Loyal Followers

Friday, August 28, 2009

MERDEKA?

Amidst all the flags, the procession, the RM100 million celebration, the shouts and screams of "Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka", perhaps we should just look back  at what our Father of Independence, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj said in his speech preceding the reading of the Merdeka Proclamation. Among others, he said, :

"I am indeed proud that on this, the greatest day in Malaya's history it falls to my lot to proclaim the formal independence of this country. Today as new page is turned, and Malaya steps forward to take her rightful place as a free and independent partner in the great community of Nations - a new nation is born and though we fully realise that difficulties and problems lie ahead, we are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today's events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide...

But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour-the creation of a new and sovereign State. At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty - a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.

High confidence has been reposed in us; let us unitedly face the challenge of the years. And so with remembrance for the past, and with confidence in the future, under the providence of God, we shall succeed."

Later, when he recited the Merdeka Proclamation, he said, among others:

"I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA IBNI AL-MARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIMSHAH, PRIME MINISTER OF THE PERSEKUTUAN T ANAH MELAYU, with the concurrence and approval of Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Malay States do hereby proclaim and declare on behalf of the people of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu that as from the thirty first day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty seven, the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu comprising the States of lohore, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu, Perak, Malacca and Penang is and with God's blessing shall be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations."

Perhaps we should all reflect whether these lofty ideals set out by the Tunku has been achieved, 52 years after he proclaimed it. Or whether we have ever worked towards achieving the same.

A nation founded upon the principles of liberty and justice. A nation which is ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people. A nation inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty. A nation which is to be a beacon of light in a disturbed and a distracted world.

That was the Tunku's aspirations. And the aspirations of all Malaysians on 31st of August 1957.

Have we all, as a nation, achieved those? Have we worked to achieve those? If we have, have we worked hard enough to achieve those?

Would the Tunku, had he been still alive, looked at all of us, his children and grandchildren, with a big smile on his face, thinking to himself, "I am happy with what all of you have achieved, and I will go to face my creator a happy and fulfilled man"?

Or would he, had he been still alive, grimace in pain and displeasure, at what we have all become, at what this nation of ours have become?

I am asking this because I remember the day he died. And the day his body was rested. And I remember the days before he died. I remember his columns in the Star newspaper, "As I See It" and "Looking Back". His love for this nation and his undying commitment towards democracy, social justice and fairness would see him rise on occasions, even when he was in his old age to fight what he saw as injustice, unfairness and dictatorial behaviours. 

He was  critical of Dr Mahathir, the then Prime Minister. That man of course had, in 1987, banned the Star newspaper, which was substantially owned by the Tunku.

And when UMNO (the original UMNO) was declared illegal by the High Court (at the insistance of Counsel appearing for the Mahathir faction), the Tunku, out of sheer love for UMNO and the nation, quickly teamed up with Tun Hussein Onn (another former PM) to form a party known as UMNO Malaysia. UMNO Malaysia registration was blocked by non other than Mahathir Mohammad. Mahathir later registered UMNO Baru and changed the law to allow UMNO Baru to be renamed UMNO as if nothing had ever happened in between.

I then remember him supporting Tunku Razaleigh's Semangat 46. The Tunku, despite his old age, even went out to campaign in the 1990 general election.

On 6th December 1990, the Tunku, our Father of Independence, died. He died as an opposition. He died opposing a derivative of the very party he once led and gained independence with. He died opposing what he thought and perceived as a totalitarian government bent on destroying social justice and equality.

Today, almost 52 years after he stood and proudly recited the Merdeka Proclamation, I wonder whether he is smiling at all of us in heaven. Or whether he is turning his back against us.

Knowing how much he loved this nation and how hard he fought for justice, fairness, liberty and freedom, he could be hurting.

Al fatihah to the Tunku.

The Legality of Caning Kartika - a correction

A very kind and polite reader of my article, "The Legality of Caning Kartika" posted a comment which I would like to reproduce in verbatim below:

Quote:

Syariah law does provide the procedure for caning - Mohd Hafiz Hassan (Taken from The Malaysian Insider)
AUG 27 – I agree with Dina Zaman (“Kartika’s legacy to Malaysia”) that there is a marked difference between caning under Syariah law and our Civil law.
I also agree with the statement attributed to Azhar Harun (aka the columnist-blogger Art Harun) that under “civil law, women cannot be subjected caning as a punishment for any offence.” Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) expressly provides that no female shall be punishable with whipping.
However, I beg to differ that there is no procedural guideline as to how caning is to be carried out under Syariah law. On the contrary law, Syariah law in Malaysia makes provision for the carrying out of the sentence of whipping.
The law is to be found in the state enactments on Syariah Criminal Procedure.
I shall refer to section 125 of the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997. Similar provisions are to be found in the state enactments.
Subsection 2 provides that the whipping rod, excluding its holder, shall be of the same type and made either from rattan or small branch of a tree without segment or joint and its length not more than 1.22 metres and its thickness not more than 1.25 centimetres.
On the carrying out of the sentence, subsection 3 makes it mandatory that:
(a) before execution of the sentence, the offender shall be examined by a Government Medical Officer to certify that the offender is in a fit state of health to undergo the sentence;
(b) if the offender is pregnant, the execution shall be postponed until the end of two months after delivery or miscarriage, as the case may be;
(c) the sentence shall be executed before a Government Medical Officer in such place as the Court may direct or in a place fixed by the Government for the purpose;
(d) the person appointed to execute the sentence shall be an “adil” and mature person;
(e) the person shall use the whipping rod with average force without lifting his hand over his head so that the offender’s skin is not cut;
(f) after inflicting a stroke, he shall lift the rod upward and not pull it;
(g) whipping may be inflicted on all parts of the body except the face, head, stomach, chest or private parts;
(h) the offender shall wear clothes according to Hukum Syarak;
(i) if the offender is a male, the whipping shall be inflicted in a standing position, and if a female, a sitting position;
(j) during the execution of the whipping the Government Medical Officer certifies that the offender can no longer receive the strokes, the whipping shell be postponed until the Medical Officer certifies that the offender is fit to undergo the balance of the sentence.
So, it is erroneous to say that “when Kartika was sentenced to be caned, she had to be caned in accordance with our civil law.”
On another issue of controversy, that is, the so-called remand order for a week in prison to facilitate the caning, I refer to subsection 4 of the same provision.
It provides that in the case where the offender is sentenced to whipping only, then he shall be dealt with as if he is sentenced to imprisonment until the sentence is executed.
It appears therefore that the warrant to detain Kartika, which the state Syariah prosecutors have clarified to be the nature of the order, is lawful.
Be that as it may, the legality of the whipping sentence on Kartika perhaps lies in its inconsistency with section 289 of the CPC. This provision is not only “civil’ law but a federal law.
On the other hand, the law under which Kartika was convicted and sentenced is state law.
Article 75 of the Federal Constitution provides that if any state law is inconsistent with a federal law, the federal law shall prevail and the state law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
It is arguable, therefore, that a sentence passed under a state law cannot be inconsistent with provisions of a federal law.
* Mohamad Hafiz Hassan is a reader of The Malaysian Insider.

End quote.

I did further research and it would appear that he was right and I was wrong on the fact that Syariah law in Pahang does in fact provide for the procedure on how the caning is to be carried out. It is contained in section 125 of the Enakmen Tatacara Jenayah Syariah 2002 .

I must admit that I totally missed out the said enactment while doing my research. I apologise for the mistake.

Thank you for the kind reader who posted the comment and to Encik Mohamad Hafiz Hassan who had kindly pointed that out on the Malaysian Insider.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Legality of Caning Kartika

A reader has pointed out my mistake in this article. I admit the mistake. Please read The Legality of Caning Kartika - a correction.

