Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Little hope is left for Malaysia to avoid a regime change or a failed state after the serial rebuke of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s maiden New Economic Model (NEM) Budget he read on Friday 15 October. It was read to a nation that was still reeling from the aftershocks of the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) Minister Idris Jala revealed weeks earlier.
It confirmed a business plan for selected companies to harvest super-mega projects mainly focused in Greater Kuala Lumpur ostensibly to overcome the declining foreign and domestic investments in 2009 and to revive a climate of growth.
Each costing tens of billions, the MRT alone running into RM40 billion and dwarfing all the previous mega-projects together, sunk all hopes that Najib had ever meant to deal by open tender.
The laissez faire of the NEM had with it a twist that could mean giving the Prime Minister and his select group of crony companies the right to be left alone to take as they please the cake, the cream, the cherry and the tables as well.
In every other way the Budget is an election budget.
Former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was prompted to prophecy after the budget reading that the Barisan Nasional (BN) will not get the two-third majority in the 13th General Elections it heralded.
This writer, long an observer and commentator of elections in the country, reads Dr. M’s remark as directly meaning the BN will lose to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), plus a sundry line-up of small parties and Independents that are expected to crown the extended rebuke of the BN’s leadership.
The BN was saved in 2008 by Sabah and Sarawak.
It could be different this time, the Budget and the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) providing too little to the Sabahans and Sarawakians. There had been extensive corruption in the two states.
The NEAC (National Economic Advisory Council) mentioned a slur of concern for the 40 percent of Malaysian households that earn RM 1500 per month or less, fearing most of these would not make it through in the conjugations of the high income society the NEM is about.
Truth is, households in Malaysia cannot make ends meet with less that RM 2000 a month and at least 70 per cent of Malaysian households earn RM 2000 or less, the bulk of these are Bumiputras with the larger numbers of households in the two states falling in the category.
The minimum household income in the urban centers would be RM 3000.
In the case of Malaysian workers, the Human Resources Ministry stated in August 2010 that the National Employment Return study of 2009 found that 34 per cent of the country’s workforce earned less than RM700 a month which was below the poverty line (RM720 per mensem).
Another 37% earned between RM700 to RM1500, giving 71 percent of the labor force earning RM 1500 or less of more than 11 million in a total population of 28 million, which also brings us to the question about where the consumption will come from in the super-spending of the New Economic Model (NEM) that will involve RM1.4 trillion of investments in 10 years to 2020.
In the fragile domestic and world economies, a high investment profiling of crony capitalism as imposed by the Budget and the ETP will certainly add to the inflation that is already severe.
It is easy to see the Najibian Economics will leave him a bread-and-butter villain to the larger number of households in the urban as well as the rural, meaning he will be voted out.
Looking at the Bank Negara (Central Bank) numbers about money will show the money supply had risen substantially between 2009 and 2010, suggesting a means to reduce the domestic debt. This adds to the inflation as do the reduction or withdrawal of subsidies for food and essential items.
Much more money will soon enter the market. With the super-mega projects the ETP has proclaimed, the tip of more than RM 110 billion for the first six opening salvos of the ETP [ahem!] will add a whopper to the money supply.
More monies will enter the market in the enhanced fluidity, making it pertinent to ask aloud how Najib will ensure that overall production will go up and stay up through the nine years to 2020 to avoid hyperinflation or even a Depression.
Should the supply of money show a steep upward curve because more money was printed and the same applies to the financial curve either because money is made cheap and/or it is made easily available, we will get hyperinflation if the production curve is stable. If the production curve goes down, the result is Depression. It’s plain and simple.
But who determines the level of production in Malaysia?
With that load of investments negotiated behind close-doors plus a larger-than-usual Operating Expenditure, and a smaller-than-otherwise Development Expenditure of less that RM 50 billion, plus monies that will flow into the market for the bubbly property market and the KLSE Casino Royale, it is hard to believe Najib’s game to draw Chinese votes will pull through even if we are calculating on a six-month run for the general elections.
He seems to be betting on large numbers, i.e. monies that are large enough to keep flowing and keep voters happy even if the markets shrink.
But what if the markets go down in a tailspin should the World Bank fail to convince the Europeans from applying austerity and them as well as others from devaluating their currencies?
The world economy is teetering on the edge of peril. Why do we deny that? What could be the reason or reasons for such a desperate lunge for the quick fix of an ailing economy and a disreputable party and coalition that should have undergone surgery but did not?
As the rebukes continue and observers sing the confusion in an endless chorus, it does look Najib is unlikely to bring the BN safely through the coming general elections even if Anwar’s PKR is a failing party.
Anwar’s repeat incarceration plus Teoh Beng Hock’s untimely and mysterious death will bring the tom-toms to a higher pitch than ever before. This time, whether or not Saiful was true that Anwar had not worn condoms and had done it in naked truth, he (Anwar, not Saiful) is Opposition leader.
It is done. What needs a close look is how Malaysia is to avoid becoming a failed state and/or fall under the micro-management of the UN global-mongers or of a colonial power. The Reformasi has lost its appeal. ----a. ghani ismail, 20 October, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Is Prime Minister Najib Razak being openly sabotaged by Level Four? The question arises after it became clear ‘his’ New Economic Model (NEM) and the recently unveiled Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) are based on very big bucks for super-mega projects to run the country into a high income economy by 2020.
The ETP costs about RM 1.4 trillion from 2010 to 2020 without a minimum wage for workers, with no subsidies and affirmative actions allowed that can or may distort the operations of the market economy and which will also see many of the Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) privatized.
In short, it is a promised Laissez-faire Shangrila seeded at a time when the leading capitalist nation (USA) is slapping tariff protection on a large number of Chinese goods and while the USD and the Euro are likely to collapse at any time, the PIIGS in the EU having become bankrupt and Greenland recently busted too, giving a sum of 17 countries unable to service their external debts so far.
People with money are hedging themselves against the impending Depression and currencies collapses. They pushed gold price above USD 1,360. Yet some in Malaysia wanted to trade the Ringgit in the money market. What for?
There’s a currency war going on. Some say it is due to the cheap Yuan. But that is clearly only one of numerous reasons - money printing on hitherto unknown scales in a few countries is another.
We know when too much money is printed and flushed into the market and lots of loans are given to trail huge stimulus packages, the ensuing inflation will become a depression should production fall.
Now we are told the 33 industrialized (OECD) countries have collectively run a 0.1 percent negative growth in August 2010.
A world depression follows should that become a trend.
Truth is, economic experts have all been saying that depression is already a swinger in the neighborhood and should claim a space on your bed the next time you blink.
Hence, we need to ask what is Najib’s RM 1.4 trillion 10-year injection to bring in high income about in a world economy that is already going down once again?
He is an economist and he must himself know the NEM with its ETP (Economic Transformation Plan, or whatever) is seriously a threat, not merely to the 40 percent of households in Malaysia that earn RM1500 or less per month but to the reality of households that cannot make ends meet earning twice that amount because of (present) rising prices. More than 70 percent of these are Bumiputras.
Was there anything in the ETP or the NEAC’s NEM that suggested the price spiral of essential items can or will be contained?
There are plans for FELDA to produce food and for some pharmaceutical industries to produce an assortment of drugs. But will that contain the inflation that is rising on the back of stimulus packages, money printing, unwinding of subsidies and bubble-making like in the case of housing where prices suddenly leapt 35 percent in the space of three months?
Neat packets of projects have already been given out in principle to the country’s mega companies, the Gamuda-MMC rapid-transit trains alone said to be worth more than RM43 billion, much of the money to be raised by issuing bonds.
