Wednesday 31 October 2007

FLASHBACK: 1988 - The Tunku Had Warned: "Should We Now be Stooges of UMNO?"

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July 1988

Vol. 141, No. 29, 21 Jul 1988, 16


Malaysian Judiciary:
Having Avoided Being Scum, Should We (the People) Now Be Stooges?


Tunku Abdul Rahman
(Tunku Abdul Rahman, who led the then Malaya to independence in 1957, retired as prime minister in 1970)

"... I would like to remind the people of one thing: that if they (the people) allow themselves to be used as stooges by this new party (UMNO Baru) , they will lose their identity as independent, free people and will revert to their old status as backward hangers-on, while the new Umno will have complete control of Malaysia and be able to do as it likes.

...Now, the government is moving to take over the Judiciary.

Yet now, the present government is frightening people with warnings that the violence of 13 May 1969 will be repeated if those in opposition are not stopped in time.

These stories reveal the Government's single purpose -- to hold onto power at ALL costs and for ALL time. ..."

-The late Tunku Abdul Rahman, former Prime Minister of Malaysia (1988)

A by-election is due on 25 August in the constituency of Johor Baru. It is being called because of the battle between the two local Umno camps, one headed by the incumbent MP, Datuk Shahrir Samad, the other by Abu Bakar Dewa. It came to a head when Shahrir, who has refused to join the new Umno -- Umno (Baru), the hastily formed successor to the original Umno -- resigned his seat and challenged Bakar, one of his most vocal critics, to contest the by-election. This thus gives an opportunity for people to decide which faction they support.

I hope that other political parties will stay out of this by-election. Any other party would gain no credit if it were to win because of the divided Umno vote. If they are sporting enough to stay out of the fight -- as I beg them to do -- they can contest the next general election with a clear conscience.

My plea that the people should be allowed to make their choice in the intra-Umno dispute stems from the party's origins on 11 May 1946. The Malays spelled out what they stood for in the party's name: the United Malays National Organisation, a grouping determined to fight for the unity of Malays and the restoration of their rights.

The post-World War II plan of the British for a new Malaya would have turned the country into a colony and brought an end to whatever rights the Malays had in their homeland.

Under the original treaty, the country was divided into three categories:
  • Non-Federated Malay States, which enjoyed a high degree of autonomy under their rulers with British advisers to help the administration;

  • Federated Malay States, with the rulers as figureheads and with nominal powers (mainly dealing with Malay traditions, customs and religious matters), and

  • other British colonies -- Singapore, Penang, Province Wellesley and Malacca.

    When the British scrapped these treaties after World War II, it meant to the Malays the end of their rights.

    Our experience had shown that in the states run by the British, the Malays had no place: their rights were ignored and disregarded. Even their schools were relegated to the lowest rung of the educational ladder, giving "vernacular" education over three or four years -- at the end of which all they could do was to eke out a hand-to-mouth living. A few rich Malays could afford to send their children abroad for higher education, but the huge majority were looked down upon by everybody.

    The plan would have reduced all Malays to the level of human scum. That is why Malays throughout the peninsula answered the call of their first national leader, Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar, to fight the British plan for the Malayan Union.

    In its place the British agreed to set up the Federation of Malaya government and the rulers would be recognised as symbolic heads of state with a bigger say in matters of customs and religion. A few Malays were appointed members of the executive Council; a few others were made members of the Malayan Civil Service. The rest remained as they were.

    Before this new government was formed, Umno appointed three leaders to go to London to put the Malay case to the British Government: Onn, Datuk Bukit Gantang and myself.

    But before we left, London met the rulers. Onn agreed that the matter could be settled within Malaya, with the British high commissioner given the power to agree to any terms he found necessary for the peace and well-being of the country. So we agreed to settle the issue at home.
    But the best we got from the British was an agreement to change the name, from the Malayan Union to the Federation of Malaya Government. The administration still lay almost completely in British hands. The Malays were not satisfied, but gave themselves time to see how the changes would affect them.

    Then one day, Onn sprang a surprise by proposing to open the doors of Umno to non-Malays. Its members were totally opposed so Onn left to launch a new party. He had not expected his loyal Umno colleagues to oppose him.

    Umno found itself without a leader, so they offered the post to me. I accepted on one condition: that Umno must go all out for independence without any terms or conditions which would leave the British any semblance of power in Malaya after independence.

    So it was that we changed the party slogan from "Hidup Melayu" (Long Live the Malays) to "Merdeka" (Independence). With that battle cry Umno swept the country. In the end the British agreed to give Malaya self-determination through popular elections but they wished to retain the right to appoint the majority of Legislative Council members, with the British high commissioner reserving the right to nominate an extra nine members. We knew what this meant. With the majority in their hands, the British would continue to control the government. So we refused to accept their terms.

    I thereupon gave orders to all council members -- federal, state, city and town -- to walk out of the councils and threaten to withdraw their cooperation.

    From our headquarters in Johor Baru we carried out the fight relentlessly. In the end, the British gave in to our demands, and in the 1955 election, the Alliance Party (Umno in coalition with the Malayan Chinese Association and the Malayan Indian Congress) swept to victory, with the loss of only one seat to Parti Islam (Pas).

    This success bought us self-government and on 31 August 1957 I had the privilege to declare Malaya independent.

    The Malays were united.

    We had to coax, cajole and persuade the non-Malays to join us.

    The Chinese in particular were divided (into the Straits-born, who knew no other country; those who supported the Kuomintang, which held that every Chinese, wherever he was, remained a subject of China, and the communists who were still fighting a bloody battle to take over the country).

    The non-communist Chinese were in a quandary. They hated communism and so agreed to join our independence movement in return for our promises to extend the same rights and freedoms to live and do business as they had enjoyed before.

    So it was that we joined hands and fought for and won independence. For the first time we were able to walk with our heads high as a free and independent people.

    The Malays required help in raising their standard of living, so in the first five-year development plan we agreed on extensive rural development because the people of the kampungs (villages) had been completely neglected by the British.

    To be fair, however, an equal area of land was given to other communities, with the government providing funds and facilities. Next, it provided economic help and business facilities for the Malays, though the government had to subsidise them as the Malays needed time to learn commerce and business.

    All went well. Our economy was good, we were the most developed of all developing countries, and the great majority were satisfied and happy. Development affected religion, social welfare, health, sport and, of course, the countryside.

    Universities were built, taking students from English as well as Malay and Chinese schools.

    I have said before and I repeat now that Malaya had never had it so good. Everybody went about his business to the best of his ability. We were proud and happy with what we were doing.

    But the communists were still at work underground. Their subversive activities were aimed at the opposition parties who thought that the time had come for them to overthrow the Alliance and jointly take over the country. Their efforts came to a head in 1969, perhaps unwittingly aided by some of our men who had similar ambitions. These people, after the race riots of 13 May, openly criticised me. The government had allowed the communists, for the first time, to mount a public funeral procession for an agitator shot by the police. This spiteful decision caused me untold agony and misery, though it did not take the authorities more than two days to put down the rioting.

    Yet now, the present government is frightening people with warnings that the violence of 13 May 1969 will be repeated if those in opposition are not stopped in time. These stories reveal the government's single purpose -- to hold onto power at all costs and for all time.

    The leaders of Umno (Baru) go round the country telling the people that their policies will benefit them, that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

    They choose to forget what the Alliance government did for the kampung people -- the rural development, the aid, subsidies, amenities -- all of which means that today the sons and daughters of the village people can go to university and many people from such origins hold top positions in government and society.

    I would like to remind the people of one thing: that if they allow themselves to be used as stooges by this new party, they will lose their identity as independent, free people and will revert to their old status as backward hangers-on, while the new Umno will have complete control of Malaysia and be able to do as it likes. It is very convenient to hold office without opposition.

    Now, the government is moving to take over the judiciary.

    Five judges of the Supreme Court have been suspended for reasons connected mainly with the Lord President of the Supreme Court, Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas. On 2 July, these judges sat to hear an application on the lord president's behalf. Salleh's application to the High Court that a tribunal sitting in judgment of him be restrained from making any recommendations until his suit be heard had been turned down. So the Supreme Court judges heard the application and gave the restraining order. They were suspended for their pains.

    In a statement, the five judges said they:
    "...owe a public duty to state the correct facts regarding the circumstances under which we sat on Saturday, 2 July, and had to act as we did, and this was primarily on the basis and in view of the fact that the Acting Lord President as the first respondent to the proceedings [Salleh's application] was wholly disqualified from having anything to do with the convening of the session of the Supreme Court that morning. If we had refused to sit on the urgent representation made to us we would have failed in our duty as judges and in our oath to uphold the constitution and administer justice."
    And now the High Court's Justice Datuk Ajaib Singh has dismissed Salleh's claim that the tribunal was unconstitutionally formed.

