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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rise and fall of Headley: From LeT to Chicago jail

LeT operative David Coleman Headley
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In the fourth and concluding part of the series ProPublica's Sebastian Rotella talks about how Laskar-e-Tayiba operative David Coleman Headley was finally nabbed by United States law enforcement agencies, but only after he hoodwinked them for seven years. But the epilogue in the story is rather like the prologue: full of impunity and mystery.

Chapter 7: "Congrats On Your Graduation"

On the night of Nov 26, 2008, Lashkar-e-Tayiba David Coleman Headley was at home in Lahore when his handler Sajid Mir sent him a text message. It said, "Turn on your television."

The siege of Mumbai lasted three excruciating days. The 10-man attack team arrived by sea, landing at a fishermen's slum chosen by Headley for its strategic location. The young gunmen had never been to India. They were guided by Headley's videos and written reports, his provision of GPS coordinates and his work with a Pakistani navy frogman on the maritime approach.

Mir and other Lashkar bosses directed the slaughter by phone from a command post in Karachi. Their calls were intercepted by Indian intelligence and have been subsequently broadcast in international television reports.

Headley watched the coverage with his Moroccan wife; they had reconciled weeks earlier. He got a celebratory email from his Pakistani wife, whom he had moved with their children to Chicago in September. The wife knew about his reconnaissance and praised him in an email using coded language, according to court testimony.

"Congrats on your graduation," the wife wrote on Nov 28, according to court documents. "Graduation ceremony is really great. Watched the movie the whole day."

Headley was already thinking about his next mission.

In October, Major Iqbal and Mir had visited him at home, the first time he had seen his Inter-Services Intelligence and Lashkar handlers together, according to Headley's testimony. They wanted to take their holy war to Europe. They assigned him to scout the Jyllands-Posten newspaper of Denmark, a terrorist target because it had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Headley visited his family in Chicago over the Christmas holiday. He learned that yet another tipster had gone to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to his testimony. It was a female friend of his mother, who had died earlier in the year. Apparently motivated by news of the Mumbai attacks, the woman contacted the Wilmington, Delware, FBI office, which passed the lead to the Philadelphia field office.

Interviewed on December 1, the tipster said Headley's mother had told her years earlier that her son was fighting alongside militants in Pakistan. The tipster said she believed he was still involved in militant activity. FBI agents reviewed records and found "most or all" of the warnings dating back to 2001, according to a senior US law enforcement official.

On Dec 21, agents interviewed Farid Gilani, Headley's cousin in Philadelphia. He deceived them by saying Headley was in Pakistan, according to testimony. The cousin called Headley in Chicago to alert him, according to testimony. In an email to a militant in Pakistan, Headley speculated that the FBI's interest was related to the allegations months earlier at the US embassy by his Moroccan wife, whom he called "M2."

"So I think that it is OK, just routine, because of what M2 said before," Headley wrote on Dec 24.

This story was co-published with PBS FRONTLINE.

Lawyers end march, say to keep up pressure on assembly law

Hundreds of lawyers marched from Lake Gardens to Parliament to protest the Peaceful Assembly Bill today. — Picture by Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The Bar Council warned the Najib administration today it will “continue knocking on the doors of Parliament” if the Peaceful Assembly Bill is passed without public consultation.

Malaysian Bar President Lim Chee Wee urged the government to consider the council’s proposed alternative to the government’s original Bill, which he described as an “unjust law made in haste ... which will impose unreasonable and disproportionate fetters on freedom of assembly”.

“The Bar will continue knocking on the doors of Parliament if the Bill makes it to the statute books in its current form,” he vowed during a brief press conference in Parliament here.

Lim was addressing reporters just moments after he led hundreds of lawyers in the council’s “Walk for Freedom” march to Parliament as a sign of their open defiance of a law they claim infringes on Malaysians’ constitutional rights.

The prominent lawyer, along with nine other representatives from the council, were allowed through Parliament gates and into the lobby to hand over a copy of its alternative Bill to deputy minister Datuk V. K. Liew and a letter of appeal urging MPs to vote wisely.

“We are not anti-government or pro-opposition. We are anti-injustice and anti-unconstitutionality ... We are pro-justice and pro-rule of law. We have always worked closely with the government,” Lim told Liew when handing over the documents.

MORE TO COME

Dr Subra confident of renewed Indian support

In an exclusive interview with MIC deputy president Dr S Subramaniam, he said the party is confident of getting back the lost Indian votes due to its good work.

INTERVIEW


PETALING JAYA: MIC is confident of regaining the support from the Indian community lost during the last 2008 general election, given the continued hard-work it has put in to address a wide range of Indian-related issues.

Expressing this confidence during an interview with FMT recently, MIC deputy president Dr S Subramaniam said: “We are confident that we will be able to get better support from the Indian community now in comparison to 2008.”

During the one-hour-plus interview at his office in Pusat Bandar Damansara here, the Human Resources Minister took pains to list down the achievements of the Cabinet Committee on Indian Affairs to justify that claim.

This committee was formed in 2008 and is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and under the committee, a Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) is tasked with the execution of the plans.

Heading the task force is none other than Subramaniam himself, who said that numerous programmes have helped change the “feeling of the Indian community towards the government” to be more “positive”.

This, he said, has translated into an increased support, adding that on average, about 60 to 70 percent of the Indian voters support Barisan Nasional, a much higher figure than the estimated 40 percent on average in 2008.

“Through the Cabinet Committee for Indian Affairs, the SITF and specific initiatives of top MIC leadership, many specific issues of the Indian community have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” said Subramaniam.

He said the issues that have achieved some results include a RM235 million allocation for building and upgrading Tamil schools for the past three years and another RM100 million for the next year.

Better job opportunities

Subramaniam also said the government has managed to address problems with documentation, with over 9,000 Indians having registered with the MyDaftar campaign.

“Through the MySkill Programme, 2,600 Indian youths have been placed in various government skills training centres, and 400 Indian SPM students were given government scholarships,” he said.

Subramaniam said another initiative, called MyJobs, is in the pipeline to create better job opportunities for the Indian community in the public sector, government-linked companies, army, police, as well as in the private sector.

“We will start the MyJobs programme in December 2011 and continue next year,” he said.


Subramaniam said there have been two main focuses for the Indian community, which he admits are trapped in a low-income cycle – namely, allowing more employment opportunities in the government service and more opportunities for Indian businesmen to take part in government-based projects.

“We have asked the prime minister for a bigger level of involvement (of the Indian community) in mega-projects – that a certain quantum be reserved for contractors from the Indian community.

“We believe that that would have a larger spin-off effect – employment opportunities for a larger spectrum of people and generating more economic activity for the Indians. If these issues have been addressed well, the Indian community’s support for BN will get back to what it was before,” said Subramaniam, adding that there are plans to allow for more loans to aid businesses.

Subramaniam also took a swipe at the Indian leaders in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, saying that none of them have taken it upon themselves to come out with any concerted attempt to address Indian issues.

Political mileage

He said this can be seen in Penang and Selangor, where mega-issues are not addressed and approach has been “ad hoc, sporadic and one-off”, done merely to get political mileage.

“They even have a deputy chief minister in Penang (P Ramasamy) who came on record to say that he is not the representative of the Indian community, but answerable to all members of the community,” he said.

Subramaniam said that MIC expects no change and is likely to retain and contest in all nine parliamentary seats and 19 state seats in the 13th general election. “Unlikely to be more. Very unlikely there will be less.”

But he addmitted that seat swaps was possible.

Asked if there has been any finalisation of candidates, Subramaniam said: “No, we’ve not done anything”, but added that he discussed such matters with party president G Palanivel “quite often”.

He also said that there would be more new, young faces being fielded in the election, but declined to reveal any names at the moment.

On his own parliamentary seat in Segamat, Subramaniam said: “As it is, I’ll probably be contesting back in Segamat and we’ve been working very hard on that seat.” He said that he visits his constituency weekly.

Asked to gauge his “winability” against people like Chua Jui Meng, rumoured to be eyeing the seat, Subramaniam said simply: “Well, it’s okay. But we cannot take it easy, because with the current political developments, this election will be a very challenging one to everybody; we’re all working very hard in all possible ways to increase our chances of success.”

Below are excerpts from the interview:

On the 13th general election, how prepared is MIC?

Generally, the support of the Indian community as we see it is definitely better than it was in 2008. Our worst situation was in 2008, and since then there has been a greater shift in the support of the Indian community, though it varies from area to area. On average, it’s about 60 to 70 percent of the Indian voters who would probably support Barisan Nasional; this is higher than the 40 percent on average we had in the 2008.

As far as MIC is concerned, the grassroots machinery geared towards identifying Indian voters has already been set in motion. The election machinery at all the branches and divisions is reconciling their membership. We have also embarked on new voter registration (exercise).

In addition, specific problems on the ground have been identified and intervention mechanisms have been put in place. We are confident that we will be able to get better support from the Indian community now in comparison to 2008. National MIC leaders have frequent meetings and interaction with grassroots leaders to motivate them and enhance their performance.

We’ve been able to identify some of the main problems and we’re slowly addressing them. We are able to address issues of Tamil schools in the past few years; we have had a massive campaign to address the problem of documentation within the Indian community, and this has produced some results. We have recently started a campaign to offer greater opportunities in skills training for Indian youths, and this (too) has produced results. We’re also doing something to provide more jobs for Indians, specifically in certain areas within the government. Lack of jobs is something that is a big concern in the Indian community. That’s an issue we had highlighted many times with the top leadership. We’re launching a programme (to provide) better employment (for Indians) in the public services, government-linked companies (GLCs), army, police. I hope that with this, more opportunities will be created. The prime minister himself has been going on the ground and meeting different Indian groups; he has been present in Indian functions like in Batu Caves, and so on. This has brought him closer to the Indian community.

Through the Cabinet Committee for Indian Affairs, the Indian Task Force and specific initiatives of top MIC leadership, many specific issues of the Indian community have been addressed or are in the process of being addressed. They include:

  • Tamil schools – the government has allocated RM235 million in the last three years and RM100 million for next year for building and upgrading Tamil schools. This has given a big boost to infrastructure facilities in Tamil schools and created a better environment.
  • Documentation issue – over 9,000 people had registered during the MyDaftar campaign carried out with the assistance of the National Registration Department. All the issues are given individual attention; we hope to get approval for 2,000 citizenship for some of the applicants before the end of 2011.
  • Through the MySkill Programme, 2,600 Indian youths have been placed in various government skills training centres.
  • Some 400 Indian students were given scholarships through the Public Service Department and 1MDB Fund to further their education after SPM.
  • The number of training places for untrained attachment teachers (GSTT) teachers to become permanently trained teachers was increased three-fold in the last three years.
  • Program Mesra Rakyat was conducted in nine places, where 11 government departments and agencies met with about 13,200 people and addressed many issues.
  • MyJobs. We have begun an initiative to create better job opportunities by collaborating with the public sector, GLCs, army, police and leading companies in the private sector. The aim of this programme is to increase employment opportunities for Indian youths and to identify and address the issues which will increase their employability. We will start this programme in December and continue next year.
  • Increased opportunities to obtain more loans for micro-enterprises have been made available through Tekun Nasional and Amanah Ikhtiar. The government has recently announced an allocation of RM100 million through Amanah Ikhtiar in the 2012 Budget.
  • Estate housing scheme – a revolving fund has been created by the government with an allocation of RM50 million to enable estate workers to purchase houses costing below RM60,000. This is a very friendly scheme which will overcome the obstacles faced by estate workers to own houses.
  • The government through the initiatives of the prime minister has given financial assistance to Indian NGOs and temples to the tune of RM10 million last year. This has helped the NGOs to carry out grassroots activities and contribute to the overall development of the community.