YTL will be building a high-speed (280 kmph) train from Penang to Singapore, a much needed facility no doubt but most of that money must be quickly mopped or it will add on to the burdensome inflation.
MMC, which is reported to be already super-geared, want to develop some pieces of government land for some tens of billions while it also wishes to buy out UEM, which owns the lucrative cash-cow, PLUS, that built, maintains and runs the North-South Highway with the right to raise the toll every few years, and it does that.
This is assets sale. It is rumored MMC along with a few other companies are also interested in buying over PNB, the largest Bumiputra trust company.
We are now running into “super-mega projects” to raise the per capita income to more than US15,000, projects that make the RM12 billion KLIA and the RM19 billion Putrajaya look like penny buns.
The seven entry-point projects of the ETP alone, which are earmarked for takeoff before the year ends, cost RM118 billion, you see. It does not include the 10th Malaysia Plan spendings.
People, therefore, find the NEM and ETP a big threat. Until now this writer has not read a single positive acceptance of both anywhere in the pages of Internet discussions. Even economists writing to the government-inclined mainstream media have been highly skeptical.
What’s up then? Can it be true Najib is stuck with a Level Four that’s making him look like a super-dreamer compared to his predecessor and find himself knotted into a rot in less than a year or is Najib so aloof he believes he can stand above the impact of another world depression?
The world is certainly going into a Depression again. Is the ETP and the NEM really some kind of a solution to that? Is the Laissez-Faire economy magic?
Every critical writer on the subject has decided the NEM and the ETP are threats to the larger body of Malaysians and this writer joins the chorus. It will fail. Vision 2020 was far better.--- a. ghani ismail, 12 September, 2010.
Monday, September 20, 2010
While in high places serious questions are being asked about whether Singapore is deciding Malaysian policies in the midst of Lee Kuan Yew’s renewed comments on Malaysia, at ground level the distress is over continuously rising prices.
The compound is a serious erosion of Najib’s credibility, him being deliberately reduced to a compare with his predecessor, former Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), who was seen, among other things, to have been a Singapore dependent.
Taking over from Pak Lah without causing scarcely a ripple in the transition of power, Najib is unclear about his foreign policy, leaving him without an underscore to emphasize a difference of policy or of approach and hence, making him appear vulnerable to the recent protests in Indonesia staged by Bendera.
Some people here say his contestant, Anwar Ibrahim, may have a hand in the protests that were staged in Jakarta and somewhere in Sumatra, a speculation that could simply be meant to show Anwar as the larger regional and international personality between the two.
Najib must acknowledge he is under strong pressure. A lot of people are ready to quit on the Barisan Nasional (BN) and bring in a new regime.
He ought also to accept it as a fact that it is not merely the New Economic Policy that had been bastardized but the BN, and especially Umno, have been monsterized as well, making the coalition no longer feasible as an efficient conveyance of any development policy without “cost abundance” due to unrelenting corruption.
Umno has become overwhelmingly materialistic, led now at the divisional level by a posse of the super-privileged elite of millionaires, many of whom contractors and businessmen with the least interest in political ideology or of social policy. They simply buy power and pay for lucrative contracts.
Since corruption plus arrogance is a compound known to cause the disintegration of societies and bring empires (and nations) to a dead end, what we face is clearly an existential crisis – a final existential halt, or the breakdown and breakup of Umno, BN and Malaysia.
There must be a quick move to reinvent Umno and the BN. It is not possible to believe the coalition can deliver without a thorough structural and ideological change.
Corruption and indiscipline in the BN are, indeed, the root causes of the monumental administrative and developmental dysfunctions that have been causing the widespread despair.
Unless Umno, the backbone of the BN, which is patron-ridden and corrupt at the core, is quickly intercepted by a Golkar-like compact of workers-professionals NGOs (without the participation of the armed-forces), it does look likely that Najib Tun Razak will fail to gain the confidence and credibility he badly needs to make his One Malaysia and New Economic Model (NEM) into a winning number in the 13th general elections.
There is no other way that can be seen or theorized as a means to overcome the Malaysian ethnic-bondage that is back on a Hate-Malays campaign, a simple and sure way of undermining One Malaysia.
This Hate Malays syndrome is a fixed behavior in the Malaysian plurality. It has been there from even before the British Intervention of 1874, the Intervention being Chinese-secured following Chinese secret societies feuds with Malay warlords and rajas taking sides.
Racial conflicts exploded in 1942-46. In Malay perception it then blew into a long-drawn contest for power and resources in the form of the Communist Insurrection from 1948 to 1960 and then again in 1968-80.
The 1969 racial riots which followed a glorious “Sweep Out The Malays” victory parade after the elections in May 1969 had actually a trailer in 1967 in Penang.
Four Malays were killed by Chinese hoods when Chinese processions suddenly became wild and violent on the island.
The Malays retaliated causing sporadic riots lasting for months, the writer and three of his colleagues almost caught in one of these at the end of the year on the border of Penang and Kedah.
There was a trailer to the 1969 riots in 1967. In the Kampung Medan Incident we have a trailer for a catharsis that’s on its way if nothing is done to quickly stop the Hate Malays campaign which is now bearing fruits in heated Malay reactions.
In short, we have an existential crisis on our hands and in a region that’s being drawn deeper and deeper into a war culture.
With the Senkaku (Diaoyu) spat adding on to the Korean hot-plate, the existential well-being of this nation will need to be first secured in a clarity of purpose, policy, instruments and vehicle before we can remove the specter of the failed state from our minds and the eventual breakdown and breakup of Malaysia, 53 years old and clearly already debilitating.
A Malaysian disintegration will not be like Thailand. It will be more likely a Pakistan with the ethnic replacing the sectarian bases of contests and conflicts, the strings pulled by numerous saboteurs from military intelligence outfits as it is in the ill-fated Muslim state now looking like a nightgown in shreds, which is Pakistan serially raped.
Well, is there really Malaysian unity? Is there Malay unity for that matter? ----- a. ghani ismail, 20 Sept. 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Caught midstream in geopolitical turbulence a mile wide with the South-Asian war on the right bank and on the left the Koreas on the boil, Malays in Malaysia may wish they can keep looking straight to avoid having to decide which way they have to go. But they must decide, and fast. Time is running out on them.
There is no middle ground left in the surge of asymmetrical terror in the Clash of Civilizations.
Our old friend in Cuba, Comrade Fidel Castro, has been saying since his recovery from bad health that the war is now verging on the ultimate nuclear holocaust. He may be right.
While the Man of Peace, Barrack Hussein Obama, preside over that civilization clash from the White House, India and Pakistan, both reluctant allies of the US (purposed mainly for the Containment of China), have applied to become members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that started out with Russia, China and five of the Central Asian countries.
As India sets aside US2 billion to reopen the Ledo Road built during WW II to reach Kun Ming through Myanmar, Pakistan and China have agreed in principle to extend the Korakoram road into a highway that will run through the Northwest Frontier into Baluchistan to the new port on the shore of the Indian Ocean.
China has also told Afghanistan she is ready to build a railway connection from Kandahar to the same port in Balochistan.
Iran, meantime, after successfully leading the ECO countries in building the rail connection between Islamabad and Istanbul, has committed US3 billion to build a railway from Herat to Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.
After the US has sent back Afghanistan to the Stone Age and that once wondrous country has become the world’s largest producer of opium to stay alive, the great hegemonic power slapped the much-disliked Kerry Lugar aid-trap on Pakistan, giving the US virtually all authority to micro-manage Pakistan in exchange for the paltry USD7.5 billion spread through five years.
