Slimeball Politics

August 26, 2008

I asked yesterday whose reporting we should believe – Bernama, which stated that the ‘Sodomy Accusation Exacts a Heavy Toll on Anwar‘  or Malaysiakini, which stated that an ‘Ustaz Leaves BN Campaign in Tatters‘.

Though perhaps we will never truly know the impact that Ramlang Porigi’s revelations had on BN’s campaign, we can logically conclude that his statements must have detracted from BN’s credibility, particularly given the reports that BN were broadcasting Saiful’s Quran swearing 24 hours a day on large screen TVs.

So while we can’t really comment on the accuracy of the title of that particular Malaysiakini story, we can certainly say they were at least on the right track which is more than you can say for Bernama, whose suggestion of Saiful inflicting a “Heavy Toll on Anwar” has been proven to be nothing more than mere BN propaganda.  While there are those who criticise Malaysiakini as being too pro-Opposition you can definitely say they are far fairer and more accurate in their reporting than Bernama (and have more cojones than The Star who on the eve of polling chose to headline the weather forecast in Permatang Pauh…)

I could not help but have a good laugh at BN’s expense when I read Arif Shah‘s absurd statement blaming his defeat on the Opposition’s “propaganda, promises and innuendoes”.

WHAT PROPAGANDA were the Opposition responsible for propagating?  That BN practises communal politics? It’s true!

WHAT PROMISES were the Opposition making?  That Malaysians can look forward to a future where corruption and racism will no longer be tolerated?  What’s wrong with that?  Perhaps if BN made similar promises and actually kept them, the rakyat would vote for them!

WHAT INNUENDO?  Were the Opposition screening a video of a coffee boy (or girl) swearing on the Quran that Najib raped his (or her) pert lil’ ass?  NO!  The only party involved in propagating a similarly vile and now discredited innuendo were the slimeballs in BN!

What possessed Arif Shah to make such an asinine statement?  On a related note, where was Arif Shah when UMNO Penang were asking UMNO to punish the people of Penang by scrapping all the projects funded by the Federal Government? Looks like the people of Permatang Pauh saw right through you Arif Shah, and your race-obsessed political party of hooligans and thugs.

After forecasting Anwar’s political doom 24 hours ago, Bernama begrudingly admits that Anwar Returns To Parliament After Win In Permatang Pauh.

By the way, I hope you’ve kept that shovel Khairy, ‘cos you should get a head start on digging your own political grave.

Congratualtions on your win Anwar.  PLEASE KEEP YOUR PROMISES TO US…WE’RE WATCHING YOU!

Ramlang Porigi? Never heard of him.

August 26, 2008

I was shocked to read of the latest turn of events involving Ramlang Porigi.

Pretty big story I thought.  So how did the various media organisations handle the story?  Let’s take a brief look.

Malaysiakini had four stories on Ramlang Porigi with one of them proclaiming ‘Ustaz leaves BN campaign in tatters‘.

The Malaysian Insider made Ramlang Porigi’s startling revelations their top story with a story entitled ‘Anwar campaign undermines Saiful’s Quran oath‘.

However, The Star, The NST and even The Sun don’t seem to have ever heard of the man.  No reports from any of them about what Ramlang Porigi said on Sunday in Permatang Pauh.

The Star chose a rather bland headline about how polling day in Permatang Pauh is likely to be wet.  So what Wong Chun Wai?

However, the NST is still headed by a story elaborating on the two PKR Penang exco members nabbed by the ACA.  Balanced reporting?

And what of Bernama?  To their credit, they do actually mention Ramlang Porigi but they are still stuck in an alternate reality because their story is entitled ‘Sodomy Accusation Exacts a Heavy Toll on Anwar’.  However, Bernama doesn’t comment on the substance of what Ramlang alleges, but merely cite Federal Territory Mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh whose sole criticism of Ramlang Porigi is that he is a ‘lowly ranked mosque official’.  So what?  How does that make anything he says unreliable?

Funny how even the title of the story in Bernama as against the title of the story in Malaysiakini are entirely contradictory!

So who is to be believed?  Bernama or Malaysiakini?

My money is on Malaysiakini – but we’ll know very soon won’t we?

Tunku Aziz joins DAP!

August 24, 2008

It was an extremely pleasant surprise to read that Tunku Aziz has joined DAP and been appointed a Vice-Chairman of DAP.

I had the opportunity to meet and interact with Tunku Aziz in April 2007 during Projek Amanat Negara IV, a series of talks organised by the UKEC in London.  Apart from being very warm, Tunku Aziz struck me as someone who truly cared about Malaysia.  I also recall him mentioning that he was at the Padang for that historic moment when Tunku Abdul Rahman made that now famous proclamation: “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!”