There are two main areas where we need assistance: employment opportunities in the government service, and opportunities for Indian businesses to take part in government-based projects. We have highlighted these two areas to the prime minister. He has recently given a grant of RM8 million to facilitate the development of Indian entrepreneurs on a smaller level. We will be doing this via the Suria Cooperative to support the entrepreneurs. We have asked the government for a bigger level of involvement (by the Indian community) in mega-projects – that a certain quantum be reserved for contractors from the Indian community. We believe that that would have a larger spin-off effect – employment opportunities for a larger spectrum of people and generating more economic activity for the Indians. If these issues have been addressed well, the Indian community’s support for BN will get back to what it was before.

How does MIC plan to counter Pakatan Rakyat’s promises? The goodies that Pakatan is dishing out, for example, the promise of an Indian deputy prime minister if it wins?


Of course, these promises are political gimmicks. We have to look at the overall development of the Indian community. Simply promising top government positions to non-Malays if Pakatan were to win the general election is useless because what matters is not the post but Pakatan’s ability to use the position for the welfare of the community.

If you look at it in totality, the recent recognition of the problems of the Indian community and the willingness to overcome them in terms of the transformation programmes in education, business and employment opportunities… these are the real issues that affect the grassroots Indian. Even with an Indian deputy chief minister in Penang (P Ramasamy), it did not increase opportunities to improve the welfare of the Penang Indians. In fact, he (Ramasamy) has gone on record to say that he is not the representative of the Indians in Penang, and that he is there as a member of Pakatan, and that he is answerable to all members of the community.

By and large, the Pakatan Indian leaders have not made it their primary agenda to address the woes of the Indian community. And neither has Pakatan come up with any proposal in Penang or Selangor (which has a sizeable number of Indians) to address the mega-issues facing the Indians. Their whole approach has been ad hoc, sporadic and largely one-off, and merely for getting political mileage.

How is that different in terms of what MIC is doing?

In BN, the whole agenda of the MIC is purely Indian; we don’t have any other agendas as far as the MIC is concerned. Although when we take on government roles… we have different roles (to play). Until today, if there is any issue that affects the Indian community, people don’t blame Pakatan or its leaders for not solving it. The initial blame goes to MIC, and this is even done by the opposition when it has problems in its own state. There is already an acceptance that if it is an Indian issue, it has to be a MIC (issue). MIC is a huge structure that has nearly 3,600 over branches throughout the country, with a total membership of 600,000. I don’t think there is any other structure or network that can go to every area where there are Indians… MIC is part and parcel of the Indian community. It would not be fair to say that MIC has totally failed (the Indian community). There are events in the past which have left some bitter experience within the Indian community… But with all the improvements (we are doing), we hope the Indian community would be able to judge whether MIC is able to deal with the Indian issues or not.

Back to the general election, have the candidates been picked?

No, we’ve not done anything.

How about suggestions/proposals?

On the number of seats, we’ll probably be allowed to contest the same number of seats as before, that is, nine parliamentary and 19 state seats. We’ll be contesting in all of those seats.

Will there be more seats?

Unlikely to be more. Very unlikely there will be less.

Will there be seat swaps?

That’s possible.

How often do you discuss such matters with the (MIC) president (G Palanivel)?

Quite often.

Can we expect new, young faces?

I’m sure there will be. As in all elections, there will be a mixture of old and new faces. The final prerogative of deciding on the candidates is with the president (Palanivel) and Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak).

Could you tell us any names at the moment?

No (laughs).

As for your own seat…

I’ll probably be contesting again in Segamat and we’ve been working very hard on that seat.

We’ve been told that you have been visiting your constituency every single week, without fail?

Yes, that’s true.

How do you gauge your winability there?

Well, it’s okay. But we cannot take it easy, given the current political developments. This election will be very challenging… we’re all working very hard to increase our chances of success.

There are rumours that (PKR vice-president) Chua Jui Meng is eyeing the seat (Segamat)…

There are rumours that many people are eyeing the seat, but we don’t give much (attention) to that. Because when you go for election, there will definitely be someone who is contesting against you; it could be any person, so you have to do your job and hope for the best.

What is your vision for the Indian community in your present position as a leader?

At the moment, the Indian community is trapped in the low-income cycle. And so we have to get this community out of that; a lot of their other problems are related to this cycle. The two areas that might assist us in that transformation are education and economic improvement. And we are focusing on them.

As far as Tamil schools are concerned, there has been major assistance from the government in the last three years; we’re also seeing students from Tamil schools improving (in their performance). I think that it’s going in the right direction.

We are looking into other ways of increasing the number of students entering public universities by increasing the number of matriculation places. About 500 students were given matriculation seats last year. We have proposed alternative mechanism to the government to make available another 1,000 places. This will increase the opportunities for Indian students in public universities.

In terms of economic performance, the government has created more opportunities to help the Indians, for example the recent announcement of Amanah Ikthiar, where dedicated amounts of loans will be given to the Indian community. Beside under the Tekun scheme, we’ve increased the loans. Now we’re asking for more opportunities for Indian businessmen to benefit from government projects. If these can be done, I think we might see an increase in the number of Indian businessmen. We can’t, of course, do an immediate transformation. But with a clear-cut agenda, we will be able to achieve it. So far the prime minister has been supportive, he has accepted the fact that Indians need assistance and support to get out of this (low-income trap).

Maybe, in the next 10 years or so, we’ll see a major transformation in the lower third of the Indian community, which is where all our problems are. We have a small upper-class Indian and we have a reasonably large middle class, which is quite independent. But our concern is the lower third, where all of our problems are: there is poverty, low income, dependency on the welfare system, crimes, social evils… Some 30 per cent of the total number in the working class are in the lower income group. Transforming them is our biggest challenge. Upward mobility for them can only come from education… So that is the way to get out.

Is freedom truly free?

The government cannot impose a complete ban on street protests unless they are willing to run afoul of the Federal Constitution.

COMMENT


After reading so many reports and articles on the Peaceful Assembly Bill especially with accusations being cast on both sides of the political divide, I believe that we have to go back to the root cause of the issue and examine it in a holistic and pragmatic manner.

First, we must go back to the fundamental question as to whether the law, specifically Malaysian law, really stifles dissent and tramples on human rights.

Indeed, we have examples of ministers using their discretionary authority under the law in cases where there is no probable cause. Therefore that would lead us to believe that power was abused.

Examples include the detention of a reporter, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and state assemblywoman Teresa Kok under the draconian Internal Security Act, as well as the extra-judicial declaration that “Bersih” T-shirts are illegal as they represent an illegal organisation.

I would submit that the examples I cited above represent a disproportionate response to the actual situation.

This leads to awkward explanations which include “she was detained for her own protection” and “because it represents an illegal activity” type of reasoning. Hardly impressive.

There is no doubt that the current Barisan Nasional (BN) government has a history of abusing its powers under the law in order to preserve its own affair.

However, by saying these arrests were made “to protect national interest and public property”, many people are led to believe by the mainstream media that the response was correct and proportionate.

Bersih 2.0

The rally that truly called into question the Police Act on illegal assemblies was indeed Bersih 2.0.

That day – July 9, 2011 – is a day which would truly go down in infamy. Dubbed “709″, we witnessed how the police doused the public with chemical-laced water and fired tear gas.

Retreating into Tung Shin Hospital gave no respite to the protesters when the Federal Reserve Unit personnel decided to fire tear gas and water cannons into the hospital compound.

A rally to call for free and fair elections, which was entirely peaceful, was turned violent by police manhandling the protesters. Protesters forced to disperse by violent means could have potentially created a stampede and it is only by the grace of God that there were not more casualties.

Being among the crowds, I believe that the response of the FRU personnel and police was truly disproportionate, although many quarters claimed they exercised a considerable amount of restraint. As a person who ingested tear gas into my system, I would beg to differ.

But what was worse than the police crackdown was the complete cover-up by the mainstream media. The government went all out to deny the truth, and published its own version of events. This is despite an enormous amount of photographic and video evidence, which were posted in real time as the event occurred.

So perhaps the true question that arises is: despite promised reforms, including the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and introduction of the Peaceful Assembly Bill, where is the check and balance to prevent ministers from abusing their discretion under the laws or issuing extra-judicial proclamations?

Section 27 of the Police Act

The law that is causing the most controversy is Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, which deals specifically with illegal assembly.

The draconian law prohibits any kind of public assembly and gave the police the power to detain persons involved without a warrant.

Holding a demonstration requires a police permit, and senior district police officers have the absolute discretion to approve or deny the permit. Additionally, under subsection 2, they can cancel the permit at any time.

Police also “may do all things necessary for dispersing them and arresting them”. The scope of this provision is massive, which would protect the police from any allegation of brutality.

There is no doubt that this section has to be abolished. It is fundamentally unconstitutional as it contravenes Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees the right to assemble peaceably.

After tremendous pressure, the BN government appeared to relent by tabling the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

Truly a reform?

After a lot of condemnation from the Bar Council and opposition MPs, we have to examine whether or not it should be called the “Anti-Assembly Bill” or “Illegal Assembly Bill” as proposed by some quarters.

Notice of the assembly was proposed to be 30 days, which has since been revised to 10 days, after Myanmar’s assembly bill which specified a five-day notice put us to shame.

Under the Police Act, no time period is specified. However, the need for a police permit is eliminated. I would take this development to be a good thing.

However, let’s look into the more contentious part of the Bill. The RM10,000 fine for participation in what is deemed as an illegal assembly, the prohibition of children at gatherings, barring an assembly from a prohibited place – all these place a complete ban on street demonstrations. Moreover, the same scope of power is given to the police as under Section 27 of the Police Act.

This throws up a lot of issues which would potentially cripple the freedom to assemble as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Firstly, the fine of RM10,000 is clearly to deter anyone from coming to a demonstration. Who can afford to pay RM10,000? So, even if the cause is legitimate and of national concern, if the police use their discretion to prohibit the assembly, the citizen is penalised heavily as a result.

