Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Solution to the Article 11 Impasse

The Federal Constitution is flawed.

On one hand, it states that Islam is the religion of the country and that Islamic law and the Syariah Court holds sway over all matters pertaining to Islam. On the other hand the Constitution also states that all Malaysians shall enjoy the freedom to profess whatever religion they wish. The Constitution also holds itself as the highest law in the land.

Muslims feel aggrieved because of 2 things.

1. If the part regarding the freedom of religion in the Constitution is deemed to apply to Muslims, it opens the door to legal apostasy which cannot be challenged in the Syariah court.

2. The Constitution was drafted by men. The Quran, and by extension Islamic laws, descended from god. The Quran whups the Constitution, no contest.

However, that view conveniently forgets that nearly 40% of Malaysian are not Muslim. And for them, the Quran does not and must not supersede the Constitution.

But is there no possible reconciliation, like the Islamists and PEMBELA will have you believe?

NO, I believe that there is a way out. A win-win for everyone.

Let's see.

Non-Muslims are not concerned about the affairs of Muslims or the application of Islamic laws on Muslims. What they are concerned about, is when the affairs of Muslims intersect with the affairs of non-Muslims.

When that happens, the obvious result is that Muslims feel that Islamic laws and the Syariah Court should have jurisdiction - due to the simple fact that a Muslim is involved. And non-Muslims feel that the Constitution and the Federal court should have the final say - due to the equally simple fact that a non-Muslim is involved.

Herein, lies the problem.

So, instead of focusing on whether the Constitution should have precedence over Islamic law, or vice versa...



The paths of Muslims and non-Muslims converge when there is:
(a) Conversion of a non-Muslim to Muslim, and
(b) Marriage of a non-Muslim to a Muslim, which results in (a) Conversion.

So, the main issue is Conversion.

Conversions get complicated when the converts leave loose ends when they convert. For instance, what happens when a person converts but his/her non-Muslim spouse doesn't? This happens quite often when someone converts and doesn't tell their non-Muslim spouse until after the conversion. But by then, it's too late.

"If the pau's cooked, it's too late to take out the char siew" as my granddad used to say. Ok... maybe I just made that up. But let's not get bogged down.

What happens then? What happens to any kids they might have? What happens to their assets? Should the Syariah court or secular court decide on any disputes?

I think that since conversion is capable of causing so many subsequent problems if it's not done properly, the answer lies in tightening the conversion process in the first place.

For instance, currently, a person who wants to convert can do it all by his/her lonesome with the aid of the religious department. And no effort is made to ensure that the convert informs everyone connected to him/her of the consequences of the conversion; and nothing is done to ensure that he/she has made adequate arrangements to resolve those affairs concerning his/her non-Muslim spouse, children, heirs and assets.

Making sure that the convert resolves all his/her non-Muslim affairs prior to his conversion is ALL IMPORTANT.

Why? Islam is a one way ticket. Once a Muslim, there's no turning back. The punishment for apostasy is death. Due to the deathly serious repercussions of an exit from Islam (apostasy), the entry into Islam (conversion) is just as, if not more serious and must be accorded an equally definitive process.

The process of conversion must include complete legal resolution of EVERY aspect of the prospective convert's non-Muslim life where it might become a matter of secular & Islamic contention in the future. Anything less and the conversion cannot take place. Anything less must invalidate the conversion attempt!

Therefore, the answer is to compel a prospective convert to satisfactorily resolve all his/her non-Muslim affairs before conversion, for example:

  • legally divorcing his/her spouse if the spouse will not convert with him/her, and distributing their marital property according to secular law,
  • producing a written agreement between the prospective convert and the spouse as well as other logical legal guardians (like grandparents and siblings) regarding the religious status of any of their children (this point is important because if the convert dies, and his children were converted as well, they cannot be cared for in a non-Muslim home, even if those people are the children's closest living relatives, including the non-Muslim biological parent).
  • resolving in a secular court any possible future conflicts arising from property jointly owned by the convert and a non-Muslim, or any property of the convert where secular laws and Islamic laws will treat differently in the event that a non-Muslim lays claim to it (eg. heir, family, business partner etc).
And as stated earlier, no conversion is possible if these matters are not fully resolved beforehand. In the event that the religious authorities fail in their due-diligence where a conversion is accepted, but the said resolutions required for the conversion are subsequently found to be insufficient or omitted at any time in the future - the earlier conversion must be deemed to be retrospectively invalid and any disputes that arise are to be adjudicated by a secular court.

There will be no more conversions at the deathbed, no more conversions for spontaneous marriages, no more quickie conversions period. This is very consistent with upholding the sanctity of Islam as it is the best guarantee that Islam embraces converts who sincerely love the religion. The stringent pre-conversion process helps Islam weed out those who want to convert for insincere ulterior motives, and these are most likely the ones who want to leave Islam later on when things don't turn out as they planned. The results of this process also greatly reinforces one of the basic tenets of Islam which is to be fair and just in its dealings with all people, including non-Muslims.

Therefore, if we require that all possible affairs of prospective converts which entangle non-Muslims to be resolved before conversion, the effect will be that:

  • all Muslims will be subject only to Islamic laws and the Syariah Court on matters concerning religion, as is their wish. This is possible as converts will only be those who satisfy the stringent conversion requirements. Resulting in no possibility that they may become subject to the secular court.
  • all non-Muslims will be subject only to the Constitution, secular laws and courts, as is their wish. This is possible as any non-Muslims with affairs connected to converts, would have had those affairs already been resolved in a secular court before the said conversion. Resulting in no possibility that they may become subject to Islamic laws and the Syariah court.
So, everyone's happy. The Constitution is not amended and status of the secular courts confirmed. The status of Islamic laws and Syariah courts upheld. Also upheld are equal rights for non-Muslims.

Well, everyone's happy except those in the religious department, maybe. They'll have a lot more due diligence work to do, besides catching adulterers, issuing fatwas and campaigning against Kongsi Raya.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Burying one's head in the sand - RPK of

A good article by RPK, who's the editor of about Malaysia's racial/religious divide. With Article 11, Moorthy & Nona, UPM - no doubt things are hotting up. The PM's directive to stop all talk does seem like a man cornered. His Islam Hadhari seems damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. Either way, Malaysia loses.

Below's the full text but visit the original link in Malaysia-Today to read the comments, some of which I think are especially lucid.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Burying one's head in the sand
Raja Petra Kamarudin

Article 11: Stop the forums

Article 11 forums to discuss inter-faith issues must stop immediately because they are deemed to cause tension in our multi-religious society, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

The Prime Minister said the Umno supreme council had expressed its utmost concern over inter-faith issues that were being debated by Article 11, an umbrella body of 13 non-governmental organisations, through forums on Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

"If the discussions are not kept in check or contained, they are bound to raise tension in our multi-religious society. Religious issues are even more sensitive than ethnic issues," he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here yesterday. - The Star

PM tells all parties to stop discussing status of Islam

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Tuesday told all parties to stop any discussion that questioned the status of Islam as the country's official religion as provided in the Federal Constitution.

He said discussion of the issue, if not kept in check, would create a tense situation among the country's multi-racial and multi-religious people.