Tunku Aziz’s admission into DAP represents a monumental step forward for Malaysian politics.  Tunku Aziz has always been outspoken and unafraid criticise others on the basis of his principles.  For someone of his stature and integrity to have joined demonstrates that DAP is a viable political alternative for Malays and Muslims.

When questioned on his choice of party, Tunku Aziz replied: “I feel that I trust the people around me and what the party stands for.” He is also quoted as saying: “I always have independent views. I have been critical on a number of issues. While I subscribe to an organisation’s basic principles, there are times where we disagree. I have always championed the freedom to dissent.

Thank you for making a courageous decision Tunku Aziz.  I hope other prominent Malays have taken notice and will follow in your footsteps.

I wish you all the best in your endeavours to make Malaysia a better place for all.

The Fallacy of ASEAN Values

August 22, 2008

NOTE: This was publised as a letter that appeared on Malaysiakini on 1st August 2008.

I was pleasantly surprised when I read last year that the ASEAN Charter, intended to be a Constitution for ASEAN Member States, would include provisions for the establishment of an ASEAN Human Rights Commission.  At the time I was skeptical over just how rigorous an ASEAN-wide human rights framework would be.  At the time, I suspected that such an initiative may simply have been a superficial exercise to demonstrate some recognition of human rights by ASEAN member states to the rest of the world.  After all, I thought, each country has it’s own particular pet peeves: for Singapore it is freedom of expression, for Malaysia it is freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and probably quite a few others.  As for Burma, suffice to say that it would be quicker to assemble a list of freedoms that are respected by the Burmese government.

In view of this, it was heartening to read on the website of the ASEAN Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism notes that such a Commission would go towards

  • Ensuring that international human rights laws are observed and implemented by ASEAN countries who have agreed to them;and
  • Helping ASEAN people have a common understanding of universal human rights issues and perspectives.

It was therefore disappointing, though hardly surprising, when I read of a recent statement made by Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Dr Rais Yatim, at the recently concluded ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Singapore that the “ASEAN value system” should be incorporated into any human rights framework arising from the ASEAN Charter.  Such a statement harks back to the notion of “Asian Values” which suggests that Asians are more willing than people in other parts of the world to forego a range of rights which broadly fall under the categories of internationally accepted political and civil rights in exchange for greater prosperity/law and order.  This is a premise championed in the past by the leaders of both Singapore and Malaysia.

The concept of Asian Values has been well critiqued from both economic/historical and sociological persepctives.  In my view, the concept of Asian Values is nothing short of a fallacy.  It is but a culturally relativist veil behind which those in power can perpetuate and justify their authoritarian forms of rule.

To make allowances for so-called Asian or ASEAN Values within the human rights provisions of the ASEAN Charter would defeat the purpose of the human rights provisions as it lends itself to the real danger that each country within ASEAN will derogate from various internationally accepted human rights norms on the basis of Asian Values.  It follows that such attempts must be strongly resisted.

To his credit the current Secretary General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, challenged ASEAN members at the recently concluded AMM to “look back at our roots, in the documents of our civilisations, to see if we really have different definitions of human rights”.

If we take up Dr Pitsuwan’s challenge we would find that the truth is that human rights has a far longer history in Asia than in the West.  The Cyrus Cylinder of Persia, which advoctes respect for humanity as well as religious tolerance and freedom is today widely regarded as the world’s first charter of human rights.  It is said to predate England’s Magna Carta of 1215 by more than a millenium.  Similarly, the Edicts of King Asoka of India through its emphasis on moral and social precepts, in particular a committment towards uniformity in law (which has more than a passing resemblance to the oft discussed Rule of Law) incorporates elements of what are commonly regarded “modern” human rights norms.

Rather than advancing the cause of cultural relativism, we in ASEAN should instead be rediscovering our true Asian heritage – one in which we are pioneers in the field of human rights.

Resign Zulkifli Nordin

August 20, 2008

NOTE: This open letter to Zulkifli Nordin has been posted on the Malaysian Bar website and the Malaysiakini letters section.

Dear Zuklifli Nordin

I refer to the Malaysiakini article ‘Zulkifli defends his action at Bar forum‘.

Thank you for finally coming out of hiding and delivering a much needed press conference. During the press conference you made the claim that one can “talk about Islam but you can’t talk for Islam”.  In a similar vein I would like to make it clear that you and Pembela can talk about Muslims but you can’t talk for Muslims.  You certainly don’t speak for this Muslim and I daresay there are many other Malaysian Muslims that you do not speak for.  You and the other leaders of that demonstration have only brought shame upon Muslims and moreover brought Islam into disrepute because by your actions and words on the morning of 9th August 2008 you lend credence to the notion that Muslims are irrational liars who are prone to threats of violence and that our faith is too weak to be discussed in the open.

