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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Petition to free RPK and others

I’ve signed the petition.

If you haven’t please click the image below, read the petition and sign it, please, and then get all your family and friends to do the same.

http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/petition-to-free-rpk-teresa-all-isa-detainees/

The Umno 4 who spoke out against their President









The gory details of last Thursday's meeting.
Who shot Pak Lah down at the Umno supreme council meeting last Thursday? According to The Star's Joceline Tan in today's report Pak Lah under pressure to exit, there were four of them: Muhyiddin Yasin, Rafidah Aziz, Shafie Afdal and - surprise, surprise! - Mat Taib.
I was told that Khir Toyo, one of the earliest in Umno to have asked for Pak Lah's resignation after the March 8 general election, was the one who had started the ball rolling during Thursday's supreme council meeting that pressured Abdullah to step down as the political situation is no longer tenable.
Annuar Musa was the lone voice supporting the President, and this was noted by blogger Sakmongkol AK47 in his An honorable discharge nonetheless:
How does Sakmongkol realise that Pak Lah is about to write his own Closing Chapter? ( the title of a book by Lord Denning). When Sakmongkol noticed that his loyal-to-a-fault, the true blue Abdullah loyalist Adnan Yaakob found himself on that day, deficient in trying to defend his boss. When you are no longer defensible by such a person, that means the end is near.
The Star is brave to report on the gory details of Thursday's meeting, but don't expect the editors of the other mainstream media to follow suit tomorrow. Perhaps theSun, on Monday.

BLOGGER KICKDEFELLA RELEASED



Blogger Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz was released from police custody at 1pm today after being detained for two nights by the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) purportedly under the Sedition law.

Syed Azidi was interviewed immediately after his release by officials from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in the CCID headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Syed Azidi was freed from CCID headquarters at about 4pm and was received by his family members and friends.

It was reported that Syed Azidi was being investigated for posting allegedly seditious material in his blog kickdefella involving a campaign to fly the jalur gemilang(Malaysian flag) upside down.

LOSS OF CONFIDENCE

1.I was reading the comments on my blog on 'Mengingati Pejuang-Pejuang', when I came across a comment which respectfully disagreed with me that the defeat of BN in the General Election was not due to support for the opposition but disaffection with BN.

2. He said if that was the case they could have voted for the third candidate who actually lost his deposit.

3. I had lost in the Election of 1969 in a constituency with 35,000 voters of whom 30,000 were Malays. I had won in this constituency in 1964 with more than 4,000 votes majority. I figured that in 1969 that even if the non-Malay voters did not vote for me I would still win because support for me amongst the Malays had increased by almost 3,000.

4. But what happened shocked me because Chinese voters not only refused to vote for me, which meant a loss of 3,000 votes but they voted for PAS. I needed 6,000 more votes to replace 3,000 voters who did not vote for me and another 3,000 because they voted for PAS.

5. I lost by 900 votes. If the voters who were dissatisfied with UMNO and BN voted for a third party or refuse to vote, the BN would lose these votes but may still win if the margin previously was big and the opposition did not get additional votes. But when votes were taken away from BN there would be a decrease in BN votes. Then when the votes are given to the opposition there would be an increase in votes for the opposition and so the gap is widened and the opposition would win.

6. Experience has shown that independent third parties hardly ever win. Supporting them would reduce BN votes but that would not be enough to ensure the opposition wins.

7. The rakyat are right in being fed-up with corruption by UMNO "plutocrats". But that had not always been so. It is the corrupt practises of UMNO leaders of today, especially the topmost leader, which has caused deep anger against the party.

8. Actually the present leader's involvement with graft, his support for his son's business, the power he gives to his son-in-law, his well-known sleeping habits, indecision, lack of ability to handle problems, sudden withdrawal of oil subsidy, cancellation of the bridge to Singapore, wasting money on the unused RM800 million (Johor Baru) Customs, Immigration and Quarantine building, cancellation of the railway double tracking and electrification project, the monsoon cup and lots more are what turned the voters against BN.

9. The kampung folks and the ordinary Chinese by and large are not too concerned about human rights or more liberal Government. Even the ISA did not bother them as shown by their strong backing for the Government party, before.

10. The talks in the kampungs and the ordinary Chinese and Indians were about the increase in cost of living, few business opportunities and of course the behaviour of the PM's family.

