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Friday, September 28, 2007

Why Malaysia MUST CHANGE

Malaysia MUST CHANGE, not only for my first grandson and the generations after us (descendants of all citizens of this country, not only me), but also for those who are milking the country. Why?

Malaysia currently have oil money, so irrespective of the squandering of funds, Malaysia can continue as usual. But it is predicted that Malaysia will become a net importer of by 2010. That is a very short time frame, and when that happens, and the squandering continues, what will happen to our country?

Further, other emerging economies are becoming more competitive and will likely overtake us. What will happen to our economy then minus the oil money plus having to face stiffer competitions? Previously, we can afford to squander but with such a new scenario and a globalised world, can the situation continue without problem minus the cushion and luxury of oil money? The influential and the powerful may continue to amass wealth for themselves while the poor gets poorer. But when too many find it impossible to survive, what do you think they will do? Study history and you will find what happened to countries in such a situation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Long March for Justice

The Malaysia Bar Council organised a March for Justice for Wednesday, 26 September from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister Department in Putrajaya to petition the Prime Minister for a thorough Investigation of the VK Lingkam tape regarding the fixing of judges and to halt (and reverse?) the rot in the Malaysian Judiciary, the third and very important pillar of democracy. This is the video that triggered the March:



The video showed a person which looked remarkably like a senior lawyer, VK Lingam apparently talking to a judge whom many say is the current Chief Justice, Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz from the context of the conversation. The person in the video which is said to be taken in 2002 mentioned fixing of judges appointments, award of title. The "coincidences" of the appointments of the judges mentioned plus the fact that Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz never directly denied he was the judge on the other end of the line, but after days of silence, sent a fax "no comments" to the Bar Council and chose to deny it via his "Minister", (apparently neither of them understand the meaning of separation of power and check and balance) and the rich businessman, Vincent Tan mentioned in the post also did not make any denial, cause one to think that the conversation was genuine. Sometimes, action (or non-action) can speak louder than words.

They chartered 7 buses to take Bar members and I found out from an email from Haris Ibrahim on the night before the planned March that the public can join. I immediately decided I will join the march to lend my support. I started from my house at 7am, took the LRT to Masjid Jamek and walked to Dataran Merdeka. I was the first there. We started off at just after 10am.

There is the first obstacle, a road block preventing the buses from entering Putrajaya:

March for Justice by Malaysia Bar Council, road block

The leaders negotiated with the police and they allowed us to march (on foot) to Putrajaya, so a short 300 meter march became a long 5 km. plus 300m March for Justice. I don't know if the authorities who ordered the buses to be stopped caused the marchers inconveniences for hardship, but I thank them for this excuse for much needed exercise plus the vital Vitamin D from the sunshine.

Here is a photo of the marchers getting their caps, badges, banners, fans and message "Free the Judiciary" printed on A4 paper to get ready for the unplanned 5 km Long March for Justice:

getting ready for the unplanned 5 km March for Justic

Here are photos of the banner bearers leading the unplanned Long March for Justice and the procession from head to tail:

banner bearers leading the Long March for Justice



I only had on a long sleeve white white plus black pants, but the Bar members (lawyers) had on their heavy black coat. It took us an estimated 1 hour to reach the Palace of Justice where the rest of the marchers were waiting. We received a thunderous round of applause from those who drove in their own cars and their passengers when we arrived at at about 11.30am.

Here is a photo of the 2,000 plus strong marchers in front of the Palace of Justice with the majority of Bar members (in black coats) and supporters in front of the Palace of Justice:

participants of the March of Justice at the stairs leading the Palace of Justice

The Chairman of the Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan started off with a speech: "Lawyers don't walk everyday. Not even every month. But when they walk, then something must be very wrong," said Chairman of the Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan when addressing a strong crowd of more than 2,000 members of the Malaysian Bar and some concerned citizens at the Palace of Justice before the commencement of the walk to the Prime Minister's office to hand over the Bar's memorandum urging the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the state of judiciary and memorandum on the establishment of a judicial appointments and promotion commission."

After the speech, the march started off at about 11.45am. Here is a photo of the beginning of the March of Justice to the Prime Minister Department:

start of the March of Justice from the Palace of Justice to the Prime Minister Department

There were chants of "Who are we?" and "What do we want?" led by Amer with a loud hailer and these were answered with roars of "Malaysia Bar" and "Justice". The funny one was "We are doing this for the sake of the country" answered with shouts of "correct, correct, correct", mimicking VK Lingam frequent use of the repetitive response in the now infamous VK Lingam video.

