Friday 31 July 2009

Eeeerieee!!! Is There A Divine Message Here?

Al-Fatihah En Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman

Permatang Pauh again??!!?? Will there be a contest this time? Malaysiakini has this latest:

Permatang Pasir state rep dies

Permatang Pasir state assemblyperson Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman from PAS has passed away at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur from heart failure at about 6.30am.

Mohd Hamdan had been an elected representative of Permatang Pasir for three terms since 1999. He was also a former state PAS chief for 14 years.His remains are expected to be brought to his home in Permatang Pasir from Kuala Lumpur at about 2pm and later buried at the Permatang Pasir Muslim cemetery after evening prayers.He leaves behind wife Siti Khariah Ismail and six children.

With the seat vacant, the Election Commission will have to call for another by-election within 60 days - the eight of such polls since March 2008 general election.Permatang Pasir, which is one of three state seats in PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim's Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, is the sole PAS seat in Penang.In the last general election Mohd Hamdan, who bagged 11,004 votes, defeated Ahmad Sahar Shuib from Umno (5,571) by a majority of 5,433 votes.

His younger brother Mohd Shukran told Bernama that Mohd Hamdan was admitted at the IJN after complaining of chest pains.The PAS representative had undergone a heart surgery a few years ago, added Mohd Shukran.

Mohd Hamdan was born in Kedah and had just three weeks ago received 'Datukship' from the Penang government.He was a former language teacher at the Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid, Kedah and had serviced the Kedah state government as an administrative officer from 1966 to 1977.He went on to join the Customs Department in 1977 and remained there until 1983.

Only two months ago, Penanti - a state seat next to Permatang Pasir - had a by-election following the resignation of then PKR state representative Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.

The by-election, which was won by PKR's Dr Mansor Othman, saw one of the lowest voter turnout when rival Umno opted not to contest the polls.

The upcoming by-election will be the third by-election in the Permatang Puah constituency in less than one year - the first being Anwar's victory in August last year after his wife, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, quit the seat.

I Love This! Sanctimonious Journo(s) In The Mirror

This blogger Sincerely, Malaysian Heart is a gem. I reproduced his/her article in a previous post, Depressing Yet Pressing Issue; Using The Press To Oppress? but this latest one takes the cake. No need for narration:

In Response to Rocky's Bru: Journo to Journo: How Low Can You Go?

(Graphic of letter taken from Rocky's Bru)

I'm encouraged by the news (from Rocky's Bru) that a group of practising and former Malaysian journalists are writing to the Executive Chairman of Kumpulan Utusan, Tan Sri Mohamed Hashim Ahmad Makaruddin, to express their anger and disgust at the story on the late Yasmin Ahmad that the tabloid Kosmo! ran on July 27th, 2009. As they write in their email seeking fellow journalists' support for their letter: "Let's uphold the kind of journalism that this country so desperately needs."

Regardless of whether it is based on the truth or not, the article, headlined "Takdir Yasmin", breached not only the journalist's code of ethics, but standards of human decency as well.

Since a journalist's first obligation is to seek truth and report it, why is this article in Kosmo! a breach of journalistic ethics? Because even if it is true, it violates another principle that journalists are obliged to uphold:

Minimize Harm - Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

According to this principle, journalists should:

  • Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
  • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
  • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
  • Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
  • Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

(From the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics)

In the case of Kosmo's article, the people behind it have violated this principle in at least four ways:

  1. They have treated the memory of their subject, a recently deceased person no longer able to tell her side of the story, with disrespect, making allegations that may (given prevailing societal attitudes, prejudiced though they may be) diminish how she is remembered by Malaysians, and expose her family to odium.
  2. They showed little compassion to her family and scant regard for the potential harm to her aged and frail mother.
  3. They did not demonstrate any overriding public need that could have justified such an intrusion into their grief and privacy.
  4. The mode in which they presented their report suggests that they have pandered to lurid curiosity, perhaps motivated by the need to sell newspapers.

It is therefore fitting that the journalists' letter rebukes Tan Sri so: "...if your objective is to practice ethical journalistic conduct and act with humanity, you have failed - miserably." They go on to ask him, "How much of your personal honour are you willing to part with in order to increase your circulation?"

All of us will be held to account for everything we write, before the One who reads and edits us all. In the meantime, Kosmo and its journalists involved with this article are accountable to us, their readers and colleagues. Let us make it clear to them that we will not stand by to see ethics breached.

Is their story true or false? I wholeheartedly second blogger Kama's wise words, words worthy of repeating and remembering (from here):

"...Yasmin has gone to meet her Maker. Our time will come soon. Seharusnya kita sadaqah Al-fatihah untuk arwah Yasmin and not go into this silly polemic about her gender. May her soul be placed among the blessed. Amin."

Now, may I pose this question, not to Kosmo!, but to all of us who are outraged by Kosmo's article:

Do any of us believe that Kosmo has a monopoly on unethical journalism in Malaysia?

First let's see what the principles of ethical journalism that we are bound to uphold are (adapted from theSociety of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics):

The duty of the journalist is to further public enlightenment as the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy, by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Journalists should:

  1. Seek Truth and Report It - Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  2. Minimize Harm - Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
  3. Act Independently - Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know. [Advocacy journalists may of course intentionally and transparently adopt a non-objective viewpoint.]
  4. Be Accountable - Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

The letter to Tan Sri Hashim begins "July 27th, 2009 marked the darkest day in Malaysian journalistic history yet." In the light of the above, haven't there been days in Malaysian journalistic history just as dark as 27/7/09?

How about in the days just before the 1990 general elections, when "then opposition politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was depicted as selling out Muslim interests to Christians merely because he was photographed wearing ethnic Kadazan cultural headgear on which was a symbol resembling a cross. The photograph was splashed in the media and Razaleigh had little chance to counter the allegations".

Utusan Melayu published the picture for three days, and Berita Harian's headline on May 19, 1990 was "Ku Li Junjung Salib".

How about something more recent, just eight days ago (22/07/09), when Pakatan Rakyat's position regarding the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock was grossly misrepresented in the pages of the New Straits Times?

Why do we not speak up and act against journalistic misconduct by all news outlets (including our own)? Why are we being selective? Surely our professional ethics apply equally to all, no matter what the victims' (and perpetrators') station in life is? Or is it just a case of double standards and whose ox is being gored?

So, let me put the question back to all the journalists who are rightly outraged at Kosmo: How much of our personal honour are we willing to part with in order to increase our circulation (prospects, promotions, popularity, etc.)?

In other words, when our Editor reads us, will He find us fit to print, or fit to spike?

Lest we be found wanting, we must be mindful of what we ourselves and our colleagues write. For the sake of our integrity, we must speak and act whenever and wherever we see journalistic ethics being compromised, and we must do so in spite of our political beliefs and personal interests. Let's uphold the kind of journalism that this country so desperately needs.


Malaysian Heart

You can download a printable copy of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics in full here (in PDF format).

