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Assessing Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor

Book cover for The Road to Reform

The Road to Reform

WHAT has the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Selangor government achieved after two and a half years in power? If one relied on traditional media reports or Umno’s “Save Selangor” roadshow, the answer may well be, “Not very much”.

But the reality is much more nuanced, as demonstrated in the book The Road to Reform: Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor, a compilation of articles by academics, activists and politicians on Selangor’s performance.

Selangor’s achievements and struggles since taking power in March 2008 are summarised fairly comprehensively in The Road to Reform, published by Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD). Edited by Selangor Menteri Besar’s research officer Tricia Yeoh, it provides a broad overview of how Malaysia’s “richest and most developed state” has fared under a non-Barisan Nasional (BN) government for the first time in over 50 years.

The Good

Generally, authors were encouraged by the new government’s efforts at governing in a more open and democratic manner thus far. One oft-cited example was the setting up of the Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat).

Other measures also received approval. Amongst them: The drafting of a Freedom of Information Act, declassifying documents under the Official Secrets Act and the exposure of Biro Tata Negara‘s controversial courses.

Yong Poh Kon (source: selangor.gov.my)

Yong Poh Kon (source: selangor.gov.my)

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers past president Yong Poh Kon wrote of the state government’s greater willingness to engage stakeholders in discussions.

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns coordinator Colin Nicholas gave a glowing review of the Selangor government’s concrete steps and greater openness in addressing Orang Asli concerns in the state. “The PR-led Selangor government had from the beginning clearly stated its good intentions for the Orang Asli in the state — and it has followed through by walking the talk,” wrote Nicholas.

For political scientist Wong Chin Huat, the real significance of the 8 March 2008 election results was the opportunity to reaffirm federalism, which has been eroded since Malaysia’s formation. As Wong has stated before in his column Uncommon Sense, federalism allows for regional variation and competition. Selangor’s institutional reforms thus puts pressure not just on BN federal and state governments, but also on other PR states.

“It especially pressures Penang,” said Wong, “which is equally urbanised, developed and claiming to be reformist, and Kelantan, which has failed to even form a task force on FOI or local elections after 20 years in power.”

Putucheary

Academician Dr Mavis Puthucheary also noted that having chief ministers from different parties in the PR states has allowed for greater flexibility in government decision-making. This has allowed each state to develop policies that the local leaders believe are in the state’s best interests.

“As the richest state in Malaysia, the Selangor government is in a unique position to show that the only way to counter the challenges of globalisation — rise of job insecurity, financial volatility and corruption — is by good governance,” says Puthucheary. “In this way, states like Selangor may be able to influence decision-making at the national level.”

The Bad

But not all is rosy in Selangor. Bar Council Human Rights Committee chairperson Andrew Khoo summarised civil society’s assessment of Selangor’s performance as “still waiting”. Although signs have been encouraging, tangible results still need to be seen.

Several contributors commented on PR’s leaders’ lack of experience in governing and the need to transition from being the opposition to acting as the government. Institute of South East Asian Studies Fellow Ooi Kee Beng commented that opposition politics has for a long-time been a self-sacrificing undertaking. This has created a “street-fighting culture” among non-BN politicians and parties.

Yeo

Former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh, while commending the Selangor government’s efforts, also said “its political will has not been matched by its speed or efficacy.” Some of the reasons for this are internal, such as in-fighting and a lack of decisiveness. Others are external, such as a lack of cooperation from the BN federal government. Law professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari recalled how Agriculture Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar forbade ministry officials from attending meetings or courses sponsored by PR state governments.

Environmental activist Gurmit Singh questioned whether the Selangor government can sustain the political will needed to ensure sustainable development in the state.

Wong Chin Huat

But most worryingly, several authors wrote of the risk that PR will emulate BN-style patronage politics and practices now that they have tasted power.

Wong criticised PR for denying BN opposition lawmakers their constituency development funds. PR justifies by saying BN lawmakers would be receiving double allocation — one from the state and one from their party. Also, it is widely known that BN denies opposition members of Parliament funds at the federal level. But Wong asks: “How can Pakatan Rakyat claim to revolutionise politics if it does what Barisan Nasional did when in power?” From asking for government jobs to denying opposition lawmakers funds, Wong warns that PR is looking increasingly like the BN.

The Ugly?

The book, however, does not address several key concerns about PR and Selangor. One recurring thread is how DAP and PAS work together when they appear to have conflicting aims on several Islamic issues.

Ronnie Liu (source: selangor.gov.my)

In 2009, PAS state chief Datuk Dr Hassan Ali had a public spat with fellow executive council member Ronnie Liu over the sale of beer in Selangor. Although the issue was resolved through a compromise, doubts remain over whether PAS and DAP can truly cooperate, or whether one party’s asprations will eventually overshadow the other. Jostling within Parti Keadilan Rakyat, especially between Khalid and vice-president Mohamed Azmin Ali, which could prove harmful to the state’s administration, was also not sufficiently addressed.

PR’s reputation also took a beating over illegal sand-mining in the state as well as the issuance of “support letters” for friends and family members to obtain government contracts. Doubts have been cast on PR’s “clean” image due to these events although they may have been too recent for inclusion in this book.

New politics

Andrew Khoo

Andrew Khoo

Malaysians and Selangor residents took a risk on 8 March 2008 by putting relatively inexperienced representatives in government. It appears that in many aspects, this risk has been justified in Selangor by the government’s willingness to try a different way of governance — one that is more open, democratic and consultative.

But the PR government should not rest on its laurels nor should it have room for complacency with such an expectant electorate.

As Khoo said in his article, “Boldness and courage of the electorate in voting for change should not be rewarded by timidity, by the focusing on the excuses as to why it was not possible to deliver… Two years is time enough to have got off the blocks. Now it must pick up speed and run and finish well.”

The Road to Reform: Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor will be launched at 7.30pm on Monday, 27 September 2010 at Hotel Singgahsana, Persiaran Barat, off Jalan Sultan, Petaling Jaya (next to Taman Jaya LRT Station). All are welcome.

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Umno’s Perkasa dilemma

By Koh Lay Chin

Before: Perkasa is not a threat

“At the end of the day, it’s the government that decides on everything. I don’t think Perkasa will win if it contested in the general election… it has even used the PAS ticket to win.”

Perkasa logo

Perkasa logo

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz uses sarcasm to dismiss Perkasa which is led by independent Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Ibrahim Ali who won in Pasir Mas on a PAS ticket. Ibrahim has also frequently changed political parties in the past. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)

“I never saw Perkasa as a threat at all because Umno has been in existence since 1946 and has struggled for the Malay community. Every community has benefited directly or indirectly from Umno’s leaders who are also the nation’s leaders. So I do not see Perkasa as a threat but what is the threat? I have always been fighting for the country, race and religion. There is no threat at all.”