    The country is in a state of shock. The share market has tumbled. It is feared that the economic situation might worsen, in which case there would be no more funds available to help improve the lot of the kampung folk. That would be disastrous for everyone.
    -Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • FLASHBACK: 1988 - The Strangling of the Judiciary by the UMNO Government

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    July 1988

    Vol. 141, No. 29, 21 Jul 1988, 12

    Malaysian Judiciary: Lawyers fear courts will be stacked

    Suhaini Aznam

    The struggle between Malaysia's executive and the judiciary is being fought in the very courts whose independence is at stake. Government moves have met sharp reactions from lawyers and judges.

    Who will emerge the winner is uncertain, but the fight has sharpened the Executive's determination to DOMINATE the country's Judiciary.

    The wrangle has also dragged the king into a position where he has effectively had to lend his royal authority to the government's gameplan. This is potentially damaging to the monarchy, and it is reliably learned that some of the king's brother state rulers are unhappy about what they view as political exploitation of his position.

    It is known that the rulers have held at least one private meeting to discuss the issue since the suspension of the Lord President Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas.

    Alarmed at the rapid tumble of judicial heads -- Salleh was suspended from 26 May and five other Supreme Court judges on 6 July -- lawyers have passed a vote of no-confidence in Chief Justice Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Omar, now the acting lord president. At an emergency meeting of the Malaysian Bar Council on 9 July, 1,002 agitated lawyers called on Hamid to step down or be removed from office.

    The unprecedented action against the judiciary began when the king took exception to Salleh's letter in March defending the judiciary against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad's attacks. Mahathir used this and other issues as grounds for action and on 25 May recommended Salleh's suspension. The king then appointed a six-man tribunal to advise him whether Salleh ought to be dismissed.

    Salleh had to resort to his own courts in a bid to stop the tribunal from proceeding with its deliberations, on grounds that it had not been properly constituted and its membership was suspect. When the High Court delayed judgment, Salleh turned to the Supreme Court with an urgent request for a stay of proceedings. A five-man Supreme Court bench granted his application on 2 July, but all five were in turn promptly suspended from office by the king on Hamid's recommendation.

    The government charged the five primarily with having deliberately convened the Supreme Court without Hamid's permission or knowledge on a matter still under review in the High Court -- actions which it claimed showed a biased attitude unsuited to a judge.

    In addition, two of the judges were supposed to have sat in Kelantan that day and absented themselves without reasonable grounds. Hamid advised the king to suspend the five judges after the 2 July order restraining the tribunal, which he chaired, from submitting its report to the king. The tribunal completed its 52-page report on 7 July.

    For their part, the five explained that they did not refer the matter to Hamid since as the tribunal chairman he was the first respondent in the application and therefore an interested party. They had also been told that Hamid had ordered that none of the court staff be present in court, the court doors be shut and that they not have the use of court facilities including the court seal. They had felt it imperative to hear the urgent application though it was still before the High Court, since the latter's refusal of a stay would have nullified any order made after the tribunal proceedings had ended.

    Aghast at the turn of events, the lawyers took UP cudgels on behalf of the suspended judges. The 9 July emergency meeting, attended by 43% of the entire bar, also resolved to initiate contempt proceedings against Hamid for what it saw as interference in the administration of justice.

    In adopting their tough stand, several lawyers realised they themselves risked the government's wrath, and indeed they did not have to wait long. On 11 July, the association's Selangor and Federal Territory chapter was given three weeks by the authorities to move out of its office in the old High Court building.

    In legal circles, sympathy is clearly with the suspended judges.

    Salleh was given a standing ovation on 7 July when he attended a public lecture at the University of Malaya. The packed auditorium later applauded whenever they saw parallels between the Philippine and Malaysian situations in a lecture by former Philippine chief justice Claudio Teehankee.

    The following afternoon, lawyers packed the High Court to hear Justice Datuk Ajaib Singh's decision on Salleh's application to halt temporarily the tribunal proceedings. But they were visibly dismayed when Ajaib described Salleh's contention that it was the king, not the prime minister, who initiated his suspension as "wholly fallacious," and dismissed the application.

    Salleh's claim that Mahathir's advice on the selection of tribunal members was not made in good faith because he had criticised the judiciary for several months was also baseless, the judge said. There was a collective groan from the lawyers, some of whom walked out.

    Ajaib later said he received several threatening phone calls, as well as two that praised his decision. Salleh subsequently filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, only two of whose judges are available -- the others being suspended or sitting on the tribunal. The government has also applied to have the stay order lifted. To fill out the bench, at least three more judges will be elevated from lower courts to the Supreme Court by the government.

    Many lawyers and non-lawyers alike believe that the judiciary is under attack by the executive not for any legal weaknesses in its judgments, but for its alleged lack of judicious appreciation of Malaysian politics. As one lawyer noted, perhaps the judiciary had become an unwitting "instrument on which the opposition has moved" against the government.

    Mahathir's criticism of the judiciary began as the political opposition, both within and outside the ruling coalition, resorted to the courts for solutions to what began as political disputes -- the most famous of these being the suit by 11 dissidents from the now deregistered United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

    Many lawyers and other observers suspect that Salleh's suspension was a direct result of his appointment of a nine-member Supreme Court bench to hear the appeal by the 11 Umno dissidents, planned for 13 June. If that appeal had been successful, Mahathir's new Umno could have been blocked in its efforts to replace the deregistered old Umno and Mahathir could have found himself forced out of the central Malay political fold.

    If the suspensions are indeed politically motivated, it is unclear what avenues are now available to the judiciary to stand up for itself. "What is very glaring is that we have now awakened to the reality that there is no security of tenure for judges, especially a lord president," said Param Cumaraswamy, as former Bar Council president.

    Mahathir now controls or cows several institutions: parliament, in which government MPs have an 80% majority; the opposition Democratic Action Party, whose chief and four other MPs are in a detention camp; his own Umno (Baru), from which he has barred all rivals; the media, which is either government-owned or influenced Some political observers feel that after the judiciary, Mahathir might again turn his attention to the monarchy.

    Already, with no other avenues for political appeal, the lawyers are looking to the monarchy to intervene on the judiciary's behalf. However, under the system of constitutional monarchy, the powers of Malaysia's king and the eight other hereditary rulers are limited.

    But since judges are appointed by the king, with the consultation of his brother rulers, the Bar Council plans to request that the conference of rulers convene to hear its version of events leading to the suspensions.

    The Sultan of Johor, Tunku Mahmood Iskandar, is Malaysia's present king in a rotational system of appointment to the federal throne among the nine states. When his term expires in April 1989, the sultan of Perak should succeed, being from the only state not to have had a turn on the throne since independence in 1957. Today, Mahathir gets on well with the king despite initial tensions over Mahathir's attempts to amend the constitution to curb the powers of the monarchy in 1983. By all accounts, however, Mahathir may not find Perak's Sultan Azlan Muhibuddin Shah, the former lord president, as easy to deal with.

    Meanwhile, the Sultan of Perlis has telexed the king asking that no action be taken against Salleh until the rulers meet, sometime after 21 July when the sultans of Kedah and Selangor return from abroad. The Sultan of Kelantan has backed this request.

    FLASHBACKS: 1983 : The Council of Malay Rulers versus UMNO

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    December 1983

    Vol. 122, No. 48, 1 Dec 1983, 14

    Rulers Meet -- And Say 'NO ' To Constitutional Changes


    K. Das

    November 20, 1983, may go down in Malaysian history as the Day of the Sultans -- or the day which spelled their doom.

    The hereditary sultans who rule nine of the country's 13 states (or in two cases their heirs) met in the state capital of Selangor at the Istana Bukit Kayangan, or Heavenly Hill Palace, the home of the Selangor rulers, and expressed their opposition to constitutional amendments pushed through parliament in August by the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad.

    In an official statement issued after a day-long meeting, the sultans not only made it clear that they expected to be treated with due courtesy and ceremony but indicated that they would NOT be deprived of their role, however symbolic, in LAWMAKING, either in the country at large or in their own states.

    Under the amendments, the Yang di-Pertuan Agung (king) loses both his power to prevent a bill from becoming law and his right to declare a national emergency, the latter power being transferred to the prime minister.

    Eight of the nine state rulers and the raja muda (heirs-apparent) of both Pahang and Negri Sembilan made it clear that they would not be pressured.

    After meeting five representatives of Mahathir's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant grouping in the ruling National Front, and considering their "humble submission," the rulers declared that the proposals "required further deliberation."

    The courtly language of the official statement carried a simple message: the constitutional amendments bill passed by parliament in August but not given royal assent will remain in limbo.
    Indeed, the rulers made it obvious that, while they regretted it, no laws passed by parliament or the nine state legislatures they preside over will be given royal assent.

