Tuesday, 27 December 2011
The Forgotten Malaysians: Malaysian Indian Poor
Read here for more
After 54 years as a country, it is unfortunate that a lot of non Indian Malaysians do not yet know the Indians.
For example, a lot of Malaysians still do not know the difference between Punjabis and Bengalis, and in some instances in recent years this confusion has been the topic of public discussion.
This goes back to the time of Independence and the formulation of our principal social engineering programme, the NEP.
With all due respect to the Tun Abdul Razak administration which created it, one of the main reasons why some parts of the Indian community is still stuck in the trenches of poverty are because the NEP was not extended to help those in the estates.
While the NEP helped the Malays and Bumiputera out of poverty and managed to create a group of middle class Malays, it overlooked the needs of the real composition of Indians.
The NEP was designed based on the per capita income of the Malay, Indian, Chinese and foreigner population. At the time, the Chinese had the highest percentage of per capita income, the Indians second, the Malays had the lowest.
However, as for the Indians, because we did not understand them, we grouped all of them in one big group.
What we did not realise is that the Indians are not a homogenous group, but made up of different groups that came in several batches. While there are a small group of Indians who were wealthier, about 10 million of them came to Malaya as buruh kasar.
Understanding in the Indians
Based on the average between the incomes of the small group of middle class Indians and the larger community of poor Indians, the statistics drawn were inaccurate.
It shows as if the Indians were doing okay, but in reality a big cluster of them were as poor as the Malays and Bumiputera.
It is sad that because we do not really understand our Indian brothers and sisters, we have allowed their poverty problem to continue as a legacy until today.
Now that our PM has vowed to address this issue, it is important that we know who they are, where they are and where they are going.
I recommend a book by Muzafar Desmond Tate called ‘The Malaysian Indians: History, Problems and Future’.
Here are several important points from the book. As I mentioned earlier, the Malaysian Indians are not all the same, but are made up of different smaller communities.
One major way the Malayan Indians were divided were the separation between Hindu and Muslim.
Another thing was social division into four major class groups:
’1) The elite, consisting of professionals, high government officials and senior executives in leading private firms;
2) An upper, English-educated middle class consisting mainly of government servants;
3) A lower, vernacular-educated middle class, comprising merchants, school teachers, journalists, smallholders, all largely outside government service;
4) Labourers in government service – the PWD, medical services, railways, the docks and the municipalities of large towns – and in private employ, particularly on estates.’
Tate writes that the Indian community remained highly compartmentalised as there was very little interaction between these groups, and hardly any social mobility existed for them.
A large number of Tamils who arrived in Malaya during the British colonial period were drawn from the lowest ranks of Tamil society and came as contract labourers for tin mines and agricultural estates.
They were ‘virtually debt slaves’ from the point they came to Malaya, having to work off the costs of their passage and recruitment under the contract system. Their wages were so meager that this would take them their whole term of service.
Besides this large group of Tamil labourers, there was also a small group of upper-class Tamils who came by their own resources. These were men of trade, commerce and finance, and Tate writes that this upper class, though small in numbers, were very significant as they ‘exerted an influence out of all proportion to their numbers’.
After Merdeka, the rift between the more affluent middle class and the larger number of Indian estate workers who ‘hover on the borders of poverty’, continued to exist.
The middle class was doing fine, dominating certain professions like law and medicine.
The enrolment of children into primary and secondary schools also remained the same. But for those in the rural areas, especially in the estates, the problem of poverty seemed intractable.
At the same time, the greatest shift that happened post-independence is urbanisation, which brought new social problems with it.
This was the ‘new poverty syndrome’ of the rootless Indians in the town. While the strategies of the NEP brought growing industrialisation, the Indian workers who left the estates found that they were in no position to compete in the towns.
They were uneducated and had no command of English, they lacked technical skills and were once again forced to live under squalid conditions.
The NEP, on the other hand, did not extend its benefits to the estate workers. The official rationale was that these workers were employees of the private limited companies who owned the estates, and thus they did not fall under the scope of the NEP.
Living below poverty line
In reviewing the Second Malaysia Plan (1970 – 75), the authors of the Third Malaysia Plan concluded that the aim of eradicating poverty in the plantation sector did not make progress.
Two-fifths of the estate workers were still living below poverty levels and unemployment was high.
Even at the end of the term of the Third Malaysia Plan in 1980, very little progress had been made towards the eradication of poverty.
In other words, Tate concludes that due to the segregation between the middle class Indians and those in the estates, and the failure of the NEP to support the Indians below the poverty line, essentially, the major problems of the Indian community remained the same in 2000 as they were before 1957.
This problem of poverty has become the legacy issue that we have to urgently deal with, along with the contemporary issues of the social problems of the urban squatters.
To really move to help the Indian poor out of poverty, any action taken cannot be a once-off thing. We need to define a target, the same way we implemented the NEP with specific goals.
There are several mechanisms we can put into place. Education is the first thing we need to look into. We can open up boarding schools like Maktab Sains MARA to make sure the children are provided a level playing field in education.
We can provide channels for skills-based training and open up job opportunities. For those who are not able to read and write, we can perhaps provide vocational academies for them to learn the basic skills they need.
To help the poor Indians, there needs to be provisions for the whole process from homes to schools to jobs, so that within one generation we can reduce poverty among the Indian poor and move them into the middle class via education and support, just like what we did for the Bumiputera under the NEP.
We must remember and take to heart that the Malaysian Indian poor problem is not an Indian problem, but a Malaysian one.