Ahmad Maslan (source: parlimen.gov.my)

Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Umno information chief and Pontian MP, when asked for his comments on Perkasa earlier this year. Other Umno leaders like supreme council member Datuk Bung Mukhtar Radin, party deputy permanent chairperson Datuk Seri Mohamad Aziz, and Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, also said they did not believe Perkasa was a threat to Malay Malaysian support for Umno. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)

“Perkasa is not so extreme, if you listen to them carefully. They can shout about Malay rights as long as they are not extreme in their views, and you know, to the extent that we can accommodate Perkasa. And we can [also accommodate] the non-Malays [...]”

“They are by and large supportive of Umno and they believe that Umno is the only vehicle that can really not only promote Malay interest but really hold this country together.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in an interview with satellite channel Al Jazeera aired before both the Hulu Selangor and Sibu by-elections. He was explaining the New Economic Model and how the government deals with groups like Perkasa. (Source: Perkasa not so extreme, Al Jazeera interview as reported by Malaysiakini, 3 April 2010)

Now: Some Umno leaders try to distance the party from Perkasa

“The Umno members in Perkasa are rejects from our party and the leaders at all levels of Umno are with the Prime Minister and his 1Malaysia concept; that is why we will never subscribe to Perkasa’s way of fighting for the rights of the Malays.”

Nazri dismissing Perkasa again, but this time adding that the group’s way of championing Malay Malaysian rights will lead to racial discord and perhaps even riots. Just before this, Ibrahim had said that Perkasa was strong enough on its own and did not need Umno’s support. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)

“The struggles of Umno are more holistic than Perkasa’s. Umno fights for the Malays and Malaysians, which Umno had been fighting for since 1946.”

Umno information chief Ahmad, saying Perkasa’s fight was only for the rights of one single race while Umno’s agenda was bigger and wider in scope. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)

“They are not wanted in Umno, they are no more leaders, they are just ordinary members. Umno has nothing to do with Perkasa.

“Why should Umno support him (Ibrahim Ali)? Umno should put a candidate in Pasir Mas. We will contest in Pasir Mas.”

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (source: parlimen.gov.my)

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, saying Perkasa was eroding Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support among non-Malay Malaysians. He said the party would not back Ibrahim in the next general election. Tengku Adnan also said most Perkasa leaders consisted of those who were defeated in the last Umno elections who were now seeking a political platform to be heard.

Tengku Adnan reminded Perkasa leaders that BN had to address the needs of all racial groups in the country. In response, Ibrahim snapped back, saying that 60% of Perkasa members were Umno members. He is also mulling the possibility of political cooperation with other parties in the next election.(Source: Umno rejects Perkasa, The Star, 9 Sept 2010)

” … In Umno, we defend Malay rights but we believe there is a place for all Malaysians.

We want all groups to understand this part.”

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin calling Perkasa’s views one-sided as it did not take into account other communities. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“We should reject ethnocentricity in this country, it should not be encouraged.”

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi saying Perkasa’s struggle was ethnocentric in nature while Umno also fought for the rights of non-Malays. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“They should work just as an NGO and carry out their programmes as one.”

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar describing Perkasa as nothing more than a non-governmental organisation. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“Perkasa is hurting us, our chances in gaining non-Malay votes. For Umno, BN to win, we cannot afford to be associated with these people. They are alienating us from a large segment of voters.”

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who has been at loggerheads with Ibrahim, saying Umno must disassociate itself from the group. At a Ramadan forum, Khairy also said: “If there is a situation where Umno chooses Perkasa over me, I will leave (the party).” (Source: Khairy wants Umno, BN to move away from Perkasa, The Malaysian Insider, 27 August 2010)

…and here’s how the Umno president and country’s prime minister addresses Perkasa.

“They are not against us. They are talking more about bumiputera rights. But actually we are not taking anything away from the bumiputera, but we are saying that let us do it differently. Let us get better results. Let us achieve a more equitable society. But at the same time, [be] fair to the non-bumiputras as well. Because we want to build a One Malaysia.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on CNBC Asia, when asked why former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Perkasa were getting upset with the current leadership. (Source: Transcript of CNBC Asia’s interview with PM Najib, The New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)

“…it troubles me to see a rise in issues rooted in extremism in the nation. This is not limited to racism. Extremists are groups or [individuals] who subscribe to radical views and actions against others. They treat anyone who is different as an enemy and engineer fear in people who don’t conform to their thoughts or ideologies and in some cases in people who simply look different.

“I am strongly opposed to these types of behaviour. It saddens me that despite living in an independent multi-cultural nation for over 50 years, there are still those who cannot tolerate, much less accept the benefits of a [diverse] society. It saddens me because by rejecting our [diverse] way of life, they reject 1Malaysia.”

Najib a few days later, in his official address for Malaysia Day posted on his website. He did not name Perkasa but talked about groups which he said may be “small in number” but whose “presence is amplified through their extreme sentiments and acts.” He said Malaysians should remain calm and rational and that the government would keep a watchful eye on such groups. (Source: Our Fight Against Extremism, www.1Malaysia.com.my, 15 Sept 2010)

But when subsequently pressed by reporters to clarify whether he was referring to Perkasa or not, Najib dodged the question and said he wasn’t talking about any specific group. He added that Umno considered Perkasa to be like any other NGO, and that the government did not want to be in conflict with any NGO. After Najib’s reply to reporters, Tengku Adnan, too, denied ever saying that Umno and BN wanted to distance themselves from Perkasa.

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Open letter to Nazri and Awang Selamat: Whos the boss? Nurul Izzah Anwar

September 20, 2010SEPT 20 ...I want Awang to know that I am always sure who my boss is. Its not (Lim) Kit Siang nor (Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) because they are not prime minister of Malaysia, the chairman of BN or president of Umno. Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Tan Sri Abdul Aziz in his open letter to Awang Selamat.Nazris open letter to Awang Selamat mentioned many things that caught my attention, which include: his courage in facing criticism by the opposition, his call for Utusan Malaysia to meet its KPI of increased readership and refraining from subverting the 1 Malaysia concept by promoting Ibrahim Alis narrow racism, his claim of his parliamentary civility that led to five opposition MPs crossing over and, finally, his closing remark of being a Malaysian first and Malay next.But the most significant was his definition of Whos the boss?, which in his case is the prime minister.I believe that the Real Boss of our nation is the rakyat and the Federal Constitution.If all members of the Cabinet under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak subscribe to this same belief, then Malaysians in general will benefit from clearer (and firmer) policies, a more sustainable environment for better ethnic relations, and a country where the rights of the many are held high above the interests of the few.First and foremost to living this belief is the commitment to a free media, which I urge the Najib administration to hold sacred.So Utusan Malaysia has to decide if Najib, Ibrahim Ali or even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is its boss.So where Utusan Malaysia is allowed to choose who its bosses are, the government can only choose to satisfy its only boss, which is the rakyat.Therefore, I call upon Nazri and Awang Selamat to support the call for a free media, as a show of loyalty to the real boss of the nation.* Nurul Izzah Anwar is the MP for Lembah Pantai.* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specif! ied.
See What Pakatan Rakyat Gotta Say?