    Angered by the attempt to strip them of their constitutional powers, the sultans have got together to withhold royal assent on both the 1984 budget appropriations bill and another bill which seeks to redraw the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies.

    The language of the royal press statement did hint, however, that the rulers were "sympathetic" to the needs of the people and the democratic process, and that money bills would be passed.

    But as the sultans drove away from the palace amid a display of pomp, ceremony and imperiousness, the overwhelming feeling was that they would allow the government to stew in its own juice for a while.

    The three-month-old crisis, kept under wraps for about two months after the amendments were passed in early August, is now the subject of detailed discussion even in the remotest villages.

    The press, which was told to kill even the parliamentary debate, now reports the crisis in full. Even the official media have been forced to recognise its existence, and the rulers' meeting was covered by crews from the state-run TV company.

    Even more surprising was the TV coverage given to the departure of the Sultan of Kelantan from his home state to attend the meeting, with viewers being treated to scenes of large crowds at the airport obviously wishing him well at the conference.

    While newspapers reported that there were 2,000 people to say farewell to the sultan in Kota Baru, sources there say that in fact 25-30,000 people were at the airport.

    According to some accounts there were supporters of the ruling National Front as well as the opposition Party Islam (Pas) both expressing royalist sentiments, even though Pas has called for the abolition of the present constitution and its replacement with one along Islamic lines. An Islamic constitution, of course, could not accommodate royal houses.

    While the Kota Baru demonstration was not regarded as a spontaneous movement -- supporters of Finance Minister Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah are said to have orchestrated most of it -- it was the first demonstration which cut across party lines and backed royalty quite openly. Previous meetings were organised by Umno and expressed the views of Umno.

    One such demonstration -- by about 1,500 members of Umno Youth on November 4 -- apparently increased the sultans' determination to dig in and challenge the government. The delegates who met on that occasion not only pledged support for the amendments but were told by party vice-president Ghafar Baba that the king must assent to the constitutional amendment bill by the end of November. If this did not happen, the Ghafar argument went, there would be serious consequences, including difficulties over the creation of new electoral constituencies.

    The Ghafar deadline was reportedly seen by the sultans as an ultimatum.

    Despite this experience, the REVIEW learned, the government was preparing for a further exercise in confrontation -- a huge demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on November 26 with at least 50,000 people taking part. Only later did it appear that the cabinet would move to calm the atmosphere down. As part of these efforts, the Kuala Lumpur rally was likely to be cancelled, a move which was expected to head off counter-rallies elsewhere in the country.

    If the exercise went ahead it would be another example of the government misreading the mood of the sultans, who came to the Istana Bukit Kayangan clearly expecting to be treated with customary deference.

    In formal terms at least, proper deference was shown. The government provided each ruler with five motorcycle outriders and the palace grounds were swarming with plainclothes policemen. However, that did not prevent some rulers augmenting the arrangements with a little security of their own. The Sultan of Johor, who arrived in military uniform, was accompanied by two armed soldiers of the Johor Military Force, his personal troops. The Sultan of Perak arrived in combat uniform.

    Considering that the Johor and Perak rulers have proved to be the most strong-willed and adamant opponents of the constitutional amendments, their appearance in uniform was seen by many as somehow symbolic. Under Malaysia's system of rotating kingship, one of the two is likely to be elected the next king early next year, since all the other states have already had their turn.

    No announcement was made about the subject of the discussions at the palace nor was there any indication of what the Umno delegates offered the sultans by way of compromise to persuade them to accept the amendments.

    It is understood, however, that one formula offered was to make royal assent superfluous at the federal level while retaining it at the state level. But this was hardly a compromise since the federal constitution overrides state laws. Another offer was a formula under which the king would give his royal assent and the prime minister would then give a guarantee in parliament entrenching the position of the sultans. But this too was apparently regarded as unacceptable. Another proposal, also rejected, was that the bills become law with or without royal assent after 30 days, not 15, as currently provided.

    While the constitutional debate has been concentrated on the question of royal assent, it became clear after the meeting that the sultans also objected to the amendments relating to emergency powers.

    The powers, which were formerly with the cabinet and parliament, were transferred to the king in 1981, a move which caused controversy at the time. This year's amendment transfers the powers to the prime minister personally and he can assume the necessary powers if he is satisfied that a grave threat to security is imminent -- even if there is no visible danger. What is more, the declaration of emergency cannot be challenged in court. It is understood that the sultans want this clause to be withdrawn from the bill.

    Ironically, the government wanted to change the clause because it feared that a future king might take the constitution literally, unilaterally declare an emergency, and try to rule by decree. Although the checks and balances available would make that impossible, the fear was that a mere attempt could cause serious and lasting problems.

    But the sultans now argue the same way and express concern that the prime minister might well take all power into his own hands, particularly if even royal assent is not necessary.

    With the sultans' meeting producing no solution to the crisis, the most obvious problem is the supply bill, which must be signed before the end of the year. The sultans, who have retained top legal counsel, are not expected to make themselves unpopular with the people by delaying the money bills beyond the safe date -- before the fiscal year ends in December. But they are expected to resist pressure to assent to any other bill, particularly if there are public demonstrations to suggest that their hands can be forced.

    Already there are indications that Mahathir's leadership will be challenged if there is no early resolution of the crisis. But, as always in the deliberating sale of Malay political struggles, there are no signs yet of public attacks.

    Even Datuk Senu Abdul Rahman, who caused a sensation when he wrote an open letter to the prime minister on October 5, has not been officially castigated, despite some party branches calling for disciplinary action. The attack on Mahathir began only indirectly, with the demonstration at Kota Baru airport and the crowds cheering the sultan.

    At the same time, in the neighbouring state of Trengganu, some 5,000 people gathered in the town of Kuala Dungun to listen to explanations of the constitutional amendments. Police had to fire tear gas into the crowd to disperse it on the extraordinary grounds that it was an illegal assembly.

    Police did not explain why the gathering at a surau (Muslim chapel) was illegal. But it was learned that the organisers were from the opposition Pas and that might have made the police overzealous. Similar overzealousness was noted in Kota Baru, where the sultan's supporters were deprived of banners they were carrying to the airport.

    If pro-government forces insist on organising demonstrations there is little doubt royalists will organist counter-demonstrations. In such an atmosphere the temptation to declare a state of emergency will become very strong. But in the current impasse, an emergency cannot be declared without royal assent.

    The danger, according to a senior and articulate member of a royal family, is that if demonstrations continue to escalate, as they very easily can since state loyalists tend to see their own sultan as the symbol of their own state's dignity, the situation will become difficult to control.

    Although Umno has been in politics for 37 years, and in power for 28 years, not every Malay is in Umno.

    On the other hand, nearly every Malay is a subject of one sultan or another. And the older Malays, and most women, tend to be ardent royalists. Allowing the situation to develop into a confrontation could be a deadly mistake.

    In this difficult situation Mahathir once again recalled Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Musa Hitam, who was on his way to New Delhi for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting after an official visit to Bhutan.

    The day after Musa returned, Umno's political bureau met and decided to take the matter to the party's supreme council, which meets on December 3. Mahathir later told the New Straits Times: "I don't think it has come to an open confrontation" between the government and the rulers.

    The REVIEW has learned that all leave for police riot squads has been cancelled and that officers from these units are standing by in all major towns. It is also understood that at the time the demonstration was being held in Kota Baru police were tipped off that royalist rallies were being organised in Pahang, Johor and Perak.

    Mahathir's dilemma is not one of survival, but how to survive with his credibility intact. If he withdraws the amendments, the crisis will be over. But his credibility in his party will collapse, particularly after he has apparently persuaded several state chief ministers of the need for the royal-assent clause.

    Some of them have not only committed themselves to the cause but have been actively campaigning for the change among state Umno leaders. To change now would be to weaken these chief ministers -- and it is the chief ministers who are the real power brokers for Umno at the centre. Without their support no prime minister can survive long.

    If Mahathir decides not to withdraw the amendments, the chances are that the sultans will sign only the harmless bills and let the crisis drift until Umno's general assembly next year when party elections take place. In those elections, Razaleigh is expected to challenge Mahathir as party president. Razaleigh, a prince from Kelantan, where he enjoys great popularity, is not only likely to get the blessing of the sultans but is also likely to benefit from the fallout if the crisis continues. Razaleigh, who lost the deputy presidency to Musa in 1981, must also calculate that if he does challenge Mahathir, Musa might well change his game plan and aim for the top as well.

    In the past, such a scenario would have been unthinkable because the Umno style of politics has not allowed confrontation at the top. But Mahathir's blunt style has changed all that.

    After his confrontation with the sultans, Umno may have to face the fact that as long as Mahathir is in power, confrontation politics will be the order of the day.

