Wednesday, May 20, 2009
MAY 20 — Having just digested the 78-page judgment of High Court judge Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim on who is the rightful MB of Perak, I conclude it is a well-reasoned decision.
The judge holds the view that only a vote of no confidence on the floor of the House (state legislative assembly or Dewan Rakyat) is required to remove the Prime Minister or the Mentri Besar/Chief Minister.
Abdul Aziz’s ruling reaffirms the widely acclaimed constitutional position that the chief executive of a state does not hold office at the pleasure of the Ruler. Once appointed to the office, the MB of Perak, in this case, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, and his executive councillors are responsible to the state assembly. Ideally, if a vote of no confidence was taken against Nizar, then he and the councillors would have to tender their resignations.
The judge in ruling that Nizar was still the rightful MB found support in the celebrated case of Stephen Kalong Ningkan vs Tun Abang Openg and Tawi Sli  2 MLJ 187. The case stated the principle that the vote of no confidence against the chief executive must be taken in the House, not outside and the appointing authority could not dismiss him.
However, the judge concedes that there is a loophole in the federal constitution and the state constitution if the head of government who lost the confidence vote refuses to tender his resignation. Abdul Aziz said:
“That lacuna cannot be filled up by reading into the Article a deeming provision. That lacuna must be filled up by amendment to the said Article.”
As it stands, such an amendment to the federal constitution could not be done as the ruling Barisan Nasional does not have the two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
By the way, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who acted as intervener, and Datuk Cecil Abraham, who represented Zambry, relied heavily on the case of Datuk (Datu) Amir Kahar Tun Datu Haji Mustapha vs Tun Mohd Said Keruak & Ors  4 CLJ 184. They argued that the office of MB is deemed vacant when Nizar refused to resign.
Abdul Aziz flatly disagreed with them and went on to say that a deeming provision is a “legal fiction” as it refers to something which does not exist but to be taken as in existence. In fact, the judge said the Amir Kahar case did not support the A-G’s contention. [In that case, the then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan of the ruling PBS lost the majority to the BN due to defections. Pairin had sought the Governor's consent to dissolve the House but was denied. He then tendered his resignation. Amir Kahar, a member of Pairin's Cabinet brought an action that he was still a minister because only the chief minister had resigned. The court held that when the chief minister resigns, the Cabinet resigns with it; whether or not there was a letter of resignation.]
In the present case, Nizar did not resign and a no confidence vote was not taken against him.
Abdul Aziz’s decision, to my mind, is well within the framework of our constitutions — that the King is above politics and the Ruler acts on the advice of his chief executive.
Pausing for a moment, what would happen if judgment was given in favour of Zambry at the High Court? It would be like this:
1. Our constitutional monarchy would seem to be heading towards an “absolute monarchy”, and the Prime Minister, MB or Chief Minister would then be holding their positions at the pleasure of the Rulers/governors despite clear words to the contrary in the constitutions.
2. Imagine — had Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim got 30 or more federal legislators crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat and the King agreed in appointing Anwar without a vote in Parliament — Anwar would be Prime Minister! — loyarburok
KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is urging the Cabinet to issue a directive to ensure all top scorers in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination be given Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships.
It should also disclose the full criteria and list of recipients, PR leaders demanded at a public forum on the PSD scholarship issue last night.
"If not, then the Najib Cabinet is even worse than the ‘half-past six’ Cabinet of the previous PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as condemned by former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad," DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said of Datuk Seri Najib Razak's administration.
Lim was referring to a statement by the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in March when he said that if a top scorer was not granted a scholarship, it would be an "injustice."
If necessary, the Ipoh Timur MP said PR would support a supplementary budget Bill in Parliament to increase the allocation for PSD scholarships from RM700 million to RM1 billion to ensure that all top scorers received scholarships.
He added that making public the criteria and recipients of the 10,000 local and 2,000 overseas scholarships "in the name of fairness, accountability and transparency is the least that the Cabinet should do at its meeting" today.
Other PR leaders present also reiterated that a full review and revamp of the current system is required, stressing an emphasis on merit over other considerations.
PKR's Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad also called for more transparency in the process of awarding the scholarships, pointing out that the funding for the scholarships came from the taxpayers.
"It is the taxpayers' money after all, so we should ensure that the best and brightest people get the scholarships in a transparent manner," said the political secretary to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.
DAP's youth wing chief Anthony Loke stressed that while certain allocations had been made, such as 20 per cent of scholarships being awarded based on merit, the issue remained that terms such as "merit" or "disadvantaged" were not made clear to the public.
"We want transparency so that the full list of JPA scholarships are made known to the public and we have raised this in Parliament, only to be told ‘the process is fair and just but we don't reveal names’," said the Rasah MP.
His sentiments were echoed by Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkifli Ahmad. "What is the status of rights in Malaysia if even matters of education cannot be resolved in a just manner?"
The PAS research chief added that meritocracy is "universal and very Islamic" and expressed his disappointment that young Malaysians were "subjected to this kind of poor leadership and governance."
DAP information chief Tony Pua suggested several reforms for the government to consider in light of the annual bout of appeals from school-leavers whose seemingly excellent academic qualifications have not been enough to guarantee scholarships.
"Why not allow the students to apply for university placements first so that these renowned institutions can process their application before our governments awards the scholarships?" asked the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
Pua added that using STPM, A-levels or pre-university results rather than SPM would also help with the issue of too few scholarships for an ever-increasing slew of straight A students.
How many people are willing to give Prime Minister Najib Razak the benefit of doubt? Probably, many Malaysians are still hoping for him to do well. The success of his administration is very important for the country facing multifarious global challenges.
By Khoo Kay Peng
However, I am not sure if the prime minister is aware that he needs to keep his ship on a tighter control. As the prime minister, he will have to shoulder the responsibility for the infamous actions and outbursts of his subordinates.
His predecessor, Abdulllah Badawi, had suffered from similar repercussions when his subordinates made several costly decisions or took wrong actions which were unpopular to the people. Abdullah's popularity took a nose dive since his debut victory at the 2004 general election. He was ousted by UMNO after an unprecedented electoral losses suffered by the BN coalition in the 2008 general election.
Najib must learn quickly to stop the erosion of public support for his administration. It is important for him to stop the spiral decline before it consumes his premiership.
One way to do so is to make sure that he get better people to assist him to run the country. Not a bunch of comedians, racists or arrogant and irrational people. He must ensure that there is no more arbitrary interference by the police in the political process.
There must not be any more arbitrary and unconstitutional arrests. At present, the police are still detaining peaceful demonstrators. A healthy democracy should respect the freedom of expression and assembly. That is why Najib must explain his 1Malaysia motive. Can 1Malaysia help to improve the respect for democratic rights in the country?
What is Najib's stand on racial equality and racism in the country? Is his 1Malaysia committed to transform the social and political landscape in the country? The coalition and party he heads are racially centric organisations. Can 1Malaysia be achieved if Malaysia continues to be besieged by racial politics? Rhetoric is saying one thing but doing something else. Is Najib ready to create history by ending BN racial politics?Read more at: http://khookaypeng.blogspot.com/2009/05/explain-1malaysia.html
(The Star) IPOH: Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has verbally conveyed his wish for a dissolution of the state assembly to the Perak royal family.
The former mentri besar said the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, had granted him an audience yesterday during an investiture ceremony held at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar, about 45km from here.
“He said that as far as he was concerned, the royal institution was above politics and would not get involved in the squabble between Barisan (Nasional) and Pakatan (Rakyat),” said Nizar.
When the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled last Monday that he was the rightful Mentri Besar, Nizar had immediately sent a letter to the palace, seeking for an audience with the Sultan for the purpose of dissolving the state assembly.
Nizar’s letter was however overtaken by events when his successor, Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, managed to obtain a stay on the ruling.
The appeal against the High Court ruling and Nizar’s application to set aside the stay order will be heard tomorrow.
By Tay Tian Yan (Sin Chew Daily)
Malaysians are still contemplating which way we are headed to in the future?
We have no idea how to settle our tacky racial and religious issues, how to put democracy into proper implementation, how to push ahead our economic agendas, and how to battle corruption...
That's enough! I don't want to cite any more example. Seeing these problems, our politicians are already feeling dizzy.
