Now, even Marina M is censored

The Column That Wasn’t
By Marina Mahathir

Folks, I’m posting here what should have been my Musings column tomorrow. The Star has refused to publish it because, after what happened to P. Gunasegaram’s article which was pulled out after the Home Ministry gave them a show-cause letter, they don’t want any ‘sensitive’ articles that may jeopardise their KDN permit.

Now I’ve been writing for the Star for about 20 years now, believe it or not, and although it would be much easier and freer to just blog, I maintain my column because of the discipline and because of my many loyal readers who don’t necessarily read anything online. There have been other times when my column has been in danger of being censored (and very occasionally edited to sound gentler and nicer..) but still they came out when they were supposed to.

But this time they were adamant. As it happened, this evening I attended a dinner held by the MCA for NGOs. The MCA, as you may know, owns The Star. It was high irony for me to have so many people, including top MCA officials, tell me that they faithfully read my column when their own paper won’t publish it tomorrow. I was seated next to Dato Sri Ong Tee Keat himself and complained about it but he wasn’t keen to rock the boat, even though every time someone like me is censored, it’s one point gained by the conservatives who, rather than argue things out with proper facts, would simply prefer to shut everyone up.

Of course the problem is the Publishing and Printing Presses Act itself which requires every single publication to apply for a permit every year. And no media which wants to survive can afford to get shut down.

But still there is room for courage, to stand up for freedom of speech. If we capitulate every time, then why bother publishing at all?

Indeed the space for any form of public discussion is narrowing every day, with not only the PPA being used but also police reports against anyone who puts forward the slightest alternative or opposing view. This is what keeps the cops busy these days, instead of catching snatch thieves, robbers, rapists and other real social ills.

Yet online there is room for all points of view and is it really so bad? In this blog, I allow all points of view and what I’ve found is that when you allow it, apart from a few stubborn ones, eventually the humanity of everybody comes through. There is a yearning to understand one another but that can’t be done if there is no space for learning. Nor would you gain that insight into people if you didn’t allow everyone to express themselves.

And as many have pointed out, what is the point of censoring the mainstream media when there is the freewheeling internet? The other point we should make to people like The Star is, what is the point of constantly sucking up to the Government when they can still turn around and bite you? Not everyone has to be Utusan. Self-respect is important too, no?

So anyway, here’s the Column That Wasn’t:

When we want to compete with anyone in any field we seek those who are better than us. And we keep going until finally we are recognized as the best. For example, a tennis player starts at the unranked bottom and tries to play and win against better players until finally there is nobody to beat.

We do not however insist that everybody comes down to our level or to play badly in order for us to win.

This is what puzzles me about the syariah courts in our country. In 1988 a clause was inserted into our Constitution that has been interpreted as having erected a Berlin Wall between the syariah and the civil courts. Basically Article 121(1A) said “the courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the syariah courts.” This has caused untold problems because real life sometimes dictates that some issues cross over both jurisdictions. But leave that aside for a moment.

Although the new clause did not say that the two separate courts were equal to one another, there are some people who are of the view that the syariah court is superior to the civil courts simply because syariah law is deemed of a higher order than civil laws. This is because apparently God made syariah laws while mere human beings made the civil laws. Never mind the fact that human beings have been changing syariah laws over the years, for instance, by loosening laws that protected women from losing all their property to their divorced husbands. Like other laws in this country, syariah laws have to be drafted, tabled and passed through our various lawmaking bodies whether at the State or Federal levels. This process leaves a lot of human fingerprints all over them.

Civil laws are drafted, tabled and passed through Parliament. The difference is that at the tabling stage , they have to be debated before they are passed. The quality of the debate may be sometimes wanting but debated they are. This process provides some sort of ‘quality control’ over the laws so that they are hopefully current, reflect realities and are just.

The same does not hold true of syariah laws. When they get tabled at State Excos, non-Muslims do not participate because there is the notion that they cannot partake in any such debate. That leaves only the Muslim Excos, few of whom are women. This means that if a bill affects women, the opinions of the female minority in the Exco can be ignored. Furthermore, most people are ignorant about their religion and tend to leave these matters to those they believe know best. Thus if the State Mufti or religious adviser says it’s a good law, they are unlikely to challenge him. Thus are religious laws passed unscrutinised.

