Anwar demands Putrajaya to apologise to Hindraf leaders

Sunday, May 10, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition icon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today ramped up pressure on the Malaysian government, saying that it should apologise to P Uthayakumar and other Hindraf leaders for detaining them under the Internal Security Act.

He also challenged the authorities to substantiate reasons why the men who helmed Hindraf were detained in Kamunting, noting that the police had linked them to terrorism just after their detention in December 2007.

“During their detention, the government frequently spun stories that they were involved in terrorism but none of them were ever brought before the courts.

“Now they have been released without any explanation. It is clear that whatever the explanation and whatever the justification, the ISA has to be abolished and all the detainees released. These archaic laws have not more place if we really want true changes, ‘’ he said in a posting on his blog, adding that the release of the 13 ISA detainees yesterday was an attempt by the Barisan Nasional government to change the news cycle after the fiasco in Perak.

Uthayakumar, M Manoharan and Vasanthakumar were among several Hindraf leaders who were picked by the police in December after they organised mass gatherings and demonstrations across the country to protest the marginalization of Indians in Malaysia.

The government justified their actions by declaring Hindraf an illegal organisation and painting its leaders as threats to national security.

Few bought the official line and the Najib administration knew that it would not be possible to reconcile with the community - traditional strong supporters of the BN – with Hindraf leaders still behind bars.

Still some in Umno appear grudging that Uthayakumar and gang – whom they blame for the Indian vote swing towards the Opposition – are enjoying freedom.

They are even more troubled than he and his comrades do not appear broken or cowed by their experience in Kamunting.

Anwar’s demand for the government to apologise to the Hindraf leaders will touch a raw nerve among Umno members, many of whom believe that the likes of Uthayakumar must be grateful to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for releasing them from detention.

The Umno-owned Mingguan Malaysia reported with a tinge of incredulity that Uthayakumar did not think it was necessary for him to thank the government for his release.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein also appeared to stoke the fire when he said today: “We did not expect him to thank the government. He is stubborn, tore his shirt before his release and also spread all sorts of lies.

“I’d like to remind him that as a normal person free from the ISA, he is not immune from other laws.’’

Still settling into his new job as the Home Minister, Hishammuddin needs to show that he has the steely spine to helm this important ministry.

It was this same pressure that prompted his predecessor to use the ISA against a journalist and a popular Opposition politician, a move which not only made him one of the most unpopular ministers in the Abdullah administration but also probably persuaded Najib to leave out of the Cabinet.



Perak debacle – an unforgivable violation of the constitution by police raja & bn

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sending a horde of police personnel into the assembly hall to forcibly enforce a decision of one party against another is therefore a heinous and unforgivable act of violation of the fundamental principles of our Constitution. First, the police should never intrude into the sacrosanct ground of the assembly; and second, the police should never take side in a political dispute, as it should at all time act as a politically neutral body to enforce law and order.

Kim Quek

The Barisan Nasional (BN) government has probably scored another first in the world. It has sent its police force to enter a state legislative assembly hall to physically haul the sitting speaker out of the assembly hall and escort another speaker of its choice to take over the empty seat during a melee. Through this act, BN claimed that it has successfully ousted the Pakatan Rakyat speaker V. Sivakumar.

We have seen scuffles between opposing legislators in legislative assemblies in other parts of the world, notably in Taiwan and South Korea. And we have also seen Sergeants-at-arms getting physical in such situations. But I don’t believe there is a precedent anywhere that the police force enters a legislature to take control of events – least of all, physically evicting an incumbent speaker and physically installing a new speaker from the opposing camp, like what happened in the Perak state assembly on May 7.

Under the doctrine of separation of power, upon which the Malaysian Constitution is founded, neither the Executive, nor the Judiciary can meddle into the affairs of the legislature. As the supreme body of a government and as an independent institution, the legislative assembly enjoys autonomy and has always been meticulously out of bounds to the police force.

Sending a horde of police personnel into the assembly hall to forcibly enforce a decision of one party against another is therefore a heinous and unforgivable act of violation of the fundamental principles of our Constitution. First, the police should never intrude into the sacrosanct ground of the assembly; and second, the police should never take side in a political dispute, as it should at all time act as a politically neutral body to enforce law and order.

The pandemonium that broke out in the Perak Assembly is rooted in a tussle for legitimacy to govern the Perak State. The constitutional crisis exploded in early February when the Ruler appointed a new Menteri Besar from BN when the incumbent Pakatan Menteri Besar had not resigned, resulting in two parallel governments. The issues that complicate the impasse now are:

a) whether the three defectors from Pakatan did or did not resign as assemblymen

b) whether the suspension of BN Menteri Besar Zambry Kadir and his six executive councilors for 18 months and 12 months respectively from the assembly are valid

c) which of the two is rightful Menteri Besar

All these three issues are now being legally contested in a web of suits and counter suits in the high courts, the eventual outcomes of which may take years to decide as they wiggle their ways to the higher courts. The obvious, and in fact the only practical solution to the stalemate, is a dissolution of the assembly and return the mandate to the people of Perak. Failing which, the Perak crisis will continue to fester as unbearable political and economic sore to not only Perakians but to all Malaysians.

