Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Beginning of the Collapse of Pakatan Rakyat ?

"Asked specifically if Pakatan will be implementing the hudud law if it comes into power in the next election, Anwar said: “No, there is NO consensus (on that)".

The coalition agreed to disagree on existing enactments pertaining to hudud law in Kelantan and Terengganu, as the enactments predate the formation of Pakatan."

The Beginning of the MAJOR COLLAPSE of Pakatan Rakyat.



From a FaceBook User's posting

When RELIGION is put on to the fore-front of politics by parties in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition over ECONOMIC issues facing the country, voting based on religious divide for PAS and UMNO takes precedence over other more important issues, not only for muslims , but for non-muslims as well.

Religion is a highly emotive issue for Malays and non-Malays.

Most of the PAS MPs in the Federal Territory, Perak and Selangor who won on the back of non-muslim votes will lose their seats in Parliament as non Muslim voters will abandon PAS candidates. DAP members will not campaign for PAS candidates. PAS supporters will not vote for DAP candidates nor campaign for DAP candidates as they did for the 2008 GE.

PAS went for broke on hudud issue, although this is limited to Kelantan. When PAS leaders including Nik Aziz went public on its stand without prior discussion with its coalition partners, DAP feels the sense of betrayal by PAS.

PKR was forced to make a stand and being a Malay-based party, Anwar had to stand on the side of PAS on hudud. Since PKR supports huddud, non Muslim voters who stood by PKR in 2008 will abandon PKR candidates in droves.

It is an issue of loss of trust and faith by muslim and non muslim supporters of Pakatan in the ability of DAP, PAS and PKR to work together on a common policy platform for the coming GE especially on the emotive issue of the Islamic state.

There is a sense on the ground that Pakatan voters had enough of this unresolved issue.The latest move by PAS to go for broke on the hudud issue is the tipping point.

Muslim votes will either go to UMNO or PAS.PAS will lose big from non Muslim voters. But MCA may not benefit from Chinese votes at all. The question is: will NON Muslim voters who had voted Pakatan in 2008 will vote for UMNO when UMNO faces PAS/PKR this time around? Or more likely, they will not turn out for voting in these constituencies.

The prediction is BN will retain Perak and Selangor, and other states as non Muslims will return back to BN. Penang remains in DAP hands. Kelantan will remain in PAS hands and Kedah is 50:50.

BN is guaranteed of the two-third majority in Parliament in the next GE. PAS, DAP and PKR can kiss goodbye their ambition of having the keys to Putrajaya. PKR will be the biggest loser in the next GE.

Its the end of the honeymoon for Pakatan Rakyat basically.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Biggest Losers in Palestine Veto by the US? The American People

Read here for more


Philip Giraldi

If the Palestinian application for United Nations full membership actually takes place Friday and the United States uses its Security Council veto to stop the process, it will be the final step in a predictable and preventable tragedy playing out.

Some are arguing that Washington might actually abstain, thereby gaining considerable favorable sentiment from much of the world and also sending a signal to Israel that there are limits to the bilateral relationship.

But it is far more likely that President Barack Obama, who has stated over and over that he will protect Israel in international forums, will not flinch when he calls on Susan Rice to cast the fatal vote.

Any expectation that the president might hesitate either because it is the right thing to do or because it benefits the United States is fanciful, particularly with a presidential election looming in 2012.

Washington’s attempts to “mediate” the situation have really been limited to pressuring the Palestinians to back off. Sending National Security Council official Dennis Ross, “Israel’s lawyer,” to Ramallah to talk around the Palestinian leadership should, if anything, indicate to the Palestinians that Washington is, as it always has been, firmly in the Israeli corner.

So let us assume that Palestine will feel compelled to seek full U.N. membership as the world’s 194th nation and that Washington will then veto the application.

The first question then has to be whether the entire process had any meaning at all or it was just kabuki, a stylized show played out to an appreciative audience with a predictable ending.

The short answer is that the Palestinians will certainly be on the losing end — as they have been for more than 60 years — but the real losers will be the United States and Israel.

The mainstream media has echoed Israeli and American arguments that Palestinian statehood is meaningless without a negotiated settlement of issues on the ground. But Israel has made it clear that it has no desire to negotiate anything while it continues to occupy the West Bank, so the Palestinian choice is to accept the status quo, in which it is powerless and voiceless, or attempt to line up the international community more solidly behind it and shift the playing field.

Israel has been working hard to stop the process, or, at worst, to mitigate its impact by having a number of important nations, mostly in Europe, either abstain on the vote or vote no.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a glad-hand tour of European capitals earlier this year with that express purpose, and he received positive signals from the Italians, the Dutch, the Poles, and the Germans, though it is by no means clear how they will vote. It was for Israel a top national priority, which it has conveyed clearly to its friends in the United States.

Washington, at the urging of Israel, also joined in the effort, starting with warnings late last year to Latin American nations that recognizing Palestine as a state would be “unacceptable.”

More recently, the State Department and the White House have repeatedly expressed their desire that the Palestinians shelve their plans to seek a U.N. seat, and they have been assiduously working both in front of the TV cameras in New York and Washington and behind the scenes to convince the Palestinian leadership to cease and desist. The dialogue has been given some teeth by Congress, which is determined to cut all aid to Palestine if the U.N. action goes through.

One congressmen, Joe Walsh of Illinois, is preparing a motion that will provide congressional support for an Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank if the Palestinians proceed. Walsh describes Palestinian statehood as “absolutely outrageous.”

So Israel sees the Palestinian plan as a major threat and the United States appears to be on board, but many would reasonably observe that Israel often cries wolf and greatly exaggerates what it perceives as threats against it.

Is that true in this case, making it just another instance where Tel Aviv is adopting an extreme position in hopes that Washington will deliver the goods? It may not be.

Israel sees danger precisely because the Palestinian bid will do a couple of things that call into question some significant aspects of the status quo.

  1. First of all, since it will certainly pass with a huge majority in the General Assembly if the Palestinians opt to go that route, it will provide overwhelming international confirmation of Palestinian rights with the U.S. and Israel standing on the wrong side on the issue.It will also severely undermine Israel’s moral position, such as it is, and emphasize the illegality of the Israeli occupation of parts of the West Bank. The process is already illegal in the eyes of the rest of the world, including the United States, but it will be even less tenable if a convincing majority of the world’s countries recognize Palestine as a state with defined borders and a national identity.

  2. Second, recognition of statehood carries with it recognition that the state exists within defined space, in this case the 1967 borders. This has enormous significance because those borders include many areas being colonized by the Israelis, as well as East Jerusalem.

    It means that any Israeli settlement that is on the other side of that border is considered completely illegal and that Israel is therefore a rogue state that is occupying and settling lands belonging to a neighboring state 44 years after the cessation of hostilities.

    Even the New York Times in an article on Sept. 10 regarding the recent unrest in Egypt, noting that Islamic groups were not involved, conceded that criticism of Israel has a basis in the widespread popular perception that “Muslims, Arabs, and indeed many around the globe believe Israel is unjustly occupying Palestinian territories, and they are furious at Israel for it.” The rejection of Palestinian statehood and the debate surrounding it will only heighten that sentiment.

  3. If the Palestinians are in the United Nations as a full member or even with limited rights, they will have access to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they can take legal steps against Israel and against individual Israelis. Even though Israel doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the court, when it reaches the point where no senior Israeli government official, present or retired, can travel without concern over being arrested, it will have a major impact on how Israel sees itself and how the rest of the world sees Israel.

    The clear depiction of Israel as an occupying power in violation of the Geneva Conventions, to which most of the world’s nations are signatories, would also fuel the Israel divestment campaign, which is another major concern of the Israeli government, and also legitimately so, as it could have a serious impact on the Israeli economy.

  4. The Palestinians would also have recourse to other United Nations bodies. They would, for example, be able to appeal to UNESCO to stop the Israeli demolition of Muslim and Arab historical sites and the renaming of villages and other landmarks, a considerable benefit.

So Israel is right in understanding that the U.N. entry could have a profound impact, but the United States would hardly escape collateral damage from its veto and could turn out to be the biggest loser.

