Archive for February 26th, 2010

Najib is setting the stage for drastic action by UMNO against Tengku Razaleigh

When the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said last night that it was up to UMNO members to decide if action should be taken against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for continuing his campaign against the federal government over Kelantan’s oil royalties claim, the stage is set for drastic action by Umno against the Kelantan prince and elder Umno statesman.

It is clear as to what Najib meant when he made the ominour statement:” We have to hear what the party members have to say” after the Umno supreme council meeting last night.

Already, the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Umno President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had more than once expressed displeasure at Razaleigh’s  unrepentant recalcitrance, openly questioned Razaleigh’s loyalty to Umno and accused him of trying to confuse the public over the oil royalty issue.
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Raising Malaysia’s Hackles

An angry youth protest highlights the Malaysian authorities’ insecurities over international criticism.

Opinion Asia | The Wall Street Journal

The prosecution of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is proceeding apace, but that doesn’t mean international pressure is useless. Witness the government’s reaction to recent international criticism.

A bipartisan group of 56 Australian parliamentarians sent a letter earlier this month to the Malaysian High Commissioner in Canberra, saying the fact that a leading opposition voice has been charged with sodomy a second time “raises serious concerns,” and urging the authorities to drop the charges. The letter cited an op-ed in this newspaper by Munawar A. Anees, who claims he was tortured by the police and forced to confess to sodomy with Mr. Anwar before the first trial in 1998. And it echoes statements by American and Canadian politicians also worried about the impartiality of Malaysia’s rule of law.

The reaction was swift. Some 500 members of the ruling coalition’s youth wing and sympathizers protested in Kuala Lumpur last week, calling the letter a “trampling” on “sovereignty.” Youth leader Khairy Jalamuddin told us in a telephone interview that the trial is a judicial process, not a political one.
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Speak Out for Anwar Ibrahim’s Sake

By Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada.
The Globe and Mail

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition’s power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.
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Spare the Rod, Spoil the Country

by John Berthelsen
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Malaysia seeks to organize an international caning conference

Malaysia appears determined to make an international fool of itself. The latest news, according to Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the Women’s Minister, is that the country is considering organizing an international conference on caning and whether it is an appropriate punishment for women under Islamic law.

The announcement by Shahrizat comes on the heels of a government statement last week, nine days after the fact, that a shariah court had ordered the caning of three women for adultery. A fourth, far more publicized, is the case of Kartika Dewi Shukarni, a part-time model who was ordered by a shariah court to be caned for drinking beer. The case is still hanging fire while the Regent of Pahang decides how to treat the matter.

This all is in addition to the widely publicized show trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of consensual sex with a male, a selective prosecution at best even if he did it, since Kuala Lumpur throngs with gay bars, and political persecution at the worst over widespread suspicion that the charges were trumped up. There is also the January violence in the wake of a high court judge’s decision to allow the Malaysian Catholic Church to use the word Allah as a synonym for God in its Malay-language editions of its newspaper, the Catholic Herald. Eleven churches, a Sikh temple and two Muslim prayer rooms were attacked.
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