Loyal Followers

Friday, October 30, 2009

Criminalise Human Rights Abuses National Conference and Exhibition

Caution: this post contains graphic depictions of atrocity. Viewers discretion advised.

"Killing is murder", screamed a headline in a Malay Mail online report yesterday. Under it, the sub-header reads, "Dr M calls for change of mindset and value system."

Dr Mahathir, in his keynote address at the “Criminalise War International Conference and Exhibition” which began yesterday at the PWTC, was quoted as saying:

“There must be a lot of things we have been doing for thousands of years which we don’t believe should be done now, such as abuse of human rights, discrimination against women, child labour, public executions, the gibbets (gallows), torture and slavery.

“Though there may still be places where some of these practices are carried out, generally the civilised world rejects them, even if they had been common for thousands of years.”

The report continues;

"So what makes war different from the mentioned practices? Why can’t we reject the act of war altogether?

“It is because we do not regard war as a crime, therefore the killings have not stopped,” said Dr Mahathir.

I suppose every sane and reasonable person, even more so those who would like to believe that they belong to a civilised society would agree with what Dr Mahathir said. Abuse of human rights, discrimination against women, child labour, public executions, the gibbets (gallows), torture and slavery are uncivilised, unacceptable and downright inhuman.

And when such acts are done and executed by the government itself, the repulsion an abhorrence against such acts would be of a different magnitude. This is because the citizens, in their social contract with the State, agree to give away some of their freedom and liberty to the government and State in exchange for greater societal benefits and security. Thus, when the government abuses its powers upon its own citizens, that is the greatest betrayal of all.

And when such acts go unpunished, - and in fact it continues from time to time - aided, abetted and executed by various governmental authorities, the people might as well surrender their fate to the Leviathan.

In conjunction with the "Criminalise War International Conference and Exhibition", ARTiculations hereby declare the opening of the first "Criminalise Human Rights Abuses National Conference and Exhibition."

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Yes. Although these acts have been carried out for thousand of years, in modern times, they are acts which are not acceptable in any civilised nation and society. Every violent attack on the citizen's freedom and liberty should be criminalised although they may be common for thousands of years.

We have to change our mind set. We have to reject these abuses of human rights and fundamental liberties.

It is because we do not regard these abuses as crimes, therefore the abuses have not stopped.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is this right?

As all of us would have experienced nowadays, in this beloved and blessed nation of ours, there are 3 types of news.

Firstly, there are news which make us laugh. These are news the comedic value of which might be slightly higher than 5 episodes of Blackadder put together. This genre is represented by the recent news about some bright spark in some education department coming up with the 1 Toilet program.

Secondly, there are news which make you cry. Like the news today about a 3-week old suspension bridge come a-crashing leaving one student dead and 2 others missing. This is sad because in this day and age - where we have the tallest twin tower in the world; we have sent a man to space; we have a F1 team etcetera - we can't even build a proper bridge for students to cross safely. A life is gone and 2 more lives are potentially in peril.

Thirdly, there are news which take the cake. These are news which make you unsure on whether to laugh or to cry. Or both. An example of this category of news is a NST report today. Among others, it says:

"THE state (Kelantan) government will continue to pay a RM10,000 incentive to Muslim preachers or missionaries who are willing to marry Orang Asli women to prevent them from leaving the religion.

State Islamic Development, Education and Dakwah Committee chairman Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said efforts had to be made to ensure that the Orang Asli people would not be easily influenced by missionaries of other faiths.
"We were told that certain Orang Asli settlements in the rural areas had been visited by non-Islamic missionaries and they had been spreading their faith to these people," Nik Mohd told the state assembly yesterday."

Is this the way to spread Islam? Is this the way to ensure that some orang asli women do not convert to other faith? By paying Muslim men to marry them? And what would happen after the marriage? What if the men take the money, marry them and then leave them?

What if the women do not want to get married? Or what if the women want to convert to other faith? Cane them? What?

Is this what God wants? Is this how God asks us all, as Muslims, to spread Islam? By getting payment so that we could marry the women and ensure that the women do not leave Islam? So, if I marry 4 orang asli women I could get RM40000.00 is it?

I thought God asks men to marry women out of love. And so that both the men and women could live happily and in peace. Not because of any other reason, like to force the women to remain a Muslim.

God s.w.t. says;

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ                                

[Yusufali 30:21] "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect."

And God s.w.t.  wishes that the men treat their wife with respect and kindness;

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُواْ النِّسَاء كَرْهًا وَلاَ تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُواْ بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلاَّ أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرا

[Yusufali 4:19] "O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good."

The Prophet - peace be upon him - said, among others,  in his last sermon;

"Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers."

What respect and kindness, may I ask, do we have to the women whom we marry if we are actually paid incentives to marry them? And the real reason for us to marry them is not love but just to ensure that they do not leave the religion?

Instead of doing this, why don't the people who are so keen to spread Islam to the orang asli get out from their air-conditioned room and get to the ground and live with them for a while?  Show them the Islam way of life. Show them the kindness of Islam. Show them the "ad-deen." And persuade them with their actions and words to embrace Islam and remain a Muslim voluntarily, out of their love for God and not out of a marriage which is induced by monetary incentives!

If these orang asli women have no faith in Islam, it matters not whether they are married to a Muslim or otherwise. Deep down in their heart, they might not have the faith anyway.

Why are we so concerned with the externals when it is the internals which matter in the eyes of God?

This is just my opinion. Only God knows best.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zul Noordin and PKR - the lame and the lamer

I read with absolute disbelief what the Bandar Baru Kulim MP, Zulkifli Noordin had proposed in his private member bills at the Parliament. I am even more astounded - not to mention bitterly angry - that PKR has not seen it fit  to read the riot act in full DTS 6.1 mode to Zul Noordin.

The antics of Zul Noordin are well documented. During one Federal Court hearing, in one of those conversion cases, this guy actually stood up in open Court  and questioned the "Muslimness" of Malik Imtiaz just because he disagreed with what Imtiaz was saying. Later, he and some thugs were involved in stopping a discourse on conversion to Islam which was going on at the Bar Council auditorium.

This guy fashioned himself as the defender of Islam. I do not have any qualm if anybody wants to defend his marbles and his pussies. It is none of my business. But if by defending Islam it means that he could impose his personal values and beliefs on me, and others, well, I bleeding well have a problem with that!

I believe Zul Noordin was given a show cause letter by PKR over the Bar Council fracas. What has happened to that show cause letter? Was there a disciplinary proceeding brought against Zul Noordin? If so, what was the recommendation? Why, may I ask, has there been no action taken by PKR against this guy for having blatantly gone against the principles of the party time and time again? Is PKR condoning him? Or tacitly approving what he has been doing? Or is PKR only good at talking and frothing at the mouth with nice little speeches about freedom and Constitutionalism?

This is what Zul Noordin is proposing in the Parliament. He is proposing that the Federal Constitution be amended as follows:

  • Article 3 be amended to include the following words, namely, "Islam is the religion for the Federation, including in terms of the law and syariah."
  • Article 4 of the Federal Constitution must be amended to add in the words “the Constitution is the primary law of the Federation and except for the Islamic law and syariah, any other law that is passed and that contradicts it must be void for as long as it is contradictory.
  • Article 11 (1) of the Federal Constitution on the question of changing the religion for Muslims be amended to include the words "“including changing his/her religion except for Muslims which must comply with the Islamic law and syariah. For the followers of Islam, the question of converting into or abandoning Islam must be determined by the Syariah Court which has absolute power over it”.