Policymakers in Washington like Joe Walsh forget Newton’s Third Law of Motion, though that assumes that they have ever heard of Newton. Newton said that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. It is true in international relations just as it is true in physics, only in the real world it has come to be known as blowback.

What would be the possible blowback from an American veto?

  • John Whitbeck has correctly described the veto by Washington as a “shotgun blast in both of its own feet.” The United States is already perceived negatively in every Arab nation except Kuwait. It is seen as on one hand supporting liberalization and democratization of some Arab governments while at the same time suppressing fundamental rights in places like Palestine.

  • Worse still, if Washington cuts aid to the Palestinians because of their going to the U.N., it will be widely perceived as a de facto partner and enabler of the occupation of the West Bank.

  • The unfortunately well-deserved perception of blatant hypocrisy will alienate emerging “Arab spring” regimes even more from Washington and will almost certainly lead to anti-American violence, possibly extreme, in places like Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.

  • American goods and services will, as a consequence, undoubtedly become less welcome in many parts of the world, while the U.S. veto will inevitably provide a recruiting bonanza for groups that use terror, including al-Qaeda.

  • And it could make every American traveler less safe when he or she goes abroad, while American soldiers stationed in foreign lands will inevitably become targets of militants, inspired by yet another example of Washington’s hypocrisy.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Gen. David Petraeus had it exactly right when they observed that Israeli policies were endangering Americans. That was before they came to their senses and recanted, but apparently the president of the United States was not listening anyway.

Acceptance of full Palestinian sovereignty and statehood by Israel and the United States would give Tel Aviv a genuine negotiating partner and go far toward restoring the reputation of the United States of America, while rejection of it will end the charade forever, eliminating any chance for any kind of viable peace process in the Middle East. And the damage extends beyond that.

Saudi Arabia has already warned that the U.S. veto will do irreparable damage to its bilateral relationship with Washington and will also forever destroy America’s reputation in the Arab world.

It would hasten the development of the clash of civilizations, “us and them” point of view, dividing much of the developing world from Washington. It would be the final and irrevocable step in a foreign policy that has brought nothing but disasters over the past 10 years.

WHY Hudud Law is EVERYBODY's Business Especially in Malaysia

Why hudud law is everybody’s business

(This article was first published in “Off The Edge” on January 15, 2009)


Clive Kessler
Emeritus Professor
University of New South Wales

Once again the familiar argument has surfaced, or been desperately invoked, this time in the latest stand-off between the leading Pakatan Rakyat allies Karpal Singh and Anwar Ibrahim.

Hudud law, if implemented, will apply only to Muslims, Anwar Ibrahim again insists, so the question is one that concerns only Muslims, not Malaysian citizens of other faiths — or no conventional doctrinal allegiance at all. So non-Muslims have nothing to fear, no legitimate interest in the matter, and no right to express any opinion. The matter is for Muslims alone.

This is not the first time that we have heard this argument. It is standard debating “stock-in-trade”, not only from Anwar Ibrahim and the syariah-promoting elements in Parti Keadilan Rakyat but equally from the designated spokesmen of PAS and Umno as well as from the various associations of ulama and officially constituted religious authorities, state and federal.

Not just familiar, it is also, at best, inadequate and, more often than not, misleading. It is wrong for two basic reasons — reasons far more basic than any specific legal technicalities such as the issues raised over the interpretation of the 1988 court decision cited by Karpal Singh, or any similar individual legal judgment.

The first reason is this. Whether they are actually implemented and enforced or simply stand as symbolic signposts and “ambit claims” on the statute books, the formal authoritative assertion of the hudud laws — including such punishments as amputation and stoning and even death for apostasy — fundamentally changes the relation of the individual to the state and its legal order.

It substantially alters the balance between the state and the individual in the state’s favour. It thereby transforms the entire character of the state, arguably coarsening its laws and their impact upon public culture and social life.

When the state or any of its instrumentalities is suddenly empowered to hold, and potentially exercise, that awesome force — which it previously could not exert — over any of its citizens, or any section of them, the nature of citizenship itself is diminished and its meaning is reduced, not just for those directly “targeted” but for ALL citizens.

A state that declares itself ready to use such fearful measures, or even prepares to arm itself with them, is a state that announces its own capacity, both institutional and moral or psychological, for savage enforcement and retribution.

It is not a state that any ethically enlightened, socially emancipated or truly thoughtful citizen who had lived in a state without such fear-inspiring powers would freely choose to call home. A free citizen would refuse to exchange what they had previously enjoyed for this debased and degraded citizenship under this kind of regressive and repressive regime.

Once the syariah law and its hudud punishments are authoritatively instituted, this degrading of the character of free citizenship is a general effect.

It is one whose immediate human implications must soon affect all citizens, regardless of religion and social background, even if it is technically mandated only upon one section of the citizenry — in the Malaysian case the numerically preponderant and politically dominant section of the population.

This basic underlying change in the nature of the state, and in the character and extent of its power over its citizens, will inevitably transform the tenor of social life in general. So it will affect all the state’s citizens, not only those who are Muslims. Because it must affect the entire citizenry, all the state’s citizens without exception are entitled to have, and express, a view on the subject of hudud law implementation.

Every citizen of a modern state is entitled to voice a view whether or not that state should have the right to inflict dire physical punishment on any of its citizens, or even to enact hypothetically on a provisional basis laws of that kind whose effects are, to put the matter without euphemism, brutalising — either in fact, by their positive enforcement, or prospectively, by virtue of their intimidating inscription within formally codified law.

Even if still unenforced, their presence on the statute books cannot but have a clear, immediate and chilling effect upon all citizens by reshaping, in fact diminishing, the very meaning of citizenship itself. Even if it is only hypothetical or symbolic in intent, an assertion of the state’s right to mutilate and maim any citizen, even the least worthy and most criminally debased of them, can only demean everyone.

It demeans, too, the citizenship that they share and the law under which they live and through which their citizenship is created and sustained.

The introduction, even the mere hinted suggestion, of any proposal for the official infliction of pain on people’s bodies and souls — for outright crimes against their fellow human beings, or even for the exercise of independent intellectual and spiritual conscience — must markedly shift society away from the gentle end, and decidedly towards the crude and brutalizing end, of the ethical scale. That seems indisputable.

Any such legally mandated assault upon the citizen — any citizen or subject of the state — with its mutilation of bodies, maiming of souls, shaming and extreme humiliation of persons and its violation of personal conscience and human dignity will discredit the state, its laws, and those who uphold them. This is not a direction that a modern progressive state can take or its citizens, if they are thoughtful, condone. Those who endorse such measures must have a different agenda.

Every citizen of a modern state has the right to say that the national political community of which they are a member should not be in the business of chopping off hands and feet or even talking about, or hypothetically considering, the introduction of such measures — nor in the business of criminalising beliefs, including those of personal and spiritual principle, that are held in good conscience.

Regardless of their religion or faith affiliation, a citizen is entitled to say to the ruling authority:
“You cannot maim and painfully shame my fellow citizens — some of my fellow citizens, any of them — well, not in my name you don’t!

Because if you do, you not only enlist me as one of the perpetrators of this dire, extreme and callous act, you also make me one of its objects and victims.

As both implicated joint author and as implied target of this or any such action, I say no!”
Any contention that a citizen or any group of them should remain silent, and may be told to do so, because they have no legitimate say in such matters is unsustainable. It is a claim that fundamentally misunderstands the nature and meaning of modern citizenship as morally autonomous membership in the national political community.

Any citizen of a modern state, regardless of religion, is entitled to hold, voice and promote the view that the national political community of which they have long been a member — and long regarded in Malaysia, ever since its inception, as humane in its aspirations and progressive in its direction of development — should not suddenly assume, or (perhaps rhetorically to embarrass its political adversaries), even flirt with the previously unimagined power and right to cut off hands and feet or to criminalize individual beliefs held in good conscience.

Any such citizen would be entitled to take the view that such a dire innovation, when introduced or even officially considered — or merely intimated via some tactical political gesture — must unilaterally abrogate the fundamental contract that holds between a modern state and its citizens as its political stakeholders and moral shareholders.