There were FRU (Federal Reserve Unit) trucks along the way and here is a photo of some of them with one taking a video of us while I took a photo of them:

FRU (Federal Reserve Unit) trucks

There were also plenty of policemen. We were not intimated.

Finally a row of helmeted FRU (Federal Reserve Unit) policemen at the beginning of the staircase to the Prime Minister Department blocked our way to the building when we arrived at about 12.30pm, and we stopped there.

Photo by Haris Ibrahim, Human Rights lawyer


Bar Concil office bearers, Ambiga, Vice-President Raguanth Kesavan, Secretary Lim Chee Wee and Treasurer George Varughese then proceeded on to the Prime Minister's office to hand over two memoranda to the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary. The first memorandum called for a royal commission of inquiry to be set up to examine the claims made in the video clip, as well as the state of the judiciary while the second memorandum urged the establishment of a judicial appointments commission for the appointment and promotion of judges.

The rest stay behind chanting away in support of the four-man delegation. Here are some banners to declare what the Bar Council are demanding for:

Clean up the Judiciaryno to corruptionstop the patronage, stop the rot
Clean up the JudiciaryNo to corruptionStop the patronage, stop the rot


A short while after, the sky started pouring. But even the heavy rain did not dampened the spirit. This is a day the Malaysians should be proud of the Malaysian Bar and their members who marched under the hot sun and endured the searing heat of the blazing sun in their black suits plus pouring rain.

When the office bearers returned, the Chairman of the Bar Council, Ambiga Sreenevasan started off with another speech saying the government have started an investigation and should be supported as a first step, but I shouted "I don't agree. They are only investigating the authencity of the tape". Anyway, after the end of the speech, we dispersed and I want to the waiting buses which surprisingly were allowed in to the nearby car park. At least the authorities have some heart.

We were dropped off at Dataran Merdeka, and a kind 70 year-old man from Sabah kindly shared an umbrella with me and we and Tan Ban Cheng, a Penang lawyer who came all the way to Kuala Lumpur to join the march, went to the corner coffee shop in front of the Malaysia Bar Council and Medan Pasar for a drink. We had a nice long chat about various matters.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should non-Muslims in Malaysia have a say regarding Malaysia becoming an Islamic state?

This post is a response to Friday Special: Rights of non-Muslim in an Islamic state which in turn was a post published in response to my comment in the above blog which was reproduced verbatim in that post. First, I would like to thank Malay Women in Malaysia for being willing to engage in discussions about Islam with a non-Muslim unlike many others who would suppress discussions as they say non-Muslim do not know Islam and therefore have no right to talk about Islam. I have followed the links given in that post and now I think I am ready to respond.

It was educational. At least now in addition to knowing the people of the book are referred to as dhimmis in an Islamic state, I now know the rest are called thimmies (also referred to as Ahl Zimmi?) and the the tax paid by non-Muslims is called jizyah. If the site that discussed this issue is accurate, my misconception that non-Muslim cannot serve in the military is wrong for a non-Muslim may opt to serve in the military and is then not obligated to pay jizyah (but see my comment below regarding services in the military). However, I cannot find any reference to what happen in that case. Would that non-Muslim be obliged to pay zakat or escape paying any tax at all?

The second link perhaps answered this question. In a reply to a question about Muslim paying the taxes in the United Kingdom, the response was it is permissible for a government to impose taxes to pay for the public sectors and common welfare. So I would suppose in an Islamic state, in addition to jizyah and zakat, there could also be taxes like Income Tax, sales tax, service tax, etc.

The third link addressed the rights of non-Muslims in an Islamic state: "Muslims and Zimmis have the same rights and are subject to the same obligations in the Muslim country, but there are exceptions. Zimmi is not allowed to be the president of the Muslim state or even to be leaders in army or judges among Muslims (condensed)." In essence, the second part negate the first part as the second part imply that non-Muslim DO NOT have the same right. If anybody do not agree with this statement, please put your arguments in the comments.

Further, serving in the military have many implications. In the military, you are to obey without questions. This mean whoever serve in the military must have full faith in those higher up in the chain of command. There are such a thing as "cannon fodder". But non-Muslims cannot lead in the Islamic military, only follow orders. Not all who professed a religion (I am not just referring to Islam) adhere fully to its noble teachings, and I don't think you can blame a non-Muslim if he is reluctant to serve in such a military. What should he do when ordered to kill someone of his own faith? It would also not be fair as he would have no chance of advancement in the military, and not only military. A non-Muslim will also have no chance to lead the country or to become a judge.

