Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Mubarak

Selamat Hari Raya Idilfitri to all my Muslim friends.

Maaf Zahir Batin.

And drive safely too.

To those of you going around the kampung with your kinfolk for takbir raya tonight, here's a little something to print and take with you in case you forget the words ...

(click on leaflet to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Whither the Muftis?

Some time ago, I wrote, here, that "on 18th August 2004, a group of 22 ISA detainees challenged the Malaysian Council of Muftis to make a fatwa on the ISA, which ex detainee Saari Sungib argued, violates 'principles of human rights and the rule of law enshrined in the Scriptures'. But somehow this was kept out of the mainstream media and nothing came out of it. No prizes for guessing why".

A commentor then wrote: "Kepada saya, ISA hakikatnya adalah perbuatan menunjuk samseng kepada Allah s.w.t."

To date only Dr. Asri Zainul Abidin, the Mufti of Perlis, has the balls to speak out against the use of the Internal Security Act or ISA. He said,"Islam bukan agama yang bacul. Perbuatan ISA kerana kesalahan agama seolah-olah hendak menggambarkan orang Islam tidak mampu berhujah, terus tangkap orang. Mereka akan kata mereka benar kerana kita takut berhujah dengan dia."

He adds,"Dari segi politik Islam atau siasah, kerajaan berhak menahan orang dan beri tempoh siasatan (14 hingga 30 hari) bergantung pada keperluan. Tapi kita tidak boleh hukum 2 tahun tanpa diadili. Ini zalim."

The operative word here is "zalim" or "cruel" and the ISA is indeed barbaric and hence downright bloody unIslamic. We also deserve the government we have got. Yet no one from the government has commented or dared to refute the learned Mufti's words and I half expected someone or other to say something stupid like "sometimes its necessary to be cruel to be kind", or some shit. So really its up to Anwar Ibrahim now to help us rid of this oppressive government and get Raja Petra Kamarudin and all the other ISA detainees out.

Perhaps we will also need to review the position of all the muftis in this country.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breaking Bread with Ku Li

I was invited to an iftar at Tengku Razaleigh's (photo) palatial "White House" mansion in Kuala Lumpur's exclusive diplomatic enclave yesterday. What was initially supposed to be a private dialogue with a few bloggers ended up as a full fledged press conference when what appeared to be the entire local press corps arrived much earlier than expected.

Offering himself as a candidate for UMNO president in December, "Ku Li" insists that he is the best man for the job because he doesnt carry any "baggage'. The veteran politician also says he is "friends with everybody" and doesnt need a pact with Muhyidin Yassin or anybody else. He also spoke of the possibility of forming a "National Unity Government" involving even the Opposition if the need arise, if he gets elected that is, to end the intense politicking in the country which is having serious repercussions on the economy.

On the arrest of Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA), Ku Li says it was a gross mistake since the man should not be deprived of his rights especially after he has been charged and awaiting trial for similar "offences'. He agrees that the ISA should be reviewed now that circumstances have changed and also in order to prevent future abuse.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reports, here, that blogger Syed Azidi a.k.a. Sheih 'Kickdefella, who was arrested under the Sedition Act for displaying the national flag upside down on his blog site has been released on bail after he spent three days in prison. "Sheih" claims that his detention was politically motivated and intended to send a stern warning out to other bloggers. "I am hoping that they will charge me," he said. "Then I can ask the prime minister to be a witness because it was his statement, saying that what I did was evil and malicious, which compelled the police to investigate me."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Public Disservice

"My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honour is to be earned, not bought."
- Margaret Chase Smith

They say that there is honour even amongst thieves, so perhaps its not too much to expect the same amongst our nation's law enforcement officers. After public uproar and with the release of MP Teresa Kok and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng after being incarcerated, albeit briefly under the dreaded Internal Security Act (ISA), it would appear that our policemen are quite clueless and hopelessly eager to please their political masters. There is rampant crime in the streets but our men in blue are not just playing cops and robbers but also racial politics. Their lame excuse of "threat to national security" is now laughable and their so called "independence" is indeed questionable.

The ISA was supposed to be used only against violent terrorists and not politicians, writers and journalists. Now that Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) and Sheih Kickdefella are still in detention, I believe the police are still not too sure what crime these two scribes have committed. With their gung ho stance, I also believe that Anwar Ibrahim cannot really discount the possibility that the police might just go after him too, despite assurances by the government that there will be no more arrests under the Act.

There is great public disservice here. Like honour, respect also has to be earned, not bought, demanded or forced upon. It will be a long time indeed before the police will regain the respect of the rakyat.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Selective Persecution?

I was appalled to read that another blogger, Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz aka Kickdefella, was arrested in Kota Baru yesterday under the Sedition Act. Malaysiakini reports, here, that Sheih, as he is popularly known and who works for the PAS state government, was detained at about 5 p.m. by a three-member plainclothes police team. His laptop was also confiscated.