When Minister Hishamuddin said that we are not experienced in this matter, he was stating the obvious. Firstly, no person of the female gender has been caned or sentenced to caning in Malaysia before. The reason for this will be obvious later in this article. Secondly, the authorities entrusted with carrying out the sentence of caning in Malaysia had never ever caned someone convicted of the Syariah offence of consuming alcohol in public. Questions then arise as to how, where and by whom should Kartika be caned.

While I do not wish to be embroiled in the debate on whether Islam actually prohibits the consumption of alcohol and prescribes a punishment for it, I wish to state that such issue is not as clear as it is thought to be. There is however a decision from the Pakistan Federal Syariah Court which held that there is no clear prohibition against consumption of alcohol in the Quran and that flogging for such offence is thus unIslamic. I am citing this decision not so much to support any argument on whether the prohibition exists or otherwise as much as to highlight that this issue is far from being clear.

Muslims around the world - and Malaysian Muslims aren't exempted - have lamented that Islam has been misunderstood by non-Muslims, especially in the west. Islam has been cast as a religion which propagates disharmony; as a religion which sanctions the killing and murder of the innocent, women and children; a religion which is backward, primitive, unfair and unjust.

However, to a large extent, we, the Muslims, have ourselves to blame. A case in point is the provisions of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang 1982. Under this enactment, a Muslim who is guilty of consuming alcohol in public may be fined RM5000 or imprisoned for 3 years or both and caned of not more than 6 lashes. Kartika was convicted and sentenced under this enactment.

My learned friend, Shaikh Abdul Saleem, in his excellent article "Soalan Kepada PGSM" , has pointed out the whole reason why Islam has been ridiculed by the west for so long. He draws comparison to the provisions of the Enakmen Undang-Undang Keluarga Islam 2005 (Pahang). Under this enactment:

  • someone who treats his wife badly and cheats her of her property is liable to be fined RM1000 or imprisonment for 6 months;
  • someone who does not comply with a Court order to live with his wife is liable to a fine of RM1000 or imprisonment for 6 months;
  • someone who does not treat his wife fairly in accordance with Syarak is liable to a fine of RM1000 or imprisonment for 6 months.

If that is not shocking enough, consider section 177 of the Enakmen Pentadbiran Ugama Islam dan Adat Resam Melayu Pahang 1982 (the enactment under which Kartika is sentenced). Under this section, a person who forces or allows his wife to prostitute herself with the intention of earning an income from such prostitution is liable to be fined RM4000 or imprisonment for 2 years or both and caning of not more than 6 lashes.

So, there we have it. RM5000 fine or imprisonment of 3 years and 6 lashes for consuming alcohol. And RM4000 or imprisonment of 2 years and 6 lashes for forcing one's wife to be a prostitute! Is there any wonder why Islam is viewed with ridicule and contempt?

We seem to have lost it. Somewhere between the Quranic verses, the hadiths and Sunnah and the various edicts by the ulamaks and muftis, we, the Muslims, have managed to reduce this great way of life called Islam into an instrument of hatred, unfairness, unjustness and ridicule. We have managed to let externalities triumph over the inner beauty and spirituality of Islam.

Under Syariah law, some consensus has been reached on the proper punishment (if at all it can be called "punishment") for consuming alcohol. Various hadiths Bukharis describe the Prophet and his followers beating the offender with palm-leaf stalks and shoes.

In a hadith, narrated by Abu Salama, Abu Huraira said, "A man who drank wine was brought to the Prophet. The Prophet said, 'Beat him!" Abu Huraira added, "So some of us beat him with our hands, and some with their shoes, and some with their garments (by twisting it) like a lash, and then when we finished, someone said to him, 'May Allah disgrace you!' On that the Prophet said, 'Do not say so, for you are helping Satan to overpower him.' "

In another, narrated by Ali bin Abi Talib: "I would not feel sorry for one who dies because of receiving a legal punishment, except the drunk, for if he should die (when being punished), I would give blood money to his family because no fixed punishment has been ordered by Allah's Apostle for the drunk. "

And those were the "punishments" meted by the Prophet himself.

There are however narrations which say that Caliphs Umar had sentenced an offender to 80 lashes. It was pointed out by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, that that was in fact a sentence for slander as opposed to consumption of alcohol per se. If it was indeed a sentence for consuming alcohol, that begs the question, who is Caliph Umar to increase a punishment which was meted out by the Prophet himself?

Kartika has however been sentenced to receive 6 lashes.

The enormity and gravity of this sentence cannot be overlooked nor ignored. First of all, there is no procedure anywhere in Malaysia on how a sentence of this nature would be carried out in Malaysia. Is she going to be beaten up with shoes or date palm? Or with garments which are twisted like a lash? And by whom? And where?

Our authorities are well known of churning out half baked products. And one of those products is the law which our Parliamentarians or State Representatives churn out. The law says she must be caned. But there is no procedure to prescribe the execution of such caning.

Do we look at the civil law on how she should be caned? Okay. Let's us all look at the civil law then. The Criminal Procedure Code provides as follows in so far as a sentence of whipping is concerned. (Frankly, I do not know the difference, if any, between whipping and canning.)

  • Section 286 : when an accused is sentenced to whipping, the Court may direct on the place and time of execution.

We pause here to note that the Syariah Judge, as far as I know, had failed to give such direction. Furthermore, this provision does not apply to a sentence by a Syariah Court because "Court", in the Code, is defined as the Magistrate's, Sessions or High Court. We are non the wiser.

Section 287 is important. It says when a person is sentenced to imprisonment as well as whipping, such whipping shall only be done after 7 days from the date of the sentence. This section is important because of what happened sometime last week.

Kartika was sentenced to a fine of RM5000 and 6 lashes. There was no custodial or prison sentence. And to top it up, there was no direction on how she was to receive the lashes. So what did they do? Last week, it was reported that the Syariah prosecutor had applied to the Syariah Judge, and was granted, an order that Kartika be detained in remand in the prison for 7 days so that she could be caned in the prison.

With all due respect to this two officers of the law (officers of the Islamic law, if I may add), a grave error and injustice has been committed against Kartika. A person can only be charged and sentenced once for one offence. Kartika has been charged, found guilty and sentenced to RM5000 and 6 lashes. That was her sentence. Nowhere had it been stated that she was to be imprisoned for 7 days.

The learned Syariah Judge, at the instance of the Prosecutor realised that the caning cannot be done. And so they issued a new and additional sentence of 7 days in prison. If that is not an injustice, I do not know what is. If I were to be nasty, I would say that that was a victimisation! That order, with respect, is in fact unconstitutional as it is repugnant to Article 7 of the Federal Constitution which provides that a person shall not be tried twice for the same offence.

Can the sentence be carried out by the Prison authorities? Well, the Criminal Procedure Code (our civil law), in section 288, says that:

  • whipping shall be inflicted on such part of the body as the Minister charged with responsibility for public order directs. The Minister in question is of course Minister Hishamuddin. The part of the body to be whipped has been directed. It is the bare buttocks. The person who carries out this sentence is a trained personnel.
  • the rattan shall be not more than half an inch in diameter.

Let me describe how this whipping is done. The executioner would hit the bare buttock with the rattan with such ferocity that upon the rattan hitting the bare buttock, the offender would fling forward. The executioner then would expertly pull the rattan towards himself in one swift movement that the skin would cut open, as if it has been cut by a very sharp knife. At this point, blood would rush out of the open wound. The next round, the executioner would expertly hit the same area where the first blow had landed earlier. The wound would get bigger. That's how. And it is supposed to go on for 6 times, in Kartika's case.

In real life, not many would be standing up to receive their 5th lash. That is why a the Code provides that a medical officer must be present to certify that the offender is fit state of health to undergo the whipping. If a person is not fit to receive the full number of lashes, the whipping must stop and the remaining number may be converted into a prison sentence or remitted.

That is how whipping under our civil law is done. If we compare that to the way the Prophet was described by the hadiths to have dealt with the offender, the civil law whipping is much much more painful and harmful than that which is prescribed by the hadiths. In fact they are not comparable at all. The civil law whipping is so harsh and painful that even fearsome and hardcore gangsters have pleaded to the Court to be spared whipping. The Syariah punishment is however aimed at humiliating the offender rather than inflicting pain.

