National reconciliation: Nuremberg revengeful justice or RTC restorative justice?

– Sakmongkol
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 08, 2013

I have to put up a caveat: this is my personal opinion as a writer and blogger. It is not Pakatan’s official position.

PM Najib spoke about national reconciliation in parliament. Yes- he is becoming quite well-known for coining big slogans. He started with all the GTP, ETP, EPP, NKRA, PDP etc. it must have become an addiction.

Now is national reconciliation. Unfortunately his people in parliament take the national reconciliation proposal as a means to do a Nuremberg kind of justice. Impose the victor’s justice on the opposition representing 51 per cent of the voting population. Move on means accepting BN victory and be quiet about it and allow the winner do what it pleases.

This time, Najib needs help from the opposition to ensure that his national reconciliation isn’t turned into another of his useless slogans. We are 89 strong.

He has only given but one precondition- that the results of GE13 must be accepted by everyone. My reading of this is that he is willing to sit down and sort out contentious issues and to engage the opposition to hear out matters they feel strongly about.

I think we should engage him. But then he has to offer something in return. Is he offering us a victor’s justice/the Nuremberg kind of justice?

Most of us know what Nuremberg represented. It represented retributive justice. A court of justice was established by the victorious allies to try Nazi war criminals and other German military leaders after the Second World War. The allies called it de-nazification. Most of those tried were sentenced to death. It was justice imposed by the victors which was retaliatory and revengeful in nature.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission otherwise known as the TRC method, is a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. To restore as much as possible the loss by victims by making the perpetrators of wrongs compensate by reparation. In exchange, the perpetrator gets amnesty. Not all, only the deserving ones cleared by the commission. Its objective is to get restorative justice.

The Najib government of course hasn’t committed any crimes against humanity. We have no war criminals to prosecute. We don’t have the African apartheid system. We didn’t fight on any of those issues.

We fought for a reformation of the Election Commission. We fought for electoral reforms. We fought against corruption, mis-governance to replace with good governance, we fought for more democracy and we fought for an end to race politics in Malaysia. We fought for integrity, accountability and adherence to the rule of law. These are the noble objectives said out in the King’s speech at the opening session of the current parliament.

And so Najib wants to offer us which? The victor’s Nuremberg justice or the TRC restorative justice?

Personally I have said and still maintain, Najib is a fairly decent fellow. That concession given will not stop me from believing through personal knowledge, that as a leader, Najib is a dud. But if more people believe in him, there is nothing I can do other than sticking to my conviction about the leadership qualities of Najib. I can’t help those who get wet dreams when describing and extolling the virtues of Najib as PM.

Despite my own feelings, I think Najib has some sense of morality and I would therefore think, he wants to choose restorative justice. But he first has to tackle the bigots and the right wing elements within his group. From the belligerent and one-sided demands of BN backbenchers, its clear, what they mean by reconciliation is the Nuremberg kind of Justice. Meaning, we move on by being subservient in exchange for whatever concessions are given at the pleasure of the victorious party.

Actually Najib does not have to offer any reconciliatory overtures. He won 133 seats and because we follow the first-past-the-post system, he has the right to form a government. He has legal legitimacy. The only reason he offers reconciliation is because he knows he hasn’t got moral legitimacy.

As much as I dislike it, he is correct to demand his precondition. BN won and is the government. But whether we accept the manner by which they won the elections is a different matter. But equally also, however we feel about it, our feelings cannot alter the fact. BN won.

How do we overcome this impasse? If reconciliation is desired, then some sacrifices have to be made and given.

And what elements of restorative justice do we want to put up for negotiation? Maybe top on the agenda is the restructuring of the election commission. Maybe a change in the manner funds are allocated to parliamentarians. The opposition needs funds to service their constituencies. It is simply not right for voters who voted for PR to be starved out of much needed funds. For those who are not aware, neither ADUN nor MPs hold funds personally. The funds are available through the district offices and various government departments.

Maybe get some justice on the issues the opposition fought for in the elections- that corrupt leaders are brought to justice and demanding they restore the wealth they have taken in return for amnesty. Reform of the electoral process. Establishment of a really bipartisan select committee having real oversight powers over so many areas. These are meaningful and worthwhile objectives worth striving for in exchange for willingness to accept the results of GE13.

The results were: BN got 133 seats and PR got 89 seats. Because it has the most number of seats, BN is the government. I don’t think we can change this fact by illegitimate means. And by that I mean, we can’t change the government by way of rallies. And we don’t intend to use it that way- only BN makes propaganda material of these rallies. The rallies such as Black 505 are not meant to do that but are carried out to advertise to the public that the EC was conspiratorial. It conspired with the incumbent to ensure the incumbent retains power.

We can only change through elections and however unpalatable it is, we have to wait for the next general election.

Otherwise there will be anarchy. My own experience in the recent elections, by and large, the election officials manning the counting and polling stations were decent people. But I am suspicious of the supervising officers in dark suits hovering around at the counting and polling stations. Admittedly, unless I can prove any wrong-doings, my suspicions remain as just that.

The objective of national reconciliation is to bring opposing sides of the political divide to sit down together, sort out differences and come to peace. The whole idea being, once differences are put aside, everyone can carry on to perform their respective roles. The government continues to carry out the business of government and the opposition carries out is duties provided by law, as his majesty’s opposition with all the respect and recognition due to it. – July 8, 2013.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 9:55 am

    ‘… We can only change through elections and however unpalatable it is, we have to wait for the next general election…’

    Only when we have fair and equitable elections after a proper process, where the voice of the people are properly heard, will any GE be meaningful. Otherwise will continue to have governments with a lot of warts.