Such a citizen has the right to the view that the state of which they are a member should not have, or suddenly grasp towards, any such recourse since — should it choose, especially as in Malaysia, to do so against its own history — the state and all its members stand to be demeaned by that action.

What the state does, it does in the name of its citizens — all its citizens — in general. All are implicated in its actions, and everybody is entitled, indeed obligated, to concern themselves with the moral meaning of actions for which they are in any measure responsible.

Every citizen is accordingly entitled to argue openly whether the state in which they hold citizenship should be permitted to impose such punishments on any of its citizens — and, as a citizen, to hold in good conscience that all stand to be demeaned if any one of them is so treated.

Every citizen has a right to hold and express a view whether he/she wishes his or her state to be such a state, a state that claims the right of recourse to such dire and extreme methods in the treatment of any of its citizens. Dire and extreme — let there be no mistake — these measures undeniably are since they involve the intimidatory “criminalisation” of behaviour and also thinking, on issues of legitimate personal moral and spiritual conscience.

They humiliate and punish in demeaning and savage ways that entail both terrible physical cruelty and extreme psychological degradation, the fearful violation and stigmatizing, at once and alike, of both bodies and souls.

Such legal provisions, even if they stand only “in reserve”, are statements about the kind of regime that the state is prepared, or earnestly aspires, to be and the kinds of measures to which it is prepared to have recourse.

Every citizen is, by definition, a stakeholder in the state, and all of them — not just one specially designated segment of the citizenry — are entitled to hold, voice and also promote politically a view whether the state of which they are all “part-owners-in-trust” should evolve towards or away from such a coarsening brutalisation of tone and character.

Some may question my use of such epithets as “coarsening” and “brutalising”. That is MY view.

Others may see the matter differently. That is their right. They may hold and argue the case for a different view of the matter.

As with those who would climb Everest not only without oxygen but barefoot, I wish them the best of luck.

Meanwhile for me, and many other people of sound and decent judgment, whether they be formally implemented or only indirectly intimated, punishments such as judicially-mandated amputations and stoning are nothing other than “coarse”, “crude” and “brutalising” in their effects, both individual and upon society and public culture broadly.

Those who see things differently may, if they hold such views simply as a matter of private conscience, remain silent. But if they wish to promote the case for syariah law and the hudud punishments as a matter of public policy, they must argue the case publicly.

They must argue, and persuade the generality of their fellow citizens, either that such measures are not coarse, crude and brutalizing or else that such a coarsening brutalization of social life, with all its humanly unworthy and demeaning consequences, is somehow socially beneficial and ethically uplifting. They may hold and try publicly to uphold such views. As I say, I wish them luck.

Meanwhile, there is only one principled stance available to a government — especially a government whose entire raison d’être is grounded in a commitment to the successful practising of intercultural and interreligious partnership — that is faced with the challenge from its clamouring opponents for the implementation of syariah law and its hudud provisions.

It will not do to retreat into temporizing prevarications such as the claim that the times are not yet right, the circumstances not yet appropriate, for their implementation. Rather, it must clearly say that their enactment is simply not an option — not now, not ever.

The leaders of such a government will be criticized and opposed. They will have to learn to answer their critics forthrightly. Those who argue — on supposedly democratic grounds, as some in PAS now do — that if a clear political majority want to live under hudud law then they are entitled to enact it nationally, regardless of other considerations, must be told that they misunderstand democracy.

They must be reminded that democracy is not the replacement of the premodern tyranny of the minority with a modern, electorally ratified tyranny of the majority. It is about political conciliation. It rests upon the thoughtful and deliberative negotiation, not the insistent and heedless overriding, of differences.

The times are over in Malaysia when people might say to their fellow citizens,
“We want this, we have the numbers, so you remain silent!”
Their end was signalled in March last year.

Democracy is a government not of reckless majoritarian maximalism but of limits. That, in fact, is the real and original meaning of the idea and Arabic word had (as in its derivative Malay forms such as terhad and berhad) and in its plural form hudud. They embody the notion of restraint and limitation.

The hudud punishments, in the fierce time of their origins, were stipulations of maximum limits that were not to be exceeded, not declarations of a mandatory retributive minimum that was always to be recklessly demanded, regardless of social and historical circumstances, and implacably enforced.

Those who call for the enactment of syariah law and the hudud punishments owe it to their fellow citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to acknowledge this historical fact — and its current political implications, especially for modern societies of the social, cultural and religious complexity of contemporary Malaysia. They need, in framing their own political programmes and agenda, to recognize and uphold that core notion of principled restraint — rather than to seek, always and ever further, to “push the limits”.

To their opponents and critics who — despite these persuasive clarifications of the real meaning of hudud and the nature of democratic public culture and governance — may still insist, either sincerely or for tactical political advantage, on promoting the implementation of the hudud sanctions and punishments, the leaders of such a government must learn to say:
“You want to cut off hands and feet — are you mad or bad? Or you want just to talk about, and toy mischievously with, the idea of doing so — are you crazy or evil?

This is the modern state of Malaysia with its formal legal codes, institutions and procedures, not the long ungovernable ‘badlands’ of Afghanistan. It is Malaysian politics that we are talking about, and Malaysian public life to which you presumably are seeking to contribute.

You want to uphold, promote and restore Islam? Fine. Let’s talk about it, about how to do it together.

But remember, Islam is much more than just the syariah, and the syariah is much more than simply hudud.

So why do you focus on the hudud, why is your emphasis so exclusively upon them?

Why do you make this single, archaic and poorly understood aspect of the syariah and Islam your key, even sole, political litmus test of Islamic authenticity? Are your reasons those of principle or of political advantage and strategy?

Are you really sincere in wanting to uplift, promote and restore Islamic faith and civilization in our time? If so, prove it! Prove it by demonstrating your readiness to sit down with us to devise and decide upon a direction and plan of action that we can all accept — Umno, PAS, PKR and Malaysia generally.

Join with us to create a modern Islamic form of society and sociability, of social action and social responsibility, that we can all embrace and be proud of — that all Malaysians may recognise as reaching towards what is unifying and universal, not divisive and politically partisan.

If you are not prepared to do that, we will all know, because you will have made clear, why your political focus is so narrowly and obsessively upon the issue of hudud. You will have proved yourselves people, and a party, of cynical stratagem, not of genuine principle.”
The second reason for the inadequacy of the bland assurances that non-Muslims need not fear the instituting syariah law and its hudud punishments, and therefore need not concern themselves with the implications of any such proposal, follows directly from the first.

In Malaysia the drive to institute the syariah law and its hudud punishments, ostensibly (in its proponents’ own terms) only upon the state’s Muslim citizens and residents, is inescapably fraught — all questions of principle aside — in direct practical terms.
  • It would involve the attempt to overlay and impose, upon a diverse and creative social pluralism of interacting and interpenetrating cultures, a mutually exclusive legal dichotomy, a juridical bifurcation, between the state’s Muslim and non-Muslim citizens.

  • It is, in its own terms, an exercise in creating two radically different and mutually exclusive zones of socio-legal space, Muslim and non-Muslim. It is questionable whether such a fundamentally bifurcated social order and legal dualism is sustainable. Perhaps, as the idea’s proponents apparently contend, it is, though I greatly doubt it.
But the question whether it is viable or not is again one that directly, immediately and legitimately concerns all the state’s citizens, not just those who as Muslims would be subsumed within the “Islamic legal zone” and made fully subject to the operation of the syariah law and hudud punishments.

In the modern world all questions about the nature and structure of the state, about the character and tone of its legal system, and about the operation of its legal institutions are the legitimate business, equally, of all the state’s citizens, without individual exceptions or broad categorical restrictions.

Every citizen is entitled to hold, voice and promote their own view whether the incremental, even surreptitious, creation of a bifurcated, and perhaps ultimately broken-backed, state is a good thing, in the general public and national interest.

Some years ago the noted Tunisian historian Hichem Djaït observed that the endeavour to institute the syariah law in modern, complex, socially pluralistic and culturally diverse states (such as Malaysia, for example) risked simply recreating the inherent duality of classical Islamic society and, specifically, its foundational legal dualism.