Pakistan has since become a death-trap and thoroughly a failed-state, now fearing the US will demand her small arsenal of nuclear bombs and render her defenseless in the South-Asian territorial conflict. To make matters worse, she is currently flooded with 20 million of her people badly affected.
Against the American war, Chinese outfits have been building quality roads in Central Asia and have begun to take electricity from there to eventually reach Turkey, for industry.
Kashgar, the Old Silk Road largest bazaar on the Tajik-Xinjiang border will soon be rebuilt into a modern city with giant trading and shopping malls, with roads leading out to Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and to the Korakorum and to the heart of China.
The contrast between the US and China-Russia with the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) is a simple contrast of War and Peace, leaving Obama, the Friend of Peace, on the side of War – a good man living with bad joss.
That’s about the right bank of the Malay world, in a nutshell. Just as border tensions become unnaturally and unnecessarily high between India and China, the world was edged into frantic tensions on the left bank over the two Koreas, the tensions reaching straight to the Spratlys, the Straits of Malacca, the whole of the China Sea and its neighborhood and stretching the Pacific into a grasp of heat.
In short, the turbulence on the left and right banks of the Malay World translates into World War.
While in the development even Sri Lanka has turned towards the peace-bearing SCO (and ECO), Malaysia, which had spearheaded the move to set-up our own East-Asian Caucus (involving ASEAN, China, Korea and Japan) has now virtually retracted that East Asian peace initiative.
EAC would have given Asean and her partners the leverages needed to return the tension-filled Containment of China back into negotiable conduct of trade,development and cultural exchanges.
It would have also given the chance for Asean countries to redistribute Asean trade which has been hogged by Singapore, the island republic taking the lion’s share o about 65 percent from the start.
Malaysia was en-route to leading the pack of 10 to reform the trade and economic profiles of our regional bloc when the previous to the previous premier led himself into a hilarious power skirmish with his nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim, making them both losers. It was ostensibly about sodomy.
Now, with the US-Vietnam nuclear agreement causing the scenario to totally change, the Malays, as they are led by Umno, are quite apparently in a state of bewilderment and not knowing on which side of the Malay River (Sungai Melayu) will the harvests become gold, and which will be fire.
Because around 30 percent of Malaysia is Chinese and the Chinese have been more economically successful in Malaysia (as well as in all Asean), it seems safe to say Malays in Malaysia are generally scared the Chinese would run them aground politically, sooner or later.
But how can the Chinese do that if the Malays do not sell off their birthrights this writer hasn’t been able to grasp since the beginning of time.
In other words, that fear seems to be seated on the self-assumption the Malays are corrupt, are naturally corruptible and will sell off their birthrights for a fee and bits of flesh, like it had been in Palembang and Jambe, the Malay heartland.
Some Malays appear to have been gripped by US propaganda that has made China into a US archrival now that the Muslims have been reduced into intra-Islam anarchy of sects (and sexes).
China, on the other hand, is the third country in Space and has modernized her arsenal to include ICBMs with cluster-nuclear warheads. But the US may be able to blow these with her anti-missile lasers.
The meaning is this: China is still decades away from becoming a contestant for hegemony or even for hemispheric imperialism.
China is, instead, a very successful vendor of intercontinental trade, diplomacy and development.
The same as with Iran, which the US and Zionists want us to believe is well on the way to becoming a regional power wishing to nuke Israel, China too is being made into a bogey by the US.
Some Malays enjoy this fear-the-Chinese syndrome. It had been a Malay trait from before WW II and dubbed in history as the Great Fear, becoming the motive force of the efficient anti-Chinese movement in 1944-46.
Truth is, China has just moved into a GDP of US5 trillion. Because the Japanese GDP had shrunk a bit, China may have become statistically the second largest economy in the world.
But that is US5 trillion in a country of 1.3 billion. It makes the Chinese urban per capita income only about RM5,000 and with about RM1,500 for the rural. Take note the numbers are in RM, not USD.
That is, indeed, a great leap for what had been an abject poverty-clutch only three decades before. But China would need time to use domestic consumer spending to boost her economy. She will be export-dependent for a long while yet.
This means, unless she reverts to the old style of command economy, she is not about to become imperial.
Militarily, while she has a huge infantry and a remarkably fast-expanding modern air force, she is merely in the process of building her first two aircraft-carriers to contest the mighty US Pacific Fleet.
Hence, the danger China poses to us is more in her cheap goods than in her military might. She is a US embarrassment because of the US1.8 trillion America owes to the Bank of China rather than for being militarily a contestant.
Because the US and Britain/Europe have all the time been technology-stingy, more and more countries in the world have been looking to China and Russia for technology-transfer and for state-of-the-art aircrafts and weaponry.
The US sold us (Malaysia) F-fighter jets without giving us the code to open the bomb-hatch! Will they give us the code if Anwar Ibrahim becomes the Malaysia Prime Minister? Is there any guarantee forthcoming from the Pentagon or from the Whitey House?
The Chinese isn’t much of a threat. Chinese in Malaysia can become difficult if they were to smuggle into the country something like three million persons from the Chinese mainland into the recently constructed economic corridors.
Short of that kind of a stunning human smuggling racket, the Chinese in Malaysia are at worst merely a case of bad breath, and at best, a vibrant commercial and industrial community that can become astounding with the right opportunities and the right mannerisms.
This is to say in the Sino-Malay periodical effervescences, it is the Malays that have been at fault.
Corruption-prone, they have been quick to swerve into banshee-screaming to extend the tenure of the super-privileged gotten-rich-quick class of Malay princes, politicians, contractors and businessmen, the Malay Labor left out and instead, made to pay for the costs of the hubris and debauchery. Malaysia is now on the edge of bankruptcy.
Hardly anything has gone into the way of Labor under the leadership of Najib Tun Razak who is hosting the High Income Economy, ensuring his father, The Great Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, is now truly dead.
Hardly anything worth redeeming has been heard of a Social Policy in Najib’s New Economic Model (NEM), him busy wooing Chinese and Indian voters who probably will continue to vote against the Barisan Nasional (BN), anyway.
The Malays are in critical dilemma once again for the lack of an ideological guidance other than an absurdly distorted Islam,
One Malaysia must need an ideology that can offer Malaysians a way out of the ethnic and sectarian conflicts or it will merely be a political posture worth no more than a lollipop that will melt under the sun.
The Malays have no place to rally around. This is an industrial society and it is senseless to believe Malays can anymore stand together around fundamental Islam or around the pool of the super-privileged nationalist elite that has gone berserk in corrupt practices and in arrogance.
Going back to Labor in Co-production is possibly the only way there is.-- a. ghani ismail, 22 August, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Israel made no mistakes in the killing of at least nine aid volunteers and wounding 45 on board the Mavi Marmara leading the Flotilla of Freedom before dawn on Monday, 31 May, 2010, in the Mediterranean international waters 120 km from the coastline.
700 Israel elite troopers (commandos) were dispatched against the 700 unarmed multinational volunteers in a flotilla of seven seeking to save 100,000 homeless Gazans.
Among the dead is Swedish bestselling mystery author, Henning Mankell, it was reported. The wounded have been transferred to an Israeli hospital and reports say more may die in the next several days.
The Gazans are victims of the close-border stranglehold Israel and Egypt imposed from three years ago. Israel killed tens of thousands of Gazans in an invasion last year.
The Freedom Flotilla, put together by international humanitarian lifeline for Gaza on the intiative of the Freedom For Gaza Movement based in Cyprus, aimed to breach the siege with food, medicine and construction material, a simple humanitarian act that would be called charity in any language, including Hebrew, other than in Israel.
Israel imaged that charity as a breach of her security, an act of unimaginable malevolence by a bunch of Islamic states, meaning that the country the British and Americans had helped found in the wake of the World War II has a psyche of her own the rest of humanity can hardly deem as belonging to anything humane.
Turkey foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu said Israel 'has lost all legitimacy' and its action 'constitute a grave breach of international law...It is murder conducted by a state.'
The flotilla is not all done. The Rachel Corrie and two cargo ships have decided to continue to Gaza on June 1. It has Malaysians and Irish volunteers on board. The internaional community will have to protect the volunteers on board or never live down this event of castaway diplomacy against a regime of crime. Pro-Israel news agencies, and they are probably 75 percent of the old media, are saying the volunteers started the fight on the Mavi Marmara armed Israeli commandos boarded.
The picture below is of one of several protests in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 1st June, 2010.
It is another of Israel’s act of mass murder. Until the UNSC does something effective to end the inhuman atrocities of this brutal regime, simply boycott everything of Israel NOW! But make no mistake when asking the US to shun Israel. She is the USA's forward base in the Medterranean and the Arab World, now also of the Greater Middle East.
In all of her 62 years of existence Israel has never tolerated any difference of point of view. Any opinion that differs with her viewpoint is regarded as malevolent and belligerent. It's now about the Free Gaza Movement and you.- a. ghani ismail, 1 June, 2010
Murder on Mavi Marmara - Malaysian Journalist Tells The Story
The young journalist from the Malaysian satellite television station was evicted to safety from a prison in Israel. He and hundred of volunteers in the Aid Flotilla were taken to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod by Israeli commandos from international waters 120 meters out to sea in the Mediterranean. They were attacked, 9 killed on board the Mavi Marmara and 10 dead to the time of writing. Forty five were sent to the hospital, mostly with gunshot wounds, some in critical condition.
Astro Awani’s Ashwad Ismail, 26, said on his arrival in Jordan, he had only been 28 hours in one of Israel’s prison and that brief experience after the brutality he encountered on board the Mavi Marmara gave him a taste of Palestine sufferings endured through 62 years of the brutal regime.
The Israeli commandos had surrounded the Mavi Marmara by 11 pm and they invaded at 2.45 in the morning. There were three helicopters circling overhead and in the sea were troops on boats. They invaded and shot at us with live bullets, Ashwad recounted.
“I had called Awani in Kuala Lumpur at 7.45 pm to inform them what reports to expect from me. I could not imagine Israel would do this. Suddenly I found myself crawling on the deck in a sea of blood, trying to find a way out and then a laser from a soldier’s gun was pointed to my head. I surrendered.”
Ashwad left Kuala Lumpur for Istanbul with Awani’s cameraman, Shamsulkamal Abdul Latip, 43. They left on 23 May and from Istanbul they went to Antalya where they boarded the Mavi Marmara for the journey that was to take them into a killing-field on the ship that took nine (now 10) lives and wounded at least 45.
The Mavi Mamara was leading a flotilla of seven with 10,000 tons of construction material, school equipment, some food and clothing as humanitarian aid for more than 100,000 Gazans made homeless by the regime’s heartless invasion of the Hamas governed finger-tip territory the Palestinians of Gaza call home underneath Israeli law.
For the past three years they lived under a siege applied by the regime and Egypt. Even the meanest medical supply and food could not go through the tunnels that had been dug by the Gazans and bombed to bits by Israel.
The twelve Malaysian volunteers were taken to Ashdod, fed pieces of bread and water, later evicted to Jordan where they were being waited for by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anifah Aman. Anifah fumed.
Back home Malaysia was preparing for a special parliamentary session to discuss the event and what steps to take. A number of small protests were held on June 1 mainly to deliver a memorandum to the US Embassy. A large demonstration is to be held on Friday, June 4. Parliament sits to discuss the matter on Monday, June 7.
The volunteers taken to Ashdod have mostly been evicted. About 50 have been detained against a fury of protests that threatens to turn Israel into an outcast terrorist state the likes of which should never have soiled humanity.
Ashwad said there were naval crafts, a ship and three helicopters that Israel had sent to invade and capture the flotilla. Other reports say Israel had sent 700 commandos. There were also 700 volunteers in the desperate humanitarian attempt to secure the basic needs of the Gazans living beneath Israel’s tyranny.
Ashwad continued his story. He had the laser of a commando gun on his head and he put up both his hands. Israeli soldiers bound him and he was ordered to stay on the deck.
The Mavi Marmara was then forced to sail to the port of Ashdod. All of the volunteers were later taken to a prison at Vir Sheba.
Ashwad said, it took 12 hours for the captive volunteers to be taken to Ashdod and then to the prison. They were given some water, but no food.
At the prison food was bread and greens, Ashwad said. ‘We were yelled at, humiliated and generally treated as common prisoners.’
The Mavi Marmara carried no weapons. Ashwad recounted that in self-defense some volunteers had used whatever pieces of iron on the ship that was within reach, after the Israelis had opened fire.
The volunteers mainly used water from the fire-hoses. They had not anticipated such a gruesome brute action and even if they did they would not have brought weapons with them. It was a mission to save lives, not to destroy any.
Humanity has been maimed, again, by a regime that has said and would be saying still, that it has the right to self-defense. Against everybody that disagrees? Is that it? ---a. ghani ismail, 3 June, 2010
Demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur on June 4. Parliament will sit on Israel's attack of the Mavi Marmara and the Gaza seige on Monday, June 7.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Has justice been thrown into jail following the killing in the early hours of 26 April of a schoolboy, Aminul Rasyid Amzah, in Section 11, Shah Alam, who took his sister’s car for a ride into town? He was barely 15.
Police want us to believe he and his schoolmate, Azamuddin Omar, 15, were possibly robbers who kept a machete in the car. Can that at all be true?
We were quickly told not to politicize the event. Did it become political because reports on the macabre event were written by the Pas Member of Parliament for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad, in his blog from a day after the Barisan Nasional had won in the Hulu Selangor by-election?
Khalid Samad’s reports based on witnesses' accounts showed the boy was already shot dead before he could reverse the car he had driven to threaten the lives of the armed policemen.
The IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hasan, by insisting that the boy had actually reversed the car as reported by the police personnel involved, caused the public distress to turn into indignation and logging more than 35,000 hits on Google search in six days (by 1st May) compared to 20,800 hits for single mother, Norizan Salleh, police had shot five times on Oct. 30, 2009.
She is still seeking for justice.
Could it be possible justice is in jail and we would need to aggress to free it before it can be done?
The number of people who died in police custody and those shot on the streets have been rising too high for anxiety to remain subdued in this terribly apathetic society.
In the recent killing of the schoolboy the CPO of Selangor, afraid the incident would become a major political issue, was reported to have said the policemen would be charged for murder. He asked, “Isn’t that enough?”
In other words, he admitted a serious crime had occurred and the execution of the schoolboy would be dealt with by the court of law, himself wishing to avoid a public probe some people had suggested before the outgoing IGP was taken to the crime scene and driven the six kilometers of the car chase (or it could have been merely 1.2 kilometers) that ended with a shot to the back of Amirul’s head.
The deadly shot was one of four from close range, or so we were told by a witness. Many more shots were aimed at the car tyres on the way to the fatal end, said police.
In short, the IGP, in his over-zealous I-take-care-of-my-men display, which he denied was his motive, had wittingly or unwittingly confused the already heated public indignation.