(I am a member of Hartal MSM, a mediawatch group which had its beginnings in December 2007 in The People's Parliament, an initiative convened by civil rights lawyer Haris Ibrahim. The group seeks to promote a free and fair media as an impetus to Malaysia's stalled nation-building process. The views expressed here are solely my own)

Thursday 30 July 2009

An Abridged And Adapted Bhagavad Gita

Why do you worry without cause?
Whom do you fear without reason?
Who can kill you?
The soul is neither born, nor does it die.
Whatever happened,
happened for the good;
whatever is happening,
is happening for the good;
whatever will happen,
will also happen for the good only.

You need not have any regrets for the past.
You need not worry for the future.
The present is happening...
What did you lose that you cry about?
What did you bring with you,
which you think you have lost?

What did you produce,
which you think got destroyed?
You did not bring anything,
whatever you have, you received from here.
Whatever you have given, you have given only here.
Whatever you took, you took from The Universe.
Whatever you gave, you gave to It.
You came empty handed,
you will leave empty handed.

What is yours today,
belonged to someone else yesterday, and
will belong to someone else the
day after tomorrow.
You are mistakenly enjoying the thought
that this is yours.
It is this false happiness that is
the cause of your sorrows.

Change is the law of The Universe.
What you think of as death,
is indeed life.
In one instance you can be
a millionaire, and
in the other instance you can
be steeped
in poverty.

Yours and mine, big & small
erase these ideas from your mind.
Then everything is yours and
you belong to everyone.
This body is not yours,
neither are you of the body.
The body is made of fire, water, air, earth and
ether, and will disappear into these elements.
But the soul is permanent - so who are you?

Dedicate your being to The Journey.
He is the one to be ultimately relied upon.
Those who know of his support are forever
free from fear, worry and sorrow.
Whatever you do,
do it as a dedication to The Journey.
This will bring you the
tremendous experience of
joy and life-freedom forever.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Depressing Yet Pressing Issue; Using The Press To Oppress?

Years ago, a veteran told me that Malaysian politics is mainly about the politics of issues. It was because the rakyat mentality was immature politically that issues could be created or blown out of proportion to rally the masses in whichever direction the propaganda machinery deemed fit.

With the advent of Mahathirism, issues were created and publicized only when Mahathir dictated so; major cases in point being the 1988 Constitutional Crisis that resulted in the emasculation of the Judiciary and the 1993 Monarchy crisis that did the Royals in.

The rakyat was still willing to vote Barisan Nasional in with more than 2/3 majority, GE in and GE out because the economy was thriving; the NEP was in full bloom and no one was going without. The non-Malays were resigned to the effects of affirmative action and had all but given up at the ballot box.

I suppose abuses were not as blatant then although corruption and cronyism were already big concerns...the massive privatization and corporatizing exercises of government institutions, the IPPs, the toll hikes, the prime land conversions, the Daim machinations, etc. all affected our pockets without commensurating increase in service levels nor benefits. But we could at least see signs of development as in the Twin Towers, KLIA, Putrajaya, and other monuments. While most people dared only whisper about their displeasure, none had the guts nor to be fair, the platform to shout too loud and long.

There was a pervading fear of litigation and the partiality of the judiciary. As organizations go, Aliran led by Chandra Muzzafar seemed to be the only one which dared to voice out and it had its publishing permit yanked a few times. The Aliran Monthly was a sort of Malaysiakini in the way that no issue was too hot for it to report.

Two individuals stood out and both were journalists; the late K. Das and that forerunner of our Raja Petra Kamarudin, the late MGG Pillai. Yes! RPK had a predecessor! Neither lawsuit nor harassment could stop MGG Pillai and in the aftermath of the Correct! Correct! Correct! fiasco we now know he had no chance with the defamation suits he faced. I am glad MGG Pillai discovered the Internet before he passed away in 2006. His blog was the Malaysia Today of its day!

There were plenty of issues too in those days but apart from being fearful, the Malaysian public was naive, amnesiac and blindsided by the mainstream media. There was a perpetual news brown-out and when the Government faced any major controversy, there were total news blackouts or the media would spin to sway the rakyat. Back in those days, no Opposition politician ever appeared on TV or radio let alone was quoted or reported in the newspapers. Conversely, all we ever got to hear or read were that things were dandy and as they should be (and therefore fine). Each successive PM had his own Goebbels, starting with Mahathir who had Kadir Jasin and Dollah Ahmad; the infamous Kalimullah was there for the Preacher Man while Kamal Khalid did the hatchet work; now Najib has Johan Jaafar and his very own publicist in Azmi Anshar.

The nature of media control had perceptible difference from one PM to another. In the case of Mahathir, it was more of misinformation and lack of information; this was extenuated by the fact that Mahathir made no bones about his dogmatic nature or his policies.

Though his successor, Badawi was less Machiavellian he was in many ways worse. He took over on a media fanfare of promises; liberalization, tranparency, meritocracy and accountability. The very media tools that were deployed to blow his trumpet soon became tools to gloss over his abject incompetency. When his outright bumbling and the abuses by his coterie became too obvious, his propaganda team resorted to plain disinformation. Ultimately, his spinmeisters could not prevent his self-proclaimed nice, clean and pious guy image from rotting into plain "nasty, corrupt" and stupid. His “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang" quickly became "Cemarkan, Gemar-wang, Terbayang"...Temberang.

Why did it take 22 years to expose Mahathir's transgressions and only 5 for Badawi? Was it because Badawi was more liberal? Apparently not; it was because he could not stop the information communication juggernaut called the Internet. He was caught by his own "K-Economy" bull and could not rein in the bloggers and internet news portals until it was too late. He did however try at the end though.

In the last decade, the proliferation of internet users coupled with the intrinsic need to boost bandwith enabled the Internet to power the "Fifth Estate" in Malaysia as with the rest of the developed/developing world. Mainstream media (MSM) began to have an alternative and I dare say now during Najib's watch, the MSM is fast becoming THE alternative media to most educated Malaysians. The difference has been about censorship or lack of.

Najib has his work cut out for him. It is now coming to his 4th month in the hot seat and he has not only to hit the ground running (after years of Badawi "slumber") but also be seen to do the right things. He has after all come onboard with considerable baggage.

How will he make the rakyat see? Will he try to make us blind? Or will he turn out to be the ultimate magician dealing with illusory perceptions? Will it be misinformation or disinformation or both? Or can he surprise us all with absolute transparency? After his first 100 days, the latter seems a bridge too far or far fetched bridge whichever way one looks at it. After GE12, whatever the spin there is only one way for him and that is to deliver what is deemed good for the nation. Brickbats can turn to bouquets...and vice versa.

But what can we expect? Well, for one, Najib or his handlers have obviously learnt about the power of the Internet judging from the increased number of pro-establishment blogs and cyber commentators. Many Barisan politicians are also setting up their own blogs/websites but because most are not self-administered, they do not attract traffic. While Badawi and Barisan were caught with their pants down pre-GE12, now more than a year later, things in the Malaysian cyberspace have indeed changed. Established pro-government bloggers and "information" portals now routinely rebut anything they feel worth rebutting.