"The issue of religion is very sensitive, more sensitive than the issue of race, so the press should be responsible and not blow it up. - Bernama

Religious right vows to uphold status of Islam

Malaysia's religious right is preparing to fight back against what it sees as a liberal tide sweeping the judiciary and viewed as a threat to Islam's position in the country. More than 50 groups representing Muslim lawyers, clerics, professionals and students met a week ago to plan a campaign and launch legal challenges to protect Islam. They formed an umbrella body known as Pembela Islam (Defenders of Islam).

Three court cases were at the root of their unhappiness. The first was that of a Hindu widow who had unsuccessfully challenged the Islamic authorities to prove that her late husband had converted to Islam. In another case, two weeks ago, Malaysia's Federal Court ruled that three Malay boys could not wear the Islamic turban to school. But the case which has received the most scorn from Islamic conservatives is that of Ms Lina Joy, a Malay who is seeking to drop Islam as the religion on her identity card.

Over the weekend, two small demonstrations were held here and in Johor Baru to protest against her case. - The Straits Times

Article 11 forum disrupted again

JOHOR BARU: A forum organised by the Article 11 Coalition here yesterday (22 July 2006) was cut short on the advice of the police as some 400 demonstrators gathered outside the forum venue. The "Federal Constitution: Protection for All" forum which was scheduled to run from 9am to 1pm at Hotel Selesa here, wrapped up at 11.15am following a "friendly recommendation" from the police.

Yesterday's protest was the second the coalition had encountered since it started a road-show on constitutional rights regarding religion. In May, the umbrella group for 13 non-governmental organisations held a similar forum in Penang which also attracted protesters and was again cut short on the advice of the police.

But this time the organisers are not complaining. - New Straits Times

Malaysia to set up racial conflict warning system

Malaysia plans to develop what could be the world's first computerised early-warning system on racial conflict. National Unity and Integration Department director-general Azman Amin Hassan said it will be installed in an operations room at the department's Putrajaya headquarters and will process a database of information and reports on unity in every district.

The system will assess how prone each area is to incidents involving race and religion, he said. Districts will be colour-coded on a map, with 'red' areas the most prone to strife. 'The system will monitor every inch of Malaysia. If we know which areas are prone to conflict, we will have a better chance to prevent an incident,' he said.

No date has been set for the system's roll-out. - New Sunday Times

What do the five news items above tell us? I do not know what it tells you, but it tells me that Malaysia is moving closer and closer to civil strife. What can be considered civil strife, a 'milder' form of civil war, is a conflict between those of the same nationality or ethnicity. Inter-ethnic conflicts of the same nationality would of course also qualify. And there are normally at least three things that can bring about civil strife. One would be economic, next race, and finally, the most potent of all, would be religion. Malaysia, unfortunately, has elements of all three.

My previous episode of No Holds Barred was a 'letter' to Walter. I am sure everyone knew that it was a fictitious letter, but whether Walter really exists or not, I am of course not telling. What did you 'see' in that letter? Did you not see a reflection of yourself? And what about those many outraged responses in the Blog from both sides of the racial divide? Did the responses not reflect what is within their minds?

When one goes to a psychiatrist for therapy, he or she just makes us lie down on the couch and asks us to spill out what ails us. For all you know, he or she may not even be listening. But it is not whether they listen or not which counts. It is enabling us to reveal our innermost thoughts -- which under normal circumstances we would never reveal to anyone, stranger or otherwise -- is where the therapy lies. Somehow, we would unabashedly tell a psychiatrist everything. Maybe it is because we believe that telling our shrink what we would never tell any other living soul is going to cure us, so we do it.

Okay, so what then was the purpose of the 'Dear Walter' piece and how does this relate to 'therapy'? Well, basically I wanted everyone to 'see' how they felt about their follow Malaysian. It is not that we do not already know mind you. Even before the 'Dear Walter' piece there were more than enough racial-religious postings that lay bare what Malaysians really are. In fact, we really did not need 'Dear Walter' to reinforce this belief that Malaysians are intolerant bigots of the worst kind.

I once knew an American chap and his lovely Thai wife who lived in Malaysia for quite some time. And what he told me about 20 years ago not only jolted me, but still prevails until today. In fact, it is worse today than it was 20 years ago. "There are more racial prejudices and intolerance here in Malaysia than in the Deep South," said my American friend. "And things in the Deep South are really bad as it is."

Wow! I never thought of that. I mean, I knew that in the Deep South of the USA things can be very bad. But you are actually saying that Malaysia is worse? How can that be?

"Hey!" said my American friend. "You are local, so you don't get to see it. Chinese or Indians would never dare speak ill of your race or religion in front of you. But this does not mean that they don't talk badly about the Malays or Islam. It just means you do not hear them saying it. And you Malays say the same about the Chinese and Indians. But you talk amongst yourselves, never in front of the Chinese or Indians; the same for the Chinese and Indians as well."

"But then I am an American, not Malaysian, so I hear all sides talking -- Malays, Chinese, as well as Indians. I get to hear what everyone says, something you will never get to hear."

That is true to a point I suppose. We would try very hard not to run down another race or religion in front of 'the other chap'. We would of course say many unkind things about them if they can't hear what we are saying. But if they are within earshot, then we would restrain and refrain and not hurt their feelings. It is just not 'nice' to insult someone to his or her face. But we will do it behind their backs without remorse.

Malaysia Today allows, in fact at times encourage, this slinging match. And why do we do this? Is it to stir sentiments and try to trigger civil strife? Definitely not! In fact we would like to see the opposite. But burying our heads in the sand and pretending that all is peachy and honky-dory would never achieve this. It would be just like a pit-soil fire. The fire slowly burns below the surface unbeknownst to anyone. Then, after days or even weeks, the fire suddenly breaks through the surface. And by that time there is very little you can do. Feelings are like an iceberg. What you see above the surface is only 10%. The other 90% is hidden, lurking below the surface waiting to sink the unsinkable Titanic that the owners said, "Even God Himself cannot sink." Hey, never place a bet with God. God always wins.

And that is Malaysia. You see a lot of intolerance and hatred in Malaysia Today's Blogs. But what you see is merely a scratch on the surface. It is not even the 10% of the iceberg. It is not even the smoke from the pit-soil fire. Take my word for it. The Malays have not heard even 1% of what the Chinese and Indians think of them. And vice versa on what the Malays think of the Chinese and Indians as well. So, what do we do? Do we silence everyone? Do we say 'loose lips sink ships' and shut everyone's mouths? Do we make it illegal to 'talk bad' about another race and religion and arrest and jail all those who do? Will this eliminate the intolerance and hatred and make everyone suddenly love each other? Sure, and pigs can fly.

No, not talking about it will not make it go away. Banning racial and religious slurs will not make Malaysians understand each other better. Sure, slandering another race and religion does have its downside as well. It certainly does not make things better. In fact, it may even increase the divide. But allowing it to surface would show the powers-that-be how dicey race relations in Malaysia has become. The government can legislate behaviour all it wants. It can clamp down hard and detain under the Sedition Act all those who make 'dangerous' statements that may trigger civil strife. But it will not make Malaysians love each other. It will just send the hate underground. And anything stifled is even more dangerous. It will build up and, one day, explode. A smouldering fire can be controlled. An explosion is devastating. And Malaysia is heading for an explosion. Let the powers-that-be be warned.