Musa Hasan was widely reported to have threatened to take his men off the streets “if that’s what you want!”
If not for the quick move by the Home Ministry, he could have set the public indignation into popular agitation in the streets and the stage would be made for uproar and riots, led by the Opposition, or who else? Aminulrasyid can be our son or our kid brother, you see.
What did the Home Minister do?
He suggested an eight-man panel to run an open inquest, the panel chaired by his deputy and the members would be drawn from the public, which is good for securing the people a true picture of what happened on the fatal night for the schoolboy who took his sister’s Proton Iswara at midnight to help a friend in Section 7 whose motorbike had a puncture. Or he and a friend could have gone to meet a couple of school girls. Should that matter?
It is clearly visible from the above that members of the Malaysian public who had troubled themselves to read what Khalid Samad had contributed on his blog would have formed a clear picture in their heads and cannot believe the police story. Hence, a panel-inquest becomes necessary before the trial.
The IGP should hold his breath for a little and ask himself how the Police Force is perceived. A few years ago his predecessor, Tun Haniff Omar, had written to say that his wife would have him armed with a pump-gun even if he was going out at night to attend a meeting in town.
In recent years the Force had stood as a tight pack to reject wholesale the suggestion to impose on it the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), the suggested Commission standing as a loud statement of slackness, corruption and lack of discipline occurring in the police department and causing public anxiety.
Tan Sri Musa Hasan may believe society has decided he is a failure and so he is extra sensitive as his days at the helm dim.
That is not true. Most people are also appreciative of the police in general, many of whom have died for us in the line of duty. But the gratitude and appreciation cannot mean you are above criticism and cannot be called to book.
People are generally aware the Police Force has had to recruit and train large numbers, making discipline difficult to invest in the short training.
We have also been told when some senior officers from the district level up are transferred, they take with them their “boys”, causing the district to loose accumulated contacts and information.
It seems like central authority in the department has been undermined and if that is true a commission is called for to investigate and to study the dysfunction and then to recommend the means available to secure and rehabilitate the department.
It is possible the department may have become too large and should be split into several departments, some placed under different Ministries since their functions may not properly fit into the role of the Police Force.
In a society that’s aiming to become a developed society in ten years lugging public apathy as a crucifix, we can certainly do without sensitivities overwhelming the meager efforts made by the conscientious to get justice out of jail and reaffirmed as a strong value in this would-soon-be First World nation.
Amirulrasyid is now dead. The boy falls under the Child’s Act and had he been booked for the traffic offences he was guilty for, his name and identity would have been withheld by the law.
But police officers shot him in the head about 100 meters from his house, a decent suburban environment that had bred a boy who wanted to become an astronaut, but who had learned to drive years before he was eligible for a driving licence.
The Selangor CPO had said only one of his men had discharged his firearm. Well, what is there to say about that other than to acclaim his great talent!
Whether you like it or not, the police, instead of becoming people-friendly, which was the policy objective some years ago, has become increasingly nasty and is already a monster. A Royal Commission will be required to tame it.
Now will someone please free justice from jail and bring the crime to its court?---a. ghani ismail, 2 May, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
As a casualty, Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) would be in intensive care on this last day of the campaign for Hulu Selangor (24 April), meaning Zaid Ibrahim, even if he was defensible in the rogue politics that’s gripped this yawn into a sudden wake-up, would still be a cadaver when the results are announced tomorrow night.
But it is Anwar Ibrahim, the immense and overwhelmingly important political ego who lost his chance to throttle Najib Tun Razak for the run to the sun who is mangled, beyond any compare in the history of Malaysia.
Hulu Selangor was Anwar’s harvest. Now it is his graveyard. He does what he likes and he’s clearly lost his appeal.
Distanced even by his personal physician, Dr.Halili, after a shocking fall from grace that is shrinking the PKR into the smallest component of the Pakatan in parliament, Anwar should have known better than to grab at straws to clobber Najib who has made it to the top and is doing better by the day.
What did he expect to gain by using APCO as a bogey to spin Najib’s One Malayia into a by-product of One Israel? That is really hard to say.
Other than effecting echoes of the street-gangs that follow him in his campaign trail, Anwar’s Israelite bogey is limp, especially against the accusation that he has been Paul Wolfowitz’s boy and Wolfowitz was an architect of the Iraq War people here condemn as grand homicide and connect it to the Zionists and to Israel.
When the bogey is repeated day and night in Hulu Selangor while PKR members leave the party, it is Anwar who tumbles. Along with him falls Yusuf al-Qaradhawi whose name he now employs like it is his fervent prayer that the religious scholar will pop out from somewhere to tell us that he (Anwar) had never been a sinner.
Truth is, Anwar had left his flock of followers in ABIM and his supporters in the society by a sudden twist in his game-play when he joined Umno to become a Deputy Minister in 1981.
Many of those he played out before are still alive and have not forgotten the egophiliac, a factor that could have been a reason for why the Pas members, who had come in force on April 17 (nomination day) had then stayed out of the campaign until April 23.
It is apparent the Pas president, Abdul Hadi Awang, had left it to Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the party’s spiritual leader, to decide. Nik Aziz returned home from Mecca on April 22 and he decided the party should join the Pakatan’s campaign, which happened on April 23 two days before polling.
The rot is stacked on Anwar in Hulu Selangor where once he had been the favored choice for national leadership. The candidate of his choice, Zaid Ibrahim, had been merely a victim of an extraordinary circumstance he had not been clear about.
It's Selangor MB, Khalid Ibrahim, who has kept the PKR remaining alive in the state. He gave the lower income groups free water, he gave people who stayed on Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) land for 15 years or more leasehold grants and he has recently relieved those who bought houses or shops in stalled township or housing projects from paying quit-rent.
These go a long way to win over voters. But it is generally known Anwar and his former secretary, Azmin Ali, want Khalid out.
DAP legend, Lim Kit Siang, had said Pakatan would need 85 percent of the Chinese votes in Hulu Selangor to secure Zaid. But the Chinese, who are 26 percent of the voters in the constituency, had retained Kuala Kubu Bharu for the MCA in 2008 and would not want to lose that edge in the arithmetic of communal power-sharing.
The number of Malay voters has been increasing more than the increases in Chinese and Indian voters in Hulu Selangor.
Politically it is the Pas that has the greater potential in the constituency, the numbers of its members having risen from less that 1,000 in 2008 to reach about 7,300 today.
The sum total of that weighs heavily against Zaid. He will lose tomorrow (25 April), by what appears on my screen as probably between 800 and 1,000 votes, with less than 10 hours left for campaigning.
But while Zaid can still give it another try in a different constituency, Anwar may have to kiss himself goodbye and once again become a cause celebre should he fail in court to undo the knot Saiful Bukhari has tied him in. Saiful was another one of his aides.
It’s sad. The truth, taken without a dash of fiction, is sadder still.
But in the night of April 24, at the Kuala Kubu Bharu stadium where the Pas spiritual leader talked, PAKATAN troopers came in a force of 60,000 mainly from Selangor and Perak. Most bathed in the illuminations of the stadium lights as they listened intently to the old man of Kelantan, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, telling them the Devil is Umno and if they wish for a better life in Islamic garb they should vote Zaid Ibrahim.
Anwar arrived late and as he spoke thousands began to walk out of the stadium, a few saying aloud they have to get out of the little town pronto or it would take them the rest of the night to get to the highway. Bon voyage! ---a. ghani ismail, 24 April, 2010
Result of the by-election of Sunday, April 25 2010: Barisan Nasional won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat by a majority of 1,725. Its candidate, P. Kamalanathan from the MIC, polled 24,997 votes to defeat PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who garnered 23,272 votes. A total of 48,935 people or 75.87% of the eligible voters cast their ballots.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
It’s sundown at midday after nominations on April 17 for the Hulu Selangor by-election on 25th April, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), looking the likely winner even if it had lost its quest and is becoming a rubble. The party crumpled what remained of its bearings by parading its wunderman, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, through Kuala Kubu Bharu looking like this
The serious business of choosing a parliamentary representative for the larger-than-Malacca constituency is now a comedy.
Hulu Selangor had been ravaged by over-construction in the failed attempt to create another Klang Valley in Selangor. It badly needed a committed person for the people to place their faith in.
In the picture above is Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, former de facto Law Minister in a crazier-than-fiction outfit to resemble a Chinese culture hero, Justice Pau.
The legend was aired over the TV in Malaysia from immediately after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi assumed the premiership in Oct. 2003, with someone declaring through advertising spaces in Chinese newspapers that the former regime was “corrupt to the core.”
Whatever is the motive of the hilarity in Kuala Kubu Bharu on April 17, Zaid, who had left Umno and joined the PKR, is being cut down to size from immediately after the nominations were closed.
By what looked like a freakish storm following the sundown, he was struck as having a drinking problem, a man of questionable moral values who approved gambling and may own a racehorse or two.
On the same night, Anwar Ibrahim, the maverick head-starter of the bash at the Indonesian Reformasi in Malaysia, said Zaid admitted he had been fond of drinks in his younger days. Zaid was also said to have been found guilty of vote-buying when he was in Umno.
Anwar drew an audience of less than 500 in Kerling on the night of April 17, after nominations. He should have attracted not less than 5,000.
Hardly any Chinese (other than newsmen and photographers) were in the audience on the field beside the Kerling Hindu temple.
In Kerling is a string of Chinese New Villages that run right to the hot-spring of the little villages that had once been a Red Area.
While most of the speakers last night were PKR and DAP Indians, the number of Indians in the audience was less than 30.
Anwar had drawn only a little more that 300 in Serendah, it was reported and the PKR drew only about 400 in Asam Kumbang New Village, Kuala Kubu Bharu on 15 April.
What’s going on is simple to grasp. The party that had shaken the Barisan Nasional in the 8th March 2008 general-elections has lost sense of its quest and is crumbling from the top down.
The PKR is not much more than Anwar’s vehicle to grab federal power, which he tried to do before September 16, 2008 and failed, the party appearing like it is quashed on the canvas as a result and senselessly muttering ‘Reformasi, Reformasi’, but for what?
Now, in the hilarity of its joyous mood to walk into Kuala Kubu Bharu and in Hulu Selangor as the champion of the recent past, the PKR cannot escape looking like it is punch-drunk to have dressed and dolled-up Zaid Ibrahim in the Chinese opera costume with the loose beard hanging down like its the curtain.
What's the suggestion then?
The suggestion is to restructure form and content because the quest for Reformasi has long been dead and what the Pakatan had been lugging was a cause to free Anwar from prison and since, to keep him from going back in.
That would be at least a mite different from Reformasi or Doi Moi.
And it should be the likes of Dr. Syed Hussin Ali or Dr.Xavier Jeyakumar at the lead for a chance at a two-party system and for Proportional Representation (PR).
What about the Barisan Nasional (BN)?
It has been behaving like in a circus act over the selection of its candidate but now its candidate, P. Kamalanathan, MIC Information Chief, will win on April 25 where the BN had lost in 2008 by only 198 votes. The ruling coalition secured all three state seats in the constituency. –a. ghani ismail, 18 April, 2010.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Tossed into Alice’s Wonderland on 8 March 2008 by a fluke of fate, Anwar’s vehicle for his ride to power has now come loose, becoming a serious liability to its partners two years after the great surprise at the polls that brought in the absurdity.
It’s been departure time for scores of party members the past one month, with former party secretary-general, Salehuddin Hashim, leading the way and in his train three MPs have quit the party, another sacked and several more adrift.
While many from some parts of the world placed much faith in Anwar Ibrahim and the promises he made for reform, the facts say his outfit had been overwhelmed by his secretaries who struggled for influence among themselves, the losers leaving the party to publicly scorn Anwar and his favorites.
There was never a chance for the party to build a base for coherence and cohesion so it can survive the violence of a Punch and Judy puppet show.
The PKR was doomed from birth, riding piggyback on the Pas into the 1990 general elections and coming to an abrupt halt in 2004. It was wiped out at the polls, leaving Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah, as the sole survivor in Parliament, winning as caretaker of Anwar’s parliamentary base, Permatang Pauh in Penang.
The pendulum swung to an extreme in the 8 March 2008 general elections. Seeing Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) were unable to remove Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from the helm, the people moved to vote against Badawi, denying the BN the two-third majority.
With the Opposition only 30 less than the BN in Parliament, Anwar became inspired to apply haste in politics and declared he had enough BN lawmakers willing to cross court and join the Pakatan to form the new government on September 16, 2008 .
It failed and it backfired, Anwar self-bashed to a pulp.
It was impossible for the PKR to recover since. Anwar and the Opposition could only hope for Najib Tun Razak to slump before he could succeed Badawi.
Najib made it. Then he moved swiftly to turn the tables on Anwar and the Pakatan. He recovered the state of Perak and in a series of offensives he left the Pakatan in distress in Selangor and Penang.
In Kedah the Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) is often sick and has not delivered anything worth a mention in the two years he has been chief executive.
In Kelantan the stoic old survivor, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, has finally gotten himself linked to a possible set of graft charges involving his son-in-law whom he appointed as the CEO of a state company he chaired himself.
In Penang Lim Guan Eng as Chief Minister has been alleged to have made a regulation giving him the power to withdraw contracts given out by the state or state agency, without having to give any reason for his actions.
In other words, he was said to have taken to himself extraordinary powers for someone demanding accountability and transparency in government.
The opposition has also been showing gross incompetence, lack of experience and silly arrogance. Some could not handle the simple taste of minimal power.
In many places it has been a lark the likes of which we have never seen or heard before – a powershoku that had come in with the 8 March 2008 electoral tsunami bringing to Malaysia a real life staging of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, featuring some who had done nothing more than ferrying mineral water from the shops to the election hot-tents and were amply rewarded for that.
When some councilors at the district and municipal levels were dropped there was the news in several online newspapers that one of these had ingested a weed-killer. The news item was withdrawn many hours later.
The truth is bizarre. The Opposition had been as surprised as anyone else with the 8 March 2008 election results and the PKR and the DAP were not prepared to run state governments and to place selected members as councilors at district and municipal levels.
Why would the DAP and PKR now want town council elections is yet another kinky curio when the DAP’s Magister, Lim Kit Siang, had recently wrote against the proposal, possibly because the party and its strange sidekick, PKR, do not have cadre outfits to fill in the positions with people who know what to do.
Other than the socialists in the PKR, hardly any of the party members had been in touch with farmers’, smallholders’ or fishermen's associations, meaning they have no idea of the tensions faced by these sectors and to exploit the tensions.
The same is partially true for the Pas, which is probably why the party failed to hold the rural electorates in many states.
It would now become pertinent to ask who among the members of the PKR (other than the socialists) and the Pas have been keeping touch with workers’ unions in the urban?
What, therefore, is the Pakatan about other than to make Anwar Ibrahim the boss over Putrajaya? Why would we want to do that?