The following are a few generally pro-establishment blogs; Another Brick In The Wall, Barking Magpie, Demi Negara, OutSyedTheBox. Rocky's Bru, Mat Cendana, CanYouSeeIt...etc. Socio-political bloggers seem to fall exclusively only into 3 categories: pro-establishment, anti-establishment and middle-of-the-road observers. When a particular blogger shifts his loyalties or stance (as it is known to happen), it is all too obvious. One thing is clear though, not much can be kept hidden in the ultimate battle for voters and no matter what the spin, the Barisan government has to deliver or perish.

The MSM still retains relevance amongst large numbers of Malaysians and one only has to turn on the TV or flip the newspapers to know what the MSM is trying to sell these days (as in the previous days?). Perhaps we shouldn't buy.
The Teoh Beng Hock death is the latest controversial issue and it has seen unprecedented thrusts and counter-thrusts in both the MSM and cyberspace. After Utusan's infamous article which reeked of racism, in the TBH case it was Berita Harian's turn with the lead but if the following article by Azmi Anshar is any indication, we are in for very long ride. That is why it is a must read because the rebuttles by steadyaku47 and sincerely, malaysian heart are even more interesting. You be the judge:

They got their Royal Commission of Inquiry but will they stop their lynching? Online Exclusive 2009/07/22 by Azmi Anshar

IN ordering the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry today to probe the chary death of Teoh Boon Hock, the young DAP cadre whose body was found sprawled outside Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Shah Alam headquarters last week, the Cabinet committed the most pragmatic decision it could make in light of the over-the-top outrage generated, mostly by Pakatan Rakyat leaders and its band of noxious supporters.

The MACC wobbled daily from the toxic Pakatan demonstrations, from the defiant rants at the MACC’s office immediately after the death was discovered to Teoh’s funeral that literally accused the agency of murder, negligence or brutality, whichever contention was convenient, when police have NOT concluded their investigations as to how and why Teoh died. No other plausible causes of death and motive were entertained by this mob. It fact, they emphatically dismissed alternative speculations, no matter how reasonable it sounded.

To cap the week of rage and antagonism that literally criminalised the MACC, Pakatan launched an online petition calling for the RCI’s formation. They were almost certain of getting a favourable Cabinet response but the hyperboles and sly pre-emption that senior Pakatan leaders discharged seemed to have given the appearance that the goading provoked the Cabinet into agreeing to the RCI.

The Cabinet would surely have gone ahead with the RCI initiative without the Pakatan’s instigation, seeing that senior coalition leaders within the Barisan Nasional ranks had strongly endorsed the setting up of the RCI, some even before DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang could parrot his all-time favourite bellowing. But let’s not be surprised that Pakatan would claim credit for their RCI ingenuity.

But the Pakatan leaders’ pressing for a RCI had a disingenuous purpose: several of their Selangor assemblymen, one of whom was accused of maintaining links with gangsters, were under scrutiny for alleged misuse of public funds, in which Teoh was sought by the MACC to provide helpful insights and vital documents as to how the abuse was being put into action. Now that the RCI on Teoh’s death is going to be institutionalised, how will this affect the investigations into the misuse of public funds?

Here’s how the script might flow: the Pakatan people will be nudged aside from the glare of suspicion by the elephantine centre of attention that steamrolls with a RCI examination. And there is no guarantee that investigations will resume once the RCI completes its business.
The only way to hold the momentum of the investigations into the Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen is that the RCI, in establishing its terms and references, embraces the MACC-Teoh element. This means all interview files, documents, statements, and that includes audio and video recordings, will be possessed and scrutinised by the RCI to surmise whether the misuse of funds had anything to do with Teoh’s death.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had just announced that this element will be present. Now anticipate the howls of protest, even if it makes sense to expand the scope of the RCI’s inquiry to include all possibilities. An inquest headed by a magistrate is also imminent to establish the forensics of his death.

The next phase of the RCI’s formation will assure a major disputation: the composition of RCI members. There are already demands that representatives from the Opposition be included. A name with a sagacious reputation cropped up - Tunku Abdul Aziz, the 75-year-old ex-Transparency International Malaysia’s founder. Too bad he can’t be in the RCI let alone chair it, simply because he is now a partisan party sycophant like any other party man or woman.
Again, sly pre-empts had been deployed. Then there’s the call that the composition of the RCI must consult Pakatan Rakyat. Another sly pre-empting ploy. All the Government need to do is put together a neutral team that has the consent of the King. That’s all.

Even before Najib had a chance to weigh in his options before today’s Cabinet meeting, he was already handed a “lost cause”, primarily from Lim Kit Siang who claimed the PM will lose credibility and wipe out his 65 percent approval rating if he does not authorise a RCI.

Fine. Now that Najib has announced the RCI’s formation, will Kit re-stamp the credibility factor back into Najib? Probably not. The last thing Kit wants to do is further inflate Najib’s approval rating. Kit will find other specious means to further pile the burden of attestation on Najib to prove that the RCI is “absolutely independent” and will do their job fearlessly.

This new RCI will be the third this decade, breaking a precedence of sorts when RCIs had been limited to two the most every 10 years since its advent in 1965. When it was first conceptualised, a RCI is supposed to look into issues of governance and administration - the 1965 RCI in reviewed public services salaries and conditions of service, then it looked into workings of local authorities in 1968 and explored the teaching services in 1971. But in 1988, the RCI’s character transformed as it began probing “unsavoury” aspects of life - accidents, deaths, catastrophe and tragedy, from the collapse of the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth (1988) to the religious school blaze that killed students in Yan, Kedah (1989) and Sungai Buloh’s Bright Sparklers factory explosion (1991).

Then the RCI went up close and personal in 1999, investigating the black eye suffered by Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody, which then Inspector-General of Police Rahim Noor took the rap for unleashing a blow on Anwar’s eye that triggered a profound consequence for the nation to last a generation.

The RCI returned to governance in 2004, the study of police reforms that invited a string of determined protests by the police themselves that seemed to scuttle the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission promised by the Abdullah administration in 2006.
Then the RCI opted for a form of “surrealism”: the infamous Lingam Video Clip commission in 2007 that became one of the many impetuses that tore down the fabric of Barisan Nasional state governments and bore a hole into the coalition’s ability to govern federally in March 2008.
What was that old cliché about being careful on what you wish for because it might come true? Pakatan Rakyat, the DAP especially, might be feeling too euphoric at the moment to think of this RCI’s implications but let’s play the devil’s advocate here: will Kit Siang and Co accept the verdict of the RCI no matter what kinds of findings surface?

If you are to base last week’s rampage of putting the blame solely on the MACC and implicating senior Government leaders, Pakatan Rakyat minions will insist no less than a guilty verdict, that some MACC perp pushed Teoh Beng Hock out of the 14th floor to his death for no reason other than wanting to torture the young man. But what if the RCI finds a less gruesome result, that Teoh died other than all the claims of murder and brutality put together? Will the Opposition swallow their brutish smugness and leave it at that?