There is great discontentment building up. The non-Malays (meaning non-Muslims as well) are determined to take their case to the nation. The 'Chapter 11' seminars in Penang and Johor recently are but one case in point. The Moorthy, Lina Joy, and many other incidences are unsettling both Malays and non-Malays alike. The Malays too have their own road-shows planned and are challenging efforts of the Chapter 11 group, IFC, SIS, etc, to bring about greater religious liberalisation; meaning freedom of religion for all, not only for non-Muslims.

Do I have any solutions to offer? Unfortunately I do not. All I am saying is that things are moving in a very dangerous direction. What you read in Malaysia Today's Blogs is nothing. That does not even begin to describe the problem. The problem is deeper than that. And unless something is done super-fast, then get ready for problems.

The Malays will not compromise on the issue of murtad (apostasy). Islam is a one-way street. If you are born a Muslim then you die a Muslim, or die if you leave Islam. The same goes for those who convert to Islam later in life. There is no compromise here and Malays would go to war to uphold this. So when the non-Muslims organise road-shows or movements such as IFC, that is interpreted as an act of war and retaliation becomes halal. This is something the non-Muslims have not comprehended yet.

Even the government is lost as to what to do. It knows it cannot ignore the issue. But then what can they do about it? If the government agrees that there should be freedom of religion and those who wish to leave Islam should be allowed to do so, then it would have a rebellion on its hands. On the other hand, if the government agrees that Islam is a one-way street and no murtad would be allowed, it would also have a rebellion on its hands.

Now you know why I refuse to be in government even if I was able to get in (which I would not be able to anyway). Being in government is no vacation. There is this serious problem hanging over our heads with no solutions in sight. Either the government agrees that Malaysia is an Islamic State and it implements Islamic laws such as the anti-murtad law, or it agrees that Malaysia is a Secular State and go along with those seeking religious liberalisation. Either way is going to see conflict.

Should I be saying all this? Should I be openly writing something like this on the Internet? If there was such a thing as the Internet at lunchtime on 13 May 1969, I would have posted a message warning all and sundry that later that day a riot was going to erupt. I would have done so because for the first time in his life my father had come home from the office before the sun went down. He came home in the afternoon to be exact. And he came home because he had been warned that a riot was going to erupt and that he should stay home. And maybe, just maybe, that posting of mine would have limited, if not prevented, the riot from happening. And maybe, just maybe, some of the friends I lost on 13 May 1969 would still be around today. But I certainly would have gone to jail for that posting. The end result would have been worth it though if I go to jail to prevent at least one life from being lost.

Well, a riot is not about to erupt today. It will not erupt tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But if the present state of affairs is not addressed, it would erupt in time. The only question is when. And all Malaysians better be aware of this. Things are not peachy and honky-dory. Things are very tense. And things are going to develop over the next few weeks and months that will make it even tenser.

And don't say I didn't warn you as much as I may sound like a doomsday soothsayer.

Oh, by the way, just to digress a bit, the second time my father came home from the office early was the day he was not feeling well. He suffered a heart attack a few hours later and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Yes, the two occasions my father came home early from work were days of tragedies -- one a national tragedy and the other my personal tragedy, but tragedies nevertheless, and tragedies that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

UPM prevents submission of memo on mob incident

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), political parties as well as student groups today (July 25, 2006) failed in their attempt to submit a memorandum to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on the July 17 incident in campus. UPM public and international relations director Assoc Prof Dr Jambari Ali, who was present, told that only 3 members were allowed to meet them in their office. The memorandum submitters wanted 6.

When they couldn't come to an agreement, the memorandum guys left without submitting the memorandum!

????? What the hell is going on with UPM, the NGOs and these other groups of "leaders" and "opinion-makers"?

I mean, how childish can grown ups get? I say I can, you say I cannot, so I don't friend you?

UPM were simply game playing by limiting the number of people entering their office. A show of authority and control. The memorandumers were stupid to be stubborn on such a trivial thing. What's the damn difference, 3 or 6? You were here to submit a memorandum. Not have the leaders of all the groups get their pictures taken in the UPM office. Actually, you could have posted the damn memo to them and just copied the press. To leave without submitting the memo is dumb.

Meanwhile, Jambari, when asked why the media was not allowed to enter the campus to cover the event, said: "It's very difficult to allow everyone to come in. We have to be very careful as we don't want any misunderstanding to happen."

Pressed on what is the policy of the university towards the media, he said: "You all should only report good news, not always report bad news."

Damn. That last remark must be the mother of all dumb ass things to say to the media. Jambari should get a new title. UPM Public & International Relations Director and Chief Goof-Up of the Dept of Whitewashing Embarassing Incidents.

Full article in the sun:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Proposed Trade Guidelines. NEP-eeing on business.

The Sun, today, carried an article called "MCA blasts Distributive Trade guidelines". It details the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry's proposed trade guidelines that will affect some 400 types of retail businesses. The guidelines states that all retailers, wholesalers, and specialty stores would be asked to restructure to meet a minimum 30% bumiputra requirement, to raise its paid-up capital to at least RM1 million and to ensure the composition of the directors and employees reflect the racial composition of the country.

In other words all retailers, wholesalers and specialty stores (which are mainly Chinese family owned, btw) will need to "attract" 30% bumiputra ownership (where potential bumi candidates can just sit back wait for the highest "bidder", with no real incentive to contribute anything to the biz. You need them to comply with the guidelines, they don't need you).

When you have a compulsory rule like that, will the bumi partner actually pay cash to buy 30% of the company or does he expect the existing shareholders to hand him 30% of the company for free, or else they don't comply with the law? Even if he does pay, would it be market value or a token sum? Remember, this is NOT an arms length transaction. You need him. He doesn't need you.

Take a step back, out of La-La-Land, back into the real world. Isn't this just a more polite way of getting robbed?

And which bumis can we really expect to benefit from this? The poor Malay farmer in Kelantan who works hard each day making ends meet, or the politically well connected Datuk with the mansion on Kenny Hills with his trophy wife and Mercedes Benz? Won't that be the same bunch of vultures already feeding off the NEP?

Won't this be yet another affirmative action that simply widens the gap between the rich bumis and the poor ones who really need the assistance? Where the rich get richer by imposing policies that help themselves, but in the name of their poorer brothers who don't realise that their supposed champions are the real culprits keeping them poor, ignorant and in poverty. If the rich elite don't maintain a healthy inventory of poor, impoverished cousins - how else will they come up with excuses for a policy like this? What did they call it during the last general election... a leakage!

And the composition of directors and employees to reflect the racial composition of the country simple means that all these Chinese family companies automatically become managed and controlled by Malays. And I'll bet you that it's the same guy who lives in his mansion on Kenny Hills with his trophy wife and Mercedes Benz. And the compulsory nature of the guidelines also means that you can't fire him if he screws everything up. Besides, since the board of directors need to be in line with the country's racial composition, he probably has a majority to get you fired.

When applied to existing companies, what happens to the existing directors and employees? Are they retrenched to make way for the compulsory bumi hires?

