KT by-election – will “117” join “308” as historic milestones in the political transformation of Malaysia?

With the Kuala Terengganu by-election polling booths opening in 20 hours’ time, the question that is uppermost in everyone’s mind is whether the figure “117” will join “308” as historic milestones in the political transformation initiated by the March general election last year.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election started on Nomination Day 10 days ago as a very tight contest between the PAS/Pakatan Rakyat candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut and the Umno/Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wah Salleh and is ending as an equally tight race.

At the end of the by-election campaign, the PAS/Pakatan Rakyat candidate has the edge among the Chinese voters, who comprise 11.4 per cent of the electorate.

The question is whether PAS can hold its ground among the Malay voters as in the last general election in the Kuala Terengganu by-election on January 17, 2009.

If so, then the battle is won and “117” will join “308” in the Malaysian lexicon of political transformation and it may lead to the final unveiling of the secret meaning of the most famous political prophecy in the country, “RAHMAN”, with “N” forecasting not only Najib Razak as the sixth UMNO Prime Minister but also as the last UMNO Prime Minister!

Hudud and Islamic state are important issues, but they are not issues in the by-election. This is because DAP’s stand on hudud and Islamic state have always been clear, constant and consistent.

The critical issue in the KT by-election is whether the message of change of the March 8 political tsunami receives the resounding endorsement of the voters of Kuala Terengganu, regardless of race, religion or region – injecting greater momentum into the movement for political change and transformation leading all the way to Putrajaya in the next general election, whether held at the end of this year or later.

This is why the KT by-election result tomorrow night is awaited with bated breath by all concerned about the future of Malaysia.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 1:13 pm

    The change of PAS candidate from Mat Sabu to Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut may not go down well with the voters

  2. #2 by taiking on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 1:15 pm

    Like 308 and the permatang pauh by election this by election too is about the broader national issues. People in KT may be concerned about some peculiar local issues but in the end the whole who consideration will still narrow down to the question whether or not to let umno to continue with its rotten ways.

    Umno cannot face these issues of course. So they have to create a distraction by forcing a new issue to camouflage their weakness. Needless to say, mca has been forced to do the dirty job.

    And the job is this. To turn the fight in KT into BN vs Hudud. Umno reckons they have half the malay votes. Hence chinese votes would tip the balance. So the BN vs Hudud theme is hatched to forced the chinese voters to vote if not for BN then at least against Hudud.

    At the same time DAP cannot afford to be drawn into the Hudud thingy. So such line would (umno hope) neutralise DAP in their by election campaign. But DAP cannot not sit idly by and not help in the campaign – at least against BN.

    Its necessary for karpal to come out in the open with those statements. To remind people of DAP’s stand on the matter so that they would not be confused by the party’s efforts and participation in the KT by election campaign. An antidote to the mca by election poison.

    I believe the chinese in KT can well see the real issues and not that which is being presented to them by mca. Playing the hudud issue could also backfire on umno and BN. Malays in KT are one religious lot. They like the hudud thing. PAS may felt restrained in going all out to push for hudud in their campaign as a result of its association with pakatan. And umno is doing PAS a favour by raising it.

    In the end, I see victory for PAS candidate by a comfortable margin – greater than BN’s 600+ votes margin the last time.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 1:33 pm

    From RPK’s website, comes this disturbing thought.

    Umno is paying up to RM1,000 per vote. And this is how the system works.

    A voter goes into the polling station to collect his/her ballot paper. He/she then puts it in his/her pocket. He/she drops a dummy ballot paper into the ballot box. He/she comes out and ‘sells’ the ballot paper to an Umno goon waiting outside. He/she goes home RM1,000 the richer.

    The blank ballot paper is marked Barisan Nasional. It is then given to the next voter. He/she collects his/her ballot paper and puts it in his/her pocket. He/she drops the already marked ballot paper into the ballot box. He/she comes out and hands over the blank ballot paper to the Umno goon waiting outside in exchange for RM1,000.

    The process is repeated thousands of times all over Kuala Terengganu at the 38 polling stations.

    Another method would be: the voter goes into the polling station with his/her hand phone. He/she marks the ballot paper in the Barisan Nasional box and photographs it with his/her hand phone. He/she then drops the ballot paper into the ballot box. He/she comes out and shows the photo in the hand phone to an Umno goon and receives RM1,000.

  4. #4 by chai on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 1:43 pm

    i think people of KT will chose the right candidate tomorow, let us wish it will happen again as 308

  5. #5 by Racheljansz on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 2:06 pm

    My prediction is UMNO will win this.

    My prayers are for Pakatan Rakyat to see more good things from this event, ability to work together as a TEAM and learn to be better for the Rakyat.

    Next stop is Sarawak.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 2:07 pm

    Ever wondered why umno held the Permatang Pauh by-election on a working day(until the Chief Minister made it a holiday) but the KT on a holiday?

  7. #7 by merdekablog on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 2:31 pm

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 2:41 pm

    “117” will unveil the secret meaning of the most famous political prophecy in the country, “RAHMAN”???

    “N” is the last alphabet: so whatever the outcome of “117” whether in favour or against BN, the fact that it is the last alphabet will, to BN’s detractors, either way forecast Najib Razak as the last sixth UMNO Prime Minister… :)

  9. #9 by One4All4One on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 3:34 pm

    One would wish that the negative forces and energies playing and disturbing the balance in the country would be arrested and neutralised by the positive vibes and elements.

    “308” or “117” or “826”…we wish all of us good luck.

  10. #10 by limkamput on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 3:36 pm

    Sdr Lim, you must tell us a little more: This momentum toward change, may I know where are we going?

  11. #11 by Mr Smith on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 3:56 pm

    Are we putting too much emphasis on the KT by-election as though the results will decide the future course of this country?

    On a level playing field PK should win hands down. The general mood of the nation is Opposition. If BN wins through cheating, will that victory in any way alter the change we are hoping for?

    Remember BN won Ijok after pumping millions. Then what happened on March 8 2008? It lost!!
    A BN victory will not even salvage Najib’s fortunes. BN is a sinking ship.
    A BN victory means nothing.

  12. #12 by Saint on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 4:27 pm

    K1980 – Your concept taken form RPK’s website is frightening for BN is capable to carry it out in terms of (non) morality and financial means to save the face the waiting PM’s status. Only TRUTH can fight this out – I hope the people of KT have much of that.

    And to the PAS candidate – best of luck to you. You need it to win against so much odds against you.

  13. #13 by Bobster on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 4:36 pm

    It is certainly good to have Ah Jib to be the next PM, since he is so desperate and will do whatever to get what he wants.

    After talking to my Malay buddies, noticed many are fuming mad when mentioned abt Ah Jib especially his other half. Bala’s case is a final nail to Ah Jib or to be more precised BN future/coffin. Even crystal clear water cannot wash away the bloody stain left by the Mongolian.

    Most Malaysians will lose even more hope for country future if Ah Jib becoming the next PM based on his current bloody controversial track records and past performance. But only God knows why Ah Jib out of so many great Malaysians to be chosen to fulfill RAHMAN divination.

    That might mean the End of BN in the coming election when Ah Jib takes over as majority have enough nonsense especially from the you-know-who even before becoming PM.

  14. #14 by trublumsian on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:29 pm

    saudara lim,

    how do we know we’re not putting too much into the kt elections? is pr going to declare kingdom come if pas wins or end of the world if it didn’t? afterall, bn did retain a majority in 308. how do we know the kt crowd is not predisposed to tilt toward bn? r we setting ourselves up for a big thud if pas does not win? a bn win here does not speak much for the country, neither should pr’s.