The prohibition of children is contentious as gatherings are supposed to be peaceful, and families would bring their children along with them.

Penalising the parents for bringing their children along, rather than leaving them at home, would be another reason for people to avoid protests.

Additionally, there is the question of enforcement. When tear gas and chemical-laced water are fired, would the police round up the children first? Unthinkable.

With the list of restricted places so extensive, it appears that protest cannot happen unless you are out in the countryside! The government would say that this is to protect the interests of the people, but basically it is to give the police an excuse to accuse the group of being in a prohibited area, and thus have the authority to disperse the assembly.

This would be especially true of any ceramahs held by the opposition parties, and would affect whoever is in opposition in future.

No to street demos

However, the one thing that riles up opposition MPs more than anything else, is the prohibition of street demonstrations, and that police are given the same scope of powers under the Bill.

This would mean that Bersih 2.0 would be handled in exactly the same way under the new law as under the old. For many, this is unacceptable.

Not everyone agrees with street marches, demonstrations or protests, but to place a complete ban on them would contravene the spirit of Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Even our courts agree, as evident in Cheah Beng Poh & Ors v Pendakwa Raya [1983] 1 LNS 65. The High Court Judge Hashim Yeop A Sani ruled:

“The court as guardian of the rights and liberties enshrined in the (Federal) Constitution is always jealous of any attempt to tamper with rights and liberties. But the right in issue here, that is, the right to assemble peaceably without arms is not absolute for the Constitution allows Parliament to impose by law such restrictions as it deems necessary in the interest of security and public order. In my view, what the court must ensure is only that any such restrictions may not amount to a total prohibition of the basic right so as to nullify or render meaningless the right guaranteed by the Constitution.”

In the case of Sivarasa Rasiah v Badan Peguam Malaysia & Anor [2010] 3 CLJ 507, Federal Court Justice Gopal Sri Ram wrote:

“Now although the article says ‘restrictions’, the word ‘reasonable’ should be read into the provision to qualify the width of the proviso… The correct position is that when reliance is placed by the State to justify under one or more of the provisions of Article 10(2) of the Federal Constitution, the question for determination is whether the restriction that the particular statute imposes is reasonably necessary and expedient for one or more of the purposes specified in that article.”

Therefore, the BN government cannot impose a complete ban on street protests unless it is willing to run afoul of the Federal Constitution.

Law vs Freedom

So is there a need for a law to govern Article 10, or shall we just leave the law as it is? I believe that we certainly have a need for a law to govern this.

However, does making a law impinge on our ability to exercise our rights as per the constitution?

The issue of peaceful assemblies has certainly been a contentious one in our country, and most recently we saw 300 people stage a protest at the KLCC park against the Bill. But is it correct to allow an absolute freedom?

Some argue that societies with sufficient maturity should not have their rights infringed upon by legislation.

However, I would liken this to removing all the lines, traffic lights, zebra crossings and speed limits on our roads. Now people are truly free to drive on the road, but would you dare? True freedom has boundaries. That way, we know the parameters to operate within.

Therefore, a Peaceful Assembly Bill is certainly essential. However, does the current piece of proposed legislation do us justice? I would submit that it does not. Laws must give space and act as guidelines, but not to the extent that it is stifling.

What are the main issues? One is public security, and the concern that a protest may turn violent. Where this is indeed the case, the burden of responsibility should lie on the shoulders of the culprits and the organisers.

What this would do is that protesters would be able to self-police in order to prevent such incidents from occurring.

How about public order? This is where the police come in. If it is indeed a street protest, the police can cordon off the route and ensure that order is kept by escorting the procession to its final destination. This would ensure that there is no damage done, and the peace is kept. Traders along the way may experience a small interruption, but a business blackout like during Bersih 2.0 would not occur.

I believe that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is serious about making Malaysia “the world’s best democracy”. However, Malaysia as a member of the United Nations Human Rights council should surely be held to a higher standard.

Today, lawyers from the Bar Council and others will march to Parliament. Najib has a golden opportunity to do the right thing. Heed the voice of the people and make the appropriate amendments.

Douglas Tan obtained his law degree from the University of Nottingham and currently works in the manufacturing industry. He is an active member of the DAP but does not let it define his opinions.

Human Rights Watch backs Bar Council march

The international human rights body also calls for an immediate withdrawal of the Peaceful Assembly Bill.


PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council’s walk of protest against the controversial Peaceful Assembly Bill has received international backing from the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The Bill which was tabled last Tuesday will be debated in Parliament today and is expected to be voted on today.

The Bill has been slammed by the opposition and various civil society groups as being even more repressive than the Section 27 of the Police Act which it is meant to replace.

At 11.30am today Bar Council members and supporters will begin their march from Lake Gardens Park to Parliament where they will submit a draft copy of an alternative proposal.

In a show of support, HRW has written a letter to prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, urging for the march to be allowed to proceed without disturbance from police.

“Malaysia’s lawyers are marching out of real concerns that Malaysians’ freedoms of peaceful assembly and association are under threat from the proposed law,” said HRW deputy Asia director, Phil Roberson in a statement today.

“They have serious proposals to amend the law and the government should give them a serious hearing.”

In its letter to Najib, HRW also raised concerns about the Bill’s blanket prohibition against “assemblies in motion,” such as marches and processions.

Other concerns raised include “overly broad authority” for local police officials to regulate and disperse assemblies, an extensive list of prohibited places and a ban on participation by children below 15 years and non-citizens.

HRW further noted the “undue haste” with which the Bill is being propelled through parliament and the “lack of meaningful consultation” with civil society before it was introduced.

“The Malaysian government should withdraw the draft law immediately and refer it to a Parliamentary Select Committee where stakeholders can have an opportunity to express their views on the measure,” Robertson stated.

“The government has yet to explain why it is rushing to pass a law that so many Malaysian groups are saying is seriously flawed. Najib should take the time to listen to all sides in this critical debate, starting with the Bar Council.”

Kavyan: Interlok Kulit Biru belum murni

Kumpulan karyawan tersebut turut membantah tindakan DBP yang tidak memberi hak cipta karya kepada penulis asalnya, Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain.


PETALING JAYA: Dalam perkembangan terbaru kontroversi novel Interlok Edisi Murid, Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) berpendapat bahawa teks Komsas itu yang dicetak semula baru-baru ini adalah edisi yang lebih baik daripada cetakan 2010 tetapi bukan edisi yang dijanjikan oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Pelajaran, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pada Mac lalu.

Presiden Kavyan, Uthaya Sankar SB berkata, keputusan itu dibuat berdasarkan penelitian terperinci ke atas edisi 2011 serta membandingkannya dengan edisi 2010 dan senarai saranan pindaan yang diperakukan Panel Bebas.

Uthaya menggunakan istilah “Interlok Kulit Merah” bagi edisi cetakan 2010 dan “Interlok Kulit Biru” bagi cetakan 2011.

“Kavyan memutuskan bahawa kerja-kerja pemurnian yang dipersetujui oleh Muhyiddin di Menara Parlimen pada 23 Mac lalu dan diumumkan oleh beliau di Dewan Rakyat pada keesokannya belum dilaksanakan sepenuhnya,” katanya dalam kenyataan rasmi yang disiarkan di blog Kavyan, hari ini.

Menurut kenyataan itu, Kavyan berasa bangga kerana berjaya memperjuangkan maruah dan hak Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain apabila nama beliau dicetak pada kulit hadapan novel itu.

Terdapat beberapa perkara yang tidak dipersetujui oleh Kavyan, misalnya, frasa “Cetakan Pertama 2010” tidak memadai, sebaliknya perlu ditambah frasa yang menunjukkan dengan jelas bahawa Interlok Kulit Biru dicetak pada 2011.

Hak cipta

“Kami turut membantah sekeras-kerasnya dan merakamkan kenyataan tidak bersetuju dengan tindakan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) tidak mengembalikan hak cipta karya kepada Datuk Abdullah Hussain,” kata Uthaya dalam kenyataan itu.

Kavyan bagaimanapun gembira dan puas hati kerana maklumat yang dicetak pada kulit belakang (blurb) tidak lagi berciri propaganda politik.

Ayat “Varuntinal varataku illai” pada halaman 209 masih menimbulkan bantahan kerana ayat itu tidak membawa makna yang wajar.

“Perkara ini sudah dinyatakan dengan jelas dalam senarai saranan pindaan yang diperakukan Panel Bebas tetapi tidak dibetulkan dalam Interlok Kulit Biru.

“Hal ini boleh dilihat sebagai sikap tidak prihatin pihak berkenaan dalam melaksanakan tugas yang diamanahkan,” kata kenyataan itu.

Kavyan bagaimanapun puas hati dengan beberapa pindaan dan pemurnian yang dibuat.

Antaranya adalah membuang frasa “seperti kambing” (211), “seperti lembu atau kambing memamah biak” (224) serta frasa “yang ada hubungannya dengan kaman, dewa cinta” (227).

Kavyan juga amat berpuas hati dengan aspek pemurnian melibatkan pembuangan frasa “untuk dewa Palikai” (227), bahagian “diikuti dengan upacara nalanku … perkataan nalam itu sendiri” (228) serta ayat “Menurut kepercayaan, tiap-tiap langkah … dan kesetiaan” (228).

“Kavyan yang amat prihatin terhadap aspek bahasa, sastera, seni dan budaya juga merakamkan rasa gembira kerana perkataan ‘tali’ dibetulkan kepada ‘taali’ (228).

“Perkara ini penting kerana terdapat perbezaan amat besar antara ‘tali’ (string) dan ‘taali’ (mangala sutra),” kata Uthaya yang turut dilantik menganggotai panel bebas itu sebelum ini.

Menurutnya, hasil penelitian terhadap novel cetakan terbaru itu, Kavyan mendapati bahawa kerja-kerja pemurnian tidak dilakukan sepenuhnya seperti diharapkan.

“Ini adalah edisi yang lebih baik daripada cetakan 2010 tetapi bukan edisi yang dijanjikan Muhyiddin,” katanya.

Dalam perkembangan berkaitan, sumber-sumber dalaman memaklumkan bahawa MIC dan dua panelis kaum lain telah pun memberikan lampu hijau kepada edisi ini.

Anwar likens assembly area restrictions to Mubarak’s military rule

Anwar questioned today how the government intended to “become the best democracy in the world” when it is “making it more difficult to gather than in Zimbabwe and Myanmar.” — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today the government was following in the footsteps of toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak by barring protests from taking place on the streets and at least 20 other kinds of venues.

“The prohibition of places like kindergartens follows Hosni Mubarak’s military rule,” the opposition leader said when debating the Bill that has been criticised by several quarters as being more repressive than existing regulations.

Mubarak’s 30-year presidency came to an end in February this year after hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered to demand his exit.

The PKR de facto leader was replying to his colleague and Kuala Kedah MP Ahmad Kassim who asked “what is the meaning” of the long list of prohibited areas.