Friday, 18 November 2011
Senator Ezam Noor Quit PKR BECAUSE He Needed MONEY and "Ashamed Having to Live Off His Wife's Income".
"I am jobless and without any source of income.
I no longer earn US$3,000 a month as a director of a company in Indonesia as the company has closed down.
I have to look for opportunities to be appointed director for one or two companies.
I can only do this if I can prove that I have left the party (PKR).”
Read here for more in Malaysiakini
The Syed Husin Memoir: Ezam quit for Money
Quoting conversations from his lengthy political career, the much-anticipated memoir by former PKR Deputy President Syed Husin Ali lends credence to suspicions surrounding once-PKR Youth chief Ezam Mohd Noor’s defection.
In a chapter dubbed ‘Ezam’s excuse for leaving the party’, the veteran politician shared that Ezam had told him a month before his resignation that he was “broke” and “ashamed” for having to “live off his wife”.
According to Syed Husin, Ezam had on May 13, 2007 told him that he was then “jobless and without any source of income”.
“I no longer earn US$3,000 a month as a director of a company in Indonesia as the company has closed down,” he was quoted as saying by Syed Husin.
“I have to look for opportunities to be appointed director for one or two companies. I can only do this if I can prove that I have left the party.”
The revelation, which the writer said was “absolutely unexpected”, came after Syed Husin asked Ezam about rumours that the latter had submitted a resignation letter to the Selangor PKR secretary.
“Doctor, I am quitting. Azmin (Ali) is no longer my enemy, (PKR de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) is. Trust that I will do anything to destroy him,” Ezam purportedly said.
Syed Husin said Ezam’s “forthrightness” came as a “big shock”, and that he had sent a note to Anwar regarding the conversation, shortly after which the promising youth wing leader quit the party.
Narrating his reactions during the conversation with the now BN senator, Syed Husin said that he wondered if Ezam had been “bought by UMNO”.
“I remembered a letter sent to me by (activist) Hishammuddin Rais when he was behind bars,” he said, not mentioning the contents of the letter.
But while his matter-of-fact tone does not betray much about how he had felt over the incident, his views on Ezam indicate that the latter’s decision to quit had disappointed Syed Husin.
“I felt that Ezam had potential to play an important role in the party. It even crossed my mind that he could be promoted as a candidate for the deputy presidency,” he wrote.
MP ZULKIFLI NOORDIN:‘ The price is RM60,000
In a separate chapter, the memoir reveals how another former PKR man was said to have sought a cash payment from the party to quit his seat.
Kulim Bandar Baru parliamentarian Zulkifli Noordin, now Independent, was alleged to have asked for RM60,000 to vacate his seat in order to make way for Anwar to contest and get back into the Dewan Rakyat.
This was after Anwar’s ban from contesting elections, following his earlier conviction, was lifted on April 14, 2008. “(Zulkifli’s) win was challenged by the UMNO candidate who claimed that Zulkifli had not submitted his expenditure report.
“I was told Zulkifli (left) at first agreed to vacate his seat with the condition that he is paid by the party, word has it RM60,000, although I cannot ascertain the exact amount,” he wrote.
This, however, fell through as UMNO withdrew their election petition against Zulkifli, leading to the latter changing his mind about vacating his seat.
Zulkifli had months later criticised Anwar and the party, including on his blog “which was given much airtime by UMNO-owned media”. He was later sacked from PKR by the disciplinary committee.
Syed Husin said Zulkifli’s “slander” went into high gear later, “especially after he and another who had left the party, (Bayan Baru MP) Zahrain Mohd Hashim, were taken to the United States by the PM”. “According to Zulkifli, they had discussions with the PM every night,” he wrote.
Anwar later contested in Permatang Pauh after his wife and Party President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail stepped down to trigger a re-election.
“I know it wasn’t easy for Wan Azizah, as she liked being an MP. She often spoke about what had happened in Parliament in meetings,” he said. Wan Azizah’s decision, Syed Husin said, was an example of the sacrifices she makes for her husband.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
The Make-Up of the Malaysian Judiciary: Who We Appoint to the Seat of Justice is a Matter of LIFE and DEATH for Malaysians
"....Who are THESE JUDGES who wield such power over us, a power reserved for GOD?
Who are these MERE humans with the power to wrest children from their mothers and to condemn men to death or cage them like beasts in penitentiaries?
Who possesses the power to strip us of our professions, our possessions, our very lives?
THEY make law.
THEY may take away your wife or your good name or your freedom or your fortune or your life.
THEY are omnipotent.
And the question is: To whom have we so carelessly granted that power?
Are THEY the kind who would understand YOU , who from their experiences would know something of the fears and struggles you have faced?
Will THEY care about YOU or about JUSTICE?”
- Gerry Spence,
Judicial Diversity Creates Confidence
Read here for more
How does Malaysia fare with judicial diversity?
Is ours a more representative bench?
The table shows the racial composition and gender of the judges in our superior courts.
As the table shows, there is a fair number of women and non-Malay judges at the High Court level, but not in the appellate courts.
In fact, since Merdeka, only one white, two Chinese, one Indian and one woman were appointed to head the High Court of Malaya.
They were, respectively,
- Tun James Beveridge Thomson (1957-1963);
- Tan Sri Ong Hock Thye (1968-1973) and Tan Sri Gunn Chit Tuan (1992-1994);
- Tan Sri Sarwan Singh Gill (1974-1979); and
- Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob (2004-2006).
Further, the members of our Judicial Appointments Commission comprise:
- six Malays,
- one Chinese,
- one Indian and
- one east Malaysia bumiputra, and
- only one of the nine members is a woman.