It is next impossible to tell them to change the status quo and show some results.
Indeed it is difficult to change, but not altogether impossible.
Take a look at Indonesia and India today. Right, the same Indonesia and India that most Malaysians tend to shrug off.
If even they can do it, why can't Malaysia?
By population, Indonesia is the world's third largest democracy. Last month, the country just concluded its four-in-one process, including parliamentary and local government elections. Incumbent president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party has won the largest number of seats.
The elections have not plunged the enormous archipelago into total chaos, but has instead consolidated the country's democratic system. The level of political maturity among Indonesians is indeed an eye-opener for us.
The triumph of Democratic Party is not attributed to its populist policies or catchy slogans, but its moderate and pragmatic approach in running the government.
|"Indonesia and India have moved onto the right track of democracy, and the tremendous speed with which they have achieved this should serve as a point of reference for Malaysia."|
The party advocates equality, harmony and solidarity among Indonesia's diverse ethnic groups. It also promotes mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence among the different religions.
Susilo's uncompromising efforts in implementing economic reforms, fighting corruption and safeguarding the independence of judicial system over the past few years have won broad recognition in the republic.
In the lapse of one decade, Indonesia has proudly forged ahead from the legacy of Suharto dictatorship to a flourishing democracy, from an economy monopolised by large capitalist conglomerates to a vibrant people-oriented one, from judicial injustice to judicial independence.
Of course, some social ills such as corruption are yet to be eradicated, but Susilo has brought many "big crocs" to book and this has enhanced his social credentials.
In the latest elections, political parties chanting racist and radical religious slogans have been shunned by the voters, underscoring a distinct trend towards moderation in the Indonesian society, not the religious extremism many outsiders have been associating the country with.
As for India, the world's largest democracy, the just concluded elections have also brought some positive messages.
The Indian National Congress has put up a show much more impressive than its previous one, and the party can almost form the new government singlehandedly, thanks to the oustanding performances of prime minister Manmohan Singh's government in the economic, diplomatic and political fronts.
By contrast, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which subscribes to racism, has lost more seats than ever, besides having relinquished the reins of government. This shows that policies inciting confrontation between the Hindus and Muslims, conflicts between India and Pakistan, as well as contradictions between feuds and castes, are no longer in the mainstream.
Indonesia and India have moved onto the right track of democracy, and the tremendous speed with which they have achieved this should serve as a point of reference for Malaysia. (By TAY TIAN YAN/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)
By P Ramakrishnan
The claim by self-proclaimed Speaker of the Perak State Assembly, R Ganesan, that he had no choice but to summon the police into the House at the height of the ruckus during the May 7 sitting, is dubious and deceiving (Sunday Star 17 May 2009). There is no merit in his claim.
In the first instance, his entry into and his very presence in the Assembly is questionable. How on earth did Ganesan get into the Assembly? The Assembly building was out of bounds to all except the elected members of the Assembly.
There was a police cordon to prevent all the others from entering the Assembly. A 500 metre no-access zone was declared and anyone found anywhere near this perimeter were either chased away or were arrested when they resisted the police orders.
Even Perak Members of Parliament were denied access to the Assembly. Veteran MP Lim Kit Siang was refused entry into the building in spite of the fact that he had come with the invitation letter from the Speaker to attend the Assembly sitting.
Likewise, Kulasegaran and Dr Jeyakumar, both elected MPs from Perak were turned away. That’s how strict the police were. They stringently enforced this ruling of refusing permission to all and sundry.
So the natural question is: How did Ganesan gain entry into the building. Who authorized his presence in the Perak State Assembly? How did he by-pass the police security arrangement? How did he hood-wink the police? How come the police did not detect him? Was he smuggled in? Was he planted in the building the previous day?
Is it possible that the police were working hand in glove with illegitimate MB Zambry and BN Assemblymen and facilitated Ganesan’s presence in the building?
Ganesan had no business to be inside the Assembly. One can safely conclude that his appearance and continued presence in the Assembly prompted and provoked a situation which went beyond control.
Secondly, contrary to his claim that he had no choice but to call in the police, if indeed he was the Speaker of the Assembly as he claims, he could have adjourned the Assembly sitting, following which he and his cohorts could have left the Assembly.
This simple action would have prevented the Assembly from becoming chaotic and unruly. Since he did not do this, it can be rightly construed that he had contributed to the topsy-turvy situation.
The illegitimate MB and the Barisan Nasional Assemblypersons by smuggling in Ganesan had incited the unruly behaviour.
Thirdly, the way Ganeson was ‘elected’ Speaker was also questionable. According to Speaker V Sivakumar, the Assembly had not been convened. In other words, the Assembly was not in session.
Sivakumar had stated that he would not convene the Assembly as long as those ordered out of the House were still inside. That was his stated position. That being the case, how was Ganesan elected when the Assembly was not in session?
Can a group of BN Assemblymen get together privately in one corner of the Assembly building when the Speaker was still occupying his chair and elect someone else? We have a situation when an outsider appears mysteriously in the building and he was elected Speaker when the Assembly had not officially convened.
This was not the only absurd situation we had on 7 May. On that day, we also seemed to have had two Speakers and two Menteris Besar at the same time in the same building!
The Standing Orders of the Assembly were thrown to the winds and the proper procedures that had to be followed were totally ignored. And that was the reason why things turned ugly, unruly and chaotic on May 7.
A BN-Police conspiracy?
Ganesan further contributed to the chaos by ordering the police to forcibly evict Sivakumar from the Assembly. What were the police doing inside the Assembly? Ganesan did not send someone to invite the police to do his bidding. They were already there waiting for his orders. Isn’t that very strange!
By calling on the police to drag out the duly elected Speaker from the Assembly, Ganesan had defiled and desecrated the sanctity of the Assembly. It is an unforgivable sin that he had committed that must be roundly condemned. We should never introduce thuggish behaviour into the legislative assembly where the rule of law should have been paramount and should have prevailed at all times.
What transpired as a result of Ganesan’s conduct raises many serious questions. Why did the police obey him? How did they know he was the new speaker? Was there an announcement that Sivakumar was ousted?
Or was this part of a pre-prepared and pre-rehearsed script? The way things fell into place would indicate that there was a scheme to capture the Perak state government, if necessary, by force. The plot was hatched studiously and implemented without a care for the rule of law.
This is a dangerous precedent and it should not be tolerated. It must be condemned in the strongest terms. There must be retribution for this outrageous behaviour.
Perakians will remember this shameful episode in their proud history and they will punish all those who frustrated the democratic will of the people.
By N Shashi Kala
KUALA LUMPUR, 20 May 2009: Eleven people, including two DAP politicians, were arrested for taking part in a candlelight vigil in Seputeh yesterday evening.
Among those arrested were DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) deputy chairperson and Teratai state assemblyperson Jenice Lee and DAP Serdang Member of Parliament (MP) Teo Nie Ching, along with nine other party workers.
They were part of a dozen people who were taking part in the candlelight vigil in front of the office of Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, to mark the "killing of democracy" in Perak.
All those arrested were taken to Brickfields District Police Station. According to reports, a group of some 30 people including DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang then gathered outside the station calling for the release of the detainees.
In an immediate statement, Dapsy executive secretary Lim Zhen Hui condemned the arrest of Dapsy leaders and members.
Lim said with the arrests, "the police has reinforced the idea that democracy does not exist in this country".He also demanded the immediate release of all those who were detained and called for the government to revive the democratic process.
PENANG, 20 May 2009: The Butterworth Sessions Court today fixed 19 June to mention a case of a couple charged with spreading an obscene comment on the Sultan of Perak on a website, http://books.dreambook.com/duli/duli.html.
Judge Julie Lack Abdullah fixed the date to enable counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo, who represented Chan Hon Keong and wife, Khoo Hui Shuang, to submit preliminary objections.
Chan, 26, and Khoo, 27, are alleged to have committed the offence at their house in Permatang Pauh, near here at about 12.05am last 13 Feb.
They are charged under Section 292 (a) of the Penal Code which carries a jail sentence of up to three years or fine or both, if convicted.
The couple also face an alternative charge for posting the obscene remark in the internet with an intention to hurt other people's feelings.
The offence, under Section 233 (3) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), carries a jail sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to RM50,000, if convicted. — Bernama
It seems like the nature of human affairs that persecution is the best engine for growth for some social or political causes.
If the early Christians had not been fed to the lions or slaughtered by the gladiators in the Roman amphitheatres, the religion would perhaps not spread so far and wide in the Roman Empire. Christianity seems to thrive on persecution, beginning with Jesus Christ himself.
Ever since the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has been outlawed, they have appeared to be divided, and lost for direction. One group has even left to form an Indian political party, a move much regretted by me as unwise and communal, at a time when the national mood is on the swing away from communal and racial politics.
When the last three of the Hindraf leaders were released from ISA detention, I was happy for them and Hindraf. I was happier even when P Uthayakumar refused to sign any paper that set the conditions for his release. He also did not thank the PM or the government. Why should he do either, when his ISA detention was grossly unjust in the first place? The man has guts, and I admire him.
And then, for some strange reasons, the government want him back in Kamuntin, an order that Uthayakumar has refused to obey. Like RPK, he has another creative display of peaceful civil disobedience. As Martin Luther King and Ghandi have taught us, the best way to fight unjust laws is to disobey them, without violence.
Then, Malaysiakini has this to report: “Revoke order or it’s war!”
P Uthayakumar’s brother, London based Waythamoorthy, called on the authorities to revoke the order with immediate effect, failing which the movement would declare ‘war’ on Najib’s government
According to Malaysiakini, “Following the appointment of Najib as the country’s sixth premier in April, Hindraf – which has been outlawed – called for a 100-day ceasefire which would end in mid-July.”
‘Two weeks ago, Waythamoorthy proposed a dialogue session with Najib’s administration to resolve pertaining issues in connection with Hindraf’s struggle for the betterment of the much marginalised Hindu community in the country.”
‘Waythamoorthy however, now warned that Hindraf was prepared to revoke its 100-day truce and organise mass street protests if the threat to re-arrest Uthayakumar was for real.”
The continued persecution of Hindraf leaders will not deter their fight for justice. It will only renew their determination, and give them further impetus and fresh direction for their cause, like the Roman persecution did for the early Christians. Martyrdom does that for people.
There are many Indians living in socio-economic backwardness in West Malaysia. In a sense, they are worse off than the Dayaks in Sarawak, because they do not have land, as the Dayaks do.
They are plagued by all kinds of social ills associated with poverty, such as housing woes, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, high school drop-out rates, and gangsterism.
Like the marginalised Dayaks, they saw no choice but to vote for the BN election after election, especially voting for the now almost defunct and irrelevant MIC.
But the Hindraf rally on the streets of KL just before the general election in 2008 changed all that. I know of two Indian youths working as dispatch clerks for RM800 a month in a leading KL law firm turned up that day, to join tens of thousands of other Indians, at the risk of being sprayed by water cannons or tear gas, and even of being arrested.
That message of protest against government neglect seemed to have spread like wild fire across the entire Malayan Peninsula, into the remotest plantation and Indian communities. On March 8, 2008, they turned out en masse, against the MIC and the BN, retiring the hitherto invincible Samy Vellu at Sungei Siput in the process.
This show of Indian outrage was not a fluke. They did it again in the Bukit Gantang and the Bukit Selambau by-elections, again. They rejected BN. The underclass Indians have found their power, and they seem to love it!
We have to look forward, to a possible snap state general election in Perak, and to the next national general election.
The Malay votes are now split right down the middle, and UMNO cannot get more than 58% Malay votes in any Malay majority seats as is shown in Bukit Gantang. The Indian voters, together with the Chinese voters, will make the difference between victory and defeat nationwide for the two mammoth coalitions.
Waythamoorthy’s ultimatum to the PM is no idle threat!
The BN government leaders would do well to heed his threat. But they will not. They cannot lose face, by being seen to bow to the demand of Hindraf. They have been addicted to and enslaved by the ISA stick. Persecution is what they do best, because they can.
That may suit the Hindraf leaders just fine. Like the early Christians, they may just thrive under persecution. They have Ghandi for their role model.
We have to show solidarity with them, because they are Malaysians too fighting for their life. We have to support them across religious, racial, and political lines. Now that Uthayakumar is on the frontline against the ISA, we have to pray to our respective god to bless him with courage, wisdom, and perseverance. He is not a criminal, but a victim of unjust laws. He is making tremendous personal sacrifices, not for his own gain, but for the future of his community and the future of Malaysia.
People like Uthayakumar are a rare breed. We must cherish them and their just cause.
The least we can do is to speak out, in solidarity with them.
TamilNet: The Sri Lankan Government has declared the war won and has claimed that Mr Pirapaharan, the leader of LTTE has been killed. Has Colombo really won the war?
The Sri Lankan Government may have declared a military victory. But it does not realize that it is a hollow victory. It has completely lost the trust and confidence of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
TamilNet: In light of the current situation, what is the future of the LTTE?
Pathmanathan: In several earlier statements we have clearly expressed the willingness of our movement to explore a solution to the Tamil national question given that credible political means are established enabling us to seek a political solution in lieu of a military strategy. We took this position in order to save the lives of our people. We could not continue to allow the Sri Lankan military nor the government to use the military option as an excuse to bomb and shell killing scores of people. But despite our plea to the International community to intervene with Sri Lanka and halt its offensive, Colombo decided to disregard and pursue its military push to what it viewed as the end. The information we received indicates that even cadres and leaders who had surrendered carrying white flags were mercilessly killed without any regards for international conventions. The international community too had refused to take a strong enough stand to convince the Sri Lankan Government to take a more conciliatory option.
We are extremely saddened by the turn of events. However, the future of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Tamil national question still lingers on with no solution. The absence of a political process to address this and the need for a defensive mechanism to safeguard the Tamils is what drove the LTTE to take up arms in the first place. Today, an answer to this question is nowhere nearer.
The LTTE was mandated by the people to represent them and take forward the Tamil national question. At this juncture, we would like to reiterate that our movement is always prepared to consider viable alternative means to take the cause forward in accordance with the mandate of our people. We are also sure that Tamils living all over the world will unite as one people to contribute to this.
TamilNet: When you talk of a political process, the prevailing mood exhibited in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka displays hardly any sensitivity to the aspirations of the Tamil people. How do you view this?
Pathmanathan: The trend and sentiments that are engulfing the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka is unfortunate. If Tamils are considered as equal citizens of the country, they will need to be treated with dignity and respect. But, the government and its military encourage the raw display of chauvinism. This only divides the communities further and does not allow for enmities to be resolved. The treatment displayed is as though the Tamils have been vanquished. This dehumanizes our people and deepens the ethnic divide. We are afraid this will not pave the way for a harmonious co-existence in the island.
TamilNet: There are forces that talk of 'post-LTTE' and 'post-conflict' scenario attempting to regard the LTTE as a spent force at this point in time. How is the LTTE going to mobilize the people behind it and give them the necessary leadership?
Our national problem is viewed as Asia's longest-running conflict and our leadership is aware that it needs to adapt to emerging realities while evolving strategies. You will note that the Tamil Diaspora has rallied behind the LTTE and behind the homeland Tamils, showing their strong support world over. The latest carnage in Vanni has only strengthened the unity of the Tamils and our leadership around the world and made them more resolved in their pursuit for justice.
We are also aware that this cannot be achieved alone. We fully appreciate the role every Tamil person and Tamil political party has to play, both in the island of Sri Lanka and abroad, to ensure that the welfare and future of Tamils living in the island is foremost. We are willing to work with all parties to achieve this, including the Tamil parties functioning in India as well. We need to put the welfare of the Tamil people first.
Several Tamil parties in Sri Lanka once had taken up arms and fought for the same cause in pursuit of the Tamil national question. Fundamentally, we hope that they still honour these principles. At this juncture, we earnestly hope that they would come forward to work together to achieve this.
TamilNet: You mentioned that the international community had failed the Tamil people. How do you propose to regain international credibility to take forward your struggle?
Pathmanathan: The International community is fully aware of the discrimination and marginalization the Tamils have faced since the Independence in 1948. They are not ignorant of this. We feel we can build a credible position with the International community through political means.
We recognize the role of India as crucial in this respect. The Tamil people of Sri Lanka and the Tamils living in India share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. This binds us strongly not only with the Tamils in India but also with Tamils world over: in countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Fiji and the Reunion not counting our own who have adopted the many nations of the world as theirs.
We have always considered interests of India and Tamil people lie on the same line and historically the Tamil people in the Island are true friends of the Indian nation. At this crucial time, we now urge India to take a just stand to ensure the safety, dignity and self-respect of Tamils in Sri Lanka. We need to act prudently at this point of time. We are fully aware that India has a key role to play geo-politically in our part of the world and we need to work very closely with them. The LTTE at this juncture is ready to work together with India to ensure the future of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.
|Rajapaksa said on Tuesday that the government now controlled 'every inch' of the country [AFP]|
Sri Lankan state television has broadcast video footage of what the army says is the body of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers.
The military said the body was found in a lagoon on Tuesday morning, contradicting claims by senior Tamil officials that Prabhakaran was alive in a safe location.
The images also showed what appeared to be Prabhakaran's LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) identity card.
Hours before the images were released, the LTTE dismissed the claims that Prabhakaran was dead and vowed that the Tamil struggle for a homeland would continue.
Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the international spokesman for the group, admitted that many senior members had either "given up their lives or have been treacherously killed", but insisted that Prabhakaran was "alive and well".
"Our beloved leader is alive and safe. He will continue to lead the quest for dignity and freedom for the Tamil people," Pathmanathan said in a statement on the pro-LTTE website TamilNet.
Sri Lankan military sources had earlier said that Prabhakaran's body had been found in an ambulance destroyed by troops as it sped out of the war zone. But Tuesday's official account contradicted those claims.
The developments came amid a parliamentary address by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's president, officially declared victory over the LTTE, saying the country had been "liberated from terrorism".
He said the government controlled "every inch" of Sri Lanka for the first time after more than 25 years of civil war.
Delivering his speech partly in the Tamil language, Rajapaksa said the war was not waged against the country's Tamil minority.
"Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of the LTTE. We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said.
Rajapaksa congratulated his military commanders on Monday and promised a power-sharing deal with the Tamils.
Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, said that the country is now in a position to move forward.
"The president has a lot of credibility. He is trusted by the Sinhalese people so he has a great opportunity to make the compromises and accommodations necessary to reach out to Tamils and satisfy their long-standing demands," he told Al Jazeera.
"There's a sense among Tamils that there's no one to speak for them, that they have lost everything and gained nothing. I think the government has to make some symbolic gesture towards the Tamils and change things on the ground."
The Tamil Tigers had been fighting with the stated aim of carving out a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the country's north and east.
They accused the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo of neglecting Tamils.
The LTTE once controlled nearly a fifth of the country, running a shadow state that had courts, police and a tax system along with an army, navy and even a nascent air force.
But on Sunday, the group said it would "silence [its] guns", declaring that its battle with the government had come to a "bitter end".
The Rajapaksa government faces scepticism that it will be genuinely inclusive now that it has defeated the LTTE.
It also faces a looming humanitarian crisis, with the UN estimating that 8,000 people were killed and about 250,000 displaced in just the last four months of the conflict.
The government and the Tamil Tigers alike were criticised for not allowing civilians to leave the conflict zone and firing on them.
UN officials say Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general, is expected to visit Sri Lanka this week, where he will focus on trying to help the displaced, pressing for their speedy return home.
Uthayakumar, when contacted today, confirmed the decision, claiming that this is within his rights under Article 5 (freedom of life and liberty) of the federal constitution.
“This is not a police state. I did not sign any conditions for my release (on May 13). I think Umno and police have to abide by the provisions of law,” said Uthayakumar, a lawyer of 18 years’ standing.
“I know that the Home Minister (Hishammuddin Hussein), who is also a lawyer, knows the provisions of law and he should not abuse his powers.”
Uthayakumar said he does not know what to expect now, but that he has been penalised enough, having been held for 17 months without trial under the Internal Security Act.
“I am prepared for the worst,” he said.
Uthaykumar also said he has seen a specialist at the Gleneagles Hospital (left).
“I went there after my blood test results were made available yesterday. The cardiac specialists suggested that I should go for regular follow-up treatment, as my diabetic condition will also affect my heart. I also did an X-ray while at the hospital,” he said.
He claimed that his blood sugar level has been high in recent days.
“This is because the camp authorities in Kamunting had refused to give me the daily dosage of three tablets to control the diabetes. The camp director tried to act as doctor and only allowed me to take two tablets daily against the doctor's orders,” he said.
He revealed that he has instructed his lawyer, N Surendran (right), to secure the release of his passport.
“Since my brother Waythamoorthy has been diagnosed with a rare heart condition, I have decided to go for a similar check-up in the United Kingdom.
“My uncle had died when he was 55 due to a heart condition and I’m afraid it could be hereditary. For this reason, I have instructed Surendran to file the application.”
Surendran, when contacted today, confirmed that he had filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday, for judicial review to secure the release of Uthayakumar's passport and to reduce the RM50,000 bail imposed on him by the Sessions Court in relation to a sedition charge.
Uthayakumar has claimed trial to publishing on the Police Watch website a letter from Hindraf addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which is alleged to contain seditious remarks.
'No arrest warrant issued'
Yesterday, deputy inspector-general of police Ismail Omar had said “necessary action” would be taken if Uthayakumar failed to show up before the advisory board.
However, police chief Musa Hassan said no arrest order has been issued and that Uthayakumar is only required to be present at Kamunting to face the advisory panel that meets every six months.
"To say we are going to arrest him is very misleading and it only creates unnecessary problems or tension among the people especially among his supporters," Musa was quoted as saying.
Waythamoorthy had called on the authorities to revoke the order to meet the advisory panel.
Failing this, he warned that Hindraf supporters throughout the country would stage fresh protests.
He pointed out that the action of the advisory body was ultra vires the federal constitution and "surely a threat for the re-arrest of Uthayakumar" and that the order is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Uthayakumar and four other Hindraf leaders were arrested in December 2007 after staging a massive street protest. All five were freed on the orders of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, after he took office last month.
Hindraf, which has been outlawed, has since called for a 100-day truce which will end in mid-July.
Waythamoorthy, who remains in London in self-imposed exile, has warned that Hindraf is prepared to revoke the truce and organise street protests if Uthayakumar is rearrested.
The claim by self-proclaimed Perak state assembly speaker R Ganesan that he had no choice but to summon the police into the House at the height of the ruckus during the May 7 sitting, is dubious and deceiving. There is no merit in his claim.
In the first instance, his entry into and his very presence in the assembly is questionable. How on earth did Ganesan get into the assembly? The assembly building was out of bounds to all except the elected members of the assembly.
There was a police cordon to prevent all the others from entering the assembly. A 500-metre no-access zone was declared and anyone found anywhere near this perimeter were either chased away or were arrested when they resisted the police orders.
Even Perak members of parliament were denied access to the assembly. Veteran MP Lim Kit Siang was refused entry into the building in spite of the fact that he had come with the invitation letter from the speaker to attend the assembly sitting.
Likewise, M Kulasegaran and Dr D Jeyakumar, both elected MPs from Perak were turned away. That’s how strict the police were. They stringently enforced this ruling of refusing permission to all and sundry.
Who authorised his presence?
So the natural question is: How did Ganesan gain entry into the building. Who authorised his presence in the Perak state assembly? How did he bypass the police security arrangement? How did he hoodwink the police? How come the police did not detect him? Was he smuggled in? Was he planted in the building the previous day?
Is it possible that the police were working hand in glove with illegitimate MB Zambry Abd Kadir and BN assemblymen and facilitated Ganesan’s presence in the building?
Ganesan had no business to be inside the assembly. One can safely conclude that his appearance and continued presence prompted and provoked a situation which went beyond control.
Contrary to his claim that he had no choice but to call in the police, if indeed he was the speaker of the assembly as he claims, he could have adjourned the assembly sitting, following which he and his cohorts could have left the assembly.
This simple action would have prevented the assembly from becoming chaotic and unruly. Since he did not do this, it can be rightly construed that he had contributed to the topsy-turvy situation.
The illegitimate MB and the BN assemblypersons by smuggling in Ganesan had incited the unruly behaviour.
The way Ganeson was ‘elected’ speaker was also questionable. According to speaker V Sivakumar, the assembly had not been convened. In other words, the assembly was not in session.
Sivakumar had stated that he would not convene the asembly as long as those ordered out of the House were still inside. That was his stated position. That being the case, how was Ganesan elected when the assembly was not in session?
Can a group of BN assemblymen get together privately in one corner of the assembly building when the speaker was still occupying his chair and elect someone else? We have a situation when an outsider appears mysteriously in the building and he was elected speaker when the assembly had not officially convened.
This was not the only absurd situation we had on May 7. On that day, we also seemed to have had two speakers and two menteris besar at the same time in the same building!
The Standing Orders of the assembly were thrown to the winds and the proper procedures that had to be followed were totally ignored. And that was the reason why things turned ugly, unruly and chaotic on May 7.
A BN-police conspiracy?
Ganesan further contributed to the chaos by ordering the police to forcibly evict Sivakumar from the assembly. What were the police doing inside the assembly? Ganesan did not send someone to invite the police to do his bidding. They were already there waiting for his orders. Isn’t that very strange!
By calling on the police to drag out the duly-elected speaker from the assembly, Ganesan had defiled and desecrated the sanctity of the assembly. It is an unforgivable sin that he had committed that must be roundly condemned. We should never introduce thuggish behaviour into the legislative assembly where the rule of law should have been paramount and should have prevailed at all times.
What transpired as a result of Ganesan’s conduct raises many serious questions. Why did the police obey him? How did they know he was the new speaker? Was there an announcement that Sivakumar was ousted?
Or was this part of a pre-prepared and pre-rehearsed script? The way things fell into place would indicate that there was a scheme to capture the Perak state government, if necessary, by force. The plot was hatched studiously and implemented without a care for the rule of law.
This is a dangerous precedent and it should not be tolerated. It must be condemned in the strongest terms. There must be retribution for this outrageous behaviour.
Perakians will remember this shameful episode in their proud history and they will punish all those who frustrated the democratic will of the people.
P RAMAKRISHNAN is president of social movement Aliran.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Selangor Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo has been suspended for one year by the state assembly’s rights and privileges committee.
He has been suspended for his absence from the Selangor Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) inquiry into the alleged misconduct and inappropriate dealings of state charity Balkis.
Also suspended are four Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen — Marsum Paing (Dengkil), Mohamad Idris Abu Bakar (Hulu Bernam), Warno Dogol (Sabak), and Isa Abdul Kasim (Batang Kali).
The four have been suspended for six months each.
Announcing the suspensions today, Speaker Teng Chang Kim said the former mentri besar was found guilty of contempt of the assembly.
The decision to suspend the five BN men will however only take effect once it is tabled at the next assembly sitting in July. Dr Mohd Khir indicated he would challenge the decision in court.
He said that he would wait for a formal letter informing him of his suspension before letting his lawyers study the matter.
By suspending Dr Mohd Khir, Teng and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) could open themselves to accusations of vindictiveness on their part.
Dr Mohd Khir’s administration had been frequently criticised previously for abuse of power in suspending Teng, who was then the Selangor opposition leader.
The former BN MB has also been hurling accusations of corruption against Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, while the Selcat inquiry appeared targeted at Dr Mohd Khir.
If the suspensions are challenged in court, it could result in upheaval in the state.
While the doctrine of separation of powers and constitutional provisions do not usually allow decisions of the state assembly to be subject to judicial review, recent court cases involving the BN-PR power tussle in Perak suggest judges are willing to rule over such matters.
Teng was suspended for 30 months with loss of allowances for 18 months when he was Opposition Leader during Dr Mohd Khir’s administration.
His offence — throwing a copy of the assembly’s standing orders into a bin during an assembly sitting.
“The harshest sentence in history was imposed on me.” said Teng, who is aware the decision to suspend Dr Mohd Khir will be seen as an act of revenge on his part.
He pointed out that he did not take part in the vote to suspend the five.
Under the standing orders, the Speaker only votes if there is a tie among other members of the committee.
Teng said the five lawmakers had crossed the line for claiming Selcat was a political tool.
He added BN lawmakers were also represented in the privileges committee and any allegation of unfairness was unfounded.
However BN lawmaker Wong Koon Mun did not attend today’s committee meeting while the other, Datuk Warno Dogol, is among the five who will be suspended and lost his right to vote.
Teng said the suspensions were based on previous decisions in the assembly and in the Commonwealth.
The privilege committee also took into accounts previous decision in Parliament to suspend members including Karpal Singh, Fong Po Kuan and more recently Gobind Singh Deo.
Members of the privileges committee also include Dr Shafie Abu Bakar, Gan Pei Nei and Hannah Yeoh. Amiruddin Shari was absent from the meeting today.
Meanwhile the police have taken a statement from the secretary of the state assembly in relation to a report against Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik.
The wife of Dr Mohd Khir also refused to attend the inquiry and was deemed to have committed an offence under the Contempt of House Enactment 2008.
However the police together with the Attorney-General’s chambers are responsible for investigation and prosecution.
Teng said documents pertaining to the case had been handed over to police.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — A breakaway Hindraf faction, headed by former national co-ordinator R.S.Thanenthiran, will not be allied with either the Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional.Thanenthiran said the Malaysian Makkal Sakthi Party (MMSP) is independent. “We will work with any coalition or political party that helps us achieve our aspiration which is to help downtrodden Indians,” he told a packed press conference at a Petaling Jaya hotel.
Registration for the party was obtained on May 11, three months after application, and Thanenthiran defended the speedy government approval by saying they had been monitoring the individuals involved in the formation of the party and had no objections to its formation.
Thanenthiran is protem president while A. Waythamoorthy, the Hindraf Perak co-ordinator, is deputy president. Kannan Ramasamy, another well-known Hindraf co-ordinator, is secretary general.
Other posts will be filled later, Thanenthiran said. He added that the party structure would be similar to other Malaysian political parties with a central leadership, a supreme council and state divisions.
Noticeably missing at the launch today were the five Hindraf leaders who were recently released from ISA detention including Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar who did not agree to the formation of a political party under the Makkal Sakthi symbol.
Kota Alam Shah Assemblyman and Hindraf legal adviser M. Manoharan is a DAP member while the rest are said to have quit active politics.
It is unclear how much support the new party can garner under the Makkal Sakti banner because the acknowledged leader of the movement, lawyer Uthayakumar, is not participating in the new venture.“I have my own plans,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today. “We have to wait and see what my masterplan will be. There has been nothing like it in the past 50 years.”
In the meantime, the new party’s priorities include assistance for Tamil schools and temples and raising people’s income levels and resolving religious conversion issues speedily. There will also be a massive recruitment drive to get 300,000 members within a year.
Also present at the launch were former DAP candidate for Kuala Kubu Baru Ramu Annamalai Kandasamy, prominent Klang businessman and Tamil school benefactor Oms Tiagarajan and former MIC Sungei Siput division chairman E. Loganathan.
Both Oms and Loganathan are patrons of the new party while the status of Ramu is unclear as he declined to comment.
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim does not discount the possibility that Prime Minister Najib Razak may once again dip into his bag of dirty tricks and sponsor Independent candidates to run at the Penanti by-election.
According to the reform icon, Najib’s express purpose would be to roil the Pakatan Rakyat, while at the same time, shielding himself and his Umno party from the political consequences of what would surely be another thumping and embarrassing loss in the Malay heartland.
“This has yet to be ascertained, but whatever it is Pakatan will continue working hard to face the elections,” Anwar told reporters.
He had earlier delivered a ceramah to a crowd of more than 5,000 people at Taman Medan in the run-up to the May 31 polling date. The state seat fell vacant after PKR leader Fairus Khairuddin resigned amid controversy and harassment from his political foes.
Umno-BN on the run
Anwar also slammed Najib for trying to mislead the public with false reasons why the Umno-BN had chosen to skip the by-election.
The PM had said: “The vacancy is also because of a political game by the opposition. BN’s focus is on serving the people and reviving the nation’s economy. Thus, we decided not to field a candidate.”
However, said Anwar: “This is a trick because the party always claims to be strong and relevant. In whatever circumstances, if there is a vacancy, Pakatan Rakyat will leave it to the people to decide,” he said.
“Penanti is a seventy percent Malay constituency. For the BN to decline to contest in an area where in the past they would not bat an eyelid to contest is proof that, right now, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
“No matter how the BN dresses up this decision not to contest, the reality cannot be evaded that they are on the run – not just in Perak, but also in the semi-rural areas such as Penanti in Penang.”
Pakatan will field former USM lecturer Mansor Othman. Nomination is on Saturday, May 23. All eyes will on two Independent candidates who have expressed their wishes to contest.
One of them is the 56-year old former Penang PKR Wanita chief Aminah Abdullah.
Another is Mohd Saberi Othman, 49, a businessman and ex-military serviceman. “I am from Kubang Semang and am a resident of Penanti. I want to provide services to the people,” he said.
Money politics in PAS? Almost impossible as PAS money is in the pocket of her supporters and not the leaders.
By Zubaidah Abu Bakar (NSTP)
THE leaders are astounded; party members refuse to believe it.
But they are all searching for answers and want Pas to act quickly on the allegation that political corruption has reared its ugly head in the Islamic party.
To them, action has to be taken against the offenders, if there are any, and the accusers should the allegation, which has tarnished the party’s image, be found to be baseless.
Concern in the ranks is genuine as Pas and money politics in any form are incompatible.
An Islamic movement that upholds Islamic principles and values like Pas cannot afford to see that kind of peccadillo creeping into its workings.
It then will become a case of the pot calling the kettle black as Pas leaders have for decades condemned Umno politicians for buying votes to win positions in the party.
There will be many red faces if money politics has indeed infiltrated Pas. The Dewan Harian, or management committee, is to deliberate on the issue today. It has to, once and for all, clear the air after the allegation was made by none other than the controversial Dewan Ulama head, Datuk Mohamed Daud Iraqi.
Party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is to chair the meeting, during which Daud, who is a committee member, is expected to furnish details of his allegation.
The management committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss preparations for the muktamar that will take place in Shah Alam, Selangor, from June 3 to 7. Delegates will choose their leaders for the next three years on June 5.
Daud caused a stir when he said a candidate eyeing a position at next month’s party elections had offered material inducements to get support.
He did not name anyone but many in the party believe his target was fellow Kelantan leader and party vice-president Datuk Husam Musa.
“He did not name anyone but many in the party believe his target was fellow Kelantan leader and party vice-president Datuk Husam Musa.”
Husam has yet to declare whether he would contest the deputy president’s post but is widely believed to be capable of mounting a strong challenge to Nasharuddin Mat Isa for the party’s No. 2.
Daud, who staunchly believes that only an ulama should hold the top two posts in Pas in line with the concept of kepimpinan ulama (leadership by ulama) which began in the early 1980s, is the one behind the ongoing debate on whether a non-ulama like Husam could become deputy president.
“If he has evidence, we will forward the allegation to the disciplinary committee for action to be taken on all those involved, no matter who they are, whether at the division or highest level. We will not hesitate to take action,” Husam had said on Saturday in response to Daud’s allegation.
Party watchers believe the allegation of money politics is designed to prevent a non-ulama from holding the deputy president’s post.
Except for Hadi, who won the presidency uncontested, the field is wide open for the next two most coveted positions in the party.
There are five nominations for deputy president and as many as 16 for the party’s three vice-presidents.
Some party leaders may brush aside suggestions that Pas is now infected by the scourge it so badly wants to stay away from, claiming the party had never received any such reports to date.
Politicians, however, are known to resort to underhand means to win or stay in power.
Since the allegation came from a respectable ulama, the question has been raised as to whether money politics has indeed made inroads in Pas.
More alarming is the possibility that Daud’s allegation is just the tip of the iceberg.“Party watchers believe the allegation of money politics is designed to prevent a non-ulama from holding the deputy president’s post
Is Najib prepared to emulate his father Razak and order Zambry to vacate and stop squatting in the Perak MB Office?
By Lim Kit Siang,
The reasons given by the Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak why the Barisan Nasional is not contesting the Penanti state assembly by-election in Penang on May 31 does not bear scrutiny.
Najib said the Penanti by-election is not an election provided for by the Constitution but a political game being played by the Opposition and the BN did not want to play to their tune.
What political gobbledegook!
Everybody knows that the real reason the Barisan Nasional is not contesting Penanti is that Najib is frightened of “doing a treble” by-election defeat since becoming Prime Minister on April 3, or a fifth Barisan Nasional setback in 15 months since the March 8 political tsunami in last year’s general elections.
MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders were also in mortal dread of the Penanti by-election especially after their disastrous outing in the recent Bukit Gantang by-election, which caused the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, to say that Umno must go on its own to regain the support of non-Malay voters and not depend on other Barisan Nasional component parties as BN only secured 11% of the Chinese votes and 9% of Indian votes in the Bukit Gantang by-election.
Where are the MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders to hide their faces if in the Penanti by-election, they did even worse than in Bukit Gantang by-election securing less than 11% of the Chinese votes and 9% of the Indian votes – although Indians only constitute 2.4% of the 15,384 Penanti electorate?
Najib had defined constitutional requirement for a by-election as death or disqualification of an elected representative whether because bankruptcy or criminal conviction.
But this is not borne out by Barisan Nasional’s own record. Just to give one example. In May 1997, BN created two simultaneous by-elections, one parliamentary and one state assembly in Selangor, so that Datuk Abu Hassan Omar could relinquish his post as Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to become Selangor Mentri Besar after Tan Sri Muhamad Muhamad Taib was forced to step down after his RM3 million financial caper in Brisbane, Australia.
Najib is right when he said that there had been one previous instance where BN had not contested in a by-election.
This happened during the time of his father, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak, in February 1975.
At the time, the DAP MP for Menglembu, Fan Yew Teng, was convicted of sedition in a retrial by the Kuala Lumpur High Court and the government resorted to the unprecedented step of declaring the Menglembu parliamentary seat vacant and a writ of by-election was issued although Fan was appealing to the Federal Court against conviction.
I immediately despatched a letter to Razak on Feb. 20, 1975 protesting against the “usurpation of the parliamentary process by unconstitutional and unparliamentary acts” and urged him as Prime Minister “to uphold the rules of natural justice, accepted form of parliamentary practice and the sanctity of the Constitution by staying the holding of a by-election of the parliamentary constituency of Menglembu”.
Razak replied in a letter dated 23rd February 1975 stating his disagreement with my contention that the holding of the by-election would prejudge Fan’s appeal and concluded:
“7. I resent your insinuation that there is an attempt to usurp the powers of Parliament by unconstitutional and unparliamentary acts having regard to the fact that the Speaker as well as the Election Commission had acted properly and duly in accordance with legal advice of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.”
I had contended 24 years ago that the writ of election issued by the Election Commission for the holding of the Menglembu Parliamentary by-election was improper, illegal, unconstitutional and unparliamentary.
Although Sdr. Fan Yew Tong has been convicted of a sedition charge in the High Court, he has given notice of appeal to the Federal Court, from where there was a further avenue of appeal to the Privy Council.
I had posed the following questions in February 1975:
“Should Fan win in his appeal either at the Federal Court or Privy Council appeal level, how is Fan to be restored to his parliamentary seat of Menglembu, should a by-election be held now causing a new member to be elected?
“Surely, the Elections Commission is run by intelligent men, who can foresee such a absurdity being created. No procedure should create injustices, either to Fan, or to the new member, and this can only be done by waiting until the completion of the entire appeal process.”
When Fan was earlier convicted on the same sedition charge in 1971 (he was then MP for Kampar which he won in 1969 general elections) in the High Court, he was suspended from the House but no by-election was held.
Subsequently. Fan appealed and won at the Federal Court and the Privy Council, with the latter ordering a retrial, and Fan was restored back his Parliamentary seat of Kampar.
By the time of his High Court conviction at the retrial in 1975, Fan had switched constituencies in the 1974 general election and was the MP for Menglembu.
I had questioned the Election Commission why it ignored this precedent set by itself in 1971, and chose deliberately to disqualify Fan in the retrial when Fan was still appealing against his conviction.
However, to demonstrate that the BN was not behind the usurpation of parliamentary privileges and the illegal, unconstitutional and unparliamentary holding of a by-election when Fan was still appealing against his conviction, Razak announced that BN would not field a candidate in the Menglembu by-election.