The Bill prohibits assemblies from being held at dams, reservoirs, water catchment areas, water treatment plants, electricity generating stations, petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, railways, land public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, wharves, piers, bridges, marinas, places of worship and kindergartens and schools.

Anwar questioned how the government intended to “become the best democracy in the world” when it was “making it more difficult to gather than in Zimbabwe and Myanmar.”

He was referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s statement just days after his September 15 pledge of democratic reforms, including repealing the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA), that the move was to make Malaysia the world’s best democracy.

But critics have said that the proposed law is more repressive than those in countries like Myanmar, which has one of the world’s poorest human rights records.

Myanmar’s military-dominated Parliament passed a law last week allowing street protests and a notice period of just five days, fewer than the 10 days required by the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

“The new law is even more repressive than Section 27 of the Police Act. Powers held by the police and the minister have not changed, only the timeframe for them to act,” the Permatang Pauh MP said, referring to the provision that requires a police permit for all public gatherings.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has called for the Bill to be withdrawn and put before a parliamentary select committee.

Draft Peaceful Assembly Bill prepared by Bar Council Malaysia

ImagePlease click here to download the draft Peaceful Assembly Bill prepared by Bar Council Malaysia.

Explanatory Statement

The proposed Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 (“the proposed Act’) as drafted by the Bar Council takes significantly different approaches from the Bill drafted by the government.

Among the differences in the policies and principles include the following.

The government’s Bill approaches the right of peaceful assembly from a very limited and restrictive stand point that does not accord with international norms, the current rapid developments around the world on such fundamental rights, as well as the aspirations of the Malaysian people.

On the other hand, the Bar Council’s draft Bill approaches the matter with an understanding of the urgent need to change the mindset of how such matter has been dealt with by the authorities in the past half a century, and the democratic necessity to fulfill the Rakyat’s growing expectations of greater fundamental liberties in line with international practices and developments.

The Bar Council’s draft Bill is intended to promote and facilitiate the freedom of the right of peaceful assembly, whereas the government’s Bill, while providing small improvements in certain limited aspects, continues to constrict the space for freedom of peaceful assembly that the Malaysian people ought to have. Worse still, in some aspects, such as the total prohibition of street protest, the government’s Bill contains conditions or restrictions which are not currently expressly provided for.

The Bar Council’s draft Bill complies with international conventions and norms, whereas the government’s Bill does not. For instance, the government’s Bill prohibits assemblies in motion (processions or street protests) which no other progressive jurisdiction does. The governement’s Bill vests excessive powers and control with the police whilst imposing onerous duties and responsibilities on organisers and participants of public assemblies.

The Bar Council’s draft Bill takes into account the internationally accepted principle that the exercise of the right of peaceful assembly is part of “public order”, whereas the government’s Bill appears to view such exercise of fundamental right as antagonistic to public order.

The government’s Bill continues to retain the unacceptable practice of allowing the police to be its own judge and jury on matters relating to freedom of assembly. On the other hand, the Bar Council’s draft Bill has removed this unacceptable practice, by the creation of an independent Peaceful Assembly Board.

For the full explanatory statement, please refer to pages 16-18 of the Bar Council's draft Peaceful Assembly Bill.

Live – Walk for Freedom

Live coverage of the walk for freedom by the Bar Council and concerned Malaysians against the ‘Peaceful Assembly Bill’.

<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&#038;task=viewaltcast&#038;altcast_code=186f2971f3" >Walk for Freedom</a>

Inside Story: India's 'forgotten' war

Belgian ‘Honor Killing’ Trial Places Entire Family on Dock

By Palash R. Ghosh

In what is believed to be the first ‘honor killing’ trial in Belgian history, an entire family has been charged with the death of a 20-year-old law student of Pakistani origin.

Sadia Sheikh was shot and killed in late October 2007, allegedly by her elder brother Mudusar in retaliation for her living with a Belgian man and refusing to accept an arranged marriage.

Mudusar, his parents -- father Tarik Mahmood Sheikh, 61, mother Zahida Parveen Sariya, 59, -- and another sister Sariya, 22, are facing charges related to the murder in a court in the Belgian city of Mons, about 42 miles southwest of Brussels.

The four are looking at a possible sentence of life in prison should they be convicted by a jury of five women and seven men.

The trial is expected to last up to four weeks.

The killing occurred when Sadia decided to return home in order to patch things up with her family.

Sadia’s father, mother and sister have denied being involved in the killing and claim that Mudusar, now aged 27, acted alone in a fit of rage.

Mudusar has confessed to his sister’s murder and absolved his family of her death.

However, in a bizarre admission, Mudusar told the court judge he also tried to kill his other sister Sariya (who was wounded in the arm during the 2007 shooting of Sadia).

"I am confronted by two acts, one that succeeded -- that eradicated a person, Sadia -- and one that failed, on my sister Sariya," Mudusar said, according to media reports.

"I want to tell my family this, I wanted to kill Sariya. I don't dare look you in the eye. I left you for dead."

It is unclear why Mudusar would have also wanted to kill Sariya.

Jilted Muslim Love Jihadists in West Bengal increasing Cruelty upon Hindu Girls terribly.

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Pic.1. Ritu the Victim of Jilted Love Jihad in Kakinara, West Bengal. Rape, Molestation, stabbing upon Hindu girls are growing.
Pic.2. Stabbing upon Ritu by a Muslim Culprit came to the banner in Media without any reaction of Hindu people of West Bengal.

Hindu Girl stabbed by jilted Muslim lover, another raped by four Koran followers……

Upananda Brahmachari.

Report in Bartaman Patrika in Bengali

KAKINARA | WEST BENGAL, 26 NOV, 2011: The non satiated Love Jehadists are getting more violent in West Bengal. The Muslim Romeos are very much interested to use them against the consent of the Hindu girls and a result of that the angry Muslim guys mostly in disguised in the Hindu names are attacking the unwilling Hindu girls brutally with choppers, knives and some times the Hindu girls are the victims of Islamic gang rape. The numbers of such menace under love Jihad in West Bengal are growing under the protection of the TMC ( All India TrinMool Congress) in the ‘CHANGE’ whirlwind.

Now, a 17-year-old girl was stabbed at Kakinara, North 24-Parganas, this morning (26/11) by a youth when she resisted a molestation bid.

Police said that a resident of Kakinara Bazar, Ritu Sahu, who is a student of Class XII of Kakinara Arya Samaj High School, went to fetch water from a well at around 7.30 a.m. today. Shortly afterwards, a local youth, Chottu, tried to molest her after she spurned his marriage proposal. The incident led to an altercation between the girl and Chottu. Eyewitnesses told police that the jilted lover, who had a chopper with him, stabbed Ritu repeatedly during the altercation and managed to escape. Ritu started bleeding profusely. Local people rushed her to Bhatpara state general hospital where a senior doctor stated her condition to be critical. Ritu’s father, Mr Om Prakash Sahu, who is a retired schoolteacher, lodged a complaint with the police. The police have launched a raid to arrest the accused.

Local people alleged that criminal activities are on the rise in the area these days.

A Mafia like TMC Leader and MLA Arjun Singh of TMC can do nothing against a rapist Chottu Ismail.

The Big Boss of the area Mr. Arjun Singh, MLA from TMC rejected any increase of such planned violence of Islamic hooliganism upon the Hindu residence of the mixed areas, especially upon the Hindu teen-aged girls. This tiger is totally perplexed to search out the mole Chottu Ismail from his refuge in a local Mosque.

While Hindus of the area is in an attacking mode to strick out the Muslim culprits, the Muslim Society of the area are chalking out another plan to hide the culprits with getting some more Hindu girls anyway.

But, it is not an isolated case in Bengal now a days. The creeping cries of Hindu girls are tactfully suppressed by the Trinmool Congress Supremo and the State Chief minister, Mamata Banerjee (read correctly as Mamtaz Banu Arjee) to satisfy the Islamic lust to enjoy Hindu Girls. As a matter of fact, keeping eyes to the Muslim Vote equations, Mamtaz Banerjee is allowing all such Muslim menace in all TMC dominated areas.

The spot where Sampa was raped by Four Koran Follower Muslim Guys.

As an example, Kumari Sampa Naskar (slightly Changed), daughter of Kanai Naskar of Gayen Para, village: Raghunathpur, P.S. Mandirbazar, District: 24 Paraganas (South), was gang raped by Four Muslim Culprits ( all in teens or just crossed teens) on November 16, 2011, in a paddy field nearby to her house. Sufficient to shame that wild beasts even, surpasses all these. Sampa happens to be an innocent Hindu girl of 17 years and on the fateful day, she went to a small pond in the field, behind her house, to fetch some fishes for the lunch. She was seized there by 4 Muslim hooligans and was gang raped. An FIR was lodged by the wretched Hindu family but now, it is proved that both the FIR and Medical Report have been twisted by the anti Hindu and Jihad propagators in TrinMool Congress Party, leading to execute an Islamic terror over the Hindus before snatching the Political Powers in coming Panchayet Election from the loosing Hindu grip as a Gift from ‘Mamta Didi’.

Though Police arrested the main culprit Halim Baidya (one of the four rapists), the other three are still untraceable and the case is being diluted in favour of Muslims by giving early bail for the main accused.

Fishes caught by Sampa were lying in the field when we visited the area. But the dead fishes have no way to give witness for any Islamic menace. Allah is Great and Merciful. Love Jihad Quran. 7.8.6.

Actually, it is known for the cause of unchecked bleeding and sinking condition, Sampa was referred to Diamond Harbour Sub divisional Hospital for urgent and necessary treatment on that late night of the day of incident from Naiharhat Block Primary Health Centre, but she was discharged forcefully before the completion of treatment with a purported medical report mentioning no external and internal injury with a comment that Sampa is a suspected psychiatric patient and referred to any psychiatrist.

All these were done most unethically only to appease the Muslims in the Raghunathpur and Madhabpur locality under Hindu repercussion.

Actually, C. M Jatua, MP of the Mathurapur Loksabha Constituency, the Local MLAs like Jogranjan Halder (Kulpi AC), Jaydeb Halder (Mandirbazar), Dilip Jatua (Chairman, Mandir Bazar Panchayet Samity) all from Mamtaz Banerjee’s TMC are turned as puppets of the local Muslim operators.

Some fake anti-Jihadists in the net and some paper tigers in the Bengal Hindu Organizational scenario are frying their cakes in their own pans and Bengal Hindus are set on fire of a red hot Islamic Oven.

Political uprising unlikely in Malaysia, says Dr M

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today praised the government for listening to the concerns of Malaysians, dismissing chances of a political uprising any time soon.

“I don’t see how the Arab Spring can spread to us. If we don’t take care of the people then of course they will rebel.

“But we have worked hard to create opportunities for the people such as giving land, industrialisation, job opportunities,” he told reporters here.