Currently, in respect of Sessions Court judges, there are:
- 119 Malays (56 are women),
- two Chinese (women),
- five Indians (three are women),
- nine east Malaysia bumiputras (four are women) and
- one Others (a woman).
For Magistrates, there are:
- 139 Malays (84 are women),
- two Chinese (men),
- one Indian (woman) and
- four east Malaysia bumiputras (all men).
But if other judicial officers such as deputy and assistant registrars are added, women would almost double men.
This is not a new phenomenon as, in the last two years, women have doubled the number of men entering the legal profession.Of course, non-Malay law graduates prefer to enter the legal profession rather than join the Judicial and Legal Services with the view, whether rightly or wrongly, that private practice is more lucrative.
In fact, with the revised remuneration scheme, the current basic pay of a magistrate who is a fresh law graduate is RM1989.45 (with additional perks worth about RM1,000 depending on the location where the magistrate serves).
This, of course, is far better off than his predecessor in earlier days, like in the early 1980s when a magistrate’s basic pay was only about RM1,050.
In any event, if the reason for under-representation in the appellate judiciary by NON-MALAYS is due to a lack of meritorious candidates in the Judicial and Legal Services, then resort should be had to the pool of meritorious candidates among senior members of the Bar just like in the case of Jonathan Sumption, QC who recently made history by being the first lawyer to be elevated directly to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Having said that, let no one mistake me as advocating a quota system or positive discrimination on the grounds of gender, race and religion in judicial appointments because that would go against Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution.
I am also mindful of the views expressed by some women judges themselves, such as the former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. She argued that it was not enough to have simply more women or minorities on the bench. “What we need”, as she was quoted by Australian judge, Justice McHugh, “is a change in attitudes, not simply a change in chromosomes.”
If there exists a total absence or a huge disproportionate presence of women and minorities at appellate courts, something must be wrong somewhere.
It is my considered opinion that the Judicial Appointments Commission should always encourage a diverse judiciary which is more representative of the make-up of our country.
We must also correct any perception that our judges, who are the arbiters of civil laws, are not fair and independent especially when they adjudicate upon sensitive issues such as race and religion.
It follows that who we appoint to the seat of justice is a matter of life and death.
As one of America’s finest trial lawyers, Gerry Spence, put it so trenchantly:
“Who are these judges who wield such power over us, a power reserved for God?
Who are these mere humans with the power to wrest children from their mothers and to condemn men to death or cage them like beasts in penitentiaries? Who possesses the power to strip us of our professions, our possessions, our very lives?
“They make law. They may take away your wife or your good name or your freedom or your fortune or your life. They are omnipotent.
And the question is: To whom have we so carelessly granted that power? Are they the kind who would understand you, who from their experiences would know something of the fears and struggles you have faced? Will they care about you or about justice?”
It is, therefore, my honest view that judicial diversity and meritocracy should go hand in hand because a judiciary which does not reflect the society’s diversity will ultimately lose the confidence of that society.
In other words, the strength of any judiciary is primarily dependent on public confidence even if seated on the bench are monolithic judges who are most meritorious.
This is achievable if there is the political will, and one only need to look at how successfully Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did in bringing diversity to the American judiciary.
Friday, 11 November 2011
Selangor Sultan Provoked Constitutional Crisis by Demanding Through Royal Decree MORE Powers from Selangor State Legislature
Selangor state assemblymen are seeing red with what appears to be royal intervention in the RUNNING of the State Legislative Assembly.
In July, every state assemblyman allegedy received a letter from Sultan Sharafudin Idris Shah, commanding them to agree to amendments that would supposedly give the Ruler more power over Islamic affairs. (The state assemblymen) say it could have led to a constitutional crisis.
The letter was accompanied by a Selangor government gazette with proposed amendments to the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
One assemblyman , who spoke under condition of anonymity, said they saw the letter on their desks at about 9:30am when they attended the July 11 state assembly sitting.
“We did not know what to do. We were totally shocked. It was a very delicate situation. If we went against it, it would have caused a constitutional crisis.He added that if the assembly had snubbed the letter and voted against the proposed amendments, it would have been played to the hilt by both the mainstream and the Umno-led state opposition.
The Sultan is supposed to act on the advice of the state government, not the other way around. Even in the matters of Islam and Malay culture, the Sultan has to act on the advice of the state administration.
WE DIDN'T WANT TO FIGHT THE PALACE. We had respect for the palace. WE LET IT PASS.”
Phone call from palace
Another assemblyman, who also spoke to FMT anonymously, said that the proposed amendments were initially made available at a state pre-council meeting, a “few days” before July 11.
According to the state assemblyman:
- Many state assemblymen present at the meeting were unhappy with the bill and hotly debated the details. “They voiced their displeasure at the bill. They felt they should have been consulted first because of its importance.
- The Selangor mufti, state legal adviser and aides to the various assemblymen were also at the meeting
- Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said he was troubled by the introduction of the amendments.
- "The MB requested that the bill be kept in abeyance pending further study.”
- “The MB asked the officers to leave and the assemblymen to stay to discuss the bill.”
- Halfway through the discussion, Khalid had to step out to take a call from the palace. Apparently, the displeasure of the state assemblymen had been conveyed to the palace.
- “The MB did not make it clear what the palace had said, but the assemblymen took the cue, and understanding his (Khalid) predicament, did not pursue the postponement of the bill.”
- The Sultan EXCEEDED his powers when he ordered assemblymen to pass the amendments.
- Nevertheless, the BILL WAS PASSED after three readings.