Until, that is, something happens such as when someone gets convicted of a syariah crime and punishment is meted out. Who knew until recently that people could get caned for drinking, or for having a baby out of wedlock until the recent cases of Kartika and the three women?

Not only are these laws not debated when they are being made but they can’t be debated afterwards either, unlike civil laws. To do so, according to some people, is akin to arguing with God it seems. (There are however some who think that God welcomes such arguments just so that He can prove He is right).

If one believes that syariah laws are superior to civil laws, should they not be held to higher standards? Should they not be subjected to more rigorous debate than civil laws out of fear that they may be unjust? If syariah courts are deemed superior to civil courts, should not their processes be more transparent and efficient? How is it that there are innumerable women having to undergo tremendous suffering because syariah court orders to their divorced husbands to pay child maintenance cannot be enforced?

How is it also that we suddenly hear about women being caned without any information about the processes they went through? Did they have the benefit of legal representation and heard in an open court? If they did, who were their lawyers and what defense did they mount?

Surely the best court of law is one that strives for justice, which shows it is fair to all parties. In this case, on whose behalf was justice served?

I have no problems with syariah laws if their foundation is justice, equality and non-discrimination for all, even non-Muslims. But when their intent, processes and enforcement are unfair, they only give the impression that Islam is unjust and discriminatory. Surely to give such an image of Islam is a sin.

[The column is not in today’s Star]

  1. #1 by Godfather on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 10:09 am


    Why don’t you get your father to let you post this article in his blog ? It was he who allowed these syariah “experts” to go wild. It was he who stood idly by when it was politically expedient for him to do so. It was he who quietly condoned those “secret” marriages in Thailand for many UMNOputras.

  2. #2 by a2a on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 10:16 am

    Malaysia is famous as Countries with the Most Unequal Societies – world ranking no.2.

  3. #3 by johnnypok on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 10:23 am

    It was he who orchestrated “Sodomy 1” and it was he who committed many sins.

  4. #4 by tameupara on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 11:40 am

    Now Marina should understand more about her own country. How hard is it for the rakyat now to live with dignity about their own freedom. Pathetic!

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 11:41 am

    Article 121(1A) – A strict constitutionalist will tell you that its actually unconstitutional – any amendment that conflicts with existing ones is deemed unconstitutional and invalid. You can’t run a country with a confused constitution and that is what Article 121 (1A) does. Thanks to her own father who think he is so freaking smart to the point of being ridiculous..

    The Reid Commission made it clear, whatever the constitutional provision for Islam in this country is, its suppose to be secular meaning the Federal Court is above Syariah..Its not a matter of principle but a matter of logic..

  6. #6 by dagen on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 12:22 pm

    After they ran out of all logic and reasons some (wot?) 40 yrs ago they began to gag people. Now that was plain dirty trick.

    After a while, when people refused to listen and refused to keep quiet, they decided to flash their ketuanan. And they then began to masturbate their ketuanan publicly. Now that is outright vulgar. And ridiculous. And oh boy they look stupid.

    Save us from those fools. Save the country. Vote Pakatan in GE13.



    Selamatkan Malaysia.

  7. #7 by chengho on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 12:39 pm

    talk to tok guru

  8. #8 by MGR1940 on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 1:08 pm

    You once said that you wear the ‘tudong’ just because your mother and husband ask you to.You are not women enough to do what you want.

    You are following syariah law and how can you question it if you are 50/50.

  9. #9 by k1980 on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 1:26 pm

    #6 by dagen:

    Don’t Reboot.

    Don’t Restart.

    We have to reformat the entire hard disc.

    Throw away every inside because it has been infected with the BN virus.

    Selamatkan Malaysia.

  10. #10 by MGR1940 on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 1:29 pm

    ‘This is because apparently God made syariah laws’
    It was human who made the laws using God’s name. God did not write in the sky for every to see His law and follow. It was the ones who made belive the laws using His name to suit their advantage to even marry a 12 year old girl several times younger to them even though married with so many other elder wifes.

