments to meet in emergency session within 3 days

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was shown on world-wide television expressing Malaysia’s “disapproval, together with other Asean countries, on the use of excessive force by the Myanmar government to put down justifiable civilian protests” in his speech at the 62nd General Assembly yesterday.

I commend Abdullah for speaking up in the United Nations although stronger language would have been more appropriate and fully justified in keeping with the “revulsion” earlier expressed by the foreign ministers of ASEAN at the UN “over reports that the demonstrations in Myanmar are being suppressed by violent force and that there has been a number of fatalities”.

Abdullah must feel a personal responsibility for the carnage taking place in Myanmar because he was the Foreign Minister ten years ago when Malaysia spearheaded the campaign to defy regional and international opinion to admit Myanmar into ASEAN in 1997, promising a constructive engagement policy which will lead to national reconciliation and democratization in Burma.

Ten years down the road, the Myanmar military junta’s promises of reform have turned to ashes and Burma is teetering on the edge of another bloodbath to repeat the massacre of 1988 where over 3,000 pro-democracy activists, students and supporters were mowed down by a brutal and inhuman military — a dark page in the history of mankind.

Compounding the bloody military crackdown of the monks-led peaceful demonstrators in the past three days are the newly-released satellite photos by the American Association for the Advancement of Science providing evidence of ethnic cleansing of the ethnic minority Karens in eastern Myanmar, destroying villages and relocating people in the countryside.

As a result, it is not adequate for ASEAN leaders just to “wash their hands” of responsibility of what is happening in Myanmar with expressions of “revulsion” and “disapproval”, or even admission as by Abdullah in New York yesterday that the Asean’s constructive engagement policy with the Myanmar military government had failed and the need to “ensure that Myanmar adheres and fulfils the regional grouping’s interest” – whatever that means. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Muslim Union? Malaysia Does Not Need Another Sectarian Organisation!

By Farish A. Noor

Sectarianism, be it on the grounds of race, culture, language or religion, can only be divisive in the long run. The sad litany of human history shows that religion can and has been used as a dividing factor that has torn many a society apart, and this is true of all religions and belief systems worldwide. One only needs to look at the process of Balkanisation that took place in Eastern Europe to see how Religion has been instrumentalised and manipulated by sectarian politicians to amplify the centrifugal forces of a
plural society like Bosnia’s, and how that eventually led to all-out civil conflict along religion and cultural lines.

Politicians of course are fully aware of the divisive potential of sectarian politics, so why do they constantly fall back on such parochial and primordial sentiments such as racial, cultural and religious loyalty to serve their own limited ends? Weighing the costs of such moves may point us to the simple conclusion that sectarian politicians seldom care about the unity and well-being of the nation as a whole, particularly when that nation happens to be a complex and plural one in the first place. More often than
not, the demagogues and chauvinists among us would be more inclined to keep to their own narrow corners and seek solace and support from their own respective communities.

These observations should hardly come as news to Malaysia-watchers in particular, for we all know by now that Malaysia’s convoluted 50-year history has been one dominated and almost entirely determined by the logic of racial compartmentalism and communitarianism. Every single leader who has climbed up the greasy pole of power in the country has done so by playing the race — and now increasingly, religion — card close to his chest. It should therefore come as even less of a surprise that there is now talk of forming a Malaysian Muslim Workers’ Union (PPIM) in the country, as if Malaysian society was not divided enough already. Read the rest of this entry »