In an Islamic state, the supreme law will not be the Constitution, but the Syariah law. If I remember correctly, someone said that the actual leader of an Islamic state may not be the President but the Supreme Leader elected from an assembly of mujtahid (Islamic scholar). Essentially, all this mean the non-Muslim can have no say in the running of his country. Now you tell me how all that had been discussed above can justify saying non-Muslims shall have the same rights as a Muslim. I am open to comments to rebut all this.

Every person will have their own opinions of things. Some are colored by their bias towards their own religion (and please don't take this as referring to Muslims only), others try to be objective. Let us say we accept that "the whole thing (taxes, rights, governance of the country) would be fair for all Muslims and non-Muslims" is accepted, but let me ask this simple question. Is it right or fair to impose an Islamic state upon citizens of a country which originally was not formed as an Islamic state and the non-Muslims who originally was a part of the group of people who helped form Malaysia were assured that the country being formed will NOT become an Islamic state. Further, is in right that the people of Sabah and Sarawak who were never given an indication of the possibility that Malaysia may become an Islamic state will have such a state imposed on them? May I speculate on the possibility of them agreeing to join Malaysia if they had been told that one day, Malaysia will become an Islamic state? I asked a Sarawakian, and the answer was obvious.

Further, the Reid Commission dated 27/9/1956 at page 19 stated that "The religion of Malaya shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religion, and shall not imply the State is not a secular State." This was what was agreed to when the United Kingdom granted independence to Malaya. Is this not saying that Malaya is a secular state? Is this binding?

Do we have a say on this matter? And if the authorities insist on pushing it down our throat, and we do not want to accept, what can we do? I did not chose to be born in this country, but I was, and I grew up here, started a family here and will live the rest of my life here. If an Islamic state is imposed upon me and my family over our objections, where can I go? I can't go to China as I am not a citizen of that country and they may not accept me. By the way, China has more Muslims than Malaysia, but are they hankering for China to become an Islamic state? Will Malaysia allow itself to be divided into two, one an Islamic state, and one a secular state and its citizen given free choice as to which part they want to go to? And even if that is ever allowed to happen, can you imagine the chaos and hardship as homes are not easily portable.

Will a fair-minded Muslim impose the Islamic state upon me and my family over our objections?

Malay Women in Malaysia, if you took the trouble to read up to here, I thank you. I also believe I read "democracy" being discussed in one of your posts. I think you had a negative opinion regarding democracy, and if so, we were of the same mind if I had stuck to what I wrote in an essay for General Paper in the 60's (we had to take HSC or Higher School Certificate then). We were asked to write an essay on democracy. I had opined that democracy is rule by the average (which are not the most intelligent) as there is such a thing as a normal curve - huge majority (average) of average intelligence in the middle, a small fraction of high intelligence and low intelligence on both side of the curve. A democratic government got to go back to the electorate every so many years to get a mandate from the people (majority of average intelligence) to continue to rule. A smart politician who only value power may not dare to implement policies which he or she knows is good for the country but which the majority of average intelligence cannot see the merits and may not accept. He or she may implement policies which are popular but detrimental to the country. I got an A for that essay. I have matured since and have seen many things happened around me. If you did discuss about democracy in your blog, to save me the trouble of searching for it, I hope you will leave a comment and a link to that post because I will like to give my response to that post.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Yang di-Pertuan Agong: Hope for Malaysia?

If you only have time to do your duty as a citizen of Malaysia, skip the rest and go straight to the bottom of the post.

As I have said in earlier posts before, I set up this blog for the purpose of helping promote Malaysia, the country in which I was born, of which I am a citizen, and in which I will 99% likely live the rest of my life. This post is not a post I like to publish here, but I as a citizen of Malaysia, is concerned at many developments in my country such as the actions and lack of actions with regard to the Port Klang Free Zone fiasco, the huge burden that the tax payers probably have to bear, the squandering of public funds, the lack of actions or the very light penalties imposed after various wrong doings and scandals have been exposed, etc. Port Klang state assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Md Deros got land meant for the poor alienated to his wife Zizah Ngah for a song and build a mansion (palace) on it without first obtaining planning approval, the withdrawal of 37 charges against Datuk Zakaria Md Deros under the Companies Act 1965 by just payment of a RM1,400 fine to the Companies Commission of Malaysia. Very harsh actions are taken against lesser beings. The law says if you build without planning approval, the building will be demolished. Extensions built by ordinary citizens without first getting planning approval because getting approval takes so long, are demolished without mercy. In Datuk Zakaria Md Deros case, his mansion remained and he was only slapped with a paltry (they say maximum) fine. Clearly a case of unequal treatments for different people under the law in the "most developed state of Malaysia". I think I read somewhere that when informed of the situation, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo was evasive, saying that he would only comment after reading the report. Anything happened after that? They say "no one is above the law". But maybe they are right in some sense (but I still think many people of influence are protected). Most are subject to the law but different people get treated differently according to who they are or who they know.