If it is about Reformasi, we need to ask what have they done in that direction the past two years other than talk in road-shows and in the coffee-shops?
If it is about the chance to incur a two-party system we have to know at which point had that been a viable option since 8 March 2008?
Is Anwar managerially substantial or is he the same now as he had been as a minister and Umno leader, with many of his boys forming a cackle of menacing husbanded power who misbehaved while pretending to be the champions of Islam.
It’s bottoms up! There will have to be shifts of the paradigms and of the chimes for Malaysia to progress in the processes of change, modernization, development and integration. In the meantime, it is Najib who is widely perceived as doing very well as a leader. ---a. ghani ismail, 8 March, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The writing below was to have been Marina's column in The Star. It was spiked because the paper had gotten into some trouble over a writing on Islam. Marina wrote in her blog to express concern, saying it is the Printing Presses and Publications Act (1984) that's the threat. In the column she had referred to the 1988 Amendment we know as 121(1A) which resulted in the country having two sets of laws and two judiciaries.
There are other laws, federal and state, that matter as well, even contempt of the mufti's orders and of Islam for options of the violence. Marina must have also known the Muslim authorities have discovered fire, long after Prometheus of course, but they still keep at burning books and newspapers. It's a tradition started sometime when Baghdad was the heart of the Muslim Empire before Hulagu's takeover in 1258 AD. Time hardly moved since, other than by stretching.
So here is Marina's spiked column - from rantingsbymm.blogspot.com
When we want to compete with anyone in any field, we seek those who are better than us. And we keep going until finally we are recognised as the best. For example, a tennis player starts at the unranked bottom and tries to play and win against better players until, finally, there is nobody to beat.
We do not, however, insist that everybody comes down to our level or to play badly in order for us to win. This is what puzzles me about the Shariah courts in our country.
In 1988, a clause was inserted into our Constitution that has been interpreted as having erected a “Berlin Wall” between the Shariah and the civil courts. Basically, Article 121(1A) said “the courts referred to in Clause (1) shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts.” This has caused untold problems because real life sometimes dictates that some issues cross over both jurisdictions. But leave that aside for a moment.
Although the new clause did not say it, there are some people who are of the view that the Shariah court is superior to the civil courts simply because Shariah law is deemed of a higher order than civil laws.
This is because apparently God made Shariah laws while mere human beings made the civil laws. Never mind the fact that human beings have been changing Shariah laws over the years, for instance, by loosening laws that protected women from losing all their property to their divorced husbands.
Like other laws in this country, Shariah laws have to be drafted, tabled and passed through our various lawmaking bodies, whether at the State or Federal levels. This process leaves a lot of human fingerprints all over them.
Civil laws are drafted, tabled and passed through Parliament. The difference is that at the tabling stage, they have to be debated before they are passed. The quality of the debate may be sometimes wanting but debated they are. This process provides some sort of ‘quality control’ over the laws so that they are hopefully current, reflect realities and are just.
The same does not hold true of Shariah laws. When they get tabled at State Excos, non-Muslims do not participate because there is the notion that they cannot partake in any such debate.
That leaves only the Muslim Excos, few of whom are women. This means that if a bill affects women, the opinions of the female minority in the Exco can be ignored.
Furthermore, most people are ignorant about their religion and tend to leave these matters to those they believe know best. Thus if the State Mufti or religious adviser says it’s a good law, they are unlikely to challenge him. Thus are religious laws passed without due scrutiny until something happens, such as when someone gets convicted of a Shariah crime and punishment is meted out.
Who knew that people could be caned for drinking, or for having a baby out of wedlock until the recent cases of Kartika who drank some beer and the three women who gave birth out of wedlock?
Not only were these laws not debated when they were being made, unlike civil laws they can’t be debated afterwards either. According to some, to do so is akin to arguing with God. (There are, however, some who think that God welcomes such arguments just so that He can prove He is right).
If one believes that Shariah laws are superior to civil laws, should they not be held to higher standards? Should they not be subjected to more rigorous debate than civil laws out of fear that they may be unjust?
If Shariah courts are deemed superior to civil courts, should not their processes be more transparent and efficient? How is it that there are innumerable women having to suffer because Shariah court orders to their former husbands to pay child maintenance cannot be enforced?
How is it also that we suddenly hear about women being caned without any information about the processes they went through? Did they have the benefit of legal representation and heard in an open court? If they did, who were their lawyers and what defence did they mount? On whose behalf was justice served?
I have no problems with Shariah laws if their foundation is justice, equality and non-discrimination for all, even non-Muslims. But when their intent, processes and enforcement are unfair, they only give the impression that Islam is unjust and discriminatory. Surely to give such an image of Islam is a sin. –--
3 March 2010 rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/
* Marina Mahathir is a columnist with The Star.
Monday, February 1, 2010
AFTER THE CHRISTIAN CAPER ANWAR GOES INTO THE UNDERSIDE OF HELL
Instead of flooring Najib Tun Razak’s One Malaysia in the attempt to sabotage Malaysian racial harmony, it is Anwar Ibrahim that’s down, his Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) gasping for breath in the aftermath of the Christian demand to call the Trinitarian Godhead and the figure of Jesus Christ by the name of Allah.
The caper that has caused the desecration of several churches and mosques in the country would go down in history as a crude attempt to cause sectarian riots.
While it will be seen as a Christian oversight of fundamental Malaysian goodwill, the fact Anwar had quickly given his approval to the Church’s right to use the simple word has caused a net loss of respect and confidence in the man who had once led the country’s Muslim youths and gained for himself an image as a peerless leader.
As the excitement settles after the rabble aggressions on churches, mosques and one Gudhwara (Sikh Temple), Anwar is seen going on a road-show dropping the name of Yusuf Qaradhawi to support his position that the Christians should be free to use the term “Allah”.
It is inane. The trouble that brewed is not about the freedom to use that term “Allah”, which means “The God”, or simply the one God.
Anwar and the Christian Church must know the trouble stems from the constitutions of both the Federation and of the states and not in any Christian-imagined “Muslim Terrorism” that has been oppressing and persecuting Christians in Malaysia the way some would like the world to believe.
The constitutional “Islamic laws” are, in fact, Undang-Undang Raja (The King’s Law) issuing from the division of powers that was carried through from the British Intervention beginning in 1874.
Religion and Malay Customs became the sole prerogative of the Malay rulers and it was this power division that was drawn by a series of Acts and constitutional amendments into the serious complication that gave Malaysia two sets of laws and two judiciaries, one for the Malay-Muslims and the other for everyone.
Hence, there are laws and there are institutions that separate the Malays from other Malaysians by religious identities. These would need to be reviewed and possibly revised before One Malaysia would be realizable.
Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, or anyone else as premier, would need a little time to bring these incongruent matters to focus.
Needed is a panel of experts empowered to slap the Reid’s Commission and Constitution on the surgical table and to work on the body of histories in them until we can breathe easy and aspire towards a smoother passage to change, modernization, development and integration as we get ready for the Asean Union.
Anyone with a meager reading of politics and administration can tell that no central government can work with a given set of powers that can intervene and intercept the chain of command.
What had happened in several states at the end of the previous premier’s tenure was a loud distress signal that the central authority had been intercepted after several Menteri Besar (Chief Ministers) were chosen by the rulers (monarchs) who set aside Abdullah Badawi’s (Pak Lah) choices for the CEO in three states.
The central leadership and authority so weak, the state authorities worked overtime to display their extraordinary powers and the result is the renewed and wonderful assertiveness in the tug-of-war between the states and the center.