The portentous inference to come out of Teoh’s RCI is that the inquiry serves to be an overkill that trivialises the institution and the causes it was constructed to oversee, primarily because it drags down the pride of law enforcement, making it harder for them to patrol the streets and maintain law and order. This, however, is not to excuse the law enforcement agencies, whose reputation has taken a severe flagellation in the past years over perceived incompetence so terrible that confidence in their ability to do their job is a hard sell.

What is entrenched now is the disturbing culture of being declared guilty first, more so for law enforcement agencies caught in the wrong side of public perception, before innocence has to be strenuously proven. And this crushes every basic principle of human rights in the face of mob fury. It gives a new meaning to lynching, Malaysian-style.


The following is Steadyaku47's rebuttal:

Online exclusive - NST

It is now 9.49pm and as is my habit - after the day is almost done – and with ‘Desperate Housewife’ on TV that means that I will have to go to my PC for alternative entertainment. After having a look through The Vision – Uganda’s leading website – I then went to NSTP online just so that I will not miss any earth shattering news and happenings that UMNO wants me to know. An online exclusive caught my eye.

DAILY DISPATCHES: They got their Royal Commission of Inquiry but will they stop their lynching?

IN ordering the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry today to probe the chary death of Teoh Boon Hock, the young DAP cadre whose body was found sprawled outside Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Shah Alam headquarters last week, the Cabinet committed the most pragmatic decision it could make in light of the over-the-top outrage generated, mostly by Pakatan Rakyat leaders and its band of noxious supporters.

Immedietly I had to go to the dictionary when I came across ‘chary’ in the very first paragraph. It meant ‘sorrowful’. Impressed I press on – this reporter can almost be mistaken for a writer!

The next sentence contained another ambigious word (to me) ‘cadre’ which according to Webster means ‘Cadre (pronounced /'kaːdre/, from the French) is the backbone of an organization, usually a political or military organization. Generally it is applied to a small core of committed and experienced people who are capable of providing leadership and of training newer members’
Again I am impressed. This reporter must be worth his weight in gold to his Editor. He has used ‘chary’ and ‘cadre’ in the very first paragraph of this online inclusive. Must have gone to the same learning instituition as that Ketua Pemuda fellow – aisehman I mean during his primary years lah.

Next came ‘pragmatic’ which I was quite familiar with having had to salute many a PDRM mata mata with a ‘boleh selesai encik’ – not because I want to but I had to be pragmatic.
A few seconds later I came across another hard one ‘noxious’ – morally harmful; corrupting; pernicious:

Morally harmful and corrupting being the operative word – words that this reporter should be familiar with when working for Political Masters who are not from Pakatan Rakyat.
Suffice to say that at this juncture I said enough. Who is he trying to impress? Chary, cadre, pragmatic and noxious ..and we are not even past the first paragraph. Sheesh (as my late fellow blogger The Ancient Mariner would say)…I have other things to do then go on reading this pretentious idiot piece. I rather go torture myself and watch ‘Desperate Housewife’ ….with one eye open and one eye close of course.


...and perhaps a more eloquent response from sincerely, malaysian heart which does make for a sort of "ABC of Journalism" and left the NST rather naked by tearing Azmi Anshar's "exclusive" to shreds:
Is This the Standard of Journalism Practiced by the New Straits Times?
(Disclosure: I am a member of Hartal MSM*, an advocacy group that calls for a Paper-free Tuesday -- "No buy, No lies")

  • Journalism's first obligation is to the truth.
  • Its first loyalty is to citizens.
  • Its essence is a discipline of verification.
  • Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  • It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  • It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  • It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
  • It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  • Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.

From "The Elements of Journalism": What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect

When a news organization's editorial policy is dictated by its owners, the quality of its journalism is often the first thing to go out the window (followed closely by its credibility, reputation and circulation figures). The general level of integrity and professionalism in our news media notwithstanding, I have to say that this "online exclusive" op-ed piece from the New Straits Times (22/7/09), entitled "They got their Royal Commission of Inquiry but will they stop their lynching?", is as egregious a case of journalistic misconduct as I have ever come across. Lest I be accused of making that claim just because I disagree with the article in question, please allow me share with you my reasons for saying so:

Monday 27 July 2009

Our Leaders Who Are Led

Further to my previous post which referred to Zaid Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, this piece by M. Bakri Musa sums up the situation about our so-called leaders Najib & Muhyiddin:

Leaders To Bring Us Together
M. Bakri Musa

In having to appoint a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) following the death of one of its witnesses, Prime Minister Najib clearly demonstrated his lack of leadership and inability to be in command of a rapidly evolving crisis. Essentially, events forced Najib’s hand; he was reacting, not leading.

Najib is not a leader, at least not the type Malaysia desperately needs today. His meteoric rise in the party and government is less an expression of talent, more the gratitude his party has for his late father. For his part, Najib has not shown any indication that he benefited from those splendid opportunities. On the contrary, like a spoiled child, those amenities merely indulged him.

Unfortunately for Najib, more so for the nation, there are no ‘training wheels’ to the Prime Minister’s office.

Najib’s deputy Muhyyuddin is in the same kampong league. Earlier, Muhyyuddin dismissed calls for a royal commission, insisting that the police and the MACC are quite capable of undertaking the investigations. It reflected his low standing in the cabinet that many, including fellow UMNO minister Rais Yatim, pointedly pushed for the setting up of the commission. Even the lowly UMNO Youth leader did not share Muhyyuddin’s faith in the police and MACC.

Consider a different scenario. If upon his return from his Middle East trip, Najib had summoned his Home Minister Hishammuddin and the Director of MACC for an immediate briefing. They of course would not be able to give a coherent explanation. Whereupon Najib would at a press conference announce his directing the MACC to put the involved officers on immediate administrative leave pending a full independent investigation.

Had Najib done that, with his commanding baritone voice, he would have projected an image of a decisive leader who was on top of the situation. He would also put an immediate end to the current ugly spectacle of an unfortunate death degenerating into a polarizing political and increasingly racial issue.

As senior statesman Tengku Razaleigh noted, there have been too many deaths while under custody, and Teoh Beng Hock’s demise marks a watershed in the attitude of the public towards the government, setting a new low. This essence is missed by many in the government.

The ordering of a coroner’s inquest or Royal Commission should have been an executive decision; Najib does not need to involve his cabinet. The cabinet should be deliberating substantive issues, like how to make our economy competitive or reform our rotting education system.

Najib should have learned how his late father handled the national tragedy of the May 1969 race riot. Tun Razak stood in front of the cameras and in a solemn voice and serious demeanor announced the immediate imposition of martial law and a “shoot to kill” order for the police and military. He struck a reassuring and take-charge image, in stark contrast to the hapless weeping Tengku Abdul Rahman, who was then Prime Minister.