11. In 2004 they gave wholehearted support for the BN so that the party won 90% of the seats in parliament and recaptured Terengganu. Could it be possible that the voters who were so greatly enchanted with the BN in 2004 but in a space of just four years have changed their collective minds so radically?

12. As for rejection of race based politics, why did the voters vote for PAS, a 100 percent Malay party and DAP, a predominantly Chinese party.

13. I know many who admire the West tend to support their values. They would like to interpret the disastrous performance of the BN based on Western thinking. But we are Asians and in Malaysia our basic racial differences are extreme. All we can do to avoid confrontation between the races is to allow them to form race based parties and to have them cooperate with each other. This was the BN policy and practise. And it worked for almost half a century.

14. We cannot fault the BN concept and governance. We have to look elsewhere for the loss of confidence in the party.

YANG DIPERTUAN AGONG ASSISTANCE SOUGHT IN CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT


Its been reported that the Opposition, Pakatan Rakyat have written to the Yang DiPertuan Agong for an audience to seek his highness assistance in assisting in the change of government since every attempt by peaceful means with the 51 year regime, Barisan Nasional leaders have failed.

This was disclosed by PAS Parit Buntar MP Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa while addressing an anti-ISA forum in Penang last night.


It was noted that during this audience, the list of BN defectors would be reveal so that the Yang DiPertuan Agong could demand the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his government to vacate their positions to enable the Opposition government to be formed.

Will the Yang DiPertuan Agong grant the request?

news courtesy of Malaysiakini

MALAYSIA IS HEADING FOR A FINANCIAL CRISIS?


Malaysia is heading for a serious financial crisis if the current leaders are NOT changed. Even the recent change of the Finance Minister will not assist since Datuk Seri Najib will need considerable time to know.

Read this interesting article for the inside: http://www.futurefastforward.com/malaysia-updates/381-matthias-chang

A NEW DAWN MAY BE THE ONLY ANSWER.

article courtesy of Matthias Chang

Leader-in-waiting launches end game

Hamish McDonald, Kuala Lumpur , The Age
September 20, 2008
Falling from Mahathir government minister to solitary confinement in jail, Anwar Ibrahim's star is once again on the rise and rise.

Falling from Mahathir government minister to solitary confinement in jail, Anwar Ibrahim's star is once again on the rise and rise. Photo: Reuters

ANOTHER long day in the Malaysian capital. Two hours to sunset and the breaking of the day-long fast in the third week of the holy month of Ramadan, Anwar Ibrahim has spent hours in tense discussions with partners in his opposition coalition.



At his suburban office, Mr Anwar appears in bare feet and apologises for a short delay while he says his fourth round of prayers for the day. Fifteen minutes later, the opposition leader is back, shod now in black ostrich-skin brogues, to talk about his extraordinary bid to convince the Malaysian Government that, despite its apparent majority in parliament, he should be in charge.

The psychological warfare is getting fraught. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had said Mr Anwar was a "threat to the economy and possibly security" — indicating the opposition leader could fall foul of the draconian Internal Security Act.

In a formal statement yesterday, the US State Department said Mr Abdullah's remark was "extremely troubling" and Washington viewed with "grave concern" the possibility the security act might be used to detain opposition political figures.

Mr Anwar wonders if he is heading back to prison. "When the prime minister, in any developing country where these sorts of security laws are in operation, states that you are a threat to the economy and possibly national security, then the next option is to arrest," he says.

A decade ago, when Mr Anwar was deputy prime minister, his bid for power against then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad ended in disaster.

Hit with highly questionable charges of sodomy and trying to interfere with a police investigation, he spent six years in jail. He was released in 2004 when the more conciliatory Mr Abdullah succeeded Dr Mahathir.

Now 61, Mr Anwar has closed in on the former Barisan Nasional (National Front) ruling coalition that so humiliated and punished him for his "reformasi" bid in 1998.

In March, his improbable People's Alliance of three diverse parties — his People's Justice Party, the leftist, ethnic Chinese-based Direct Action Party, and the All-Malaysia Islamic Party — broke Barisan's two-thirds majority in the federal parliament, and won control of five of Malaysia's 13 states.

On August 26, Mr Anwar won a byelection with a huge majority, despite having another sodomy charge laid against him shortly before the vote.

This week, Mr Anwar announced he had "more than enough" defections from Barisan MPs to form a government, and asked to meet Mr Abdullah to effect a smooth transfer of power. Unsurprisingly, Mr Abdullah derided the request, as he did Mr Anwar's later call to reconvene parliament.