Malaysia Today  - quoting a Bernama report - quoted Zul as saying that  Article 3 must be amended "to ensure that the facts on the position of Islam were not manipulated and misinterpreted by certain groups to give the impression that Malaysia was a secular state." He also was quoted as saying:

“The fact is that Malaysia is not a secular state, but a nation that puts Islam as the religion for the federation, thus the amendments to Article 3 of the Federal Constitution, as suggested, will clarify the position with regard to the status of the country without any doubt,”

It doesn't take a law professor to tell us the far reaching consequences of the proposed amendments, if passed. It will practically put Syariah law above the Federal Constitution itself! This is because the proposed Article 4 would only render void any law, OTHER THAN SYARIAH LAW, if such law contradicts the Federal Constitution. What will that make Malaysia? I shall leave it to your imagination.

So, what if one day, after the amendment, the Parliamentarians, by a majority, decide to have a Consultative body (the Islamic Syura Council) to govern this country. It is against the Federal Constitution of course. But it is not void because Article 4, after the amendment, say that Islamic and Syariah law which contradicts the Federal Constitution is not void. Wouldn't Malaysia then be ruled by the Syura? And mind you, non-Muslims cannot be a member of the Syura. El fantastico!

This lunacy must stop! And I wonder why PKR is not even moving a blinking finger! Is PKR full of nutters?

And I would advise Zul Noordin and his ilk - lest they would repeat their statement that Malaysia is not a secular country like a cheap scratched CD - to at least read our history. And don't just read like a parrot but please understand it as well.

What does our history say about this?

First of all, the Reid Commission considered whether to make Islam the religion of the State. This is because, the Alliance Government - and this means the 3 main parties, namely, UMNO, MIC and MCA - submitted a memorandum to include such provision. If the Alliance, which consists of MCA and MIC  unanimously said so in the memorandum, might I ask whether the MCA and MIC would have agreed that Malaysia be made an "Islamic state" rather than a secular country? Go figure! This is what the Reid Commission report says:

"In the memorandum submitted by the Alliance it was stated – “the religion of Malaysia shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religions and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

And what was the Commission's view on this request? Well, Zul et al, this its view:

"There is nothing in the draft Constitution to affect the continuance of the present position in the States with regard to recognition of Islam or to prevent the recognition of Islam in the Federation by legislation or otherwise in any respect which does not prejudice the civil rights of individual non-Muslims. The majority of us think that it is best to leave the matter on this basis."

From the above, it is clear that the Commission initially decided not to mention that Islam shall be the religion of Malaysia in the Constitution. That was because the Federal Constitution, as drafted then, did not affect the position of Islam at all. It is of paramount importance to know what had swayed the Commission's decision. This will give a clue:

"The majority of us think that it is best to leave the matter on this basis, looking to the fact that Counsel for the Rulers said to us – “It is Their Highnesses’ considered view that it would not be desirable to insert some declaration such as has been suggested that the Muslim Faith or Islamic Faith be the established religion of the Federation. Their Highnesses are not in favour of such a declaration being inserted and that is a matter of specific instruction in which I myself have played very little part.” Mr. Justice Abdul Hamid is of opinion that a declaration should be inserted in the Constitution as suggested by the Alliance and his views are set out in his note appended to this Report."

So, here we go. It was the view of the Council of Rulers that there shall be no provision in the Federal Constitution to the effect that Islam shall be the religion of the Federation. Isn't that clear enough as to the status of Malaysia now?

It is clear that the fact that Islam is the official religion wasn't even supposed to be in the Federal Constitution. And who wanted that? None other than the Council of Rulers. Is it possible than to argue that Malaysia is supposed to be a non-secular country or an Islamic state (whatever that may mean!)?

However, what happened was the Reid Commission was not unanimous on this issue. A member of the Commission, Mr Justice Abdul Hamid, was of the opinion that the view of the Alliance in their memorandum should be given effect. He therefore wanted that it be mentioned in the Constitution that Islam is the religion of the state. And that was all. He did not suggest that Malaysia was to be a non-secular country. This non-secularity only arose when people like Zul Noordin wake up in the morning after a bad dream started to be delusional! And the party of which he is a member is lame enough not to do anything to him!

For the sake of clarity - lest I would be accused of being unclear - this is what Mr Justice Abdul Hamid said in his "note of dissent" in the Reid Commission report:

"It has been recommended by the Alliance that the Constitution should contain a provision declaring Islam to be the religion of the State...

As on this matter the recommendation of the Alliance was unanimous their recommendation should be accepted and a provision to the following effect should be inserted in the Constitution either after article 2 in Part I or at the beginning of Part XIII.

“Islam shall be the religion of the State of Malaya, but nothing in this article shall prevent any citizen professing any religion other than Islam to profess, practice and propagate that religion, nor shall any citizen be under any disability by reason of his being not a Muslim.”

A provision life one suggested above is innocuous. Not less than 15 countries of the world have a provision of this type entrenched in their Constitutions."

Mr Justice Abdul Hamid than noted that:

Among the Christian countries, which have such a provision in their Constitutions, are Ireland (Art. 6), Norway (Art. 1), Denmark (Art. 3), Spain (Art. 6), Argentina (Art. 2), Bolivia (Art 3), Panama (Art. 1), and Paraguay (Art. 3). Among the Muslim countries are Afghanistan (Art. 1), Iran (Art. 1), Iraq (Art. 13), Jordan (Art. 2), Saudi Arabia (Art. 7), and Syria (Art. 3). Thailand is an instance in which Buddhism has been enjoined to be the religion of the King who is required by the Constitution to uphold that religion (Constitution of Thailand (Art. 7)). If in these countries a religion has been declared to be the religion of the State and that declaration has not been found to have caused hardships to anybody, no harm will ensue if such a declaration is included in the Constitution of Malaya. In fact, in all the Constitutions of Malayan States a provision of thus type already exists. All that is required to be done is to transplant it from the State Constitutions and to embed it in the Federal.

So, YB Zulkifli ibnu Noordin, may I ask since when has Malaysia become a non-secular country?

Do you need further evidence? Well, let me reproduce what a British parliamentarian said when debating the Federation of Malaya Independence Bill (which was later passed and effectively and legally established Malaysia as a sovereign country).

"On religion, the Reid Commission recommended, as my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers) pointed out, that there should be no mention of State religion in the Constitution. It is now inserted in Article 3, but is so watered down by the later Articles that I do not think there can be any real fear of a non-secular State being created. I think the Secretary of State has resisted pressure put on him for the creation of a non-secular State, and the present provisions should satisfy other religious communities, although there is this mention of the State religion." - Mr Graham Page (Crosby).

The Reid Commission later, in its proposal remarked at paragraph 57 as follows:

"There has been included in the proposed Federal Constitution a declaration that Islam is the religion of the Federation. This will in no way affect the present position of the Federation as a secular State, and every person will have the right to profess and practice his own religion and the right to propagate his religion, though this last right is subject to any restrictions imposed by State law relating to the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the Muslim religion."

Apart from that, we also have judicial pronouncements by our Courts on the matter.

Zul Noordin is a practising lawyer. I would therefore presume that he knows his law. May I bring his attention to what Tun Salleh Abas said in Che Omar bin Che Soh v. PP [1999] 2 CLJ 780;

"For example, the establishment of the Federated Malay States in 1895, with the subsequent establishment of the Council of States and other constitutional developments, further resulted in the weakening of the ruler's plenary power to such an extent that Islam in its public aspect had become nothing more than a mere appendix to the ruler's sovereignty. Because of this, only laws relating to family and inheritance were left to be administered and even this was not considered by the court to have territorial application binding all persons irrespective of religion and race living in the state. The law was only applicable to Muslims as their personal law. Thus, it can be seen that during the British colonial period, through their system of indirect rule and establishment of secular institutions, Islamic law was rendered isolated in a narrow confinement of the law of marriage, divorce, and inheritance only.

