Archive for March, 2009

22
Mar
09

Malaysia is roiled by a crisis of democracy

Malaysia is roiled by a crisis of democracy
By Thomas Fuller
March 19, 2009 – IHT

KUALA LUMPUR: A slew of political scandals gripping Malaysia and a transfer of power fraught with uncertainty have embroiled the elite here with exquisitely poor timing.

As a major trading nation, Malaysia is being slammed by the global downturn, its exports collapsing by nearly one-third and current projections showing that its economy will shrink by as much as 5 percent this year.

Yet the main preoccupation of the government and opposition parties appears to be what analysts are describing as an increasingly dysfunctional political system: The man who is in line to become prime minister is linked to the murder of a Mongolian woman whose body was obliterated with military-grade explosives. The opposition leader awaits trial on sodomy charges in a highly politicized case. The government is using draconian laws, including those against sedition, to prosecute opposition figures, and this week it banned a member of Parliament for one year after he called the prime-minister-in-waiting a murderer.

Meanwhile, the Legislature of one of the largest states in the federation has been paralyzed for six weeks over a dispute over who should govern.

“At the rate things are going, we’re going to be a failed state within a decade,” said Salehuddin Hashim, secretary general of the People’s Justice Party, the largest opposition party. “I’m at a very low point in what I expect for my children.”

For an oil-rich country with a gleaming, cosmopolitan capital and a large, well-educated middle class, the pessimism may seem hyperbolic. But analysts say the current political woes strike at the heart of the functioning of government, damaging core institutions like the royalty, the judiciary, the police and the news media.

“I see a rough ride ahead for the country,” said Zaid Ibrahim, the founder of Malaysia’s largest law firm, who resigned as law minister in September over the government’s practice of detaining its critics without trial. “The institutions of government have become so one-sided it will take years to restore professionalism and integrity.”
Continue reading ‘Malaysia is roiled by a crisis of democracy’

22
Mar
09

Malaysia Politics in Turmoil

Malaysia Politics in Turmoil
19 March 2009 – Asiasentinel.com

The anointment of Najib Tun Razak as prime minister could hit some bumps in the road
Najib’s candidacy has been badly bruised by an extraordinary speech to the Rotary Club in Kuala Lumpur by Zaid Ibrahim, who was appointed by Badawi last year as a minister in the prime minister’s office with a mandate to clean out the country’s scandal-ridden judiciary. However, Zaid was forced out of office by UMNO stalwarts

Against all odds, what has been the almost certain anointment of Najib Tun Razak as Malaysia’s prime minister appears to be foundering as opposition over corruption, high-handedness and other issues mounts, with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and others turning cool on him.

Najib, Malaysia’s scandal-scarred deputy prime minister, had been all but selected as president of the United Malays National Organisation, the leading ethnic political party in the ruling national coalition after the current prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was forced out as party leader late last year. Najib must go through the formality of being named party leader in intra-party elections scheduled from March 24 to 29.

The odds are strong that Najib will get the job. However, no date has been announced for his takeover from Badawi, suggesting that there is still uncertainty within the party over his primacy. The party also appears to be reaping a whirlwind by encouraging young outsider candidates to go against established leaders in an effort to clean the stables. The result, a member of an anti-coirruption agency told local reporters, is that there have been so many complaints of political bribery and corruption that the board doesn’t have the manpower to investigate them all.

UMNO is increasingly in chaos, not just for that reason but because public objections are growing over massive scandals when Najib was defense minister, including the purchase of three French submarines that netted a company controlled by his controversial crony, Abdul Razak Baginda, 114 million euros in commissions. Other scandals included the purchase of Russian Sukhoi jet fighters and substandard patrol boats costing hundreds of millions of ringgit in overcharges from a company owned by another UMNO crony, Amin Shah Omar.

Najib’s candidacy has been badly bruised by an extraordinary speech to the Rotary Club in Kuala Lumpur by Zaid Ibrahim, who was appointed by Badawi last year as a minister in the prime minister’s office with a mandate to clean out the country’s scandal-ridden judiciary. However, Zaid was forced out of office by UMNO stalwarts.
Continue reading ‘Malaysia Politics in Turmoil’

21
Mar
09

Who Should be PM?

Text of Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim’s speech
18 March 2009 – Malaysia Today

Commissions were paid to an agent for the procurement of submarines through the Defence Ministry, Najib (then) being the defence minister. It is unthinkable that he had no knowledge that the agent was his adviser and aide, Abdul Razak Baginda. The commission paid out was exceedingly large, in excess of RM400 million.

This is the second time I have been invited to address a Rotary Club. Thank you for the honour. Given the times we live in, perhaps it might be appropriate for me to speak about the leadership transition that has been foisted upon us Malaysians.