Such societies, he held, are comprised of two distinct socio-legal zones or components, each the reverse image of the other:
  • a Muslim zone or space in which people held full rights but a diminished freedom; and

  • a non-Muslim zone in which the state’s other citizens or subjects, while enjoying a far greater measure of freedom to do as they pleased regardless of syariah-based restrictions and limitations, also “enjoyed” (if that is the right word!) or were allowed to exercise diminished rights.
Is this the kind of society that Malaysia wishes to become? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Either way, it is a matter that Malaysians — all Malaysians, without exception — are entitled and, so it seems to me, urgently need to discuss publicly and debate freely. It simply will not do to suppress public consideration of this vitally important national question.

Yet that is what seems to be happening in Malaysia these days.

Constructive and necessary public consideration is, as ever, being thwarted by artful recourse to the disabling dichotomy of which Hichem Djaït speaks:
By saying to one half of the population that they have no need or right to discuss the question since they are not Muslims and so are supposedly unaffected by whatever others may decide; and

By saying to the other half that as Muslims they have the right to be concerned with the question but not the standing to engage in any public discussion of it, that being the exclusive prerogative and province of those who alone know best, the ulama.
Whether this is a scenario for the progressive instituting and implementation of Islamic legal principles and values to the life of a modern democratic nation seems doubtful. It looks more like a strategic plan for instituting a creeping, historically regressive and anti-democratic clericalism.

That is my opinion.

But the choice is not for me to make but for Malaysians: all Malaysians as citizens, or only some of them as the historic and unchallengeable custodians, as they understand their role, of the syariah and its prerogatives.

Either way, the outcome and how it is reached, and by whom, will prove fateful for Malaysia for a long time to come.

That’s why the question of syariah law and hudud implementation is everybody’s business in this country.

-Clive Kessler

Friday, 16 September 2011

ISA will be Repealed And Replaced with Two New Laws, Says Najib.... Let's Wait and See the Details

Read here for more in Malaysiakini

Prime Minister Najib Razak will abolish the Internal Security Act and amend a number of laws which have long been criticised as overt attempts to stifle democracy.

In a special televised address late this evening, the eve of Malaysia Day, Najib announced the following:

  1. Abolishment of Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, which allows detention without trial.

  2. Three Emergency declarations to be lifted.

  3. Amendments to freedom of assembly laws, which will recognise Article 10 of the Federal Constitution but will be "strongly" AGAINST street demonstration.

  4. Annual renewal of publishing permits for newspapers will be replaced with a one-off licence, which can be withdrawn.

  5. Repeal ofBanishment Act 1959 and

  6. Revision of Restricted Residence Act 1933.
"As I had promised in my maiden speech when I first took over the post of prime minister on April 3, 2009, the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) would be studied comprehensively. In relation to that, I am glad to announce on this historical night, that the ISA will be abolished," Najib said.

"To prevent subversive acts, planned terrorism and criminal acts to preserve public order and safety, two new suitable laws will be formulated, based on the spirit and under the umbrella of Article 149 of the federal constitution.

"In principle, the Acts will be aimed at preserving peace, harmony of the people and the country."

The ISA, which is a preventive detention law, was enacted soon after Malaya obtained independence.

While initially the draconian law was used against the communists, it was often abused by the government to muzzle political dissidents.

Over the years, many key politicians were nabbed under the law which empowers the home minister to detain them for up to two years - and which can be extended indefinitely thereafter.

"Realising the reality that Malaysia has changed, feeling the pulse, apprehension and aspirations of the rakyat who want a Malaysia that has a more open and dynamic democracy, where opinions, ideas and concerns are given more attention.

"(We must do so to) stand on par with other democratic systems in the world, based on the universal philosophy of from the people, by the people, for the people. The government, under Section 3 Article 150 of the federal constitution, will table to both parliamentary bodies a motion so that all three proclamations of emergency are lifted," said Najib.

With the lifting of the Emergency declarations, it means that the ISA-type Emergency Ordinance (EO) will also lapse.

Apart from the six PSM leaders who were detained for one month in July, there are currently about 6,000 held in detention under EO.

Publishing permits for newspapers will remain, but the permits will not have to be renewed every year.

"A comprehensive review (of laws no longer relevant) will involve the Restricted Residence Act 1933 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, where the annual licences will be abolished and replaced with licences that will be issued until they are cancelled," Najib said.

"The government will also review Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, to take into account Article 10 of the federal constitution on the freedom of assembly, on the principle that it would be against street demonstrations.

"However, the permission to assembly will be given through methodologies which will be decided later, but it will consider international norms."

The reforms announced today follow years of intensive campaigns to broaden Malaysia's democratic space, particularly the abolishment of the ISA.

The Najib administration did not apply the ISA on any dissident, while his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had applied the ISA on one opposition figure, a blogger and a journalist, back in September 2008.

But the most notorious use of the ISA was in 1987, when 106 people were nabbed under Operasi Lalang (Weeding Operation) during the Mahathir Mohamad administration.

Leading human rights watchdog Suaram estimates that about 10,000 people have been detained under the ISA without trial since its inception in 1960.

Although most people were detained for two years, there are records of some being detained for more than 20 years.

Najib's announcement today comes at a time when his approval rating, at 59 percent, hit a record low since a record high of 72 percent in May last year.

He is pressed to deliver on reform promises made when he took office in April 2009 as he attempts to improve BN's position in the coming general election, expected to be called within the next six months.

Critics have claimed that tangible reforms have hitherto been moving at a glacial pace and the announcements today are likely to improve his image.

Human rights activists and opposition parties are expected to claim victory over the reforms but this is unlikely to go down well with conservative factions within BN.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Prof Zainal Kling, History is NOT about Terminologies and Semantics. True History is about FACTS and REALITY.

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Is It Really, Professor ?


Art Harun

Kangkung Professor

I must admit of being astounded by the claim by Professor Datuk Dr Zainal Kling that Tanah Melayu had never been colonised by the British, save for the period when Malayan Union was introduced. For the record, this is his claim:

The good Professor rested his claim as such on the fact that the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 between Raja Abdullah and the British Governor in Singapore did not mention that Perak was to be colonised but was only to be “protected” as a “protectorate” of the British.

The Professor went on to say that the only states which were colonised by the British in Tanah Melayu were Singapore, Penang and Melaka.

The good Professor may be correct in so far as historical terminologies go.

But history is NOT about terminologies and semantics. True history is about FACTS and REALITY.

Of course, facts may be looked at from different views, angles and perspective resulting in different interpretations and conclusions. Realities may also be subjected to the same treatment giving rise to the term of “administered reality”.

With all due respect to the good Professor, the British entry into Tanah Melayu and their subsequent entrenchment in Tanah Melayu’s administration leading to at least a de facto colonisation of the whole of the Tanah Melayu peninsula and her surrounding islets CANNOT be viewed solely from and within the effect of the Pangkor Treaty alone.

That would tantamount to an attempt to define the whole cosmos just by looking at the moon alone and nothing else.

Let’s however begin with the Pangkor Treaty 1874 (as the Professor had relied his thesis on it).

The Pangkor Treaty 1874

For the record, prior to the Pangkor Treaty, the British, through the British East India Company, were already deeply entrenched in Tanah Melayu. It “colonised” Penang in 1786. Penang was later confirmed to be a possession of the British in 1800 by the then Sultan of Kedah. In 1819, Stamford Raffles took it upon himself to bring Singapore into the British fold.

Later in 1824, the British and the Dutch, presumably under the mandate of some godlike creatures residing somewhere within the mountains of Scotland, decided among themselves to divide the Malay Archipelago into two, thereby giving away Melaka to the British and Indonesia (Sumatera) to the Dutch.

In each of these three little states which the British saw fit to do as it please, they had a Governor who governed for the British. In 1867, these so called “settlements” became the “Crown Colonies” and came directly under the purview of the Colonial Office in London.

Meanwhile, in Perak, upon the death of Sultan Ali in 1871, a palace power struggle was brewing. The Raja Muda of Perak was Raja Abdullah. He should have gone on to take the thrones. As events would have it, the Raja Bendahara, Raja Ismail was pronounced as Sultan.