In our view, it is in this sense of dichotomy that the framers of the Constitution understood the meaning of the word 'Islam' in the context of Article 3. If it had been otherwise, there would have been another provision in the Constitution which would have the effect that any law contrary to the injunction of Islam will be void. Far from making such provision, Article 162, on the other hand, purposely preserves the continuity of secular law prior to the Constitution, unless such law is contrary to the latter."

Later, Justice Dato' Gopal Sri Ram, in Saravanan Thangathoray v Subshini and Another [2007] 2 CLJ 451, after  referring to the above passage said:

"It follows from the dichotomous approach adverted to by Lord President Salleh Abas that our Constitutional jurisprudence is secular..."

The position is very clear. Malaysia is a secular country. It is not an Islamic state. The Reid Commission said it. The British Parliament in its debate said it. Our Courts said it. Which part of the word "secular" does Zul Noordin have problem of understanding?

Now, accepting that that is what the Federal Constitution provides, would it be too far fetched to say that all of us reasonable minded Malaysians would want this country to remain what it is?

If so, why is Zul Noordin and some high priests in PAS so enthusiastic in pursuing this Islamic state agenda? And why, for heaven sake hasn't PKR done anything to this guy?

Lame, if you asked me!

Friday, October 23, 2009

2 Squats for the Price of One*

* By The Irate Brahmin

The Irate Brahmin is a religious man whose sister had managed to do what most sane men would not want to do, namely, shake hand with Condoleza Rice. Being a Brahmin and all, he is a religious man. By that I mean he does a couple of things religiously, like drinking 2 pints of Kilkenny to wash down the usual 2 half-boiled eggs and sausages in the morning. He loves preparing breakfast and has been perfecting what he calls the "Brahmin Breakfast" for the past 10 years or so. May he soon succeed at serving one.

I write in response to Art Harun’s 1 Squat piece. As an Indian, I have to say that I am deeply offended.

Art seems to suggest that the Malays in this country have a monopoly. That is a statement of historical inexactitude and frankly one that lends to him being charged for sedition.

For in the function of excrement, Indians I will vouchsafe have some experience in the outdoors. Not just in the past, as Art suggests Malays have, but in the present.

But the past is what we have to deal with first. Art places his protagonists upon two strips of plank and then mounts his argument. Tosh and bunkum I say, for planks are a modern invention for those unable to find firm footing, while assuming the anatomical position.

A three hour flight to Chennai and a forty minute drive from airport to hotel, will of its own demonstrate the gymnastic ability of many Indians to not just spread legs, but manage sarong when conducting ablutions. No planks needed, these chaps do it in a different terrain every day. They are the commandos of public excrement.

Which brings us to Art’s demands upon our legislature. Pained as they are, especially when constipation must strike a certain portion of users of his proposed facilities, the legislation he demands is unconstitutional. It prefers one part of society or social group, over another, and that has to be wrong.

Shortly put, assuming the position is an individual right, plank or no plank, placing bottom within spitting distance of receptacle is a basic right of man. Some may have a greater historical entitlement to legal protection, and if that is the case (and I remain unconvinced), in my mind Indians stake the greatest claim.

And that claim comes about in two ways : first what my dearest uncle, who grew up in a small Indian village spoke to me of. He is now a retired doctor in England, but as we drove through southern India one year he recounted how as a little boy of 5 years old, he awoke every morning and sped to the nearest field with two of his cousins to attend to the morning’s business.

They would find a spot uninhabited by the previous day’s endeavours of the bowel and sit in a row in the open. Calculations of where one sat was a serious matter, distance a necessity, but not so that they could not communicate. Distance, because flies descended fast upon the pie first laid, but communication so that you could have an open air chat about the day ahead. It was, in any way you looked at it, a social occasion.

So Art, I beg to differ and stake the Indian claim to a constitutional right of protection for our manner of toilet.

But, if that is not enough, our claim is enforced by what we are told is our continued representation by the MIC. When our forefathers came to this country and fought for independence as fiercely as any other race, they accepted that the political reality was that we would have to be represented by a political party that advocated race and an understanding between them. But there were giants amongst them, those that also understood that one day that would have to change.

We are beyond that today, but the MIC, and most curiously the man who has been thumped by constituency and nation, continues to tell us that he and he alone knows what is best for Indians. Perplexing is the mildest of descriptions of the process of his thinking: incredulity if the reality.

Which gives us Indians, Mr Art, the golden key to the national toilet, and all claims to constitutional protection.

I look forward to seeing you perched, uncomfortably upon the future of true individual and not racial representation in this country sir, and you will forgive me I know, if I take from you, the constitutional and penal rights to the chamber pot that is current Indian politics.

Upon our squats in the future, I look forward to a communal chat about the way we go forward, with the odd backhand to deter the fly.

And finally of course, can I congratulate you for bringing that most priceless sense of all humour into writing : the toilet. We must exchange notes very, very soon on flatulence.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1 Squat Toilet

The Malays do their big business in the toilet by squatting on two pieces of whatever is available. In modern times, these toilets are called squat toilets. That is, I believe, the accepted Malay custom when it comes to the act of releasing one's excrement.

Nowadays, I am appalled by the fact that many Malays have abandoned this custom. They have now opted for sitting toilet where they would sit on the toilet seat and do their big business. This is so not Malay enough.

I am even more appalled that hotels, restaurants, shopping complexes, office complexes, air-planes, buses and whatever have seen it fit to do away with squat toilets. This robs me and other Malays - and even the non-Malays - from practicing the Malay custom. If nobody could practice the Malay custom in its entirety anymore I am afraid there wouldn't be any Malay left in this 1 Malaysia. The Federal Constitution defines a Malay as someone who, among others, practices the Malay custom. So, without being able to do my big business on a squat toilet, I wouldn't be able to practice the Malay custom. And I am afraid I would become a non-Malay under our Federal Constitution because of that.

I am appalled.

I am therefore proposing that a law be enacted pronto to address this problem. Doing business on a squat toilet must be made compulsory to all and sundry, especially the Malays. Anybody who is caught sitting on the toilet seat while poo-ing shall be guilty of an offence. Anybody who is found guilty of that offence shall be subject to a fine of RM50000.00, imprisonment of not more than 5 years and 6 lashes on his or her bare buttock.

All buildings, be it shopping complexes, office suites, hotels or whatever and all vehicles, be it air-planes, - whether normal fare or cheap fare - trains, express buses, ships, submarines etcetera shall be absolutely required to have squat toilets in the ratio of 30:70, namely, 30% sitting toilets to 70% squat toilet.

If not, the building or vehicle owner shall be guilty of an offence which is punishable by a fine of RM100000.00 per toilet and an imprisonment of 50 years per toilet and 12 lashes.

Meanwhile, Imams, or their assistants, with the help of RELA members or members of any resident association are legally permitted to, without warrant, break into any premises, or stop any vehicle or break into them, public or private, regardless of the time of the day, to inspect whether there are sufficient squat toilet in that premises or vehicles or whether any Malay person is poo-poo-ing on a sitting toilet or otherwise therein. These people shall have the power to arrest. They also may use force to carry out their duty as such. It shall be within their absolute discretion as to the intensity of the force or what force to use.