In a posting on his blog dated Aug 23, Syed Azidi (under the title 'Siasat Kickdefella Dibawah Akta Hasutan') had written that a pro-UMNO website by a minister was calling for him to be investigated under the Sedition Act. It would appear to me that the police are quick to act on calls by pro UMNO instigators but completely ignore police reports by others.

Fellow blogger Haris Ibrahim of The Peoples' Parliament in his latest posting titled "Are you on this list?", here, suggests that "in the run-up to the impending takeover by Pakatan, many in the civil service, the police, the judiciary, the prosecution have gone beyond the call of duty to frustrate Pakatan’s march to Putrajaya". A list is being prepared "to try these opponents of democracy, these traitors who reneged on their duty to serve the rakyat and instead embroiled themselves in illegalities to pander to their BN masters".

Although Anwar has said that there will be no witch hunt, justice must yet prevail. But lets go for the big fish, the others are just "following orders".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A New Dawn

(Photo courtesy TV Smith)

At a 15,000 strong rally (photo) in the 30,000 seat capacity Kelana Jaya Stadium last night, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he has the numbers to take over the government and that he has sent a letter to the beleaguered prime minister requesting a meeting to discuss a smooth handover of government. However, Pak Lah has since pooh-poohed the idea.

In a breaking news today, however, Malaysiakini reports, here, that at a packed press conference this afternoon, Anwar insisted that he has in excess of 31 government defectors. He calls on the PM not to implement emergency rule to stop MPs from going to Parliament or arrest (government) MPs or stop them from joining Pakatan Rakyat during the takeover.

The Malaysian Insider reports, here, that the four demands that had been issued in the letter to the PM yesterday are that MPs are not stopped from defecting; the Internal Security Act not be used to detain defecting or PR MPs; a state of emergency should not be declared; and no roadblocks be set up to stop MPs from going to Parliament.

"We have chosen to take the soft approach and to be conciliatory. Then only will we move on to seek an audience with the King," says Anwar.

We shall wait and see. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, who really givesashit about deadlines now as we look forward to a new dawn. And we are indeed living in interesting times.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blog House Vigil

(Photo courtesy BandarSungaiLong)

It was a last minute thingy, but about a couple of hundred concerned citizens of all races including young children assembled in the intermittent rain at the Blog House in Damansara last night for a candle light vigil. The meet was to show solidarity in support of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok who has been arrested under the dreaded Internal Security Act (ISA) and whose whereabouts are not known.

(Sin Chew Daily's Tan Hoon Cheng has been released after a 24 hour "protective custody", so says Syed Hamid who probably thinks we are all idiots).

Many prominent bloggers addressed the crowd, including yours truly (photo). Other guest speakers include Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and MPs Wee Choo Keong and Sivarasa Rasiah.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reports, here, that Pakatan Rakyat has announced a mass rally against the government crackdown on the eve of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's deadline to take power through defections from the ruling coalition. The rally will take place tonight at the Kelana Jaya Stadium. Be there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The arrests have begun

I have delayed writing about Raja Petra Kamarudin's arrest under the Internal Security Act (ISA) yesterday afternoon because I had a sneaking suspicion that there was going to more, and I was right. This was after the ban on his website Malaysia Today was lifted and "Pete" had foretold that the BN government was up to something sinister. Read the Malaysiakini report, here.

Hot on his heels, Sin Chew Daily News reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok were also nabbed by the police late last night under Section 73(1) of the Act. The former was arrested for breaking the news on the mamak boria, who got away lightly (read my previous blog) and the latter for allegedly complaining about noise pollution. These two ladies who were only doing their jobs are deemed by a desperate government, now in shambles due to infighting, as being a "threat to national security".


The rakyat is now expected to take to the streets in protest, but lets not lose our marbles like the way they did. Its now up to Anwar to make good his promise of sending these BN goons packing come September 16.

BN and ISA must go.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Malay/Muslim Hysteria

Now that the hysterical UMNO mamak boria show in Penang is over with the chief protagonist just given a slap on his wrist, perhaps its time to ask some hard questions: How did this happen and will it happen again?

You can bet your sweet rasgoolas it will.

My old MCKK buddy Zaharan Razak (ZR), who shoots from the hip, says its just part of the Malay/Muslim psyche. Its time to throw out the baby with the bath water. For the liberation from the fear of their own shadows, he says,"Malays must accept the possibility that one day, if not Lim Kit Siang or Koh Tsu Koon, a Chinese will become the prime minister of Malaysia".

ZR further concludes that "Those who oppose this idea are either victims turned perpetrators or power and influence holders, seekers and their hangers-on who fear they will lose their moorings and bearings, their hoot and toot."