I wonder if it's a coincidence that Chinese family businesses are heavily invested in this industry? Since they must know that such compulsory guidelines simply and totally destroys the very fabric of a family owned business, is it a move to dismantle what is seen as another arm of "Chinese dominance" in the economy?

This stinks. This stinks really bad!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Slap on the Wrist forthcoming for UPM Hoodlums?

From the rash of articles that have popped out of the woodwork about the UPM canteen incident, I am able to distil 3 headings for this blog.

1. The incident at UPM is not the first or only incident.
2. The reaction from UPM's faculty is muted.
3. What is the real issue here?!

1. Other incidents.

There have been other similar incidents in UM and USM, besides UPM.

UPM (the incident with the video).
Below are excerpts from news reports about the basis of the incident:

UPM's Students Progressive Front (SPF) coordinator and student Ooi Tze Min, 22, described how some 50 members of the ruling student body allegedly humiliated him and six others in one of the canteens.

The SPF had set up a counter to assist new students but was told to leave because they were not recognised by the university and its student body.

There are also pictures of Ooi pasted at bus stops around the university with a caption blaming him for the student unrest.

“All we wanted to do was to help new students in financial difficulties, and getting the used to their new surroundings and bus routes,” Ooi said.

“We did not do anything wrong, yet we were shouted at and bullied,” he added.

Wong Teck Chi, described how three members of the UMANY association were bullied after identifying and helping new students at the 12th residential college.

“Our members had their bags taken and were prevented from leaving by college and student affairs officers,” he said.

He said they had reported the incident to the safety department.
Lee Huat Seng claimed that university officials had told first-year students on July 12 not to participate in any SPF activities the next day.

“The authorities threatened students with cancelling their PTPTN loans if they were found attending such activities,” he said.
It seems that the established student organisations and faculty of our local universities don't welcome new organisations. Even if the objective and activities of those organisations are simply to help new students acclimatise to uni life etc. Why the dislike? Why the over-reaction? Is there a co-relation between the fact that these new societies generally comprise non-Malay students and the established ones are fully Malay and pro-establishment (which is comprised of a predominantly Malay faculty anyway)?

2. Official reactions.
Universiti Putra Malaysia has described the bullying incident at its canteen as “a very unfortunate incident."

All the students should stay cool," said its academic and international affairs deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Soladi.

"We are very concerned with what happened." He added that the student affairs department was investigating the matter. “The whole sequence and all aspects of the incident will be looked at before anyone is reprimanded," he said. Prof Radin said the students could have discussed the problem with mutual respect.

“I was made to understand that a number of boys involved had just finished a rugby game and were probably pumped up because of this,” he said. Prof Radin added that from an academic point of view, there would be greater focus on teaching students soft skills such as having mutual respect for one another.
The very muted reaction of UPM's faculty has a very bad stink that a slap on a wrist is on the cards. What has a rugby game got to do with anything? Bringing it up is just ridiculous.

Some comments on the internet have identified some of the individual gangsters in the video to be the offspring of certain communal political party leaders, who could be in a position to orchestrate just such a slap on the wrist. These allegations are of course unverified.

3. The real issue.

It's not about the registration and certification of clubs and societies. It's not about misunderstandings or differences in opinions between organisations. The relationship between the SPF, UMANY or whatever with other 'registered' clubs and societies are not the concern. It's not even an issue.

It is about the fact that there are certain groups of students who feel that their viewpoint is the singlular acceptable viewpoint. And even more importantly, it's about the fact that they feel they are entitled to bully, threaten, intimidate and curb the rights & freedoms of other students based on their own prejudices.

And it's about the fact that a potentially violent situation (certainly a definite situation of criminal intimidation, reckless endangerment and issuing of threats to afflict bodily harm), might end with the wrongdoers getting off scot free with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Our government, our universities, our leaders must display some courage to tackle incidents like this headon. Make these monsters examples to deter future such incidents by putting them in jail. They are all above 18, and need to be responsible for their crimes. And if their parents protest, put them in jail too for raising animals instead of children.

A Force to be Proud of...

The Deputy Inspector General of Police (Deputy IGP) of the Royal Malaysian Police Force (Polis DiRaja Malaysia or PDRM) Tan Sri Musa Hassan has outlined a 5 year plan to improve the image, efficiency and competence of the police force.

The draft of the 5 year plan will be sent to all federal police directors, state chief police officers and district police chiefs and followed by a brainstorming session by top-ranking officers. The target will be to put the plan into action by the end of this year. Recommendations made by the Royal Commission will apparently, also be incorporated.

This includes ways:

• to improve the frontline services at police stations;
• to enhance the quality of investigation and reduce errors in investigation papers;
• to build a community policing network; and
• to build an exhibit store where evidence will be kept in order to reduce the possibility of evidence going missing before cases go to court.

OK. This sounds like a plan. But can it be implemented and implemented well?

And it's very much a plan to improve the operational aspects of the force. I hope the software aspects of the police force will not be ignored. Besides improving the image, efficiency and competence of the force, the basic ethics and mindset of the force need to transformed as well.

Our police officers need to realise that besides actually keeping the Malaysians safe - it is equally important that they behave in a manner that makes us feel safe. They need to be proud of the job they do and realise that doing it sincerely & incorruptibly, is as important or more important than, doing it competently.

An earlier blog regarding this very point is here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

PM: No one influences my decisions, my son-in-law not my adviser.

Talk about taking the bull by the horns. In his most direct comment in the ongoing Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi saga, the PM has stated unequivocally that "No one influences my decisions, my son-in-law not my adviser".

The Sun carried this story in an afternoon update of its online edition.

If this is true, it'll blow gaping holes all over Tun M's allegations, Raja Petra Kamaruddin's Khairy Chronicles, as well as's theories.

Ah, but then... any man accused of being a puppet will obviously deny the strings tied to his limbs.

So, while it's good that the PM's broken his ill-advised "elegant silence", but it'll be his actions, independent, swift and without fear or favour, that will eventually dispel any lingering doubt.

He's talked the talk, now it's time to walk the walk. Lots of people are watching.

The UPM Canteen Incident.

The Sun reveals the background of the incident in UPM's canteen on 17 July 2006 (video above). A video of the incident (you can watch it in the post below) has since been circulating furiously on the net. There are at least 10 copies of the video (including mine ;) published on alone.

So, what do we have?

Ostensibly, the article makes it sound like it's an administrative turf fight between the student council and an "as yet" unregistered student organisation. An act of vigilantism even.

But what to you see in the video? I see nothing besides a large group of men (who happened to all be Malays, by the way) harassing, jeering and forcibly evicting a small group of men and women (who so happened to be all Chinese - the Sun left out these pertinent ethnic details for some reason) from a public place ie. UPM's canteen. And all the smaller group did was set up a table and few chairs in the canteen to mete out assistance to students. There's no mention what kind of assistance was involved or if they had any other objectives being there.

When the victims refused to move, the gang resorted to physically pushing them around, even the women weren't spared. Although no blows were thrown, it was only due to the passiveness of the group being bullied. Due to the video's poor audio quality, I couldn't make out exactly what was being said in but near the end, the big dude in the red shirt was shouting "Belah!" into the faces of the victims while chesting into them, American football style. Have a look at the video and see for yourself.