Sultan’s Letter to the Selangor State Assemblymen
The letter was issued from the Alam Shah palace in Klang on July 11 and has the Sultan’s signature on it.
A copy of the letter was given to Free Malaysia Today (FMT) by an anonymous sender.
A letter from the Sultan’s private secretary, Mohamed Munir Bani, to state assembly secretary Mohamad Yasin Bidin was also provided to FMT.
“I respectfully present the decree of His Majesty the Sultan of Selangor… to be distributed to all Selangor State Assemblymen immediately.”The proposed amendments would:
- Make the administration of all mosques and suraus fall under the purview of the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS).
- This responsibility was previously held by the director of Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS).
- Give the Sultan the right to directly appoint anyone to the post of MAIS secretary.
- Remove the need to record in verbatim every resolution and policy made during MAIS meetings.
- Require all practising Syariah lawyers in the state to be Muslim.
- Require cheques issued by MAIS to be drawn according to its own financial procedures.
- Remove the need for MAIS and any corporation established under the Enactment to adhere to provisions in the Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980.
- Give MAIS the power not only to collect zakat and tithes, but also to distribute it.
- Give MAIS the power to appoint anyone as mosque officials.
- Give MAIS the right to control and direct the duties of mosque committees.
A Pakatan Rakyat leader, who asked to remain anonymous, also said he suspected that Umno had pushed the palace said,
“The Sultan has been advised by Umno for 50 years. This put His Majesty in a very difficult situation. This was a ploy by Umno to put Pakatan at loggerheads with the Sultan.He defended the Sultan as an “objective” person, but said Mohamad Munir, being pro-Umno, had made it difficult for Khalid to get an audience.
Sungai Panjang state assemblyman Mohamed Khir Toyo claimed ignorance of the matter, while Seri Serdang assemblyman and state opposition leader Mohamad Satim Diman could not be contacted.
Selangor Sultan Over Stepped Constitutional Boundaries, says Law Expert Aziz Bari
The Selangor Sultan may have overstepped his powers by commanding state assemblypersons to pass a Bill back in July, said Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) law professor Abdul Aziz Bari.
He said this when asked to comment on a decree signed by Sultan Sharafudin Idris Shah, ordering them to pass a slew of amendments to EXPAND the powers of both the SULTAN and Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) over Islamic affairs in the state.
The decree, dated July 11, a copy of which was given to Malaysiakini was attached with a letter signed by the sultan's private secretary, Mohamed Munir Bani.
To AVOID another confrontation with the palace, Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers COMPROMISED and PASSED the amendments to the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, although they saw it as a form of ROYAL INTERVENTION with the STATE LEGISLATURE.
Since taking over the state government in March 2008, Pakatan has been at loggerheads with the palace over several issues.
Constitution Does NOT Provide Sultan with the Powers
Aziz, an expert in constitutional matters and have written extensively on the role of the monarch, said the constitution may not provide the sultan such powers.
He pointed out that although the Federal Constitution - Article 3(2) and Section 1(2)(d) of the Eighth Schedule - clearly states that the sultan can act without or against the government on matters pertaining to Islam and Malay customs, it was SILENT on the part of the legislature.
Aziz Bari said,
"While on Islamic matters the sultan may ignore the government advice, the same may NOT be applicable when it comes to the legislature.Selangor Sultan's Demands for Amendments to a Selangor state law removes Selangor's Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) Accountability to the State Government.
We are NOW dealing with the legislative power over which the government CANNOT control. In fact the government is subservient - or answerable - to it.
The sultan is only free from government, but that does NOT mean that he (Sultan) is also free from the House.
Nonetheless interference in such petty matters, could make the monarchy, which ought to be aloof and symbolic, embroiled or entangled in mundane and routine matters, thus putting its integrity at stake.
It is just too much and would jeopardise the integrity of the palace; especially after what happened in Perak and Selangor after 2008.The fear is the powers may be exercised by some other parties.
For one thing the sultan may be too busy and this may lead to a situation where certain parties step in under his name.
Given that, what will happen to his role and position as the father figure of the state?"
Some of the amendments that give Mais the power to collect and distribute zakat as well as fitrah and free the council's account from being audited by the Auditor-General, were simply taking a reverse direction against calls for greater accountability.
Perhaps we can look at one example - the state awards. Although the constitution acknowledges the power of the sultan, it also makes it compulsory to get the consent of the legislative assembly should this have a financial implication.
It (the amendment) can exempt the bodies concerned from scrutiny and this is bad from the constitutional point of view."
Another controversy that has arisen from the amendments, is giving Mais the authority to administer mosques and suraus, including the power to appoint mosque officials and to direct the duties of mosque committees.
There are quite many mosques and suraus that have been built by the peoplehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif themselves; not from the public purse.
The new provision could be used against these privately-funded mosques and this is not good.
"This is where the position and power of the sultan needs to be seen in the light of Islamic ideals that actually stand at the very heart of the provision concerned."
Read here for more
It’s a bitter pill to swallow for many Selangor assemblymen now that the government may have lost control over the state’s Islamic administrative matters and the estimated tens of millions of ringgit in annual zakat collections.
The amendments made in July seemingly allowed the state’s Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) to be accountable only to the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafudin Idris Shah, bypassing the state government in the process. The amendments affected the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
Previously, Section 16 of the Enactment – which was passed at the July State Legislative Assembly sitting – enabled the director of Selangor’s Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) to be appointed as MAIS’s secretary.
The secretary would also act as the council’s chief executive officer and administrator, and was responsible for carrying out MAIS’s policies and resolutions.
However, the July amendments took that detail out, and allowed the Ruler “on advice of the Majlis” (MAIS) to appoint the council’s secretary.