The world may condemn him as a dictator or worse, but there was no disputing that Tun Razak established law and order quickly. To put that in perspective, the modern flare up of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland began at about the same time as our 1969 riot.Today, while to most Malaysians that nightmare is but a dim distant memory, the folks in Northern Ireland are still busy settling old scores.

The evolving public furor over Teoh’s death shows every sign of continuing its destructive downward spiral, fed by racist opportunists of all flavors and colorations, with Najib on the sideline reacting and not leading.

What stunned me were not the responses of the bigoted and uneducated; their chauvinistic views were expected and perhaps excusable because of their ignorance. It would be too much to expect them to have a perspective beyond their clan or kampong.To them this crisis is nothing more than yet another ethnic Chinese-Malaysian victimized by Malay officialdom, or the belligerent Chinese not missing an opportunity to mock Malays.

What took me back instead were the responses of those ‘educated’ ministers and leaders. They just could not comprehend the public outrage over the MACC’s interviewing a ‘friendly’ witness into the wee hours of the morning and who would later be found dead outside its premises. Perhaps those civil servants were trying to impress the public on how diligent and hard working they were in attending to their duties! If that was how MACC’s personnel treated their ‘friendly and cooperative’ witness, I shudder to think the reception a suspect would get.

Far from expressing condolences to the poor bereaved family, these ministers went on to impute evil motives on the victim and those who were outraged by the needless tragedy. How would these ministers feel if it was their son who had been victimized?Don’t they have any empathy?

To their credit Najib Razak and his Women’s Affairs Minister Sharizat Jalil did convey their condolences to the family of the deceased. The two were the exceptions. Najib was even thoughtful enough to send his personal representative to the funeral. The vulgar behaviors of the others, especially Muhyyuddin, were eagerly picked up by the toadying commentators and columnists in the mainstream media. They fueled the fire.

In seeking answers and justice to this cruel death, we must refrain from injecting additional unnecessary and divisive elements. The case is complicated enough; there is no need to inject or impute extraneous factors. As The Star columnist and law professor Azmi Sharom rightly observed, people are angry over the needless death of a young Malaysian, not a young ethnic Chinese, and what they perceive as the abuse of power by MACC officers, not the abuse of power by Malay officers.

We need to mobilize the masses to this injustice. We are a democracy and public opinion matters. Thus far public outrage has caused the cabinet to set up the Royal Commission, but that is not enough. Without continued public pressure the commission’s findings would suffer the same fate as befell the Police Commission and the one investigating the so-called Lingam Tape. Nothing happens. We need continued public pressure so the coroner’s inquest and the Royal Commission would be conducted openly and transparently, their findings readily available.

There is an art to mobilizing public opinion, and I am not attuned to its many subtleties. However, I do know that many share my disappointment that at one public rally over Teoh’s death most of the speakers were unable to convey their outrage in our national language. Many were young and presumably born and raised in Malaysia, yet they were unable, unwilling or uncomfortable to speak in our national language. That is definitely not the way to go about seeking broad public support.

I was similarly unimpressed with the rallying cry of HINDRAF, Makkal sakthi (People Power). That would be fine to gain public support in Kerala, but if it is fellow Malaysians you wish to influence, then you had better articulate your arguments in our national language.HINDRAF would have converted a few more to it cause had it substituted its slogan with Kuasa Rakyat.

Being a plural society Malaysia faces many challenging and continuing centrifugal forces threatening to rip it apart. We need leaders who must recognize this grim reality and then mobilize countervailing forces that would bring us together. We need leaders who would view our diversity not as a liability but an asset, and a valuable one at that.

Unfortunately his much-touted slogan of “1Malaysia” notwithstanding, Najib Razak is not that kind of a leader. Neither is his deputy Muhyyuddin Yassin. Instead, we need leaders the caliber of Tengku Razaleigh, Anwar Ibrahim and Zaid Ibrahim. The challenge for Malaysia is to make sure that they prevail.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Zaid Son Of Ibrahim

I have blogged about this son of also an Ibrahim numerous times. Now that he is out of UMNO and has joined PKR, his words are even more unfettered. We will surely hear more of him in time to come.

Looking at the way
the signs are appearing, that other son of an Ibrahim, Anwar will probably lose his sodomy case and get thrown into jail again before 2013. Zaid would be a good rallying point if that happens as I do not see anyone in the PKR ranks with the standing nor gumption. It was with great insight and foresight that he openly invited Tengku Razaleigh to join him in PKR. Whilst TRH has politely and graciously declined his invitation, I believe he has not shut the door to possible cooperation later. I think these boys from Kelantan will be formidable for Pakatan Rakyat. "Hidup Ketuanan Rakyat! Hidup Bangsa Malaysia!"

I wonder whether that keris wielding Ox-fart, KJ attended when Zaid spoke at The Oxbridge Malaysia Dinner Dialogue Series that was hosted by the Oxford & Cambridge Society, Malaysia.

Date: Thursday, 9th of July 2009. Venue: Bankers’ Club, Kuala Lumpur.

The Preservation of Democracy and the Rule of Law in Malaysia

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your invitation for me to speak today. When I accepted your kind offer, I was ‘party-less’. But things have now changed. I have drawn my line in the sand. And I have chosen sides. Today, I am a proud member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

Today I am persuaded by the argument that for Malaysia to have democracy and the Rule of Law, we must have a new government; a viable inclusive government of the people; a government for all Malaysians. Today I am dedicated to the cause of securing the success of Parti Keadilan and Pakatan Rakyat, and ensuring that it galvanises the best talents and ideas to form a robust alternative Malaysian political force to lead the nation, to deliver true integration and nationhood.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This country was established as a secular multicultural and multi-religious democracy ala the Westminster model. The Constitution however provides for a special position for the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. They unfortunately omitted to include the Orang Asli in this special category, although they were naturally the first original inhabitants of this country. All they got was a Jabatan Orang Asli. The special provisions for Bumiputras under Article 153 do not make them more special than other citizens, for the fighters of independence did not envisage an Orwellian society where some are more equal than others. The acceptance of equality of rights as citizens is central to the success of our Malaysian journey.

When the PM announced his 1 Malaysia slogan, I asked if that meant he would make a declaration that all Malaysians are equal. The answer was not forthcoming till today. All he said was rights must be understood in the context of responsibilities. Another fuzzy reply. When critics asked if 1 Malaysia meant that the cultural characteristics of the diverse racial groups would be assimilated to a new design called 1 Malaysia, he quickly denied that it was an assimilation plan. So therefore I assume that 1 Malaysia is an affirmation of the rights of ALL the citizens under the Constitution, an affirmation of the multicultural and multi- religious nature of our country; and that the principles of Rukun Negara will continue to be the mainstay of our society.

My detractors say that my views are fodder for the egos and insecurities of those who detest the constitutional position of the Malays. They say I work too hard at being a Malaysian and by doing so, have forgotten my roots and responsibilities to the Malays. And that no right thinking Malay, who truly understands what is at stake, would ever support me. I know my heritage, I know my humble beginnings, and I know my roots and my responsibilities as a Malay. They are wrong. To them, let me say this.