Perak was a rich tin producer at that time. The British were itchy to get their greedy hands on Perak. They were waiting for an opportunity. That opportunity presented itself when Raja Abdullah wrote to the Governor of Singapore, Sir Andrew Clarke, spelling out his desire to place Perak under British protection, and "to have a man of sufficient abilities to show (him) a good system of government."

The British surely did not need further motivation but to lend their generous helping hands to a Malay ruler in need of course. With that, the Governor very kindly entered into the Pangkor Treaty with Raja Abdullah on 20th January 1874. With that agreement in hand, Raja Abdullah was made Sultan of Perak (although Raja Ismail was earlier appointed Sultan by the Malay palace).

Raja Ismail (the then Sultan) of course did not attend the signing of the Pangkor Treaty as he did not recognise the agreement for obvious reason. But faced with the might of the very big and terribly friendly and generous British, Raja Ismail could not do anything other than seeing the throne being taken by Raja Abdullah. Sir W W Birch was appointed, pursuant to the agreement, Perak’s 1st British Resident.

(It was with considerable irony that Raja Abdullah – later Sultan Abdullah – was later thrown out to the Seychelles for conspiring to murder Birch).

Professor Datuk Dr Zainal was correct to say that the Pangkor Treaty did not say Perak was a colony of the British. But surely that does not mean that Perak was not colonised by the British.

So what if the British had said Perak was only a “protectorate”? Does it mean anything at all?

What if the British had said that Perak was a “paradise where everybody could smoke opium till they laugh and laugh and laugh and they die”? Does that mean Perak was a “paradise where everybody could smoke opium till they laugh and laugh and laugh and they die”?

Just because the British had said so?

The British, for whatever reason, chiefly because they had wanted to classify their dominions throughout the world for economics and social purposes (and also for qualification for British citizenship) had categorised its “conquests” into three classes, the colonies, the protectorates and the protected states. Semantically of course there are differences between the three.

But factually, it does not take a rocket scientist, or a learned bunch of thick-spectacled history professors to know that there were not much of a difference between them.

A colony is of course a state which the British had “annexed” or “settled” in. This state was presumed to be a jungle or a barren state where civilisation did not exist. And the very civilised British had of course “discovered” that state, just like Stamford Raffles did Singapore or Francis Light did Penang.

A “protectorate” is a state which the civilised and friendly (and generous) British had not annexed or settled in. This is a state where the British came in at the request of the helpless ruler of that state. It is a state where the British came to help or came to administer not through force but through agreements or treatise. Yes. That is a protectorate.

A “protected” state on the other hand, is a state which is protected by the British, again at the request of the ruler of that state. However, according to the British, in a protected state, the British did not involve themselves with its governance.

Yes. That is the difference between the three classes of the British conquests. Who said so? Well, the British said so. So, if the British said so, it must be correct right? Well, the British also said that Maggie Thatcher had balls. Remember?

Relying on semantics – and these semantics were coined and used by none other than the British themselves – the good Professor said according to the Pangkor Treaty, Perak was NOT colonised.

Well, is it really? Let’s look at the terms of the so called treaty.

First of all, Raja Abdullah was proclaimed by the British as the Sultan of Perak in place of Raja Ismail, who was already proclaimed in accordance with the “adat dan istiadat Raja-raja Melayu Perak” as the Sultan.

Now, may I ask, on what authority did the British make that appointment? On the fact that they are white men with guns and ammunitions far better than the collective keris and parangs owned by the Perakians? Now, if that is not annexation of Perak, tell me what it is.

Then, why don’t we (and the good Professor) loom at the salient terms of the so-called treaty.
  1. Raja Abdullah was acknowledged as the legitimate Sultan to replace Sultan Ismail who would be given a title and a pension of 1000 Mexican pesos a month.

  2. The Sultan would receive a British Resident whose advice had to be sought and adhered to in all matters except those pertaining to the religion and customs of the Malays.

  3. All collections and control of taxes as well as the administration of the state would be done in the name of the Sultan, but the Sultan was to govern according to the advice and consent of the Resident.

  4. The Minister of Larut would continue to be in control but would no longer be recognized as a liberated leader. Instead, a British officer, who would have vast authority in administering the district, would be appointed in Larut.

  5. The Sultan, and not the British government, would pay the salary of the Resident.

  6. Perak ceded Dinding and Pangkor Island to the United Kingdom.
Is this what a protectorate is all about? Does it not sound to all of us that Perak was as good as being annexed in a war with the British? Just consider the fact that the Sultan was to govern the state in accordance with the advice and consent of the British Resident. Perak was not colonised you say, Professor? Well, last night I saw pink cows flying over the crescent. Very nice.

Throughout the British presence in Tanah Melayu, we had three categories of states. The straits settlements, namely, Penang, Singapore and Melaka. Then we have Federated Malay States, ie, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang. These states were all not “colonised”, according too the British. They were just protectorate. Yea, right.

Then we have the Unfederated Malay States, which were Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu and Johor. They were also termed as protected states by the British. Again, that does not mean that they were not colonised by the British.

Under intense pressure by the British for example, Johor accepted a treaty of protection by the United Kingdom in 1885. With that Johor accepted a British “advisor.”

The way Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu came under the “protection” and became branded as Unfederated Malay States is an insult to every Malaysians. And for the British to insist that they had never – officially and technically, that is – been colonised by the British is an act of colonial arrogance.

How did Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu become protected states of the British? Well, just as in 1824 when the British gods decided to divide this part of the world with the Dutch, in 1909, the British did the same with Thailand in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty 1909. In this treaty, these two gods divided the northern Malay states into two.

Under this treaty, Pattani , Narathiwat, Songkhla, Satun and Yala remained under Thai control, while Thailand relinquished its claims to sovereignty over Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu which integrated into the British realm in Tanah Melayu as protectorates.

Now, who gave the authority and mandate to the British and Thais to willy nilly decide among themselves who to own what? The Pope? The British queen?

The mere act of unilaterally dividing these collection of Malay states which even predate Melaka among themselves is incontrovertible proof that these states were under the whims and fancies of these two people, ie, the Thais and the British.

All the terms coined and marketed about by the British were only what they are, namely, terms. Semantics. That is all. The effect is the same.
  • They came into our country either through uninvited settlements or request by some people with vested interests.

  • Under the pretext of lending their hands to assists us, they raped, plundered and stole our resources.

  • They invited and brought people from foreign lands (I have to stress that I do not have anything against them) to work here.

  • They then divided all of us and ruled us.
Now, if that is not colonisation, I do not know what is.

The mere fact that they could come back to Malaya after the Japanese – who kicked them out earlier in about 5 days – surrendered and forced the Malay Rulers and everybody else to accept the Malayan Union (where they consolidated the Straits Settlements; the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States into one Federation – is proof enough that they regarded Tanah Melayu – regardless of their semantic classifications – as their possession, as theirs to do whatever they liked.

Isn’t that a trait of every colonial Master, Datuk Dr Professor?

If they had not controlled the whole Tanah Melayu other than the Straits Setllements, how did they manage to force every state to accept the Malayan Union.

How did they manage to compel all our Malay Rulers to submit to their arrogance habit of dividing this territory as if we are some bunch of grapes which were to be graded and stomped on by their feet whenever they please?

What authority did the British have to “administer” us?
  • To submit too their system?
  • To their sense of justice?
  • To their system of civil service?
I am not saying that their systems are bad but under what authority did they manage to make us adopt their systems other than a systematic colonisation of our land?

Dear Professor, perhaps you should read the British Parliament hansard when they were debating the Malayan Independence Bill.

In the first place, if they did not colonise us, why and under what authority did they have to pass an Act of Palriament in their Parliament to give us “independence”?

Sometime, people show their true colours when the speak.

This is what the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Alan Lennox-Boyd, in a Freudian moment, said:
“Today, we are setting the seal on this work. We can, with Edmund Burke, rejoice that our ancestors have made the most extensive and the only honourable conquest not by destroying but by promoting the wealth, the number and the happiness of the human race.” (emphasis is mine).
Yes. That was, and still is, how they saw us.

Their honourable conquest.