Why the government fears satire

Holding Court by Ding Jo-Ann

WHY is the government charging someone for writing a satirical piece? On 2 Sep 2010, Irwan Abdul Rahman, a Malay Mail executive editor was charged over a blog posting entitled “TNB to sue WWF over earth hour.” Irwan’s posting on his website Nose4news was below a huge banner with the words “The truth is out there (Not in here).” The banner also featured a long-nosed Pinocchio, whose nose grows every time he tells a lie.

Screencap of Nose4News

Screencap of Nose4News

Irwan’s post was clearly satirical. It claimed that Tenaga Nasional Berhad would sue the World Wildlife Fund over its Earth Hour campaign. The campaign involved everyone switching off all their lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change.

TNB’s president was quoted as screaming, “POWERRR…EXTREME!” in Irwan’s spoof news article, as well as telling “those green terrorists” that “we love our lights!”

Unfortunately, not everyone can take a joke. Irwan was hauled before the courts under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). He has been charged with allegedly posting a false blog entry “with the intention of causing hurt to the feelings of others”. Now, is satire really a crime?

Satire exempted

Satire, by definition, is often false. But used well, it can offer critique and insight on issues of the day. George Orwell for example, was not writing a true account of a bunch of pigs taking over the yard in his book Animal Farm. He was, in fact, critiquing the form of communism being practised in the Soviet Union at the time. The use of irony, sarcasm and wit sometimes works better at getting a point across than if it were said directly.

Satire has also been highly successful in news commentaries. Here’s The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart criticising US President Barack Obama for being wishy-washy in his response over the building of an Islamic cultural centre, misreported as a mosque, near ground zero in New York.

And here’s our very own satirical news programme That Effing Show commenting on Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam’s announcement on Muslim child marriages:

But the CMA says publishing false news on the internet is an imprisonable offence. Does that mean Malaysians are denied the use of satire as a literary device?

Now, it may come as a surprise, but apparently, our Malaysian authorities did take into account George Orwell and his revolutionary animals when drafting the CMA.

As pointed out by blogger and lawyer Art Harun, the government has expressly allowed satire in the Communications and Multimedia Forum of Malaysia content code. Under “Guidelines on Content”, Article 7.3 states, “Content which is false is expressly prohibited except in the following circumstances… (a) satire and parody, (b) where it is clear to an ordinary user that the content is fiction.”

Of course, satire that incites violence and contravenes the Penal Code would still constitute a crime. But it shouldn’t take a lawyer to figure out that Irwan’s blog posting falls safely within Article 7.3 of the content code and should be exempt from prosecution. So why then is the government charging him with a crime?

Control, control and control

Rais Yatim (© British Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

To me, it’s all about control. The internet has long exasperated the ruling party. In 2005, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz called Malaysiakini “a liar”. In 2007, the Information Ministry set up a special unit to monitor and counter “internet lies”. In 2009, Information Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim tried to propose an internet filter, which was shelved after public outcry. And in July 2010, the Home Ministry set up a committee comprising Nazri, Rais and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, to curb the dissemination of false news.

These are the actions of a party that has become so accustomed to controlling the flow of information to the public. Barisan Nasional (BN) owns and controls most of the traditional media, either directly or indirectly. Editors can be sacked or suspended at the executive’s orders. And there is always the Printing Presses and Publications Act and other such laws that have proven effective in keeping the traditional media in check.

It is therefore not surprising that the BN also wants to control internet chatter and its image online. After all, one might say, what’s the point of keeping an iron grip on the traditional media while the new media is allowed to do as it pleases?

Irwan is just the latest in a string of Malaysians arrested or charged for their online posts. Fellow bloggers Nathaniel Tan, Syed Azidi Syed Aziz (Kickdefella) and Raja Petra Kamarudin were also arrested under the Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act and the Penal Code respectively.

Inception

But can the BN intimidate the Malaysian public, as it has the Malaysian traditional media, and curb their expression on the internet? Will these arrests and committees succeed in steering Malaysian public opinion and make it BN-friendly?

Metropolis by Amir Muhammad & Liza Manshoor, based on Harian Metro headlines (pic courtesy of Lainie Yeoh) " width="210" height="316">

Mainstream media — regarded as authoratative? (pic of Metropolis by Amir Muhammad & Liza Manshoor, based on Harian Metro headlines, courtesy of Lainie Yeoh)

Unfortunately for the BN, probably only in a fantasy world, a-la Inception. In this dream world, the BN’s every attempt to silence dissent would be interpreted as the benevolent act of a government that cares for the people. People would believe that the government is not in any way motivated by their desire to stay in power but by their responsibility towards Malaysian citizens. And everyone would know that everything reported in the traditional media is true, accurate, fair and unbiased. While everything reported in the new media, especially anything critical of the BN, is a lie, biased and distorts the facts.

It appears that some people in the BN believe we do live in this fantasy world, our prime minister being one of them. Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently advised the public to trust the “fact-based” traditional media, unlike websites and blogs, which were “half-truths and inaccurate”.

“If we read the mainstream media, we intuitively regard it as an authoritative report, where its facts cannot be questioned,” our prime minister said.

Again, dialogue

But for many Malaysians, the days of fully trusting the traditional media are gone. Dissent and alternative opinions have always existed in Malaysia, it was not the internet that caused them to exist.

(Najib pic courtesy of theSun)

The days of fully trusting "mainstream" media are gone, but can the government accept this reality? (Najib pic courtesy of theSun)

Attempts to clamp down on expression, especially when it comes to the internet, will only make an already sceptical public more distrustful of the government. Again, it comes back to dialogue and engagement, instead of a paternalistic “Believe this because I say so” attitude. But can the government accept reality and take the necessary steps to change?

Ding Jo-Ann appreciates the diversity of the new media, even though she may not always believe everything it says.

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Dialogue among religions vital

LETTER

It has been a relief that the burning of the Quran has been aborted by Pastor Jones from Florida in the US. The intent if put into action, could have created a deep cleavage in inter-religous harmony around the world because he has chosen the part of revenge, made worse by the inability to distinguish religion from the actions of the ideological zealots that caused the inhuman and barbaric tragedy of Sept 11.

Taking an extreme attitude in threatening to burn the Quran in order to teach Islamic radicals a lesson, the pastor and his supporters have also shown the ignorance of his own nation's responsibility of global hegemonic dominance that has contributed to the worldwide phenomena of terrorism.

They can't claim to be Christians because Christianity in its social dimension is not an ideological construct but a dynamic force of spirituality that discerns and seeks solutions in a complex world by seeking the truth that makes one free.

That is rooted in love of God and neighbour, where life ethics are an integral part of human rights and adherence to creative reason that is derived from natural law written in the hearts of all human persons.

The understanding of faith today among certain evangelical groups, especially those associated with right-wing politics of the Republican party in the US is the opposite of love of God and neighbour. They are not able see truths in complexity.

Truth cannot be divorced from reality and reality reveals that we live in a complex world of different religion and nationalities and within these groups there is diversity and complexity of cultures and human thoughts which cannot be divided into simplistic black-and-white groups.

Within the Muslim society, we find individuals and groups that are against an exclusive and extremist brand of religion among their co-religionists and this should be acknowledged. Furthermore it not possible to convert every human being to one's belief and reasoning would reveal that it would be far more beneficial to humanity to work towards common ground when we are faced with conflict due to diverse thoughts and culture.

This is where dialogue among religions is vital, not merely by understanding the beliefs of the other but also seeking out the truth and exposing a complex web of deception and oppression made visible by power play and structures that cause misery to millions - that is one of the principle causes of terrorism.

This should be the focus instead of hijacking the whole world with the threat of burning a religious book that is sacred to a religious community.

Therefore enhancing human dignity should be the prime concern of religion through the love for God and neighbour that is beyond forms, rituals, identity and ideological predispositions. The love for God and neighbour would always rejoice in truth and charity in dealing with people of other faiths. The intention of Pastor Jones and his supporters is the exact opposite that deprives spirituality of its essence.



Found in Malaysia book launch

Compiled by Koh Lay Chin

WHAT better day to unveil The Nut Graph‘s Found in Malaysia book than on Malaysia Day on 16 Sept 2010 last week. The book is after all, a compilation of interviews with prominent Malaysians of different lineage on what their Malaysian identity means.

Found in Malaysia, published by ZI Publications and now available in good bookstores for RM45, made the top of the MPH bestseller list for local authors for the week ending 12 Sept 2010.

The book launch was held alongside a discussion on “Politics and Malaysian Literature” led by Umapagan Ampikaipakan. The panelists were politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, human rights activist and poet Cecil Rajendra, writer and translator Eddin Khoo and author Chuah Guat Eng. The launch and discussion were held at Leonardo’s Dining Room and Wine Loft on Jalan Bangkung, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Found in Malaysia’s launch was part of the festivities in the Malaysiaku: Celebrating Malaysia Day events that were held along Jalan Bangkung. It was also the first time Malaysia Day is acknowledged with a public holiday.

To celebrate the day when Malaysia was formed on 16 Sept 1963 when Malaya, Sabah (then known as North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore came together as a country, the Malaysiaku events featured discussions, exhibitions and fun activities along the street.

There were special performances by singer-songwriters and Sarawakian, Sabah & Orang Asli dancers, and colourful stalls by Bijou Bazaar, Nur Salam, Womens’ Aid Organisation (WAO) and many others.

But it was the many fascinating discussions and talks that gave the day historical meaning. These included the MyConstitution launch of Phase 6 of its campaign on the judiciary, Amir Muhammad‘s talk on “Malay Movies & the Creation of Malaysia,” and “Our Founding Fathers”, a panel discussion with the descendants of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun VT Sambanthan.

Other organisations and associations that added to Malaysiaku festivities were We R Malaysia who showcased their patriotic song and new t-shirts, and Five Arts Centre and Instant Café Theatre which held hourly performances. MYCAT, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers, had colourful tiger-themed body and face painting for anyone who dared to sport them.

As the day turned into night, there were also fundraising dinners, and traditional performances like the lion dance and wayang kulit which entertained the crowds. As you can see from the photographs The Nut Graph took, the first public holiday for Malaysia Day had something for everyone at Jalan Bangkung.

Photos were taken by Koh Lay Chin, Jacqueline Ann Surin and Ding Jo-Ann.

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My independence?

My independence?

Datuk Jema Khan is a former Sabah Umno Youth leader. He is now a businessman pushing the Agenda Liberal Melayu in Facebook .

In Malaysia we celebrate both Merdeka Day on August 31 and also Malaysia Day which is on September 16. Some put more importance on Malaysia Day as that brought Sabah and Sarawak into the federation that forms our nation today. Others argue that without Merdeka Day and Malaya first gaining its independence there could be no Malaysia and we would all still be under colonial rule. Regardless, in true Malaysian spirit, we celebrate both days which probably makes everyone happy.

The real question is what of my independence? What of my freedom? Would I have had more personal freedom under colonial rule? How does sovereignty as a nation benefit me as a citizen? How come hundreds of thousands of Malaysians prefer to study, live and work with our former colonial masters? Surely Malaysia’s independence cannot mean that its citizenry is less free in its own country than in the country of its former colonial masters?

The real problem in Malaysia is that we are not fully subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), though we have assented to it as a nation. The rights of the individual are not sufficiently protected, for our democracy to be effective. Yes, the majority should rule as in any democracy but not at the expense of basic individual rights as mentioned in the UDHR.

We have seen governments around the world trying their hand at social engineering for the benefit of their nations as a whole. In many cases they simply don’t work. Look at the US with its introduction of “Prohibition” from 1920 to 1933: it simply gave rise to more underground criminal activity and notorious gangsters such as Al Capone. Even Singapore’s two-children policy or China’s one-child policy are filled with so many loopholes that they can’t be fully implemented. Even the former communist states of the past where religion was severely restricted or even banned have failed miserably.

Social engineering, even if it is for the benefit of the majority, cannot go against basic individual human rights if it is to be effective. It works best when people have a choice of whether to opt in or not into any particular government initiative.

Take smoking as an example. If restaurants and night spots could clearly and effectively segregate their smoking sections (perhaps glass partitioned rooms with smoke extractors for those who prefer to smoke), both smokers and non-smokers would be happier.

If the government goes overboard and does not allow tobacco to be sold at all in the country, you can bet that there will be a black market created with all the ensuing increase in criminal activity. The same can be said of most of the other vices that governments try to outlaw.