And to top it up, the Code says expressly that women shall not be subject to the sentence of whipping! And to facilitate whipping under the Code, a warrant of execution must be issued by a Judge or Maigistrate. A Syariah Judge is not a Judge under the Code.

If Kartika were to be caned under the civil law, I would venture to say that she would be punished in a manner which is not prescribed by Syariah law in the first place. That would be a travesty. And it would be an irony that a Muslim court had seen it fit to impose a punishment which is not prescribed by Syariah law.

Where does that leave Kartika?

More importantly, where does that leave Malaysia?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Will the Real PAS Please Stand Up!

For a political party which calls itself Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS is surely one hell of a chameleonic creature. To say that PAS is pragmatist would be an abuse of that term. In fact, to say that it is chameleon in nature would tantamount to introducing a new specie to that family of lizard. PAS' real nature is more like the Lernaean Hydra, the fearsome water serpent with nine heads.

This is a party which is so full of itself. It is filled with people who believe that Islam needs their help and assistance all the time. With people who believe that God is so meek and weak that He needs defending by them.

But the strange thing is this. When situation suits them, these very same people would embrace liberalism and would dance on the same dance floor with the likes of DAP and Anwar Ibrahim's PKR. Not only that, it would have no qualm in entering into a pact - a binding promise the breach of which, in Islam, is a sinful act - with PKR and DAP in order to form a political alliance for the general election. And they would sing liberalism all the way to various state legislative assemblies and even the Parliament.

Well, it is hard for a tiger to lose its stripes. Deep inside and within, PAS is still PAS. History would show that they have jumped in and out of the UMNO bandwagon for the sake of nothing more than political aspirations and desires. It is almost a vehicle for political expediency.

UMNO knows this. Hence the unity government gambit. What if UMNO says to PAS, come and join us and you would get this and that? And a part of this and that is the widening of the Islamist fundamentalism net in Malaysia? Would PAS refuse? Or would PAS, as is often in the past, fall again to UMNO's seduction? Would the defenders of Islam in PAS be willing to ditch its own partners - to and with whom PAS is bound through a promise and a pact - and forsake its liberalism song and dance? Would the temptation prove too strong for these beacon of piety and goodness?

PAS' actions in current days seem to suggest that these defenders of Islam are ready to change tune. In fact, PAS' true colours are showing.

On August the 10th, Zaid Ibrahim announced a start-up common agenda and platform for the three political parties which make up the Pakatan Rakyat. PAS of course is one of them. He started by saying:

"Pakatan Rakyat must firstly unite all Malaysians. We must revive the dreams of Tunku Abdul Rahman and other independence leaders."

Then he went on to say that the PR will establish non-discrimination laws. He said:

"Pakatan must reject the practice of discrimination."

The best was this:

A Pakatan Rakyat government must be free and not instill fear in the public. It must have an open attitude and accept criticisms. This can only be done by establishing a free and democratic government."

Lofty aspirations indeed. A government which would not instill fear in the public. The establishment of a free and democratic government. I would venture to say that that would entail a government which would protect fundamental liberties of its people. A government which would not stand over the shoulders of its people like some self righteous big brothers, ready to pounce at a whiff of what it perceives as a wrongful and immoral act of its people. A government which respects its people and their choice regardless of whether such choice runs contrary or repugnant to its personal beliefs and practices.

Lofty. And as far as PAS is concerned, unreal too. And as far as this very Islamic party - who would have no qualm in agreeing to anything as long as it furthers its political agenda - is concerned, these are just words which may be twisted, liberally interpreted and even forgotten when the situation necessitates.

After all, what is so important about promises and pacts when there are other more pressing matters, such as the caning of a woman and the concert by a harmless group called Michael Learns To Rock (to call this group a rock group is in fact an insult to any true blue Mat and Minah Rock!) as well as the policing of the moral of the Muslims in Selangor, which require its urgent attention. To hell with DAP and PKR. To hell with the pact, promise and common platform of Zaid Ibrahim. Islam needs defending. And moral needs policing.

Can PAS be trusted? Or is PAS too chameleonic so as to render any attempt at profiling its true political stance and intentions futile?

Will the real PAS please stand up.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let's Read the Quran 2

Peace!


Good news, we are bringing back the Let’s Read The Quran Campaign this Bulan Puasa.

Campaign name: Let’s Read The Quran (2)

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_gz7lR1KHuH8/SW3474nboFI/AAAAAAAAAI8/pwjdp_PasEw/s200/Quran+Logo.jpg

The first campaign (January 14 – February 14 2009) was started by four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas. By the end of it, about 50 other blogs also participated helping us to reach a larger audience.There were also many calls for us to extend this very popular campaign.

Well, here it is!

This time around, four more friends will be part of the main team; they are Art Harun, Jahamy, Pah Nur and Nizam Bashir.

To recap, the campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and those who believe
in God and a proper way of doing things – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist!

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in the language they understand best and find in it areas of common value for our day to day living.

We also want to hear your feedback and comments.

What is the Campaign all about?

Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?

August 22nd to September 21st (Hari Raya Aidil Fitri)

Where?

Participating blogs in the blogosphere.

Why?


So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match its relevance to our daily lives.

Who?

Anyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc do please carry the logo/icon.

How?

- To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon on your blog.
- Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
- Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
- Ask questions about the Quranic message
- Read the Quran – eg click here http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch , www.altafsir.com


Peace and Thanks, and Selamat Berpuasa to those fasting,


Marina Mahathir http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com

Syed Akbar Ali http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.com

Walski http://asylum60.blogspot.com

Art Harun http://art-harun.blogspot.com

Pah Nur http://lunchatthelakeclub.blogspot.com

Rapera http://jahaberdeen.blogspot.com

Nizam Bashir http://nizambashir.com and,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Minister, Please Filter the Internet!

Okay. I have changed my mind.

Initially, when Malaysian Insider reported that the government had invited tenders for Internet filter, I became quite upset. Then Minister Rais said it was only an exercise to look for ways to deal with pornography, especially child pornography, I cooled down a bit. After all, I trust our Ministers. Because, erm...well, they are our Ministers.

But now I think the government should filter the Internet. I changed my mind. Sorry for any inconvenience caused. By the way, don't you all just love those sorry-for-any-inconvenience-caused signboards, especially when you are stuck for 3 and a half hours in your car because some dick had to close 2 lanes from the 3 lane road you are on just so that he could complete his nice little building or something? Any inconvenience caused? No. Not at all. What inconvenience? We all love being in the traffic, looking at Rempits zig-zagging and whacking our side mirrors and Bangladeshis walking by the side of the road holding each others hand. Nice.

Anyway, it is a slow day. And I digressed.

Yes. Back to the topic. I now want the Internet filtered. Why? Because I am afraid I might grow stupid one of these days. Or I might die of laughter. You know, I might laugh so much that I might swallow my own tongue and choke on my own fingers while trying to free my tongue from my own throat. Things like that. So, please somebody. Do something. Filter the Internet!

The other day I read some journalist from Utusan Malaysia, - yes, that beacon of racial integrity - who apparently covered Karpal Singh's press statement on the Perak constitutional rumpus, actually thought that "ultra vires" means "insult". No wonder Utusan Malaysia was very angry with Karpal. LOL!

Then an RTM newscaster promptly ultra-vires-ed Karpal by testifying that she did not have a clue as to who he was. I mean, if I were Karpal, that would be an ultra-vires I could never forgive.

Then it was the Teoh Beng Hock inquest. Yes yes. He died because he fell down. There was no sign of struggle. All the injuries pointed to one fact. That he committed suicide. Yes yes.