Barring an unlikely intervention by Malaysia's king, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Mr Anwar faces a nervous wait until parliament resumes on October 13.

He faces a relentless onslaught on his credibility by the state-controlled broadcast media and the mainstream newspapers.

He and his colleagues are also at risk from the highly politicised police, whose secretive Special Branch has morphed from its original role of fighting communist insurgents into one of keeping Barisan in power.

The Special Branch wields the Internal Security Act, which allows suspects to be held for 60 days at its Buket Aman headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, where interrogators specialise in "turning over" (breaking down) detainees through prolonged questioning, sleep deprivation, humiliation and disorientation. Then they can be locked away without trial for renewable two-year terms.

Last Friday, the Special Branch arrested member of parliament Teresa Kok, an ethnic-Chinese member of Mr Anwar's alliance, after a newspaper ran spurious reports that she had tried to stop a mosque broadcasting the morning call to prayer.

The country's best-known blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, was also taken in under the security act, while another journalist was briefly detained.

Ms Kok was released yesterday after a week's detention, and Mr Abdullah seemed to back off his implied threat. But Mr Anwar's team is acutely aware that only five arrests of MPs could change a no-confidence vote, if and when it happens.

"When a party has been in power for more than half a century, to imagine losing their grip on power is going to be horrendous, unthinkable and they may resort to this measure," Mr Anwar said.

But he has his work cut out explaining to ethnic Malays why the positive discrimination of the past 40 years — preference for university places, government jobs, finance credits, cheaper houses and a 30% slice of new investments — mostly benefited a tiny, well-connected elite through Barisan founding party the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its networks of cronyism and patronage, and should be replaced with policies based on need rather than race.

On the other side, non-Malays wonder about his Islamist background and recall his role implementing pro-Malay discrimination as an UMNO minister.

"It took us a while to come to terms and go from Mr Anwar who was education minister and actually did a lot of damage to the Chinese school system, to the new reformist Mr Anwar," said Dominique Ng, a Kuching lawyer who won a Sarawak state seat for Mr Anwar's party in March.

Mr Ng is now convinced that "the new Mr Anwar can be the one who saves Malaysia".

Mr Anwar doesn't regret his years in the Mahathir government.

"With all the faults and limitations of UMNO at that time, it was never this blatantly corrupt and arrogant," he said.

He could have protested more loudly against the Mahathir government's security act arrests and sacking of judges, but had still hoped to change the system from within.

"Having said that, I've suffered enough, I've repaid for the years I was in government," he said with a smile.

His agenda for Islam in Malaysia is one he's been pursuing in speeches and writings for many years: Malaysia should keep Islam as its state religion, but not become an Islamic state, accepting its pluralism.

But his jail ordeal strengthened his concern for freedom. "Being six years in prison, solitary confinement, teaches you quite a lot," he said. "The passion for democracy, for justice, is far more pronounced … Basically these years of sojourn and wilderness did help.

"You empathise with people as people. I am very Malay, I love the language, I follow the Indonesian literature a lot … I am also a committed Muslim. I fast, I pray, but that does not make us intolerant of other cultures."

"So who am I?" Mr Anwar says. "They say I'm a chameleon because to the Western journalists I sound liberal, to the Muslim crowd I echo the Koran.

"It's true — I don't go into the little village and quote Shakespeare, and when I talk to Chinese I use a few words of their language and quote Confucius. But the fundamental pillars remain unchanged … I am still a Malay, a committed Muslim, and very much a Malaysian."

DAYS OF TURMOIL IN MALAYSIA

1997 Asian financial crisis spells end of decade of impressive economic growth.

1998 Prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (below) sacks his deputy and presumed successor, Anwar Ibrahim, on charges of sexual misconduct, against the background of differences between the two men over economic policy; Anwar arrested.

2000 Anwar is found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in prison. This is added to the six-year jail sentence he was given in 1999 after being found guilty of corruption following a controversial trial.

March 2001 Dozens arrested during Malaysia's worst ethnic clashes in decades between Malays and ethnic Indians.

April 2001 Demonstrations against the Internal Security Act following the detention without trial of Anwar's supporters.

October 2003 Abdullah Badawi (below) takes over as Prime Minister as Mahathir steps down after 22 years in office.

March 2004 Prime Minister Abdullah wins landslide general election victory.

