Archive for July 21st, 2013

What will give Egypt’s ruler ‘legitimacy’?

A pivotal question leaps from political science departments to the street.

By Thanassis Cambanis | Globe Correspondent
July 21, 2013

CAIRO — The troop of bearded Islamists carried wooden clubs and wore motorcycle helmets. They marched in time beneath a sweltering noonday sun, rehearsing for the clashes they expected any minute with the Egyptian army. A military ultimatum was set to expire that evening, and the president was about to be deposed.

When they finished their drill, however, they didn’t want to talk about street fighting. Instead, they started a heated debate over a point of political theory—specifically, whether it is acceptable to question the legitimacy of a popularly elected leader.

“If they threaten President Morsi’s legitimacy, everyone will pay for it. There will be an Islamic revolution,” said a 49-year-old construction worker named Taha Sayed Ali, a lifelong member of Gamaa Islamiya, the group that waged an armed insurgency in Egypt in the 1990s.

What grants legitimacy to a leader? The question usually arises in the abstract realm of political theory, but in today’s Egypt, it has become one of visceral, daily importance. How big does a crowd of protesters have to be to indicate an elected leader is no longer the voice of his people? When do self-interested or authoritarian policy decisions go so far as to invalidate the mandate of an elected government? On the streets of Cairo, these questions have come to occupy the center of a serious, messy conversation about how to build a healthy and accountable new state. Read the rest of this entry »


Disclose out-of-court deals

P Gunasegaram
Jul 19, 2013

QUESTION TIME When a ball goes out of court, it goes out of play and play stops. But not so when a case goes to court and then there is an out-of-court settlement. Things are still very much in play, only the public does not get to see the action any more.

Out-of-court settlements are great if the dispute at hand is nobody else’s business but the parties in conflict. It is the right thing when matters are private, for example divorce cases when there is no reason whatsoever why it should become a public matter.

But when it involves the government, it is against the public interest to have out-of-court settlements, and if there are, then it would be best if the full terms of the settlement are made known to the public. Otherwise, who knows what will be hidden from the public eye?

Two incidents earlier this week caused us to be alarmed and relieved in turn. It was alarm when The Star reported that speculations were rife that a suit between tycoon Halim Saad on one side and former minister and government special adviser Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the government and Khazanah Nasional Bhd on the other, will be settled out of court – for RM1 billion. Read the rest of this entry »


I am a Muslim and I am not that offended

– Young Singaporean Muslim
The Malaysian Insider
July 21, 2013

When I first saw the “Halal Bak Kut Teh” picture on The Real Singapore Facebook page, I was irritated but I didn’t think much of it. I believed the guy was an idiot and that’s it. But I was surprised that the backlash has gotten so big over just a few hours.

I was disappointed to see so much hate comments being posted by fellow Muslims over this one photo and some even go far as to post threats of violence and death threats. And now, the couple is facing up to 15 years in jail and heavy fines over this one photo, which really saddens me as thieves and people with assault charges usually get much less.

Why am I not offended? I actually have a different perspective on the issue. I subscribed to a few foreign news channels like Al Jazeera and The Young Turks and I have seen the faces of REAL HATE.

I have seen people like Pastor Terry Jones, who called for the burning of the Quran. I have seen a group of Islamophobic Americans gather to throw hateful slurs at a mosque event in California. I have seen the absolute disrespect of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and his blasphemous film which he called “The innocence of muslims”. I have seen the bigotry and also the sympathy of the people of Texas in ABC news experiment “What would you do?” when Muslims are discriminated. I have seen a Hispanic woman pushing a Muslim man onto an oncoming train, killing him, just because he was Muslim. And the worst of late, I have seen the genocide of the Muslim Rohingya people by the so called “Buddhist” Burmese.

The face of hate comes in many sickening form. But when I see Alvin’s face, I don’t see a hateful person; I just see the face of a troll. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Wayang kulit’ elections

— Ravinder Singh
The Malay Mail Online
July 21, 2013

JULY 21 — The game plan was simple. Malaysia is supposed to be a democratic country. That was the foundation on which it was born. The Federal Constitution is there to prove it.

On the other hand, after the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Umno-dominated Alliance (changed to Barisan Nasional later) felt that it should remain in power all the time, for reasons best known to it.

However, this had to be done in a “democratic” way to show the world that democracy was alive. A simple way to do this was to move the goalposts from election to election. A game plan was mooted to do this constitutionally. Using its two-thirds majority in Parliament, which is needed to amend the very same constitution, the plan was put into action. First, the 15 per cent difference allowed in the number of voters in the different constituencies was changed to 50 per cent.

A further amendment was made some years later which removed the 50 per cent figure and left only the words “approximately equal” for the Election Commission to interpret as it chose fit. This resulted in some constituencies becoming umpteen times bigger than others. It was no co-incidence that these huge constituencies were pro-opposition voters.

This game of changing the goalposts had to be further refined to make it easier to accurately identify the sentiments of small pockets of voters. This was done by changing the vote-counting system. Instead of taking all the marked ballots to a central counting station, where a different group of election workers would do the counting, the counting was now to be done in the very room that the ballots were cast, by the same election workers.

This ballot counting in the balloting rooms was a very well disguised operation for spying on the voters. Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Malay-ness this, Malay-ness that

Dina Zaman
The Malay Mail Online
July 21, 2013

JULY 21 — When asked the following questions in a closed group on Facebook, “In a 1921 census, the Malays were a minority in their own country because of the British open door migration policy, which served their economic interest. (Hussin Mutalib, Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics). Zainah Anwar in a Star 2010 op-ed piece said, political power will always remain in Malay hands. Is this relevant still post-GE13?” the responses were mixed, though a majority disagreed with the sentiment in the question(s).

A number expressed that such sentiments were legitimate during that era, but today, this fear that the Malay race would be extinguished economically, psychologically and physically is irrelevant.

Gregore Lopez, academic, political analyst, activist and visiting fellow at The Australian National University, found the whole idea “… a little rich”, and many debunked the notion.

Yet communal politics is alive and well here. Every year, every month leading up to a by-election, general election, Malaysians are subjected to rumours and hatred is fuelled. Malay supremacy is at stake. The non-Malay bogeymen are out to sap the country dry. Is the 1921 census coming true?

Ahmad Fuad Rahmat, academic and Director of Project Dialog (a non-profit organisation dedicated to inter-faith dialogue) wrote in The New Mandala, a website, on the pathologies of Malay nationalism. Rahmat argued that the nationalist agenda of the country is at odds with the realities of Malaysian life.

“The problem begins with the nation-state ideal; for its coherence depends on there being a people deemed as the rightful owners of a land. It is rooted to the belief that territory is property — a thing to own — and that loyalty to the people means, among other things, the readiness to uphold the integrity of territory to ensure it belongs to the nation,” Rahmat wrote.

Islam, Rahmat as well as other political observers have noted, has repeatedly become a legal tool of uniting the Malays, and as well as control. For Muslims, Islam is already a way of life but for Malay Muslims, Islam has become an identity crutch. In another essay, we will discuss what Islamisation is about. But we must think: is the Islam practised in governance today holistic and healthy?

Gaik Cheng Khoo from the University of Nottingham Malaysia, is of the same opinion as Rahmat. “Constitutional patriotism is in fact growing, partly as a response to the concatenation of Islamisation and the discourse of Malay ethnic hegemony (ketuanan Melayu) which perpetuates identity boundaries between Malays and non-Malays and between Muslims and non-Muslims.” (2013 Constitutional Patriotism in Malaysian Civil Society) Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments