September 25, 2008

Site has moved

This website has moved to a new home. For further updates please go to:

September 24, 2008

Fight to free RPK not over

Although the authorities have frustrated RPK lawyers' attempt to free him in court yesterday, the fight is not over according to his lead lawyer, Malik Imtiaz.

If the hearing were to proceed yesterday, he believes that "the case we would have mounted for RPK would have been virtually unassailable." By moving the goal post and detaining RPK under Section 8 of the ISA yesterday morning before the hearing, it is now impossible to secure his release based on the original habeas corpus application which was under Section 73(1).

However, the original application has not been dismissed and submissions by his lawyers will be heard on Oct 28. Even though the judge cannot release RPK based on the original application, the basis of detention under section 73(1) and section 8 is the same.

Meanwhile, a new habeas corpus application will be filed to challenge the Minister’s detention order under Section 8. If the hearing for the original application on Oct 28 is successful Malik says, "we can have a basis to argue that the minister’s detention is not just irregular for procedure - therefore showing the minister has no power to make the order".

source: Free RPK: It's Not Over

The Malaysian Bar has issued a statement yesterday which expressed its disappointment over the 2-year detention order against RPK. The statement also says,

"The ISA is being used against an individual where other avenues that afford him a chance to defend himself, exist. It confirms the impression that the ISA is being used for purposes other than national security. It is being used to stifle dissent."

source: Bar's Press Statement

September 23, 2008

RPK detained for 2 years without trial

A hearing on the writ of habeas corpus filed by Raja Petra's lawyers was initially scheduled for Friday 26 September but was inexplicably brought forward to 9.00 a.m today, 23 September. But before the hearing could proceed RPK was sent to the Kamunting detention centre this morning for a two-year detention without trial!

The Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar signed the two-year detention order last night which clearly is meant to frustrate the habeas corpus hearing and to prevent the possibility that RPK may be freed after the hearing.

The action of the Home Minister has outraged many Malaysians who view this as a blatant abuse of the ISA to silence dissenting voices.

Raja Petra sent to Kamunting
Sep 23, 2008 - Malaysiakini

Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin was sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping, Perak, this morning to begin his two-year detention without trial under the Internal Security Act.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar last night signed the detention order for the blogger to be held under section 8(1) of the tough security law. Under the Act, the initial two-year detention period can be renewed indefinitely.

According to journalists stationed outside the Kamunting detention camp, Raja Petra arrived at 11.50am in a white van with heavily-tinted windows.

"The act by the minister to sign the section 8 order yesterday is completely unacceptable," said Raja Petra's lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz.

The legal team believes the minister’s decision was linked to a habeas corpus hearing in the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, which had been filed by Raja Petra's lawyers to secure his release.

(A writ of habeas corpus orders the authorities to produce prisoners before a judge to ascertain if there are any procedural defects which could render their detention unlawful.)

Speaking to reporters later, Malik said “the arrest was issued last night to avoid the consequences of this habeas corpus”.

Also present in the court was former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim, who sat next to Marina.

“He (Raja Petra) writes well, he speaks his mind and we need more people like him said Zaid (left in photo), who had resigned to protest the use of the ISA to detain Raja Petra and two others on Sept 12.

Zaid said he attended the hearing to show support for the wives of many others being held under the restrictive law.

“We should encourage people to speak out. If (those detained) have done wrong (then) we (should) charge them (in court),” he said.

Zaid also said that freedom of expression and of speech are important values and that “we cannot intimidate with fear”.


The ISA is evil; ISA must go!

The ISA is evil; ISA must go!
23 September 2008 - Aliran

It is outrageous that Raja Petra has been sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre to serve his two-year detention under the Internal Security Act.

The Home Minister cannot justify his action; neither can he convince the public at large that he had acted in the interest of the nation.

It is a political decision to put away a brave and committed Malaysian into oblivion so that the Barisan Nasional will not be ridiculed by Raja Petra’s wit and wisdom on a daily basis. He had bombarded them relentlessly, exposing their lack of logic and utter incompetence. This is what they want to stop. This is what they want to prevent desperately.

Let it be known that Raja Petra is no traitor to this nation. He is not a security threat in any way to this country. He is a patriot and a decent human being. The struggle to free him will continue no matter how long it takes, whatever it takes.