But wait. How about the mark on the shoe? Sign of him being dragged? Oh, yes, I did not check on that. Yes, it is possible that he was dragged. Oh, his watch was missing and there were scratches on his hand. Ah...erm...I did not check on that too. Eh, he was 178cm tall. How come there were no finger print on the dusty glass window? Erm...never thought about it.

Oh ya, there were finger prints. But the prints were not good enough for profiling. I see. What's that? Yes. I concluded that he committed suicide. But of course, I did not see suicidal tendency from my interviews with his relatives and friends. Oh yes I also did not ask the Investigating officer about it. I just made my own conclusion. How come one of his shoes was not on his foot? Well, it flew off. But yes, I do not have any evidence for that. I am just speculating.

Yes yes, he committed suicide. But, he could have been squatting on the window ledge. Yes, squatting alone.

Please. Would somebody filter the Internet? I am dying out here. I might choke on my own puke soon. Please.

He was disbarred!! No, I did not mean to say that he was taken away from the long bar while having a beer bought from Shah Alam. No. I mean he had been struck off the roll as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya. He applied to the High Court to reverse that decision to strike him out. He lost.

Why was he disbarred? There was a complaint made against him personally for failing to return his client's money. And the client was not some fat cat with a 3 million only palatial mansion. It was the Persatuan Pekebun-pekebun Getah (PerPeTah?) - I love those acronym nowadays, Pewaris, Pembela, Perwira la, whatever. Perogol they don't have yet la. Damn it's a slow day. I digressed again.

But but, no. He is not a criminal. He had not committed any offence. And yes. Actually it was his partner. And the matter is a small matter. And it has been settled. Yes. And you all are trying to character-assassinate me. It shows that you all have run out of ideas. How low can you all be? By the way, the Election Commission also says that he is a qualified candidate. Yes yes. Sorry for not knowing that.

Bar Council. What a load of rubbish you all are talking about? You and your kind are the reason why the Internet ought to be filtered. You character assassin you! Please stop politicising things okay. If you are so fond of politics, why don't you register yourself as a political party and run in an election okay.

Hooray. No more having to tick a box on whether I am a Melayu, Cina, India or lain-lain. Or having to write it down. Love it. Save me some 5 seconds. Brilliant. Oh my God. OMG! (pronounced, Oh, Am, Jee!) That would mean...wait..that would mean all governmental forms have to be reprinted. Oh gosh... Quick. Prepare a tender. Fly in a borrowed jet. Make some donations. Get the job.

Eh, by the way, while we are talking about race, can you all blank out Utusan ah? I mean, it's all race here and race there in Utusan. So, blank it out altogether lah. Like the forms. Can?

I gave him 10 million. No. Sorry. I donated 10 million. No. You did not. There is no record. But you flew in our private jet. You did not pay fuel charges. No, I did not. Yes you did. No I did not. You did. Did not. Did too. Did not too. Did. Did not. Did. Did not.

I am fed up. I work so hard around the clock. And what do I get? I get blasted. I get ridiculed. I feel so unappreciated. I don't want to do it anymore. No. I am going to stop investigating all politicians. Well. Have you been investigating ALL politicians? Now don't you go ultra-viresing me okay. I am already pressured.

That Gobalakrishnan. I am very angry and ashamed. He was uncouth. It is unacceptable. I am going to tell the Attorney General to speed up his persecution. Eh, prosecution. Yes yes. Said the AG. Yes Sir. I will speed it up. I tell you. Had this been in the UK, the AG would say, who the flying fork are you to tell me how to do my job? I have not even had a look at the investigation papers and decide whether to prosecute or not. Please. Don't you ultra-vires me okay!

Yippee. Another corporate deal. A management buy-out of PLUS. And the benevolent take-over party will propose a lower toll rate. Yes yes. Oh. But he will also ask an extension of toll period. Alamak. Premature ejaculation. Porn!

Quite obviously. The Internet needs filtering.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

1Malaysia Dalam Kenangan

Saya seorang Melayu. Bapa dan ibu saya orang Melayu. Jua ibubapa mereka.

Saya dilahirkan di awal 60an di sebuah kampung terpencil di Kedah, yang rata-rata penduduknya dibelenggu kemiskinan dan kerumitan. Boleh dikatakan semua penduduk Melayu di kampung tersebut mengusahakan sawah bendang, samada yang memiliki tanah ataupun yang menyewa tanah.

Terdapat beberapa keluarga Cina - dalam ingatan saya di sekitar 10 hingga 15 keluarga - di kampung saya. Umumnya, penduduk Cina tinggal di sekitar pusat kampung, iaitu di kawasan yang dekat dengan jalan utama menuju ke Alor Setar. Dua atau tiga keluarga Cina sememangnya orang berada. Mereka menguasai pasaran padi dan beras. Malah mereka juga mempunyai kilang beras sendiri. Penjualan dan pembelian padi hampir dimonopoli oleh peniaga-peniaga Cina tersebut.

Yang lainnya menjalankan perniagaan runcit, tukang jahit, mekanik dan sebagainya. Pada masa tersebut, padi hanya dapat ditanam sekali setahun kerana kekurangan air dan saluran air. Jadi setiap tahun, sawah bendang hanya akan terbiar selama lebih kurang 6 bulan setiap tahun kerana ketiadaan air. Pada masa itu pesawah-pesawah tidak akan mempunyai sumber pendapatan.

Lalu apa yang terjadi ialah pesawah-pesawah terpaksa mengambil pinjaman dari kaum Cina, samada yang berniaga beras ataupun yang berniaga runcit. Hutang-hutang ini akan dilangsaikan apabila padi dituai dan dijual kepada mereka pada akhir musim menuai kelak. Itu lah yang berlaku saban musim dan saban tahun. Ianya bagai satu litaran hidup dikampung saya.

Namun saya tidak pernah bersemuka dengan apa-apa kemelut perkauman. Ianya bagai satu sistem ekonomi mikro yang diamalkan berabad lama. Yang sudah menjadi lumrah.

13hb May 1969 hanya saya ingat sebagai satu jangkamasa di mana sekolah saya ditutup. Yang saya ingat mengenai tarikh tersebut ialah terdapatnya kekacauan dan terdapat perintah berkurung. Lalu saya tidak dapat ke sekolah. Itulah satu-satunya ingatan saya mengenai peristiwa tersebut.

Pada awal 70an, ketika kerajaan Kedah diterajui oleh Datuk Syed Nahar, saya masih ingat beliau telah memulakan satu projek yang sungguh-sungguh membawa perubahan ekonomi kepada pesawah-pesawah di Kedah amnya dan di kampung saya terutamanya. Beliau sedar yang bekalan air adalah kunci penanaman padi. Beliau tidak mahu lagi sawah bendang terbiar kekontangan selama 6 bulan setiap tahun apabila datangnya musim kemarau.

Lalu kerajaan melancarkan satu usaha untuk mengorek "parit-parit gila" di serata Kedah. Umumnya sungai-sungai kecil digali dari sungai-sungai utama ataupun punca-punca air utama menuju ke sawah bendang. Dari sungai-sungai kecil ini, parit-parit kecil digali menuju ke tanah-tanah sawah untuk membawa bekalan air. Ini membolehkan bekalan air sampai ke tanah-tanah bendang setiap masa. Pada musim hujan, air akan ditakung di dalam sungai utama dan air itu akan dilepaskan ke dalam sungai-sungai kecil dan parit-parit gila tersebut pada musim kemarau.

Saya tidak pernah tahu kenapa parit-parit itu dipanggil "parit gila". Hanya saya dapat agak kenapa. Parit-parit itu tidak mempunyai apa-apa hala yang tertentu. Ianya mempunyai halatuju yang tidak bersistem. Malah kalau dilihat dari udara, parit-parit tersebut bagai jalan-jalan yang tidak berarah, macam sesuatu yang gila. Maka dipanggilah parit-parit tersebut "parit gila". Itulah kefahaman saya.