More crucial, many lawyers and the Bar Council (Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan: "We have gone from one crisis to another since the 1988 judicial crisis; it is time to confront fully and completely all the issues that have arisen since then with a view to strengthen the administration of justice.") say that since the former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad interfered with the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia, the previously much respected judiciary independence is now in question. This was recently reinforced by the release of a video showing a prominent lawyer speaking to a person who seem to be a senior judge purportedly fixing judicial appointments. Datuk Seri Anwar who released the video named the lawyer and the senior judge during a press conference and said that a report would be lodged with the government-backed Anti-Corruption Agency. We are now eagerly awaiting the outcome, if any.

Update: Many other things are acted upon without having to be studied thoroughly first, but regarding such a highly crucial issue, statements like we have to see if the video is genuine or not, etc., are made. Anyone said that VK Lingam would be questioned? Any comment on the "coincidences" regarding the dates judges were appointed and the time frame mentioned in the video, plus which judges were appointed? Such a video demand a Full Royal Commission of Inquiry, but the Government turned that down as expected. You can view the video at Malaysia Bar Council website at Video links CJ to 'appointment fixing' scandal You can read the transcript of the video at Transkrip Perbualan Telefon VK Lingam (it is in English. I think Parti Deadilan Rakyat also have one in Bahasa Malaysia.

We can use our vote to try to change things, but with the advantages of incumbency, the monopoly on the mainstream mass media by the ruling coalition while denying access to the oppositions, the selective approval for ceramahs, the removal of the 15% limit bias for the rural constituencies and the redelineation of electoral constituencies making a rural vote worth 10 to 20 times more than that of an urban vote (just a guess but which should not be too far off. Anyone with more accurate estimate please comment, will be highly appreciated), doubts in the independence of the Electoral Commission (the Government poured huge funds to improve infrastructures and others in 2 constituencies involved in recent bye-elections to influence the voters, but the Election Commission ruled that it is not bribery as long as the funds are not disbursed by the candidate) and many other issues that I consider as irregularities, our votes will not likely change things.

There had been many complaints of phantom voters in the electoral roll but Rockybru (Ahirudin bin Attan who suprisingly admitted he never register as a voter before) said he had doubts, but not until he tried to register recently. He found that he was already registered in Perak!!! His address in both his old Identity card as well as the new MyKad is in Puchong. His kampong is in Malacca. So how did he got registered in Perak? If you want to confirm regarding his registration, view a screenshot at Phantom voter?. He said he will go make enquires at SPR (Election Commission of Malaysia) and here are the questions he asked and the answers he obtained:

When was I registered?
1999.
How was I registered?
Someone filled up the form.
How come?
Before July 2002, political parties were allowed to register on behalf of constituents who had not been registered.

Some questions they couldn't answer.
Was it the BN or the Opposition that registered me?
We don't know.
Did I "vote" for the 1999 and the 2003 general elections?
We have no idea.
How did this political party in Taman Rapat Setia register me when I never lived there?
We can't tell.

Malaysia's only hopes is the Monarchy and the conscience of the leaders of the ruling coalition, if they have any. Raja Petra has started an online petition to plea for the Monarchy to use whatever power they have left to help change things. I have signed the petition and hope that you will do so too. You can view and sign the petition at Citizens In Solidarity with Raja Petra and Freedom of Speech !. Raja Petra is of Royal lineage and seem to have very good connections and sources of information. You can read about the latest development at Yes, we are embroiled in a Constitutional Crisis.

I hope you will do your duty as a citizen of Malaysia and sign the petition. The outcome we do not know, but at least we would have done our part.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pot calling the kettle black: Which politicians are playing up small problems?

Read a report in the Sun today, now my favorite mainstream media newspaper. It featured our Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister with the heading "Politicians playing up small problems, says Najib'. In the report, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was reported as saying politicians (by implications I assume, the opposition) are playing up small problems which then end up as big issues because the various races magnify them.