I hope with this proposal, a very important part of the Malay culture and custom shall be preserved. After all, in Slovakia, anybody who does not poo-poo under a tree - which is their custom - is guilty of an offence. So, what others do, we must do too. No matter what. Otherwise, we would be left out.

Let's work together towards 1 Malaysia, 1 Culture, 1 Custom, 1 Stupidity.

And 1 Bongkumness.

For further information, please read the Star and the Malay Mail.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Dipawali

To all Malaysians of the Hindu faith may I wish all of you Happy Dipawali. May Rama continue to triumph in everybody's heart. To all other Malaysians, have a good long weekend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sebat, rotan, caning, whipping...yes, we love them so much!

I remember sometime ago, our then Education Minister had wanted to allow the people from the prison department to go on a road show to all our schools to provide a demonstration on how criminals are whipped under our law.

Now we also have a seminar (in Putrajaya no less) of how caning is to be carried out complete with a comparison between caning under Syariah law and under civil law.

What's next? A demonstration on how hanging is done? Oh, how about erecting a see through prison cell and putting it at shopping complexes with real criminals in it so that people could see how a prison sentence is served?

Please watch  the  following.

Warning: not for the faint hearted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yang Arif Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy

Remember him, anybody?

He was the brave, honest and conscientious High Court  Judge at the Shah Alam High Court who heard our application for habeas corpus or the release of Raja Petra Kamaruddin last year. Many of you would remember that he created history by ordering the release of RPK from his ISA detention.

In a landmark case, he changed the law on the ISA. He was the first to hold that even though the ISA prohibits the Court from questioning the reason proffered by the Home Minister in detaining a person under the ISA - in short the Home Minister may do anything he likes under the ISA - the Court could still look into whether the Home Minister had committed a "jurisdictional error" in exercising his powers as such.

By so ruling, Yang Arif Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy changed the law. Effectively, it is now the law that the Court may look into whether the Home Minister had correctly invoked his powers under the ISA.

It was a brave and brilliant decision which distinguish many other decisions made before, even by higher Courts.

Many people wondered what will happen to His Lordship, rightly or wrongly.

I am happy to report that today, His Lordship has been elevated as a Judge of the Court of Appeal, the second highest Court in the land. His Lordship receives his appointment letter from His Highness the Yang di Pertuan Agong today, report the Star newspaper.

Congratulations to him. May he continue to be blessed with the clarity of mind, good health and the conscience to continue dispensing justice and be a shining  example of the kind of  person who should occupy the seat of justice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

faux PAS @ bagan pinang

If politics is the art of convincing people to follow one's beliefs, ideologies and principles, than the Bagan Pinang by-election should teach PAS, and the Pakatan Rakyat, some basic things in politics.

Allow me to firstly tell what happened to me some 4 years ago in London.  I was walking along Old Bond Street, pushing a pram with my daughter inside. From about 10 meters away, a Malay man, followed by 3 other men, rushed towards me. He gave me a warm "hello, apa khabar" greeting and extended his hand to "bersalam" with me. He then introduced me to his 3 friends. We chatted for a while. He later pinched my daughter's cheek before saying he had to move on as he could not really stand still for too long in the cold winter. He then said bye-bye with a smile and left.

The thing was, I did not even know who he was. We haven't met before. And yet he was so friendly. It was as if making friends out of a total stranger was second nature to him.

What has this got to do with Bagan Pinang? Well, that man was Tan Sri Isa, the victor in the recently concluded by-election. It was so clear from the start that he was such a personable man and well liked by the folks in Bagan Pinang. His character alone was sufficient to win the state seat for the Barisan Nasional.

When a local boy with such personable character is put down as a candidate, it would always be a mountain to climb for PAS and the Pakatan Rakyat. Added to that the mighty machines of the BN;  the mainstream mass media controlled by the BN and the various authorities who were more than a little bit bias towards the BN all the time; the lopsided application of rules and regulations by the authorities (the BN could campaign in the army camp while the opposition could not, for example)  and the number of postal voters in the area, the odds were heavily stacked against the opposition from the word go. Never mind that everybody knows what the good Tan Sri had done last summer. Or every summer for that matter. The folks are not going to be swayed by some "technical matters".

Permatang Pauh had shown that when facing  a popular and charismatic local boy, the opponent should not go about town ridiculing the local boy. Or bad mouthing him. That is like you coming to my house to tell me that my son is a corrupt man or that he was a sodomite. If you did not get a tight slap from me, you would be lucky. Unfortunately, the BN was given a really tight slap in Permatang Pauh. And now PAS had its derriere  kicked for doing exactly the same thing.

The Pakatan Rakyat has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with in the general election last year as well as the many by-elections it had won. But it has yet to show the people that the motley crew that it consists are capable of working together as a viable alternative federal government.

It bears aspiration to win the next general election. All good and well. However, if the Pakatan Rakyat is devoid of any common stand on the fundamental issues, the people are going to see the Pakatan Rakyat as a marriage of convenience and nothing more. It is on this front - where a coalition is judged by the perception of the people - that the PR's Achilles heel lies.

The seemingly chaotic ideological warfare within the PR at best reflects a progressive democratic processes and practice. At worst, it is a sign of a coalition which is devoid of any sort of basic aims and goals. In Pakatan Rakyat, this ideological differences are on a different plane altogether.

PAS made a promise by joining the PR and its election manifesto. This is admitted even by YB Khalid Samad, a PAS stalwart himself. However, there are people within that party who have deliberately gone against that very promise. The radical and "fundamentalistic" stance taken by PAS in recent times have served ammunition to the BN, particularly UMNO.

The non-Muslim voters are of course wary of PAS' pragmatist approach towards the country's socio-political landscape. And not without substantial reasons too. The beer issue in Shah Alam. The Michael Learns To Rock issue after that. Than recently, the Beyonce concert issue. Then we have Hassan Ali establishing a moral police force with the power to arrest in Shah Alam. He then even questioned the Selcat, which was a state legislative machinery established by the Pakatan Rakyat government itself! These are but instances where PAS had opened its mouth wide to show its fangs to the absolute horror of the non-Muslims - and Muslims alike - in this country.

Added to that, the not too discreet "khalwat" between PAS and UMNO under the pretext of a "unity government" is a bitter dish which has to be swallowed by thousands, if not millions, of voters who had voted for PAS in the belief and trust that PAS was a permanent part of a coalition which was going to oppose the BN and UMNO, not to work with them. 

The result of all these self defeatist posturing by PAS is there for all of us to see. The non-Malays have shunned PAS in Bagan Pinang. The Malays themselves, have not really warmed up to PAS save for some hardcore PAS members in the area.  The fence-seaters jumped to the BN side of the fence. It was nothing short of a debacle.

So what is what in PAS? Which is which? What does PAS stand for? What is PAS fighting for? What? Those are the questions which the PAS has to answer. Those are the questions which the PR has to answer too if it has serious ambition of ruling this country. Added to that the PR must also deal with the theatrics of MPs like Zulkifli Noordin, who have proven time and time again, to be a trigger happy lone ranger on a rampage. The people expect the PR to settle all these issues once and for all. Lest political boredom would set in and the people might get numbed and go into a deep political slumber of the 70s, 80s and 90s The PR could then kiss its ambition a long goodbye.

In Bagan Pinang, sources from within the PR told me that PAS was almost going it alone. From the start PAS had disagreed with the choice of the candidate. The advice by the MP for Teluk Kemang, PKR's Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas that a local boy should be fielded was not followed by PAS.