The police have attributed it all to a "misunderstanding" and since no one was "assaulted" but only "pushed and jostled", the matter will be left to UPM to handle internally.

Hmmm... do you need to be actually "assaulted" first for the police to act?

True, there was no punching and kicking but does that mean that I can now gather 50 of my friends - push people around & pull their chairs out from under them while they're sitting on it, and completely surround them while shouting god-knows-what into their faces - and get away with it?

How can that NOT be a crime?!

I do not agree with the police's stand and I can see the consistency in their choice to act or not. During the Article 11 forum in Penang, the police displayed a similar reluctance to take action against the wrongdoers. However, when acting against the opposition-led protest against the price hikes, the police showed no such reticence.

I can't say I'm not disappointed by the police's (and by extension, the government's) reluctance to tackle this issue, and others like it, head-on.

Make an example of these hoodlums.

Show the public that any sort of violence to enforce a personal viewpoint will not be tolerated. No matter how noble you think your intentions are.

Show the wrongdoers that there will be consequences to their misdeeds. And that those consequences will be swift and uncompromising.

Show Malaysians that it is still safe to send their children to university without fear of them being bullied, harassed and subject to prejudice.

Show us that there's still hope.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Racist tendencies in our universities?

Seems like our Malaysian universities are getting more than their fair share of the spotlight recently. And none of the attention is positive!

Initially, it was the "Ethnic Relations" textbook, oops 'teaching guide' which apparently singled out the Chinese opposition parties to have caused the 1969 May 13 race riots and Indian youths having caused the Kg Medan incident some years back. Learned professors whom the text was attributed to suddenly all backed away, denying that they were ever involved in drafting it. And all fresh after returning from his holiday, PM Abdullah Badawi today said that the text will be withdrawn.

Then in reaction to the above textbook becoming a public issue, local university students revealed that there were other compulsory subjects they had to take in university like Malaysian Studies, Islamic Civilisation, Malaysian Citizenship and languages.

According to The Star, a fresh graduate of UPM said she had encountered biased content in the compulsory Islamic Civilisation unit when she was studying. “I found the textbook very condescending towards the other religions, and the lecturer would highlight these parts,” she said.

A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia graduate too said how his lecturer handled the Islamic Civilisation class made him feel very uncomfortable. “He made me hate going to the class. In the end, I skipped the class and because of that I lost credit points, which affected my overall results,” he added.

And now, the latest is a video that's been circulating on the internet recently. It depicts a bunch of Malay boys, presumably students, chasing out a few Chinese boys and girls, presumably students as well. According to, this occured in a cafeteria in UPM (University Putra Malaysia) on the 17th of July 2006. The video clearly shows the racist remarks and actions verging on violence.

Whatever the provocation, tens of students from single race against a few from another race is simply racial bullying. The government needs to put its foot down and show the people that they are committed to national unity. I hope the belligerent students will be persecuted to the limits of the law and given a public flogging. Make them an example that racial bullying will not be tolerated.

I think it's very clear that race relations are deteriorating in our schools and universities. Even the curriculum is subtly promoting a brand of racism. The national education system, with its emphasis on only one race and one religion and racially lopsided teacher and student populations, has clearly taken our young generation down a very dark road. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done fast. Too bad the keris waving, ultra Malay, Education Minister has no interest to do so. Pak Lah, the ball's in your court. I hope you do your best to reign it all in.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Behind Mahathir vs Abdullah, there's Najib vs Khairy

This is an interesting article from Singapore's Today newspaper.

Hmmmm... some of you might realise I don't read much else ;p in Singapore. But it's free, and it gets delivered to my office at lunchtime. Besides, every 80 cents I save not buying The Straits Times is 80 cents I get to put aside for the COE to my dream Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

Anyway, it's one of the few mainstream articles by a journalist (instead of a PAS Vice President) that links Khairy to the whole thing, and formalises the possible rivalry between him and Najib to become the future PM of Malaysia.

Never mind if the article is fact based or pure conjecture. Give it a read as
it's a good summary about what's been going on for the past couple of months. And with Tun M and AAB due to return to Malaysia soon, a refresher is useful to prep us for the next round of Politikus ala Malaysia.

Why I don't blog about Singapore!

There are probably 50 posts in this blog since it was started back in May 2006. And the title of the blog mentions both Singapore and Malaysia. But so far, I've only had 2, maybe 3 posts about Singapore. The perceptive amongst you might ask why.

Well, aside from the fact that Singapore is awfully boring, and there is really nothing much to blog about unless you talk about The Great Singapore Sale, HDB flats, expensive condos and automobiles, the upcoming Integrated Resorts (not a big deal after having grown up in Malaysia just 2 hours from Genting Highlands and Casino) and other such mundane events. The latest "news" (if you can even call them that) are the recent hike in taxi fares and the ongoing 2006 Singapore Idol contest.

That's heart racing stuff, don't you think?

But there is one other thing. The GOS. Government Of Singapore.

This is a story about Singaporean, Lee Kin Mun aka Mr Brown. One of the most successful and prolific bloggers in Singapore. He brought you such great stuff as the Bak Chor Mee podcast during this year's Singapore General Election.

Well, Mr Brown had a regular article in Singapore's Today newspaper. He usually wrote about the funny side of being Singaporean, from his point of view. But on June 30, 2006, he made the grave mistake of writing unfavourably about how Singapore was being managed. This drew a swift rebuttal by a government official in the form of a letter to the same newspaper. Several days later, the ire of the government manifested in Mr Brown's column in Today being unceremoniously axed.

So, instead of injecting my own opinion into this issue, for the fear GOD or GOS no less... (same difference, here in Singapore), why don't you read below what caused all the ruckus and you can judge for yourself.




Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zidane's Headbutt. The highlight of the 2006 World Cup.

It's definite that Materazzi insulted Zidane. Although Materazzi maintains that he did not call Zinedine Zidane a terrorist (Zidane's ethnic Algerian), Channel News Asia reported that a lip reading expert from The Times said that he called Zidane a "son of a terrorist whore" followed by an expletive. BBC however reported that another lip reader said Materazzi said "I wish and ugly death to you and all your family", followed by "go fuck yourself".

Damn, if these lip readers are right, Materazzi must have taken speech lessons from Osama Bin Laden. He talks like a terrorist on CNN. All that's missing is a reference to "fleas on a camel's behind".

My World Cup 2006 wrapup... this world cup was marred by bad referee-ing. The Rooney red card, the other red cards and all the penalties... were accompanied by extremely bad timing (or extremely good if you were taking kickbacks from the other side). These tended to simply hand the game over to the other team, rather than have the effect FIFA intended ie. making it fairer.

I think football could learn some lessons from other top sports. NFL American football and NBA basketball for instance, use trial by video. If there's any doubt at all, the referees stop the game for a couple of minutes and review the videos. Formula 1 delays the punishment so that cooler minds prevail and the race steward has time to analyse the videos and car telemetry. And only after weighing all the facts and also the implications to the race overall, they penalise by imposing a drive-by or stop-and-go penalty a few laps later.

Football, on the other hand, favours on-the-spot decisions by cock-eyed referees standing 50 meters away. Never mind that a penalty for what was obviously a feign, with only 2 minutes of extra time remaining, practically means that the referee decides who wins.