Pada setiap hari raya, selesai sahaja saya mandi dan berbaju raya, saya akan bermaaf-maafan dengan ibubapa saya serta semua ahli keluarga. Kemudiannya saya akan ke masjid untuk sembahyang raya dan menziarahi kubur. Namun terdapat satu amalan yang mesti saya kerjakan setiap tahun di dalam perjalanan saya ke masjid. Saya akan diberikan bungkusan kuih-muih raya untuk saya berikan kepada kelaurga-keluarga Cina di pusat kampung. Maka saya pun akan berjalan ke pusat kampung dan mengetuk pintu kedai kaum Cina di pusat kampung awal-awal pagi. Satu persatu akan saya berikan bungkusan kuih-muih. Dengan senyum mereka akan ucapkan selamat hari raya dan memberikan duit raya - yang pada masa itu tidak lebih dari 20 sen - kepada saya. Kemudiannya, saya akan terus ke masjid.

Saya masih ingat Ah Gek, seorang budak perempuan Cina yang selalu menjaga kedai runcit abangnya di pusat kampung. Cantik juga rupa beliau. Putih kekuningan dan tidak lepa tersenyum pada bila-bila masa sahaja. Dia sedikit tua dari saya. Namun kami seolah-olah membesar bersama-sama, di suatu waktu dan daerah yang asing dan senang dilupai.

Saya belajar di Alor Setar, 16 batu dari kampung saya. Setiap hari, pada pukul 5.40 pagi, saya akan dibawa di atas basikal oleh Datuk saya ke pusat kampung. Bas akan datang pada pukul 5.50pagi. Begitulah hidup saya hari ke hari. Saya akan pulang ke rumah pada lebih kurang pukul 3.30 petang setiap hari. Saya terpaksa bersusah-susah begitu kerana Datuk dan nenek saya inginkan saya belajar di sekolah "orang putih".

Ketika saya di sekolah berasrama, saya akan pulang sekali sekala ke kampung. Kadang-kalanya saya ke kedai Ah Gek untuk membeli barang-barang rumah. Begitu juga apabila saya di universiti. Apabila saya pulang ke kampung, Ah Gek, yang kini sudah dewasa, masih berada di kedai tersebut. Dia kadang kalanya akan berkata, "whoa...lu sekarang sudah pergi KL ya...manyak jauh ah...bagus la...lu banyak pandai..."

Projek parit gila telah banyak membantu pesawah-pesawah di kampung saya menaikkan taraf hidup. Tidak perlu projek-projek yang berbilion-bilion sebenarnya. Mulanya pesawah-pesawah dapat menanam padi 2 kali setahun. Kemudiannya mereka dapat menanam padi 5 kali di dalam masa 2 tahun. Bayangkan, hanya disebabkan parit gila itu sahaja pendapatan mereka telah naik hampir 3 kali ganda. Pada saya, projek parit gila itu lah projek yang paling berjasa untuk menaiktaraf kehidupan pesawah-pesawah di kampung saya.

Namun kemiskinan dan keperitan hidup masih dirasai oleh semua di kampung saya. Rata-rata kanak-kanak Melayu dan Cina di kampung saya hanya belajar hingga ke Tingkatan 3 sahaja. Terdapat juga keluarga-keluarga Melayu mahupun Cina yang tidak mampu menghantar anak-anak ke sekolah. Saya masih ingat seorang perempuan Cina yang mempunyai lebih dari 10 orang anak yang tinggal berdekatan dengan masjid di kampung saya.

Namun keperitan dan kemiskinan tersebut menjadi lumrah alam yang diterima sebagai satu hakikat. Masyarakat kampung hidup aman. Dan mereka tidak perlu meminta sedekah. Itu yang penting.

Pada kenduri-kenduri perkahwinan, orang-orang Melayu akan menjemput kaum-kaum Cina bersama-sama. Mereka akan datang dan makan di bawah satu bumbung dan bersebelahan tetamu-tetamu Melayu. Pada malamnya, terdapatlah tarian joget atau pertunjukan wayang kulit. Kadang-kadang, sekiranya tuan rumah itu orang yang berada, akan adalah pertunjukan kugiran. Malah kadang-kadang malam itu akan diserikan dengan pertunjukan "hadrah" (pementasan bangsawan tempatan). Hadrah itu sebenarnya dilakonkan oleh pelakon-pelakon lelaki dan pondan. Namun ramai lah orang kampung yang duduk di hadapan pentas hingga lewat malam menikmati cerita yang dilakonkan.

Saya pun selalu menyaksikan persembahan-persembahan tersebut sehingga lewat malam. Maklumlah, itu lah sahaja sumber hiburan kami pada masa itu selain dari radio transistor. Namun, ibubapa saya dan kawan-kawan saya tidak pernah risau tentang keselamatan kami. Pada masa itu, tiada kes-kes penculikan, rogol mahupun pembunuhan kanak-kanak ataupun orang dewasa seperti sekarang ini. Kampung itu aman damai walaupun terdapat hanya seorang konstabel polis bagi seluruh kampung. Kes kecurian pun tidak pernah berlaku. Kalau adapun, hanyalah kecurian ayam-ayam dari reban di belakang rumah. Tetapi yang mencuri itu hanyalah beberapa ekor musang dan bukannya manusia.

Apabila keluarga-keluarga Cina mengadakan upacara perkahwinan. Mereka akan membeli seekor lembu dan menyuruh orang Melayu menyembelih dan memasaknya. Orang-orang Melayu dijemput hadir dan makan masakan tersebut. Ramai yang akan hadir bersama meraikan upacara perkahwinan tersebut. Malah kadang-kadang orang-orang Melayu dijemput untuk bersilat. Semasa makan, tidak terlintas pula dikalangan kaum Melayu bahawa pinggan mangkuk, gelas dan cawan atau sudu dan garpu yang digunakan tidak disamak. Malah kadang-kadang, anjing peliharaan tuan rumah itu akan berkeliaran disekeliling rumah kenduri tersebut. Tiada siapa yang hiraukan.

Pada malamnya, orang-orang Cina akan meraikan upacara itu dengan bermain mahjong dan sebagainya. Malah mereka akan minum arak mengikut kesukaan mereka. Tidak pernah pula ada apa-apa bantahan dari mana-mana pihak mengenai perkara-perkara tersebut.

Perempuan Cina yang mempunyai lebih 10 orang anak itupun tinggal di belakang masjid. Tiada siapa yang menyuruh beliau pindah. Malah berdekatan dengan masjid terdapat pula satu "rumah candu". Ini adalah peninggalan pemerintahan British di mana lesen dikeluarkan untuk "rumah candu" di mana orang ramai boleh "menikmati" candu di dalamnya tanpa diganggu.

Sebagai seorang budak, saya pernah pergi mengendap di belakang rumah candu tersebut. Melalui satu lubang kecil di dinding "zinc" rumah candu tersebut, saya pun nampaklah beberapa orang kampung dibuai candu.

Di pusat kampung pula, terdapat kedai-kedai kopi yang dibelakangnya terdapat arak. Saya masih teringat "Anchor beer" dipanggil bir cap brek kapal. Bersebelahan dengan salah sebuah kedai kopi itu terdapat pula satu pusat menjual empat nombor ekor. Ramailah penduduk, tidak kira yang Cina mahupun Melayu ke situ untuk membeli nombor bertuah dan juga untuk memastikan nombor yang menang. Walaubagaimanapun, tidak pernah saya terdengar riuh-rendah mengenai penjualan bir ataupun empat nombor ekor di kedai-kedai tersebut, walaupun kampung itu diduduki oleh lebih kurang 95% orang Melayu.

Orang-orang Cina pula tidak pernah membuat apa-apa komplen mengenai azan yang terlalu kuat dan sebagainya. Maklum lah, ketika itu tiada bekalan elektrik. Malah, mereka juga memastikan dengan secara sukarela untuk tidak menjual daging babi bersama-sama ataupun berdekatan dengan ikan, daging dan sebagainya di pasar runcit mereka. Penternakan babi memanglah tiada langsung.