Negarakuku: expression of frustration of a Chinese educated Malaysian via a rap
by Namewee (Wee Meng Chee). Namewee is only an insignificant Malaysian studying in Taiwan who was used by politicians to draw attention away from other more important issues affecting Malaysia


This is clearly what I would call the pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps not even that because I don't think the kettle (the opposition) are "black". Look at the issue of Namewee (Wee Meng Chee) who made parody calling attention to the real problems that exists in our country by making a Negarakuku rap. The whole government machineries plus the mainstream mass media was used against a small insignificant 24 year old undergraduate in a Taiwanese University which drew calls for him to be recalled for retributions and many politicians screamed for his citizenship to be withdrawn. What crime has he committed? Did he siphoned off huge amount of public funds like what many are suspected of doing but against whom no acton are taken? I suspect this is a ploy to draw public attention away from the much bigger problems like the huge Port Klang Free Zone fiasco, the misuse and mismanagement of public funds plus the lack of action to investigate these scandalous abuse, the Alantuya Shaahriibuu murder case, the Islamic state issue and a whole list of others big issues of public importance.

Worst still, the Speaker of the Parliament who controls the debate and is paid from public fund to facilitate debates on issues of critical importance to Malaysia, seem to be acting in the interest of the ruling coalition. Whenever proposals to discuss issues of great importance, such as the Port Klang Free Zone fiasco, is brought up, the Speaker who is supposed to be impartial, invariable rule the proposal as of no importance or not relevant, and disallow them to be debated. How is Malaysia going to achieve this vision of becoming a developed country with situations like this?

The Islamic state issue is not a small issue because from what I know of a real Islamic state, its citizens are not equal. The people of the Book (Christians, Jews) are dhimmis who have to pay a special tax to the Islamic authorities and have less rights than a Muslim. The Christians who have to pay tithes to the Church (which are not deductable from Income Tax while the Muslim who pay zakat get theirs deducted from Income Tax) will end up paying 3 taxes - the Income Tax (which seem to be squandered), the tithes and the special tax to the Islamic authorities. I don't know about the plight of the non-Muslim who are not people of the Book. I would suppose they would have even less rights than a Muslim. These are real issue which rightly the non-Muslim are concerned about and which they will need to rebut, and yet their right to voice out their complaints are suppressed by the directive that only the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are allowed to make statements in the mainstream mass media.

So now, who is calling who "black"?

Friday, September 7, 2007

50:44 Malaysia Merdeka Celebration plus a chance to learn how to get hidden or hard to get information

(Note: The information in this post is not complete. I am going down to Pasar Tani now to get the full program so that I can update this post and give you more accurate information)


Here is your chance to learn ways on how to get hidden or hard to get information. There will be a workshop on that included in the event below, which is organised by Center of Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia:
http://www.cijmalaysia.org/
The event will be from 6-16th September from 11am till 9pm.

50:44 Malaysia Merdeka

There will be 16 days of activities at the Central Market (Pasar Seni) Annexe. The event is called 50:44 Malaysia Merdeka to take into consideration about the sensitivities of the Sabahans and Sarawakians that Malaysia Day is celebrated on 31 August and this is is referred to as the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's independence from colonial rule, when it is actually Malaya's independence anniversary and not the day of formation of Malaysia, which was September 16, 1963.
To get to the Central Market is very easy. Just take the Putra LRT (Light Rail Transit) and get off at Pasar Tani (the stop will be announced before the arrival at the station).

Come, bring family and friends. Visit www.50-44.org for more information about what's happening Sunday, and for the rest of the week from 6-16th September from 11am till 9pm.

Firefly (Gallery A)

A quick basic workshop on how you can shed a light on the hidden or hard to get information that might change the way you make decision. (Contact Sonia soniarandhawa1@ yahoo.com. my for info.)

Day: Sunday 8 September 2007, 11am - 1 pm.

BANned (Gallery A and B)
11am-1pm

Banned

Be entertained by esteemed drama students from around Klang Valley with their short plays on the theme of Banned. (Free entry and seating! Contact Anne rssiva@pc.jaring. my for info)

Location: Pasar Tani Annex Gallery A and B
Time: Sunday 9 September, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm.

What does KL mean to you?

What does KL mean to you? I asked the musically inclined folks "they sing me pictures of identities". Catch this experimental documentary premiere screening here!! (Free entry and seating! Contact Effa effa.desa@gmail. com for info)

Time: Sunday 8 September, 8pm.

Enviroment

Monday 9 September, 7 - 10pm.