    In the meantime, there can be little doubt that the crisis has sapped investor confidence at the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE). Local analysis of daily and weekly trading results increasingly cites the constitutional crisis as the critical factor retarding investor sentiment or--when signs point to prospects for ruler-government reconciliation -- as a boost to renewed optimism.

    The latest recovery, in which the KLSE trading volumes approach a daily average of 6 million units, as opposed to 3.5 million in preceding weeks, was said in the Business Times here to be a sign that investors will be attracted back to the market if current uncertainties associated with the constitutional amendments are removed once and for all.

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    OCTOBER 1983

    Vol. 122, No. 42, 20 Oct 1983, 20

    Ruling Out Change:
    Hereditary Sultans Convene Over Their Constitutional Role


    K. Das

    Malaysia's nine hereditary sultans and four appointed state governors began gathering here on October 9 for the 128th Conference of Rulers.

    But the currently reigning king was unable to attend, suggesting that the still-raging controversy over the rulers' legislative role would not be resolved. The king was represented by his son, the Regent of Pahang.

    The controversy arose when the National Front government led by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) passed laws in August making the sultans' roles in law-making superfluous.

    The rulers were thus gathering in Kota Kinabalu under a cloud and in an atmosphere of confrontation with the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad.

    Indeed, more than two months after the controversial bill was passed, the Yang di-Pertuan Agung, or king, had not given the necessary royal assent to make the bill law. The prime minister's position that royal assent was a mere formality and that the bill did not represent a derogation of royal powers made no impact on the royal houses.

    And efforts to keep the issue under wraps by gagging the press did not prevent the opposition and even critics from within Umno quoting constitutional passages that require the consent of the Conference of Rulers for any proposed law "directly affecting the privileges, position, honours or dignities of rulers."

    The prime minister reacted characteristically to the king's failure to attend the conference. "The bill will be gazetted as soon as the royal assent is obtained," he said in parliament in Kuala Lumpur.

    In an apparent reference to the king's heart ailment, Mahathir added that the king was indisposed and it would take some time to obtain his assent. In essence, Mahathir denied that the country faced a constitutional crisis.

    A week before the conference, however, a senior cabinet minister said in an interview that the government faced dangerous problems which could be exacerbated by the hereditary rulers not seeing clearly what their constitutional roles were.

    In the past, he said, the opposition to the government came from the communists, who were not only non-Malay but also non-Muslim. But now the challenge came from a section of the Malay community that did not realise that if the unity of the community broke down, the backbone of the ruling National Front, Umno, would be broken and chaos would result.

    The rulers who did not see this clearly were playing into the hands of radicals, who not only espoused the cause of republicanism but were trying to imitate the revolutionary example of Iran.

    The minister also said that one sultan had been privately threatening that if and when he became king (under Malaysia's five-year rotating kingship among the sultans) he would seize power unilaterally, declaring a state of emergency under the 1981 constitutional amendments.

    While such an act would hardly be possible within the existing system of administrative checks and balances, which provides for civilian control of police and armed forces, attempts at seizing power would produce prolonged disruption of law and order, the minister said. "The vagueness of the language of the constitution has always been worrying," he said. "It was necessary to make it clear. Hence the new amendments to spell out the fact that sovereignty lay with the people."

    If the argument made sense to federal government members and the 14 state governments, it did not go down well with the rulers. In fact, the gathering of rulers here took on an air of unreality, with formal programmes looking more and more confused.

    The conference opened on October 12 in the new M$89 million (US$38 million) Tanjung Aru Beach Hotel. By then the Regent of Pahang's presence in lieu of his father was expected. But as late as October 10, the Sabah chief minister and his cabinet were at the airport at 4 p.m. "waiting for his majesty to arrive." There were also hundreds of school-children lining the streets to welcome him.

    The local pro-government newspaper, The Sabah Times, headlined on the next day "Agung's visit may be off."

    All this suggests clearly that until the last moment on October 11, the visit was on, despite the king's "serious heart ailment." Indeed, the question arose as to how serious the ailment was, and whether or not it was not simply a diplomatic illness.

    The Myths About UMNO's Malay Unity

    Read here for more in Politics 101 Malaysia Blog


    Fan Yew Teng

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    Excerpts: Read here for more

    It is perhaps important and necessary to examine some of the more persistent myths upon which Umno, the predominant party in the ruling coalition for the past 52 years, grew and deceived - and are still deceiving - the populace, particularly the Malays.

    For a start, after 61 years, Umno is still unashamedly the political party which claims to unite and represent all the Malays. Hence, the misnomer the United Malays National Organisation, always in English, however much you might want to remind them of their claim to be champions of Bahasa Malaysia and Malay nationalism.

    Most Malaysians who have been around for the past quarter of a century would very likely know or remember the interesting power struggles within Umno during the Mahathir years (1981 - 2003).

  • The Mahathir - Tengku Razaleigh contest for the Umno presidency in 1987, which spilled over into the deregistration of Umno itself,

  • The fights between Team A and Team B backed by the then ailing former primer ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn,

  • The massive ‘Operation Lalang’ crackdown on dissidents, and

  • The highly sensational and controversial sacking of the top judge, Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas.

  • And then, 10 years later, Mahathir’s sacking and subsequent arrest of the then deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim.

    However, up to this very day, many Malaysians in general and many Umno members and supporters in particular are woefully ignorant of the tensions and undercurrents among the earlier generation of Umno leaders.

    One of the enduring myths that has dominated Umno all these years is that its founding fathers - or at least the early leaders - were all self sacrificing and had always put party unity - and by extension, national unity - before personal interests.

    The truth, however, is more complicated.

    UMNO's History

    May 1946. Umno is born, as a movement of many Malay organisations and groups against the Malayan Union, a constitutional arrangement created by the returned British colonial masters after the Second World War.

    Dato Onn Jaafar of Johore became the man of the moment after the British decided to withdraw the Malayan Union scheme, to be later replaced by the Federation of Malaya constitutional arrangement. Umno, as a confederation of Malay organisations throughout Malaya and Singapore, was triumphant.
    But there were already problems of disunity.

    As a matter in fact, even before Umno was established, Dato Onn had faced some hostility from some influential Malay leaders in his home state of Johore. There were some strong differences between Dato Onn and Dato Abdul Rahman bin Mohd Yasin, a pre war Johore Treasurer in regard to the behaviour of Sultan Ibrahim over the MacMichael Treaties (for the Malayan Union).

    Dato Abdul Rahman and some other Malay leaders in Johore had thought that Dato Onn was being too kind towards the Sultan. His two sons, Sulaiman and Dr Ismail (later Tun Dr Ismail) had refused to join Umno until after Dato Onn’s resignation as Umno president in 1951.

    More serious was the withdrawal of the Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya (PKMM), the Malay Nationalist Party, from the Umno confederation at the Umno meeting in Ipoh on 29 and 30 June, 1946.

    Ostensibly, the withdrawal was due to differences over the Umno flag. But, as Firdaus Haji Abdullah points out in his book Radical Malay Politics, “behind this issue, there were serious and substantive disagreements over policy.”

    The PKMM’s proposal for the symbol was defeated by one vote. After a lengthy speech by Ahmad Boestamam, he and all other PKMM representatives and supporters walked out.

    The Malay left had broken ranks with Umno. At the same meeting, and for the same reason, the Persatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Junior Malaya also withdrew from Umno.

    In mid 1947, when it was proposed to turn Umno into a political organisation and that affiliate member organisations should dissolve themselves and merge completely into Umno, the move was opposed by several organisations which, apart from the fear of losing their identity, were established long before Umno itself. Moreover, there were organisations whose leadership were drawn from the working class rather than the aristocracy and the English educated administrative group.

    Thus, the Singapore Malay Association, the Sabak Bernam Malay Association and Saberkas of Kedah (which had some radical and ’socialist’ orientation), chose to remain as associate member organisations only rather than dissolve themselves.

    The Perikatan Melayu Kelantan and the Kesatuan Melayu Johore withdrew completely from Umno.

    More serious splits were to come.

    In February 1950, mainly to draw away support from the Hizbul Muslimin, the Muslim Party formed during the second week of March 1948, UMNO formed a body within itself called the Persatuan Ulamak Sa-Malaya. Haji Ahmad Fuad, Dato Onn’s friend, became the leader of this body.

    (Consider for a moment the irony and hypocrisy of Umno leaders who now say that politics and religion shouldn’t mix)

    In June 1951, however, the Persatuan Ulamak Sa-Malaya teamed up with another Islamic group consisting of former adherents of the Hizbul Muslimin, at the former’s meeting in Kepala Batas, Penang. At this moment, the Persatuan Ulamak Se-Malaya decided to change its name to Persatuan Islam Sa-Malaya,to be known in short as PAS.