Nomination of candidates for the Menglembu by-election was held on Feb. 27, 1975 with the DAP candidate challenged by independent candidates.
Three days before the polling on March 15, 1975, the High Court gave a declaration sought by the DAP that there was no vacancy in the Menglembu constituency and stopped the by-election.
There is a striking similarity between the illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of parliamentary process in trying to force a by-election when there was no vacancy in the parliamentary constituency of Menglembu in 1975 with the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak when there was no vacancy in the Perak Mentri Besar office in February 2009.
All talk about “Barisan’s priority is to serve the people and work to revive the country’s economy” are poppycock when it is Najib and BN who precipitated the three-and-a-half month Perak constitutional and political impasse undermining public confidence in one national institution after another as well as impairing Malaysia’s international image and competitiveness.
Is Najib prepared to emulate his father Tun Razak and distance the office of the Prime Minister from the illegal and unconstitutional power grab when there was no vacancy in the Perak Mentri Besar’s office from February until now?
How can Najib allow the usurper Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir to re-occupy the Perak Mentri Besar’s office for ten days from May 12 to May 21 after Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim’s landmark judgment on May 11, 2009 that Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is the lawful Perak Mentri Besar, and when the “stay order” of the single-judge Court of Appeal on May 12 did not legitimise Zambry from a “usurper” MB to become lawful “MB”?
The Month of Infamy for Perak and Malaysia has produced two dark and shameful episodes – firstly, the May 7 Day of Infamy when the Perak Speaker, V. Sivakumar was physically dragged out of the Assembly by police officers and goons; and secondly, the Infamy of the “Ten days of May” when a doubly illegitimate Zambry re-squatted in the Perak Mentri Besar’s Office from May 12 to 21, 2009.
I do not believe Tun Razak would have allowed Zambry to act in so utter disregard of all notions of decencies as to squat so shamelessly in the Perak Mentri Besar’s office when he has no legitimacy whatsoever.
Tun Razak would have boldly accepted the reality that after the single-judge Court of Appeal “stay order”, Perak has no Mentri Besar who could occupy the Mentri Besar’s office and would have ordered Zambry to respect the law and decencies and not to continue to act as Squatter Mentri Besar.
Just as Razak decided that BN should not contest in the controversial Menglembu by-election 24 years ago, is Najib prepared to ask Zambry to vacate and to stop squatting in the Perak Mentri Besar’s Office?
Is Najib prepared to end the agony and travails of Perak and the nation caused by the Perak crisis by dissolving the Perak State Assembly and return the mandate to Perakians to elect the state government they want?
By M K Bhadrakumar
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran's death circa May 19, 2009, in circumstances we will never quite get to know, concludes a morality play.
As the curtain comes down and we leave the theater, the spectacle continues to haunt us. We feel a deep unease and can't quite figure out the reason. Something rankles somewhere. And then we realize we have blood on our hands.
Prabhakaran's blood. No, it is not only Prabhakaran's, but also of 70,000 Sri Lankan Tamils who have perished in the unspeakable violence through the past quarter century.
All the pujas we may perform to our favorite Hindu god, Lord Ganesh, for good luck each morning religiously so that we march ahead in our life from success to success cannot wash away the guilt we are bearing - the curse of the 70,000 dead souls.
Our children and grandchildren will surely inherit the great curse. What a bitter legacy!
A long time ago, we created Prabhakaran. We picked him up as an urchin from nowhere. What we found charming about him was that he was so thoroughly apolitical - almost innocent about politics. He was a simpleton in many ways, who had a passion for weapons and the military regimen. He suited our needs perfectly.
Which was to humiliate the Junius Richard Jayewardene government in Sri Lanka and teach it a hard lesson about the dangers of being disrespectful to India's status as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean. Jayewardene was too Western-oriented and behaved as if he never read about the Monroe Doctrine when he read history in Oxford. We didn't like at all his dalliance with the Israelis and the Americans in our very backyard.
So, we fostered Prabhakaran and built him up as a prick on Jayewardene's vanities - like Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale of the Deccans.
Then, as time passed, we decided that he had outlived his utility as we had come to develop an entirely different outlook towards the pro-Western orientation of the Colombo government by that time. Our egotistic leader in Delhi who detested Jayewardene was no more in power and the new soft-spoken leader didn't share his predecessor's strong political antipathies.
So, we arm-twisted Prabhakaran to tone down and fall in line with our changed priorities. But we didn't realize that by then he had become a full-grown adult.
He resisted our blackmail and pressure tactics. When we pressured him even more and tried to collar him, he struck back. He dispatched assassins to India and killed our beloved leader. And he became our eternal enemy.
Yet, we couldn't do anything to harm him. He had already become so strong - an uncrowned king among his people. So we waited. We are a patient lot. Who can match us in infinite patience, given our 5,000 years of history? Our cosmic religion gives us a unique wisdom to be patient and stoic and to bide our time.
And then, the opportune time came. We promptly moved in for the kill by aligning ourselves with Prabhakaran's enemies. We armed them and trained them in better skills to kill. We guided them with good intelligence. We plugged all escape routes for Prabhakaran. And then, we patiently waited as the noose tightened around Prabhakaran's neck.
Today he is no more. Believe it or not, we had no role in his death. How and when he died shall forever remain an enigma wrapped in a mystery. We will of course never divulge what we know.
All that matters is that the world woke up to the death only after the May 13 polling in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Otherwise, the parliamentary election results may have gone haywire against us. Strange are the ways of the Indian democracy.
We have had our revenge. Nothing else matters for the present.
What lies ahead? We will continue to make noises about a "political solution" to the Tamil problem that Prabhakaran championed through violent means.
Of course, let there be no doubt that we will periodically render humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians who have been herded into camps and may languish there till the dust settles down. We will demonstrate that we are indeed capable of the milk of human kindness. After all, the Sri Lankan Tamils are part of our historical consciousness.
But we must also be realistic. We know in our heart of hearts that the scope for a political solution in the fashion in which our leaders seem to suggest publicly is virtually nil.
The Sinhalese will never allow the world to dictate to them a political solution. More so, they will promptly and conclusively rebuff any attempt by us to seek a role in what they will now onward insist as strictly their internal affair.
Always remember that Sri Lanka is one of the last bastions of Theravada Buddhism and preserving that legacy is the Sinhalese people's precious tryst with destiny. At least, that is how they feel. We have to accept the weight of their cultural nationalism.
They see Sri Lanka as the land of the Sinhalese. How could they allow us Indians who wiped out Buddhism with such ferocity from the sub-continent interfere with their keen sense of destiny as the custodians of that very same great religion? Never, never.
If we try to pressure the Sinhalese, they will approach the Chinese or the Pakistanis to balance our pressure. They are capable of doing that.
The Sinhalese are a gifted people. We all know few can never match their terrific skills in media management. They have always lived by their wits.
Equally, they are fantastic practitioners of diplomacy. We suspect that they may in fact have an edge over us on this front, for, unlike us who are dissimulating from day to day as if we're a responsible regional power, and dissipating our energies in pastimes such as hunting down Somali pirates in distant seas, they are a highly focused lot.
They have the grit because they are fighting for the preservation of their country's future identity as a Buddhist nation.
Only last week, they showed their diplomatic skill by getting the Russians and the Chinese to stall a move in the United Nations Security Council to pressure them.
The Europeans fancy they can try the Sinhalese for war crimes. What naivety!
We asked the Sinhalese in private many a time how they proposed to navigate their way in the coming period. They wouldn't divulge.
But we know that it is not as if they have no solution of their own to the Tamil problem, either. We know they already have a blueprint.
See, they have already solved the Tamil problem in the eastern provinces of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara. The Tamils are no more the majority community in those provinces.
Similarly, from tomorrow, they will commence a concerted, steady colonization program of the northern provinces where Prabhakaran reigned supreme for two decades. They will ensure incrementally that the northern regions no more remain as Tamil provinces.
The Tamils will be made into a minority community in their own northern homelands. They will have to live among the newly created Sinhalese settlements in those regions to the north of Elephant Pass.
All this will indeed be within Sri Lanka's "federal structure". Sri Lanka will continue to adhere to parliamentary democracy.