Commenting on the government’s tabling of the Peaceful Assembly Bill, Dr Mahathir (picture) said it proved the government was quick to adjust and listen to public concerns.

“I think this government is listening to the people very quickly; in my time, I don’t respond at all.

“You can interpret it as giving in or you can interpret it as being sensitive,” he added.

The Najib administration recently pledged a slew of reforms to allow more space for civil liberties.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled in Parliament last week a Bill regulating public assemblies.

The proposed law has been criticised by opposition leaders as well as civil society groups as “haphazard” and they have demanded it be withdrawn completely.

Provisions of the Bill concerning the notification period for an assembly were amended after last Friday’s Cabinet meeting.

“He (Najib) is trying very hard, he has the hard task because he has all these crises and there are the problems of people taking potshots at him, he doesn’t have the majority that I had,” said Dr Mahathir, the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

‘Ban’ on Dataran Merdeka mocks at ‘independence’

An autonomous grassroots initiative wants the Peaceful Assembly Bill withdrawn.


PETALING JAYA: A group calling itself the KL People’s Assembly has taken the authorities to task for barring groups from using Dataran Merdeka to “meet and discuss the future” of the country.

Group founder and spokesperson Fahmi Reza said Dataran Merdeka has been closed for the past several weeks to all except for “other people not participating in our discussions”.

“We question why we are not allowed to use Dataran Merdeka to have a discussion on the future of our country while other people not participating in our discussions are allowed to gather around Dataran Merdeka,” said Fahmi.

The group, which is better known as Occupy Dataran, also criticised the government’s decision- making process which did not allow people’s participation.

“We, the KL People’s Assembly, hold that the current practice of decision-making on policies that affect all peoples… is undemocratic as there is no room for people to participate in the decision-making process.

“We strongly suggest that a participatory, consensus-driven decision-making process be adopted for all future laws and policies that affect the people of Malaysia.”

The group also called for the Peaceful Assembly Bill to be withdrawn.

Bill to be tabled tomorrow

The Bill was tabled on Tuesday and promptly received brickbats from the opposition and civil society groups.

Two protest assemblies were held on Saturday against the Bill.

Fahmi questioned the meaning of “independence” in opposing the Bill and the ruling against groups congregating in Dataran Merdeka.

“Is this the true meaning of ‘Merdeka’ in Dataran Merdeka?

“Is independence of any person at the discretion of the authorities?” asked Fahmi in a statement today.

Merdeka is the Malay word for independence.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak confirmed today that amendments would be done before the tabling of the Bill slated for tomorrow.

Among others, Najib said that time period to inform the police has been reduced from 30 to 10 days.

Najib: How can you break down the prison?


If we do not respect the law, there will be chaos in the country, says the prime minister.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today reminded the people, including opposition party leaders, not to wantonly break the law as it will lead to chaos in the country.

“We have laws. We must respect the law. If we do not respect the law, there will be chaos in the country. How can you break down the prison?” he told a news conference after opening an international forum at the Putra World Trade Centre, here.

Najib was responding when asked to comment on the remark by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali last Friday that PKR would break down the prison walls to free PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim if he is jailed.

Asked whether Azmin’s remark was a threat, the prime minister said it was only a political statement.

Azmin, who is also Selangor PKR chief, said last Friday when opening the PKR Youth and Wanita congress in Johor Baru that PKR would even break down the prison walls to free Anwar.

The High Court has set Dec 8 to hear the submissions at the end of the defence case in Anwar’s sodomy trial.

- Bernama

Marry for love, not hate

Let us take a hypothetical situation. Let’s, say, Najib Tun Razak resigns as Prime Minister and, say, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah takes over. Also, say, many ministers, politicians, police officers, senior government officials, etc., are arrested and charged for corruption. Also, say, the new Prime Minister, Ku Li, reforms the police, judiciary, election commission, etc. Do you think all those who voted Pakatan Rakyat in 2008 would still do so now?

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Anwar takes some of the blame for defections in PKR after 2008 polls

(The Star) - Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has accepted some of the blame for the defections that have plagued the party after the 2008 election.

“I admit that I am partly to be blamed because I endorsed their candidacies,” he said.

“But, at that time we lacked candidates and some even declined to become one.

“Those who aspire to be our candidates, but have only the intention of becoming rich can forget about receiving the authorisation letters from the president,” he said at the closing of PKR's Eighth National Congress here yesterday.

Anwar predicted that the coming general election would be a “defining battle” for the country's political landscape.

“We are better organised now compared with the last time,” he said.

“Traitors have left and the cooperation with the DAP and PAS is improving, which is a good sign for us in our effort to capture Putrajaya.”

Anwar claimed that he had been handed a booklet purportedly issued by Umno, containing instruction to spread lies and slanders about him and the PKR.

He said this only confirmed his suspicions that Umno was fearful of him and was using everything it had to destroy the PKR.

**********************************************

PKR party leader Anwar Ibrahim and party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail have promised us quality candidates in the coming general election.

By the way, my party, the Liberal Democrats of UK, also have the same structure. Nick Clegg is the party leader (and Deputy Prime Minister) while Tim Farron is party president (and MP). The only thing is both positions need to be contested, unlike PKR where Anwar does not need to contest his post.

Not a very good reflection of democracy at work. Anyway, even if there is a contest, I suppose no one would dare go against Anwar (or even Wan Azizah) lest they suffer the fate of Zaid Ibrahim.

But I am digressing (as usual). Let us get back to the issue of quality candidates.

A year ago, we launched the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) in London and one of our objectives (in response to Anwar’s statement regarding his dilemma in finding quality candidates) was to help find quality candidates and offer them to Pakatan Rakyat. PKR, DAP and PAS can, of course, choose not to accept these candidates and, if they do, they can decide where they would like to field them.

In the 1999, 2004 and 2008 general elections, the opposition did field independent or non-party candidates. So there is a history of the opposition being receptive to this practice. PAS, in fact, even fielded one non-Muslim/non-Malay female candidate in Johor (the first for the Islamic party).

This time around, however, which caught us quite by surprise, the opposition demonstrated hostility towards the idea. There were even allegations that we are agents of Barisan Nasional and that our agenda is to trigger three-corner fights to ensure that the opposition fails to form the next federal government.

In previous general elections there were quite a number of three-corner fights when PKR, DAP and PAS could not come to an agreement in some constituencies. So three-corner fights is quite normal. It even happened in the recent Sarawak state election and we can certainly expect it in the coming general election as well.

Anyway, because of the controversy that we attracted, I told Haris Ibrahim to drop the whole idea and let’s just sit back and let Pakatan Rakyat sort out the seat distribution and candidates issues on their own. If our gesture is not welcome it is no use pushing the issue.

What is important is that the message has sunk in. And the message is: we are not happy with the choice of candidates in the previous general election. And our unhappiness is not just regarding the crossovers but regarding the performance of some of these candidates as well. It appears that either they are not interested in serving the rakyat or they have no idea what the role and function of a wakil rakyat is.

Granted, some want to become a wakil rakyat just for the glamour of being called Yang Berhormat. I suppose this is why some people pay RM250,000 just to get titles and awards. They get an orgasm when the rakyat address them as Yang Berbahagia. I suppose they are very bahagia with all these titles and awards. Nowadays, you can get titles and awards from the back of a cornflakes box. That’s how cheap they have become.

Another thing we told Anwar, which he agreed, was that, in 2008, most people who voted Barisan Nasional in earlier elections and who for the first time voted opposition, did so because they were angry, disgusted, etc., with Barisan Nasional. These were mainly protest votes and they wanted to send Barisan Nasional a message that they were unhappy. So they were prepared to vote even for monkeys or donkeys as long as they are not Barisan Nasional candidates.

This time around, these same people are not going to vote opposition for that same reason. They are going to gauge the quality of the opposition candidates compared to Barisan Nasional candidates and only if the opposition candidates prove better would they vote opposition.

I have been saying this for more than ten years since 1999. The opposition can’t build a relationship with the voters based on hate -- hate for Barisan Nasional. It has to be built on a relationship of love -- love for the opposition.

In 1999, the opposition did quite well. Many people hated Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. So they voted opposition. Then, when Dr Mahathir handed over power to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the voters went back to Barisan Nasional. And that is why Barisan Nasional did so well in 2004, the best in the history of Malaysian elections.

An enemy of my enemy is my (temporary) friend is not a lasting relationship.

The analogy I used in my argument was the Afghan Mujahideens. For generations they had been fighting each other. Then, when the Russians came, they united. And because they were united they managed to defeat the Russians (with some US help of course). However, once the Russians went home to Moscow, the Afghans turned on each other again.

A marriage of convenience is not always the best type of relationship. Even marriages founded on love face the risk of break-ups and divorce. What more marriages of convenience.

And we face two problems here. One is regarding the Pakatan Rakyat parties themselves, which the Malays would say: tidur satu bantal, mimpi lain-lain (share one pillow but have different dreams: READ MORE HERE). And the other is between Pakatan Rakyat and the voters (united by their hate for Barisan Nasional but not really in love with each other -- at least as far as the voters are concerned: who do not really like Pakatan Rakyat but hate Barisan Nasional even more).

So, Pakatan Rakyat still has a lot of work to do.

Let us take a hypothetical situation. Let’s, say, Najib Tun Razak resigns as Prime Minister and, say, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah takes over. Also, say, many ministers, politicians, police officers, senior government officials, etc., are arrested and charged for corruption. Also, say, the new Prime Minister, Ku Li, reforms the police, judiciary, election commission, etc.

Do you think all those who voted Pakatan Rakyat in 2008 would still do so now?

Okay, before you fly off the handle, I said ‘hypothetically-speaking’. You can argue that this can never happen. In theory it can, although we can argue that in reality it may not happen. It is extremely difficult to happen, of course, but not impossible. And since it is not impossible then in theory it can happen.

Let me argue it another way. It is extremely difficult for a plane to crash and only one passenger survives the crash while everyone else dies. But this has happened before, although very rare. And the fact that it did happen means it can happen. So, the possibility of a change of leadership in Barisan Nasional, which in turn triggers reforms, is not really a pipedream.

The question would be: would everyone who voted Pakatan Rakyat in 2008 still do so or would they go back to Barisan Nasional if this hypothetical situation arises?

I think most of you know the answer to this question. We all hate Barisan Nasional for a reason and if this reason no longer exists then there is also no longer any reason to continue hating Barisan Nasional. Nevertheless, there would be no change for those of you who love Pakatan Rakyat. You will still support Pakatan Rakyat come hell or high water. But is this the majority or the minority?

Japan Strengthens its Southern Flank

Image

Troop deployment too close for comfort to China and Taiwan

Alarmed by a Chinese move last year to send a fleet through the Miyako Channel 1,700 km south of Tokyo and into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean for maneuvers, Japan is deploying self-defense forces to an island that overlooks the strategic channel.