The religious departments grabbed bodies of dead converts, hold for years in rehabilitation centers young Muslims who ate in public during the fasting month (Ramadhan) or who were caught buying lotteries, and whipped or sent to prison those caught drinking beer.
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the failed dictator, had tried to place the state’s power over religion under a federal umbrella. He hoisted a federal Islamic Fatwa Council and then pushed through the constitutional amendment we know as 121. 1(A) in 1988.
That amendment effectively turned Malaysia into a nation of two sets of laws and two separate judiciaries, his daughter, Marina, once ranted at as leading to apartheid.
Mahathir and his minions had agreed it would need a “strongman” to run a Malaysia that’s ridden by such a nasty manner of divide-and-rule, himself averse to being called “dictator”, but happy with the nom de guerre of “strongman”.
But he was not altogether strong. Over and over again during his tenure the Press had to blitz against the actions of the religious departments to warn the religious authorities of what can lie ahead should they persist to satisfy their appetites for power by abusing civil and human rights.
In Malaysia the constitution does not allow the Malays the right of conscience. A Malay is not even allowed to marry outside his district of domicile. He must attend a day’s course on marriage for RM80 before “qualifying” to be married. Saying in court he is no longer a Muslim will put him into custody for contempt of Islam.
These are not Islamic laws. These are issued from the powers of the Raja (monarch) and it needs to be known that in some understandings of Islamic Law (Shariah), the laws of the monarch (hukum raja) are accepted as a legitimate component of the Shariah as are customary laws (hukum adat).
The Malaysian Archbishop should have known this before he applied to the court for redress against the ban on using the word “Allah” for the Christian God.
It isn’t at all a Christian-alone fight. It should never have been a Christian-alone struggle.
As Lim Kit Siang had observed, the Muslims themselves are oppressed by these laws. Pas lawmaker, Khalid Samad, described them as “out-of-date”.
What would be the effects of these laws and regulations when Asean becomes a Union? Are the religious authorities in the states and in the Federal Territories serious about imposing these laws in an Asean Union which will be reality by or around 2025?
It had been indeed a crude attempt to sabotage Malaysian racial harmony, and at a time when Malaysia lost RM 115 billion in her foreign reserves within a few months, her exports marginally receding and internally the government had had to apply austerity that cut 30 percent of departmental budgets in some cases.
Anwar's Sodomy II Trial begins tomorrow.
The events could not have chosen a worse time to happen. But somehow the people stayed calm and composed through the spate of church and mosque desecrations. There was no tension at all wherever I went. There were merely expectations.
Anwar Ibrahim, who was prompt in his approval of the Christian caper, was soon in dire political distress. It is about this person that a lot of people are talking, mainly wishing to see the end of his political career and the demise of his party, the PKR.
It is certain a lot of people have had enough of Anwar’s wanderings in a wilderness of his own making. Anwar is mainly and essentially a rabble-rouser, they say.
The man had hallucinated about taking over the federal government by September 16, 2008 and today, which is the 1st of February 2010, it looks possible it is his party that shall soon lose three Members of Parliament in a beginning of total recall of a party born as a living dead in 1999.
Should it happen, the Barisan Nasional (BN) would only need eight more to regain the two-third majority in Parliament that Pak Lah caused the coalition to lose on 8 March 2008.
In Penang PKR lawmakers are taking on the Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, which can lead to the breakdown of the Pakatan. ----a. ghani ismail, 1st Feb. 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Archdiocese in Malaysia should never have gotten itself embroiled in a court battle against the government simply to demand its right to use the Arabic term for God, Allah. Winning in court, the ensuing glory caused an overflow of temper to attack eight churches beginning Friday mainly in failed acts of arson by Molotov cocktails.
Now, as church spokesmen are reported to defy the official request for the Archdiocese to withdraw the demand, it does make the Archbishop to be seen behaving like a brat who must have what he wants. He shifted the general agitation of civil society for justice and for fair-play into a coordinated act of international espionage.
How does using the word Allah help the Church in its evangelism? Why make such a mountain of what is to the popular mind a mere mole-hill? Why can't they use the Malay word "Tuhan" (God) which is known to everyone in Malaysia?
After the baptism of fire, the Archbishop, Tan Sri Murphy N. Pakiam, for a long time much respected and loved by many across the religious barriers, is saddled with the choice either to apply strategic withdrawal or walk into outright rebellion.
The Church in Malaysia had firmly kept to the line of secure diplomacy to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what’s left of the remaining.
There was only the outspoken Jesuit, O.C. Lim of the Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, who would mix politics with the apostolic in his sermons.
Then, from some years before, a wind came blowing the devil's artifices to change the Christian mind-set in Malaysia.
A group of Christians, said to have been funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, began an earnest campaign to shake the Church into a political awakening while founding at the same time a dubious Malaysian Inter-Faith Network (NIM).
Small bodies of church-led Christians appeared to have become politically active in that elections, bringing in its wake the train of events that nearly caused the Archdiocese to burn in the fire of hell.
What had transpired had been a relentless flame-baiting, a loathing of Malays and of Islam. In the terms of history it could only be construed as a Vatican-US-CIA devise to seed civil unrest in Malaysia.
It is, of course, far less vivacious than the grand plan of the complot to stump the expansion of Communism in Vietnam after French colonialism was battered at Dien Bien Phu by the Vietcong (here).
That was when the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was propped-up as the first president and with his brothers and his sister-in-law and a Catholic Bishop to boot, he falsified Armageddon under the gaze of the Lady of Fatima in Vietnam.
He rained insults, injuries and blow after blow on the Buddhist population until monks in saffron began the unforgettable protests by self-immolation on the streets of Saigon. You remember? You can begin to remember better from here.
What followed the High Court decision to approve for the Christians the use of Allah, was a quick reflexive remark by Anwar Ibrahim, de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat and an old buddy of the architect of the Iraq War, Paul Wolfowitz.
In Malaysia the connection means we are in the midst of a geo-political tussle for the containment of China and to secure both, the Straits of Malacca and the air space of the triangle from the Spratly’s to the Nicobar/Andaman islands and to Bangkok.
It is clear that the attacks on the churches since last Friday were a direct counter to this “Anwar-offensive”.
The IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hassan, was reported to have said the motive behind the acts was political. They were not about religious sentiments.
While Tan Sri Pakiam and the editor of the Herald had challenged an order of the Minister of Home Affairs, who also withdrew the license for the Herald, the fiery reactions that ensued had clearly been understood to have been a reaction against Anwar’s approval of the High Court decision.
The Muslims were widely split in their attitudes and responses to the Christians using the word Allah. It is possible the larger body of Malays and Malaysian Muslims are not averse to the use of the word by Non-Muslims.
Thus, to many observers the vitriol had been sourced from the underside of the political conflict and it had nothing to do with the broad-based agitation for the freedom of conscience by civil society.
The Archdiocese was clearly trapped in the political mess that’s now headed for a final countdown.
In this contest for power is seeded the fear that Malaysia may well have to pay a very heavy price for the hubris of the ruling elite that has caused executive and administrative dysfunction.
That price is re-colonization, the takeover of the micromanagement of Malaysia and of her resources in the quest of another operational staging point to contain China and the flow of the Islamic magma in the region.
So, does Tan Sri Pakiam, the Archbishop, want to continue challenging the powers which will force him to appeal to the Vatican sooner than later, or will he resist that temptation and himself retreat for the well-being of the larger numbers in the country?
We will have to wait and see.---a. ghani ismail, 12 Jan. 2010