In a moment reminiscent of pots and kettles you chided the Bar Council for not having “learnt to respect the law, the constitution and also the views of other parties”.  Just what laws or aspects of the constitution did the Bar Council contravene?  You claim that the Bar Council are anti-Islam when in truth, the Bar Council had arranged for a diverse range of speakers including a syariah lawyer as well as representatives from IKIM and JAIS.  The Bar Council had also invited those leading the protest to take part in the forum.  Were you merely ignorant of all this or was there instead a wilful attempt to deceive on the part or you and the other protest organisers?  Ironically, it is you who should learn to respect the constitution and the views of other parties.

You state that  it was the police and not the protest that stopped the forum.  That is mere semantics as you are quoted as saying “I have negotiated with the Dang Wangi police to stop the forum at 9.30am or else we will act.”  Now you expect us to believe that the police would have stopped the forum if your protest had not taken place?  Do you think we were born yesterday?  Stop twisting the truth.  You have already threatened to “do it again” if the Bar Council attempted similar forums.

You claim that Malaysian Muslims have been tolerant living under laws that are not Islamic.  Would it surprise you if you were to find out that most Malaysian Muslims, like their fellow countrymen, are more concerned about the content and quality of the laws they live under rather than the labels of these laws?  It follows that Malaysians of all backgrounds object to the ISA simply because it is unjust on any view, not because it does not carry an Islamic label.  Do not be so presumptuous as to think you are capable of taking the lead to speak for all Muslims in this country.

You are keen to emphasise that to you Islam comes before PKR.  However, the far more pertinent question for you to answer is whether Pembela or your collective constituents come first, and in my view by your actions you have placed Pembela above your constituents.  As an illustration, consider if you had another Shamala or Revathi as a constituent.  Would you be sympathetic to the plight of such a person?  Could such a person count on your support?  Would such a person even be comfortable now to approach you?  Would you be willing to cross swords with JAIS or other Islamic authorities to seek justice for a non-Muslim?  I am guessing the answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘No’.

You maintain that you attended the demonstration as a member of Pembela and not as an MP.  Since you are still in a state of denial I provided the above illustration to demonstrate how your actions as a member of Pembela have created a potentially calamitous conflict of interest with your responsibilities as an MP.  Who would now believe that you can impartially serve the interests of all your constituents?

The only honourable course of action for you is to resign from your parliamentary post.

Make way for someone who will unite, not divide Malaysians and one who will make all the constituents their priority.

What is Khairy gloating about?

August 19, 2008

I am disgusted that Khairy is now gloating over the potential implications of Zulkifli Nordin’s actions last Saturday.

Hey, what are you so ecstatic about Khairy?

This is the problem with you people in UMNO today.  Instead of trying to prove to Malaysians that UMNO/BN is the best choice for Malaysians you need to run the Opposition down in the hope of proving that UMNO/BN is not the best choice but instead the LEAST BAD alternative.

What a sad state of affairs for Malaysia.

Instead of gloating, why don’t you take steps to rid UMNO of the right wing nuts.

Oops I forgot you are one of them.  Now why don’t you take out your keris, wave it around and kiss it like your buddy Hishamuddin did as you cheered on?

You’re a joke Khairy!

Get real if you ever think you are ever going to become PM.

My advice to you is to just stick to the stock market.

You have nothing positive to offer this country.

WE JUST DON’T BELIEVE YOU ANYMORE.

August 8, 2008

It hasn’t even been 24 hours since Anwar Ibrahim was charged and the government propaganda machinery is already hard at work trying to contain the damage.   So apparently Anwar should be grateful that he is not in prison just yet and that he still has his passport.  Ha bloody ha.

Seriously though, if the sex was consensual, why isn’t Saiful also being charged for engaging in carnal acts against the order of nature?

I think the government are mostly nervous about international perception.  They care about the negative publicity that Anwar can and is generating for them.  But if they were smart, they would be more scared of what us Malaysians think.  They should be concerned that even those of us who have our doubts about Anwar absolutely abhor what is being done to him.

They should worry that the Malaysian public would sooner believe the wildest conspiracy theories than what they have to say.

It’s high time the government realised that it isn’t just Anwar Ibrahim who believes that the country’s “legal and security systems” are “unjust and could be manipulated to serve the interest of certain quarters”.