Even with non-vice related issues, it is certainly more effective to give people options so that the prevailing policy initiative can be successful. For example, government schools in Malaysia should provide options to parents as to whether students study mathematics and science in English or Bahasa Malaysia. After all, the government has already spent the money to train teachers to teach these subjects in English.

In many ways creating more options provides an individual more freedom and sometimes the issues can be resolved by understanding the needs and wants of the various stakeholders.

In an example of conflict resolution, imagine two sisters who want the last orange in the house. They initially decide the fairest way is to slice the orange into two until they both realise that they want the orange for different purposes. One wants the orange peel to make a cake while the other sister wants to make orange juice. Perhaps there are similar situations in the country that can be solved in the same manner.

As for my independence in Malaysia, I can only say the liberal voice will continue to be a work in progress but I am hopeful that by providing more options, society and the individual will be the better for it.

Najib sings 1Malaysia to Malayali community

NONE

Every Malaysian should work together and contribute to support the transformation of the country to achieve a developed nation status in the 21st century, said Najib Razak.

The prime minister (left in photo) said when he articulated the concept of 1Malaysia, he had decided that all Malaysians had to be part of the 'journey' to achieve the remarkable transformation of the country.

"National unity is not just about accepting and celebrating diversity. In the multi-religious cultural context, diversity also means we recognise the strength of each community," he said during his speech at the 1Malaysia Malayali Community Luncheon at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre (MIECC), Seri Kembangan, Kuala Lumpur today.

He said with the skills, contribution, knowledge, ideas and the innovative capacities of every single Malaysian and the spirit of 1Malaysia, it was not impossible for Malaysia to achieve the target by the year 2020.

"We want to be part of the huge transformation of Malaysia, so that at the end of the journey, we want to be a modern, progressive, dynamic and truly successful 21st century nation called Malaysia," he said.

He also said that knowledge and some of universal values would hold Malaysia in a good position to move forward as one nation.

For example, he said the Malayalis community was really committed towards education, where in Kerala, India, for example, they placed education at the forefront of their personal agenda.

"The acquisition of knowledge and some universal values, will hold us in good stead as we move forwards as one nation," he said.
Gov't is 'inclusive'

Najib said the government had designed programmes - the Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and New Economic Model (NEM) - to transform Malaysia into a high income nation, but it would not be meaningful unless there was a notion of being inclusive.

"Inclusive means we have to make sure that our policies benefit all Malaysians, we have to ensure that the system is fair, we have to ensure that every single Malaysian can realise their potential talent to the maximum, and inclusive within the context of 1Malaysia also means that we can take it up even further at a strategic level," he added.

Najib also said that the Malayalis community in Malaysia had played an important part in contributing to the development of Malaysia since the 19th century.

"There are some distinguished contributions by the Malayalis over the years. The Malayali community contributed in many ways such as in plantation, trading, entrepreneurs, also created history for our rubber industry, as union leaders, doctors and also civil servants.

"On behalf of the government, I wish to say thank you to all Malayalis who had contributed to the development of Malaysia. I hope through AMMA (All Malaysia Malayali Association), you will continue to work for the well being of the community and also for the larger of the Malaysian community," he added.

The prime minister had lunch with 7,500 Malayalis community in Malaysia. Also present at the function were the president of AMMA, Ravindran Menon, MIC president S Samy Velly, PPP president M.Kayveas and the Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Vijay K Gokhale and deputy ministers.

- Bernama

Ignore Umno/Perkasa/ NEP rhetoric, Pakatan

LETTER

If all Malaysia sees NEP as what it is: a deliberate, systematic policy to protect the corrupt, elite few to continuously sustain their pillage and plundering of the country's resources, then we would never have to waste time and breath to get into debates about Malay special rights, meritocracy etc.

We will always be at the disadvantage when we play by their games and rules and not set the NEP straight as what it is. It has never been intended to serve the Malays, because if it was, and had gone as planned, Malaysia would be a vibrant, highly competitive country right now on par with the likes of South Korea, Singapore.

However, we are not. We are in fact worse off than when we started out. So why do leaders of the opposition perpetually get sucked into these mind-boggling rhetoric spinned by corrupt Umno-BN-Perkasa evildoers?

Why aren't Pakatan Rakyat leaders setting the trend and spins and showing the world the policies Malaysians need now in this new day and age?

There is no need to debate with the likes of Ibrahim Ali, because as a Malay-Muslim myself, his spews of 'special Malay rights' downright disgust me. I don't need any special rights at the expense of fellow raped-Penans, or poor kampung people.

We all know Perkasa's brand of Malay rights is really in fact a mask for the corrupt, elite few and their children's illegal amassing of Malaysia's wealth. Perkasa is doing a great job pleading to the emotions of the Malay-few, using fear as the basis of their spins.

However, what we really need to fear is the length our corrupt government and former leaders (read: Mahathir Mohamad) are willing to go to maintain their special privileges and hoarding of our country's wealth.

Are we really surprised that Mahathir is one of those who supports this brand of NGO to the point of launching the Selangor Perkasa branch earlier this year since he and his children have the most to lose if the NEP is no longer no around?

I ask my Pakatan leaders to not fall for this nonsensical rhetoric about special rights but in fact come up with genuine, compassionate and sincere policies that are based on truth and justice, that will serve all people, all Malaysians with no distinction of colour, race, or creed.

white-trash-repairs - A Daring Junkyard Escape

The Perkasa Villa

Nazri Aziz is what Nazri Aziz does

Nazri Aziz, the man who I called UMNO's Wyatt Earp, is an enigma. How do we handle him? Supporters of Dr. Mahathir would like to hang him by his testicles, if they can. He once called Ibrahim Ali his friend or BN's friend. But he will not hesitate to mix it up with Ibrahim Ali if the situation demands it.

I don't agree with the vitriol and caustic retorts he gave Dr Mahathir as I think they are not civil. And I will not hesitate to slam him for that.

But lately, he has redeemed himself over so many things. What he has said over the last few months, seem to have earned him grudging admiration. To me, it proves one thing- which is very important; all UMNO and BN leaders need to do, is to show some leadership to lessen the opposition's credibility. By speaking politically correct things. He is undercutting much of the Oppositionspeake.

Nazri has been a consistent Rottweilerish critic of Tun Mahathir. He has spoken against the seemingly 'racist' headmistress even though, I believe he hasn't got all the facts. He has shown gumption when other UMNO and BN leaders were timorous souls.

He has spoken against the capital punishment of the death sentence saying that is inherently wrong for another person to take another's life. Whether he is correct or not, that is another matter. He seems to embrace as morally wrong for the state to take another's life. It would be interesting to see how he sees another person- not a state entity, takes another's life.