EPF may finance 9MP projects

Stop treating the public's hard earned superannuation savings as a piggy bank which you can raid whenever you want!

Firstly, I hope to god that EPF's board are as independent as they claim to be. But sadly, god rarely listens to me.

Secondly, I hope that the terms of the financing will be at market rates and arm's length. But again, EPF will probably get screwed and be left to wipe its own arse with cheap toilet paper where your fingers poke through easily into the poo.

Thirdly, EPF is a simply a huge cashflow game. As long as employee contributions exceed withdrawals, the EPF can continue making bad loans, bad investments and losing money - and nobody would be the wiser. Why? Because apart from the cash transactions, everything's only on paper. As long as cash incoming can fund cash outgoing, they can carry on indefinitely even if all the underlying assets & funds have been siphoned off.

With some creative accounting (remember, the EPF is not a corporate body and therefore not subject to accounting and listing regulations governing companies, and is not obligated to publish their accounts to the public), they can perpetually keep things buried deep in their accounts, which we can't see anyway. The only watchdogs over EPF are the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General and Auditor General. But we all know how dedicated they can be.

Well, the next time EPF proposes something dodgy like only allowing contributors to only draw a small pension until their death, rather than take out the whole lump sum at 55 years... think about it. Does the EPF really want to make retired life better for you, or are they running into cashflow problems (and therefore need to reduce withdrawals by limiting the amount each contributor can withdraw each month)?

I just hope I get to withdraw my EPF before the shit hits the fan one day.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The Edge

EPF may finance 9MP projects

The Employees Provdent Fund is one of the possible financiers for the government to undertake the development projects under the Ninth Malaysian Plan, deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Husin said.

He said there were interested parties, both locally and internationally, that are keen to provide financing to Malaysia to cover the budget deficits arising from the expenditure under the 9MP.

Despite the interest expressed by the foreign parties, Awang said the government would only seek funds domestically to finance its development projects.

Among the options available are to tap into the high liquidity in the market through bonds issue and also through the EPF, he told reporters at the Malaysian Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (MAICSA) Annual Conference 2006 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Commenting on the budget deficit, Awang said the government is comfortable with the anticipated 3.5% this year as it needed money for development expenditure.

Meanwhile, he said the government would announce projects under the Public Finance Initiative before year-end.

Citizen M. And M is for Mahathir.

Citizen Nades is the pseudonym of R. Nadeswaran, the Deputy Editor (special reporting and investigations) at The Sun.

He's very vocal with his pen when it comes to the antics of the government and government agencies. He does a good job of avoiding the politics of it all, focusing instead on the nuts and bolts of good governance. That keeps him out of Kamunting Detention Centre, I suppose.

Here's his article in The Sun newspaper. He gripes about how Tun M is a 'normal' citizen (Citizen M), just like him - but when the Tun speaks, everybody listens. When he speaks, he is more or less ignored by the powers that be. Or if he's lucky, draw enough attention to be swatted away like an annoying fly.

I'm highlighting Citizen Nades because of the fact that he is one of the few who are not deceived by the current smokescreen created by digging up old skeletons in Tun M's closet of 22 years as PM. While giving Malaysians a great sense of satisfaction (being able to say "I told you so"), it also draws our attention away from what's truly important - ie. the present.

We should focus on the present, and what's wrong now - instead of being sidetracked by things which occurred in the past that we cannot correct. We can get revenge, yes, but we can't correct the past.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

MyKad! My Goodness! - - updated 11 July 06

A very apt graphic from a local newspaper.

Hmmm, it seems that the Einsteins in our government think that Malaysians should be fined more heavily for forgetting to carry our MyKads, than if we say, confine slaves and kidnap victims in our basement... or if we blow up a bomb by mistake.

Oh well, the next time I imprison people in my HDB flat or make a home-made nuclear bomb, I'll make sure I have my MyKad. At least the jail time is less.

The Star reported that the National Registration Department advised Malaysians to have their MyKad with them at all times, and warned that if they were caught without it, they could face a fine of between RM3,000 and RM20,000 or jail term of up to three years.

I understand that the MyKad is essential to prove who you are to the authorities. But I think the fines are much too harsh. The jail term is ridiculous.

Let's step back and look at it. What are we trying to achieve here?

Are we trying to make sure that Malaysians are immediately identifiable in a country with 3 million illegal foreigners? That each person's identity is immediately known if an emergency arises or a crime is committed?

Or do we just want people to carry the MyKad, just because it's the MyKad?

I mean, if I have my passport with me or my driving licence, is there a problem identifying who I am? While I think it's okay to make it mandatory to carry the MyKad, I do think that certain concessions need to be given if other forms of original identification are carried. If you're really tight arsed about it, then allow that person to come to the nearest police station later and produce their MyKad. If you've checked his passport or driving licence, you already know who they are. What's the big deal about giving them a bit of time to go home and get their MyKad?

The issue of photocopies is a bit more difficult. Photocopies are notoriously simple to forge. Stick your photo on top of somebody elses MyKad and photocopy. And voila, it looks like a very good copy. I believe that photocopies cannot be used in lieu of original identification documents. Can I photocopy the bank notes I have at home and use it to buy some stuff first? I'll bring the originals later!

And there's one thing I'd like to know. What's the fine for carrying a MyKad if you're not Malaysian?

Isn't the NRD's larger responsibility making sure the illegals don't get MyKads, rather than fining citizens for not carrying it?

Isn't Immigration dept's prime duty to expel all illegal aliens from Malaysia and stop the ones that are not here yet from entering?

Therefore, if the NRD and immigration were doing their jobs properly, wouldn't that mean that everyone in Malaysia, would be in Malaysia legally? And that would make carrying MyKad on the street at all time to prove who you are to groups of marauding police, immigration and NRD officials much less important, wouldn't it?

Are the Malaysian public again being penalised by stopgap, firefighting measures so often taken by govt depts when they realise that they are too incompetent to do their primary jobs?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tajudin's Revelations about MAS & Bank Negara Malaysia

I was just watching Commander in Chief on TV, and there was something that the Speaker of the House said to the Madam President.

"This is Washington D.C. You have no friends. You only have enemies and you have us. We'll be enemies soon enough."

Okay... maybe that's not exactly it. But I was in the shower and at least that's what I think I heard.

Anyway... it's apt. Tajudin has been regarded as one of Tun Mahathir's closest associates and one of the biggest beneficiaries of Tun M's largesse. And he has just stuck the longest, rustiest dagger yet into the back of Tun M.

I have no friggin idea what real details are about the deal, or whether the over-riding agreement mentioned by Tajudin is genuine or whether deals of this sort are right or wrong. Was Bank Negara really in trouble? And do you let it collapse and bring down the rest of the economy with it? But I do know that it's not the only deal of its kind and governments of all countries make clandestine deals like this all the time. And they will continue to do so in the future.

Read more about the details here, and make up your own mind.

However, I will say this. We, the Malaysian public, need to be careful, very very careful, that we don't fall into the trap of focusing on the past. And in the process, place the future in peril by ignoring the present.