Di tepi sungai berdekatan dengan dewan orang ramai, terdapat satu "stesyen polis". Ianya diduduki oleh sebuah keluarga kecil yang ketuanya merupakan seorang konstabel polis yang ditugaskan untuk menjaga keselamatan kampung saya.

Di sebelahnya terdapat sebuah klinik yang diduduki oleh seorang jururawat Melayu yang juga bertindak sebagai seorang bidan. Saya masih ingat jururawat tersebut. Beliau akan berbasikal ke rumah-rumah yang mempunyai bayi di dalam unifom jururawat pada masa itu, iaitu baju dan "skirt" putih. Sepanjang ingatan saya tidak pula ada yang membantah pakaian beliau pada masa itu. Ahli-ahli jawatankuasa masjid kampung pula, sepanjang ingatan saya, tidap pernah menyeranghendap klinik tersebut pada waktu dinihari untuk memastikan si-jururawat itu tidak tidur dengan lelaki bukan muhrim. Kejadian begitu tidak pernah terjadi.

Tiada yang membantah itu dan ini. Semuanya sibuk dengan kehidupan sendiri. Semua penduduk kampung dianggap kawan dan sahabat, tidak kira samada Melayu atau Cina, peminum arak atau penghisap candu, yang memelihara anjing ataupun kucing, yang belajar di sekolah orang puteh mahupun di sekolah Melayu, Ah Gek ataupun Art, yang kuning ataupun sawo matang, yang ber"skirt" ataupun berbaju kurung, semuanya sama sahaja.

Keadaan di kampung saya pada masa tersebut seperti terdapatnya suatu kuasa yang melihat dan mamantau dari jauh perangai penduduk tempatan. Ianya seperti terdapat satu peraturan yang termaktub. Tiap-tiap penduduk tahu tanggungjawap masing-masing dan prihatin terhadap budaya, pantang-larang dan kesukaan masing-masing sehinggakan perkara tersebut tidak perlu digembar-gemburkan. Semuanya bagai satu jentera yang bergerak secara sinkronis tanpa apa-apa masalah.

Itulah 1Malaysia yang pernah saya duduki dan yang saya rindui.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is Malaysia going to be another village idiot ?

Malaysia is truly Asia (at least in Dear Ambassador Todt, I had sought to prove that). And Malaysia is also truly oxymoron.

While the Prime Minister was going around town preaching that the media must be open and responsible, the very party that he leads banned the alternative media from covering its general assembly. Than, while  the Prime Minister tirelessly went to town to promote his 1Malaysia concept - which according to the PM is all about living together harmoniously in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution - mainstream media like Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia and the NST, which the same party which he leads control,  would go on a racial rampage calling Malays who promote equality as "traitors" and "cowards".

Everything in Malaysia seems to have two hands which work in diametrical opposites. It's like the right hand is holding the you-know-what in front and the left is shoving one huge one up the you-know-what at the back. Like that.

And so, now we have the "green dam" whatever. Another project by our benevolent Barisan Nasional government. And this is a complete oxymoron. The government on one hand would like to see broadband accessibility be increased to 50% (as opposed to the current 30%). It goes to town with multi billions smackeroonies broadband projects. Broadband here and broadband there. IT here and IT there.

Sometimes ago, as is usual with this land-of-songs of ours, there was even a song about it, which goes something like this, "cintailah IT"... la dee dum dum...dumb! (oh yes, have you all heard that "oh cun nya, barangan Malaysia..." yet? Cool!).

That was the right hand doing its stuff. The left hand however has invited a tender to "filter" the Internet. When pressed, Minister Rais said no, no, we are only looking at curbing pornography. Yea, rite. Like pornography had just been available on the net 4 days ago, when Paris Hilton had suddenly discovered the joy of pubic, er....sorry, public exhibitionism while being stoned on ecstasy pills.

The PM quickly came out to pour cold ice water on Minister Rais by saying, "No, we are not censoring the Internet!". He did not even refer to pornography. Than some commission or the other (sorry, I can't be precise here because Malaysia has lots and lots of commission) said that it was only planned as a study on Internet usage.

Hello...who is running this country please? Can anybody tell us what is going on? Is there or is there not going to be Internet censorship? A simple yes or no would suffice. If not, then what was the tender all about please? Thank you.

I am not a technical guy as far as computer technology is concerned. But I have read some materials which say that it is really difficult to censor Internet contents. I will however leave it to the experts to argue on this issue.

However, I would like to point out one thing. This is the MSC Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees. When Dr Mahathir was promoting the Multi-media Super Corridor, he caused the Government to issue this guarantee in order to attract participation in the MSC by the computer giants such as Bill Gates' Microsoft. Legend has it that the guarantee was given at the behest of Bill Gates, who initially was not very attracted by the idea of the MSC. (please note however that that story is not verified).

Anyway, what is verifiable is that such guarantee was in fact given. Point number 7 of that guarantee is as follows:

"Ensure no Internet censorship."

Now, that was and still is a promise made by the Malaysian Government to every individual and entity, whether private or governmental, who participate in the MSC. That is not a promise made by some Hussein, Hassan or Halim.  It is a promise made by the His Majesty's Government, the Government of Malaysia.

People breach their promises or agreements every second of the day, everywhere on the planet. Some of them would end up in Court or arbitration. Some of them would get their head blown up because of such breaches. But when a Government breaches its promise, the consequences of such breach is far more serious.

Had that guarantee been made to, and accepted by a foreign Government or agencies, Malaysia could be dragged to the International Court if it breaches the guarantee. Judging from our performance in the International Court on the Pedra Branca issue, I would not be holding my breath to see whether Malaysia would win the case if indeed Malaysia is dragged to that Court again for breaching this guarantee.

Now, if the guarantee has been accepted only by private individual or entity, again, Malaysia could be sued for breaching the guarantee. Imagine the whole foreign, as well as local, participants of the MSC suing the Malaysian Government for breaching the guarantee. Nice eh?

There are also other ways to teach the Malaysian Government for breaching the guarantee. Bear in mind that we are not talking about some chikus with a 2 ringgit paid-up capital here. We are talking about entities like Microsoft, Googles and Yahoos, whose combine NTA  is probably higher than our own GDP! If they are upset, they could do something really silly (well, silly for us lah, not for them). Just imagine Bill Gates boycotting Malaysia for 3 years, for instance. What will happen to all our computers? And to all the Government IT departments? And to our banking systems? Nice eh?

Most importantly is this. The guarantee is given by a sovereign nation. Under international law, sovereign nations are expected to fulfil its obligations, whether contractually or customarily assumed. Breaches of any international treatise, agreement or convention would invite international condemnation and repercussions.

In the commercial world, including international trade and financing, sovereign nations are rated daily for its bankability and credibility. Once a sovereign nation is known to have deliberately breached any of its contractual obligations, the repercussion for that nation, commercially, would be really serious.

As we know, every Government who partakes in international trade issue bonds or negotiated and transferable financial notes from time to time. It sometime also guarantees such bonds or notes when they are issued by its agencies or business entities. These bonds and notes carry with it promises to pay a certain yield or interest payment every year. The rate of  yield or interest is dependable on the credibility of the issuer or the backer of the issuer.

Once a Government breaches any of its contractual obligation, its credibility goes down the drain. All Government bonds or notes or even Government backed bonds or notes would lose its attractiveness. If there are takers, the yields or interests would be high. More probably, not many would be willing to subscribe to such bonds or notes anymore. Why? Because they would remember what the Malaysian Government has done to the Bill of Guarantees.

Just think about it.

When Australia introduced 'a regulatory framework for Internet content' through the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act 1999, the Australian Government was condemned by Internet users and fraternity. It was accused of not understanding the Internet technology and that the law would make Australia  the 'Village Idiot' of the Internet world. (source: Nazis, Porn and Politics: Asserting Control Over Internet Content by Carolyn Penfold, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, and Research Associate, Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia)

My worry is, Malaysia would be viewed in the same vein. Worst still, Malaysia would be viewed by the international business community as a country which has the tendency to breach its contractual obligations.