  15. #15 by monsterball on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:32 pm

    Win or loose….life goes on till 13th election…where Malaysians youngster’s future will be guided…by their smart votes.
    Trenggannu and Kelantan voters are not like Permatang Pauh…so open minded. Permatyang Pauh voters are surrounded by all sorts of entertainments and open minded friends. Terenggannu voters are more simple minded…..not exposed to modern living at all.
    A win by PAS…will show a real clear sign….change of government is a must.
    A win by UMNO…is not really a confirmation to be happy with Najib as next PM…but PM..he will be…as UMNO is still governing..and he is UMNO’s PM….not Malaysians.
    But this by-election is as thrilling to watch and see the result.
    Monday news on the result… will be old and no news for me.
    But you can bet…few pages will be given to UMNO..if they win…and just a small announcement….if PAS win.
    That’s UMNO democracy for Malaysians.
    Nor is it a sign…that Malaysians want UMNO to rule forever.
    That is simply..too ridiculous.

  16. #16 by Onlooker Politics on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:48 pm

    Below are partial paragraphs of Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s speech at Regional Outlook Forum, Singapore:

    20. Malaysia is like many other countries where the young will ultimately determine the nature and course of politics. The people have shown their abhorrence for greed and abuse of power. The people have shown that they want to be together as one community. They have shown that they prefer pragmatic discourse. Half of Malaysia ‘s population is below 35. These youngsters are eager for change, for a politics of idealism and honour. They want public officials to be more accountable, or at least, for a political process that is less corrupt and dirty. They want their leaders to be in tune with their needs, they demand security, remedies to their problems and social justice. Though still relevant, ethnicity is no longer a critical factor. The young are less susceptible to the instigation of racial hatred and prejudice. They want change. This is something that both sides of the divide must take note of. At the next general election, there will be another 4 million young voters who will determine the titanic struggle.

    21. Why am I so positive about Malaysia whilst continuously pointing to the deterioration in ethnic relations, and religious conflicts? Because the majority of Malaysian are sensible people. Ordinary people have more sense
    than their leaders sometimes. They know the value of cooperation, mutual respect and harmony. I believe the people have spoken out loudly and clearly. The future direction of the country is no longer going to be solely
    in the hands of the political masters. The people want to be involved. They have had enough of scandals, abuse of power, and poor administration. It is not true that they voted for the Opposition just out of frustration or in
    protest as some pro-BN analysts have said. The people voted for the Opposition as a manifestation of their desire for a better country; for themselves, their families, their children. The non-Malays ask that they be accorded the respect and recognition they deserve as equals. They believe, rightly so, that their future is inextricably linked with that of the Bumiputras.

    The Malays on their part have responded positively to the idea of a truly unified Malaysia . Despite UMNO fear-mongering about Malay rights being threatened by support for the Oppposition, the Keadilan and PAS share of Malay votes on the Peninsula exceeded that of UMNO. While at one time a Malay vote was an UMNO vote, today the Malays no longer see themselves as beholden to UMNO.

    Zaid Ibrahim

    Wednesday, 7 January 2009

    Island Ballroom, Shangri-La Hotel , Singapore

  17. #17 by Kelvenho on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:50 pm

    I sincerely appeal to the voters of KT to vote PR tomorrow.
    Please vote PR for a better gorvenment. Reject all money politics which BN now practise.

  18. #18 by Godfather on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 6:25 pm

    Be smart, voters of KT. Take the money offered by BN. Take whatever goodies offered by BN. These are the rakyat’s money anyway.

    Then vote PAS.

  19. #19 by undergrad2 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 9:16 pm

    Yep, I’m on all fours with the Godfather – but not necessarily on my knees.

    I say “Take the money the rakyat is giving you, do the right thing and vote for ‘change’”. It is a change to stop the abuse of power and corruption. If that means voting for PAS, then it is a vote for PAS as an agent of change.

    Having said that, I think the KT by-election rests finally with the Malay rural electorate and not with the Chinese urban voters who are understandably enough struggling with issues on ideology. Even if they were to vote on the facts and give ideology a back seat, the effectiveness of this strategic approach to voting may be cancelled by what is happening in the Malay rural community.

    How different are Trengganu Malays when compared to their counterparts in Selangor? I say, “Very different”.

    At best, it is a “Toss up”.

  20. #20 by Thor on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 9:37 pm

    Last minute comment made by Karpal Singh about hudhud law.
    A very bad move indeed for Pakatan!!!

  21. #21 by undergrad2 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 9:55 pm

    To Karpal Singh, it’s all about ideology. When is he going to realise history is in the making? He should give the facts a chance. The fact is non-Muslims are not being forced to convert.

  22. #22 by undergrad2 on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 10:17 pm

    It won’t be long before the Cambridge upstart and intellectual pariah shoots off his mouth on how DAP leaders should not cooperate with PAS and move to form a new coalition.

    You don’t need a PhD to know that that kind of move will not carry the Malay votes needed to win elections. It is the kind of argument that a pinhead would offer while enjoying the security of his ivory tower existence to the detriment of the rest of us – Kit included.

  23. #23 by katdog on Friday, 16 January 2009 - 10:27 pm

    But on the other hand, we need people like Karpal. We need to encourage a balanced political culture where the MP’s are allowed to speak openly on issues rather than always kow tow-ing to the party leaders and toeing the party line. For if so , then we will end up no different then MCA-Gerakan-MIC-UMNO.

    Of course this may cost the Malay votes of KT. Difficult decision here. Recognize Karpal’s right to voice his ideals (no matter how silly we think it)? Or shut him up for the sake of winning the KT by-election?

  24. #24 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 12:05 am

    Naaa..! We just gag him until the election is over. BN should seek a temporary gag order from a syariah court judge.

  25. #25 by shamshul anuar on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 12:32 am

    Dear Undergrad2,

    The election result tomorrow is important for both PAS and UMNO. It may not change political equation but it may reflect the effect on March 8 election result.

    For once, PAS dares not use the hallmark of accusing UMNO having non Muslim as ally as now it(PAS) courting DAP.

    For once, Malays are complaining on what PAS did in Perak that is granting extreme benefit to Chinese landowner with significant discount but silent on same treatment on Malay landowners.

    As for Anwar, he lost credibilty( not that he is known for having one) after failed “coup” he concocted to the world.

    As for PAS, having DAP as big brother may cost votes as Malays are dissapointed that PAS make 180% charge after decades of cursing UMNO for forging political alliance with Chinese and Indians.

    As for DAP, well no need to make fuss about HUdud . Why court PAS in the first place?

    And more importantly, how can people in Trengganu forget how PAS, despite its Islamic self-imposed claim, closed Kemas kindergarten during its rule. And for civil servants there, they will not forget how cruel PAS was on its treatment to then State Secretary of Trengganu.

  26. #26 by monsterball on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 3:32 am

    undergrad2…Go read Karpal’s lawful reasoning carefully.
    What if a case involve a muslim and non muslim….which court to go to?
    Karpal is too hasty and too forceful.
    PAS needs to talk religion to win muslim votes and he should leave this matter… after the election.
    And actually PAS cannot never accomplish what ever they want to do..as they are not governing Malaysia….and they do not have enough Parliament votes to implement anything….unless…they team up with UMNO.
    Why be so upset?
    It is PAS teaming up with UMNO…then lets see what happens.
    Bet you….UMNO will not agree too.
    These crooks want to enjoy life..and they are corrupted hypocritical muslims. They must keep on stealing.
    How to team with PAS?
    PAS teaming up with keDAILan and DAP…for a non corrupted government….and they know…..all must be united to free Malaysia.
    Do not let political ploys to win votes fool you.