It’s a belief held by all sane Malaysians.

Can you really blame us after the 1988 judicial crisis, the Lingam scandal, the failure to implement the IPCMC, the failure to establish the Judicial Appointments Commission and the fact that police personnel are today unashamedly fighting over the apportionment of their ill gotten gains?  And that’s just off the top of my head.

Perhaps the government are still of the Josef Goebbels school of thought – that if you “repeat a lie often enough the people will believe it!”

Sorry, but Malaysians have woken up.

It’s time the Malaysian government did as well.

You are discredited.  Do something other than creating media spin.

WE JUST DON’T BELIEVE YOU ANYMORE.

How Long?

July 28, 2008

One month.

That’s how long the authorities sat on the medical report produced by Dr Mohamed Osman before it was unceremoniously leaked by some hitherto unknown source.  The report confirms that Anwar Ibrahim’s accuser showed no signs of sodomy, forced or otherwise.

And Rais Yatim claims the rule of law is intact in Malaysia?  A central premise of the rule of law is that there is equality before the law.  You mean to tell me that this suppression of evidence happens in all investigations involving sodomy?  Or that in all sodomy investigations the PM himself sees fit to comment and insist that if the suspect is innocent he should provide a DNA sample?  Do all doctors who issue medical reports in criminal investigations feel the need to go into hiding with their families?

Perhaps Rais Yatim has a different understanding of the rule of law than the rest of us.  Would someone please give him a legal dictionary?

In other news, the fact that the MSM took their time picking up this story has not gone unnoticed.  There can be no clearer indication that the MSM are failing miserably at their jobs – reporting the news!  With all their resources they were all beaten to the story by Malaysiakini and RPK.  Congratulations are due to both Malaysiakini and RPK for their scoop.

How long do you think it will be before the Badawi administration crumbles under the weight of the lies perpetuated by those from within?

Pak Lah: once a lame duck, always a lame duck

July 22, 2008

A helluva lot has changed since I last blogged.  My mind boggles at the events that have transpired and continue to transpire post 8th March 2008.  Since my last blog posting I’ve even managed a trip back to Malaysia.  It was too hectic to really be called a holiday but after nearly two years in the UK it was a long awaited trip home.

Yep, lots has changed.  Enough that I don’t even know what to believe anymore.  But one thing hasn’t.  And that one thing would be our lame duck Prime Minister.  Call me cynical if you wish.

Now, before anyone accuses me of harming the reputation of our illustrious Prime Minister without basis and thereby potentially falling foul of the law, let’s first look at the dictionary.  Dictionary.com defines “lame duck” thusly and I have bolded a few definitions that I (in good faith of course) believe apply to Pak Lah:

lame duck –noun

1. an elected official or group of officials, as a legislator, continuing in office during the period between an election defeat and a successor’s assumption of office.
2. a president who is completing a term of office and chooses not to run or is ineligible to run for reelection.
3. a person finishing a term of employment after a replacement has been chosen.
4. anything soon to be supplanted by another that is more efficient, economical, etc.
5. a person or thing that is disabled, helpless, ineffective, or inefficient.

I think we can all agree that he was ineffective before the elections.  The rising levels of crime and corruption would attest to this as well.  There was also the fact that he made like an ostrich and stuck his head firmly in the ground as far as the rakyat’s complaints were concerned.

Post 8th March 2008, he claims to have heard our “signal” and implores for the rest of UMNO to take note and act accordingly as well.  Since the elections Pak Lah has also said he will hand the reins over to Najib in two years bringing him within the first definition of “lame duck”.  But, as I will shortly explain, he continues to demonstrate that he is an ineffective leader.

In April 2008, in an attempt to persuade us that his head is now out of the sand Pak Lah dangled before the rakyat the propects of a Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption (MCAC) (intended to be a souped up, more independent version of the ACA) and the idea of a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).  Promises like these are presented to us like carrots on a stick but before we utter “HEE HAW” and go galloping off in hot pursuit of these tantalising morsels let’s assess where we are and whether indeed Pak Lah has kept his word.

It’s pushing to close to 4 months since both the MCAC and JAC were proposed by Pak Lah.

First, the MCAC has yet to be set up but more importantly, it’s structure, appointment of top officials and the nitty gritty of it’s expanded powers has yet to be clarified.  Who cares if the MCAC has 20,000 or even 100,000 officers if it is not given adequate powers nor sufficiently transparent.  For that matter, it isn’t even clear what sort of a Parliamentary Committee the MCAC would be reporting to.  As a matter of good governance such a Parliamentary Committee should include members of the Opposition as well.