I pray that wisdom would prevail.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The ISA is not Comparable to the Patriot Act (USA) and the Terrorism Acts (UK)

Ever so often, when the subject of the ISA and the various abuses of the ISA are brought up, leading to calls for the abolishment of the ISA, the Government, through various Ministers, spokespersons of some NGOs (which seem to grow like poisonous mushrooms after an afternoon shower nowadays), some UMNO leaders or whoever would remind us that even the USA and UK have preventive detention legislation.

This morning, my friend e mailed me a link to a poll on whether the ISA should be abolished at the Home Ministry web site. I quickly went to the said web site to cast my vote.

There are 5 questions posed to the visitors with 3 possible answers given to each of the question. As of this morning, 89% think the ISA is draconian. 93% say they know what the ISA is about. And 93% say that the ISA ought to be abolished.

The 5th question is reproduced below:

"Tahukah anda, Amerika Syarikat dan Britain turut mempunyai undang-undang pencegahan mereka yang dikenali sebagai Anti Terrorism Act dan Patriot Act. ISA (Malaysia) adalah salah satu undang-undang yang dirujuk oleh mereka."

Loosely translated, it says:

"Do you know, the USA and Britain also have preventive (detention) legislation known as the Anti-Terrorism Act and Patriot Act. ISA (Malaysia) is among the law which was referred by them."

Well, first of all, there is no such thing as an Anti Terrorism Act, whether in the USA or Britain. There is however the Terrorism Act in Britain, either the year 2000 or 2006 Acts. So which one is the Home Ministry referring to?

Secondly, the question is just another example of the "Syiok Sendiri Syndrome" (or in short, "The 3 Asses"). Since when has the USA's Senate House or House of Representative referred to the ISA while thinking about, drafting, debating or passing the Patriot Act? And I doubt whether the House of Commons or House of Lords in the UK referred to the ISA while debating the Terrorism Act.

So, this is either The 3 Asses at work or a limp attempt to justify the ISA by saying that even the USA and the UK had referred to the ISA while debating their preventive detention laws. Even if it's true, the obvious question is, "so bloody what?" A wrong is a wrong regardless of it being committed by America, Britain, India or Nepal. It is a matter of, and let me type this in bold again, Universal Human Rights.

Thirdly is this. And I would pre-empt this by saying that this is the part which makes me, for the lack of an English word, "jengkil", "jelak", "mual" and "nak temuntah"! (the last two items mean "nauseous" and "want to vomit"). This is the part which always rile me up. Not because it is shallow. But because it presumes that everybody is an idiot. It riles me up because I am not an idiot, just like everybody else. Even if I was an idiot, I am still riled up because it is an insult to every idiot!

The thing is this. That question is there in order to justify the ISA by referring to the so called fact that even the USA and the UK have preventive detention laws in the form of the Patriot Act and the Terrorism Acts respectively. That is vile. It is misleading and almost dishonest. And most of all, it is hypocritical!

The truth is the Patriot Act and the Terrorism Act do not come close to the draconian nature of the ISA.

The Terrorism Act, for starters, only apply to terrorist or acts of terrorism. Act of terrorism is defined as :

(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

Contrast that to the ISA. It applies to whatever and whomsoever the Home Minister feels is a threat to national security. Even national security is not defined. History would show that someone who had not done anything could be deemed a threat to national security under the ISA. Remember Teresa Kok? History would also show that the definition is so lax so much so that a woman could be arrested under the ISA to protect her own safety. So, please. Try harder.

Then, under section 41 of the Terrorism Act (2000), police detention is only up to 48 hours. That can be extended to 7 days. Even then, the extension can only be applied for and given by a Judicial Authority, which means, the Court. During the hearing for extension, the arrested person can be legally represented. The 7 day period is now enlarged to a period of 28 days. Last year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked the period of detention be extended to 42 days. The House of Lords told him and his Government to go and fly the proverbial kite!

Compare that to the ISA? Please don't make me puke. The initial arrest can last up to 60 days. During that time the police is not required to allow legal representation. They can lock you up in a dungeon somewhere between the sea and the sky. Nobody will know where you are. Not even yourself will know. History will show that torture takes place. The interrogation is done round the clock. It is unregulated. You are reduced to just a heap of flesh and bones. That is all. Your human dignity is taken away. Your loved ones cry in despair. A wife without a husband. Children without a father. 60 days!

The Terrorism Act, in schedule 8 spells out procedures from the time one is arrested until the time one is produced before a Judicial Authority for an extension of detention. Lawyers will be around. Officers must identify themselves. There are even provisions for audio and visual recordings.

Before extension is given, the Government will have to show that it is necessary to extend the detention for various reasons which are clearly spelt out in the Act.

Under the ISA however, the Government or the police has to do nothing at all. There is an automatic right to detain for 60 days.

Then the Home Minister can issue a 2 year (read, 24 months or 730 days and contrast that to 28 days under the Terrorism Act) detention order. You will then rot in Kamunting. That can be extended indefinitely subject to the order being made for not more than 2 years at any one time. Which means, you can be detained till Armageddon!

To top it up, the UK has the most highly respected High Courts. Courts which will fearlessly guard the rights of the citizen against the might of the Government. Application for judicial review or for writ of habeas corpus can be freely made to the High Court. The Court would then review the detention order and see whether the Government has exercised the power to detain properly and in good faith.

And what about the Malaysian Judiciary? They will shout at you even when you are just spelling out your name. And when you get to argue, they shout "not relevant" at you. They even sat without proper coram! To top it up, Dr Mahathir has rendered the Court to be mere proof reader. Habeas corpus is available but the Court can only look into whether the Government has filled in the right form, or has spelt the name correctly, or has used the right fonts.

Thank God that in the RPK case, Justice Datuk Syed Helmy had held that the Court had the power to see whether the Government had committed a jurisdictional error in issuing the detention order. Regardless, that decision is now pending appeal in our Federal Court.

So, please. Do not even begin to compare the Terrorism Act with the ISA. Save my blood from boiling.

Then the Patriot Act. Under this Act, detention is for 7 days. It is applicable only to aliens and not citizen. It is also applicable to terrorists. The AG then must charge the detained person or institute deportation proceedings. He could also sign a certificate to detain the person for 6 months. This 6 months can be extended indefinitely as long as the period does not exceed 6 months at any one time.

The AG then must submit a report to the the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate every 6 months on the detention.

Habeas corpus is also available without limitation. Application may be made to the Supreme Court.

Here, under the ISA, there is no such provision. In any event, the Obama administration has closed down Guantanamo Bay. So, it is history. Furthermore, the Patriot Act also came with an expiry date. The ISA has however existed for almost 50 years.

Most of all, have we ever ever seen or heard that the opposition leaders, academicians, journalists, social activists or someone who has converted from Islam to Christianity been detained under either the Terrorism Act or Patriot Act?

I better stop. Because I am getting sick. And the mutton curry I ate just now is threatening to make its way up my esophagus, pass my throat, into my mouth out into the open air.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sorry Datuk, I have misunderstood the ISA!

Finally, I am in agreement with an UMNO leader. On the issue of the Internal Security Act, no less. In a Malaysian Insider report titled "Mukhriz defends ISA, says it's misunderstood", Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has apparently lamented that the public has failed to see the benefit of the ISA. He was quoted as saying:

The people cannot really see the benefits from ISA but if we realise that we are able to send our children to school and shop safely then we can see that all of these are from a government policy to provide protection to the people.”

One of the people whom Datuk Mukhriz was unknowingly referring to was, I must say, myself. Over the weekend I was thinking about what Datuk Mukhriz has said. And today, Monday the 3rd of August 2009, I conclude that all these while I have been a stupid Malaysian. I have been wrong all these while. Yes. I have to confess. I have misunderstood the ISA. Datuk Mukhriz, I bow in all humility to your wisdom and I must say I am not worth it. I am sorry.