  27. #27 by HJ Angus on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 5:21 am

    Karpal should learn from LKY in Singapore.
    He came to power with the support of the Communists but then launched a drive to get rid of all his political foes.
    That was history in the making.
    I believe that PAS may sing a different tune once they share power in Malaysia.

  28. #28 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 5:58 am

    monsterball Says:

    Today at 03: 32.19 (1 hour ago)
    undergrad2…Go read Karpal’s lawful reasoning carefully.
    What if a case involve a muslim and non muslim….which court to go to?”

    The short answer to that is it depends on the issues. If the issue is one whether a person barely conscious and on his death bed knew what he was doing, then that is an issue involving a civil matter. It has nothing to do with the syariah law. However, once the civil court decides that he knew what he was doing (a civil matter) then the matter of his conversion out of Islam is a matter that would have to go before the syariah court ( a syariah law matter). Article 121(1A), in my opinion, is not intended to oust the jurisdiction of the civil court in favor of the syariah court. Period.

    It has been complicated by civil court judges who refuse to take jurisdiction of the matter.

  29. #29 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 6:01 am

    I don’t know what Karpal has had to say on the matter.

  30. #30 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 7:58 am

    For the benefit of readers who are not subscribers of Malaysiakini, I reproduce below here the analysis o f todays KT by election by Dr Bridget Welsh, an associate professor in Southeast Asian studies at John Hopkins University-SAIS, Washington DC who is currently in Kuala Terengganu to observe the by-election:

    (quote): “Tomorrow’s by-election represents a critical indicator for both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. More than the August 2008 contest in Permatang Pauh and perhaps on par with the decisive turning point of Lunas in 2000, the contest of Umno’s Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh and PAS’ Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut will be a key turning point in political fortunes of the incumbent government and opposition.BN: Campaigning from weaknessFor BN, severely weakened by the March 2008 polls, party infighting and lackluster leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the by-election will show whether the coalition can cooperate on the ground.

    The Chinese 11.6% of the electorate will ultimately decide the election results. As such, the coalition needs to work as a unit to win. Unfortunately, this unity is missing. Umno leaders are focused on internal party dynamics and the racial rhetoric post-March 8 polls has left a negative imprint on Chinese voters. The Umno heir apparent Najib Razak has yet to instill confidence among non-Malay voters.The major Chinese component party in BN has also yet to win back its traditional electorate. The MCA is now riddled with infighting in the wake of its party polls and its new leader, Ong Tee Keat, has yet to move beyond his focus on his deputy to invigorate the party.More importantly, MCA has not yet shown that it can deliver for the Chinese in the current political environment of weakened BN. Many Chinese in Terengganu are leaning toward the opposition despite some of them being MCA members.The shadow of the losses of the BN in the March polls darkens its chances with non-Malay voters in this contest since none of the major issues associated with non-Malay representation been effectively addressed.

    Ironically, since March 2008, the BN as a genuinely collaborative partnership of multi-ethnic parties has further eroded.This erosion in cooperation has corroded the BN electoral machinery. It was slow to get going in KT. It has gained momentum, but this may be too late to get enough of the BN supporters to the polls.The machinery is important, since the campaign to date has been essentially issue-less. The issues of the March polls continue to regurgitated. To win over the Chinese voters, BN has turned to the old and tried (read: tired) method of raising the hudud issue.This is old news, for an electorate fed up with the politics of fear. The BN negative messaging will only consolidate the die-hards and not extend multi-ethnic support.The BN has also turned to the traditional honed method of financial incentives. And the money has poured in as is the norm in by-elections, but the pace of distribution has not matched earlier efforts to date.Most flows, however, occur in the last day of polling, however, so this dimension is too early to call.

    Irrespective, the problems of cooperation, machinery sluggishness and stale messaging hamper the BN’s chances.Both PM, Najib face key testPerhaps even more significant than the dynamics within BN, is the impact of this contest for Umno. KT represents a test of whether Umno can win a majority of Malay voters, whether the party is the legitimate voice of the Malay electorate.Traditionally polling shows that Umno has the support of anywhere from 35-65% of the Malays, but this dropped in March (and August) last year to under 50%. The drop was not that pronounced in

    Terengganu, however, and recent polling by the Merdeka Center shows that the Malay electorate is evenly divided. Umno is quietly pushing the issue of Malay rights among its base and appealing to party loyalty. The party, however, is in a period of uncertainty. The cloud of the leadership transition and upcoming party elections have created a combination of lack of direction and factionalism.This factors have failed to engender enthusiasm and energy found in the campaigns of earlier by-elections such as Pendang (Kedah) and Anak Bukit (Kedah). Umno members are concerned with their own fortunes and not sure how much they should invest in this contest. Wan Farid’s link to Abdullah, the outgoing leader, has not brought in the support for those jockeying for future positions. The end result is that many Umno leaders are going through the motions. Leaders are making appearances, but not breaking a sweat for the cause.Without issues, the focus on the candidate has taken on greater significance. Despite Wan Farid’s valiant efforts to engage with voters in the campaign, these actions may be too little too late.Perceptions – which are unfair in that they do not appreciate his reserve – are that he is distant and arrogant.But perceptions can matter more than reality. Wan Farid has a reasonable record of public service and is not significantly tainted with scandal. This record ultimately may not matter, as the focus on shallow personality perceptions dominates talk in the coffee shops. If Wan Farid loses the contest, and Umno loses another seat, this will have a major impact. Foremost, it sends a signal to Abdullah that his own ally cannot win office. His power could be seen as completely evaporated, as his lame duck status has made him ineffective politically.Equally significant is that a loss will taint Najib, who has very much been the target of the opposition this round and the leader of the BN campaign effort. The hard work that Najib has put into this campaign will be moot, and he will now have two losses in his column as the leader apparent.