During the campaign period, the focus of PAS machinery was to discredit Tan Sri Isa by, among others, reminding the people of what he did in UMNO and highlighting the projects which he had apparently abandoned when he was the Menteri Besar. That obviously did not work. Hence the seemingly chaotic and unfocussed campaigns run by PAS.

The only momentum gained by PAS was when Tok Guru Nik Aziz and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim came to town. PAS should really look at itself in the mirror why these two persons are really liked by the crowd. Is it any wonder why? The spiritual leader of PAS is well liked by all and sundry, Muslims and non-Muslims because he makes sense all the time. So is the case with DSAI. If PAS could stick to the PR's agenda, all the time, surely it would win the crowd all the time.

However, sadly, that is not the case.

It is obvious that an opposition coalition is a viable alternative to the BN. The 2008 momentum must be maintained if ever the BN is going to be shaken off its pedestal and if the country wanted to see a 2 party system at work.  However, the political blueprint of the coalition must be prepared and agreed upon by all the players.

It is time that the PR sit down together and solve the differences of ideologies within its organisation. A common stand on fundamental issues must be agreed upon. There must also be an irrevocable undertaking by the players to conform at all time with the blueprint as and when it is ready. Any players, individual or in group, who deliberately go astray should be dealt with promptly, and severely.

Once and for all, PAS, DAP and PKR must be asked, "are you with the PR or not?" If so, you are in. If not, well, you are out.

Otherwise, Bagan Pinang could be the start of the demise of the Pakatan Rakyat.

1 Story - an update

I received information from Dato' Marina regarding the matter. To be fair to the police, I feel I should publish this update.

The couple involved had approached the Malay Mail with their story. The Malay Mail then arranged an interview with the Selangor CPO. The latter called the couple and apologised to them. He also promised that action will be taken on their report.

Let's hope the culprit would be caught and brought to Court in the not too distant a future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

1 Story

The following is an e mail which was forwarded to me by Dato' Marina Mahathir. I have obtained her permission to reproduce it here in its entirety. I do not wish to add or subtract anything. I have however deleted the identity of the Inspector involved as I do not want anybody to be accused of character assassination.

I must hasten to add that I have not verified the story related in the e mail although I must say I do not have any reason to believe that the writer was just making it up.

I hope the authority would really look into this matter. If what is said is true, it would be obvious that the situation is getting dire.


"Hi Marina,

This is M.

I'm sorry to be emailing you like this out of the blue, but an incident happened last week and I do not know who to turn to.

Last Friday, as my husband, my 5 month old daughter and I were entering the gate of our house at Kota Damansara, we were robbed by four men on two bikes. Two of them had parangs. One of them held it to my neck as he molested me, and the other one took our wallets, phones, my necklace and my husband's watch. After they got our stuff, they both molested me. When my husband pushed their hands away, they cut his head with their parang and left. K suffered a deep wound, but he is ok now and so is our daughter.

But the purpose of this email is to tell you what happened after. My neighbour called the police. The person who answered the phone said, "balai ni tak boleh handle kes to, awak kena call balai lain". My neighbour made another call and the cops came - after 45 minutes. When they got here, they got out of the car, looked at us and said, "pergi balai buat report". We then went straight to the balai at Kota Damansara, and as my husband sat there bleeding, the officer behind the counter took an hour to take our report - all the while because he was watching wrestling on tv. My husband managed to get the plate number of one of the bikes (either WSP8724 or WSP7824) - one was a Kriss Modenas and the other was a EX5. When we gave the number plate to the police (written on a scrap of paper), he looked at it and RETURNED it to us. He didn't even include it in the report. He also did not include the fact that I was molested. We only noticed these after we had calmed down somewhat. He then gave us the name of an inspector (Inspector X  of Mutiara Damansara branch) to call - but didn't include the phone number. At that time, we were too much in shock and in pain to notice. We waited a couple of days for the Inspector to call us, but he didn't.

Within this time, my husband did his own police work. This group of guys do a lot of crime around here. A week before we were robbed, a Bangladeshi man was robbed in the park beside our house - by men on the same two bikes. Yesterday, two girls were harassed and molested in the park by the same people. The neighbour opposite had his friend robbed at parang point as he waited outside his house. Another neighbour opposite owns a Petronas behind our house. Three days ago, his station was robbed by four men on two bikes with parangs. The guys are going rampant because the police do nothing!

Today, I managed to get the number of Inspector X. When I called him, he said, "kes samun mana ni? banyak sangat kes samun la."

I told him the report was made last week but nobody called us. I also said the guys were spotted yesterday. He said, "hmmm, kena tunggu la. saya tengah cuti ni." I asked, "sampai bila?" he replied, "sampai khamis depan kot". I asked him what we were supposed to do in the meantime, and he said "nombor plate ada tak?". I said yes. He asked, "dah ada suspect ke belum?". I told him that was his job. He said, "ah, awak cuba dapatkan alamat diorang, lepas tu call saya. tapi lepas cuti la".

The residents here are getting nervous and as you can see, the police are no help at all. Today, they were hanging around my neighbour's house. When the makcik asked them, "nak apa?" they said, "nak beraya". And rode off laughing.

Once again I am so sorry to send you such a long email, but I was hoping you knew anyone in the police force who WILL help us. The residents here have bought their own arms because they are so afraid. And I am so afraid for my family's safety - having a 5 month old baby in the house. Also my mother lives in the street behind me. I hope you can refer me to someone who will not treat this as just another case.
Hope you are well, and best regards.


End quote

Friday, October 09, 2009

Give me the Nay - Kahlil Gibran

I have always observed that to most of us, being religious is more important than embracing the spiritual aspect of our faith. Being religious after all only entails ritualistic observance of whatever is decreed by our faith.

And so, the Muslims fast and we pray and we pay zakat. And the Christians would go to the church on Sundays and wear a necklace with a cross pendant. The Hindus would swim in Ganges river and break coconuts in the morning before going to work. And so on and so forth.

What our faith brings us is the least of our concern. What our ritualistic observance turns us into does not matter. As long as we perform the rituals religiously, we are after all, religious. And God asks us to be religious.

Or does He?

I have always related this story to my friends. And I am going to tell it here. And let me preface it with a statement. I am not telling this story to insult or to belittle Christianity or Christians.

I used to live near one of the most active churches - if not THE most active and wealthy - in Kuala Lumpur. I have no qualm with that. That church was very active. They organised speeches and sermons almost every other night. The church goers were known to donate up to 15% of their monthly income to that church. And every time they did that, the place would be full of cars, parked everywhere.

Many drivers of the cars would try and make a 3 point turn in front of my house. That was okay by me. But out of 10, 1 or 2 would invariably knock on my gate. Of course it was unintentional. My gate lock would be bent. I had to repair that lock many times. And then the next week it would happen again.

In all the 6 years I was there, this happened many many times. However, there wasn't a single person who had stopped to ring my bell to say sorry. Nor anyone who left a note to say so. It was a small matter to me. And it was not a big deal to me.

But the thing that bothered me was this. It would appear that all the nightly sermons and speeches and all the monthly donations had done nothing to improve common courtesy among all those who had knocked my gate. And sometimes I pondered have we all ever thought what all this religiosity had done to us? Has it made us any better?

And now, at the current moment in this country, we have people who shout and scream about jihad this and jihad that. About caning a woman. About shutting up people who dare to question. About throwing the Sedition Act against some parties who are just raising awareness. What has happened to all of us? To our faith? Is our faith just about ritualistic observance of some rules and regulations?

Sometime I think we are living in a very unforgiving society. Do we blame teenaged girls for abandoning their babies in a drain at the back of a school? Or even killing their babies? In a moment of lust, they could have succumbed to human temptation and they are pregnant.