September 2004 Anwar freed after court overturns his sodomy conviction.

May 2007 Anwar's People's Justice Party loses a bitterly contested byelection to the Government. The result is seen as a blow to his efforts to revive his political career.

March 2008 The ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front), suffers its worst election result in decades. It loses its two-thirds parliamentary majority and control of five states.

July 2008 Anwar arrested over allegations of sodomy in a move that elevates political tensions.

*********

Showdown Imminent
By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 19 (IPS) - Malaysian politics is heading for a showdown with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim demanding that the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi subject itself to a confidence vote in parliament by Sep.23.

Anwar’s demand comes as a shock to the ruling Barisan Nasional or National Front (NF) coalition which has ruled without interruption for five decades, growing complacent until the Mar. 8 general election in which voters punished it giving the Anwar-led opposition 82 seats in parliament, just 30 seats short of a simple majority to form the government.

The NF coalition also lost five states to the opposition sending shock waves through the political establishment.

Since that historic date Anwar has been persuading NF backbenchers to defect with a view to forming a simple-majority government, despite worries that such tactics were ‘unethical’ and ‘immoral’ and the fear that once down that road there is no turning back.

On Apr. 1 Anwar had solemnly vowed to achieve defections and topple the government by Sep. 16. But parliament is in Ramadan recess until Oct. 13 and the government appears to be taking refuge in it.

Anwar, who faces a sodomy trial starting on Sep. 22, said on Thursday that he now has the numbers gathered from among reformist lawmakers who are secretly committed to toppling the government.

‘’Abdullah’s days are numbered, the people truly want a change,’’ Anwar told IPS in an interview. ‘’They want equality, justice and a democracy accountable to the people.’’

However, an upset and angry Abdullah has dismissed Anwar as a liar and impostor who does not have the numbers claimed, and has dismissed the constant refrain to topple the government as the act of a desperate individual making empty promises.

Reacting within hours of Anwar’s ultimatum, Abdullah said he will not order parliament to convene because it just went into recess. ‘’Whatever no confidence resolution… they can to it after parliament opens,’’ he said.

Political insiders say the outright rejection is a signal that a major crackdown is about to be ordered.

Most alarming to civil society leaders is the warning Abdullah issued on Sep. 17 that Anwar’s grab for power is a threat to national security and would endanger the economy by affecting the flow of foreign investment.

‘’I will do what I have to do to protect and economy and save the country,’’ Abdullah told reporters, sparking immediate fears that a major crackdown against opposition lawmakers and human rights advocates would soon be unleashed invoking the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).

Already the government has detained a prominent lawmaker and a blogger, both allied with Anwar, under the ISA that allows for indefinite detention without trial.

‘’He (Abdullah) is mixing up what are essentially issues of democracy, freedom and the rule of law with national security. The use of the ISA to harass and detain duly elected political opponents is a grave transgression of the law and its continued use would further erode confidence in the current government and exacerbate political instability,’’ Anwar said.

Anwar said that Malaysians and investors were for comprehensive reforms, including judicial independence, a free media, a professional police force and investor-friendly laws.

Anwar has been detained under ISA laws twice before, once as a radical student leader in the 1970s and again in 1988 after he crossed swords with then Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who had him charged with sodomy. He spent six years in jail and was acquitted of the charge in 2004 by the country’s highest court.

‘’It appears everything is heading for a climax and a major security crackdown is possible,’’ a prominent lawyer who did not want to be identified told IPS. ‘’I myself am a target,’’ he explained.

Investors have been pulling out money from Malaysia stocks since the March election results, fearing political uncertainties would be prolonged. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange has dropped below the 1,000 point resistance level, largely because of political fears but also because of the global financial crisis.

‘’The recent developments coming together are adding a new and dangerous dimension to the country’s troubled politics. It is giving a clear impression that a climax is rushing up,’’ the lawyer said.

Anwar is not rebuffed by Abdullah’s rejection of his demand for convening a special session of parliament.

‘’The opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition will convene an emergency meeting to discuss our next course,’’ Anwar said in a statement on Thursday. He also said he may seek an audience with King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin who, although a constitutional monarch, has powers to convene parliament, dismiss a prime minister and invite a person enjoying the confidence of a majority in parliament to form a new government.

However the king has yet to be convinced that Anwar has a majority of lawmakers behind him.