    There is the real potential that some in Umno would question Najib’s leadership before the March 2009 party elections. Hard work only goes so far. It is the delivery that counts.The hand the BN had before the polls was weak, but it was very much of their own making, and has the potential to weaken further if the BN suffers a loss.Pakatan: Desperate to keep momentumFor the opposition, this contest is equally important.Like the 1989 Telok Pasu by-election during the period of Semangat 46, KT has the potential to bring the opposition together or divide it. If PAS loses this contest, this will potentially put pressure on Pakatan, as those unhappy with PAS working with Pakatan may become even more disgruntled.Those concerned that the coalition is hurting PAS’ viability as an Islamic party will gain ground, as many in PAS feel that the coalition is limiting their space to address issues of Islamic governance effectively.PAS took its time – as it does in its consensus decision-making – to settle on a candidate. The choice of Wahid Endut, a former civil servant and businessman, was carefully calculated. The party worked to smooth over differences within the party that emerged after March 2008 on how to work within the opposition.The two camps led by Syed Azman Nawawi and Mustafa Ali locally in Terengganu agreed on the choice of Wahid Endut, who is close to Mustafa but has the openness and credentials to appeal to the professionals in PAS and meet the standards requested of the other opposition component parties in Pakatan. It has been quickly decided that the candidate had to be local, and Wahid Endut fits that bill. His pluses were that he could also appeal to the civil servant community that comprise a large share of the KT electorate. PAS’ calculations rested on the assumption that they can hold their base and pick up some Chinese and Malay voters. This may not be as easy as it seems. PAS is divided about how it should govern – its position in Pakatan and its position on Islamic governance.While the decision to field Wahid Endut may have mended fences within the party, it is not completely clear whether this has extended to the KT electorate as a whole.The party has turned to its cache of bread-and-butter issues and threaded the campaign in its closed campaign meetings with promises of better governance, albeit undefined in form. Yet, with fuel prices much lower and economic conditions not perceived to be as difficult as last year, concerns with the economy have less appeal. The Islamic governance components remain abstract promises that have mixed appeal.Led by Hadi Awang, PAS in Terengannu has not fully appreciated that its message of Islamisation does not win over new voters, particularly in a middle-class constituency such as KT. PAS’ messaging this round is not new. The only new dimension is a targeted attack on Najib, which like the hudud issue, only serves to bring out the party faithful and not win over new voters.At the same time PAS’ machinery in Terengganu lacks the cohesiveness of that in Kelantan and arguably even Kedah. Modern posters and mobilisation has not yet replaced the traditional methods of in-house meetings and closed-door grassroots campaigning. The focus is on the fence sitters in quiet onslaught of material distribution.The resources that have characterised the campaign paraphernalia of PAS elections have not been matched in this contest, as the party appears taxed financially in presenting itself to KT voters. Without the same dynamism, it is not clear whether PAS is actually reaching new voters, which it needs to assure a win in this contest. Younger Malay voters will be decisive and in KT, they have leaned toward BN in both the 2004 and 2008 polls.Opposition cooperation as a whole will be essential. To date, the Pakatan has worked as a unit. Both PKR and DAP have brought in their leaders to assist, with PAS leading the campaign. The campaigning has been ethnically segmented – with DAP and non-Malay leaders in PKR addressing the Chinese while Anwar Ibrahim is focusing on the Malay community.Yet, the campaign cooperation reflects tightening bonds among opposition parties. The cooperation is pragmatic and does not address the ideological differences that divide the opposition, but the spirit of cooperation in the campaign is real.Unlike the BN, it is hampered by the fact that neither PKR nor DAP have their own independent base of support in Terengganu. DAP, for example, no where matches the local ties of MCA. The reality is that Pakatan has much less experience working together collaboratively than the BN and, at times, this inexperience shows.If PAS wins KT, the opposition as a whole will benefit. The victory will be seen as much a Pakatan victory as a PAS one since the spillovers will extend into the opposition congealing as a unit.The impact of a loss will have the opposite effect, and will send PAS inward-looking, with the potential of the message of deepening Islamic governance and widening this ideological opposition divide further. KT will determine whether the opposition gains momentum or backslides. The contest is PAS’ to loseMost pundits have argued that the poll is too close to call. With the national momentum working in the opposition favour, and the adjustments PAS made in their candidate selection, the contest is PAS’ to lose.PAS has the advantage, but the BN has been cutting into the contest over the last days of the campaign. Many of the electorate have already made up their minds and are staying home from the ceramah.The lack of enthusiasm in the capital of Malaysia’s richest east-coast state has not sparked the energy of other by-elections. KT voters know that their votes count, but neither side has given them strong reasons to come out and vote, especially swing voters.

    Overall, the choice for KT voters is a negative one, the side they like least, rather than a positive vote for a particular party or candidate.Three factors will shape the final results – 1) turnout 2) mobilisation, and 3) the fairness of the contest.It is not the level of overall turnout that matters, but which groups – Chinese, Malay, older voters or middle-class voters – that will shape the outcome. Older voters will help the BN, for example, while the Chinese are likely to swing to PAS.Mobilisation is closely connected to turnout. Both sides will need to gear up their machinery with some stronger petrol than has been used to date in the campaign so far. The messaging of both sides is not inspiring.If the BN wins this contest, money will be a major reason. The key element will be whether both sides keep to the rules, from the potential use of phantom voters and intimidation to respecting the outcome. Tensions are high. The police presence is massive. Tomorrow will tell.” (Unquote)

    Yes we’ll see what happens tonight.

  31. #31 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 8:37 am

    Tonight Karpal Singh will be making history!

  32. #32 by ch on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 9:37 am

    Dear All,

    At the time of this comment, the voting process at KT is already on-going. The message that KT voters should deliver to the current government regime is Malaysia is no longer the Malaysia we lived in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The spirit of togetherness among the three major races in Malaysia had went down the tubes particularly after May 13. The situation had gone from bad to worse when numerous affirmative policies were abused by UMNO for their own political gains. We have been bitterly complaining about the emasculation of MCA and MIC over the years but the facts is/was that both were unable to abstain themselves as party to the loot, let alone defending and going against UMNO. The bitter truth has been there for years and we praise the brave Malaysians who courageously voted for Pakatan Rakyat in the 308 election. The euphorical sense of winning KT among PR politicians is no doubt thick.

  33. #33 by taiking on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 10:24 am

    May 13 is bad to the chinese because umno engineered it. NEP is bad to the common malays because umnoputras hijacked it. Our economic policies are bad for the country because both umno and umnoputras messed it up real bigtime. Our education standard is abysmal because umno minister wasted too much time and energy over his keris. I mean what is good about umno? Nuthin man. Nuthin. Isnt it obvious who kt folk ought to vote?

  34. #34 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 10:29 am

    Come on! Can you guys please try not to be too hard on Karpal this round? Don’t you know that in Chinese opera there must always be a white mask playwright and a black mask playwright?

    Let Karpal be the white mask playwright this round and Kit Siang be the black mask playwright always so that Kit Siang will be given much better bargaining power in order to pursuade PAS to give up Hudud. This is called political tactics. Don’t you learn that?

  35. #35 by Thor on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 10:58 am

    I didn’t meant that Karpal’s action was wrong.
    It’s the timing that he made such a comment.
    Top priority is that we need to kick those goon out first.
    Then we’ll settle the hudhud law later.
    That’s how the strategy goes.
    If PR were to lose, hudhud or no hudhud doesn’t meant a thing at all.
    BN is smart, you know!
    They give and promise you everything before election and you’re on your own after that.
    The rule of law is that we’ve to outwit someone who think that they’re real smart first.

  36. #36 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:00 am

    Wiil the Pakatan Rakyat vote counting observers please take note that there may be a TNB power cut-off this evening? Please make sure that no OPPOSITION VOTE will get disappeared during the power cut-off period!

  37. #37 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:00 am

    KT by-election (“117”) will join “308” as historic milestones in the political transformation of Malaysia, if Ong Kian Ming’s prediction of the Terengganu by-election’s results were correct. Kian Ming is a PhD candidate in political science at Duke University.

    Using a “variety of quantitative and qualitative methods” Kian Ming predicts:-

    · “Malay vote will swing to PAS by approximately 4%. Given that my estimate of the Malay support for BN was 47% in 2008, this means that the overall Malay support for the BN will fall to 43% or that PAS will win 57% of the Malay vote (not including postal votes). With an estimated Malay turnout of 81% (slightly less than 2008) and by excluding spoilt votes and votes for the independent candidate (which I estimate to total approximately 2%), this translates into a majority of 7,720 for PAS among the Malay voters.”