Speaking under condition of anonymity, a state assemblyman said that the change allowed MAIS to snub summonses from the State Legislative Assembly’s committee.
He told FMT.
“In one occasion, MAIS was summoned by a House committee overseeing statutory bodies and subsidiaries.Zakat money
They refused to appear on the grounds that they were not subject to the committee.”
The assemblyman added that MAIS was a statutory body created by the Enactment, and had financial autonomy in its affairs. He said,
“They still have to table their audited accounts before the House… They can appoint their own auditors… But they are not duty-bound to come before the committee.With this in tow, MAIS, according to an anonymous Pakatan Rakyat leader, could do whatever it wished with its companies without worrying about the state assembly looking over its shoulder.
The effect of this, politically, is a government within a government, and Islamic affairs are taken out of the control of the state government,. .
This was of special concern, the assemblyman added, given that the amendments also gave MAIS the power to collect and distribute zakat as well as fitrah.
Selangor zakat money came up to about a third of the state government’s annual revenue which was roughly RM1.4 billion."
The Pakatan leader said,
At the policy and state level, MAIS has six or seven government-linked companies under it… They said that the (state) government has no shared interest in MAIS’ corporations.Royal appointments
So they tried to twist this (to their advantage), by saying that the administration (of MAIS) is under the Sultan…
If we raised our voice (against it), they will raise the issue of derhaka (betrayal).”
FMT previously reported that Selangor state assemblymen allegedly received a letter from the Sultan at the July 11 state assembly sitting, commanding them to agree to these amendments.
Caught by surprise and fearing a constitutional crisis in the event of a refusal, Pakatan state assemblymen ALLOWED the amendments to be passed without a hitch.
Currently, the Sultan has the power to appoint the MAIS chairman, deputy chairman and “not fewer than eight other members” to the council.
MAIS also consists of five ex-officio (automatic) members – the state secretary, state legal adviser, state financial officer, the mufti and the chief police officer.According to the anonymous state assemblyman, the building and administration of mosques and suraus were also affected by the amendments.
JAIS, as well as the state government, he claimed, would have to spend money to build them, while the administration of these buildings would fall under MAIS’ purview.
“Now, to build a mosque or a surau, you have to get approval from MAIS… Construction of the mosque is under JAIS, but the management is under MAIS,” he said.
Another interesting development was the deletion of Section 85 of the Enactment.
Provisions of the Statutory Bodies Act (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980 now no longer apply to MAIS.
No need for audit
According to Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights lawyer K Shanmuga, this meant that MAIS did NOT have to submit its accounts to the Auditor-General.
“The effect of the amendment is that the accounts of MAIS (and any other statutory corporation established by MAIS under the Enactment) will no longer have to be audited in accordance with the Audit Act 1957 and submitted to the Auditor-General each year.A script read by the proposer of the amendments passed at the July 11 state assembly sitting was also provided to FMT.
In fact, there appears to be no provisions in the Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment requiring any audit.”
In regards to Section 85, it read:
“This section was abolished because the council is not included in the definition of ‘Statutory Body’ in regard to the Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Annual Reports) Act 1980 [Act 240].”
Friday, 21 October 2011
The BIGGEST BASTARD of the PRO-UMNO BLOGGERS
REAL NAME: Wan Muhammad Azri bin Wan Deris
Date of Birth: 21 January, 1983
Residence: Setapak, Kuala Lumpur
"...Since our favourite group of UMNO-loving inbreds have run out of sextapes in their porn stash to target politicians opposing UMbred, they have turned their focus towards Lim Guan Eng’s 16-year old son.
It’s one thing to watch sextapes over and over again – like a sex maniac – just to spot if the ‘actor’ looks like Politician X or Customs Officer Y.
But it’s an entirely different thing to conjure up stories of a 16-year old boy ‘touching’ a 16-year old girls private parts.That’s called being a pedophile.
Or at least, a pedophile with sex fantasies involving MINORS i.e. kids below the age of 18. Punishable by law, if I may say so.
Especially since they made this up, it involves actual living people, and involves the fabrication and defamation of minors in the context of sexual elements.
Khairy ‘sonafabitch’ Jamaluddin’s displayed a sexual interest into the propagated fictional story of LGE’s son: See this Link: Khairy Twitter
UMNO is fucked up. They’re comprised of sexual baboons that once they hit 60, they rely on Viagra and watching shit on papagomo’s blog."
Anya Corke: I don’t know Guan Eng’s son
Read here for more and HERE
The girl whose photograph was used by pro-Umno bloggers (ie PAPA GOMO) to level accusations of sexual harassment against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s son has denied ever meeting or hearing of the 16-year-old schoolboy.
Chess grandmaster Anya Sun Corke said today that she was “shocked, dismayed and baffled” as to how her photo was used without her knowledge or consent.
“I have never met or even heard of any of the people involved. I have never been physically assaulted in any way. I have never been victimised in any way by this boy or his family.The only way in which my ‘modesty was outraged’ has been by the publication of my picture in connection with these scurrilous and unfounded rumours,” the undergraduate at Wellesley College said in a statement.
Pro-Umno bloggers had claimed that Lim’s son had assaulted a 16-year-old schoolmate and tried to escape punishment by using his father’s name.
But the DAP showed at a press conference on Wednesday screenshots from the blogs which used pictures of Corke that matched those from www.chessbase.com.
Lim had denied the allegations on Tuesday, saying he was furious with the “barbaric lies” made about his teenage son by “pro-Umno ferocious beasts.”