According to constitutional expert Shad Faruqi the issue can only be settled on the parliament floor through a confidence vote. ‘’Otherwise, he can go to the palace and have tea,’’ Faruqi told ‘The Sun’ daily on Sep. 18.

(END/2008)

**********

Malaysia's Anwar Moves Closer to the Endgame

Asia Sentinel

Jed Yoong
19 September 2008
As the opposition leader increases the pressure, the nation's biggest political party asks the prime minister to leave

malay-anwarbyelectionMalaysia's 50-year-old political infrastructure is in danger of coming completely apart, with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim amping up the pressure to replace Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi unless the government goes after him with the draconian Internal Security Act, which provides for indefinite detention without trial.

Anwar, who leads the Pakatan Rakyat, or People's Alliance, demanded Thursday that Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi convene by Tuesday an emergency session of parliament, which is now in recess for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, to allow a no-confidence vote against the premier.

Abdullah Badawi was weakened further Thursday when the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which has two lawmakers in parliament, said it would quit the Barisan Nasional, or national ruling coalition. SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said the party would become independent, but attacked the government, saying that "the Barisan Nasional has lost its moral authority to rule." Yong is said to be close to Anwar ever since the latter enticed him to switch sides in Sabah state elections in 1994. The party has split with two federal lawmakers and two state legislators sticking to Yong, and another two state legislators moving to a splinter party. Yong’s Deputy disagreed with SAPP's move and resigned from SAPP

The Barisan itself has been on a downward spiral since March 8, when it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since Malaysia became an independent country 50 years ago. Abdullah Badawi has largely been made the scapegoat, partly because he is perceived as weak leader, partly because of implacable attacks by the former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, and partly because of deteriorating economic fundamentals as the global economy goes into decline.

With Anwar breathing down their necks, senior leaders, including cabinet ministers, of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest ethnic party that helms the Barisan Nasional, held an emergency meeting of the Supreme Council at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur last night to openly call for Badawi's resignation as party president and the country's prime minister. Such a move is rare among the usually-complaisant politicians. But the editor of a popular Malay-language weekly says UMNO may be united in "hatred" for Anwar.

Within UMNO itself, said a Kuala Lumpur political observer with ties to the party, the concern about Anwar taking over could trigger the use of the ISA against him. Abdullah Badawi threatened to use the law against Anwar on Tuesday. There is considerable concern among UmNO stalwarts that if Anwar takes over, he will seek to prosecute some top officials for corruption, along with law enforcement officials who engineered his imprisonment in 1999 on sexual deviation and corruption charges.

Concern about Anwar could also cause UMNO's leaders to hold their noses and select Najib Tun Razak, the scandal-scarred deputy prime minister, to replace him although Najib is saddled by numerous allegations of corruption as well as complicity in the October 2006 death of a 28-year-old Mongolian translator who is widely believed to have been his lover before he handed her on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda.

Badawi tried to neutralize his possible forcible ejection from the leadership by swapping portfolios with Najib on Wednesday. Najib is the now finance minister while Badawi is also defense minister, a position held by Najib for 14 years. Badawi told a press conference Wednesday that he could leave earlier than 2010 under his announced plan to hand the premiership to Najib.

"I will decide when I want to go. I will not be staying more than 2010," he told reporters. "If I should want to go earlier, that is flexible. That is the flexibility we have arranged. It depends on the progress of the role I am giving to Najib. Let's see what he can do."

Mahathir, who has carried on a three-year vendetta to rid the leadership of Abdullah Badawi, has issued an ultimatum to Najib to take over or be taken out along with the prime minister. If Najib takes over, however, that will be handing the leadership of UMNO back to the same people who raised popular disgust over corruption and nepotism in the party.

In addition to the possibility of being jailed under the ISA, Anwar also faces charges that he sodomized a 23-year-old aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Despite the fact that the doctor who examined Saiful found no evidence of sodomy, the government appears to be going ahead with plans to charge Anwar via a bill rushed through parliament to compel the opposition leader to give a fresh DNA sample.

Anwar was a rising star in UMNO until Mahathir sacked him as deputy prime minister and finance minister purportedly over policy disputes to contain the financial crisis in 1997/98. He was then convicted and jailed for sodomy and abuse of power. However, the sodomy conviction was overturned and he was released in 2004 after serving his sentence for abuse of power. Anwar and his supporters have always claimed that the charges in 1998 were trumped-up

Anwar originally said he would overthrow the government on September 16. When that didn't happen, the non-event was derided by members of the Barisan Nasional, with the loudest voices coming from within UMNO. Anwar initially set Sept 16, the day that Malaysia was formed when Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo merged with Malaya in the peninsula, as the date that he will take over federal government, The criticisms ranged from calling Anwar an outright liar to mobile text messages joking that Anwar really meant "chairs" -- kerusi in Malay also means "seat" -- from Ikea and that the "chairs" will be delivered once parliament reconvenes.