    · “Among the non-Malays (mostly Chinese), I estimate that the turnout will decrease by approximately 10% from 65% in 2008 to 55% in 2009, primarily because of the Chinese New Year holidays that will take place the following week. Among the non-Malays who will turn out, I estimate a BN support level of 45%. This represents a significant 20% swing in the non-Malay vote from 2008. This is consistent with the Merdeka Center survey results as well as the feeling from the ‘ground’ that the Chinese vote has swung against the BN and in favour of the opposition. Because of the relatively lower turnout and small percentage of Chinese voters in this constituency, this works out to a 510 vote margin in favour of PAS.”

    “The Malay and non-Malay majorities calculated above results in an 8,230 majority in favour of PAS. However, there are approximately 1,300 postal votes in this constituency. Assuming that 90% of the postal votes will go to the BN, this means that BN will have a majority of 1,170 votes from postal votes alone. Subtracting this figure from the 8,230 majority, I arrive at the final prediction of 7,060 votes or approximately 7,000 votes favouring PR/PAS candidate”, Kian Ming predicted.

  38. #38 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:29 am

    We do not need idealogues right now!

  39. #39 by OrangRojak on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 12:26 pm

    undergrad2: complicated by civil court judges who refuse to take jurisdiction
    After one of Jeffrey’s recent posts, I started to re-read the Reid Commission report that the person from digitallibrary so helpfully spams a link to from time to time. From what is written in there (I haven’t checked against the current Constitution), I get the impression that the federation is Constitutionally bound to not interfere in matters related to the customs of the Malays and is bound to permit the States to implement their own laws. What I don’t see anywhere is a limit or appeal process. I was under the uninformed impression that the Federal courts were superior, but I don’t see anything in the Reid Commission report that suggests any attempt to impose a single set of rules on all. Is there anything in the Constitution that prevents a State imposing whatever rules pleases them?

    May 13 is bad to the chinese because umno engineered it
    I think you ought to let that one rest. If you’re basing your statement on the well-known book on the matter that claims support from previously top-secret UK government documents, you should know that those documents are now freely available online to the public from the UK’s National Archive. If you go to their website and search for documents about Malaysia from about that date, you might get back, as I did, the Cabinet Meeting of May 15 1969. The paragraph marked ‘Malaysia’ in the margin is not exactly supportive of the claim you’ve quoted. Perhaps the author had Cabinet-trumping source documents and perhaps he didn’t, but with at best inconsistent evidence, it would be hard to build a truly convincing case. I haven’t read the book, but Google suggests it contains no reference to the Cabinet report. It’s obviously an interesting topic, so perhaps LKS or one of his contributors could start a thread about it in the future. There are better things to focus on though: the future, for a start.

  40. #40 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 5:00 pm

    “Is there anything in the Constitution that prevents a State imposing whatever rules pleases them?” (OrangRojak)

    The answer lies in Article 75 of Federal Constitution of Malaysia:
    75. If any State law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail and the State law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

  41. #41 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 5:11 pm

    “Is there anything in the Constitution that prevents a State imposing whatever rules pleases them?” (OrangRojak)

    Further constraint on State Rights can be found in Article 81 of Federal Constitution of Malaysia:
    81. The executive authority of every State shall be so exercised-
    • (a) as to ensure compliance with any federal law applying to that State; and
    • (b) as not to impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive authority of the Federation.

  42. #42 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 5:34 pm

    “Is there anything in the Constitution that prevents a State imposing whatever rules pleases them?” (OrangRojak)

    The state government also has to observe certain rules pertaining to relations between the Federation and the States. Article 95C of Federal Constitution of Malaysia clearly outlined the rules:

    Article 95C.
    • (1) Subject to the provisions of any Act of Parliament passed of the Malaysia Day, the Yang di- Pertuan Agong may by order make as respects any State any such provision as may be made by Act of Parliament
    o (a) for authorising the Legislator of the State to make laws as mentioned in Article 76A; or
    o (b) for extending the executive authority of the State, and the powers or duties of any authority of the State, as mentioned in Clause (4) of Article 80.

    • (2) An order made by the virtue of paragraph (a) of Clause (1) shall not authorise the Legislature of a State to amend or repeal an Act of Parliament passed after Malaysia Day, unless the Act so provides.

  43. #43 by alaneth on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:10 pm

    There is no such thing that PAS will not implement Hudud if they win. I don’t believe so. They will sure do. Their ultimate goal is to set up an Islamic State. Eventually they will adopt the Holier-than-thou attitude and Malaysia will be doomed like Saudi or Brunei one day. Just look at Brunei and check out what religious rights non-Muslims have there.

    PAS put aside Hudud just to win votes, akin to Hamas’s showing lots of casualties to win sympathy. When they have the votes, their hidden Islamic state roots agenda will show. That is why I am a staunch DAP supporter but not PAS supporter. Kudos to Karpal Singh who championed the cause of DAP & strive to push for Malaysia as a secular state.

    Unfortunately the young DAP members I see in this blog are not thinking the way Karpal is. They are just anti-establishment, anti-BN… If this continues, DAP will eventually bow to an Islamic state with Hudud laws. I’d better migrate by then…

  44. #44 by OrangRojak on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:18 pm

    The state government also has to observe certain rules
    So the report that Jeffrey copied recently about the flogging sentences handed down for consumption of alcohol in Pahang – I’m ignorant of Syariah court procedure, but that sounds like a court versus drinker case. I can see how the Syariah court can operate without conflict with federal court in civil / arbitration cases, but how could drinking alcohol be punishable by caning and not come into conflict with federal law? In the UK, local councils (we have 3 elected levels) can pass by-laws prohibiting drinking in certain places and at certain times, and even by certain persons – but penalties are very limited; usually to small fines.

    I see this comment on the Pahang case on a Straits Times article:

    ‘It’s rare but it’s within the law and Muslims are subject to such law in this country,’ said lawyer Pawancheek Merican, a syariah law committee member of the Malaysian Bar Council.

    I’m interested to know – is the Syariah Court in Pahang acting within Constitutional limits in the cases copied by Jeffrey? If it is, to what extent is the implementation of Hudud at Syariah courts barred by the Constitution, if at all?

  45. #45 by alaneth on Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 11:22 pm

    Which is better?
    A – Bolehland with NEP, but still many foreign investors pouring in $$$ & good economy & Capitalism with lots of money (dirty or not) rolling about amid corruption. But the majority of the rakyat can find jobs, do businesses & make more money in the midst of music, parties, beers, 4D, celebrations etc.

    B – A country like Aceh, Sudan, Saudi governed by Syariah or Hudud where the streets are deserted by 7pm and quiet with no entertainment, no foreign investors, no money to roll, a great depressing time for businesses with almost no development and it will be difficult to spot an ang-moh as tourism is down, KL becomes like Mogadishu. But no corruption & a clean govt governmed by strict Islamic laws & Hudud.

    If given only this 2 options, I’ll choose option A.
    ….. or Option C = migrate!

    That’s why I never support PAS. I’ll vote DAP/PKR only. But if given choice btw UMNO & PAS, I’ll vote for Option A.

  46. #46 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 12:28 am


    As imperfect the document known as the Federal Malaysian Constitution 1957 may be, in this case it is very clear as to the extent of the executive authority of the Federation. Article 80 (1) has a proviso like most other constitutional provisions.

    Land matters and religion (read: Islam) and native customs come within the State List. Sub-clause (2) of the same Article should lay any lingering doubts you may have regarding the ambit of federal executive authority to rest.

  47. #47 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 2:18 am

    So … pardon my painful progress … ‘religion … come within the State List’. So, if a State wanted to send all its Muslim lawbreakers through Syariah court and apply Islamic judgements and sentences on them, they could – because it’s religion? Maybe I’m still not understanding this point. If this is so, why the fuss about Hudud? Presumably if a State wants it, there’s no Constitutional obstacle to them implementing it – is there?