All these while, I thought that a citizen's liberty is guaranteed by our Federal Constitution. And as I understood it, the Federal Constitution says that a citizen's liberty cannot be taken away other than in accordance with the due process of the law. And of course the law says that a person cannot be sent to prison until he or she has been found guilty by the Court and sentenced to imprisonment. That was what I understood.

I understood this from a year learning the Malaysian Constitution. And from another year of learning Comparative Constitutional Law where I studied the Indian, English and American Constitutions. And another year learning Administrative law. Also from a year of learning the subject of politics.

As I understood it too, when the ISA was debated in the Parliament, Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first Prime Minister as well as our Father of Independence, said this:

My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent."

That was a promise, solemnly made to the Parliament. And the late Tunku was of course also the UMNO President at that time.

So, in my gullible and naive mind, I understood that the ISA would not be used to stifle opposition and silence lawful dissent. Furthermore, the then Home Minister, Tun Dr Ismail said:

"I am convinced that the Internal Security Act as practiced in Malaysia is not contrary to the fundamentals of democracy. Abuse of the Act can be prevented by vigilant public opinion via elections, a free Press and above all the Parliament."

I must admit therefore Datuk Mukhriz, that I was under the impression that the Malaysian public - and that includes me and other Malaysians - could criticise any abuse of the ISA by the Government. We could express our unhappiness in a free Press as well as the Parliament.

I was also under the impression that what Tun Dr Ismail had meant was that the public would have the freedom to express their displeasure over what they perceive as abuses of the ISA freely too. After all, what is the use of vigilance without the freedom to express the result of that vigilance?

Datuk Mukhriz, due to the above, I understood that the ISA would not be abused. I also understood that the ISA was to be used solely for the purpose of protecting the security of our nation. And if it was abused, I understood that I would have the right to protest against such abuse.

I also understood that the Court would have the power to check and balance out any abuse of the ISA by the government. This the Court could do by issuing a writ of habeas corpus in order to release a person who has been wrongfully detained under the ISA by the government. The Court could look into the exercise of the government's power under the ISA and decide whether such power has been correctly exercised or whether such power was exercised in good faith.

That was what I had understood all these while. And Datuk Mukhriz, sadly, I had been proven wrong. You are right. I have misunderstood the ISA all these while.

First of all, your father, Tun Mahathir Mohammad, had taken away the powers of the Court to look into the exercise of the power under the ISA and decide whether such power was exercised correctly or in good faith.

Your father changed the law and the Federal Constitution to render the Court lame and impotent. The Court could now only look into whether the government has filled in the right form before a detention is made. Or whether the Home Minister has used a coma and a full stop at the correct place in such form. Your father has rendered the Court to be an instrument of checking only instead of an instrument of check and balance. Your father had deemed it fit to render the Court as a proof reader. That is your father's idea of a democratic society.

So, I am sorry, I had misunderstood the ISA.

Then I found out that the ISA actually could also be used, and was in fact used, to detain immigration document forgers, counterfeiters, opposition leaders and the likes. As at the end of 2007, a staggering 10711 persons have been arrested under the ISA and a total of 4370 detention orders have been issued pursuant to the ISA. A total of 46 detainees continue to be detained at the Kamunting Detention Camp as at 5th December 2008.

I also learned that your father had orchestrated Operasi Lalang under which 106 persons were arrested and 40 were detained. I also learned that while anybody deemed as a threat to national security from the opposition parties must be arrested or detained under the ISA, such arrest or detention is not necessary if the threat to national security comes from a member of or leader from UMNO or the BN.

I have also learned that the ISA could be used to detain anybody for no reason whatsoever. Teresa Kuok for instance was arrested under the ISA for apparently protesting to a mosque for citing the azan too loudly. She was arrested although she said she did not do so. Even the mosque committee said she did not do it. But she was arrested under the ISA and was detained for about a week anyway. Then she was released without any further action.

Then Raja Petra Kamaruddin was also arrested and later, detained under the ISA for insulting Islam and for writing an article deemed seditious. He was so arrested and detained even though the police admitted that his article was not investigated upon to ascertain the truth of the contents or otherwise. That was a new lesson for me.

Luckily a brave Judge, in Justice Datuk Syed Helmy of the High Court Shah Alam freed him.

Around the same time, I also learned that the ISA could also be used to arrest people in order to protect his or her personal safety. Remember a journalist by the name of Tan Hoon Cheng?

Your father also had detained a Malay man whose name was Hilmi Noor for some odd and strange reason. He was said to have converted to Christianity and by doing so he was accused of "disrupting the Malay culture by being a Christian!” Datuk, that was also a new lesson for me about the ISA.

On top of all that, I had always understood that the ISA's purpose was to arrest and detain people from carrying out whatever plans they have which threaten national security. It is preventive in nature and not punitive. But later, I learned that detainees could be tortured while under detention under the ISA.

A learned High Court Judge, Justice Datuk Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus (now a Court of Appeal Judge, finally, after years and years of service and being stepped over many many times by his juniors), in a case known as Abdul Malek Hussin v Borhan Hj Daud & Others [2008]1 CLJ 264, found as follows:

"On this issue, upon a careful evaluation of the entire evidence before me, it is my finding of facts that the plaintiff has succeeded in proving to the court on a balance of probabilities that he had been assaulted in the manner he alleges and by the individuals that he has named or identified.

The plaintiff alleges that he was first assaulted by the first Defendant after the arresting team moved him from his home. He was arrested in front of his home after which a search of his home was done and various documents and a personal computer removed. He describes the assault in his evidence. He says he was slapped three times by the first Defendant after he was unable to take the first Defendant to the location of his (the plaintiff's) car. The plaintiff also said that he was blindfolded, and his head was forcibly covered with a T-shirt and forced to bend forward down between his legs in the car as he was taken to the IPK, Kuala Lumpur.

The first Defendant denies these allegations. He only admits that he instructed L/Cpl Johari to place "cermin mata gelap" on the plaintiff, and that the purpose being "adalah bertujuan untuk menutup penglihatan plaintiff bagi mengelirukan plaintiff". The plaintiff then describes the circumstances of the second assault. In summary, he describes how in an air-conditioned room on the first floor of the IPK he was stripped naked, blindfolded, verbally abused and then physically assaulted. He was hit several times on the face and head. Most of the blows and kicks were directed at his body and legs. His legs were hit with a hard object. He fell over several times as a result of the blows. At one instance when his blindfold slipped, he identified one of the assailants as the second Defendant in person - Tan Sri Rahim Noor. The plaintiff also said that after the episode of physical assault, some urine-smelling like liquid was poured into his mouth while his mouth was forced open. Throughout the ordeal he was forced to remain naked. His penis was hit and an object pushed against his anus. He was made to stand in front of an air-conditioner and drenched with water - this treatment was done for almost an hour. The ordeal finally ended at about 4am. According to the plaintiff when the blindfold was removed he saw the first Defendant and other Special Branch officers in plainclothes. The first Defendant warned him not to make a police report regarding what had happened. The plaintiff also asked for medical treatment from the detaining officer but access to a doctor was only provided three days later on 29 September 1998...

In my judgment, based on the evidence before the court, on a balance of probabilities, the plaintiff's case is more credible and ought to be accepted."

It is clear as daylight dear Datuk, I have misunderstood the ISA. I am sorry.

Last weekend, between 20000 to 30000 people came out to show their unhappiness over the ISA. They had wanted to demand the ISA to be abolished by presenting a memorandum to our King. Yet, they were met with water cannons, tear gas, batons and riot police with full gear, ever ready to shout and scream, even to beat them up and arrest them. Even 16 and 13 year olds were arrested and detained.

I thought Tun Dr Ismail already said that the public may be vigilant about the ISA and may express their opinion peacefully.

Again, I have misunderstood the ISA. And I am sorry.