    Another shock was waiting for Umno.

    After Umno had rejected Dato Onn’s proposal to open Umno to the non Malays and transform it into a Malayan political party, he resigned formally from Umno on 26 August, 1951. His position was taken over by Tunku Abdul Rahman, then an unknown deputy public prosecutor.

    After Merdeka in 1957, the public perception of the Tunku as prime minister and Abdul Razak as his deputy was that their relationship was one of great harmony. Some even characterised it has a father and son kind of relationship. But it was only valid for a while.

    For none other than the Tunku himself had exploded the myth that his relationship with Razak was as harmonious as commonly believed. Writing in the 29 August 1983 issue of The Star (and later reproduced in his book Contemporary Issues in Malaysian Politics), the Tunku related a telling incident in this vein:
    “Once at the Residency, Khalid Awang Osman, the former High Commissioner to India, mentioned in front of Tun Razak that he (Razak) would have to wait for a long time before he could become the Prime Minister. I could see the shocked surprise on the face of Tun Razak. As it happened, after that day I noticed his attitude took a change.”
    Well, well, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. The myth of an almost perfect political and working relationship was, well, just a myth.

    In an article published in The Star on 20 February 1978, the Tunku said that Asiaweek’s M.G.G Pillai had alleged in the 17 February 1978 issue of that magazine that “many political figures still insist privately that the Tunku stepped down unwillingly in 1970 and that he was in fact pushed aside by Tun Abdul Razak.”

    The Tunku commented:
    “As regards the late Tun Razak pushing me aside, he made no attempt openly to do so but it must be admitted that he felt a bit small to be my deputy for so long, and being an ambitious man, he would no doubt have liked to take over as prime minister. Only those around him wanted to take over dramatically and with a blare of trumpets.”
    It may be true that Tun Razak made no attempt openly to push the Tunku aside. But did he make any attempt secretly to do so? And who were those around Razak?

    Mahathir, Musa Hitam, Harun Idris, Syed Jaafar Albar? And some other Umno extremists or ultras?

    It is interesting to note that the Tunku, in reference to what Khalid Awang Osman said, as mentioned earlier, had added: “I took the remarks as a joke, but soon after things began to happen.”

    What things began to happen?

    Well, in an interview with Asiaweek, published on 10 May 1985, exactly 16 years to the day after the fateful general elections on 1969, the Tunku actually blamed Tun Razak and other colleagues for his political downfall. In relating the charged atmosphere just before the 1969 general elections, the Tunku said:
    “It started when one of them (alleged communists) was killed near the airport, and they asked for a funeral procession to bury the dead. I would never have allowed that. But I was not there. I was away campaigning. But my colleagues, who were trying to make trouble for me, gave permission, and so when the communists carried the body, they stopped at every corner to harangue the people, to curse the government, to curse me…”
    Responding to further questioning, the Tunku actually said that “My deputy allowed it”, meaning the procession.

    To another question, the Tunku said:
    “I couldn’t have stayed on. To stay, you have to be sure of the loyalty of your friends and colleagues. I wasn’t sure. In fact I was very, ah, frustrated with the behaviour of some.”
    The Tunku had often said that he wanted to be the “happiest prime minister in the world” - but how could he be happy when some of his friends and colleagues wanted to stage a coup against him?

    In order to get rid of the Tunku politically, some criminal elements and over ambitious leaders in Umno orchestrated the bloody May 13 Massacre which killed a few hundred Malaysians, maimed a few hundred more other Malaysians, burned down a few hundred shophouses and homes and looted some of them and burned scores of cars and other vehicles. All crimes against humanity.

    No inquiry after 38 years. Who says law is law?

    Why then no rule of law as far as the May 13 Massacre is concerned?

    Why is this continued rape of law being allowed?

    In whose interests?

    And what about other Umno crimes against humanity like the Memali Massacre in the mid 1980s?

    When will there be an accounting? Where is the transparency? And where is the much talked about integrity? Including the integrity of the law?
  • Thursday 25 October 2007

    JERAI MP Badruddin Amiruldin Says in Parliament: "Now You Are Sitting in a Wheelchair. God Has Punished You."


    MP for Jerai Badruddin Amiruldin (BN -- Umno), apologised to MP Karpal Singh
    (DAP - Bukit Glugor) in the Dewan Rakyat today.However, Karpal was not in the
    House to accept Badruddin's apology. Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), who
    represented Karpal, praised Badruddin for his action. Read here
    for more

    Read here full article in Roslan SMS Blog

    "You (Karpal) are no better. Now you are sitting in a wheelchair. God has punished you."
    MP Badruddin Amiruldin in Malaysian Parliament

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    (Image Courtesy of "Bodohland" Blog)

    Satu dari warisan bangsa Melayu turun-temurun adalah adab dan sopan-santunnya.

    Orang Melayu ramah dan tinggi budi-pekertinya. Mereka rata-rata menghormati orang lain, tetamu dan orang asing. Bertandanglah ke rumah orang Melayu, samada dengan undangan ataupun tidak, pasti tetamu tadi akan disajikan sekurang-kurangnya dengan minuman dan kemungkinan dengan kuih, buah-buahan dan mungkin juga hidangan yang lazat.

    Orang Melayu juga diasuh dan dididik agar selalu malu. Merka menghormati orang-orang tua, yang alim, yang berilmu dan yang berkedudukkan. Mereka tidak menghina atau mencerca orang lain, lebih-lebih lagi yang miskin, hina, atau kurang upaya.

    Itulah lebih kurang perwatakkan orang Melayu sehinggalah zaman dan kemajuan menelan dan merobahnya sedikit demi sedikit. Namun rata-rata kebanyakkan orang Melayu apa kelas kehidupannya sekalipun masih beradab dan bersopan, kecuali yang telah liar dan tersasar.

    Dewan Rakyat adalah dewan perhimpunan wakil-wakil rakyat, pemimpin masyarakat yang dipilih rakyat dari segenap ceruk dan rantau negara. Di sinilah berhimpun ketua-ketua yang telah kita amanahkan untuk mewakili kita.

    Dan sudah pasti di sinilah juga, ditempat mereka yang terpilih ini berhimpun, pemimpin-pemimpin Melayu akan mempamirkan adab dan kesopanan bangsa mereka ketika berhujah dan mengeluarkan pandangan, kerana bukankah bahasa itu menunjukkan bangsa.

    Hari ini sebagaimana dilaporkan oleh NST, seorang wakil rakyat Melayu jelas termasuk dalam kategori yang liar dan tersasar tadi.

    Semasa menyanggah hujah wakil Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh, wakil Jerai, Badruddin Amiruldin telah bangun dan dengan bongkak berkata (dari NST):

    " You (Karpal) are no better. Calling us (BN MPs) animals, you insult
    people. Now you are sitting in a wheelchair. God has punished you. "

    Awak pun sama juga. Panggil kami binatang, awak menghina orang. Sekarang awak duduk atas kerusi roda, Tuhan sudah hukum awak.

    Tiadakah ada dalam penguasaan wakil rakyat Jerai itu bahasa yang lebih baik dan sopan?

    Mungkin gelagat Karpal menyakiti hati beliau (atau mungkin beliau memang sengaja mahu mencuri publisiti) tetapi mengapakah sehingga perlu menyentuh keadaan fizikal seseorang?

    Kalau menyentuh warna kulit, bahasa atau bangsa, kita istilahkan orang yang demikian sebagai RACIST, tetapi dalam hal wakil Jerai ini bagaimana?

    Mungkinkah bahasa sudah tidak melambangkan bangsa lagi bagi kelompok wakil-wakil rakyat ini? (Bolehkah kita ambil kesimpulan bahwa semua yang sempurna kemudian ditimpa kemalangan dan terpaksa berkerusi roda, dalam keadaan demikian kerana di hukum Tuhan?)

    Kerana itu kesimpulannya berhati-hatilah, bukan hanya ketika di jalanraya tetapi lebih-lebih lagi ketika pilihanraya.

    Wednesday 24 October 2007

    Justice Hishamudin Mohd Yunus: Different, Courageous and Very Refreshing

    Read here full article


    Kim Quek

    Excerpts: Read here for more

    The Case Before the Court:
    Abdul Malek Hussin was arrested by the police under the dreaded Internal Security Act (ISA) in Sept 1998 in the tumultuous days of Reformasi (reform movement) following the sacking and imprisonment of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. During the 57 days of detention, Malek was subjected to - - “vile assault, unspeakable humiliation, prolonged physical and mental ill-treatment”, and completely deprived of legal counsel.

    In March 1999, Malek filed a civil suit, citing a police special branch officer Borhan Daud, the then Inspector General of Police Rahim Noor, and the Government as correspondents.
    For the first time in history, a Malaysian judge heavily punished the Government for gross abuse of its draconian law – the first big slap on the face of the Executive.