What do they do? Tell their pious father and mother about it? What would happen? They would be chased away from home? Or caned? Or even kicked and ridiculed by the whole neighborhood? Nowhere they could go without being talked about or whispered about. Oh she is so immoral! Look at her. That young immoral slut! And what will happen to the baby when he or she is born? Bastard child! Anak haram. That's what he or she is. He or she can't even have his or her father's name on his or her birth certificate. That is how unforgiving all of us are. How cruel we are. How nasty we are.

And what choice is left for the teenaged girl other than to hide the pregnancy and suffer alone. And what could she do to avoid the ignominy of being stamped "immoral and unwanted"? Are we surprised then to see so many babies are abandoned or even killed? Does our faith implore us to be such creatures?

How often do we pray for forgiveness when in fact we are unable to forgive? Why do we seek compassion when we ourselves are unable to be compassionate? Have we ever ever prayed for love? Why would we seek mercy when we are, as human beings, merciless?

Take the Palestinian issue. When the Israelis were bombing Palestine some time ago, there were text messages and e mails going around asking Muslims to pray for the destruction of Israel. And for the Jews be killed. We shed tears when we see a Palestinian mother wailing away holding her dead toddler covered with blood on the face in front of a crumbled house. And then we pray for all Jews to be killed. How about the innocent ones? How about their children? Do we laugh and smirk in satisfaction if we look at a picture of a Jewish mother wailing while holding her dead toddler? Is that okay just because that child is Jewish? Where do we go from here?

Has our faith taught us to be heartless, cruel, cold and vicious? The God that we worship and pray to is the Most Compassionate and Merciful. And yet we, His followers are the exact opposite.

What has happened to justice and fairness? Why is it wrong has become right and right has become wrong? Has our faith taught us to forgive some and punish others? Or has our God blinded us because He is tired of our antics?

Perhaps, when Kahlil Gibran wrote "Give me the Nay", he was referring to us in Malaysia now. Perhaps he had a vision of what was going to happen here now. And he wrote:

"With man, religion is a field
Tilled only by those who sow it with selfish
prayers –
whether preachers hoping for eternal happiness
or ignorant men who fear the flames of hell.
Without the penalty of Judgement
Man would not have worshipped any Lord
And without the promise of reward he would
have blasphemed,
as though religion were a business matter
devotion to its cause will bring him gain;
neglect, loss.

In the forest there is no religion,
no hideous blasphemies;
for when the nightingale sings
he is not saying: ‘This is just.’
The religion of man appears
like a shadow, then disappears.
After God and the Messiah
there is no religion on earth.

Give me the nay and sing,
for song is the pearl of prayers;
the laments of the nay will reach
far beyond the fading of Life.

If they heard talk of it, justice on earth would
make the jinn weep;
and if they could see it, the dead would laugh.
For those who commit a misdemeanour are
reserved prison and death;
and those who commit great crimes earn
prosperity and fame.
The man who steals the flower is censured and
while he who robs the fields is a daring and
fearsome hero.
He who murders the body is condemned to
while he who murders the soul remains
unknown to all.

In the forest there is no justice,
nor even punishment.
When the willow’s shade lengthens over the ground,
the cypress does not say: ‘What sacrilege!’
The justice of man is like snow –
once the sun sees it, it melts.

Give me the nay and sing,
For song is the justice of hearts;
the laments of the nay will endure
far beyond the ending of sin."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Civil Service and Politics

Each day I continue to be confounded - and not to mention, amused - by statements issued by people in the mass media. It has come to a stage where I am beginning to seriously doubt my mental well being.

Is it me who has become a cranky old man? Is there a conspiracy amongst men in black robe, yellow trousers and torn Pagoda singlet, whispering in the darkness of night while seated at a round table in a dungeon somewhere to confound me every morning? Or has our public forum been full of various innovative new concepts which challenge the old, established and soon-to-be outdated concepts as understood by oldies like me?

Consider the report in the Star today (6th October 2009) titled "PAS is a desperate party, says Hisham." While the report made reference to Minister Hishamuddin questioning the act of quoting the Quran by a non-Muslim who "does not understand Islam", it also cited statements attributed to Tan Sri Isa Samad and Cuepacs' Chairman, Omar Osman.

To Minister Hishamuddin, I only would like to say, with respect, that applying his reasoning, there are many Muslims who should be banned from citing Quranic verses too, particularly those who  cite the Quran for their own political mileage. Added to that are  those Muslims who only cite and cite the Quran at a drop of the proverbial hat and when the situation demands that they do so while deep inside they care not whether what they are doing is in accordance with God's wishes or otherwise. These are the hypocrites!

Having said that, the following is what which has confounded me :

"In Port Dickson, Barisan candidate Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad said civil servants who denounced the coalition was condemning themselves.

He explained that politicians were democratically elected as their leaders, and thus civil servants would need to work as a team with the politicians to ensure that the national administration runs smoothly.

“You should know that you are part of the Government,” he said.

“You don’t condemn policies that you yourselves have helped implement. You are also the ones who reaped the benefits brought on by the Barisan leadership,” he said at a Hari Raya gathering organised by the Defence Ministry and armed forces civil service employee unions of Negri Sembilan.

Cuepacs chairman Omar Osman, who was present, called on civil servants to show their undivided loyalty to Barisan by voting for Isa.

“Continuity is important and being a former Mentri Besar who knows the civil servants here, Isa is the right candidate who knows the needs of the people in Bagan Pinang,” Omar said."

It is getting a bit tiring for me to be moved to write about something as basic as "ABC" or in Arabic, "Alif, Ba, Ta". We have achieved independence from the evil colonialist for more than 52 years.  We have submarines. We have a F1 team. We have scaled biotechnological advancement at such an alarming pace. We have sent our  Angkasa1 to do stupendous experiments with teh tariks, roti canai and giant tops in space. But back on earth, we do not even understand the basic concept of a democratic government and administration. Houston, we have a problem, quite obviously.

In our system of administration, the Government, first and foremost, consists of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. These positions are filled by politicians who are elected in a general election. There are many reasons why these politicians are elected.

The people may elect them because they are good looking. Or perhaps they are charming. Or because they speak well. Even because they pay the people to vote for them. And of course, sometimes they are elected because the people genuinely believe that these politicians can actually work for the benefit of the nation. It goes without saying therefore that in actuality, the fact that the politicians are elected does not necessarily mean that they are the most qualified people to hold a political office.

The Prime Minister and his cabinet govern the country. They make policies. They decide to implement the policies. They set the targets. They prepare and allocate the budget for every plan that they have. And the system requires and expects them to act in a fiduciary manner, namely, all their actions are done with the best interest of the nation in mind.

How do they implement all these plans? Who actually crystallises the plans into action?  Here comes the civil service and the civil servants. They are the machinery of the Government. They are the doers. Sometimes they provide inputs to the Government in formulating policies. Some other time they suggest changes to the plans. But most of the time they implement what the Government has, as a matter of policy, decided to do.

Herman Finer, the political scientist, defines civil service as a "professional body of officials, paid and skilled." They constitute the permanent executive in a modern state. Finer classified the British Civil Service into 3 broad categories, namely,

  1. administrative - those who help in policy formulation and execution.
  2. technical - those who carry out technical and specialised works such as the doctors, lawyers, economists, scientists and engineers.
  3. manipulative - those who just carry out orders given by officers in the above 2 categories.  