Meanwhile, BN must not be too quick to celebrate their ‘success’ in physically evicting the incumbent Pakatan speaker Sivakumar, as physical eviction is not necessary the same as legal eviction. As rightly pointed out by Pakatan Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin and speaker Sivakumar, the motion of no confidence in speaker Sivakumar was null and void as he had not even convened the meeting yet when the motion was proposed by Zambry. Besides, Siva had already issued a letter of rejection of the motion a day earlier, in exercise of his right under the standing orders.

As for the police violation of the Constitution, the prime culprits ultimately responsible for this debacle are the Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan and Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. In any established democracy, they will have to defend their honour by offering to resign. However, short of resignation, the least they should do now is to offer an apology to the nation.

Malaysia Today


Time for Najib to answer, especially to the non-Malays

Civil society and community leaders continued to condemn Prime Minister Najib Razak, who just completed a month in office as the country’s sixth prime minister.

The scandal-hit Najib is facing gunfire from all directions, not least from allegations of corruption that have dogged his 33-year career, including a more recent high-profile murder-and-commission scandal that has hit the international headlines.

But the harsh words that poured in was for a political plot he hatched in February that toppled the multi-racial Pakatan Rakyat in northwestern Perak state, which has a large Chinese population.

Najib’s coup d’etat against the coalition led by arch rival Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim plunged Perak into a political and constitutional crisis, culminating in Thursday’s widely-condemned assembly sitting in Ipoh town.

Malaysians nationwide saw with their own eyes the brute police force that was used by his Umno-BN coalition to quell rival lawmakers.

“If this event had taken place 10 years ago, people might never have known what really transpired inside the assembly. This is really going to strain the legitimacy of the state government. Fair-minded people will find it very difficult to accept the way in which they took over,” Ibrahim Suffian, director of opinion pollster Merdeka Centre told a foreign newspaper.

Time to face the music

Najib has tried to escape responsibility for what has transpired but civil society leaders say it is time for him to face the music and answer to the nation, especially to the non-Malays, and not just in Perak but throughout Malaysia.

“Najib must be held responsible for this pandemonium. He created this situation in bringing about the change of government that resulted in the bedlam that we witnessed in the state assembly,” said P Ramakrishnan, president of social reform and human rights movement Aliran.

Community leaders point out that of the 28 seats held by Umno-BN in Perak, only one belongs to Chinese partner MCA. This already tells of the high non-Malay rejection for his coalition, they said.

And after the violence and lawlessness shown by Umno-BN towards their multi-racial rivals at Thursday’s sitting, it is doubtful its non-Malay components MCA, Gerakan and MIC will ever be able to reclaim the respect of their communities - again not just in Perak but throughout the country.

“On what basis can the MCA represent the Chinese in Ipoh now? In the past three months, did they speak up for the Chinese in Perak. Did they advise or caution Najib that this is not what their community wants?,” a community leader told Suara Keadilan.

“Not only did they keep quiet to save their own jobs, but they actually supported Najib in the takeover. As far as we are concerned, they are traitors to our community, just like the Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong.”

Beware. Take action or risk losing your right to clean, fair and free general election.

After losing two consecutive by-elections in Permatang Pauh in August, 2008, and Kuala Terengganu in January, 2009, the coup d’etat was launched three months ago to help Najib save face and to gain legitimacy as incoming president of the Malay-based Umno.

But it has been five decades since independence from British rule - long enough for corruption that comes with absolute power to set in and destroy the trust the party used to enjoy without question in the past.

In fact, Umno is now just like MCA. As the MCA is no longer the voice of its community, the once-mighty Umno no longer represents the Malays as it used to. The Malay vote is now split between Umno, PAS and Anwar’s PKR.

And this is why Najib has gone all out to bash down the non-Malays in Perak - to convince the Malays that he and Umno can still deliver for them. Better than PAS and PKR can.

But will his community be as unquestioning and trustful as before? Or have they, like the Chinese and the Indians, learnt their bitter lesson and be more discerning about who they choose as leaders from now on.

The answer can only come at free, fair and clean election - which is why state-wide polls in Perak will be the last thing Najib will agree to. A devastating loss is inevitable.

But by this same rationale, Malaysians must now know that their chances for free, fair and clean election have diminished and substantially.

How Najib has abused the federal apparatus - the police, the Election Commission, the anti-graft body, state offices and even the courts - in the past one month has been clear for all to see.

It is only logical to fear that at the next general election - and if it comes that is - the last thing that Malaysian can expect from him are clean, fair and free election. “Malaysia is now like Fiji and Zimbabwe, ” said PKR leader Tian Chua.



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