Give them a decade at the most. The Tamil problem will become a relic of the bloody history of the Indian sub-continent.
The Sinhalese are good friends of India. Our elite and their elite speak the same idiom. We both speak English well, play golf and like chilled beer. We should, therefore, wish them well.
As for the blood on our hands, true, it is a blessed nuisance. But this is not the first time in our history that we're having blood on our hands.
Trust our words. No lasting harm will be done. Blood doesn't leave stains.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
Tigers leave unfinished business
By Sudha Ramachandran
BANGALORE - In a nationally televised address from parliament on Tuesday, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa hailed "a day which is very, very significant - not only to us Sri Lankans but to the entire world", and declared the country "liberated" from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after a 26-year war.
The myth that the LTTE is militarily invincible has now been laid to rest, along with its chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, and the entire Tiger top brass.
In a cry for unity, Rajapaksa said, "We must find a homegrown solution to this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all communities."
And therein lies the rub for a nation that has been torn apart by the years of civil war, with more than 70,000 people killed and thousands displaced in a struggle that pitted the majority Sinhalese against the minority Tamils.
Prabhakaran was said to have been shot dead by the armed forces on Monday morning as he attempted to escape the war zone in a convoy that included an ambulance. On Tuesday Sri Lankan television showed grisly pictures of a body it claimed was Prabhakaran with a massive head wound, suggesting he was not fleeing as the government had said but either shot himself or was shot at point-blank range.
Prabhakaran's death is said to have come shortly after soldiers stumbled on the bodies of several key LTTE leaders, including his son and heir-apparent Charles Antony, LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman, naval chief Soosai, the head of the political wing Balasingham Nadesan, and the head of the defunct peace secretariat, Seevaratnam Puleedevan.
A day earlier, the LTTE's chief of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, conceded defeat in a statement on Tamilnet. The LTTE was silencing its guns, Pathmanathan said.
With the death of Prabhakaran and the defeat of the LTTE, a momentous chapter in Sri Lanka's history has come to an end. Fifty-four-year old Prabhakaran was no ordinary guerrilla leader. A military genius and a brilliant strategist, Prabhakaran transformed the LTTE from a ragtag band of boys into a formidable fighting force that was able to stand and confront armies far better equipped than his own.
Until two years ago, the LTTE controlled almost a third of Sri Lankan territory. It ran a parallel administration in parts of this territory, one that included legal courts, a police force, a tax system, even a bank. The LTTE had a powerful army, a navy and even a nascent air wing. It is the only insurgent organization in the world to have possessed and used aircraft of its own.
The LTTE survived over three decades. Skillful maneuvering out of tight corners, even reaching out to one enemy to get rid of another, was responsible in part for its survival. That skill, however, was finally exhausted.
From July 2007, the LTTE began losing territory, first in the east and then the north. Its political headquarters, Killinochchi, fell to the armed forces in January this year. Then it lost the strategic Elephant Pass, and following that Mullaitivu, its military stronghold. The Tigers were restricted to a shrinking sliver of territory on the east coast over the past month. They lost that over the weekend.
Throughout the past year, the LTTE appealed to the international community to intervene. It hoped that parties and politicians in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu would put pressure on the Indian government to bail it out and that the plight of civilians would prompt India, the West and aid agencies to push for a ceasefire. But all these attempts to pull itself out of a corner came to nothing.
The Tiger chief has often been described as a cat with nine lives, having escaped capture and assassination attempts several times. Even a month ago, the Sri Lankan army chief admitted his troops had missed capturing him "by a whisker". On Monday, Prabhakaran's luck finally ran out.
But it isn't luck, or rather the lack of it, that is responsible for the defeat of the LTTE. Several factors contributed to bringing about its decline in recent years.
One is the hostile international environment that all non-state actors engaging in armed struggle encountered after the terror attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
Already tagged with the terrorist label by several countries, the LTTE's global fundraising, its front organizations and the logistical network came under immense pressure. The impact of a split in the LTTE in 2004 was even more devastating, with the breakaway faction under its former eastern commander, "Colonel Karuna", joining hands with the government in the military operations against the LTTE.
And then in 2005 Rajapaksa became president. A hardliner, his orders to the armed forces were unambiguous: they were to fight the LTTE not to merely weaken it but to defeat it, to "finish it off" once and for all. And that was what the military, better equipped than ever before, set out to do.
However, the seeds of the LTTE's destruction lay in the organization itself, in decisions that would come back to bite it in subsequent years.
Its decision to assassinate former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu 1991 was perhaps its biggest blunder. That killing not only earned the LTTE the terrorist label from India, but also made India a permanent enemy. Its support base in Tamil Nadu was eroded and its logistical network dismantled. And worse, it had to contend thereafter with a robust military cooperation and other links between Delhi and Colombo.
Another blunder was its misreading of the potential of the 2002 ceasefire and the talks that followed. Instead of seeing this as a chance to reach a settlement of the conflict, the LTTE saw it as an opportunity to rearm and regroup. It walked out of the talks and did everything possible to make the peace process fail. The war that followed was disastrous for the Tigers.
It gravely miscalculated when it called on Tamils to boycott the 2005 presidential poll. The impact of that boycott saw Rajapaksa win by a wafer-thin majority. Perhaps it thought that Rajapaksa as president would result in rallying Tamil support around the Tigers. It did not foresee that Rajapaksa would prove to be their nemesis.
The LTTE appears to have believed its own propaganda. It believed it was militarily invincible. Its closing of the sluice gates of Mavil Aru in July 2006, inviting the vastly stronger armed forces to launch an offensive and at a time when international sentiment was not in its favor, can only be described as suicidal.
The LTTE's use of suicide bombings, its intolerance of dissent, the recruitment of children and its utter disregard for human lives severely undermined support from foreign governments. It is proscribed in 32 counties. This contributed to international reluctance to call for a ceasefire as this would have let the Tigers off the hook. When the calls for a ceasefire came eventually, they were too weak, too half-hearted and too late to save the LTTE and its top brass.
The LTTE overestimated itself, even when its military capabilities were waning. It was losing territory and fighters over the past year and should have reverted to guerrilla warfare. In its desperation to hold onto territory and perceiving itself as a conventional army, it fought a defensive war when it lacked the numbers and the firepower for such a strategy. In the circumstances, defeat was inevitable. The LTTE defeated itself.
Prabhakaran was uncompromising in his commitment to the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam. Perhaps too uncompromising for the good of the LTTE or the Tamil people whose interests he claimed to protect.
There were political solutions, like the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 that provided the Tamils with a measure of autonomy. But such solutions Prabhakaran rejected as inadequate as they provided for "less than Tamil Eelam". Prabhakaran preferred returning to the battlefield time and again, uncaring of the large number of Tamils who were getting killed in the bloody wars. Over 70,000 people are said to have died in the 25-year-long insurgency. This might have been avoided had Prabhakaran been realistic and seriously explored a political solution.
The LTTE no longer exists as a military organization and its military assets and capabilities have been destroyed. But the LTTE is defeated, not dead. Several Tigers would have escaped the armed forces and they will be thirsting for revenge.
Both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have declared the war over. But the ethnic conflict is not over yet. The grievances of the Tamils, and their alienation and anger that gave rise to militancy and organizations like the LTTE in the first place, remain unresolved. The issues that kept the insurgency alive for three decades are very much alive.
The irony of Prabhakaran and the LTTE is that even as they strengthened the bargaining position of Tamils, they were simultaneously the biggest obstacle in the path of a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
With Prabhakaran's exit, Tamil obstruction to a negotiated settlement has been removed. But the obstacles to this among Sinhalese - Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinists, the military and Rajapaksa's hardline regime - continue to exist and have emerged stronger from the war.
If and when Rajapaksa opens negotiations with the Tamils, the latter will be in a weak position, weakened not only by the absence of the LTTE but also undermined by it. The LTTE systematically decimated a generation of Tamil moderate leaders and intellectuals. The input of people like Neelan Tiruchelvam and Ketesh Loganathan, intellectuals who were assassinated by the LTTE for daring to differ with its methods, will be sorely missed.
The LTTE, which waged a war ostensibly to protect Tamils, has left them more vulnerable than ever before.