Race Relations Act - will it enable Barack Obama phenomenon in Malaysia?

When the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hamid Albar announced yesterday that the Cabinet has approved the proposed Race Relations Act to strengthen ties among the different races in the country, I immediately thought of two matters.

The first is the “penumpang” controversy set off by the Bukit Bendera Umno division chairman, Datuk Ahmad Ismail as part of Umno’s most racist and inflammatory campaign in the Permatang Pauh by-election, which was decisively rejected by the voters from all racial groups uniting as a pioneering Bangsa Malaysia to give a thumping victory to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to return to Parliament in triumph after an enforced absence of a decade.

The real fall-out from the “penumpang” controversy was after the Permatang Pauh by-election, where for two weeks, Ahmad was allowed to assume “hero” status among extremists and communalists for his provocative, inflammatory, insensitive and racist reference because of the abdication and bankruptcy of the moral and political authority of the Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional leadership in failing to take immediate action to strike down such divisive and destructive outbursts.

Ahmad’s grandparents migrated to this country from India. Why should a Malaysian who is a second-generation locally born in the country be so irresponsible, provocative and racist as to question the loyalty of a Malaysian Chinese like seventh locally-born generation Tan Siok Choo, daughter to Tun Tan Siew Sin and grand-daughter to Tun Tan Cheng Lock – whose ancestors came to Malacca 237 years ago in 1771?

Even up to now, Ahmad is totally unrepentant and immune from any police prosecution for his incendiary utterance – while the Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng who had professionally reported Ahmad’s speech was detained under the draconian Internal Security Act but saved from the full iniquity of the ISA because of instantaneous nation-wide and international outrage.

What is the use of a Race Relations Act in Malaysia if the Ahmad Ismails enjoy immunity from the law being able to get away scot-free for their inflammatory, offensive, insensitive and racist utterances without fear of having to face criminal reprisals from the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers for their seditious utterances?

The second matter that comes immediately to mind is about political developments the other side of the globe – Barack Obama’s presidential candidature in the United States.

Only 220 years ago, the Negroes were slaves in America, totally deprived of all political, economic, social and human rights. Today, an American black is one of the two contenders for the American Presidency in November – marking a historic breakthrough in race relations in the United States.

What has Malaysia to show in race relations in similar field after 51 years of nation-building?

When we achieved Independence in 1957, the Merdeka social contract and the Malaysian Constitution is unambiguous in providing equal citizenship status for all Malaysians, as in stipulating that any Malaysian, regardless of race, religion or class, can aspire to the highest political office in the land to become the Prime Minister.

The only condition for anyone to be Prime Minister is that he commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament.

During the first premiership of Tunku Abdul Rahman from 1957 to 1969, nobody would raise an eyebrow at the assertion that any Malaysian, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban and regardless of whether Muslim, Chrisitian, Buddhist, Hindu or Taoist, can become Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Half a century later, under the fifth Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, anyone who makes the assertion in public place that any Malaysian, regardless of whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban, and regardless of religion, whether Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Taoist, would be looked askance and even deemed to have made a most
“insensitive” statement.

There would even be groups in the country who would feel justified to be “provoked” by such a straightforward statement to launch vociferous protests up and down the country.

Why is this so, despite the Vision 2020 objective of creating a Bangsa Malaysia out of the diverse races in the country, which was proclaimed 17 years ago in 1991?

Will the proposed Race Relations Act resolve these knotty problems of Malaysian nation-building, or is its purpose to further institutionalize racial segregation and discrimination which have surreptitiously crept into various aspects of Malaysian life and taken deep and subversive root?

Will the proposed Race Relations Act open the way to enable and empower a major breakthrough like the Barack Obama phenomenon to take place in Malaysia or the reverse?

[Speech at the DAP Cheras SSS (Support, Sympathy and Solidarity) Dinner for Teresa Kok at Hee Lai Ton Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 19th September 2008 at 9 pm]

(from blog.limkitsiang.com)