UMNO — being hidden in a cave for so long and concealed from the real world — have almost abandoned the idea of a shared and common nationhood. They believe that for so long as the MCA and the MIC remain with them as partners of convenience, that is sufficient to build a nation. They think it’s sufficient to forge a new nation by electoral arrangements. The MCA and the MIC also think it’s sufficient for nationhood if they remain business partners of UMNO.

A new united Malaysia can only come true when UMNO changes and abandons racial politics and the politics of racial hegemony. Or, when the Malays can be made to understand that patronage, authoritarianism and nationalist extremism, which underpins UMNO’s style of leadership, does more harm to the community and the country than good. That Malays themselves must break from the shackles of narrow nationalism so that they may realise self-actualisation and emancipation. The first is difficult to achi

Let me now get into the subject of the speech by giving you an understanding about how UMNO ticks. This, to me, is critical in order for you to appreciate what hope we have for the preservation of the Rule of Law and Democracy in Malaysia.

At the heart of UMNO’s philosophy on leadership is a conviction that there is an inherent, almost ‘divine’ right to retain power at all costs. This is so for two reasons: Firstly, because they assume that they are the only political force, by way of Barisan Nasional, to offer a workable power-sharing leadership of this nation.

And secondly, because they believe that the Malay hegemony that UMNO maintains is necessary to prevent the Malays from becoming marginalised. It is these beliefs that are at the centre of UMNO’s self-indulgent sense of indispensability and self-importance that is today causing them to steer the nation to an authoritarian rule. It is this sense of self-importance that is accountable for the authoritarianism in leadership and government. It is this that has helped justify in their minds their right to quell anyone who threatens the status quo, whether it be a group of politicians or activists protesting against abuses in government, or a group of Indians protesting against their treatment and lack of opportunities, or a previous deputy prime-minister who was no longer in step with the ‘Big Boss’. It does not matter. Self-preservation demands expedience at all costs to resolve any impending threat.

But there is more. Since the hegemony is protected by policies that benefit the elites and other powerful forces, this sense of self-importance becomes even more dangerous. Because it justifies why real checks and balances against governmental abuses can be done away with. It justifies trampling on fundamental safeguards in the Federal Constitution in the last 20 years.

But there is more. If you are on the cause of preserving the rights of the elites, the oligarchs, then it brings you no shame to have a former UMNO lawyer as Chief Justice; in fact, you become proud of that achievement. Even if the Attorney General had committed many errors in the discharge of his functions and duties, a well-known fact amongst the legal fraternity, you will not change him; nor would you change the Chief Of Police despite so many reports of transgressions committed by him. All for the ‘Malay cause’ they would say! And if you are on the Bench writing your judgement on the Perak fiasco; you can tailor it to suit your master’s political interests, and you will be lauded for that. The ‘Malay Cause’ is everything. The Constitution can wait; sound legal reasoning can wait, justice can wait.

But there is more.

Many in UMNO see the hegemony as a ‘be all and end all’, with the power sharing between component parties as being a means to an end. Ketuanan Melayu, a mantra of Malay supremacy, has gained ground instead of receding over time. More accurately it is Ketuanan Elit Melayu as the majority of the Malays have found out to their dismay.

What is the price that we ultimately pay as a nation, if this pernicious doctrine is embraced by many? Clearly to start with, we would continue to be cursed with a non-transparent government without the capability of functioning in a way that respects the rule of law. We will be cursed by having laws that oppress, that curtail and suffocate the basic freedoms of the people. We now have a set of rules for the elites and one for the rakyat, one for Barisan Nasional and one for Pakatan Rakyat.

If the public believes that the government is not beholden to a set of commonly revered values and principles, and its actions are tainted by racial biases, there will continue to be physical and emotional segregation of communities, regardless of how may times we change the slogans to break such divisiveness. The notion of creating a free and democratic Malaysia therefore becomes unachievable.

The ultimate price that the country suffers from the present political culture is that the Malays and non-Malays will continue to be denied a sense of ownership of Malaysia’s nation-building journey. And instead of become partners in this voyage to mature nationhood they continue to bicker and remain suspicious and distrustful of one another. Because of this segregation, the government is unable to set a new direction of the country. Because of racial polarization the people are not ready to accept a multiracial dimension of this country. As a result, we are not able to enact or even discuss comprehensive national policies whether it is regarding the police, education or judicial and civil service reforms .The distrust of the communities will prevent objective appraisals and solutions to the problems. Ethnic interests take precedence over national interests. National interests become a strange and fearful concept. And there will continue to be a brain drain of Malaysian talents who would have decided that they would rather make their home elsewhere. This is a high price that the country can ill-afford to pay given the increasingly challenging global outlook.

Authoritarianism, patronage, and nationalist extremism from any quarter destroy the key ingredients necessary for the Malaysian community to really build on and retain that wealth and knowledge. Competitiveness and true economic and scholastic success, is a function of instilling in the hearts and minds of beneficiaries a set of new behaviours, around the capacity and desire to take personal accountability, to trust one another, to be achievement oriented, to develop a sense of curiousity, a sense a solidarity that go beyond your own ethnic clans and groups; so that together, we are to be able to build this country. We must do away with unprincipled politics, with Machiavellian methods, but instead seek to change with reforms that encourage the development of a viable democracy and a prosperous country for all.

The government says it hopes to amend up to 33 laws, which involve discretionary powers to the Home minister, beginning with the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA), in the next Parliament session. Let’s hope and see if this will bear fruit. Authoritarianism in government will continue albeit in a different guise, unless the whole of the ISA, Official Secrets Act, The Sedition Act and similar such laws are abolished. This would be an example of good governance. However, authoritarian policies will most likely continue while corruption is rampant, when the elites need protection from their misdeeds. Najib will not be able to change any of these.

Perak State Government

The whole cloak and dagger story of intrigue about the overthrow of the Pakatan Rakyat government gave rise to much suspicion about Najib’s style, well before he took office. He could have allayed the fears that he would not be one to resort to under-the-belt tactics in his leadership, by calling for fresh elections. Najib’s unwillingness to dissolve the Perak Assembly has gotten the country deeper into a political quagmire. By doing so he will also help the Federal Court judges from having to come up with a convoluted legal reasoning, like that of the Court of Appeal, to please the Prime Minister.

Malay Unity Talk

This is again Najib’s idea to strengthen himself. If PAS were to support UMNO under the guise of a unity government, a viable alternative to Barisan Nasional at the next elections will be seriously undermined. Najib wanted the internal difficulties between Pakatan Rakyat parties to continue and fester as the mainstream media went full steam ahead to ensure Pakatan’s demise. Let me assure you that that such a scenario will not happen. Pakatan will only get stronger. Pakatan has its weaknesses but we do not have the culture of hegemony. We do not suppress dissent. Hence you will hear of occasional disagreements. You will hear of occasional flare-ups; but PAS, Keadilan and DAP are committed to finding ways to strengthen their partnership. They will not break up. Instead, they will form a formidable coalition that will be ready to provide an alternative government to the people.