Malaysians will remember this cruel act and condemn the ISA as something evil and unjust. The Home Minister has made it absolutely clear that as long as the BN is in power the ISA will be there to terrorise innocent people and cripple our democratic space. The ISA will only go when the BN is made to go.

P Ramakrishnan
23 September 2008


September 20, 2008

The time is now

The time is now
Steve Oh
Sep 18, 2008 - Malaysiakini Letters

I do not think it helps Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim or incumbent Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and more importantly the country for there to be a political stalemate, for whatever reason. If there is one outstanding feature of events leading up to September 16, it has been the responsible and peaceful way that Anwar and associates have carried out their plans and for this they earn our respect.

Perhaps we expected Anwar to walk up to Abdullah and tap him on the shoulder on September 16 and see the latter shake his hands and concede the handover of power and pass the keys to Putrajaya to him. But it does not happen like that in real life. Nor do those who espouse justice rely on scary vociferous mobs wielding those dangerous weapons.

I imagine the process of change we all wait for with bated breath will not happen along the written lines of a script. There are many landmines to step over and it will not be a gunfight at OK Coral where everything ends in a few minutes. But I am sure everything will be done legally and time will tell who really upholds the rule of law.

The exemplary manner in which Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Zaid Ibrahim has taken his stand must be emulated by all politicians. As far as I know, this man has talked a lot of sense and tried his best to bring about reforms within Umno and failed.

It takes a giant of a man to admit he has failed and bold leaders to admit their failures. Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted his failure to change the mindset of the Malays when he was in government and for anointing the architect of his sleepless nights and restless days while planning his ousting.

Rather than play cat and mouse, the defecting politicians themselves must show their true colours and boldness in coming out into the open to support Anwar and confirm that he has the numbers to form the government. It is not the time to be coy about something as important as this and people will respect those who are honest and upfront.

Make a firm stand on who you support and sink or swim with your decision.

Those who have chosen must help those who have not to do the right thing. After all, I have made up my mind who I will vote for in the next election and I am not afraid to tell you it won't be for those who lock up the innocent in jail.

You are not a traitor or immoral in deciding to cross over to justice. Pakatan politicians didn’t think it immoral to cross over to Barisan Nasional as we have seen Ezam Noor and other Pakatan members do. You can't do worse but that's my opinion and it is a free country.

In a free country, members of parliament are not beholden to anyone except those who put them in power and the interests of their country. It is not immoral to rebel against the party line when you no longer have confidence in your party. It is called conscience. It would be immoral, hypocritical and unconscionable to remain in a party you no longer believe in or support those you no longer have confidence in. Zaid has set a good and right example.

People who talk about the morality of the present crisis of crossovers miss the bigger picture that this is an unusual and unprecedented situation. And there are always exceptions to the rule. Whatever misgivings we may have, Anwar has promised that there will be a fresh election to get an unequivocal mandate and wisely so when we know the phantom voters are really dead and can't vote.

For the first time in the country's history, there is the possibility of toppling of the Umno-led government which many Malaysians now reject and that Mahathir himself derides as "a rotten government”. It goes to show how a party staying in power for too long can become.

That Anwar has given ample notice of the plan for politicians to cross over meant Pakatan Rakyat had been as open and transparent to the public as practically possible. That 40-odd Barisan MPs were hurriedly sent overseas on a junket tells us Anwar wasn't just blowing hot air. Soon we will know the truth and who tells the "political lie", though one has a better record than the other.

The unusual situation is also highlighted by the unprecedented attrition of support for incumbent PM Abdullah. He has had his former boss take snipes at him and working toward his downfall and the latest resignation of Zaid, the one that both sides of the political divide and many Malaysians respect, must seem like Abdullah may need to take a premature involuntary redundancy sooner than he planned. Anwar has persistently said he has the numbers and is now going through the process of getting the incumbent to concede defeat.

We have seen Robert Mugabe losing his grip on power in Zimbabwe now that agreement has been reached for him to be president and his rival Morgan Tsvangira become prime minister. Despite the violence, police brutality and killings, tyranny had to make way for the people's will.

The arrogant and stubborn one-time nationalist knows compromise is the wise option when the writing is on the wall and time is not on your side. In Malaysia, the mood of the people is for change and it is a bitter lesson that Umno is still unwilling to learn.