Japan’s redeployment also stems from concerns over increasing Chinese assertiveness over the disputed Senkaku chain, known as the Daioyutai to the Chinese. The deployment has not only upset the Chinese but unsettled the Taiwanese as well.

The deployment, to Yonaguni Island, is part of a general trend of transferring forces from Japan's northern flank to the extreme southern flank. Aside from a small contingent on Miyako Island, the southern islands have been totally demilitarized and vulnerable. The establishment of a so-called coastal monitoring unit can be seen as a means of asserting Japanese sovereignty over islands in a region of conflicting claims.

The decision to install a 100-man unit, estimated to cost ¥1.5 billion (US$20 million) and expected to be completed by 2015, is part of a growing trend by the nations that surround China to tighten up their defenses as they increasingly side against what they perceive as the growing belligerence of the region’s biggest country.

Yonaguni, only 28.8 sq. km in size and with a population of 1,700, overlooks the 300-km gap in the so-called First Island Chain, a maritime line running between Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia – all of which would potentially side with the US in case of war with China. If the situation were to turn sour in the West Pacific, it's the Miyako Channel where the US, Chinese and Japanese navies would likely grind together.

While the deployment has been greeted with anger in Beijing, it has also led to concern in Taipei. The island is so close to Taiwan’s east coast that seamen say on a good day they can see it, roughly 100 km east of Taiwan’s eastern town of Hualien.

Yonaguni is close to the resource-rich and strategic regions in the East China Sea that are disputed by Tokyo, Beijing and Taipei, such as the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai in Mandarin), which in 2010 witnessed the Japanese seizure of a Chinese fishing vessel for trespassing, setting off a major Sino-Japanese row that culminated in a Chinese threat to cut off rare metals shipments for Japanese industry. Observers say the Yonaguni deployment was chosen in this context. They say Tokyo thinks Beijing's rationale for claiming Senkaku – Chinese fishermen have visited it from time immemorial – could just as easily apply to any of Japan's southern islands, and therefore is shifting its defensive focus from guarding against a Soviet or Russian attack to one coming from China.

Aside from a small contingent on Miyako, the southern islands have been totally demilitarized and vulnerable. The deployment of a so-called coastal monitoring unit can be seen as a means of asserting Japanese sovereignty over islands in a region of conflicting claims.

The first time Japanese military plans involving Yonaguni made headlines in Taiwan was in June 2010. Tokyo had snubbed Taipei by extending its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) – an area where entering aircraft are obliged to radio their intended flight course to the respective country's air traffic controllers – from Yonaguni westwards by 22 km at Taiwan's expense without having given the long-time de facto ally a heads-up. At that time, observers close to Taiwan’s opposition anti-unification Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) saw the move as a sign that President Ma Ying-jeou’s Beijing-friendly policies had distanced Taiwan from the US and Japan, and that Tokyo had accordingly lost its trust in Taipei.

In a recent interview with Asia Sentinel, Lai I-chung, a member of the research body the Taiwan Thinktank, still supported that notion. By strengthening Yonaguni, he said, Japan hasn't so much got Senkaku in mind as hedging at a time when Taiwan is perceived as increasingly falling into China's hands and thus ceases to function as a buffer.

“The decision was already made when Taro Aso was prime minister (Sept. 2008-Sept. 2009) before the flare-up of the Senkaku dispute,” Lai said. Yonaguni's location – well south of Senkaku – suggests that there's no direct connection with that issue. Also, he said, during a possible China-Japan conflict, Yonaguni itself would be shielded by Taiwan anyway.

“It could be Japan's uneasiness with Ma's China-leaning foreign policy. The waters east of Taiwan have become of concern for Japan in recent years, and the frequency of Chinese vessels and aircraft appearing there has significantly been increasing,” Lai said.

Unsurprisingly the Chinese have their own interpretation. Beijing regards Japanese expenditure on maritime construction and reinforcing of islands in the context of Tokyo's covert quest to get rid of the constraints of its Peace Constitution, imposed on the country by the US after its defeat in World War II.

In a recent article published in the PLA Daily, the official daily of the People's Liberation Army, author Liu Liqun listed the deployment on Yonaguni in one breath with Japan's plans to start construction of two helicopter carriers in 2012, the general stockpiling and updating of military technology, the sending of warships to provide logistical support and oil to the US military, as well as the employment of anti-submarine patrol aircraft to cruise the Gulf of Aden.

“These moves to advance Japan's open-ocean strategy completely lay bare Japan's aggressive posture. When Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force was first established, it was just a small naval force to be used for coastal defense. Now, however, it has become the most formidable maritime armed force in Asia, excluding the US Navy,” Liu wrote.

“By deploying the Self-Defense Force to islands in the southwest, […], Japan is going in a dangerous direction.”

Observers say the move's importance is out of proportion to the small numbers. James Holmes, an associate professor at the US Naval War College, said the decision is kills not only two birds with a stone but most likely quite a few more.

“Defending the island itself will obviously be a major purpose of any deployment; stationing forces there would signal China that it couldn't quickly or easily seize it. That's valuable in itself,” Holmes said. “But the passages around the island are also important.”

It was through this passage that Chinese fleet consisting of two guided missile destroyers, three frigates, two Kilo-class submarines and one supply ship crossed the strait in April of 2010 to hold sea-air joint anti-submarine warfare drills near the Okinotorishima Reef. During the exercise, China's ship-borne helicopters once came as close as 90 meters to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship. The reef lies midway between Taiwan and Guam, home to a major US naval base. Japanese media speculated that China's ships used the drills to map the ocean's bottom over which the US Pacific Fleet would pass in future conflicts on its way to Taiwan.

“Anti-ship missiles positioned on Yonaguni could help close nearby straits to Chinese warships,” Yonaguni said. “This would ease the pressure on the Japanese or Taiwanese east coasts, helping US forces steaming westward gain access to the region. A well-designed force deployment at Yonaguni could provide disproportionate bang for the buck.”

Three things I like about the Peaceful Assembly Bill

More liberty under Najib's administration? Bring it on! (Statue image source: sxc.hu)

More liberty under Najib's administration? Bring it on! (Statue pic source: sxc.hu; Najib image © thenutgraph.com)

MUCH has been said about how undemocratic the Peaceful Assembly Bill is. I beg to differ. On the contrary, three very good aspects of the Peaceful Assembly Bill have been missed by commentators. Here they are:

More religious

The Bill promotes a religious society. We all know how important religion is to ensure that we do not get discouraged by the high rate of inflation, caused entirely by the decadent West due to their blind adherence to the present Jewish financial system. By stipulating that assemblies cannot be held in a close proximity to religious places of worship, we can be sure that more effort will be put in by the government to build more places of worship, so that the space for assemblies can be restricted.

Furthermore, non-Muslims who have been facing difficulty getting approval to build places of worship can heave a collective sigh of relief because they now have one more reason to support their application. By approving more places of worship, the government will be able to restrict more places for assemblies. At long last, the objectives of the government and of the non-Muslim communities would be better aligned.

The authorities will listen to us

The Bill encourages true, participatory democracy. It used to be that our voices are only heard during election time. Once our representatives are elected, then we pretty much have no avenue to voice our grievances until and unless another election comes around.

With this Bill, we all have a positive role to play to object to assemblies that are planned near our place of business or abode. And the likelihood is that the authorities would be responsive to our objections. Can you believe how empowered we would all become? No longer will we be ignored by the authorities. Perhaps our views will even be positively solicited by them. An empowered citizenry is definitely the way to go.

No more gutter politics

The Bill will promote positive values and a positive society. We must all be sick to our stomachs with the kind of gutter politics that we see today. Enough of such nonsense, I say. Here is a Bill that specifically stipulates that in our assemblies, we are not to incite hatred, dissatisfaction or enmity in any way. No more negative politics. We now need to switch gears to only extol the virtues of our wonderful leaders.

Of course, this may pose a slight problem to the opposition, since they have no leader of virtue to speak about. But for the Barisan Nasional (BN), under whose glorious rule we continue to improve by leaps and bounds, to stand heads and shoulders above the rest of the nations of the world, this Bill is a godsend.

(Pic source: johnnyberg / sxc.hu)

(Pic source: johnnyberg / sxc.hu)

Of course, there are still the fence-sitters and naysayers who refuse to acknowledge this truth. These people need to wake up to the fact that we have even successfully defended our SEA Games football gold medal, and realise that we are definitely an up-and-coming nation.

So, kudos to the current government for leading the charge in formulating reforms for our country through the Peaceful Assembly Bill. It is undeniable that the foresight of the current cabinet is most exemplary and commendable. Why, even Barack Obama thinks so. And if Barack Obama has declared it, then who are the rest of us to argue otherwise?

Hidup BN, hidup Umno, hidup Malaysia!

Umno kini parah, akibat buatan pemimpinnya sendiri

Perhimpunan pada disember 2011 akan menjadi penebus pskologi untuk Umno sebelum ia berdean dengan pilihanraya. Ada pengkritik yang berpendapat bahawa keputusan sudah pun dibuat dan Umno tidak dapat diselamatkan. Umno sudahpun dianggap lemah dibawah kepimpinan ini.

Walaubagaimanapun, ramai dikalangan pemimpin Umno akan tetap mengutarakan retorik tidak tidak masuk akal untuk memastikan ahlinya menyokong mereka pada Pilihanraya umum ke 13 yang akan diadakan berkemungkinan besar awal tahun depan. Tidak ramai dikalangan mereka sedar bahawa kebanyakkan ahli mereka sebenarnya gundah gulana memikirkan kepimpinan parti.

Ramai ahli yang sedar bahawa tidak semuanya baik diantara parti itu dengan BN. Imej yang semakin teruk telag menyebabkan kebanyakkan ahlinya menjadi terdesak. Mereka sekarang tidak mempunyai banyak pilihan dan terus menggunakan seks, bangsa, agama dan kesetiaan untuk memenangi hati pengundi Melayu. Strategi itu juga tidak memberikan impak yang baik untuk parti untuk pilihanraya seterusnya.

Delegasi itu nanti, walaupun berasa kecewa, mungkin akan tidak menyentuh mengenai hal-hal yang penting yang merosakkan Umno kerana elemen feudal mereka akan menyebabkan wujud pendekatan laissez-affair dalam politik. Delegasi akan berkemungkinan berdiam diri kerana takut mereka akan dicela sekiranyan mereka mengkritik pemimpin.

Retorik panas daripada delegasi semasa perhimpunan itu akan menjadi seperti icing pada kek yang buruk. Tindakan mengapi-apikan sentiment agama dan bangsa hanya akan menutup kelemahan mereka seraya mengaburi pandangan ahli mereka. Ramai ahli akan tetap menghadiri persidangan tetapi mereka tetap berasa marah terhadap prestasi pemimpin Umno. Kebanyakkan pemimpin mereka sekarang ini sememangnya tidak menyinar langsung.