Today, Malaysians are suffering the deleterious effect of a stagnating world economy, and the GDP will contract by 4.4 per cent according to the World Bank. FDI’s continue to fall, while talent is being lost. The standard of education and the skill sets, including the command of English, necessary for the work force to remain globally competitive continues to fall. Now after spending billions on teaching Science and Maths in English in the last 6 years, the Government has announced the reversal of the policy effective 2012. One wonders if the farcical National Service programme, which is neither a national service nor an educational programme will be scrapped too. .

Crimes and home security issues have increased since 2003 and these remain major concerns of the people. In the 1998 case of Anwar Ibrahim, allegations by the investigating officer himself of tampering with evidence by the IGP and the AG have not been answered satisfactorily. Of course the government had formed a certain panel comprising three ex-judges deliberating in a secret place. Not surprisingly the Panel cleared them. The findings of the Royal Commission in the Lingam case have not been acted upon in satisfactory manner. And many high profile cases reported to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) remain unattended. Such is the state of the Rule of Law in Malaysia. Will Najib attend to these issues? Certainly not.

All he can do is to announce the scrapping of some outdated policies that he had little choice but to do it anyway, as part of the demands of the international and ASEAN trade agreements. After decades of the NEP, the 30% equity requirement in companies listed amongst the 27 services sub-sectors are taken away. Also, the Foreign Investment Committee regulating investments in Malaysia, have been scrapped. The reasoning of the government, which is disputed by many Malays, is that the Bumiputra participation in the relevant services sub-sectors are satisfactory and hence the removal of the quota requirement. Whilst the move has made Najib popular in the short term, it will come back to haunt him. Economics and social justice require him to address the larger question of disparities in income of the rakyat. The plight and grievances of ordinary people will not be redressed by one or two populist policies.

On the question of the preservation of the Rule of Law and Democracy, he did nothing and probably will continue to do nothing. He should have acted as if he has only 100 days before his reign comes to an end. He should have embraced Roosevelt’s dictum, ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself’, and embarked on far reaching policies to give back judicial power to the Courts, to give back integrity, trust and respectability to governmental institutions like the Police, the Attorney General’s Office, the Election Commission; that of which Malaysia desperately needs. In doing so he can show the people he was prepared to sacrifice his neck if that is required of him.

He should not have started the Perak debacle but since it had already got under way, he should have had the courage to win back the support of the people by allowing for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly. Instead of embarking on the inane idea of UMNO-PAS unity — confirming the suspicion that he is like his Deputy who only understands UMNO-PAS unity at the expense of everything else — Najib should have called for a national debate amongst all leaders of major political parties for a serious discussion on key and core values for the country.

The problems in our country are not race or religion based, but BN has worked very hard to make them so. It’s always about the Rakyat against the elites or the powerful oligarchs that run and control the country’s institutions and wealth. The Rakyat, for too long have becomes pawns in this political game where the race and religious issues are being played out to divide them.

Najib should have started his administration with pushing through a Race Relations Act that will punish racism and racist speeches and writings from all quarters, even if it’s from leaders of his own party and from Utusan Malaysia. The single greatest impediment to Malaysians being united and working together for the common good, is racist politics in Malaysia. Racism here is not the same kind that the Anglo Saxon whites have over blacks and coloureds (or vice versa) for many years. It’s not the apartheid kind of racism where whites generally believe they are superior to blacks and coloureds in genetics and all spheres of life. Our racism is driven more by ethnic distrust and ethnic rivalry for the economic cake. They are mainly economic and cultural in nature, based on the fear that the wealth of the country will be taken away by the Chinese, and vice versa. But it’s just as divisive and dangerous. It refers to both institutionalised racism and those exhibited by individuals. Malaysia needs to combat this problem because it’s particularly acute. Because we have three major races that did not have the luxury of time for natural assimilation or the time to gel and live in harmony, we need legislation and governmental support to push through the unity factors and manage the divisive factors found in the community.

To bring about a truly united 1 Malaysia, our PM must not always refer to the deprivation of the Malays suffered under the British. No amount of wallowing of the past can change history, nor can we just tell the Chinese and the Indians how grateful they should be for events taking place 100 years ago. Equally, he cannot just be happy that he has the MCA and MIC taking care of the non-Malays. He has to do more to make sure the non-Malays are equally responsible and generous with the Malays. Will they open their businesses to the Malays? Will they give credit on the same terms they do to their own clans?

But at the same time the people, including the Malays, must be convinced that democracy and a functioning bureaucracy is good for them. That they have a better chance of realizing their potentials and benefiting from their rights and privileges under a government that respects just laws. They must resist corruption by all means at their disposal. The notion of Bangsa Malaysia will not detract or take away anything from them, but instead they become a part of a larger and more diverse community where they too can experience the generousity, beauty, strength, and richness of Malaysian cultures. They will benefit from the solidarity of people from all walks of life, and their worldview will change to make them stronger and more confident of themselves.

A PM of this country must not succumb to the idea that force and repression will prevail over the people’s will. The PM of this country must not suffer from the delusion that the Police, the Army, the Courts, the Election Commission and the Attorney General could strike fear in the hearts of the people to the extent that they will retreat. No leader in ancient and modern times has survived the outrage of the masses. Today we have witnessed a new sense of outrage; outrage against the abuse of power, against inequality, outrage against the continued persecution of Anwar Ibrahim, and outrage against the policies of divide and rule.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The winds of change have never blown so strong. Today, the rakyat has spoken and they want their voices heard. They want a new beginning, so that this country, which we all call home, will be transformed into a dynamic, open and vibrant democratic sanctuary. A sanctuary where we live without fear of police harassment, without fear of wearing black or yellow, without fear of detention without trial, without the nausea of reading newspapers whose editors have to toe the line to keep the papers alive. We will make this country such that we have room and space for all of us to have our dreams and hopes come true.

But the window of opportunity has opened for one central reason. And that is because the people now have a choice; between the establishment that has led the country over the last 50 years, or a viable alternative in Pakatan Rakyat that can inclusively carry the hopes and aspirations of all Malaysians, no matter they be Malay, Chinese or Indian. For without this alternative, the self indulgent and delusional sense of self-importance of UMNO and its cohorts in Barisan Nasional will continue to impose itself.

No doubt, Keadilan is a new party, and Pakatan Rakyat is in its infancy, and the coming together of different political parties to find a common thread with which to build meaningful solidarity to work together, is a long and arduous journey. Let us not kid ourselves. Many challenges lie ahead to make it a truly viable alternative political force to Barisan Nasional and acceptable choice to all Malaysians. And the traps and snares to trip up this fledgling alternative are being laid everywhere; the Unity talks being just one.

My colleagues and I in Pakatan Rakyat must be cautious, and yet courageous, patient yet purposeful, tolerant yet principled, to ensure that Pakatan Rakyat steers clear of these traps, and that we build a truly robust and secure alternative from which the electorate can choose to form government. We must desist from any temptation to go back to the ways of the past, in which opposition parties represent their own narrow factional interests, only to grant a walkover victory to the status quo.