It is the sickness that afflicts all who have held tyrannical power, from kings to politicians who often come from poverty to taste power and can't seem to relinquish it when the time comes. From the Indian maharajahs to the last emperor of China who was prepared to betray his own country and people to become sovereign of a puppet country run by the Japanese, weak men have stubbornly refused to give up the throne of power and may even betray their country and cause trouble.

Nothing that Pakatan has done so far is immoral or unconstitutional.

Those who defend text book notions of political morality where the crossovers are concerned may be unfairly pedantic. If the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way round, surely it would be immoral to allow a discordant and incompetent administration in disarray and evidently incapable of reform and giving the people what they want, the moral right to govern when they no longer have the numbers.

And it makes no sense to talk of morality when you are facing an opponent which seems to show none. The incumbent government abuses its power and the police are so evidently partial toward them to justify their immoral acts such as the recent ISA arrests and tampering with police witnesses.

When Barisan component parties are already talking about pulling out of their political alliance and fight among themselves like dogs and cats you'd be silly not to be trying to forge new alliances and re-configure the political network to get into power.

It might sound facetious but what is to prevent PM Abdullah himself joining Pakatan Rakyat with his merry men of constrained reformers so they have a free hand to bring about the desired reforms in the country?

You would have a win-win situation with PM Abdullah still holding on to his coveted post but spending much of his time overseas to build bridges with other countries, something that few can do as well as he.

Anwar and his men and women can then carry on with the onerous task of cleaning up 22 years of mistakes and misdemeanours. By then, Mahathir would have rejoined Umno and being the capable politician he is and having much practice, he would be the ideal opposition leader and no one can boast of having held both posts in the country except his black-eyed ghost from the past. Then perhaps some of us who want to keep the government decent and honest might even support him.

Sadly the time for day-dreaming is not now and the day of reckoning must surely be nigh.

When Gerakan won a whopping majority in 1969 and became a formidable political force, they were seduced into the Barisan. The rest is history. Many of the political alliances were the result of change and crossovers so we should stop debating a non-issue.

Politicians are elected to serve their constituency not their political party. The real immorality is enslaving our elected representatives and coercing them to obey the party so thay can't properly serve their constituencies or properly debate bills like in the recent DNA bill scam.

Every political party knows that their elected members owe them no allegiance beyond what they can do for them. Sometimes we see certain politicians passed over and in the next elections, they stand against their party as independents. We don't see much of that in Malaysia because of the undemocratic manner that political parties conduct their business. There are more party serfs useful for their obligatory numbers to form government than people's representatives.

But in a truly transparent and democratic government that Pakatan promises, they will get a new lease of real political life. Imagine, freedom for our politicians. Who would have thought? So, crossovers are not only good for the people but for the politicians themselves because they are crossing over to the political promised land so to speak, to escape from the repressive pharaoh.

Anwar has already parted the river. What more do we need?

Zaid has set the benchmark for politicians of conscience. It is up to others to follow and prove they are undeniably unafraid to stand up for the rakyat whom they serve and for their principles, as he has. September 2008 or whenever the time for change has come. So what are we waiting for?


September 19, 2008

The morality of crossing over

The morality of crossing over
William Leong Jee Keen
Sep 17, 2008 - Malaysiakini Letters

The Bar Council, Harris Ibrahim and Sean Ang are reported in the New Straits Times on September 10 to have said that members of parliament crossing the floor to join another party is legal but immoral.

It is therefore necessary to draw the attention of the public to several fundamental principles with regard to the issue on the morality of MPs crossing the floor.

Crossing the floor to sit as a member of parliament in another political party is nothing new in parliamentary democracies. It has been described as the height of treachery. It has also been praised as the stuff which parliamentarian heroes are made of.

The great Sir Winston Churchill is perhaps the most famous parliamentarian to cross the floor and switch allegiance on more than one occasion.

There is no dispute that crossing the floor for money or personal gain is both immoral and a betrayal of the voters’ trust. However, when the MP crosses not for personal gain but in the interest and welfare of his constituents then he should be commended.

The argument that crossing is immoral is that the MP was elected on his erstwhile political party’s ticket and that is amounts to a fraud on his voters. This argument is founded on two assumptions. The first is that the MP’s seat belongs to the political party. The second is that the MP was voted in based on his party’s platform and policies.

The assumptions are wrong and the argument has failed to take into consideration several objectives and purposes of certain fundamental principles of a parliamentary constitutional system.