Most important, he has been an unwavering supporter of the 1 Malaysia concept. Perhaps among the many UMNO leaders, he is the only one who understands what 1 Malaysia is.
For that, the UMNO president calls him brother. Others call him chief. Maybe Najib needs more people like him in the cabinet after all. if Najib is wimpish, he needs others to provide him with the sinew to his bones.

National integration with constitutional integrity

by Azzat Kamaludin (loyarburok.com)

Our lives, attitude and outlook are formed by the encounters we experienced. I shall begin my discussion of this subject, by sharing with you two encounters that have so shaped me.

The first occurred after I passed out from the Royal Military College, then known as the Federation Military College. It was a college set up in 1953 by the then British High Commissioner to Malaya, Sir Gerald Templar. Its Charter was and is “Preparing young Malayans (now Malaysians) to take their places as officers in the Armed Forces, in the higher divisions of the Public Services and as leaders in the professional, commercial and industrial life of the country”. It was the second full boarding school to be established in the country.

The first full boarding school established on 2 January 1905 was the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, originally known as the Malay Residential School of Kuala Kangsar, it was conceived by the then Inspector of Schools for the Federated Malay States who in a letter to the Resident-General in February 1904 wrote about “establishing at a suitable locality in the Federated Malay States a residential school for the education of Malays of good family and for the training of Malay boys for admission to certain branches of Government service.”

I joined the Military College in Form 3, three years after Malaya became independent. After a few months of making friends I came to know Malays from Kota Baru, Besut and Kuala Lumpur; Chinese from Penang, Ipoh and Pontian; Indians, Sikhs and other races from Kuala Pilah, Seremban and Muar. Clearly the composition of students had been carefully constituted — there was not only geographical representation but also racial representation. I understood later that a racial quota was employed for admission to reflect the racial composition of the country then.

My two best friends when I left the College were a Chinese and a Sikh boy. As it happened, all three of us had decided to study law. We knew we could not pursue it without assistance from the State. I found that I had no problem whatsoever in obtaining a scholarship for my purpose. But it was not so for my two friends. Although there were scholarships for non-Malays, there was none for law. I tried to help them.

The mentri besar from the State that we all hailed from was married to my father’s sister. I prevailed on my father to take me to see him so that I could appeal to him to award scholarships to my two friends. I explained to the mentri besar that they came from very poor families. The father of my Chinese friend was not working as he was paralysed; the mother had had to take his place as a lawyer’s clerk. The father of my Sikh friend was a watchman; the mother worked at home. I knew the extent of their plight because we visited and stayed in each other’s house during the holidays. In fact I was in better circumstances than my friends as my father was an officer in the State Religious Department and my mother was a primary school teacher. To clinch my case I informed the mentri besar that they were both from Muar which was also his home town.

It was all to no avail. There was not to be any State assistance for them. They had to work and study their way through law school. They duly did; they became successful lawyers. And they have remained to live and be loyal to this country.

The second encounter occurred during my first Hari Raya in England. I went down to London to join in the celebrations. After the morning prayers at the Malayan High Commission, we had the option to join a coach tour to Woking to visit the mosque and the Muslim cemetery located there. The coach was full with students studying various subjects from different universities and colleges. Of course we were all Malays. I talked to the person seated next to me. In the course of it I said how fortunate that we could get scholarships to enable so many of us to study abroad and in various subjects. I also said that at some point in the future, when all of us graduated and worked we should be able to afford to pay for our own children’s education; that at that point we should consider reviewing the special status with respect to the obtaining of scholarships as such a need would have withered away. Almost as soon as I said that, a student who was sitting behind me and had obviously been listening, came forward and berated me for saying such a thing. I was accused of forgetting my roots, ignorance of the history of the country and the plight of the Malays.

My attempt to argue in reply was to no avail. He could not see how we can talk of doing away with state assistance — it was a right that we are entitled to and must remain for all time. He was duly called to the English Bar and upon returning, practised law in a northern state. He later served, if I am not mistaken, two terms as a member of parliament. Our paths did cross twice but they were not of any moment to the subject that we are about. Suffices it to say, that on both occasions he did not seem to remember the encounter.

The encounters took place about 45/46 years ago. I am sure that many who were born between the second World War and August 31 1957 will have had some such encounters or similar experience. Although I did not know it then, the encounters were enabled by Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Set out under Part XII headed “General and Miscellaneous” the Article is entitled “Reservation of quotas in respect of services, permits, etc., for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.”

Because it underlies so much of the debate raging publicly and privately now, especially now, about what this country is and where it is headed, I think it is useful to set it out in full:

(1) It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.

(2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.

(3) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, in order to ensure in accordance with Clause (2) the reservation to Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of positions in the public service and of scholarships, exhibitions and other educational or training privileges or special facilities, give such general directions as may be required for that purpose to any Commission to which Part X applies or to any authority charged with responsibility for the grant of such scholarships, exhibitions or other educational or training privileges or special facilities; and the Commission or authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(4) In exercising his functions under this Constitution and federal law in accordance with Clauses (1) to (3) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall not deprive any person of any public office held by him or of the continuance of any scholarship, exhibition or other educational or training privileges or special facilities enjoyed by him.

(5) This Article does not derogate from the provisions of Article 136.

(6) Where by existing federal law a permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may exercise his functions under that law in such manner, or give such general directions to any authority charged under that law with the grant of such permits or licences, as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable; and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(7) Nothing in this Article shall operate to deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him or to authorise a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of a person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.

(8) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where by any Federal law any permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business, that law may provide for the reservation of a proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak; but no such law shall for the purpose of ensuring such a reservation:

(a) deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him; or

(b) authorise a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with the other provisions of the law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events, or prevent any person from transferring together with his business any transferable licence to operate that business; or

(c) where no permit or licence was previously required for the operation of the trade or business, authorise a refusal to grant a permit or licence to any person for the operation of any trade or business which immediately before the coming into force of the law he had been bona fide carrying on, or authorise a refusal subsequently to renew to any such person any permit or licence, or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any such person any such permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with the other provisions of that law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.

(8A) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where in any University, College and other educational institution providing education after Malaysian Certificate of Education or its equivalent, the number of places offered by the authority responsible for the management of the University, College or such educational institution to candidates for any course of study is less than the number of candidates qualified for such places, it shall be lawful for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by virtue of this Article to give such directions to the authority as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such places for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable; and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.

(9) Nothing in this Article shall empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of reservations for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.

(9A) In this Article the expression “natives” in relation to the State of Sabah or Sarawak shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 161A.

(10) The Constitution of the State of any Ruler may make provision corresponding (with the necessary modifications) to the provisions of this Article.