    High Court Judge Hishamudin Mohd Yunus ruled on Oct 18 that the State has violated the Constitution. He (then) awarded political detainee Abdul Malek Hussin RM 2.5 million in total compensation.

    In his judgment, Hishamudin found NO evidence of Malek posing any threat to national security but every indication that the detention and torture was politically motivated arising from Malek’s support to Anwar Ibrahim and his reform movement. As such, Malek’s detention was unlawful, and a violation of his constitution right under Article 5(3).

    In hard hitting language, the judge described the defendents’ behaviour as “inhuman, cruel and despicable”.

    He awarded an exemplary damage of RM 1.0 million “to show the abhorrence of the court of the gross abuse of an awesome power under the Internal Securtiy Act, and to ensure that the extent of abuse is kept to the most minimal, if not eliminated completely.”

    In his 41-page judgment, Hishamudin pin-pointed several police officers for breaching the law and concocting evidence.

    He also expressed displeasure at the Deputy Public Prosecutor for having implicitly colluded with police officers in thwarting Malek’s complaints.

    Justice Hishamudin

    In the present judgment, Hishamudin’s courageous and righteous act has undoubtedly brought cheers to a nation long dismayed by unrelenting decline in judicial integrity and most recently shocked by the stunning revelation of the Lingam video clip.

    Justice Hishamudin is no stranger to human rights watchers, who have been impressed by his consistent record in delivering independent and impartial judgment - a remarkable feat in a judiciary perceived to often bend to the wishes of the high and mighty, in scant regards to the Constitution.

    His most notable judgment is perhaps his decision in May 2001 to free two Reformasi activists – N. Gobalakrishnan and Abdul Ghani Haroon – arrested under ISA at the height of repression against the Reformasi movement under former autocrat Mahathir Mohamad.

    The Disgraceful Judicial System of Promotion

    Contrast the fortunes between Justice Hishamudin and Justice Augustine Paul (of the infamous Anwar trial fame).

    While Paul, newly promoted to high court judge to handle the Anwar case in 1998, had leapfrogged to the nation’s highest court (Federal Court) by 2005, Hishamudin has remained stagnant as a high court judge since 1995, despite his illustrious judicial record.

    Another example is Court of Appeal judge Gopal Sri Ram, the most senior judge who has made Malaysians proud for his many impartial and courageous judgments, has been by-passed for promotion to the Federal Court 14 times by his juniors since his direct appointment to the Court of Appeal in 1994. Some of these promoted on the express train had stayed in the Court of Appeal for only one year, notably those who were seen to have “delivered”.

    The moral of the story in our judiciary is obvious: fortune only smiles on those who are obedient and submissive, but woe to those who are steadfastly principled. Under such a system, is there any wonder why our judiciary has been traveling on a downward slippery way?

    While our spirit is buoyed by the Hishamudin judgment, we must temper our joy with the realization that the likes of Hishamudin and Sri Ram are rare gems that numerically could not influence the course of our judiciary. As they say, one swallow does not a summer make. Judicial reform is a long journey, and we haven’t even started yet.

    The Hishamudin judgment has already opened our eyes to the immense benefits that a just judiciary can bring to the nation.

    Imagine our courts are filled mostly with judges of Hishamudin’s integrity – from high courts to court of appeal to federal court – and led by a chief justice of impeccable honesty and competence, wouldn’t that be the best deterrent against the rampant breeding of corruption and abuse of power that is raging in every strata and section of our government – the cabinet, judiciary, attorney general’s chambers, police, government departments, anti-corruption agency, election commission, statutory bodies and GLCs (government linked corporations)?

    In fact, a competent judiciary can act as a powerful agent to cleanse our political and administrative systems of corruption.

    Tuesday 23 October 2007

    CJ Tun Fairuz, Leave NOW for the Sake of the Nation !

    Malaysian Unplug says:
    " There comes a time when a man (or woman), especially someone holding the highest judicial office in the land, should take upon himself to preserve his own self-esteem and pride. Especially so when the country is questioning his relevance in holding public office caused by swirling controversies around him. It means simply, he should voluntarily and gracefully leave the public stage.

    For Chief Justice Tun Fairuz, his personal and professional integrity has been under constant attack in recent months by concerned citizens in the country, and even by his own legal fraternity. His competence as the head of the Judiciary is being questioned, including his promotional appointment in 2002, by his legal peers.

    Under his watch, it is fair to say, the Judiciary has not been serving the country in the way it should be in a proper democracy. The general loss of faith by Malaysians in our judiciary is palpable. In fact, the judicial rot remains unabated to this day.

    The latest so-called "Lingam Tape Scandal" only makes Tun Fairuz holding the position as the nation's Chief Justice all the more untenable.

    All said, the nation has lost total confidence in Tun Fairuz as the Chief Justice.

    Tun Fairuz's time has run its full course. The citizens and the legal fraternity have made it clear they do not need him in public office any more, not another day, not another week, and certainly not another six months.

    Tun Fairuz should retire gracefully as scheduled so that the nation can slowly heal itself from the scandals in recent months and from the tumultuous decades of the past when the Executive took the unprecedented step to severely curtail the independence of the Judiciary.

    We say, for the sake of the nation, and for Tun Fairuz's own personal integrity, and that of his family, that he should leave now, without seeking the six month extension of his duties."
    Press Statement from ALIRAN

    From Aliran: Read here press statement from Aliran
    ".. It would upset and disappoint Malaysians terribly if the tenure of the current Chief Justice, Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, were to be extended. It would seriously undermine the confidence of the people in the judiciary to a point of no return.

    The judiciary is already in a shambles and there is no need to degrade it further by extending the tenure of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court.

    On behalf of all Malaysians, Aliran would like to politely and humbly appeal to His Majesty, the Yang diPertuan Agong, to reject Ahmad Fairuz’s application to His Majesty for a six-month extension of tenure.

    Article 125(1) states:
    ' Subject to the provisions of Clauses (2) to (5), a judge of the Federal Court shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-six years or such later time, not being later than six months after he attains that age, as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may approve.'

    In this extension of tenure of office, the Prime Minister does not seem to have any role to play. It would appear that His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, solely decides on this matter.

    It is the absolute discretion of His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

    By now it is very clear that it is the collective view of all thinking Malaysians that Ahmad Fairuz does not deserve to be in office even a minute longer. He must go - and go in the soonest time frame that is possible.

    After the disgraceful Lingam tape, it is only morally correct that he should not be around to denigrate an institution that is the custodian of justice.

    It is as simple as that.

    Ahmad Fairuz has not openly and publicly denied that he is the person on the other end of the telephone conversation.

    He has not said any thing to dispel all the rumours that link him to various episodes in the promotion and elevation of judges. Neither is he spared from the negative and speculative judgments that he has been associated with.

    How could such a person who has miserably failed to put the record straight be considered for an extension of tenure of office?

    We are not persuaded by Datuk Seri Nazri’s claim, according to the NST of today, that “the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has to act on the advice of the prime minister on extending the tenure of the chief justice”, who is due to retire at the end of the month. He further reiterates that:

    “..the king as a constitutional monarch was bound by the prime minister’s advice in the appointment and promotion of judicial officers. This includes whether to extend by six months the tenure of the chief justice after he attains the compulsory retirement age of 66”.
    Nazri seems to conveniently forget that in the appointment and promotion of judicial officers, His Majesty is required to act “after consulting the Conference of Rulers”. “After consulting the Conference of Rulers” does not seem to suggest that it is purely an academic exercise.

    It is more than that.

    There has to be deliberation to arrive at a collective decision – no matter what Nazri may insist. There are others in the legal circle who do not share Nazri’s interpretation of the Federal Constitution.

    Under the Federal Constitution, when it comes to “tendering his advice as to the appointment of a judge”, the Prime Minister does not simply pluck out a name for consideration out of thin air.

    He “shall consult” the respective heads of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court before submitting the names to His Majesty, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Just as in this case, “shall consult” does not mean a meaningless chat with the respective heads but refers to a constructive discussion and recommendation; this same process applies when His Majesty consults the Conference of Rulers.

    Aliran would like to advise Nazri not to confuse the public with his one-sided interpretation of the Federal Constitution.

    17 October 2007 '

    Read here for more

    A copy of this Open Letter was sent to:
    1. Ahmad Fairuz c/o office of Chief Justice of the Federal Court,

    2. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and

    3. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.

      ".. Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim,
      Chief Justice of Federal Court,

      Dear Tun,

      Withdraw application for six-month extension and give full support for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Lingam Tape and to restore public confidence in the judiciary

      I am taking this unprecedented step of issuing this Open Letter to ask you to act in the national interest and to restore public confidence in the judiciary by withdrawing your application for six-month extension on your due retirement at the end of the month and to give full support for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape.