(source: Public Administration: Concepts and Theories by Rumki Basu)

In contrast to the Prime Minister and his cabinet, the civil service, being a "professional body of officials, paid and skilled" is a permanent body. It does not change every 5 years or so. Government may change, according to the will of the people expressed through a general election. But the civil service stays. All its officers stay. Their work continues regardless of whom or from which party the Government of the day is.

As the civil service is supposed to be professional and skilled, it goes without saying that it must be filled by people who are qualified for the job. There is no election to fill in vacancies. Jobs are applied for. Candidates are interviewed. The civil servants are chosen from the candidates with the best qualification and in some instances, experience which is required of the job. That is in theory. In practice however, there may be instances of abuse where candidates of certain race, religion, creed or breed who got the job instead of the qualified ones. But I will leave that for another article.

So, the civil service is filled with qualified people. These people are paid by the Government from the taxes collected from the people. The civil servants are therefore officers of the Government who work for the Government in implementing and executing the Government's plans and policies. If they don't work they could be charged before a disciplinary committee and dismissed. If they misbehave, the same thing could be done.

In current age, the public has high expectations of the civil service. If they fail or perceived to fail, the public can complain. Law suits may be brought against them. The Government itself may question them. The civil service is accountable for whatever they do. They do not exist in a vacuum or in their own impenetrable world.

That is essentially, what the civil service is all about.

Now. Must the civil service be obedient to the Government of the day? Yes, they should. Because the Government is their master. And they are supposed to do whatever the Government wants them to do in respect of the Government's plans and policies. However, they must be obedient in so far as their wok requires them to be so. If they are asked to do things which are improper or illegal, then they should not be obedient. They are subject to the law, just as the Government is.

Must the civil service be loyal to the Government? Well, yes and no. In fact this is not an easy question to answer. Let me explain.

They should only be loyal and faithful to the Government as far as their job requires them to be so. If a proper administrative direction is given by the Government, they should loyally and faithfully execute that direction. They should not refuse just because they belong to an opposition party, for instance. They should not refuse to do the job because their personal faith is not agreeable with the job which they are asked to do. They also cannot refuse to do something just because they think that to do it would be repugnant to their moral standard.

For example, let’s say Haji Mohd Adam, a pious man is a licensing officer. He is in charge of issuing licenses for business premises. Let’s say the Government approves the erection of a casino in his area. Haji Mohd Adam must issue the casino license even though he believes gambling is haram because of his Islamic faith.

The civil service must be loyal and faithful to the Government in that sense.

But must they be ever loyal and faithful to the Government of the day to the extent of subscribing to the political beliefs and ideologies of the Government of the day to the exclusion of others? The answer is definitely in the negative.

The concept of continuity of the civil service does not mean the civil service and the civil servants must continuously support and vote for the ruling party in every general election. That is a mischievous statement to make. That is in fact a threat.

That concept simply means that the civil service must exist continually in order to carry out its function even though the Government changes hand after a general election. It is like in Selangor, for example. After March 8 last year, the state civil service continues to exist. But of course, it now has a new master, ie the Pakatan Rakyat Government, instead of the old Barisan Nasional Government.

There is no doubt that the civil service, to a certain extent, is political in nature. That is because the ministers from whom they take orders are politicians. Their policies may therefore be politically driven. The policies are debated politically in the Parliament. Even the civil servants themselves are sometime politically inclined. That cannot be denied.

However, that should be the limit of politics in the civil service. The civil service and civil servants must remember that they do not serve any political party. They serve the Government of the day. They are the instrument of the Government, and not the ruling political party, to quote a paper by the British Civil Service Commissioners.

The paper says:

"This is generally understood by Government and by the Opposition, who must also believe that the Civil Service will serve them, when elected. The maintenance of this trust places constraints on what civil servants may be asked to do by their current ministers. For example, presenting Government policy in the best possible light while sticking to the facts. And it would be harder to maintain that trust if the Service engaged in writing material openly critical of the Opposition and their policies. It also places restrictions on the political activities in which civil servants may engage in their private life."  (emphasis is mine).

The civil service, despite all its close connection to politics and the Government of the day, must therefore maintain its impartiality. Despite its required loyalty to the Government, this impartiality is required for a smooth transition in the event there is a change of Government.

That is, in a nutshell, the correlation between the civil service - and civil servants - and politics.

It is therefore, with respect, not for Tan Sri Isa Samad to implore and urge the civil servant not to "condemn" the Government policies because they are part of it. And with respect too, it is wrong and highly undemocratic as well as unconstitutional for the Cuepacs Chairman to ask the civil servants "to show their undivided loyalty to Barisan by voting for Isa." That is just unacceptable in a democracy.

As for Tan Sri Isa's statement that the civil servants have reaped the benefits brought by the Barisan leadership, I wonder what benefits the good Tan Sri was referring to. Does it mean all their salaries? Or the good life which the Government has provided? Well, if it was the former, that is the civil servants' right, not benefit. If it was the later, why must they be thankful? It is the duty of any Government to provide a good life to all the people.

I find all these you-should-be-thankful stuffs repulsive. That is because, really, we should not be thankful. We should ask for more. We are the consumers. Should we be thankful to ASTRO or Maxis or whatever? We should shout and scream for a better service all the time.

It is similar with the Government.

Monday, October 05, 2009

1 Duck

When I read this report, I laughed. And then, I cried.

First, the report says,

"We are not like a lame duck wanting somebody to carry us and I believe that we must collaborate with our strengths. The impression that Proton is dying and it needs a partner, it's not the case," said Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh".

Then, it says,

" Group managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir said that Proton's strengths include its brand, government support and its location in Southeast Asia."

I thought funny statements, especially on Mondays, are within the sole and exclusive purview of politicians nowadays? No? Like there are bad guilt and there are good guilt. Or a certain dictator saying I will step down but only when my assistant is ready to take over. LOL!! Things like that. But no, I was wrong. Corporate figures are also learning fast. And they are not far behind, quite obviously.

Since when have government support to a company in terms of yearly grants, tax exemptions, preferential treatments and moving the goal posts to make life really difficult for competitors become  the company's strength? If at all, isn't such support a sign of weakness? Isn't it a crutch to help the company walk like everybody else?

And what will happen when the crutch is taken away? What will the company be? Featherless duck? Sitting duck? Headless duck?

Now we have a "technical collaboration talks with Renault" for a possible joint development of a new Perdana engine. How many technical collaboration must there be? What happened to Mitsubishi? Or the famed Lotus 1.6 litre engine which could behave like a 2 litre engine?

Oh, by the way, what has happened to the TUV audit on Proton Savvy? It was such a big hoo haa before. Is it still being done? Or has it been discontinued? If discontinued, why? Has TUV refused to pass some Savvy units? If so, why?

Rumour in the industry now says that some people are moving for Proton to be the only one which is granted "national car" status. If that is true, Inokom, Naza and Perodua would be stripped off such status. That would give Proton an advantage, not only against foreign car manufacturers, but also against Malaysian car manufacturers.

It is so Malaysia, in'it? Heard the joke about what FAM would do if they take over FIFA? Yes. They would change the rule to only allow 2 players in the opponent team to ensure Malaysia win the World Cup! Yes, yes. haven't we all heard that before. You cannot compete, you change the rule to suit you.

So what's next? Cheaper  petrol for Proton owners?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The ISA - a primitive tool for a primitive society

Let me start by quoting Saint Augustine, who said :

“In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organised robbery?”

What distinguishes a modern democracy from totalitarianism, dictatorship or the olden days absolutist rule, whether monarchical or feudalist driven, or both, is the fact that the former observes the due process of the law in its administration of justice. In fact it observes the law in every single aspect of administration.