And we were not colonised you say?

Related Article

Continuity and discontinuity: Prof Zainal Kling and Malaysian history


Clive Kessler
(Clive Kessler is Emeritus Professor of Sociology & Anthropology at The University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia.)

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It is not my objective to argue the historical facts of this issue, to take sides.

On the facts, Farish Noor and Art Harun are clearly right and Prof Zainal Kling, however ingenious the hair-splitting technicalities that he invokes, is WRONG.

But that is not the end, or even the heart, of the matter.

We must ask, what is the purpose, and what are the practical effects, of Prof Zainal now making his seemingly fanciful argument?

Prof Zainal’s argument is simply wrong, marvellously eccentric and absurdly counterfactual historically. But it is wonderfully clever, cunning and “very strategic”, politically.

By denying that Malaya, meaning the Malay states, was ever colonised by the British, Prof Zainal opens yet another front for struggle over the now increasingly contested question of Malaysian national sovereignty.

There is no doubt that, as one of the world’s nations, Malaysia exists. So it has sovereignty. But the grounding of its modern national sovereignty is a contested, and now ever increasingly inflamed, question.

  • Where does Malaysia’s national sovereignty lie, on what foundation is the sovereignty of the modern nation-state grounded?

  • In the people themselves, who are the nation, and upon whom, under the doctrine of popular sovereignty, all modern democratic nations are founded?

  • Or in the Federal Constitution, which is the self-declared basis of the nation’s common character, legal order and political life?

  • Or in the Sultans and Malay Rulers? And if so, by virtue of their recognised standing in the Federal and state constitutions?

  • Or on some other grounds?

With Prof Zainal’s recent comment, we are drawn back to this aspect, understanding, or (as some would have it) attempted revisionist redefinition of the national sovereignty question.

From 1986 and throughout the 1990s until 2008, the notion of Ketuanan Melayu, the idea or assertion that Malay political ascendancy had somehow been written into the constitutional foundations of the nation as part of an originating “social contract”, took shape and grew in strength.

The results of the 2008 elections came as a surprise, even shock, to many. To those determined to uphold the notion of Malay ascendancy, they were a threat and a challenge.

Was the primacy, as they saw it, of the Malay stake in the nation now, and henceforth, at risk?

From that time, and with the growth of new Malay political pressure groups such as Perkasa, a new determination to assert Malay primacy and national political ascendancy was voiced.

As part of that response, some new understandings of the ideas of Ketuanan Melayu and national sovereignty began to be developed and promoted.

Ketuanan Melayu, some now ventured to suggest, was not the crude “ethnosupremacist” idea (that, to some, the NEP seemed to suggest and underwrite) of the categorical superiority, or greater national entitlement, of Malays over non-Malays among the state’s citizens.

It had to do with the historical foundations and “public personality” of the national political order, of the nation.

It had to do with the origins of the independent federation of Malaya and later Malaysia as the direct lineal descendant, by a clear line of succession, from the various Malay states of the pre-British phase of the peninsula’s and region’s history.

This line of argument was further developed by, or at least on behalf of, the Malay Rulers and royal houses themselves by YM the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin, in a pre-Merdeka Day address at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 2009.

On that occasion Raja Nazrin recalled the Wasiat Raja-Raja Melayu of August 5, 1957. Through that solemn declaration the nine Malay Rulers signified their assent to the constitutional arrangements of the new nation that was about to be born.

Their Wasiat, as they understood it, was not just a legal will or testament — the last political testament of the old political order, the ancien régime on the Malay peninsula.

It had, for them, an older historical meaning and also looked forward to newer times.

For them the term was not just a technical legal or constitutional instrument; it also had powerful connotations suggesting a sacred heirloom or legacy.

By their Wasiat their Rulers affirmed their consent to Merdeka and gave it their blessing. The new nation born of the “Merdeka moment” was in that way stamped with their great prestige.

Yet their action, in their royal eyes, implied something more than simply a stamp of kingly approval.

The daulat that the Rulers embodied, they implied, was not merely sacred royal prestige. Their royal consent and blessing suggested — or has subsequently been read to suggest — that the daulat of the Rulers was in fact sovereignty, in the technical jurisprudential sense.

This view, whether held at the time or retrospectively asserted, holds, or again further implies, that from pre-colonial times and throughout the years of British control, the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers, or “Malay sovereignty”, had continued: uninterrupted and unbroken, unimpaired and undiminished.

Those who wish to maintain this position can, it seems, do so in either of two ways. They may argue that there was never any diminution of effective Malay royal sovereignty, understood as ultimately authenticating power and “reality-creating” authority, under British rule. That is a difficult position to sustain.

Or they may argue that, while the Malay Rulers and their quasi-sacred political position had in fact been eclipsed under the British, that diminution was entirely without force or meaning, since British rule was itself fundamentally illegitimate. Hence its effects and implications for Malay royal sovereignty can be ignored, or set aside as if they had never been.

In either case, throughout the years of British administration and control, Malay royal sovereignty, some suggest, had continued: either in full force but hidden or else dormant and, so to speak, “underground”, only to awake and surface again at the moment of national independence.

However bizarre and counterfactual they may seem to some, Prof Zainal’s recent comments on Malayan history do not come from nowhere. They are not simply an individual eccentricity or folly.

Prof Zainal, with his recent intervention, is simply the latest Malay political commentator, activist and practical ideologist who has sought to affirm this notion of the continuity of Malay sovereignty.

His position seems to be an artful combination of the two possibilities noted above. He seems to hold that British colonial rule was illegitimate and therefore not entitled to be of any ultimate consequence; and that pre-colonial Malay sovereignty therefore persisted — was never interrupted, severed or broken — throughout the illegitimate British interlude.

Prof Zainal’s position, and that of those who are of the same mind in these matters, is that not merely Malay sacred royal daulat but “sovereignty” in the modern technical jurisprudential sense had survived in the hands of the Malay Rulers, unimpaired and undiminished, throughout the “British years” from 1874 to 1957.

More than that, having remained with them, in their traditional custodianship, this sovereignty could be, and in historical fact was, passed on by the Malay Rulers (as they asserted in their Wasiat of August 5, 1957) to the new independent nation.

In that way, a new nation was born, but born as the vehicle and instrument of a continuing sovereignty that was far older. It embodied a moral authority and sovereignty of far greater political and cultural authenticity than anything that the departing British might have managed through its Colonial Office to fabricate.

This view, which seems to be that of Prof Zainal’s, or to underlie it, has profound implications for the continuing nature, now and well into the future, of the Malaysian nation, for its political character and the underlying foundations of its sovereignty.

The idea that the British never ruled, or governed, in Malaya may seem absurd.

But it is a very inventive and resourceful way, in the political context suddenly created by the national elections of March 2008, to argue — whatever those results may have been, and whatever outcome future elections may yet disclose — that the nation’s sovereignty, both in its historical origins and its contemporary character, is a distinctively Malay sovereignty.

The argument is one that seeks to assert, and place beyond any partisan dispute or political challenge, the notion that Malaysia is still Tanah Melayu, a nation embodying Malay sovereignty, and a nation inscribed in whose innermost nature is the principle of Malay primacy.

This, like it or not, is the new post-NEP and post-2008 notion of Ketuanan Melayu.

That, at all events, seems to be, either explicitly or by implication, the position of Prof Zainal and those who are of the same mind.

As for the controversy that his views have prompted, the central question is not whether they are historically correct (which is contestable) but whether they can be made to prevail politically.

That too is perhaps contestable. That is a matter for all the people of Malaysia to determine.

There is no other way, no basis other than common and ever renewed consent, to found and sustain a nation.

We WERE a British Colony: A Response to Zainal Kling and National Council of Professors

Kangkung Professor


A Response to Zainal Kling


Ahmad Fuad Rahmat
Research fellow, Islamic Renaissance Front

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Dr. Zainal Kling together with National Professors’ Council (MPN), which claims up to 1500 members, recently argued that Malaysia was never colonized by the British.

As reported in Malaysiakini and Berita Harian, their argument in essence reads as follows:
  1. Malaya was a British protectorate, not a colony.