The other provisions of the Constitution relevant to Article 153 are:

Article 136 (as provided in Clause 5 of Article 153). Headed “Impartial treatment of Federal employees”, it stipulates that “All persons of whatever race in the same grade in the service of the Federation shall, subject to the terms and conditions of their employment, be treated impartially.”
Clause 4 of Article 10. In providing for the “Freedom of speech, assembly and association” Article 10 also provides that Parliament may by law impose restrictions on the rights conferred; in respect of the right to freedom of speech and expression, Clause 4 allows Parliament, in the interest of the security of the Federation of any part thereof or of public order, to pass laws “prohibiting the questioning of any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III, Article 152, 153 or 181 otherwise than in relation to the implementation thereof as may be specified in such law.”
Clauses (3) and (5) of Article 159 which entrenches Article 153 and Clause (4) of Article 10 by requiring two-thirds of both Houses of Parliament and consent of the Conference of Rulers for any law to amend them.
Article 40 is referred to in Clause (2) but since it is merely to provide for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet in the exercise of his functions under the Article, it seems to be little consequence. But if one takes the view, as judges are wont to do, that every word, phrase in a law, must be intended by the framers to mean something, then the qualification “but shall be entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the Cabinet” should mean something. I would think that at the least it should mean that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be entitled to ask for the basis – the facts and figures – upon which recommendations by the Cabinet for directions, instructions or authorisations in pursuance of the “special provisions” contemplated by Article 153 are founded so as to satisfy himself that both “the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities are safeguarded.”
Save for the amendment to include the “natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak” on the formation of Malaysia, the Article in the main, remains as it was when the Constitution came into force. It is an acknowledged fact that the provision of Article 153 was the principal quid pro quo for the Articles under Chapter 1 headed “Acquisition of Citizenship”. The constitutions of countries with diverse ethnic, tribal or geographical groups, are invariably the result of compromise. There is therefore nothing special in the fact that our Federal Constitution embodies the compact of the people of Malaya at that time.

As Constitution, it is more than just the supreme law of Malaysia. It is also more than just the framework for the organisation of the Government of Malaysia and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within Malaysia. As Tunku Abdul Rahman, the chief minister then and the first prime minister, in his speech delivered to the Federal legislative Council on 10th July 1957 to adopt the Constitutions said (and I have taken this as quoted by Tommy Thomas in his article in 2005):

“…there can, I consider, be no doubt whatsoever that these Constitutions will provide the independent Federation of Malaya with a firm foundation on which the people of this country can build a great and prosperous nation.”

The fact that we meet today and I to discuss a topic entitled “National Integration with Constitutional Integrity”; that today we have to speak of 1Malaysia, even as some speak of ketuanan Melayu, that today one citizen can tell another that he is a pendatang or to balik cina, speak volumes of our failure to build upon that firm foundation so proudly planted 53 years ago and extended 47 years ago. The failure is not in the provisions but in their interpretation and in the abuse of their application by those on the fringes of the political parties that we have – be the political parties be organised and based on communal lines or otherwise.

As if the ever widening racial divide is not enough, the political leaders and parties have added to it the element of religion. As I see it, religion, although of course important to the citizens of Malaysia diverse as we are in faith as we are in race, was not much of an issue until September 2001. True we have a political party based on the Islamic religion with an avowed aim of making of Malaysia an Islamic state. But given the composition of the population even the PAS knew that it was an aim to win votes than an achievable objective. It is also true that Clause (1) of Article 3 Part I of the Constitution states that:

“Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”

But it is also true that if the proviso is not clear, Clause (4) of the Article states:

“Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.”

And “any other provision of this Constitution” must surely include Part II entitled “Fundamental Liberties under which is Article 11 entitled “Freedom of Religion”, Clause (1) of which provides:

“Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.”

The right includes managing its own religious affairs; establishing and maintaining institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and acquiring and owning property and holding and administering it in accordance with law.

The limitation of the right, if you want to call it that, in clause (4) is that State law or Federal law, as the case may be, may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam – a paternalistic provision intended presumably to protect those professing the religion of Islam from being converted to other faiths or beliefs. But are Muslims of Malaysia so feeble of faith or feeble of mind that they need to be protected?

Those are the salient provisions of the Constitution regarding religion and Islam. Nowhere is there a provision or statement that the Federation is an Islamic State. As far as I understand the representations and deliberations which led to the formulation found in Clause (1) of Article 3, none intended that thereby Malaya is an Islamic State. If at all, all who argued for such a statement to be included were at great pains to point out that they did not intend that Malaya is an Islamic State. The Constitution itself in providing for inter alia, a federation of states, a Westminster-style Parliament, the sovereignty of the Sultans, the fundamental liberties of citizens is not a constitution of an Islamic State. And to be sure the highest judicial body in Malaysia, the body that is entrusted with interpreting the Constitution, has in a number of cases in no uncertain terms, rejected the contention that Malaya or Malaysia is an Islamic State. (As a side note, the irony in most of the cases where the contention was advanced, it was advanced by a defendant trying to escape the stipulations of the penal code.)

Yet in 2001 the then prime minister in his opening address to the Gerakan Party’s national delegates conference, said that “Umno wishes to announce loudly that Malaysia is an Islamic country”. It is a measure of the respect that Umno has for the judiciary that the prime minister went on to say “that this is based on the opinion ofulamaks who had clarified what constituted an Islamic country.” It was just as loudly disputed by the PAS and exhaustively disputed in a 20 page article by Tommy Thomas in the article which I have referred to.

In a mature country whose citizens are aware of their Constitution such an announcement would be clearly seen as an Umno ploy to pull the Islamic state carpet from under PAS. And we probably would not have heard of it any more. But as with all religion there is always those with a holier than thou attitude and in Malaysia Muslims seem to have more than our fair share. The result is that now hardly a week passes without an ulamak or an ustaz declaring that eating this or doing that or dressing like this or wearing that is haram or not Islamic.

And that does not include what is not loudly announced.

The other day I visited a sick friend in hospital. A Malay and a Muslim, he was at the Military College after I had left. He asked me whether I knew that the college bell that had hung next to the dining hall and used to summon students for lunch, dinner and whenever else students were required to assemble had been removed on the advice of an ulamak. It should be easy for you to guess the reasoning of the ulamak. My friend and I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

It is no laughing matter though when the measures taken in the name of religion keep or drive people apart. Acrimony and animosity of religion and race will destroy the firm foundation that our founding fathers built. In recent years they have increased, are increasing and ought to be diminished.

How it may be diminished is what this convention will be discussing. Bickering about what bargain was made, what kind of state are we in, who does this country belong to or who belongs to this country is sterile.