Like I mentioned in my blog about the 22 points raised against Tun Mahathir (apparently, some other fellow raised a further 17 points in a letter to - we can spend all our energies trying to exorcise our past by pursuing the wrongdoings of past govts, OR we can direct our efforts at purging the present govt of corrupt and dangerous elements.

I'm not trying to justify any past wrongdoing of Tun M's govt, but we need all the help we can get to make sure Abdullah's Badawi's govt doesn't get away with any present wrongdoing (if indeed there's any, of course ;p).

Take care of the present, and the past will work itself out in the future.

All in all, a good counter-punch by Tun M's enemies. And both are not even back from holidays yet.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi. Getting to the heart of Dr M’s unhappiness.

Long article in today's NST about why Tun M is going berserk. Lot's of sources from UMNO and political commentators... BUT nobody mentions anything about Khairy and perceived impropriety within the PM's family.

It's become quite clear to me, from statements by
Tun M, Matthias Chang, Mohd Sabu, Nazri Aziz that Khairy and his Oxbridge boys on Lvl 4 of Putrajaya are right at the center of this feud. And that's if you have never read Raja Petra Kamarudin's "The Khairy Chronicles".

I've put in my own 2 cents that
Anwar Ibrahim's probably's involved as well and it might be that Tun M is spitting the dummy because the current govt released his nemesis from prison and has done nothing to suppress Anwar's legal action against him. Tun M cannot but realise that the threat of Anwar Ibrahim will inevitably grow with time, and he's not alone to think that the current judiciary seems extremely willing to un-encumber Anwar Ibrahim legally.

So, what does this article contribute? To me,.. nothing new. It's tries hard to reinforce to the general public that Tun M is just being petty about the dismantling of his legacy. It completely ignores the fact that Tun M is concerned about Khairy or
the distinct possibility of the threat that a resurgent Anwar Ibrahim poses to him.

But wait, this is the NST after all. Spin doctor extraordinaire.

Comment: Getting to the heart of Dr M’s unhappiness (NST Online)

02 Jul 2006

What’s the endgame for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his strident criticism of the Government? ABDUL RAZAK AHMAD weighs the views of observers and Umno officials.

IN the row between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor’s administration, the big question has got to be how far he is willing to go.

Will he continue to question, after the last answer is given by the relevant ministries on the issues he raised, ranging from Proton to the bridge replacing the Causeway?

If he does, will he be expelled from Umno and repeat the chapter in 1969, when he was booted out of the party for his criticisms of Tunku Abdul Rahman?

For Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, getting to the answers means understanding what the spat is about at its core.

"In essence, this is about Dr Mahathir being unhappy with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s performance, and about Abdullah wanting to do his own thing, and what that means."

Shamsul, who heads UKM’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation, says "doing his own thing" means Abdullah has to bear two major elements in mind.

First, his management style, which differs from Dr Mahathir’s. The Prime Minister is "informed by the need for transparency, ethics, and responsibility".

"It’s tough to pull off. The style is different from Dr Mahathir’s for whom, in some areas, the ends justify the means. For Abdullah, every means must be clarified, even if we don’t get to the end result at times."

There are many examples of this, says Shamsul.

Abdullah is "clearing up" the police with initiatives such as the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission. In the political sphere, strong support for the drive against money politics has already led to action against incumbents such as Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad.

In the legislature, too, Abdullah’s encouragement of openness has led to a more vocal Backbenchers’ Club and Public Accounts Committee.

"You also see it in his determination to restore confidence in the judiciary and in measures like the National Integrity Plan and a National Integrity Institute. Some may rubbish these initiatives, but they demonstrate Abdullah’s willingness to invest time and effort in so-called ‘unimportant abstractions’."

The second component of Abdullah’s burden is managing the collateral damage from the many successes Dr Mahathir brought to Malaysia.

"We’re often overawed by Dr Mahathir’s many achievements like the Petronas Twin Towers, the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the North-South Expressway. But there have been failures, too, like Perwaja Steel. These have to be managed by Abdullah as well.

"Perhaps some, including Dr Mahathir’s supporters, are feeling the heat from all of this, because the full consequences of Abdullah’s new style is yet to be seen."

Shamsul believes no amount of "micro-level" answers from the Government will appease Dr Mahathir.

"Take Proton. We can argue over details like the sale of MV Agusta, but the core issue is that Dr Mahathir disagrees that Proton be seen in pure economic terms. For him, there’s an overriding national interest.

"Is there wisdom is investing so much on a national car project? Is there wisdom in building a bridge that divides? These are core questions I think he wants explanations to. No amount of answering about sand statistics, for example, is likely to satisfy Dr Mahathir."

That means that the situation now, as Shamsul puts it, is at a "cul-de-sac; a dead end".

"No Government in the world can explain everything in detail. When the answers don’t satisfy and the questions cause confusion, it will lead to no good," says Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

As Umno Youth information chief Datuk Azimi Daim says in a statement on Tuesday on behalf of the movement: "The question now is whether Tun is really interested in the answers. Or is he only interested in reinstating his policies?"

"He’s putting the Government in a difficult position," says Azimi when asked on the movement’s view. "Different leaders will have different styles. The way one leader prioritises his duties will be different from that of his predecessor."

For Umno, one other major concern over Dr Mahathir is the impression that he is cavorting with the Opposition.

His speech last Saturday at a function in Kuala Lumpur with Pas leaders in the audience led to this impression.

"It’s causing confusion among the public and party members, because Dr Mahathir is not just anybody," says Muhammad.

He says that some in the party believe that because Dr Mahathir has done so much for the country he should not be censured. "But if we’re no longer aligned to party interests and associate with the Opposition, some say that’s a clear ethical breach, and there is a mechanism to deal with such offences."

Therein lies the dilemma for some in the party.

"Should we take disciplinary action? If we do, then some will object because Dr Mahathir did so much for us. But does that then mean that someone who has contributed much is free to go against party discipline and can do as he pleases, like having a ceramah with Pas?

"Does toleration and transparency reach that level? This is what some are confused about. It’s an interesting development," he says.

Muhammad says he’s not suggesting that action should be taken against Dr Mahathir. "But when he was prime minister and party president, all of us were diasuh (trained) to be loyal to the party first. I was Menteri Besar for 11 years, and Dr Mahathir taught me that when we’re loyal to the party, no action by any individual can affect Umno," he says.

At one point, rumours, fuelled by the Opposition, surfaced that the party was mulling Dr Mahathir’s expulsion. The Umno leadership denied it, but there is a precedent.

Dr Mahathir was sacked on Sept 26, 1969, for his open criticism of Tunku Abdul Rahman following the race riots in May. He was then a supreme council member who had lost narrowly in the general election to Pas’ Datuk Yusuf Rawa.

He continued to express his strident views. But some, notably Tunku’s successor, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, saw a larger potential in Dr Mahathir, and on March 7, 1972, he was re-admitted into the party, and began a meteoric rise to the top.

Is history about to repeat itself?

UKM political science lecturer Mohammad Agus Yusoff thinks not.

"The scenario is different. Back then, Dr Mahathir was mainly seen as an Umno activist and ultra-Malay. He held strong views on race matters, which were seen by the establishment as threatening to the country’s stability.

"But who is Dr Mahathir now? A former national leader at the helm of the country and party for over two decades. Many in the current Cabinet were under his tutelage (anak didik).