  11. #11 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 1:41 pm

    The Conservatives are having a field day now. Only their views prevail.

    Anyone who speaks out against them will be seen as being not strong in their faith, of not defending their religion and would be harassed out as traitors.

    That’s why the level headed ones (and the non-believers) remain silent, in fear perhaps, until it is too late, until it hits them and they can’t do anything about it.

    Conservatives Rule.

  12. #12 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Why is it that most muslim women must obey their parents or their husbands to do this and not to do that ? Can’t they used their heads to decide what’s good for themselves ? Why muslim women would not want to use their good education to think for themselves instead of being slaves to their husbands or parents. I think it’s time that muslim women to rise up and demand for fair and equal treatment from fellow men.

  13. #13 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 2:05 pm

    Who is Marina M?

    How many MPs, Independent or otherwise, has she got?

    To you know who, she’s just an outspoken Muslim gal whom “they” can do without. “They” just don’t know how to handle her.

    And Ong Tee Keat “didn’t want to rock the boat”? He’s more worried about his rice bowl, his kuali, his rice cooker. So he gives you a blank, blank smile.

  14. #14 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 2:07 pm

    Do you know what is the opposite of Star?


  15. #15 by Winston on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 2:20 pm

    Marina, welcome to Uncle Lim’s blog.
    What we are witnessing is the Talibanisation of this country.
    And something must be done fast to reverse the trend.

  16. #16 by k1980 on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 2:27 pm

    #10 by MGR1940

    God says: “Ooops! I should had added the 11th Commandment ‘Thou shalt not marry 12 year old girls’ before that fella Moses carry away those tablets from Mt Arafat!”

  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 3:35 pm

    ///The other point we should make to people like The Star is, what is the point of constantly sucking up to the Government when they can still turn around and bite you? Not everyone has to be Utusan. Self-respect is important too, no?/// – Marina.

    The MCA has no defence to the charge of being either unprincipled or cowardly.

    In response to the caning of the three Muslim women on 9 February 2010 at Kajang prison, the Press Statement by MCA Spokesperson, MCA Central Committee Member, MCA Political Education Bureau Chairman Saudara Gan Ping Sieu on 19th Feb 2010 clearly opposed it (caning) on grounds of supremacy of Federal Constitution, as MCA interprets it.

    That stand (opposing it) is MCA’s official political position!

    It can’t even defend its own editor P. Gunasegaram who has merely articulated what he thought was MCA’s own official position!

    Now if you say Gunasegaram is a non Muslim with no business to comment about Shariah, then what about Marina Mahathir who is not only a Muslim but also well known daughter of the former premier who pushed through the controversial article 121(1)A?

    What kind of journalism that because of the KDN licence and Publishing and Printing Presses Act is cowed into being afraid to report dissenting views even if in purported defence of the “supremacy of constitution” in MCA’s own words per the Press Statement?

    I am sure that its true any newspaper like The Star is worried about suspension of its publication licence KDN pertmit affecting its business bottom line.

    However here the issue is beyond $ and Sen of Star’s business, the KDN licence and Publishing and Printing Presses Act.

    It is about MCA’s own position, principle and credibility on this issue of great public interest and constitutional significance.

    I am surprised that MCA so readily retracts its own public and political position as symbolised by its retracting and apologising for P. Gunasegaram – and stopping Marina’s article from being published – whose positions are merely reflecting MCA’s!

    Just because some Home Ministry’s official issues a show cause to The Star by reason of some others using intimidation methods of lodging police report against P. Gunasegaram, MCA has recoiled like a snail back into the shell and abandoned its talk about defending the supremacy of constitution? It does not question whether these people including bureaucrats in Home Ministry are right or not? Its president does not ask the Cabinet whether based on 1 Malaysia and the Federal Constitution that everyone swears to defend, it is right or not?

  18. #18 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 3:39 pm

    In a nut shell is $ and Sen of Star’s business more important than MCA’s own position, principle and credibility on this issue of great public interest and constitutional significance???

  19. #19 by limkamput on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 3:48 pm

    Marina, you should just complain to your father. We are not interested in hearing you, it is pointless. To you it is just your intellectual pursuit, for us it is our life. The mother and father of all problems in the country start with your father, period.

