Loyal Followers

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In the PAC We Trust

That 1MDB is a crumbling house of cards is a given.

Everyday a fresh new expose would be splashed all over the internet. Of course these revelations – of the cringing kind – would not even get a second’s mention on TV3 or a line in our traditional media, but every Ahmad, his Proton and his cat, would know about them. They would discuss them. And get angry because of them.

There is a feeling of mass betrayal permeating the city. But life goes on for some.

Yesterday, no less than Bank Negara’s Governor, Tan Sri Zeti revealed that Bank Negara had received a report from the Singapore Monetary Authority about an account connected to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in BSI Bank Ltd in the republic. She of course declined to reveal the nature of the report saying that the international community would not co-operate with us if we release such information that are extended to us.

Well, I wouldn’t want to argue with that save for saying we could always ask the provider of the information whether it would be alright if we release such information on the ground of public and national interest.

However, if we tie up that news with the recent allegation that certain banking documents have been found lacking in accuracy – I am being kind here – we could than make our own guess as to the nature of the report by the Singaporean Monetary Authority.

Over the past two days, the proceedings by the Public Account Committee are much anticipated. It is thus disappointing to note that 1MDB current CEO has chosen to attend a meeting instead of attending the PAC hearing.

Apparently he said he “looked forward” to defending 1MDB before the PAC. However his action in preferring to attend a meeting abroad instead of attending the PAC meeting to defend 1MDB is contrary to him “looking forward” to doing so. I mean, if someone had been looking forward to doing something, wouldn’t he or she want to do that thing as soon as possible rather than postponing it?

The urgency of the PAC hearing can never be overly stressed. Any postponement, no matter how short, of the PAC proceedings may give rise to events or acts which may hamper a full investigation by the PAC. Documents can be lost. Data can be erased. Witnesses can be influenced or could forget, conveniently or otherwise, their testimonies. Loss of memory, momentary or otherwise, may suddenly infect them. 

The PAC is probably our last collective hope for some kind of truth regarding everything that has been happening in 1MDB. Looking at the powers that the PAC has – as well as the composition of the PAC, where a mixture of Barisan Nasional MPs and Pakatan Rakyat MPs could be found – it is only to be expected that the common people have high expectation of the PAC grilling all those who are connected with 1MDB to find out the truth.

The PAC is a creature of the Parliament, being one of the Select Committees established pursuant to nothing less than the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat. Rule 77 (1) of the Standing Orders expressly creates the PAC, whose functions, among others are to examine such accounts of public authorities and other bodies administering public funds as may be laid before the House and the prepare a report on such examination.

It is also given the power to “send for persons, papers and records, and to report from time to time”. Meaning it can summon and subpoena any person it deems necessary to appear before it for the purpose of such examination it is carrying out.

Standing Order 80A expressly gives the power to the Parliament to enquire into “any acts, matters or things as are made punishable as contempt under the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 1952, any acts or omission by any party.”

And in section 9 (a) of the aforesaid Ordinance, one of the act which constitutes contempt of the Parliament and is therefore punishable is “disobedience to any order for attendance or for production of papers, books, records, or documents made by the House or any committee duly authorized in that behalf, unless the attendance or production be excused as provided in section 19”.

Quite clearly, the PAC is equipped with the requisite powers to perform its functions and duties under the Standing Orders and the Constitution.

The PAC must remember that it may be the only viable hope to uncover the truth behind all that have been said about 1MDB.

All other investigative authorities have been infected with a sudden and complete paralysis when it comes to investigating 1MDB. In fact the police force, the MACC and Bank Negara have so far been in a coma of sorts. Quite why, we could only hazard a guess.

Being so, the PAC may be our last hope. The last hope of the people to know the truth. And probably even the last hope of 1MDB, its Board of Directors and its advisors and consultants to defend themselves.

Thus it comes as a great disappointment that the CEO’s absence has not been dealt with in a more forceful way. Nevertheless, we bow to the collective wisdom of the PAC in granting the CEO the postponement that the CEO sought.

We can just hope that the PAC would act in the best interest of the nation, without fear or favour. And I am sure YB Nurjazlan and the members of the PAC would be up to the task.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Demonising Liberalism – a mark of moderation?

I am deeply concerned with the Prime Minister’s speech while launching the Institut Wasatiyyah (Moderate) Malaysia yesterday.

How ironic is that? I mean, when you are launching an institution that is supposedly promoting moderation, you attacked liberalism? I wonder whether the Honourable Prime Minister could see how absurd the two opposite stands that he was taking. Moderation is ok. Liberalism is not.

What is more disconcerting is the fact that the Prime Minister found it wise to paint liberalism – in one instance he called it “liberalisation” – with a really broad brush. He reportedly said:

"And because of that, come those who are called liberal Muslims, the LGBT, human right champions and others…."

He then proceeded to give an “example” of liberalism (he termed it “liberalisation”) that he deemed “extreme”:

"We take the example of the student who was involved in the disgusting act in the UK recently. It has shocked us but shows that such elements (of liberalisation) exist among Muslims."

First of all, making child pornography and being in possession of 30000 child porn images with the intention of distributing them IS NOT liberalism. Nor a product of liberalisation. That is just plain sickness or mental disorder that needs to be addressed with countless hours of counselling. Liberals, liberalism or liberalisation do not advocate the breach of the law or criminal actions. Nor do they promote indecency or behaviours that are against common decency. To lump child pornography with liberalism is not only incorrect but is twisted in its logic and reason. It may also reflect a high degree of misunderstanding – or perhaps even non-understanding – of the concept of liberalism.