"It’s illogical for Umno to simply sack and cast him aside. The differences then and now are like sky and earth," says Agus, who attended Dr Mahathir’s talk last Saturday.

For Shamsul, the expulsion of Dr Mahathir from Umno isn’t the issue.

"Dr Mahathir is going through something similar to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when he got together with non-governmental organisations and Pas leaders. By doing this, he seems to be pandering to the more informed segment of his supporters. But expelling Dr Mahathir will not change anything. He will continue talking anyway. It will be too narrow a response.

"What needs to be done now is for the issues to be seen in their proper context. Anything beyond that is purely emotional."

Umno’s supreme council has expressed full support for the leadership of Abdullah, but on the ground, views are mixed.

A divisional committee member in Dr Mahathir’s home State of Kedah, contacted during a break in his branch meeting which went on well into the evening on Friday, explains.

"Dr Mahathir is our tok (elder). We feel that the way we respond to him must not be too excessive. There is sadness at the grassroots over the current state of affairs. We’re appealing to Pak Lah and Dr Mahathir to find a resolution."

Terengganu Umno information chief Ahmad Shabery Cheek says he’s been meeting and listening to many lower-line party and community leaders in the past three weeks, since Dr Mahathir made an earlier round of criticism.

"Initially, there were mixed feelings. Some felt we should not react to Dr Mahathir’s criticism, because if we did, the issue could escalate into an open conflict between him and the top party leaders.

"My impression was that the grassroots wanted things to remain sober. They wanted Umno and the Government to look more closely at possibilities for reconciliation."

But things started changing after Dr Mahathir’s talk last Saturday.

"In my division now (he is Kemaman Umno deputy chief), I notice that sentiments are shifting. People are getting confused when they see and hear Dr Mahathir appearing at the same event as Pas leaders and Datuk Ibrahim Ali, someone about whom they have strong reservations. They are asking why Dr Mahathir is doing this."

Ahmad Shabery says that the grassroots’ primary concerns are not the minutiae of the bridge issue or Proton, which many are not familiar with in the first place.

"They’re not happy when Dr M appears with the Opposition. They say Dr Mahathir seems to be slowly moving away from his core followers, not the Malay mass outside the party, but the people at ground level in Umno who’ve endeared themselves to him."

Ahmad Shabery, who as Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary has been helping to prepare answers on the bridge issue, says providing the explanations on the questions Dr Mahathir raised is not a problem.

"In fact, if Dr Mahathir has created the impression that he’s criticising Abdullah’s performance in managing the economy, then we can also explain how Dr Mahathir, in the early part of his administration, faced similar challenges.

The problem, says Ahmad Shabery, is in trying to describe why Dr Mahathir has gone on the warpath.

"It’s harder to explain why he is coming out like this, why he didn’t raise this behind closed doors, why he’s associating with people like Ibrahim Ali and Pas, and whether Dr Mahathir is going to end up like Datuk Onn Jaafar, who founded Umno but did not die an Umno member. All that we also have to explain," he says.

Dr Mahathir’s recent criticisms have caught many by surprise. But some who know him well, like former party secretary-general Tan Sri Sabbaruddin Chik, could sense something amiss early on.

"I’ve seen him since he retired ... and although he never said it out loud, I could sense he believed that something was not right."

Sabbaruddin, now a member of Umno’s appeals panel, was among the many civil servants Dr Mahathir picked out and groomed.

The former Cabinet minister says opinions about Dr Mahathir’s criticisms are mixed among party veterans and members. But he believes there’s still "room" for a resolution.

"Let’s try to give answers to all that he’s asking. No need to ‘whack’ him. Once we answer him properly, then he won’t be able to do anything."

But what if Dr Mahathir is still dissatisfied with answers?

"Then I think many people will, well, people like me, will definitely think again. But that’s something we shouldn’t think about now. Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it," says Sabbaruddin.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Even with one eye closed, Jasin MP bites back.

Jasin MP, Mohd Said "Close One Eye" Yusof has accused the Customs Dept of impropriety when disposing of cars seized by the dept. He says that certain seized luxury cars were sold at nominal prices to people connected to the dept.

While this in itself, is not a problem, on the contrary it is good to reveal wrongdoing by govt officials, Ol' Close One Eye is far from the poster boy of incorruptibility.

His own corruption case where he is accused of asking the Customs Dept to knowingly ignore violations by companies linked to him is still pending.

And coming up now with his own accusations towards the Customs Dept smacks of revenge and trying to make life difficult for his so-called enemies within the dept.

Importantly, Close One Eye says that he has proof of the dept's wrongdoing. But he says that he will not make a report to the ACA (Anti Corruption Agency). He even went so far as to ask the press to do their own investigation.

Let me put it this way. If he has proof, do the right thing and make a report. If he doesn't, then shut the hell up and wait for his turn in court. The Custom's Dept are no angels but all he's doing is accusing them of corruption in order to draw attention away from his own corruption.

It's not a case of who's wrong. It's a case of both being wrong and I hope the ACA proves it on both counts. I think both Close One Eye and the Customs Dept should be thoroughly investigated by the ACA. Get the evidence, prosecute and put all of them in prison. Throw away the key too.

Customs Department Prevention Unit director Adnan Ariffin has described the dept's auction procedure as above board. The Star carries his article.

Malaysian Cabinet are afraid of Khairy - says PAS Vice President

This article came out yesterday on PAS' website,

PAS Vice President, Mohamad Sabu, said that (translation by seantang):

"Malaysians are unfortunate to be governed by a cabinet of ministers, where almost all of whom have absolutely no courage to stand up to the son-in-law of the PM."

He says in no uncertain terms that Khairy is the 3rd party who is controlling the PM. And he asserts that none in the govt and UMNO dare to speak out against this situation although it endangers national security.

Mohamad Sabu goes on to congratulate Minister of Rural Development , Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin who apparently made the revelation about the said 3rd party. "Only Abdul Aziz is courageous enough to face Khairy."

He also says that only one other minister, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Rais Yatim, who found the courage to meet with Abdullah himself to convey the concerns of the Malaysians regarding Khairy.

Tun M has already stated that the Oxbridge flyboys on Putrajaya's Level 4 are already more powerful than the PM himself on Level 5.

Raja Petra Kamarudin from Malaysia has been detailing Khairy's rise to power in his series of articles entitled The Khairy Chronicles. But he is not a public figure, not politically aligned and generally does not figure in Malaysian politics. Therefore, he doesn't have to back up his online allegations in the normal political legal sense.

However, Mohd Sabu is the first mainstream politician (no less than the vice president of the largest opposition party) that has implicated Khairy directly, unambiguously and without reservation.

What ripples will result from this stone thrown into the pool of Malaysian politics remains to be seen. But I think the first son-in-law is losing his sheen of innocence. The majority of Malaysians were skeptical of Khairy's alleged influence over his father in law. They found it immensely doubtful, bordering on impossible.

But with a prominent and current PAS leader pointing the finger directly at Khairy (and this might open the floodgates for other prominent people to do the same), I think all Malaysians will have no choice but to finally entertain the notion that Khairy is the leprechaun holding the pot of gold at the end of the Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi rainbow.