    Jeffrey, you are dead wrong again. Blame it on Home Affairs and the no ball MCA.

  20. #20 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 4:14 pm

    ///Marina, you should just complain to your father. We are not interested in hearing you, it is pointless. To you it is just your intellectual pursuit, for us it is our life///

    Why is it pointless? She is her own person, and should be respected such.

    Mahathir can be the mothera nd father of all extremism but lets not the father’s sins be visited upon his children like Marina who has her own independent views and is her own person.

    Don’t listen to her just because her father was the Cause? Come on!

    Neither is it fair to ask her to first pitch her liberal views against her father to prove her credentials to speak for right thinking Malaysians on this issue. (He is after all her father and whatever the differences in political positions and even she finds distasteful his politics she is entitled to accord respect to him at personal level as the father).

  21. #21 by digard on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 4:36 pm

    Take heed. Fascism always comes in through the backdoor, and ours is in a huge swing. Military coups, putsch and stuff come overnight. Though that’s not what we currently experience. Here things ‘move’ gradually, though quickly and decisively.
    Certain things have changed, others are still in the process. An independent jurisdiction keeps up the positions of the government, at all times and in all cases. The population experiences a relative calm, everything is as it should be. RTM shows nightly, in the news, how the new bapa Malaysia is caring, his ministers act in always the manner best for us all. PDRM catches criminals regularly, dadah traffickers, prostitutes, illegals, closes gambling outlets. Everything hunky dory. Except of some of the opposition people, who are shown with their most ugly faces, and in the end the majority in front of the glaring TV-screens will be glad that the MACC goes after those buggers. Then, we will see more unofficial guards in the streets and on the roads, like in Iran the Revolutionary Guards after the revolution of 1979, or the SA in the streets of Berlin in the late 1920s and the 1930s. RELA staff might check on cars at toll stations and miraculously only those cars without a ‘1Malaysia’-sticker on the wind screen. One year down the road, those same car owners, if still without the sticker, will accidentally see their wind screens smashed, until everyone carries such a sticker. The papers will carry mostly good news, about the hard-working people in the government, there will be no longer statistics about the number of snatch thefts, and no mention of permanent disablement or death as consequences, never. The official inflation rate will always be below the official increase in salaries and wages. The government servants will follow suit whatever the power that be says. Actually, the latter is already the case. I happen to meet higher-ranking government people for certain reasons at times, and there had been much more open and hidden opposition to Mahathir in his best times, than what those, same, people feel towards the current government. People get calls and reminders. Recently, I sat next to some director of some ministry, who had that silly ‘1M’-sticker on his jacket. I pointed out to him, that this was actually not his conviction as far as I knew, to what he replied, that there was no way for him escaping that: it had been ‘highly encouraged’, if not ordered, in his ministry. Once fascism has settled in, a good percentage of the population experiences calm waters for times. There is not so much to worry about, the news are good, the standing with the neighbouring countries are good, or bad, depending on the population of those countries, who are either good or thugs. In return, this will depend on those in power and their interests. At least everyone who is with the government will experience times of reasonable living. Not too many questions asked, always simple solutions provided.
    Yes, I am afraid, this is where we, Malaysia, is heading. Opposition figures are all harassed with corruption investigations, or sedition, already. Government-linked papers may write what they want to write, be it against the penal code or not, while any statement critical to the regime will immediately lead to investigations, if not prosecution. The police always investigates exactly what the government wants to be investigated. And when two consenting adults decide to have an illicit sexual adventure, one is prosecuted and supposedly jailed for 10 years, while the other is made a hero. And nobody dares asking, what the difference was.

    Some literature for those still a bit green behind their ears on the topic:
    George Orwell, Animal Farm
    Or, if you’re more into movies:
    Charly Chaplin: The Great Dictator
    Truffaut: Fahrenheit 451

  22. #22 by tanjong8 on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - 11:19 pm

    This is another sad case for Malaysia.

    Moderates seem to have no place.