Mereka sedar bahawa kebanyakkan pemimpin Umno merupakan beban buat parti itu sendiri yang sudahpun berusia 55 tahun dan mereka mungkin juga mahu pembangkang menang dalam pilihanraya seterusnya supaya ini dapat menyedarkan dan membersihkan Umno. Ini adalah harapan terpendam ahli Umno memandangkan mereka tidak boleh dilihat menyuarakan kekecewaan mereka di perhimpunan itu nanti kerana takut boleh di ambil tindakan. Drama-drama dan gimik-gimik perhimpunan itu nanti akan tetap di ketengahkan oleh media kerajaan walaupun orang ramai sebenarnya tidak lagi berminat dengannya.

Menunggang kuda yang salah

Mahathir Mohamad, perdana menteri paling lama berkhidmat seperti suka menunggang kuda tetapi, beliau tidak cukup mengkaji kuda yang suka meruntuhkan tiang sosial masyarakat Malaysia. Beliau sebenarnya telah menunggang kuda yang salah iaitu Perkasa untuk membawa kejayaan kepada Umno dan BN pada pilihanraya umum tahun depan.

Mahathir sedang membuatkan kehadirannya dalam Perkasa dirasai dan mengetengahkan Najib Razak sebagai pemimpin yang lemah dan cuba sedaya upaya mengatur Umno dan BN untuk membaikpulih imej nya sebagai perdana menteri. Najib dilihat oleh ramai sebagai membawa banyak masalah personal dan psikologi bersama beliau. Beliau gagal meredakan kemelut dalam Umno dan Mahathir sedar akan perkara ini.

Mahathir lantang mengkritik polisi kerajaan yang dibuat oleh mereka yang mentadbir selepas beliau – yang dipilihnya sendiri, Abdullah Badawi. Gagal untuk menutup mulut beliau dan tidak mahu melihat Umno jatuh ibarat pokok yang buruk, beliau telah sekali lagi bersuara mengenai beberapa polisi Najib walaupun dengan rasa was-was kerana takut Najib akan jatuh dan Umno juga musnah.

Mahathir sedar bahawa masalah peribadi pemimpin, rasuah yang semakin menjadi-jadi, penyalahgunaan wang cukai, kelembapan ekonomi, ketidak-adilan dan kecekapan kerajaan akan membawa negara kepada kehancuran.

Ahli UMNO yang berharap

Mahathir merasakan bahawa jika dia terus mengkritik Najib dengan keras, UMNO akan hancur dan tidak boleh diperbaiki. Jika dia senyap UMNO akan jatuh. Pada masa-masa tertentu, Mahathir terpaksa menghadapi dilema ini – bukan sebab dia sayang Najib tetapi dia terlalu cinta pada UMNO.

Mahathir juga terhutang budi dengan Allahyarham ayahanda Najib, Abdul Razak Hussein (perdana menteri kedua Malaysia), kerana membawa dia kembali ke dalam UMNO selepas dia dipecat daripada parti pada tahun 1969 oleh Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman, perdana menteri pertama negara. Apa lagi, Mahathir juga tidak sanggup melihat musuh politik nombor satunya, Anwar Ibrahim, menjadi perdana menteri - sekurang-kurangnya semasa dia masih wujud. Tidak mengapa jika Anwar menjadi Perdana Menteri selepas kematian beliau. Atas sebab ini, Mahathir telah menyokong Perkasa - menunggang 'kuda' yang salah dan memikirkan bahawa pasukan UMNO yang ditolak ini boleh menyelamatkan UMNO. Beliau telah mencipta satu kesilapan besar untuk dirinya sendiri dan UMNO dengan langkah ini.

Jika dikaji selidik dalam talian ini boleh diambil sebagai penunjuk keadaan, maka UMNO akan menghadapi masalah dalam dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang. Sejumlah besar responden dari kalangan 1879 pengundi Melayu yang berpotensi dan 1657 pengundi bukan Melayu di negara ini (limitasi pengajian: Korpus hanya terdiri daripada mereka yang mempunyai akses kepada Internet) tidak berpihak kepada Mahathir, Perkasa mahupun Ibrahim Ali:

# 1 Apakah Mahathir masih relevan kepada orang Melayu? Ya (29 peratus) Tidak (68 peratus) No response (3 peratus)

# 2 Bolehkah Perkasa membantu UMNO memenangi Pilihan Raya Umum akan datang? Ya (9 peratus) Tidak (83 peratus) No response (8 peratus)

# 3 Apakah Perkasa suatu liabiliti kepada UMNO? Ya (84 peratus), Tiada (9 peratus), No response (7 peratus)

# 4 Adakah UMNO memerlukan Perkasa untuk memenangi pilihan raya umum akan datang? Ya (3 peratus), No (85 peratus), No response (12 peratus)

# 5 Adakah parti-parti komponen Barisan Nasional (di luar UMNO) selesa dengan Perkasa? Ya (1 peratus), No (94 peratus) No response (5 peratus).

# 6 Perkasa menjejaskan peluang bukan Melayu mengundi untuk Barisan Nasional (BN)? Ya (87 peratus), Tiada (3 peratus), No response (10 peratus)

# 7 Apakah Perkasa liabiliti kepada Barisan Nasional (BN)? Ya (93 peratus), Tiada (3 peratus), No response (4 peratus)

# 8 Patutkah Perkasa menjadi sebuah parti politik? Ya (18 peratus), No (54 peratus), No response (28 peratus)

# 9 Apakah Perkasa ikhlas dalam peranannya dalam menyatukan orang Melayu? Ya (5 peratus), No (86 peratus), No response (9 peratus)

# 10 Adakah Perkasamemcahbelahkan orang Melayu lebih daripada menyatukan mereka? Ya (79 peratus), No (11 peratus), No response (10 peratus)

# 11 Adakah Melayu selesa dengan Perkasa? Ya (9 peratus), No (79 peratus), No response (12 peratus)

# 12 Adakah bukan Melayu selesa dengan Perkasa? Ya (2 peratus), No (95 peratus), No response (3 peratus).

# 13Patutkah UMNO berbaik-baik dengan Perkasa untuk mendapatkan semula undi Melayu? Ya (8 peratus), No (83 peratus), No response (9 peratus)

# 14 PAtutkah UMNO menjauhkan diri daripada Perkasa? Ya (87 peratus), Tiada (6 peratus), No response (7 peratus).

# 15 Bolehkah sekiranya Perkasa menjadi satu platform yang lebih baik untuk orang Melayu berbanding UMNO, PAS atau PKR? Ya (4 peratus), No (89 peratus) No response (7 peratus).

Najib dilihat sebagai pemimpin yang lemah

Bertentangan dengan apa yang Mahathir fikirkan mengenai dirinya, kebanyakan pengkritik melabelkan beliau sebagai dinasor dalam politik Malaysia. Kepada rakyat, beliau telah dianggap sebagai sudah melepasi jangka hayat politik beliau, konservatif, tua dan tidak relevan.Mahathir yang keras kepala masih belum mahu menarik brek politiknya walaupun dengan usia tuanya itu dan selepas meninggalkan kerajaan 8 tahun yang lalu – dan ini lebih mengecewakan beberapa pemain muda dalam UMNO, seperti Khairy Jamaluddin.

Banyak lagi dalam UMNO yang tidak berada dalam buku baik beliau, tidak cukup gembira kerana Mahathir mati terhadap mereka. Najib, yang dilihat sebagai pemimpin yang lemah, tidak mempunyai pilihan lain tetapi sedang berhati-hati supaya tidak menyinggung perasaan Mahathir, kerana dia mampu membawa kembali apa yang telah berlaku kepada pendahulunya, Abdullah, perdana menteri kelima Malaysia. Namun, akhir-akhir ini, Mahathir telah agak terganggu dengan beberapa keadaan yang tidak menyenangkan yang berlaku dalam UMNO. Kepada kepimpinan yang ada sekarang, Mahathir tidak akan teragak-agak untuk memberi petunjuk bahawa bagi setiap lelaki yang 'gagal', ada seorang wanita.

UMNO kini dilihat oleh rakyat Malaysia sebagai parti yang lemah dan bersandar sepenuhnya kepada Perkasa untuk memenangi sokongan Melayu yang telah hilang. Sebaliknya, Perkasa, telah dengan jayanya membawa perkauman seraya memberi imej buruk kepada UMNO. UMNO telah membuat kesilapan besar dalam politik dengan memberi gambaran kepada rakyat bahawa Perkasa adalah pasangan sejiwa parti itu dan ini telah menimbulkan kemarahan MCA, MIC dan Gerakan.

Oleh itu, Perkasa bukanlah aset kepada UMNO, ia telah memakan diri sendiri dan ini membuatkan imej BN terjejas dengan teruk. Perkasa - sebuah organisasi yang tidak penting dalam politik Malaysia - juga ditolak pihak yang berpendirian sederhana di dalam UMNO. UMNO dan Barisan Nasional (BN) akan kehilangan undi penting dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang jika Perkasa dibiarkan berbuat sesuka hati dan Mahathir berterusan merungut tentang rasa tidak puas hati mengenai hal-ehwal UMNO.

Mahathir silap dalam analisisnya pada tahun 2008 mengenai hasil pilihan raya umum. BN mengalami kekalahan teruk dalam pilihan raya umum 2008 bukan kerana perpecahan Melayu tetapi orang Melayu sebenarnya bersatu dalam melumpuhkan BN kerana keangkuhan dan ketidakcekapannya.Keputusan pilihan raya bukan sahaja menunjukkan kehadiran perpaduan Melayu di negara ini tetapi juga perpaduan Malaysia yang menjadi petanda baik bahawa Malaysia adalah untuk semua orang.

BN menyerahkan 82 kerusi persekutuan dan lima kerajaan negeri kepada pembangkang dalam pilihan raya Mac 2008 dan ini telah mencerminkan demokrasi yang sihat di negara ini yang dalam jangka masa panjang akan membawa keadilan politik yang lebih baik kepada negara. Kelihatan seperti bukan sahaja sejumlah besar orang Melayu tidak akan menyokong UMNO, malah kebanyakan daripada kumpulan etnik yang lain juga tidak akan mengundi BN pada pilihan raya umum akan datang.

Rakyat Malaysia akan menjadi Bangsa Malaysia

Pilihan raya umum akan datang akan menyaksikan sekali lagi undi perpecahan di kalangan semua kaum di negara ini. Kaum atau agama tidak akan menjadi kriteria utama yang akan menentukan gabungan yang akan mendapat kemenangan. Isu-isu yang akan mempengaruhi keputusan pilihan raya umum yang akan datang adalah ekonomi, rasuah, kadar jenayah yang semakin meningkat, sistem pendidikan yang lemah dan kos hidup yang tinggi. Bangsa dan agama tidak akan menjadi pembolehubah yang penting dalam menentukan gerak balas pengundi. Rasuah, skandal, kepura-puraan di kalangan pemimpin dan keangkuhan – adalah sesuatu yang biasa di kalangan pemimpin-pemimpin UMNO dan BN – inilah yang akan membawa rakyat pelbagai kaum dan agama untuk bersama-sama menggulingkan tuan-tuan politik yang sedia ada di peringkat persekutuan.