    So it doesn’t really matter about PAS saying they want an Islamic State – they could have several Islamic states, voters willing. LKS’ position then boils down to no federal Islamic State under PR because he thinks one secular law is the right number and type for a nation, and Karpal is angry because PAS increasing the reach of the State Syariah courts will make his day job more complicated. I suppose the federation might one day look like a collection of polarised states, some largely Syariah controlled, some largely controlled by secular courts.

    And it doesn’t really matter whether PAS or UMNO control states, because the same people will be administering the Syariah courts, so the courts’ reach will extend at about the same rate it always has? I think I’m getting it now. The thing I don’t understand is Anwar and his ‘Freedom of Conscience’. In a country where some of its citizens are irreversibly assigned to a religion, how is he going to deliver ‘freedom of conscience’? Presumably devout Muslims are happy with this legal framework, and both Muslims and non-Muslims can accept each other having different laws as they would a friend who insists on wearing their shoes inside your house, demands a special diet when he visits or can’t be parted from his companion animal, and Karpal can just put his fee up. It’s their (the Muslims’) choice, given ‘Freedom of conscience’, right? I suppose the difficulty comes when there’s a Malaysian who wants to join Richard Dawkins’ happy band, or fancies a crisp gin and tonic, or has decided that we should all call him ‘Loretta’ from now on, but has been assigned a religion that qualifies him for something horrible if he carries through his wish. Who’s defending his (or her) ‘Freedom of conscience’ at the moment? Is Anwar? Has he been explicit about such a case, or is it a pure figment of my imagination, and such a Malaysian does not and never will exist?

    I’m not suggesting for a moment that LKS should promote DAP to Malay men with plucked eyebrows, smelling of juniper berries and hanging around the popular science shelves in bookstores, just wondering who they should vote for, either before or after the sky change. The Constitution specifically rules out non-Muslims campaigning for Loretta’s vote, I suppose. But it’s that bit that makes me wonder about the details of Anwar’s freedom of conscience.

  48. #48 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 6:51 am

    OrangRojak Says:

    Today at 02: 18.14 (1 hour ago)
    So … pardon my painful progress … ‘religion … come within the State List’. So, if a State wanted to send all its Muslim lawbreakers through Syariah court and apply Islamic judgements and sentences on them, they could – because it’s religion? Maybe I’m still not understanding this point. If this is so, why the fuss about Hudud …”

    Syariah law traditionally has only been applied to cases involving divorce, births and deaths and division of property. Occasionally you may hear of courting couples found in embarrassing positions made to appear before the syariah court judge to answer the charge of the offence of ‘close proximity’. Just what is this offence of ‘close proximity’ that one not only has to get close but also be in proximity? It defies definition for the most part and only the syariah court judge trained in syariah law could hope to navigate the complex legal issues that it presents.

    Those were early days and they have not found a way to punish the non-Muslim partner caught in embarrassing positions, committing the offence of ‘close proximity’ – an offence that is not found in the country’s Penal Code. But in recent years with UMNO wanting to out perform PAS in revving up the process of Islamization of the country, our lawmakers introduced a constitutional amendment giving more clout to the syariah courts. When before there was no Islamic Criminal Code there is today. When before the constitutional amendment, the civil court judges have no reason not to accept jurisdiction over anything marginally involving the religion of Islam, though still a civil matter, they do today.

    So what is the fuss to people like the Lion of Jelutong? To him it is the dilution and whittling down of the constitutional rights of the non-Malays and non-Muslims. It is what makes lions roar. They do so to establish control over their territory.

    To others, given as they are to Islamophobia, the thought of having their buttocks forcibly exposed in public for all to see, and to be caned for what in the west are mere misdemeanors is unbearable. No longer a figment of their imagination, it could happen one day.

    That’s what the ‘fuss’ is all about.

  49. #49 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 7:04 am

    “I’m not suggesting for a moment that LKS should promote DAP to Malay men with plucked eyebrows, smelling of juniper berries and hanging around the popular science shelves in bookstores, just wondering who they should vote for, either before or after the sky change” OrangRojak


    Malay men with plucked eyebrows did appear on Canadian shores and sought asylum from the Canadian government several years ago. Unfortunately for him, U.N. asylum laws make no reference to Malays with plucked eyebrows.

  50. #50 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 7:23 am

    “I suppose the difficulty comes when there’s a Malaysian who wants to join Richard Dawkins’ happy band, or fancies a crisp gin and tonic, or has decided that we should all call him ‘Loretta’ from now on, but has been assigned a religion that qualifies him for something horrible if he carries through his wish. Who’s defending his (or her) ‘Freedom of conscience’ at the moment? Is Anwar?” OrangRojak

    Anwar’s doctrine of ‘freedom of conscience’ apparently does not go that far. He is understandably silent over that issue – and deafeningly so. He is first a politician and only second, a human rights activist. The Bush doctrine of ‘either you are with us or you are against us’ still resonates with him – making him guilty of the crime of association (with PAS).

    But all is not lost for he who wishes to be called Loretta and who prefers the life that comes with gin and tonic, or martini stirred but not shaken, because in this case besides the plucked eyebrows he qualifies for asylum in countries that have adopted the U.N. asylum laws as their own because he “has had a religion assigned to him and fears something horrible might happen to him if he were to change.”

  51. #51 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 9:54 am

    So you’re saying that as long as the UN asylum laws don’t change and KLIA remains open to all, Freedom of Conscience is sacrosanct in Malaysia?
    Thank you for your time, Prime Minister.

  52. #52 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 9:57 am

    Lets look at the idea of allowing individual states to have their own way to choose which stream of criminal law (Sharia & secular common law) they want. For this, lets make the hypothetical assumptions that (a) Kedah’s criminal laws for Muslims are Sharia, and Selangor, secular common law and (b) as far as rape offence is concerned, under Shariah, it is harder to prove the offence because of the requirement of the presence of 4 credible male witnesses of the offence.

    Taking first the case where accused/offender and victims are both Muslims, and next where the accused/offender is a Muslim and the victim a non muslim.

    Illustration 1: Muslim accused/offender from Selangor commits the rape on another Muslim victim in Kedah to take advantage of the ‘harder to prove’ Shariah law in Kedah.

    Does the accused/offender get prosecuted by the more “relaxed” Sharia laws in Kedah based on where the offence is committed or the more stringent secular rape laws of Selangor from where the victim resides?

    One may try resolve this Sharia conundrum by saying the law of where the victim resides should prevail.

    Illustration 2: If that were so, sh should a (Muslim) rapist from Selangor be allowed to deliberately choose to commit the offence in Kedah on a Muslim victim residing in Kedah to take advantage of the more ‘relaxed’Sharia rape laws in Kedah?

    Illustration No.3 : Wouldn’t the problems outlined in illustrations 1 and 2 above be compunded if the victim, whether residing in Selangor and visiting Kedah or residing within Kedah, were a non Muslim? Which law does one apply when the non muslim victim demands application of secular common law on rape, and the accused demand Sharia to which he says he is entitled?

    Illustration 4 : Supposing the wrong doing is adultery which is a Sharia offence (Zina) punishable by death (decapitation). We have two offenders here, the Muslim alulterer from Kedah (sharia punishment is death) and the Muslim adulteress in Selangor (sharia punishment is a fine) or a Non Muslim for whom adultery is not a criminal offence. Supposing the adultery were committed in bo th Kedah and Selangor in different times. Do we put one adulterer to death by public decapitation and let the other scot free?