His colleagues in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have come out strongly in support of the DAP secretary-general against what they call “the lowest gutter politics” seen in decades.
The principal of SMK Heng Ee in George Town also moved two days ago to put an end to the accusations, calling them “completely untrue.”
Sensing growing public anger, Umno MPs have been quick to distance themselves from the allegations.
Corke said today that she has NOT visited Malaysia for seven years.
“I would also like to express my sympathies to the boy who was defamed by these baseless allegations. Last but not least, I hope that members of the public and the Malaysian media will respect my privacy and refrain from making unsolicited contact with me and my family, college, chess federation, and any other affiliation,” she said.
According to Corke’s Wikipedia listing, she “is a Woman Grandmaster and the top chess player from Hong Kong who is currently playing for England.”
She earned the title with her performance in 36th Chess Olympiad, playing for the Hong Kong men’s team.
She was the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 Hong Kong National Champion (for men and women), thought to be one of the youngest national champions ever.
Allegations against Guan Eng’s son ‘completely untrue,’ says school principal
The principal of SMK Heng Ee in George Town today moved to put an end to accusations that Lim Guan Eng’s son had sexually harassed a female student of the school, calling it “completely untrue.”
Goon Boon Poh told The Malaysian Insider that he was “shocked” when he read news reports of the allegation, and that he wanted to put an end to the matter as it could affect the image of the high school.
Pro-Umno bloggers including Bukit Gelugor Umno division chief Dr Novandri Hasan Basri had claimed that the Penang chief minister’s son had assaulted a 16-year-old schoolmate and tried to escape punishment by using his father’s name.
“The allegations are completely untrue. It is very simple, there’s absolutely no truth to it,” Goh told The Malaysian Insider today. The blogs said the incident occurred in May this year. CM’s son has not been a student of my school since the beginning of this year,” he added.
Goh said that the pictures posted on the blogs were not of Lim’s son, and that pictures of the alleged victim was not even a student of Heng Ee.
The principal said that officers from the state education department had conducted an investigation into the allegations on Monday, and were satisfied with his explanation on the matter.
“If I had kept quiet, the silence would have put me, the school in an embarrassing situation. Very simple if it had happened I would have known about it, wouldn’t I. No students had complained about any such case and the girl is supposed to be a classmate, so I want to just clarify the matter,” said Goh.
The girl whose photograph was used by Umno bloggers to level accusations of sexual harassment against Lim’s son has been identified as 21-year-old chess Grandmaster Anya Sun Corke.
Corke, who represents England in chess, has no ties with Penang and has never been a classmate of Lim’s son as alleged by Umno blogs, the DAP said in a press conference in Parliament today.
The girl is understood to be currently an undergraduate of Wellesley College in the United States.
Without revealing details of the allegation, the Penang CM (picture) said yesterday he was furious with the “barbaric lies” made about his teenage son by “pro-Umno ferocious beasts,” singling out Khairy Jamaluddin and other ruling party leaders for perpetuating the allegations through snide comments on blogs and social media sites.
The Rembau MP had written on micro-blogging site Twitter on Monday, “Mungkin dia roboh Kampung Buah Pala sebab nak ganti dengan Kampung Buah Dada” in response to another tweet by PapaGomo. [English translation: Maybe he destroyed Kampung Buah Pala because he wants to replace it with Kampung Buah Dada].
The DAP called on Khairy today to “retract his snide remarks and apologise to Lim’s son, who is an innocent victim.”
Thursday, 6 October 2011
PLAGIARISM: Justice Abdul Malik, the Alleged Copy-Cat Judge Sitting in Malaysia's Court of Appeal
RELATED ARTICLE: Read here: Plagiarism in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Malaysian Court of Appeal Judge allegedly plagiarised a judgment by a Singaporean counterpart in early 2000.
Read here for more
Sixty Pakatan Rakyat MPs are pushing for a motion to censure a Court of Appeal judge for alleged plagiarism.
Leading the pack, Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh said that justice Abdul Malik Ishak had allegedly committed the offence while serving as a High Court judge in Johor in early 2000.
The judge was accused of plagiarising a judgment by then Singapore High Court judge GP Selvam and the irony of the matter was that Malik was hearing a case regarding copyright.
Speaking at a press conference in Parliament, Karpal said: “We have filed the motion (to discuss the censuring) with the secretary of the Dewan Rakyat.”
“This motion (is in line with) Article 127 of the Federal Constitution which allows for discussion of the conduct of judges if 1/4 of parliamentarians support the motion,” he added.
The total number of MPs is 222, and with 60 backing the motion, it exceeded the required number.
Meanwhile, Karpal described the charge against the judge as serious, and did not reflect well on the judiciary.
“It is clearly misconduct of a very serious nature on the part of Malik bringing the Malaysian judiciary into disrepute,” he said, demanding that the judge be suspended and brought before a tribunal.
Karpal said that portions of Selvam’s judgment were copied without quoting and acknowledging the original source.
The DAP leader said he had written twice to Malik in August and September this year but did not receive a response from him over the matter.
Karpal added that the motion filed today was also in line with Parliamentary Standing Orders 27 and 36 (8).
Standing Order 27 states that advance notice must be sent to the Dewan Rakyat secretary before tabling a motion in parliament.
While Standing Order 36 (8) required a motion to be tabled in parliament first before there is any discussion regarding a public officer appointed under constitutional provisions.
According to the judiciary website, the Johor-born Abdul Malik was appointed to the Court of Appeal on July 16, 2007.