  2. #2 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 10:44 am

    Jib’s a decent fella? Dont know ’bout dat. Honestly. Maybe as a person he is. But i dont know him personally. So i cant comment on dat. Perhaps he is. In fact I am prepared to let him have the benefit of my doubt.

    But boy, as a leader he is rubbish. Now dat, we all know well. And unfortunately for him, he relates to us not as an individual, a friend, but as the PM of the country. Because of dat we must gauge him not as a person but as a leader.


    Umno has been a bully and an oppressor and has been abusive and corrupt and arrogant for far faaar too long. So long that umno could not now (despite losing popular support and hence wining by mere technicality) understand the need to behave with decency. And above all the need to acknowledge the constitutional right of the people to pick their leaders.

    The going has been too good for umno for tooo long. Helicopters. Private yatchs. Ferraris. Horses. Hermes. Designer suits. Fat multi billion ringgit contracts. And lots more.

    Reconciliation? Of course it would be easy for jib as a person to take one whole step backwards. But it is almost impossible for umno as a whole to move back even by a quarter inch. And by dat Jib’s pledge would instantly turn into mere slogans – unfulfilable and eventually unfulfilled slogans.

    Our laws legitimise technical victory. We can accept that provided the victory was secured by fair means. That is the root of the issue. If there was free media access to all and no wonton votes buying, abuse of government machinery and creation of bangla voters, gerrymandering and truly indelible ink then today umno can rest assured that the technical victory they secured would be accepted by the people.

    After all, what have one to fear if one has done nothing wrong?

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 12:36 pm

    A PM who cares about the country and the rakyat would SPONTANEOUSLY carry out the task of national reconciliation without imposing any precondition on the Opposition. It is obvious that Najib has his own private agenda by imposing a precondition on the Opposition before being willing to talk about national reconciliation. It makes one wonder whether a calculating Najib is also the PM of the 51% Malaysians who did not support him.

  4. #4 by worldpress on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 12:48 pm

    The EC absolutely wrong, wrong material for youth education

    How can EC protected a monkey system when a party won 20% voters at rural would win the General Election, even bribe and cheats no questionable

    Is it mean their children sit for examination can cheat, bribe for tips, only 20% points pass the examination of good grade and all others need to pass at least 50% result to pass the examination can not even get a grade

    What kind of culture the government promoting?

  5. #5 by Di Shi Jiu on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 1:49 pm


    When I meet BN supporters around my kampung nowadays, I greet them sincerely and without rancour.

    I ask for nothing in return – not even a friendly smile.

    I have, personally, initiated reconciliation, albeit, one-sided.

    I have continued my life, trying to do the things I believe are best for me, my loved ones, my friends, my kampung, my district, my state, my country.

    It is really up to those BN supporters in my kampung to decide whether they want to engage me in dialogue.

    Obviously, if the things I do, show that I am NOT working in the best interests of my loved ones, my friends, my kampung, my district, my state, my country, those BN supporters will be right to be suspicious of my attempts at reconciliation and shy away from talking to me.

    Thus, to my layman’s way of thinking, Najib should have no preconditions if he genuinely intends to have national reconciliation.

    He should continue doing what he believes is best for the nation.

    If his future actions show that the interests of the nation are not being served, why should Pakatan bother to sit down and talk?

    As far as I am concerned, Najib is the one courting Pakatan, so it is up to him to do more :) After all, he has more to gain :)

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 4:08 pm

    Its been two months since the GE and Najib has not done a SINGLE thing that indicate significant change from what he has done in his last term. He has coined the term “national reconcilation” on the eve on his GE victory indicating he knows his leadership had failed and yet all he is doing is nothing different than what he has been doing and in fact with new problems being brought up by those in his party that has caused his failure.

    Najib’s word simply shows his words is highly detached from the reality of his politicking. How does promoting loyal followers that has failed him lead to change and reconciliation? How does putting IGP and Home Minister that are as traditional UMNO that uses muscle, scheming and less brain helps with change and reconciliation? How does all the neuvo-fiction that is coming out left and right to justify hardline actions and move help with change and reconciliation?

    Truth is Najib is doing NOTHING for change and reconciliation – even going ahead with promised to so-call change the sedition act. It simply more of the same, he merely HOPING that change and reconcilation will happen without him having to pay a price for it..Its simply is fantasy..

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Monday, 8 July 2013 - 5:05 pm

    ///And so Najib wants to offer us which? The victor’s Nuremberg justice or the TRC restorative justice?/// How does this analogy arise?
    Its not for him to offer victor’s Nuremberg justice. To lose in an election is not same as lose in a war (election is not war) where victors demand for justice (Nuremberg kind) from having earlier suffered in hands of the losers who acted badly inhumanely and criminally during the war. To vote against the other side is a mere exercise of democratic right and not perpetration of some inhumane or criminal act against the winning side for which the latter can exact justice of any form whether Nuremberg or Restorative!The question of justice of whatever description just doesn’t rise. Justice is demanded by victims. Since when has BN been victim? Just because it didn’t win as many seats as it wanted? If at all it arises – since it is alleged that there’s electoral irregularties and cheating – then, subject to these being proven, it is for the majority of people who didn’t vote for his party who have suffered and they should be offering him and his party “restorative justice” for the injustice perpetrated in the electoral irregularities (since as you said Nuremberg justice not relevant in context).

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