    Instead of us the good people, we must send the UmnoUtusans packing

  23. #23 by DCLXVI on Thursday, 4 March 2010 - 2:18 am

    chengho: “Marina,
    talk to tok guru”

    Why should she?
    Does tok guru ‘control’ the Home Ministry all the way from Kelantan?

  24. #24 by Loh on Thursday, 4 March 2010 - 6:48 am

    ///there are some people who are of the view that the syariah court is superior to the civil courts simply because syariah law is deemed of a higher order than civil laws. This is because apparently God made syariah laws while mere human beings made the civil laws. —-syariah laws. When they get tabled at State Excos, non-Muslims do not participate because there is the notion that they cannot partake in any such debate. That leaves only the Muslim Excos, few of whom are women.—Thus if the State Mufti or religious adviser says it’s a good law, they are unlikely to challenge him. ///–

    State Mufti make Allah’s laws, and their words are Allah’s as far as Syariah laws are concerned.

    The PM decides rule by law, and he chooses who should be punished by law, whether or not crimes have been committed. The opposition party members and leaders are the subject for law enforcement while UMNO members are exempt. That is why we hear people involved in consensual sodomy making police report, and the government can choose which party to be punished. Obviously it cannot be justified that one of the consensual party is entitled to have a day in court for committing sodomy, to tell his story. There may be thousands of sodomy cases happening every year, and the Malaysian courts may not have the resources to try all such cases if those said to be involved in consensual sodomy sought the assistance of the Prime Minister for scholarship award. For it to be fair, PM might have to set aside special provision for scholarship award to sodomy partners. But we hear only two sodomy cases involving one particular person over the past 12 years. Can the PM confirms that in a nation of 26 million, there were only two sodomy cases over the past 12 years. If there were so few, how is it that all the two cases involved the same person? Can there be another other sensible explanation other than persecution through rule by law?

  25. #25 by riversandlakes on Thursday, 4 March 2010 - 9:36 am

    You stupid posters up there. Marina and Mahathir is not the same person. She’s his daughter.

    Mahathir with his Machiavellian sins undermining the basic institutions of democracy and rule-of-law has nothing to do with Marina.

    Look, you complain tonnes of ineffective leadership and we had that totally manifested with the previous so-called Mr. Clean. What would you say if Marina held sway over Mahathir all those 20 years?

  26. #26 by johnnypok on Thursday, 4 March 2010 - 2:17 pm

    She has Indian blood, since Toon Bak Kut Teh is an Indian. So no need to wear tudung or follow what others tell her, because Indians are culturally more independent and smart. Who knows she will one day become the Preident of DAP.

  27. #27 by good coolie on Thursday, 4 March 2010 - 11:23 pm

    Marina is a voice in the wilderness. She is a leader of man as well as women. May God Bless Her!

    As for her Machiavellian father, he started out well enough; then power got to him. If his followers and his opponents had shown some courage when it mattered most, we could have emasculated him and his megalomaniac policies. We made and deserved him!

  28. #28 by johnnypok on Friday, 5 March 2010 - 2:41 am

    Don’t worry Mary, The Star is drowning together with MCA. Say goodbye to Ah Ong.

  29. #29 by karipedas on Monday, 8 March 2010 - 2:37 am

    GOOD article Marina!

    OK you guys STOP it…stop attacking Marina because of her father. You guys are missing her point. Debate on what she wrote, offer solutions or support. She is trying to right a wrong, bringing to light about an injustice, and speaking up for all of us who dare not!

    We can complain all we want about Dr. M’s ill legacies. We can keep whining about the injustices done to you, or wallow in self pity about how difficult our lives are. But Dr M is Dr M, Marina is Marina. Accept it. She is courageous, she is intelligent and she is fiery. Support her as the voice many of us do not have or as the courage we do not have to rock the boat.

    We all have good intentions of improving Malaysia for us, our children and grandchildren. We have different ways to do this. We need to know our allies and support each other towards this end. It is hard enough to create changes, and so much harder if doing it alone and with people with same aspirations and goals attacking each other. Yes I am idealistic.

    I admire Marina’s intelligence, good intentions, active participation, and courage. Thank you, Marina, for speaking up and trying to create a change.

You must be logged in to post a comment.