A law graduate from the University of Singapore – graduating in 1974 , Abdul Malik was appointed as a Judicial Commissioner on Oct 1, 1992, and subsequently, as a Judge of the High Court of Malaya on Aug 17,1994.
Prior to that he had served as a magistrate, deputy public prosecutor, state legal adviser, senior Sessions Court judge and advisory board chairman at the Prime Minister’s Department.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Federal Constitution is Clear: Kelantan State Assembly CANNOT Pass Hudud Laws.
Read here for more
“Hudud cannot be implemented within the current constitutional and legislative framework.”
-Malaysian Bar Council
"...It is clear therefore that the State list does NOT vest the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly, or any other SLA for that matter, the power to pass HUDUD laws OR to create criminal offences.
The law passed by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly on HUDUD, in my humble opinion, is VOID for being ultra vires the Federal Constitution..."
-Art Harun (Lawyer)
I have stated in my article, Of wet dream, nightmare and Marty McFly that:
- the implementation of hudud is a Constitutional impossibility until and unless two-third of our Members of Parliament would vote to amend the Federal Constitution to allow it to happen.
- the time when such Constitutional amendment is moved would be the first time when our Members of Parliament would vote solely or predominantly along racial and religious line regardless of party policy or party whip.
The Bar Council has since issued a statement which basically echoes my opinion. Lim Chee Wee, the Bar Council’s President was quoted as saying:
"Hudud cannot be implemented within the current constitutional and legislative framework.”
Professor Aziz Bari Got It Wrong on the Federal Constitution
My friend, the learned Professor Aziz Bari was reported to have DISAGREED with the Bar Council’s view. The learned Professor was quoted to say:
“The key here is Islam, not criminal law.” The learned Professor pointed out that the Federal Constitution has set out the respective jurisdiction and powers of the Federal and State legislature.
As the powers to legislate on matters pertaining to Islam rests with the State, he argued that the State, including Kelantan, may pass hudud laws accordingly.
He also refuted that such move would result in double jeopardy for Muslim wrongdoers as, in his words:
“In other words, two systems is not a problem and we are not the only country in the world where this duality prevails.” The learned Professor opined that “power on Islamic law belongs to the State.”
He then referred to the decision of our Supreme Court (then, the highest Court in Malaysia) Mamat bin Daud vs Govt of Malaysia where the Court held that a provision in the Penal Code which impacted on Islamic law was invalid as the Parliament had no power to legislate over Islamic matters.
The learned Professor therefore challenged the Bar Council’s view that the Kelantan State does not have the power to enact the hudud law.
I have the highest of respect and regard for the learned Professor but I beg to differ on his opinion on this matter.
(Although) the respective State Legislative Assembly (“SLA”) has the power to legislate on matters pertaining to Islam, I am somewhat doubtful that the SLA may pass any kind of law which creates offences and prescribes punishment for those offences in accordance with the tenet of Islam, especially when such offences and punishments are ALREADY created and prescribed by PARLIAMENT.Division of Legislative Powers between Parliament and SLA
The Federal Constitution divides the legislative powers between the Parliament and SLA quite clearly.
- The Parliament, or loosely, the Federal government, has the power to legislate over matters specified in List 1 (or otherwise known as the “Federal List”) of the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
- The SLA on the other hand may legislate on those matters in List II (also known as the “State List”) of the 9th Schedule.
- In addition, there are matters which may be legislated by both the Parliament and the SLA. These are contained in List III of the 9th Schedule (also known as the “Concurrent List”).
Included in the Federal List is, among other things:
- “civil and criminal” law;
- the constitution of all courts other than the Syariah Courts and
- the jurisdiction and powers of all such courts.
That much is clear.
All this while, it is the PARLIAMENT which creates and defines all criminal offences as well as prescribing all punishment for those offences. There is no doubt about that.
(In this respect, there are already laws governing murder, theft and slander, which are three of the HUDUD OFFENSE prescribed by the Quran.The ONLY HUDUD offence which is NOT criminalised by the secular law is ADULTERY).THE STATE LIST (LIST II) in the FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
Let’s reproduce the whole paragraph 1 of the State List, so as not to cause any confusion*:
****The above provision is actually contained in one paragraph. I have broken it into several parts denoting the different areas of Islamic matters which the SLA may legislate to maintain clarity. ****
Except with respect to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan,
i. ISLAMIC LAW and PERSONAL and FAMILY LAW of persons professing the religion of Islam, including:
- The Islamic law relating to succession, testate and intestate, betrothal, marriage, divorce, dower, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy guardianship, gifts, partitions and non- charitable trusts;
- Wakafs and the definition and regulation of charitable and religious endowments, institutions, trusts, charities and charitable institutions operating wholly within the State;
- MALAY CUSTOMS: Zakat, Fitrah and Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue, mosques or any Islamic public places of worship.
ii. Creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List;
iii. The constitution, organisation and procedure of Syariah courts, which shall have jurisdiction ONLY over person professing the religion of Islam and in respect only of any of the matters included in this paragraph, but shall NOT have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by FEDERAL law,
iv. The control of propagating doctrines and beliefs among persons professing the religion of Islam;
v. the determination of matters of Islamic law and doctrine Malay custom.
It is quite clear from the State List reproduced above that various Islamic matters ARE WITHIN the purview of the SLA.
The decision in Mamat bin Daud reinforces the view that STRICT adherence to the respective lists by the Parliament and the SLA in enacting laws is called for. In that case, a provision was included in the Penal Code by the Parliament which makes it an offence for anybody to cause religious disunity. The purport of that section was to maintain public order, a matter which is quite obviously within the purview of the Parliament.