Upon a proper understanding of these fundamental principles, it will be seen that far from being immoral, the ability for MPs to cross the floor is not only moral but part of the democratic process.

The argument that the voters have elected the MP on the party’s ticket and that the seat belongs to the party and not the MP arises from a confusion over the nature of the electoral systems in use. There are two major electoral systems in the world’s democracies:

The first is the constituency-based electoral system. By this system, voters in each local area or constituency elect an individual candidate. The person who wins the majority of votes in each constituency becomes a member of parliament.

The party with the majority of MPs forms the government. In this system, the individual MP and not the party holds the seat. This means the MP can cross the floor and still keep his seat.

The second is the proportional representation system. By this system, the electorate in a large area, for example, a province or a country votes for political parties. The political party chooses the people who will become MPs. Each party is allocated a number of seats proportional to the number of votes it receives in the election. In this system, the seat belongs to the party and the MP who crosses the floor cannot keep his seat.

The electoral system used in Malaysia is the constituency-based system. Therefore, the argument that the MP has stolen his party’s seat when he crosses the floor is not supported upon a proper understanding of the constituency based electoral system.

The constituency based system provides for individuals and not political parties to be the candidates for election to the Dewan Rakyat. This is shown by independents, persons who do not belong to any political party, to contest.

The candidate is elected not only on the policies and political ideology but also his personal character and capability. The policies and manifesto of the individual candidate will substantially be similar with the policies of other candidates from his party but there will also be differences according to the specific needs of the constituency and the candidate’s own capabilities.

The party ticket is therefore a grouping of individual candidates professing to hold similar policies and ideology. However, the constituents are voting for the individual candidate based on his policies, his personal capabilities and personal commitment.

The party ticket argument also fails to give effect to the provisions of Articles 43(1) and 43(4) of the Federal Constitution. Article 43(1) provides that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is to appoint the prime minister who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.

Article 43(4) provides that the prime minister is to tender the resignation of his cabinet if he ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.

The effect of our electoral system and the operation of these two articles are that the constituents have given the power to the majority of the 222 members of parliament to decide who, from amongst them, is to be the prime minister.

The tenure of the 222 and their power is fixed. It continues until the next general election. The tenure of the prime minister, however, is not fixed and not immutable. It is subject to the prime minister continuing to enjoy the confidence of the majority of the 222 throughout the term of the Parliament.

By its very nature, the confidence enjoyed by the prime minister is capable of being lost and changed. This can be due to many factors including where the prime minister is unwilling or unable or inept in performing his duties or has failed to properly implement policies or no longer enjoys the confidence of the people or if there is a shift of public opinion as to the desirability of keeping him in office.

The power to remove the prime minister in practice includes and requires the members of parliament crossing the floor. It is this ability to cross the floor that ensures that only a capable prime minister can hope to see the end of the parliamentary term.

The failure for the MP to act is that he will be unlikely to be re-elected by his constituents at the next general election. It is thus the MP’s moral duty to cross the floor if necessary to ensure that an inept prime minister does not remain in office.

The argument that the MP betrays his voters by joining another party glosses over basic principles governing an MP’s duties and his need to exercise independent judgement.

The word "democracy" comes from the Greek word "demokratia" which means "government by the people". The MP is elected to be the voice of his constituents and not to be the voice and handmaid of his political bosses. The MP and his constituents are the conscience of the Executive.

The paramount duty of the MP is therefore to act in the interest and welfare of his constituents and the next in the order of priority is to the Parliament. The Parliament, is the second pillar of government. It is one of the three institutions in the concept of the separation of powers of the government. It is to act as a check and balance to executive power.

The Parliament is the avenue, through the principle of parliamentary privilege, by which the people may explore alternatives to the Executive’s proposals, to expose a wrong or an injustice.

The people vote their parliamentarians to guard their liberties and to query the activities of the Executive and its servants. It is in the ability of the Parliament to challenge the Executive that provides the real restrain to an overzealous or unwise use of authority.

The Parliament is therefore not created to be "a rubber stamp" of the Executive. The parliamentarians have a duty to be independent minded and are not put there by the people to be "yes men" for their party bosses. The British had more than a hundred years ago derided members of parliament who followed party orders without questions.