  2. But the British did have administrative powers in the fields of finance and the exploitation of Malaya’s natural resources.

  3. Despite this, Zainal still maintains that Malay sovereignty (kedaulatan Melayu) was still protected.

  4. Therefore, what is now Malaysia (with the exception of Malaka and Penang) was never colonized by the British.
The problems with Dr. Zainal’s argument are as follows:

1. The argument is illogical

Colonialism entails the exploitation of the wealth and potential of a nation by another. The scenario is that one nation becomes subjugated by the power and authority of another nation. By the MPN's own admission Malaya’s natural resources and financial authority was exploited by the British “in a breach of trust” rendering Malaya’s actual political power and capacity effectively impotent.

If a nation is exploited in such a manner then in effect that nation’s sovereignty was violated. Since this was the case in Malaya, as was presented by the facts already in MPN's reasoning, then Malaya was by definition colonized by the British.

At any rate, the remaining question is that if Malaya was merely a British protectorate ('dinaung') then why were the British also exploiting it?

2. Malay sovereignty was NOT protected under Perjanjian Pangkor. For it gave the British legal mandate to advise and interfere in local affairs

This has been explicitly admitted in Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) textbooks for decades: that much is even admitted in the Pemuda UMNO website.

At any rate, some facts are undisputable:

The perjanjian was written in English.It was signed on a British boat.

Article 6 of the perjanjian reads as follows:
“That the Sultan receives and provides a suitable residence for a British Officer to be called Resident, who shall be accredited to his Court, and whose advice must be asked and acted upon on all questions other than those touching Malay Religion and Custom.”
(See H.S. Barlow's Swettenham, p. 45)
The collection of taxes was to be overseen and managed by the British Resident.
Due to British pressures and political manoeuvring Sultan Ismail was deposed in place of Sultan Abdullah.

3. They do not understand what sovereignty means

Sovereignty in a basic sense means power.

In terms of the modern nation state, political sovereignty basically means that the absolute power and control of a nation and its territory rests in the state. Thus, a country is said to be independent because it has ostensibly gained its sovereignty.


Sovereignty in a basic sense means power. Political sovereignty means that the absolute power and control of a nation and its territory rests in the state.

What this means is that the finances and the natural resources of the state is a part of its sovereignty. Dr. Zainal, for some reason, assumes that because the British left the crumbs of Malay culture and religion under the Sultan’s rule this ought to mean that kedaulatan Melayu was safeguarded.

The British, coming all the way from Europe eyeing our wealth, natural resources and economic potential first and foremost, of course had little concern for how we prayed and conducted our superstitions and cultural practices. The British residents had what mattered more in determining the sovereignty of a nation: its economics and an influence in the political system.

4. The argument assumes that colonialism had to be direct

But colonialism is rarely direct. Just look at the basics of history.

It is the nature of modern European colonialism that the total size of the colonies is much greater than the size of the colonizing nation. This was the case for Britain as much as it was for France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.

For example: The small nation of Portugal managed to amass the amount of land that covers the size of Brazil. The Dutch did the same in Indonesia, and Spain did the same in the Spanish-speaking Americas. This is to say little of the size and global reach of the British Empire. This applied in all cases of modern European colonialism: much of the globe was overtaken by countries that were small.


The point is that the colonizing nations could not have maintained their global presence for centuries by military power or direct rule alone. They needed other means to legitimize their presence while being outnumbered in foreign lands and cultures.

The methods of securing that presence varied: a common strategy is to convert the colonized into the ideology or religion of the colonizers, typically to convince the colonized that they were inferior.

Another typical approach was for the colonizers to work with their agents and partners from among the colonized, either as business partners or co-administrators to help facilitate and expedite the exploitation process.

In other words, colonialism had no problems working with a local ruling class as advisors or bureaucrats, or in Malaysia’s case functioning in the guise of being a protector, or serving as “residents”. In fact, that only made colonialism more efficient since the colonizers would have direct local partners to protect and legitimize their presence.


In concluding we ought to recall that Dr. Zainal and the MPN's arguments were made in direct response to Mohamad Sabu’s recent attempts to broaden the scope of Malaysia’s history of anti-colonial struggles.

By concluding that the British were never actual colonizers of Malaysia, he sought to discredit the Malaysians, in particular, the Malaysian left who had made the British – instead of the Communists or to a lesser extent the Japanese - the chief villains in the struggle for Malaysia’s independence.

The lesson to be noted here is not just the deeply ideological nature of Dr. Zainal and the MPN's arguments, but the deeply ideological nature of any struggle for decolonization and independence.

The left-right distinction that is slowly surfacing in these debates should remind us that independence is more than just about simply removing a foreign conqueror. What the visceral reactions we are seeing clearly highlight is that the struggle is still much about the principles of what a just society ought to be.

Some are content with the way Malaysia turned out, while some believe that there are higher possibilities beyond this.

Memory is where freedom really begins. We can only make the right choices for the future based on what we can recall of our past successes and mistakes.

In other words, we are only as good (or bad) as what we want to remember and forget.


Zainal Kling: A Spin Doctor Gone Awry


Khoo Kay Peng

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National Professor's Council member Zainal Kling council said that the movement, which included the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), are “traitors” as they had allegedly wanted to form a republic and to unseat Malay rulers.

He alleged that these communists' goal was not to liberate Malaya from British rule, which had recognised the role of the Malay rulers, but to establish a communist country. He added that “all Malay nationalists” had also “joined forces, cooperated and abetted with communist fighters” to establish a republic.

"It is because of this that we cannot accept their struggle as (the communists) wanted to wrest power in a manner which was not legitimate,” he said.

Zainal's allegations are serious and they must be scrutinized to avoid unscrupulous distortion of our nation's history. As an ardent student of history, I hope Zainal's allegations were not driven by any political or personal interest.

He had made some serious allegations:
  1. Malaysia was never colonised, only Malacca, Penang and Singapore.

  2. British recognized the role of Malay rulers

  3. All Malay nationalists had joined forces, cooperated and abetted with communist fighters to establish a republic
Zainal's allegations may put the Malay rulers in an embarrassing position.

First, WHY were the British allowed almost total control over the economy and raw materials of the nation if this country was never colonised?

In fact, the post-colonial New Economic Policy was introduced to address the economic imbalances caused by the British colonial rule. One of its objectives was to eradicate identification of economic function to race.

If the Malay states were never colonised, then the Malay rulers should be held accountable and answerable for the socio-economic neglect and discrimination of the Malay community.

Why make Chinese the bogeymen of Malay's economic distress?

If Zainal is right, the British were the good guys because they recognised and supported the Malay rulers' supremacy. Umno, which was established by a number of Malay nationalists, must be the bad guys because "they had collaborated with communist fighters to establish a republic".

Malay nationalists opposition to the Malayan Union was another testimony of their struggle against the colonial power and to defend the special position of their community.

If Zainal's allegations were driven by his desire to help Umno nail Mat Sabu, he has opened up another controversy for the party. Worse, his statement was made in Putrajaya signalled his political intention.

If Zainal is right, we should only celebrate Independence Day in Malacca and Penang. We should pull out our membership from the Commonwealth and disband Umno.

If not, Zainal's professorship must be reassessed to ensure that he fits the intellectual requirement of the title. It is time for the Barisan government to employ and engage the right people.

It is the present government and it has all necessary resources to hire the best and to provide the best governance to the people. The lost of popularity of the Prime Minister and his administration is self inflicted.

Why spend millions and get pseudo intellectuals who feed on peanuts?

What had happened to some PhD holders in the establishment? One is trying to push the blame of Bersih 2.0's mismanagement to the police and this one has unwittingly turning Malay nationalists into traitors.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

UMNO in Panic Mode: UMNO's Version of Malaysian History is Being Debunked Fast

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Recognising History Would Make Umno Irrelevant


Dato' Mohd.Ariff Sabri bin Hj. Abdul Aziz

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad said UMNO hasn’t got leadership. My take on that statement is that it is the damnest indictment on Prime Minsiter Najib Tun Razak’s leadership.

UMNO is now reduced to the stature of a beggar – scrounging at the supposed faux pas committed by PAS deputy president Mat Sabu.