Second of all, “human rights champions” are not ipso facto liberals. Human rights are not premised on liberalism although admittedly liberals are staunch believers in the concept of fundamental liberties and universal human rights. Human rights are premised on humanity. On the realisation that all humans are born with certain inherent and inalienable “rights” and entitlements.

In fact, to describe that those things are “rights” may even be inaccurate. Those inherent and inalienable “things” are what give humans dignity and qualify them to be called humans in the first place. They are more than mere “rights”. They are what which distinguish humans from non-humans.

For one to say that “champions” of human rights are undesirables who need to be ostracised and stamped with the word “unwanted cretins” is tantamount to one claiming that our Federal Constitution is also undesirable. Why? That is because our Federal Constitution so expressly GUARANTEES these “rights’ which we all call “human rights”! Please read article 5 to article 13 of our Constitution on these rights.

Branding “champions’ of human rights as “liberals” who could “ruin Islam” is a clear attempt at labelling people who are just merely exercising their legitimate rights in pursuing what is guaranteed by the Constitution as undesirables and perhaps even “enemies of Islam.” How twisted can an argument be?

Liberals do not preach – and surely do not desire – a state of anarchy. They pursue freedom and liberty just as Islam and Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. did. Freeing of slaves, for example. Coincidentally, article 6 of our Constitution prohibits slavery. The Prophet also preached rights for women and is known to have elevated the status of women by giving them the rights to inheritance which was then unheard of. That is equality before the law – also guaranteed by article 8 of our Constitution. The Prophet also established a judicial system where people accused of criminal acts are granted the right to be heard and would not be punished save in accordance with the law of the time. That, coincidentally is guaranteed by article 5 of our Constitution.

Of course, over the thousands of years the messages of the Prophet and God have been interpreted and re-interpreted to suit political ends and goals. So much so we are now having difficulty to even think for ourselves on what to do; what to read’ what to listen to and who to listen to etc etc. But the basic premise of the Prophet’s teaching is freedom and liberty.

Why do we than so easily judge people who pursue whatever is legitimately guaranteed by our Federal Constitution – the very document that we so loudly say is the social contract between citizens and this State of ours?

Malaysia must be the first schizophrenic State in the world. It displays a set of behavioural patterns in the international arena – in front of the United Nation assembly and audience at Oxford University – where it is apparently a moderate State and the pursuer of a Global Movement of Moderates. But internally and in front of certain inland Islamic and Malay audiences, the same Malaysia turns into a certain Mr Hyde, who laboriously preaches moderation while doing things which are the exact opposite of moderation.

Malaysia is in dire needs of a political counselling.

Political posturing premised on the needs for political mileage and survivability is all good for political life. But political posturing should not dictate public policies which must at all times be anchored only to the best interests of the State and nothing else.

The mess that we are in now is mainly caused by the infusion of shameless posturing into the public sphere and policies.

All of us, good people of Malaysia, could only hope that this will immediately stop.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Our Collective Failure

It is not that it happens. Rather it is how brazen it is. And how blatant it is.

And to think that the perpetrators of this humongous scheme could just get away Scott-free, happily enjoying the fruits of their complicity is a sure sign of our collective failure. Failure as a people. Failure as a society. Failure as a nation.

Forget the Jho Lows of the world. Forget the advisors, the directors and the CEOs of the world. Just look at ourselves. For the fault lies with us.

For years all of us have sat down in front of our television set, sipping our teh tarik while seeing our rights being trampled and transgressed. And yet we do not see any reason why we should move our ass and do something. In short, we could not be arsed to do anything.

And why is that? That is because collectively we suffer from chronic apathy. We would not care to do anything because in our mind we asked, “Why should we?” There are always some blokes or suckers who would shout and scream; who would take up cases and argue in Courts; who would be arrested and detained overnight and sometimes for a week or two; who would go to the street and demonstrate. So why should we? It is not our fight.

Malaysians by and large are a docile peace loving people. We love our peace and tranquility. We absorb a lot. An electric train’s wheel fell off from the sky and paralysed a driver. Oh well, that fellow was unlucky. A bus sped down a hill and plunged into a ravine killing tens of passengers. An over-developed hill gave way and swallowed two blocks of apartments killing hundreds. Oh well, how sad. It is the work of God. Rainy season larrr…

That is what we are.

Until and unless our own rice bowl is hit; or our own car is scratched, we would not be arsed really.

Because that’s what we are. A lazy apathetic bunch of big fat assed creature who just don’t care. Who would cheer from afar. Who would silently pray that all the fighters – well, it is their job – would win. Who would just whine during lunch or happy hours with friends. Who would just gossip; cut and paste some memes and pass them around on whatsapp or share them on facebook.

Thousands of years ago, Aristotle posit that justice is a matter of fit. In his vision of an ideal State, people are allocated roles that suits them – the roles that enable them to realise their nature.

Corollary to that is his justification of slavery. According to him, slavery is just if it satisfies two conditions. It must be necessary and it must be natural. Arguing necessity, he said if there was no slaves how could citizens spend time in an assembly to deliberate about the good of the State and society? Slavery is thus a necessity.

But how about the 2nd condition, ie, that slavery being natural? He said slavery is natural if there were people suited by their nature to be slaves. These are people “for whom slavery is the better and just condition.”

“A man is thus by nature a slave if he is capable of becoming (and this is the reason why he also actually becomes) the property of another, and if he participates in reason to the extent of apprehending it in another, though destitute of it himself.” (The Politics, Book I).

And so here we are. All slaves.

We are slaves because slavery is the better and just condition for us.

We are slaves because we are all capable of becoming the property of others. And when we partake in reason, we only do so to the extent of trying to understand and follow the reasons of others for we do not have our own reason. Nor do we want to have any. In short, we are destitute of reason.

So, everything around us now is our own collective failure.

No one should be blamed but our own collective self.