A modern democracy also ensures that power is not centred upon a tiny little head like that of a feudal King, or a dictator or someone who had the most number of sorcerers waving their little black wand to conjure magical solutions to every stately problem. While the system vests the power to rule with the Executive, it also empowers the Parliament to make laws in order to define the limits and boundaries of the power to rule.

However, the system recognises that the Executives as well as the Parliament, are consist of human beings who of course, are possessed with the normal mortal frailties, such as greed, stupidity, irrationality, unreasonableness and even malice. The system therefore builds an internal safety mechanism.

When the power is exercised wrongly, improperly, or irregularly, the aggrieved party could question such exercise of power in the Court. The judiciary - a fully independent judiciary, if I might add - is the safety mechanism.

The above is about as basic a statement about the doctrine of separation of powers in a democratic system which I could make. I can't make it any simpler. For any reasonable man - especially a so called leader - to not understand this concept is surely a cause for concern.

Now, lets go to the crux of the matter, namely, the Internal Security Act. What is so objectionable about it? What is it that I find repugnant about it? What?

Let me put it in a very simple form. In the form of a story, from our folklore.

In Sejarah Melayu and Hikayat Hang Tuah, don't we all know what the Sultan did when he was told that Hang Tuah was having fun with one of the Sultan's concubines? The Sultan quickly sentenced him to death and asked the Bendahara to execute him. That was it. No investigation. No trial. No defence. Hang Tuah wasn't even there.

The ISA is just like that. It is the Executive having assumed the mantle of complainant, investigators, prosecutors, jury, judge and executioners. And to cap it all up, because of an amendment in our Constitution and the ISA itself, the power of our Court to review the Executive's exercise of this enormous power is restricted to the point of non-existent.

That is, in a nutshell, what I find objectionable and repugnant about the ISA. It brings us all back to the 15th century. It demolishes fair play. It redefines justice. It rearranges the social contract - and I am talking about the real social contract, not the imagined ones - by which citizens agree to be a part of the State and surrender some of their rights in exchange for societal order and benefits.

Security of the State is of course the Executive's responsibility. But security cannot be achieved at the expense of freedom and liberty of the subject. Freedom and liberty cannot be deprived without due process of the law. And due process of the law means the subject must be charged and proven to be guilty of an offence worthy of deprivation of his or her freedom and liberty. To this I must add - as I have said before - freedom and liberty iarethe cause sof democracy rather than the other way round. How could democracy than be used as a tool to deprive freedom and democracy without due process?

Then, there is this tendency to abuse this monstrous power. Consider this.

Solehan Abdul Ghafar; Alias Ngah; Zainun Ismail @ Cikgu Nan; Ahmad Posi Daman; Mohamed Lothfi Ariffin; Nik Adli Nik Abdul Aziz (Tok Guru Nik Aziz's son) and Muhammd Zulkifli Mohamad Zakaria.

Who are they? What do they have in common? They are all suspected members of Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM). And of course, coincidentally they are also PAS members. All were detained under the ISA. And not a single of them were ever charged in Court. No proof of whatsoever nature was proffered against them for what they have allegedly done.

That they belonged to an opposition party invites speculations and suspicions of political motives. Rightly or wrongly. And the failure to charge them or show any proof is a sign of absolutism mentality. We all know what happened during Operasi Lalang. Some people from the ruling parties were of course not arrested.

And how about these people?

  • Loo Pei Tu; Amir Hussain; Tan Choon Chin; Sundaraj Vijay; Khadijah Ahmad; Ho Chee Mun; Abd Rahim Jaafar; San Khaing and others. These are people alleged to have forged documents, presumably immigration documents.
  • Kamarul Fahmi Yassin and Nasib Abdullah were arrested under the ISA for allegedly spreading rumours by text messages (sms).
  • Lai Kin Choy; Lai Kee Yew; Tan Kok Seng; Yong Wai Chin; Ng See Hoo; Law Meng Keong; Tan Cheng Kiat; Lai Thin Foo; Choo Tuon Loi and others. These people were arrested under the ISA and some were detained for currency counterfeiting.

The fact that we have to resort to the ISA for the above offences is almost laughable, if not for the seriousness of the transgression against freedom and liberty perpetuated against the above named and many others.

I have stated before that Hilmi Noor was arrested under the ISA for allegedly converting to Christianity and by doing so he was accused of "disrupting the Malay culture by being a Christian!”

Lets face it. The ISA is a tool which encourages inefficiency and probably even laziness. With the advent of intelligence technological back up, we have just ourselves to blame if we are not even able to counter these offences without transgressing the people's freedom and liberty.

What about the famous process of rehabilitation at Kamunting, you may ask? That is, with respect, a fallacy. As and when the Minister feels that certain detainees present no more threat to the security of the country, the Minister releases them. They are rehabilitated. If so, may I ask why are there restrictions in their movements, what they say, to whom and the likes? Under what purview are they constrained as such if they are no more a threat to the nation's security? If their freedom needs to be curtailed under the ISA despite their release, aren't they therefore still a threat to the security of this nation? This is like the proverbial cat chasing after its own tail.

Then there is this argument that even the United Kingdom and the United States are doing it. Well, firstly, two wrongs do not make one right. Pure and simple.

Secondly, if we use the UK and the US to justify what we are doing, then why don't we do what they do in all its entirety? Why don't we scrap that illegal assembly law and permit public rally just as in the UK and the US? Why don't we stop moral policing just as in the UK and the US? Or what about caning some women for drinking a mug of beer? How about censorship? Why stop at preventive detention? While we are at it, why don't we legalise gay marriages as well?

Thirdly, how many opposition members have the UK and US government detained at Guantanamo Bay? How many journalists? How many academicians? How many activists?

Fourthly, do they really have a law which allows preventive detention indefinitely and without judicial review in the first place? Our ISA is not comparable to the Patriot Acts as well as the Terrorism Act. I have written about it here.

There is also an argument that our Court process is slow. If there is no ISA, the acts which would be done by these threats to national security would have been done before they could be convicted.

This defies logic. Will we shoot all rapists and murderers because our Court process is slow for fear that they might commit further rapes and murders before they are convicted? And since when have we become unable to speed up things in our Courts as and when we want it? And since when a system should be by-passed just because that system is imperfect? Does it not lie with us to make the system work? To make the system better and more efficient? Do we admit that we are failures and therefore we have to resort to short cuts?

How about racial sentiments? Yes, if left unchecked, these racists may just cause another 13th May. For sure. But are we saying the ISA is the answer to racism? Not education? Not a change or changes in discriminatory policies and education blue prints? Not a more realistic display of racial and religious understanding and acceptance? How about our leaders showing the way to racial and multi-faiths harmony first?

Nobody knows the exact number of those who have been incarcerated under the ISA so far. Dato' Rais Yatim while in the opposition (now the Minister of Information), is quoted by a SUARAM report to have said in his article, "Fredom Under Executive Power in Malaysia" that more than 20000 have been so arrested. SUARAM put it at 10504 arrests and 4218 detention from 1960 to 2001. Whatever it may be, the ISA gives the Executive the ability to behave like the Pharaoh and plays god. The monstrosity of the powers under the ISA far outweighs the justification used to validate its existence so much so that the people would not be at fault to fear the ISA and the government which uses it willy nilly than the mischief which the ISA was designed to avoid.

Preventive detention laws go against the crux of a democratic government and civil society. Our freedom and liberty establishe democracy. Would we want democracy then to swallow our freedom and liberty with scant regard to the laws which WE established?

I say a big NO.

Note: all data are from SUARAM Human Rights reports.