In more mature democracies, it is not unusual for members of the House of Commons to cross the floor or those members who generally support the government to speak and vote against the government. It is not unusual for members of the US House of Representatives or Senate to sit on either side of the House in a division.

It is because of this that a democrat like Joe Liberman could follow his conscience to endorse Republican John McCain as presidential candidate. It is because of this that President Nixon could be impeached for Watergate.

The problem in Malaysia is that no BN MP has in 51 years crossed the floor of our Dewan Rakyat. The government controlled media had ensured that any vote against the ruling party or even a dissenting voice is labeled as an act of treachery.

The idea of BN MPs crossing has therefore been quickly castigated as immoral without examining whether good conscience demands that the MP cross the floor resolutely according to the needs of his constituents’ interest or to remain in sterile stupor according to the dictates of his party bosses.

The Watergates of Malaysia shall until then be destined to remain unearthed, unheard and unseen unless and until those elected to be the voice of their constituents find the courage to act according to their conscience.

For so long as members of parliament from the ruling party conduct themselves as the proverbial three monkeys of "hearing no evil, seeing no evil and speaking no evil" about their party bosses, then the independence of Parliament does not exist.

There is no check and balance by the Parliament of the Executive and only a "rubber stamp". The political tsunami that swept away the shackles to an independent judiciary must now also free the legislature from its bondage.

The ability for members of parliament to cross the floor is the expression of public morality and not of immorality. Article 43(4) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution provides that the prime minister is to resign his cabinet upon ceasing to command the confidence of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat. Our Constitution is modeled on the British Westminster Constitution.

It is a collection of constitutional conventions and customs. It is the outcome of centuries of constitutional evolution. It has distilled and crystallised the essence of the expression of public values and public morality.

The convention to provide members of parliament with the ability to cross the floor and thereby bring about the removal of a government is thus an expression of public morality.

The ability to allow MPs to cross the floor recognises that there may be a significant shift in public opinion that does not require fresh elections but needs to be reflected in the Parliament. The ruling party may be unable or unwilling to implement policies promised to the electorate.

This can then be given expression through the MPs crossing the floor. It is this ability that curtails the power of party bosses and makes for a more vibrant political atmosphere.

It provides for greater democracy and greater sensitivity to public opinion during the Parliamentary term otherwise it inculcates the Executive to become an authoritarian regime relying in the knowledge that it does not have to account to the people for the next five years.

The improper use of the ISA, the Sedition Act, the requirement of police permit to prevent the people from exercising their right of free speech and freedom of assembly and the abuse of power to shut dissent must not have to wait for general elections every five years.

It is the duty of the 222 to ensure that the Executive power remains in check. It has become even more imperative that the BN MPs be able to vote according to their conscience.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Theresa Kok and the reporter from Sin Chew Daily, Tan Hoon Cheng were detained under the ISA. Although Tan has been released, the other two remain in custody. Now is the time to act, the nation cannot wait for five years.

The ability of the members of parliament to cross the floor and by doing so bring about a change in the government is part and parcel of the democratic process.

It is a form of check and balance. It ensures that the sitting government must continuously be sensitive to the needs and opinion of the people or risk being removed before expiry of its term.

The famous words that a democracy is said to be a "government of the people by the people and for the people" must include the right of the people to remove the government when it no longer represents the people.

When members of parliament cross the floor acting according to the dictates of the people and not the dictate of the party bosses, they are acting morally and not immorally.

The writer is member of parliament for Selayang.


Petition to free RPK, Teresa Kok and Others

An online petition to free Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and others arrested under the ISA was initiated yesterday by Lim Teck Ghee.

Within a period of one day the number of signatures for the petition has reached more than 7,500. The immediate response by so many Malaysians in signing this petition indicates the level of outrage in the country caused by the unjustified ISA arrests of these people.

Although Teresa Kok has been release at 1.00 p.m. today (19 September), Malaysians are still urged to continue to pressure the government to free RPK, the HINDRAF Five and others. You can sign the petition at the following link:

Petition to Free Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and Others Held Under the Internal Security Act

No justification for ISA under any circumstances

No justification under any circumstances
18 Sept 2008 - Malaysiakini

DAP national chairperson says that there is no justification for ISA to exist in any circumstances. He is also concerned by the possible appointment of an Umno man as chief justice.

8 March 2008

A New And Better Malaysia

Has Emerged