And now we turn to the JAC.  After something of a promising start the idea was shot down by ministers from within Pak Lah’s own party, UMNO.  Haris Ibrahim lists the reasons given as culled from a report from the The Malaysianinsider.  The reasons include fears over “loss of Malay control over a key institution“.  I don’t know about you but that statement infuraites me on many levels.  First, it implies that there are no brilliant Malay legal minds.  Second, it implies that EVEN AFTER 30 years of government assistance there are no brilliant Malay legal minds.  (UMNO Ministers basically suggested Malays are too stupid to be selected as judges in a merit-based environment! In fact, that seems rather seditious by inference – quick someone make a police report!)  Third, such a statement promotes a racist mentality that UMNO seems intent on perpetuating – this is evident from the fact that no other groups were making this point.  All UTTER BS in my view and Haris offers a very plausible suggestion why there has been a change of heart vis-a -vis the JAC.

The position now is that the JAC framework is to be “re-worked” before being presented to Parliament.  I wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath, people.  Remember the IPCMC?

And where is Pak Lah in all of this?

QUIET AS A MOUSE LAME DUCK!

Pak Lah, you’ve said you’re relinquishing the PMship in two years.  If that’s the case, what have you got to lose by fulfilling your promises to the rakyat?  If you can’t even do that, why bother waiting two years before throwing in the towel?

Makan gaji aje!

BN and BR: Do not betray the voters

March 21, 2008

007

Skullduggery, espionage and defections – is this the latest James Bond film? No, this is the latest fallout from Malaysia’s 12th General Election – but I dare say no less thrilling than a good Bond film.

The skullduggery
The Barisan Nasional currently holds 127 140 of 222 seats in Parliament and if it lost 16 29 seats this would take it down to 111 – wiping out its simple majority and creating a ‘hung parliament’ – a Parliament in which no party or existing coalition has a majority. Alternatively, Barisan Rakyat has 82 seats and needs a further 30 seats to obtain a simple majority. To top it off, in states such as Perak, Barisan Rakyat won a majority by only a small lead.

A situation ripe for skullduggery – and by accounts there is much of it afoot with both sides accusing the other of trying to ‘buy’ MPs and assemblymen.

The espionage
The newly crowned UMNO Sec. Gen., Tengku Adnan (for his information I am not unemployed, I’m a student and I KNOW I am not a woman. He is never going to live that one down, is he?!) has stated that UMNO will be dispatching some “intelligence teams” (read: spies) to East Malaysia to determine whether BN MPs are being wooed by the Opposition.

Does anyone else spot the irony? Right now the words ‘UMNO’ and ‘intelligence’ are the last two words I would expect to see in the same line. Kind of like that other oxymoron: ‘military intelligence’.

So there’s our espionage thrown into the mix.

UMNO Spy?

Hmm…I wonder what kind of equipment the UMNO spies will have with them?

The defections

Malaysiakini reported yesterday that Richard Riot, an MP in Sarawak has left SUPP, a BN component party, citing that SUPP does not have the interests of the Dayak community at heart. Speculation is rife that Richard Riot and up to four other MPs are contemplating a defection to Barisan Rakyat.

According to Raja Petra:

“there were many planned defections before the 8 March 2008 election but Anwar told them to stay put in Umno and Barisan Nasional and make sure that they win their seats first. Only if the opposition wins with a large enough minority and all it needs are those few extra seats to form the government should they leave the ruling coalition and join the opposition.”

And there you have it folks: the defections.

Checkpoint Charlie Sign

The sign at Checkpoint Charlie, a site synonymous with espionage and defections during the Cold War

Checkpoint Charlie 1961

American and Soviet tanks facing off at Checkpoint Charlie in 1961

Now for the serious bit

What are we, the rakyat, to make of all this? Not even two weeks ago we voted for candidates on the basis that they represented a political party and now some us are faced with the prospect of our votes being undermined.

I for one, couldn’t be happier that BN was denied a 2/3 majority in these last elections. It means they cannot amend our Federal Constitution willy nilly as they have been doing for years. But I am happy that they have retained a narrow simple majority. Why?

First, Barisan Rakyat still have to prove themselves, remember?

Second, it keeps both BN and BR hungry. Hungry to gain more influence and seats and hopefully, hungry to please us, the rakyat, in the process. At least that’s how democracy is supposed to work.

Encouraging any of our wakil rakyats to defect to either side is facilitating a betrayal of anyone who voted for those wakil rakyats. In doing so it also undermines our democracy.

Instead of playing these games, both Barisan Nasional and Barisan Rakyat should be focusing on the real work – proving themselves to the rakyat.


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