What has Mat Sabu actually said that caused so much consternation?Mat Sabu mentioned the name of Mat Indera, the Batu Pahat Malay born in Peserai who led the attack on the police barrack at Bukit Kepong.

The barrack was commanded by an English man representing the colonial government then. I think we are missing the point here. Mat Sabu wasn’t glorifying the communists or communism. He didn’t even say anything about communism. He was asking his audience to take a relook at the treatment of history on the role of Mat Indera.

To Mat Sabu, history has unjustly treated Mat Indera and we, the public, have accepted the official version of history – hook, line and sinker. Was Mat Indera a simple terrorist sans a greater purpose and therefore deserving the description of a villain and terrorist?

Vilifying Mat Indera

It now seems the preferred version of revised history is to see and value Mat Indera as a freedom fighter bent on kicking out the British imperialists. Certainly the people in Mat Indera’s kampung in Batu Pahat refused to accept the vilification of Mat Indera’s memory.


The criminalisation of Mat Indera is part of the indoctrination and propaganda carried out by British imperialism. Mat Indera joins the list of so many other freedom fighters who dared rise up to challenge Britsih hegemony.

Nowadays the Malayan people could no longer accept nor tolerate the infamy enforced on people like Pandak Endut, on Tok Janggut and Mat Kilau and so many others. Mat Indera certainly doesn’t deserve to be dumped into the dustbin of history as just “one of those” terrorists.

Why is UMNO concerned?

Over the last few days, I had the opportunity to finish reading the memoir of one Shamsiah Fakeh – Memoir Shamsiah Fakeh- Dari AWAS ke Rejimen Ke-10. If you recall, her name re-emerged with some notoriety recently when the Bersih 2.0 marchers on July 9 were said to be influenced by her actions.

Shamsiah was a member of Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM) – a left-leaning Malay political party formed in 1945. It was the first political party that openly declared its mission to be that of securing independence for Malaya.

In that sense, PKMM preceded UMNO in its commitment to secure Merdeka for the Malayan people. UMNO leaders at that time scoffed and chided and were dismissive of the manifest desire to gain independence.

They often derided those who wanted independence as fanciful dreamers who couldn’t even manufacture a needle What is then alarming about Mat Sabu’s faux pas is the fear that it may lead to a widespread revision of history.

If it snowballs into a widespread revision of history, then UMNO’s actual MAY itself be diminished. And it will no longer enjoy an unchallenged and monopolistic place in our nation’s history.

Politically it will also mean that UMNO will find it increasingly difficult to claim absolute legitimacy as the nation’s only political force to have fought for Merdeka. Its own heroes will be brought down to size.

Related Article

Johor Govt's 2004 Book, "Pengukur Nama Johor" Vindicates Mat Sabu

Read here for more in Malaysiakini


A book published by the Johor government in 2004 names insurgent Mat Indera as a freedom fighter and lists him as a celebrated Johor hero.

Speaking to Malaysiakini today, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu said this was revealed in the book titled "Pengukir Nama Johor."

“The book has five pages on Mat Indera and he is essentially called a freedom fighter. It states that he is not a communist, Mohamad, who is widely known as Mast Sabu, said.

Under fire for describing Mat Indera as a hero for attacking the Bukit Kepong police station in 1950, he said the foreword of the book was written by Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman.

“This is why I said that Umno is digging its own grave on this issue,” added mat Sabu, who is due to hold a press conference on the matter tomorrow.

Five pages of the book are dedicated to Mat Indera while the remainder are biographies of 21 other key historical figures from Johor.

These include the late Sultan Ismail and former Umno chairperson Sulaiman Ninam Shah.

Also included in the Johor Heritage foundation published book is a biography of Bajuri Siraj, who turned Mat Indera in to the British for a reward.

Mat Indera's photograph is featured on the cover of the book

The section on Mat Indera was written by Ismail Adnan, who once served as deputy director of Institut Kepimpinan dan Latihan Semangat Dato' Onn.

The book is edited by former Universiti Malaya media studies lecturer Abu Bakar A Hamid and Teacher of the Year 2002 award recipient Md Ismail Zamzam.

'Pious and hardworking man

Contacted by Malaysiakini today, Abu Bakar said Mat Indera is described in the book as someone who was “pious and a tahfiz” (someone who has memorised the Quran).

“The author used this as a basis to conclude that it is unlikely that he had turned into a communist,” Abu Bakar said.

He added that Ismail had written the section based on several credible sources and his own research.

Interestingly, Abu Bakar revealed that his own father had also served alongside Mat Indera at Sekolah Agama Parit Setongkat in Muar, Johor, in the 1940s.

My father was the headmaster and Mat Indera was a teacher there. My father remembers him to be a hardworking and pious man who had a good voice,” he said.

At the same time, Abu Bakar revealed, in his memoir published by UKM, once Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) chairperson Abdullah CD named Mat Indera as one of his platoon members.

In the memoir, Abdullah said that Mat Indera had led the insurgency against the Bukit Kepong police station and was later “poisoned” before he was captured and hanged to death.

“This public and intellectual discourse about history is a good thing, but I urge politicians to stay out of it. There is no need to make a lot of noise for nothing. Even in academia there are differing views, so we conduct more research and present our findings. The case (of Mat Indera) is not yet closed,” Abu Bakar added.


Read here for more

A strange irony of history has emerged to suggest a link between the alleged communist leader of the attack on the Bukit Kepong, on the one hand, and a top Umno politician who has of recent expressed among the harshest criticisms of his memory.

According to PAS, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's father Mohammad Yassin was actually the teacher of 'Mat Indera', the pre-Merdeka nationalist implicated in the deaths of police officers and civilians following an attack on the Bukit Kepong police station in 1950 during the communist insurgency.

The irony goes even further with the revelation that Mat Indera may even, at one point, have sought the hand of Muhyiddin's elder sister.

“Mat Indera wanted to marry the sister of DPM Muhyiddin Yassin, but Mat Indera's father was not agreeable to it,” Johor PAS Youth chief Suhaizat Kaiat wrote on his Facebook page after meeting with Mat Indera's younger brother Johan Shah at the latter's home in Penjara Air Molek, Johor Bahru.

According to Suhaizan in his Facebook posting, Mohamad 'Mat' Sabu and Johor PAS commissioner Dr Mahfodz Mohamed were present at the meeting with Johan.

“It was the British who accused Mat Indera of being a communist,” said Suhaizan further. Mat Indera was eventually captured and executed by the colonial authorities.

Suhaizan's remarks following a barrage of attacks on Mohamad Sabu following a speech in which he described Mat Indera as the real hero in the Bukit Kepong incident, not the Malay police officers, as they were serving to enforce the laws and administration of the British colonial government.

Muhyiddin has been among the more vociferous of Mohamad Sabu's critics following the latter's remarks.

Recounting his meeting with Johan, Suhaizan said he was told that Johan, his father, stepmother and grandfather were tortured by the British colonialists before being banished to Singapore between 1950 to 1954.

“People were afraid of the British”, said Suhaizan, which is why nobody defended Mat Indera when the latter was prosecuted by the British.

Among the other facts that Suhaizan said were related by Johan were:
- Mat Indera was the second eldest child of eight children. His mother died when Johan - the youngest - was two years old;

- The British offered a 25,000-dollar reward for Mat Indera's capture before the Bukit Kepong incident. After the incident, the reward was raised to 75,000 dollars;

- Mat Indera arrived at the site of Bukit Kepong during the last moments of the incident, and was not involved in the attack on the police station;

johor pas youth visit mat indera brother johan shah 060911 mohamad mat sabu- Mat Indera saved the life of one police officer by the name of Yusof Rono;

- Mat Indera was appointed by the then-Johor government as a religious studies teacher. He was issued a uniform and official songkok. He had studied under a renowned religious scholar by the name of Tuan Guru Fadil;

- Mat Indera was hanged to death at Kampung Jambu Air in Taiping in the year 1953, and was buried separately from the other graves in the cemetary;

- Mat Indera never married.
In a statement, Johor PAS Youth said it will hold a press conference tomorrow together with Johan at the party's national headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.