I say ‘foisted’ because neither me nor anyone in this room had any role or say in the choice of the person who will lead Malaysia next. We were mere bystanders in a political chess game. And yet the transition is a subject of great consequence to the nation, one I would say is of great national interest.

Leadership is definitive; the individual who assumes the mantle of leadership of this nation, whomever that may be, is one who for better or worse will leave his mark on us. His will be the hand who guides us to greater success, or possibly gut-wrenching disaster.

Save for the dawn of Merdeka, never in the history of this country has the choice of prime minister been so crucial: Malaysia is in crisis. We are facing tremendous economic challenges with unavoidably harsh socio-political consequences. Our much undermined democracy is once again being assailed by those who would prefer a more autocratic form of governance.

Our public institutions are hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected. Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacles of nation building has reached a point where it sometimes feel like we are hanging on by a thread. This is the Malaysia we live in.
Continue reading ‘Who Should be PM?’

03
Mar
09

Tree of Democracy in Perak

When the Perak state assemblypersons turned up at the state secretariat this morning (3 March) they found the police and FRU trucks blocking the main entrance to the state secretariat. The Ipoh OCPD refused to allow anyone to enter. Undeterred, the Speaker and the state representatives decided to hold the emergency assembly sitting in a car park under a tree (some people are naming this the “Tree of Democracy” or the “Tree of Freedom”).

In this historic state assembly sitting in the open under the “Tree of Democracy”, three motions were tabled and passed unanimously. The first was to express confidence on Mohd Nizar as the Menteri Besar of Perak, the second is a motion to dissolve the state assembly and the third motion is to adopt the decision of the rights and privileges committee to suspend Zambry and his six exco members.

The state assembly is now dissolved which means that state-wide elections will have to be held after the consent of the Sultan of Perak has been obtained. However, undoubtedly the BN government will try to use all their powers to frustrate the wishes of the Perak people and prevent state-wide elections. Why are they so afraid to allow the people to decide who their state government should be? It is only to the best interest of Perak and the country that this whole ugly episode of power tussle in Perak be brought to an end.

Please, let the people decide.

02
Mar
09

Democracy under siege in Perak

(Malaysiakini report, “State building to be closed tomorrow”)

In a truly democratic country there is a clear separation of powers among the three branches of a democratic system: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. They are independent of each other and there cannot be any interference by one on any of the others. This applies at the federal level as well as at the state level.

The events unfolding in Perak seem to show that BN government have a total disregard for such democratic principles. It has taken over the state government in Perak after enticing 3 state assemblypersons to defect from the Pakatan Rakyat. Although the new BN MB Zambry has been sworn in, his status is still questionable. The former MB Mohd Nizar has filed a suit in High Court challenging the appointment of Zambry and the case is still pending.

At the end of last week, Sivakumar, the speaker of the state assembly announced that an emergency session of the assembly will be held on Tuesday, 3 March. Remember, he is the recognised and unchallenged speaker of the state legislature. It does not matter who is the legitimate Mentri Besar (the executive), the workings of the state assembly should not be interfered with. Besides, lawyers have argued that since the state assembly session has not been dissolved or prorogued, the consent of the Sultan is not necessary in order to call the emergency sitting.

However, since the announcement of the emergency sitting, the Zambry’s “state government” has filed two suits against the speaker. The first suit challenges Sivakumar’s decision to accept the undated resignation letters of the 3 defecting state assemblypersons and the second challenges the decision to suspend Zambry and his six exco members. Now, what does this looks like? Not only is the executive interfering with the legislative branch of the state government, it is also getting the judiciary to interfere with the state legislative assembly. Other actions taken to prevent the emergency sitting are even more ludicrous.

Yesterday, the state assembly secretary Abdullah Antong sent out a notice declaring that the emergency sitting of the state assembly to be “invalid”. But the assembly secretary is supposed to be working under the Speaker of the state assembly! Who gave him the authority to sent out such a notice? The Bar Council vice-president, Ragunath Kesavan has this to say, “Obviously he is sympathetic to Barisan Nasional. But whether the assembly is convened rightly or wrongly, he does not have the power to say anything. He has to take instructions from his superior, who is the Speaker of the assembly”.

A directive has also been issued to lock the state secretariat building tomorrow in an attempt to prevent the emergency sitting of the state assembly from taking place. Under whose order was this directive given? Nobody knows as the circular which announces that the state secretariat will be closed tomorrow were unsigned. Who has declared a holiday for government servants working in the state secretariat?

The Perak police chief has also issued a statement in which he said the emergency sitting is “invalid” according to the assembly secretary and advised people not to gather at the state assembly. The police chief is now acting according to the assembly secretary’s notice instead of the Speaker’s announcement?! Bewildering.

According to some reports, police roadblocks have already been erected this evening along the road leading to the state secretariat and FRU trucks are on standby.

Democracy is under siege in Perak.




Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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