      Such an action on your part will avert a new constitutional crisis over your controversial application for a six-month extension as well as a new crisis of confidence in the judiciary.

      Former Lord President Sultan Azlan Shah in his postscript to his book “Constitutional Monarchy, Rule of Law and Good Governance” (pp 399 – 401) in April 2004 had written:
      “Sadly, over the past few years there has been some disquiet about the judiciary. Several articles have been written, and many opinions expressed, both internationally and locally, that the independence of our judiciary has been compromised. It has been said that there has been an erosion of public confidence in our judiciary.

      Concerns have been expressed that some judges were not writing judgments, or that there were long delays in obtaining decisions or hearing dates in certain instances. Further, the conduct of certain judges was being questioned in public…

      Whether these allegations are true, is not for me to say. However, having been a member of the judiciary for many years, it grieves me when I hear of such allegations. Since Independence, the early judges have always cherished the notion of an independent judiciary and had built the judiciary as a strong and independent organ of government. The public had full confidence of the judiciary and accepted any decision then made without any question. Unfortunately, the same does not appear to be the case in recent years.

      Whatever the situation, a judiciary may only be said to be independent if it commands the confidence of the public – the very public it seeks to serve. After all, statements made as to its independence by the judges, or even the politicians, do not measure public confidence in the judiciary. At the end of the day, it is this public perception that ultimately matters.

      It is my earnest hope that the Malaysian judiciary will regain the public’s confidence, and that it will once again be held in the same esteem as it once was held. In democratic countries, it is an independent judiciary that brings pride to the nation. Members of the executive and the legislature come and go, but an independent judiciary must remain steadfast forever, fulfilling the aspirations and ideals of the people. In the judiciary, people place their trust and hope.”
      Sultan Azlan Shah’s critique of the parlous state of the judiciary is even more pertinent today than when he wrote it in April 2004, with the entire period falling your term as Chief Justice – a powerful reason why Tun should avert a constitutional crisis and a new crisis of confidence over the judiciary over the controversial application for a six-month extension.

      Yesterday, the Bar Council website carried the following comparative data on the number of reported judgments written by the current Chief Justice, and his three predecessors, Tun Salleh Abas, Raja Azlan Shah (as HRH then was) and Tun Mohamed Suffian when they sat at the High Court, Court of Appeal and the apex court.

      Without having to go into these comparative figures which reflects adversely on Tun, or the latest crisis of confidence ensuing from the Lingam tape scandal, the words of Sultan Azlan Shah reminding all that public confidence in the judiciary in the past 55 months when Tun had been Chief Justice had not only failed to improve so that “it will once again be held in the same esteem as it once was held” but had significantly taken a turn for the worse should be sufficient ground for Tun to save the country from another bout of a twin crisis of the constitution and public confidence in the judiciary."

      Lim Kit Siang


  • From Haris Ibrahim of People's Parliament. Read here for more
  • "...Fairuz’s term as CJ ends on 31/10/2007.

    He has requested an extension.

    4,008 concerned citizens have signed a petition asking for the setting up of a Royal Commission to inquire into and investigate the veracity of what is depicted in the Lingam tape and, if confirmed to be true, to set into motion the necessary steps to remove Fairuz and to clean up the judiciary.

    In these circumstances, in my view, Fairuz should properly have taken a leave of absence or have been suspended pending such an inquiry.

    Instead, we are confronted with the audacious prospect of an extension of his term!
    The Conference of Rulers meets next week.

    The matter of the extension or otherwise of Fairuz’s term is almost certain to be on the agenda before their Royal Highnesses.

    It is, in my view, important that the concerns of those who have bravely signed the petition be made known to the Conference of Rulers..."

  • From The Aisehman: Read here for more

  • "... 'for the sake of the country', for when a person is no longer useful and threatens to become a liability, the likelihood of him or her being dumped like a hot potato or thrown to the dogs increases significantly.

    ... and judges are not supposed to be embroiled in politics.

    Maybe Ahmad Fairuz should consider stepping back from being embroiled even in judicial matters.

    The authenticity of the video clip no longer matters, as far Ahmad Fairuz’s tenure as Chief Justice is concerned.

    Rightly or wrongly, he has been tainted by it, and therefore his position as Chief Justice has become untenable.

    The right, honourable, and just thing to do would be to see out his tenure and retire into private life.

    Ahmad Fairuz should withdraw his application, forget this business of an extension, and be reminded that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done..."

    Sunday 14 October 2007

    Hear the Man: A Frank and In-Your Face Interview with Raja Petra Kamarudin

    From Malaysia-Today: Read here for more

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    1. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Malaysia Today has been hugely successful. Into its 3rd Anniversary, would you do anything different in terms of the stated objectives and direction of Malaysia Today?
    Raja Petra:
    I suppose if I died and was born again I would still live my life exactly the same way I am living it now. I know this sounds blasphemous coming from a Muslim considering that Islam does not believe in reincarnation. But I am of course speaking figure-of-speech-wise. In that same spirit I would not do things any differently as far as Malaysia Today is concerned.
    2. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Malaysia Today seems to be down or inaccessible more often these days. Is this the result of attacks from Umno cyber-troopers as you alleged? It appears that they are close to shutting Malaysia Today down completely.
    Raja Petra:
    Initially the problem was bandwidth. I had to increase our bandwidth multi-fold and bandwidth costs money. That is why I sometimes whack those who post ‘junk’ in the blogs. They are using up valuable bandwidth and this would deny the other more genuine readers access to Malaysia Today, especially those who do not have Broadband access and have to depend on dialup.

    Anyway, I have resolved the bandwidth problem. All you need is money to buy more bandwidth, that’s all. And as a ‘pensioner’, so to speak, I am surviving on my pension. Therefore I do not have income or bottomless pockets and it was certainly painful to have to increase my expenditure on the website. Since I started Malaysia Today three years ago my expenses have increased ten-fold. I also have about half a dozen staff to pay and some of them are on fixed monthly salaries.

    The current problem we are facing has nothing to do with money or bandwidth. We have been attacked many times, sometimes two days in a row, with DOS (denial of service) attacks. On Monday last week we were shut down for seven hours and the following day for six hours. I have since beefed up our security. Again, all it takes is money.....sigh.....

    But we are not the only one getting hit. Screenshots and Harakah too were attacked. I believe they are attacking all ‘anti-government’ websites. Yes, they might finally try to close us down for good. But I don’t know how they are going to do it. Maybe they will find something to charge me with and lock me away. I really don’t know and I can’t be bothered. In fact, I challenge them to do their worst.
    3. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    You have vowed to keep Malaysia Today an open avenue for all views yet the comments posted on your site are now the subject of legal contention. You talk about the inability to monitor the bulk of comments posted and now practice some form of censorship. I put it to you that you have strayed from your promise?
    Raja Petra:
    We see thousands of postings a day so how can I read everything on top of searching for news items, updating the site, editing, all which I do myself, plus writing as well? I probably read about 10% or less of the comments so invariably many junk postings get through.

    But a friend is scanning through the comments and editing or deleting those he feels are overboard, obscene, racial, and so on. I have given him full authority because it would be impossible for him to contact me and discuss case-per-case each posting. I trust my friend’s judgement and leave it to him to decide what gets thrown out.

    There are of course certain parameters we work within. For example, postings such as Keling Pariah, Malay dog, Chinese pig, fuck your mother’s arse, and such profanities, definitely get thrown out. I don’t think anyone can accuse us of unfair censoring if we clamp down on these types of postings.

    But other than that we are quite liberal and many are actually unhappy about this. They feel we are allowing or even encouraging Malay and Islam bashing. My contention is that when Malays shout and scream about Ketuanan Melayu and label this and that Islamic or un-Islamic then they are inviting comment or criticism.

    Sure, non-Malays or non-Muslims criticise Malays and Islam respectively. But the question is: whose fault is this? When you walk around naked then you can’t fault people for calling you cuckoo. Don’t walk around naked, then no one will have any reason or opportunity to insult you. We are stripping the Malays and Islam naked for all and sundry to see, so expect the criticism. Stop screaming about Melayu and Islam and no one will scream back. But then Malays think that since this is a Malay-Muslim country they have every right to scream about Melayu and Islam and that others should never dare scream back. That is when the problem starts.
    4. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    How do you feel after being named as a leading ‘Asian Progressive’ by World Business Magazine (May 2007)?
    Raja Petra:
    Actually, it’s second most progressive, not leading. But I really don’t know how they named me although they did mention the criteria applied. But that is only the opinion of one journalist from one journal. I am sure others will not agree with his opinion. So I am not popping champagne just yet.
    5. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Critics charge that you change ‘teams’ from Anwar Ibrahim to Tun Dr. Mahathir, that you are disloyal to your chosen allies. What would you say to the critics?
    Raja Petra:
    Why must everything be looked at in terms of teams? I did not support Anwar when he was in the government. I supported Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in his Semangat 46 days. Of course, I did support Anwar for awhile, but that was before he went up the Umno ladder. I was in fact closer to PAS since the late 1970s.