At for Parti Keadilan Rakyat, it must soldier on come what may, as a party that will protect the people regardless of race and ethnicity. The Special position of the Bumiputras and Islam as mandated by the Constitution will be honoured but will do so in an open transparent manner; as a democratic multiracial party that observes the Rule of Law will be obliged to do. Keadilan will not champion racial politics and will not seek racial hegemony. We are a lot more humble than UMNO. But we will be fearless in the defence of the rights of the Rakyat against powerful oligarchs and vested interest groups. We will make the public institutions in this country respectable and full of integrity. These institutions will regain the respect and the trust of the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We do not live in a world of black and white. We live in a world full of different colours, shades and textures. No truer is this than in Malaysia. I can stand here and tell you of my immense sense of pride and affection in being a Malaysian, just as I can do the same about being Malay. And I believe that we all are just as capable of feeling that way about being Malaysian, and yet similarly proud of being Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban, no matter who we are.

And it is this mix of seemingly conflicting values, which when blended and tempered with courage, tolerance, good faith, and framed by universally held moral and civic values, that makes the canvas of Malaysia so rich, so powerful and so full of potential. Let us preserve this living piece of art, and ensure that it continues to beautify and enrich our personal lives, as private citizens.

For if we fail, then the providence with which we are blessed today to make a breakthrough change, will disappear as quickly as it came, and we will be back to square one. Our future and that of our children and their children, depends on our success. Failure is not an option. God favours the brave.

Thank You.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Now Will You Quit!?!

Dr Lim Teck Ghee's of the Centre For Policy Initiatives directed an open letter to the 41 members of the various MACC Advisory Boards listed below. The letter is reproduced after the aforementioned list for non-subscribers of Malaysiakini where it was first posted.

Dr Lim's message to the 41 is basically one thing; " the right thing now-resign!"

Najib just announced a load of crap. Well, you want a Royal Commission? He gave you one! He also gave Teoh Beng Hock a magistrate! A mere magistrate for an inquest to determine how he died because his death does not deserve a Royal Commission...the RC is only to "...look into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's investigative procedures and to determine if there were any human right violations when Teoh Beng Hock was being interrogated."

The way I see it, the Cabinet is telling the 41 Advisory Board members they have not been "advising" properly so now we need a RC to do it for them! This particularly applies to the Operations Review Panel whose members are Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil, Cecil Abraham, Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff, Walter Sandosam, Aminah Pit Abd Raman, Md Hamzah Md Kassim, and Dr Syed Noh Syed Ahmad. Were these people sent to HK to study the operations of the ICAC on tax payers' money? I sometimes wonder about people who consent to sit on "esteemed" advisory boards; are they there because of advocacy or merely to enhance their own standing.

As for the rabid dog called MACC? Looks like it is excusable to be misguided as to the investigative procedures used...after all most MACC officers were from the Police and they do not know better! What about the ICAC model that the MACC was supposed to follow? Read Citizen Nades here.

So? To the should have heeded the Dr's advice to resign. If you had done so before today's "Cabinet decision", you would still have walked away with honor. Now? Just go lah! The government has just labled you as being no different from the interrogators of TBH! The blood is on your hands too.

Anti-Corruption Advisory Board members

Abdul Hamid Mohamad
Amar Hamid Bugo
Dr Mohd Kamal Hassan
Mohamed Jawhar Hassan
Simon Sipaun
Zaiton Zawiyah Puteh
Rashpal Singh Jeswant Singh
Yong Poh Kon
Anwar Fazal
Dr Khoo Kay Kim
Chelvarajah Ramasamy Reddiar

Special committee on corruption

Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad
Razali IbrahimAbdul Rahman Dahlan
Dr Tan Seng Giaw
Salahuddin Ayub
Zamri Yusuf
Armani Mahirudin

Complaints committee

Mohd Nor Abdullah
Muhammad Mohd Noor
Wan Abdul Wahab Abdullah
Chooi Mun Sau
Ravindran V Muthu

Operations review panel

Dr Hadenan Abdul Jalil
Cecil Abraham
Nik Mohd Hasyudeen Yusoff
Walter Sandosam
Aminah Pit Abd Raman
Md Hamzah Md Kassim
Dr Syed Noh Syed Ahmad

Corruption consultation and prevention panel

Ramon Navaratnam
Dr Abdul Rahman Embong
Dr Zainal Abidin Abdul Majid
David Chua
Wong Chun Wai
Kamaruddin Zakaria
Nordin Kardi
Prof Dr Ishak Tambi Kechik
Azman Ujang
Anis Yusal Yusoff
Robert Phang Miow Sin


Dr Lim Teck Ghee's Open Letter

Dear honourable men and women of the MACC advisory board, committee and panels,

A young and promising life was snuffed out too early and in the most unacceptable and suspicious of circumstances. It happened under your watch in the MACC.

I am not sure whether you are fully aware of the extent of public outrage that this tragic death has provoked. It is an outpouring which cuts across all groups and communities.

Much of this outpouring has been expressed over the blogs and websites. As usual, the mainstream media has not fully reported on the public revulsion and anger.

Just as important to note is that many Malaysians have lost faith in the MACC. It is not only the MACC that they have no confidence in. It is also the so-called watchdog advisory board, committees and panels - which you are all members of - that the public has expressed strong and negative feelings towards.

I myself have lost faith with the MACC and I must also declare here, with the advisory bodies which you are members of.

I know some of you personally – a few for many years now. Because you are honourable people and had good intentions when you agreed to serve, I strongly feel that the only way for you to redeem that lost honour and integrity when Teoh Beng Hock died under the custody of the MACC, is for you all to resign en bloc.

I know that it may prove difficult for you to resign all alone by yourself given the long and vindictive reach of our political authorities in dealing with individual dissent.

But as a group, that decision to resign should be a lot easier.Not only will you redeem that lost honour and integrity when you resign but your decision will – in my view – impact positively on the political consciousness of the nation at large.

With your decision, we can console ourselves that during this period of finger pointing and blame deflecting, there is a group of leaders that is willing to shoulder responsibility personally when things they are entrusted with go horribly wrong.

I hope you realise that it cannot be business as usual for the MACC advisory bodies. These bodies have lost that credibility and the public trust which is crucial in carrying out the mission of reform they were entrusted with.

For now, much of public perception is that the MACC's Advisory Board, Special Committee on Corruption, Complaints Committee, Operations Review Panel and the Corruption Consultation and Prevention Panel are merely serving as fig leaves attempting to cover up or justify the political agenda of an untrustworthy and disreputable agency. [See list above]

The longer you stay as members of the MACC advisory board, panels and committees, the more you risk your good name.

Retaining ties with MACC is to condone its unacceptable practices which have resulted in a tragic death. Decency calls that you consult your conscience and sever these ties immediately.Do the right thing now – please resign.