    Illustration 5: even in deciding which law (Sharia or secular common law) to apply and which court – Sharia court or secular Court- to try each case – which should be the higher court to decide? A higher secular civil court or a higher Sharia Court?

  53. #53 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 9:59 am

    Generally our notion of justice is like should be treated alike, apple should be compared to aple and not an orange, two accused/offenders or two victims for the same crime should be treated alike.

    Which is why for so long as one respects the Federal Constitution, one should respect its promise of fundamental liberties one of which is all persons’ entitlement to equal protection by the law and its enforcement (where the word “law” is used generic and not defined as any specific common law or Sharia) except as otherwise allowed for by the Constitution.

    In a matter as important as severe punishment for crimes, where Federal law (Penal Code b ased on secular common law) has altready prescribed criminal offences and their punishment for all , can we allow states to pass their own individual Hudud Sharia criminal laws with vast differences in standards of proof and punishment from secular common law in contravention of the Constitutional promise of equal protection of laws?

    Apart from that (constitutional point) wouldn’t 2 parallel streams of law pose insurmountable problems of application to law enforcers and judges taking as frame of reference the illustrations above?

    As we are already a polarised society wouldn’t encouragement of f urther separate development of criminal laws at state levels deepen the schism than ameliorate it under the excuse of freedom of conscience and to e ach state its own in respect to these matters affecting crime and punishments?

  54. #54 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 12:48 pm

    promise of fundamental liberties one of which is all persons’ entitlement to equal protection by the law and its enforcement
    I’m being lazy again – does the Constitution actually say that? I read the Articles Onlooker Politics referred me to, and it appears to say something completely different: that States may make their own laws. It doesn’t appear to set any limit.

    can we allow states
    We who? If the Constitution allows it, no ‘we’ can prohibit it, I imagine.

    wouldn’t 2 parallel streams of law pose insurmountable problems
    Obviously yes, but perhaps not quite so obviously to the Reid Commission?

    the excuse of freedom of conscience
    Is something different, as I understand it, and being assigned to a stream of law by your government isn’t ‘freedom of conscience’. Freedom of conscience is an individual matter.

    Jeffrey, in your illustrations above, wouldn’t the court in whose jurisdiction the crime occurred be the one to try it? I guess if Kedah and Selangor are replaced with Malaysia and Singapore, then the place of the crime would decide which country’s court. As for religion, one of your Pahang examples is relevant: the Muslim Singapore resident (why ‘resident’? Is she a Malaysian?). I assume if she wasn’t a Muslim, then the Syariah court wouldn’t have claimed her. A problem in Malaysia, I suppose, is that Najib might tempt overseas Malays to visit with promises of support, and their first Carlsberg might be their last, by virtue of their race determining their religion by local rules.

    If I’m not mistaken, there is no impediment to States implementing their Islamic ambitions. Your Pahang examples show that some states are on course. It’s a democracy, so if the majority of the people in a State want something the Constitution permits, they’re going to get it, or claim, perhaps coorectly, that someone is infringing their rights. Does a government need 2/3 to change the Constitution to make Islamic law the law of the federation?

    My personal view of two streams of law is irrelevant, so I’m not going to put it. If two streams are constitutionally permitted, then Malaysians have either to accept it, or to accept it until they can form a government that will change the Constitution. Karpal’s fees will go up, and it appears to me to be ‘good business’ for the legal industry, even if it they might wish it was less complicated.

    Article 11 clause 2 – no tax used for a religion which is not your own – does that apply to religious courts? How are they funded? Complicating the law in Malaysia might be workable, I suppose, but I imagine it won’t be cheap (despite what some might say about a quick swing of the cleaver) – who pays at the moment?

  55. #55 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 1:00 pm

    Article 8(1) and 8(2) of the Federal Constitution provide for equality before the law. As Onlooker said, Article 75 of Federal Constitution of Malaysia provides that “If any State law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail and the State law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”

    From these two fundamental provisions of the Federal Constitution – the basic and most supreme law in the nation’s hierarchy of laws – one can deduce the implications of trying to implement simultaneously two parallel streams of law as diverse and different as Sharia to secular common law.

  56. #56 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 1:21 pm

    The Constitution may permit states to promulgate Sharia laws but it is subject to these laws not being inconsistent with (a) Federal Law (eg Penal Code on crimes) or (b) constitutional protection of equality before the law or equal protection of the law encapsulated in articles 8(1) and (2) of the Federal Constitution.

    The difficult part is which apex court (Sharia or secular) will decide on issues relating to (a) or (b) when a conflict in applications of between Sharia and secular law has arisen. Article 121(1)A (amendment introduced during mahathir’s administration) merely provides that jurisdiction of Sharia matters lies with Sharia courts, and civil, common law matters with secular courts but does not clarify whether if and when the two streams collide, which higher court, whether it be a Sharia or secular higher court, will determine the question whether the issue in contention ought to be referred to a Sharia court or a secular court below for adjudication.

    By right it should be the secular Federal Court. So far it has skirted around this conundrum and not decided on it.

  57. #57 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 1:38 pm

    But 8(1) is practically void given 80(1) in the case of Islam, isn’t it? The issue we’re discussing is Islamic law, which is a complete law in the eyes of Muslims, so if the Constitution delegates executive power to the State for religion, and full observance of the religion requires submission to Islamic law, then 80(1) grants the power to do it – because the Syariah court is a matter of religion observance.

    You’ll have to explain ‘inconsistent’ to me in the context of Article 75. I think I can see how it might apply where a State made something legal which the Constitution prohibits, or the State passed a law against a right granted by the Constitution. Is Syariah or Hudud ‘inconsistent’ with federal law? What is ‘federal law’? Is it something beyond the Constitution?

  58. #58 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 1:39 pm

    oops cross-posted, you answered questions before I asked them – sorry, and thanks

  59. #59 by OrangRojak on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 10:34 pm

    Is Hudud ‘inconsistent’ with the Penal Code? I imagine some corporal penalties must already be in the Penal Code in Malaysia, as well as the capital penalty. How clearly does the Penal Code limit corporal and capital penalties? You’re probably busier than I am, so if you can point me in the right direction, I can read for myself. I found the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act 2004, which lists some penalties. There’s an awful lot of death in there.

    I agree with you that there should be a single apex court – that seems like a serious omission. I think I’ve wondered in a comment before how 2 completely separate legal systems would unify the citizens of a nation. Article 121(1)A doesn’t seem (I’m looking at the wikisource version) to be quite as balanced as you make it sound – to me it only says that Federal courts are not superior to Syariah courts: the other side of the balance is missing.

    So, given the (seems to me) large amount of death and whipping already in the Penal Code, how is Hudud inconsistent with it? Is there a very strict definition of consistency in law? For the sake of argument, Hudud may impose a heavy penalty on adulterers, when federal law may not even (does it?) mention it. Would a law on adultery, passed at the State level, be inconsistent?

    I’m sorry for all the questions, I really am struggling to understand how all the various laws fit together in Malaysia.

  60. #60 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 18 January 2009 - 11:53 pm

    MOGADISHU, Somalia – A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery by Islamic militants, a human rights group said.Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Oct. 27, 2008 in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses.

    She could not prove rape in the absence of 4 reliable male witness; at even 13 she could be married, and hence, having sex with a man other than her husband invoked inference of adultery puniushable by death by stoning.