    I support causes, not personalities. If that personality carries a cause I can relate to then I rally behind him. If I do not like his cause or feel that he has abandoned the cause then I move on. Life is too short to bitch and whine. If we meet eye-to-eye, we talk. If not, we walk.

    Politicians carry this concept of ‘if you are not with me then you are against me’. Even Bush is like that. Why can’t I not be with you, yet not be against you? Today, Tun Dr Mahathir is the closest thing we have to an opposition. He is doing the job of the entire opposition. I like that and can relate to it. That does not mean I overlook his mistakes of past. But if he can redeem these mistakes and make up for what he did by correcting things, then that is all I care.

    Even God forgives you if you repent and turn over a new leaf and make up for your past mistakes. Are we above God that we can choose to reject Mahathir for what he was rather than look at him for what he is now? This country needs saving. And if the opposition will not do that then we have to work with the next best thing.

    Many say that the present problems facing our country are Mahathir’s doing. Well, in that case then that is even more the reason why Mahathir should be the one to correct them. Anyway, if Mahathir will not do it, who will? I don’t see anyone else doing it.

    So I support Mahathir in his effort to correct the wrongs. I will also support anyone and everyone else who wishes to bring about reforms, even Khairy Jamaluddin if he wants to reform the nation.
    6. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    I put it to you that in your widely read articles, your enemies often suffer personal attacks. Do you agree?
    Raja Petra:
    True, but once you are a leader then you no longer own a private life. You are a public servant so you become public property. You are in office because of us and we are paying your salary. So we own you and what we own we can do what we like with it.

    I don’t care about Siti Nurhaliza or Sharifah Aini or whoever. They are not in public office and they are not earning their salary from money we pay the government in the form of taxes. They can do what they like, even screw around and hold sex parties. But if you are a Yang Berhormat, civil servant, and so on, then we are watching you. We own you. And if you get out of line and we will screw the daylights out of you.
    7. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    The common view is that you are opposed to the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Is this fair comment and if so what is your ultimate goal in this context?
    Raja Petra:
    I have been opposed to the administration since Hussein Onn’s time. I have nothing personal against Pak Lah. I just don’t like the way this country is run. It is not enough we have a CEO. We also need accountants and auditors. Look at me as the auditor. Our job is to hassle the CEO, the Board of Directors, accountants..... to make sure they are doing their job and are not having their hands in the till. I support Tengku Razaleigh for Prime Minister but you can bet your last dollar I will also give him a hard time when he finally does become Prime Minister..... as I know he will
    8. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    You allude to the heightened public profile/statements of members of the Royal families of the country lately as one of tacit support for your cause..... Comment?
    Raja Petra:
    The Royal Family has been fed up with the way this country is being run for almost 30 years now. This is not something new. But they have always been very careful about what could be perceived as interfering in the administration of this country. But there is a limit. Everything has a limit and I think this limit has been reached. Just because the Royal Family kept quiet for 30 years out or respect and so that the government does not lose face does not mean they didn’t care.

    And what makes you think it is wrong for the Royal Family to speak out? Malaysia is supposed to be a democratic country which practices freedom of speech. Why should the Royal Family be denied its fundamental right just because they carry a Tengku or Raja in front of their names. Members of the Royal Family too are citizens of Malaysia, pay taxes, and vote in the elections. That gives them the right as any other Malaysian to express their views.

    And the Royal Family has just about had it with the way this country is being managed. It is time for change and the Royal Family is calling for change. Of course, protocol does not allow the Rulers to make official statements so they don’t. But their family members are not prohibited from speaking out. It is not illegal to speak out. In fact, as Muslims, it is their Islamic duty to speak out.
    9. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Quote: - “Perhaps I can show that the Royal families are not a total bunch of useless leeches” - Are you attempting to reassert the powers of the Royal families back to the time of the pre-constitutional crisis of 1993?
    Raja Petra:
    What do you mean? Reassert which power? You mean the Royal Family had its powers removed? Maybe until up to very recently the Royal Family kept silent but this does not mean it was because they had no power or that their power was removed.

    In 1993, as you say - actually it was in the 1980s - it was another group of people sitting on the throne. Today, it is the sons of those who sat on the throne in the 1980s who are now sitting on the throne. The 1980s bunch was the pre-Merdeka bunch. Today, you are seeing the post-Merdeka bunch. Times have changed.

    These vocal members of the Royal Family are products of a Western education, the borderless internet, Globalisation, and what have you. They are all well-read and highly-educated, unlike the past Rulers. We are no longer dealing with people born and raised in the kampong. These are professionals who know what is good for the country.
    10. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    In a recent public lecture, you stated that the opposition parties are disunited and have no real prospect of winning an election. What kind of realistic change then can you hope to inspire under the present circumstances?
    Raja Petra:
    It is three opposition parties against 14 in Barisan Nasional. BN has 6 million members against the opposition’s 1 million or so. It is not an equal contest.

    The BN has the entire government machinery and media at its disposal to be used as its election machinery. BN spends RM1.5 billion in the elections against the opposition’s RM10 million or RM20 million. For Sabah alone it will cost about RM200 million. And that is just 25 out of 219 seats, slightly over 10% of the seats. Sarawak is another 28 seats. These two states give BN 25% of the seats in Parliament. Added to Perak and Johor, BN can already form the government.

    BN speaks as one voice although it consists of 14 parties. The opposition speaks as three voices. The race is lost even before the gun goes off.

    In 1969, the ruling party won only 45% of the votes but still formed the government, although without a two-thirds majority. In 1999, BN got 54% of the votes and retained its two-thirds majority. The opposition can never win unless there are massive reforms in the electoral system. And this is what the 10th November rally is all about, a demand for electoral reforms. The gerrymandering and postal votes are stacked in favour of the ruling party. We have to change all this before we talk about holding the elections.

    Actually, the opposition should just boycott the elections until the system is reformed. Participating in the election just gives BN legitimacy. Let them win 100% uncontested. It will not be as legitimate as them winning 90% through fraud, which is what is happening and will continue to happen. And it really does not matter if the opposition is united. They will still get whacked to kingdom come..... and it is even worse now considering that they are not united.
    11. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Furthermore, you estimate that in 50 years time, Bumiputera, Malays in particular will exceed 80% of the nation’s population. Does this mean that the Bangsa Malaysia of 2007 will look a lot less like in 2057?
    Raja Petra:
    The Malay population is increasing faster than the non-Malay population. When this nation celebrates the 100th Merdeka Anniversary in 2057, Malays will by then form 80% of the population. Not only is the Malay birth rate higher, but non-Malays are leaving the country. So it is double jeopardy. The Bangsa Malaysia can still happen but the Malays will form the majority, a higher majority than even now. Bangsa Malaysia is something in the mind. In reality the Malays will dominate this country.

    Malaysia is actually a time-bomb with no solution in sight and we may even see that time-bomb go off in our life-time. I just hope the government realises that the clock is ticking and I hope it has a clue on how to defuse the time-bomb. If not, Malaysia will not be a nice place to live, if it is not already that. At the moment the government appears clueless though, in particular our sleeping Prime Minister.
    12. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob:
    Malaysians are known for their vocal opposition but secret approbation for the status quo. Do you think that this election will be any different? What do you predict the political outcome of the anticipated general elections will be... Realistically..?
    Raja Petra:
    Malaysians talk only. They say one thing but they do the opposite. They will vote for stability, at least as they perceive it, at the expense of human rights and other issues which they regard as western notions.

    As long as they have money in their pockets they don’t care about corruption, how many people die in the police lockups, whether ten more Altantuyas get blown up with C4, whether 20 more demonstrators get shot, and what have you.

    People are such. People are selfish. If you touch what they own they will get very violent. As long as they are okay that is all that matters. The country can go to the dogs, and it is. So they will vote for BN because only BN can give them what they want. Everything else can go to hell.

    BN knows this. They know what makes the voters tick. And they will play to the voters’ gallery and win the elections. The voters are fools and BN knows this. But the voters are happy fools so that is all that matters. And Malaysia Today will continue whacking. And the readers will continue whining. But they will continue voting in the same government, ‘the only government capable of running this country’, as how they normally argue in justifying voting for the ruling party. And I will wait for death to come and claim me. And they will bury me and all will be forgotten. Not much prospects for the future is it? Sheesh.....I think I will also migrate.