Sekali lagi, orang bukan Islam tidak akan teragak-agak untuk mengundi PAS dan orang Melayu juga tidak ragu-ragu untuk mengundi calon-calon yang bukan Islam kali ini. Penekanan secara tiba-tiba Mahathir dan Ketuanan Melayu tidak akan berjaya kerana orang ramai melihat ini sebagai helah politik UMNO untuk terus berkuasa dan kekal angkuh. Atas alasan ini, kelihatan seperti rakyat Malaysia akan menjadi Bangsa Malaysia, yang tidak henti-henti dicanangkan oleh Mahathir semasa tempoh beliau sebagai Perdana Menteri dan idea beliau ini didokumenkan dalam Memoirs (2011). Mahathir seharusnya berasa gembira melihat visi beliau yang akan menjadi kenyataan - Bangsa Malaysia - kini menjadi kenyataan selepas beliau tidak lagi menjadi perdana menteri negara:

"Kita perlu mewujudkan satu bangsa Malaysia yang bersatu padu. Walaupun lahir dari pelbagai kaum, semua rakyat Malaysia telah melihat diri mereka sebagai rakyat dari negara yang sama.Walaupun berbeza asal-usul kita, kita menuju ke arah yang sama. Kita juga mungkin berbeza dari segi politik tetapi kesetiaan dan dedikasi kepada negara tidak tergugat. Kami semua, tanpa pemisah atau had, sebahagian daripada satu Bangsa Malaysia - satu umat Malaysia, satu tapi pelbagai "(p597-8).

UMNO perlu undi bukan Melayu sepertimana ia memerlukan undi Melayu, UMNO tidak boleh dilihat sebagai parti Melayu 'unggul' seperti yang Perkasa atau Mahathir mahukan.UMNO telah mengambil petunjuk dari PAS, PKR dan DAP di mana pemimpin-pemimpin mereka secara rasional berpendapat bahawa parti-parti politik harus memenuhi keperluan masyarakat yang berbilang kaum walaupun terdapat kepelbagaian dalam bangsa atau agama.

UMNO menolak Perkasa yang membuang masa mereka memperjuangkan isu-isu perkauman yang mungkin relevan dalam tahun 1940-an tetapi tidak dalam era ini. Ektrimis kaum juga harus sedar bahawa bangsa Melayu bukanlah baka tulen. Mereka banyak bercampur-campur dan sebahagian besar daripada mereka lebih toleransi kepada orang-orang berbilang kaum dan beragama lain. Orang-orang Melayu moden tidak melihat pada bangsa atau agama sebagai perkara-perkara yang penting dalam politik. Mereka kini mencari pendidikan, ekonomi dan kerajaan yang bebas rasuah untuk membawa Malaysia ke arah di mana semua rakyat akan mempunyai peluang yang sama dalam masyarakat.

Bangsa dan agama tidak akan memberi banyak kesan dalam politik semasa pilihan raya umum akan datang. Malangnya, UMNO, Perkasa, dan Mahathir ketinggalan dalam pemikiran politik mereka. Pluralisme atau perpaduan di dalam kepelbagaian ini yang lebih dikehendaki oleh generasi sekarang- orang Melayu dan rakyat Malaysia secara umum.

Bangsa Melayu telah berubah menjadi orang-orang yang matang

UMNO, PAS dan PKR mungkin tidak mempunyai masalah untuk menarik ahli-ahli komuniti yang berbakat. Melayu tidak hidup dalam kepompong seperti pada tahun 1950-an 'atau sebelum itu. Bangsa Melayu telah berubah menjadi orang-orang yang matang yang sanggup untuk menampung mana-mana parti politik yang boleh membawa kepada sebuah kerajaan yang bersih rasuah.

Pilihan raya umum dijangka akan diadakan sekitar awal tahun depan – akan menjadi suatu tugas yang sukar bagi BN untuk mengekalkan Putrajaya. Untuk BN memperoleh dua pertiga majoriti seperti biasa adalah agak sukar untuuk direalisasi. Ada kemungkinan bahawa BN akan kalah dalam pilihan raya ini dengan majoriti mudah. Rakyat berwajah baru - orang Melayu Cina, India dan Orang Asli sudah bersedia untuk memperbaharui politik dan tadbir urus negara. UMNO dan BN akan berakhir dan menjilat luka-luka mereka sebelum mereka boleh kembali dalam pilihan raya umum masa depan, dan kali ini mungkin dengan pasukan yang lebih bersih.

Sistem dua parti kini semakin serasi dengan jiwa rakyat Malaysia dan ini membimbangkan pemikir UMNO lebih daripada ahli-ahli biasa. Apabila pembangkang semakin popular di kebanyakan negeri, ahli-ahli UMNO akan lebih fokus kepada imej mereka daripada menyatukan parti.

Berjuta-juta ringgit dibazirkan untuk membina imej dan wang yang dibelanjakan untuk rakyat asing untuk tujuan ini mungkin lebih baik digunakan untuk membantu rakyat. Semua akronim hebat untuk pembaharuan ekonomi dan mengherankan minda mereka yang seperti Warren Buffett dan Carlos Slim - belum diterjemahkan ke realiti selepas hampir empat tahun UMNO / BN menjadi kerajaan. Mahathir sedar bahawa tiada apa-apa yang nyata berlaku dalam ekonomi. Apabila tidak banyak langkah yang telah diambil dan ini mengingatkan rakyat Malaysia kepada pemimpin yang terdahulu - Abdullah - yang sedang tidur semasa tugasnya selama hampir dua penggal sebagai Perdana Menteri.

Tiada cara untuk atasi kelemahan

UMNO sangat kuat rasuah sehinggalah ke terasnya kata Mahathir. UMNO akan kucar-kacir dan pilihan raya umum akan datang akan menyaksikan parti itu kehilangan lebih banyak kerusi kepada Pakatan. Terdapat puak dan perbalahan dalaman dalam parti. Ramai yang mengintai peluang menjadi pemimpin-pemimpin cawangan. Terdapat ramai yang mengharapkan UMNO untuk membawa masuk wang dan kontrak untuk mereka.

Laporan Ketua Audit Negara bagi tahun-tahun yang lepas telah menunjukkan bagaimana wang pembayar cukai telah dengan cuai dibelanjakan. Pesalah rasuah telah dilepaskan untuk memelihara imej UMNO dan kerajaan. Dana yang sepatutnya digunakan untuk menghasilkan daging lembu berakhir dengan pembelian kondominium untuk 'lembu suci', begitu juga percutian dan melaksanakan Umrah. Kemelut RM250 juta NFC telah menarik minat yang meluas dikalangan orang awam dan kekecewaan mereka. Pemimpin pula senyap mengenai isu ini.

Tiada siapa dalam UMNO akan mempersoalkan perkara ini kerana setiap ahlinya mempunyai aspirasi untuk menjadi kaya melalui parti. Dari membeli mi Maggie ke kapal selam, rakyat melihat wang pembayar cukai telah disalahguna. Najib terlalu sibuk membina imej peribadinya sehinggakan beliau tiada masa untuk memastikan dana awam dibelanjakan dengan betul.

Mahathir juga bukan penyelesaian untuk UMNO kerana beliau dilihat sebagai orang di belakang kumpulan ekstrimis - Perkasa. MCA, MIC dan Gerakan tidak menyukai Mahathir kerana dilihat mereka sebagai berdiri di atas nama bangsa. UMNO juga secara beransur-ansur menjadi lebih tidak relevan kepada nasib orang Melayu tulen atau pribumi disebabkan campuran India Muslim, Arab, Indonesia dan banyak bangsa asing lain.

Banyak cawangan UMNO kini diketuai oleh mereka yang berfikiran wang dan sesetengah daripada mereka bukanlah Melayu tulen atau yang Asli. Perhimpunan Agung UMNO yang akan diadakan Disember ini akan menyaksikan satu protes senyap daripada wakil-wakil terhadap pemimpin-pemimpin mereka yang sedia ada kerana mereka mempunyai firasat bahawa UMNO dan BN akan mempunyai harapan yang sedikit untuk menang dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.

UMNO meninggal dunia akhirnya

Kali ini perwakilan UMNO perlu bimbang mengenai imej kendur parti tersebut. Pilihan raya umum akan datang akan melihat sistem dua parti berbalah untuk kuasa yang boleh membawa kepada kematian akhirnya. Kerajaan yang mengamalkan rasuah pasti tidak akan menjadi pilihan rakyat dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.

Perhimpunan Agung UMNO pada bulan Disember tidak syak lagi akan menjadi suam-suam kuku kerana delegasi takut membangkitkan isu yang menyelebungi parti itu dan memikirkan penyelesaian untuknya. Perwakilan akan menghadiri perhimpunan itu dengan perasaan teragak-agak kerana mereka tidak akan mampu untuk meluahkan rasa tidak puas hati mereka. Seolah-olah mereka tidak gembira dengan kepimpinan mereka dan akan teragak-agak untuk menyuarakan ketidakpuasan hati mereka.

Pelantikan menteri kebanyakkan melalui pintu belakang telah mengecewakan banyak ahli UMNO. Mereka juga melihat pelantikan Ezam Mohd Nor dan Nallakarupan KS - sebagai senator sebagai helah politik untuk menyelamatkan kepimpinan atasan lebih daripada segala-galanya. Ini telah menghina kebijaksanaan kebanyakkan ahli-ahli UMNO dan rakyat Malaysia biasa, dan dianggap oleh rakyat sebagai satu pembaziran wang pembayar cukai.

Ekonomi terus lemah dengan kos sara hidup meningkat. Berjuta-juta ringgit yang dibelanjakan untuk membina imej pemimpin disia-siakan dan tidak memihak kepada akar umbi. Pengundi juga tidak gembira dengan rasuah yang berleluasa dalam kerajaan dan politik berat sebelah dan pilih kasih yang berlaku di dalam BN serta memburukkan imej Umno.

Dalam UMNO, minda Melayu agak feudal dan kebenaran tidak dapat diucapkan secara langsung, terutama apabila ia menyentuh tentang orang-orang diperingkat tertinggi dalam hierarki politik atau sosial. Mereka akan menyimpannya seperti bom masa dalam perasaan dalaman mereka sehingga pilihan raya umum akan datang ia akan meletup. Ramai ahli UMNO akan mengundi pembangkang seperti apa yang mereka lakukan pada tahun 2008 – inilah satu-satunya cara untuk memperbaiki akhlak UMNO dan BN mengenai politik dan tadbir urus yang sepatutnya.

Malaysia Chronicle