Read his blog: "I" of the Storm, here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Press Statement

Joint Press Statement by National Alliance of Bloggers (AllBlogs) and Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI).

SOS on Raja Petra Kamarudin to Fellow Malaysians

During the last few days there has been an ominous and increasing crescendo of messages – written and verbal – indicating the imminent arrest and detention of fellow blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

We hope that the Government is not contemplating this action. To alleviate the widespread public uproar and concern – national and international – that this shortsighted action will precipitate, we call on the authorities that may be planning this action to take heed of this SOS; to immediately cease all targeting of Raja Petra through the ISA or any other repressive measure; and to come out instead with an assurance that

1. no such ISA order is being envisaged to be served on Raja Petra

2. Raja Petra is free to continue his writings on the vital matters affecting the country

3. the draconian legislation of the ISA will not be used on Raja Petra or any other Malaysian blogger to punish them for their dissenting views and opinions.

In our view - and if the Government should care to undertake an independent survey, in the view of the great majority of Malaysians and non-Malaysians - Raja Petra in no way poses a threat to the country’s peace and security. Rather, he poses a threat to those individuals and organizations that he perceives as engaging in unconscionable and dastardly acts and activities that are bringing ruin to the nation.

Many Malaysians too are of the opinion that his website contains some of the most incisive analysis on the ills that beset our nation. Further attempts to take down his website or to shackle his freedom of expression is not only an attack on a fearless, principled and ethical patriot but they will also be construed as an attempt to restrict our freedom of information and expression, a move that will take the country further down the road of authoritarianism.

While we respect the right to freedom of speech and information, we also advise all Bloggers and other online writers to exercise the same high ethical standards expected of journalists in the traditional media. We do not condone lies and malice in the Internet and should not only stand by what we write - we must be able to defend the truth of what we write.

We emphasise that in our view the current laws pertaining to Sedition and Defamation apply equally to print and online media and should be deterrent enough to check “irresponsible” writings. Hence we urge that there be no resort to a draconian law such as the Internal Security Act to hold peace-loving Malaysian writers to ransom.

A democratic government should not for one moment entertain - let alone pursue - the charges that have been leveled against Raja Petra. To isolate those forces in the system that are bent on using the repressive instruments of the state against various opponents for their own benefit, we call on

1. all fair-minded and honest leaders from the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat parties to speak out - privately and publicly - against any attempt to use the ISA against Raja Petra;

2. component parties of the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat to publicly oppose any intended incarceration of Raja Petra under the ISA;

3. civil society, professional and other organizations and private individuals to demand that the Government guarantees Raja Petra’s freedom of expression and undertakes not to use the ISA against him now or in the future.

We hope that good sense will prevail in our country’s leadership. Any act of repression against Raja Petra especially at this particular time will not go unquestioned or unanswered. We are confident that hundreds of thousands - if not millions of Malaysians – will stand firmly to make their dissenting views known should the Government choose to silence Raja Petra through the use of the ISA.

Statement released by:

Ahirudin Attan,
Interim President, National Alliance of Bloggers (AllBlogs)

Dr Lim Teck Ghee,
Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)

Kuala Lumpur, 9 September 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Panic Stations!

"My God. We should not create an unnecessary perception that we are afraid of Anwar, and look like we are panicking!"

- An unnamed UMNO MP to The Straits Times, here. He was dismayed to find out that Abdullah and Najib had endorsed the overseas "study trip" for 40 Barisan MP's which he had initially believed was a frolic of the Backbenchers' Club. This has sparked rumours of a bid to pre-empt crossovers.

Of course they are all panicking, you dumb twit. And as usual they are also in a constant state of denial. Again, another "coincidence" and in the holy month of Ramadan too, when they should be staying put with their constituents instead of going gallivanting abroad on taxpayers' money.

Meanwhile, its still 10 days to go and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said today in Jakarta that he is on track to meet the Sept 16 deadline to recruit enough members of parliament to topple the government.

The junket may indeed throw a spanner in the works but who really givesashit about deadlines now. The BN ship is already sinking fast.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Al Fatihah

The great A. Samad Ismail is no more.

Just before iftar this evening, I received SMS messages from his daughter Maria a.k.a. Tok Mommy and also from his nephew, fellow mariner Capt. Kamal Kamarudin, that he has passed away at the Pantai Medical Centre. The funeral will be at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery after Friday prayers tomorrow.

One of the last few surviving national freedom fighters, Pak Samad as he was fondly known has been ill for some time. The first and the last time I met him was when I was invited to his 83rd birthday dinner by his other daughter, fellow blogger Nuraina, a few months ago. He was already bedridden then but when he found out that I was a seaman, he wanted to hear more about my sailing days, so I jokingly asked him,"How much time have you got?". And he laughed.

May Allah bless his soul. Al fatihah.