However, in a 3-2 majority decision (with the late Eusoffee Abdoolcader, among others, dissenting), the Supreme Court held that that provision impinges on Islamic matters, which is in the State List and consequently the Parliament had no power to legislate on it.
It follows from that decision that the Court jealously guarded the purview, width and breadth of the respective Federal and State lists. No amount of encroachment will be allowed by either the Parliament or the SLA on each other’s powers.
Although the offence created by the Parliament in that case falls under public order, which comes under the purview of the Parliament, the Court still viewed that as an encroachment of the SLA’s power to legislate on Islamic matters.
It is therefore clear and obvious that the Court took a strict and stringent approach in determining the rights and powers to legislate of the Parliament and the SLA.
Kelantan State Assembly Has NO POWER to Legislate on HUDUD LAW
Applying that strict rule, it is my humble opinion that the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly does NOT have the power to legislate on hudud laws or the power to create criminal offences and prescribe “Islamic” punishments for those offences.
Matters concerning CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAWS are clearly within the power and purview of the PARLIAMENT by virtue of the Federal List.To allow the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly to enact a law to create hudud offences and prescribe punishment for those offences would amount to the usurpation by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly of the Parliament’s power to legislate over criminal matters.
Applying the strict approach in Mamat bin Daud case, any law passed by the Kelantanese State Legislative Assembly as such would be void for being ultra vires the Federal Constitution.
Does HUDUD come under State List of the Constitution ?
Is it true that hudud comes within the State List and therefore the SLA has the power to legislate on it?
We have to analyse the above State List to answer this question.
Paragraph (i) above:
- concerns family, personal, inheritance and trust matters. That much is clear.
- Hudud does NOT come within the ambit of paragraph (i) above.
The bone of contention is paragraph (ii) above.
It states that the SLA has the power over the creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List.
There are three important points to be made about THIS provision.
- Firstly, the said provision is far narrower than the power given to the Parliament. Paragraph 4 of the Federal List spells out in the widest term possible the power of the Parliament to legislate over “civil and criminal law.”
That includes everything under the sun.
The only exception is “Islamic personal law relating to marriage, divorce, guardianship, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, family law, gifts and succession, testate and intestate.”
Any OTHER matters would come within the power of the PARLIAMENT to legislate.
Contrast that provision to paragraph (ii) above.
- Paragraph (ii) does NOT say “ISLAMIC CIVIL and CRIMINAL LAWS .”
- NOR does it say “the creation and punishment of offences IN the precepts of that religion.”
- It also contains a very important exception, namely, “except in regard to matters included in the Federal List.”
- Paragraph (ii) does NOT say “ISLAMIC CIVIL and CRIMINAL LAWS .”
- That brings me to my second point.
Paragraph (ii) above only gives the SLA power to create and punish offences AGAINST the precepts of Islam. It does not give power to the SLA to create and punish offences IN the precepts of Islam.
The established hudud offences, namely, murder, adultery, slander and theft are not offences against the precepts of Islam. They are offences within or in accordance with the precepts of Islam.
The failure to observe and appreciate this aspect of the provision has often led to a misconception that the State has the power to create any kind of offences as long as those offences are regarded as offences IN Islam. That is entirely wrong.
No less than our Federal Court, in Sulaiman Bin Takrib v Kerajaan Negeri Trengganu & Anor has, with respect, fallen into such interpretational misdeed when it held that the SLA had power to create offences “against the precepts of Islam” although by doing so, a criminal offence would be create so long as no such offence has been created by the Parliament. Former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid in his judgment says:
“In the instant case, as the offences are offences against the precept of Islam, as there are no similar offences in the federal law and the impugned offences specifically cover Muslims only and pertaining to Islam only, clearly it cannot be argued that they are “criminal law” as envisage by the Constitution.”
It has been my absolute pleasure and honour to have appeared before the learned CJ on some occasions. FCJ Abdul Hamid was a learned Judge for whom I have the highest of respect. However, his Lordship’s test in the above case is, in my humble opinion, wholly unsatisfactory.
The test is not whether there has been an offence created by the Parliament on the issue at hand.
Rather the test is whether the offence created by the State Legislative Assembly is “against the precepts of Islam.”
In this respect, offences AGAINST the precepts of Islam are TOTALLY DIFFERENT in nature and manifestation from offences IN the precepts of Islam.
- This brings me to my third point. Paragraph (ii) above clearly prohibits the SLA from legislating on matters which “are included in the FEDERAL list.”
- How clearer can that be?
- Is there any ambiguity there?
- The prohibition is as clear as daylight.
As long as the matter sought to be legislated by the SLA is included in the FEDERAL list, the SLA is PROHIBITED from legislating on it.
That prohibition is ABSOLUTE.
Applying Mamat bin Daud above, that prohibition must be STRICTLY observed.
It does not say the prohibition only applies if the matters are included in the Federal list and they have been legislated by the Parliament. CJ Abdul Hamid is WRONG in Sulaiman Takrib case in this respect.
- How clearer can that be?
The law passed by the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly on HUDUD , in my humble opinion, is VOID for being ultra vires the Federal Constitution.
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 Beginning of the MAJOR COLLAPSE of Pakatan Rakyat.
The coalition agreed to disagree on existing enactments pertaining to hudud law in Kelantan and Terengganu, as the enactments predate the formation of Pakatan."
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
(This article was first published in “Off The Edge” on January 15, 2009)
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!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.
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 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?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.
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.”
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.
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.
- 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.
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:
Is this the kind of society that Malaysia wishes to become? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
- 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.
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; andWhether 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.
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.
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.