    “So, given the (seems to me) large amount of death and whipping already in the Penal Code, how is Hudud inconsistent with it?”

    Penal Code is based on Common law precepts by which one of the cornerstone of crime is an infliction of harm on a third party without a lawful cause.

    The element harm (on others) – that we see when an offender kills, maims, steals from, peddles drugs to others deserving whiping and death.

    Hudud is structured around morality, with considerable focus on sexual morality. Even consensual, illicit sex in adultery, it is punishable by death though element of harm is absent unless one stretches it to include spouse’s emotions. What about youngsters petting in close proxibity? It is an offence though it inflicts no harm on any one. This is one difference, common law benchmarking a crime against harm to others whereas Hudud, harm against abstract concept of moralty, there being no or little difference between public and private morality.

    Another difference is the patriarchal approach favouring males: veiling, men taking up to 4 wives, requirement of 4 witnesess whomust have seen the act to establish rape, in contrast to common law aspects relating to these issues.

    The punishments in Hudud vary according to the status of the offender – Muslims generally receive harsher punishments than non-Muslims, free people receive harsher punishments than slaves, and in the case of zina’ (adultery), married people receive harsher punishments than unmarried.

    Common law punishments vary according to whether offender is first offender or hardcore (concept of rehabilitation) – Hudud version is “only one hand should be cut off for the first theft” – or public interest where deterrence is required and other mitigating factors unrelated to religion (whether Muslim or non Muslim) or social status (free people vs slaves).

  61. #61 by OrangRojak on Monday, 19 January 2009 - 12:27 am

    I am familiar with the content of your 23:53 post.

    Laws are just morals encoded, aren’t they? If a group of people are determined to see their morals encoded as law and submit to them, then there is a faint argument (that I have little enthusiasm for, but can imagine a person exists who does) that they should be permitted to, so long as nobody who does not give their full consent is subjected to those laws. Or without a double negative, everybody who is subjected to those laws is fully consenting. To be able to follow this argument through, I’m assuming that “We Muslims” in Malaysia is an exhaustive We, and they do in fact all fully consent.

    Is it legally possible (all other viewpoints aside) in Malaysia, right now, for a State to implement Hudud law? It seems to me that it is – or if it isn’t, then very little stands in the way. A person could make the same argument I have made above in the UK, but it would be quite impossible for Hudud to be practised by consenting persons in the UK because of the ‘nobody (for example an adulterer accepting sentence or Islamic court imposing sentence) can licence another to commit a crime (killing)’. But what would stop a Syariah court in Malaysia imposing a death sentence, when a federal court can?

    The ‘inconsistency’ argument – is it backed up by something in the Penal code (for example) that says “any activity not explicitly described as a crime is implicitly a right of the individual”? If a State law has only to be ‘missing’ or ‘different’ from the Penal Code, then I don’t see how a State can make its own laws at all.

    Thanks for continuing to explain this issue – it helps.

  62. #62 by Jeffrey on Monday, 19 January 2009 - 9:02 am

    “Laws are just morals encoded, aren’t they?” – OrangRojak

    Very much so in present Islamic Jurisprudence (Hudud) (or ecclesiastical laws of Medieval past) but not so, in the case of contemporary “secular law” derived from Common Law upon which Penal Code is based – that is, as I said, one of the main differentiating marks or inconsistent feature, if you will, distinguishing the Sharia Hudud from secular Penal Code.

    Whilst some aspects of law overlap, as they invariably will, with morals, by and large and predominantly, the role of morals in secular constitution/societies is to provide aspiration for the community, marking what ought to represent the best practices, examples, ‘maximum’ conduct of its members, whereas secular law – especially criminal law – is (again generally not absolutely) predicated upon “harm to others”, which represents the ‘minimum’ conduct by which a member of community is expected to abide as an obligation and condition for living harmoniously with others.

    One can say inflicting “harm to others” is “immoral”, and whilst that is true, the fact is conduct not inflicting harm but otherwise is amoral, morally neutral or even immoral, that does not inflict harm, is often, by secular law, not unlawful.

    In contrast in the case of Sharia, in terms of “proportion” criminal law (hudud) and morality (viewed through Islamic prism) are very much fused, and laws encode morals.

    One can understand this: In Islamic jurisprudence Hudud is part of laws the source of which is derived from the Almighty, whose concern includes morality of men’s behaviour.

    In contrast, secular laws are made by men through their representatives in Pariament in resonance with Abraham Lincoln’s “government of the people, for the people and by the people” instead of of, for or by the Almighty!

    And since men are characterised by their contrariety of political persuasions – as their moral persuasions – secular societies and constitutions would prefer predicating their criminal laws upon morally neutral benchmark of “harm” which is empirically verifiable rather than the relativism and subjectivity of “morals”.

    On the other point – “If a group of people are determined to see their morals encoded as law and submit to them ….they should be permitted to, so long as nobody who does not give their full consent is subjected to those laws.”

    It is not so here. Where or when does consent come in?

    By constitution, the majority group are already defined to be Muslims by birth and leaving the faith is not permitted (re Lina Joy ‘s case) as apostasy is a crime which is punishable by death in regimes where Hudud is strictly enforced.

    Even in the case of converts – once converted, it is irreversible because of the tenet against apostasy.

  63. #63 by OrangRojak on Monday, 19 January 2009 - 11:06 am

    On the other point – “If … people are determined to … submit ….they should be permitted to, so long as… full consent…”

    It is not so here. Where or when does consent come in?

    The argument I see so often is “Muslims not permitted to practice their religion fully”. Taken on its own, and accepting that part of ‘fully’ in the recent argument is Hudud, this argument has merit. I’m not aware of any country where a group of citizens are allowed to set their own laws in opposition to or exceeding the law of the country. One of two arguments are usually offered against Hudud – one is the source of law (as you pointed out, the source of law is not the people subject to it) and the other is extreme physical punishments. The shifting of blame in matters of sexual morality is yet another argument which is repugnant to my moral outlook, but is fondly adhered to by some.

    Malaysia is on a moral ‘sticky wicket’ where Islamic capital and corporal punishment are concerned: your Penal code seems quite generous with death and whipping. Stoning is a capital punishment, albeit administered in a way that is likely to be accused of being ‘inhumane’. Amputation is a tricky one – is there really nothing quite like it in your federal law? If Malaysia had any permanent physical punishments (like branding or castration, or possibly even the possibility of a whipping leaving scars) then amputation would be harder to argue against.

    The reason I mention consent is that there are societies in Europe who consent to others injuring them and regional variations in law allow such practices in some places and prohibit them in others. You could see the wikipedia page ‘BDSM#Legal_status’ for some examples. In those countries, the law probably does offer equal protection to all, but also in some cases permits individuals to consent to activities where legal protection would otherwise function as prohibition. I’ve a feeling I’ve read similar arguments applied to the sports of rugby and boxing.

    The claim of the Malaysian Muslims as regards secular law is similar: a guarantee of equal protection for all is a prohibition of their Islamic practice. It seems to me that countries with similar law to Malaysia’s federal law does permit practices similar to those demanded by Hudud on the basis of consent.

    I may have misunderstood your question “when does consent come in?”. In Malaysia consent is never sought from Muslims – they do not have Anwar’s “freedom of conscience”. I suppose this could be seen as the point at which this particular argument fails in Malaysia. It seems like there would otherwise be no great difficulty in following the precedent set by other countries to explicitly permit Hudud practice in federal law, except that the practice itself rules out consent.

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