For my part, with the encounters of the past in my mind as if it were yesterday, I believe that we must begin by acknowledging that our Constitution clearly intends, and as the composition of its citizens dictate, that we build a multi racial, multi religious and a multi cultural nation. Education in racial isolation will keep the races apart. I believe that to make this country a nation, we must educate the young together, that they may know one another and learn to trust one another. Our fathers compromised to fashion a common front to face down the colonial power and make this an independent country. We must now fashion a new compromise within the provisions of the Constitution if we are to build a nation. I suggest that it is a hindrance not a help to invoke or apply concepts such as traditional or indigenous elements no matter what they may be, to understand the provisions of the Constitution. I believe we can, with the provisions of the Constitution properly understood, honestly interpreted and applied with the objective of nation building, build “a great and prosperous nation”.

In 1975, in the case of Loh Kooi Choon v. Government of Malaysia [1977] 2 MLJ 187, Raja Azlan Shah FJ (as His Royal Highness then was), (as quoted in the recent 2009 case of Dato’ Seri Ir Hj Mohammad Nizar Jamaludin v Dato’ Dr Zambry Abd Kadir) said in delivering the judgment of the Court:

Whatever may be said of other Constitutions, they are ultimately of little assistance to us because our Constitution now stands in its own right and it is in the end the wording of our Constitution itself that it is to be interpreted and applied, and this wording can never be overridden by the extraneous principles of other Constitutions — see Adegbenro v. Akintola & Anor. Each country frames its constitution according to its genius and for the good of its own society. We look at other Constitutions to learn from their experiences, and from a desire to see how their progress and well-being is ensured by their fundamental law.

Provisions of a law are either amended to better meet the circumstances of the times or repealed because they have served the need and purpose of the times. But it is not always necessary to repeal a provision that has served its purpose. Such a provision should be retained to remind future generations how their forefathers resolved the problems of their time. I suggest that Article 14 (1) (a) of the Federal Constitution if not already, will in time, be one such provision.

And I would like to think that one day the provisions that enabled my encounters would be another such provision, that those who have been served by it will say “I have no need for it”.

Tim lives in Northwest D.C., at the front of thegentrification wave issuing east from Dupont Circle.We have (only) the single rundown/uninhabited house on the block, Tim says, and this sunrise the single of the alternative neighbors motionless to reap the front grass to tidy its appearance the bit. While taking out the trash after that evening, Tim beheld that his neighbors great help had been rewarded...

Sosilawati murders - incompetence or corruption?

Letter

I refer to the horrific murders of Malaysia 's cosmetic queen, Sosilawati Lawiya and three of her colleagues in a not so remote farm outside Banting.

These murders could have been avoided if our police force had been more professional. Clearly the police took a tidak apa attitude or were 'in it' in all previous deaths/disappearances. The number of 'missing persons' reports all linked to these lawyers emerging all of a sudden out of the blue is testimony to this.

Do you know where this lawyer's office? Its right across the police station's reception counter, hardly 50 meters away. And do you know where he stays? In Taman Cempaka, also right across the police station. That their 'farm' at Taman Endah was conveniently located only a stone throw's away from the Hindu disposition site for the cremated ashes of the dead could explain why some of the dead have disappeared without a trace. How very convenient. Kill the victims, cremate them and throw the ashes together with the rest of the Hindu dead at Morib's established beach site location. A slick morbid operation indeed, if everything is proven true.

It is inconceivable that the police were oblivious to all their wrongdoings, especially since we now have at least two complainants coming forward, a wife of a Chennai businessman who disappeared after meeting the lawyers a year ago, and a local mechanic who had his wife slashed to death at Taman Cempaka itself with the mechanic himself ending up in the lock-up instead of both the lawyers being thrown in the slammer after a financial deal had gone wrong. This scenario looks more like a 1 Corrupted Malaysia Boleh story.

Banting police first came into notoriety when they were part of a local casino outfit in February 2004 at a house-cum-casino in Taman Emas resulting in almost the entire police force there being transferred out, some to places as far as Sarawak and Limbang after wives of the 'casino's' male clients went public. And today, the Banting police station and the quarters are immense for only one reason. The Banting area is notorious for past and present criminals and massive smuggling of goods and human beings because of its long coastline and shallow waters which make it ideal as a landing spot for smugglers and illegal immigrants.

The police have their hands full, yes. Apart from this, Banting was used previously as a location spot for criminals to be buang negeri, essentially restricted movements to only the locality of Banting. Banting further gained notoriety when a young Chinese Datuk, a well-known smuggler and ah long was shot dead at the Sakura restaurant in Jalan Imbi, KL by hitmen. The two crooked lawyers may have taken advantage of the chaotic situation to buy off certain police officers.

And on Raya day, Malaysia was presented with a rude shock. Sosilawati and 3 innocent people were brutally murdered apparently during the Ramadan. If the police had been even half as efficient before, these animals would have been sent to the gallows earlier. Even Botak Chin is beginning to look like an angel compared to these lawyers.

As the daily shocking revelations take place pertaining to these murders, one thing that bothers many people here is - who were the other farmhands who had the courage to slaughter the victims and cremate them. Were these farmhands foreigners courtesy of Ng Yen Yen's VOA (Visa on Arrival) programme to artificially boost tourist numbers? As it is well-known now, many Indian 'tourists' who acquired VOAs have now disappeared into Malaysian territory.

I do hope some of these fellows were not involved in these murders, for if they were, Ng Yen Yen surely has a lot to answer for compromising national security in exchange for increased tourist numbers.

The British Raj utilised 100,000 British Officers to maintain law and order in an India comprising of 350 million people. Malaysia with 100,000 police officers should be able to maintain order in a nation of only 28 million people if they focus on their jobs assuming immigration officers play their part as well. Our police should not be side-tracked to be used in policing political party gatherings and ferrying VIPs.

As for criminals such as ah long, smugglers and now even lawyers – there is only one way to reduce criminal intentions – an education system that inculcates proper values and an economy that thrives. That essentially is the government's duty. And the longer they tinker around trying to right our atrocious education system, the more criminals Malaysia will have because, judging from reports, our own schools appear to be the breeding grounds for future gangsters, criminals, murderers and killer lawyers.

With these murders, Malaysia 's international image is in tatters. Investors are already branding this country as unsafe. The new IGP, unlike his predecessor, should not let the police force be pushed around by political parties but instead mould them into a professional outfit so that incidents of this nature do not ever happen in this country again.

Baby’s First Dramatic Chipmunk Impersonation

Funny Baby Pictures - Baby's First Dramatic Chipmunk Impersonation

Submitted by: Meghan