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Mandela showed us the "real" national reconciliation

Posted: 04 Jul 2013 01:35 PM PDT


If Najib Razak is to survive a challenge from Muhyiddin Yassin, it is better for him to change his position and adopt the Mandela's model of national reconciliation. His current position is unstable as there are mounting pressures from the right wing factions of UMNO to push for a more conservative Mahathir Mohammad's type agendas. He cannot possibly out-conservative Muhyiddin to win the UMNO's top job. 

Kuo Yong Kooi  

Nelson Mandela is one of the global iconic figures of our time. Now that Mandela is struggling for his life, it is an opportune time to have some introspection on the man and his achievements. 

The attitude, approach and world view of a leader can produce a different outcome on the fate of a nation. Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe both taught us this lesson of their starkly different world views and approaches to the same problem.

In the struggle for power, Mandela took on a non-violent path and Mugabe preferred the opposite. When both took over power, Mandela's approach was inclusive and reconciliatory by forgiving the others through a "truth and reconciliation commission". South Africa was able to move on in a positive light. Mugabe acted on a divisive theme to carry the country forward during the post colonial period. The state of Zimbabwe today is the testimony of Mugabe's attitude and approach to overcome a problem.  

The Sri Lankan conflict started in 1983 when the Tamil Tigers demanded for a separate state in the Jafna Peninsular. The damage bill after twenty six years of civil war was incalculable. Sri Lanka gained independence on February 4th 1948 much earlier than Malaysia. Sri Lanka today is still struggling to recover from the civil war. Most part of the country is still in a Third World squall-er condition.

The conflict showed us that both opposition and government need to navigate through the common problems carefully or else it will have a detrimental effect on the nation. Throughout the twenty six year civil war in Sri Lanka, there were numerous reconciliation/seize fire efforts put forth but failed. National reconciliation when in conflict situation needs full sincere cooperation from both sides.

To extrapolate these history lessons to our current situation in Malaysia may be wise as the damage has not yet been done in terms of physical conflict. 

Now that the GE-13 dust has settled, the results has clearly indicated that some changes in attitude and approach is required by all stakeholders who chart the future path of our nation. Any mis-navigations in terms of wrong application of tactics can be explosive and detrimental to our nation.

On the side of the present Najib administration, it is clear that he is continuing the previous UMNO lead administration's policy of taking on the divisive path to carry our nation forward. 

Nothing much has changed, even the previous Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia was re-elected as the Speaker for the current parliament. There will be little or no reconciliation on the floors of our parliament when the Speaker of the parliament has clearly displayed his biases. Fruitful debates needed to amend laws that affect the future of the country are put on a back-burner. Most debates will be on a partisan level with highly charged emotions. The situation in the parliament can stifle the country from moving positively forward.
If the GE-13 is to be of any guide, something has to change from the Najib administration's side to accommodate to the 51% popular vote that went to the opposition. If he thinks that he has the upper hand because BN has won 133 seats in the parliament, he should take heat from contemporary global political history lessons.

The January 2011 Tharir square revolution started with a united voice of grievances of Egyptian protesters on a broad brush of issues from legal and political issues like lack of free elections, freedom of speech, corruptions, police brutality (sounds familiar?) and including economic issues like high unemployment, low wages and inflation. The Tunisian revolution started in December 2010 on similar issues.

Closer to home the people's power revolution of the Philippine in 1986 ousted the Ferdinand Marcos regime and the street protest in 1998 ended Suharto's 31 year dictatorial rule.

Time and time again history had showed us that we can't get away with the wrongs that we have done for a long period of time. If no basic changes happen at the government administrative levels like installing an independent Attorney General, Inspector General Police, head of the election commission and Malaysian Anti-corruption Commission to mitigate the current situation, then the pressure will naturally mount further through the streets.

This is the nature of the forces of the universe. The collective frustrations and anger of the Rakyat which is a form of energy cannot be contained by the same type of lies or with brute force, it will only lead to more opposite force to counter it.

The same as before position displayed by Najib at the moment is untenable as the GE-13 election results indicated that things can only get worse for UMNO. UMNO's mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and Perkasa are doing the hard yards on national reconciliation for the opposition. The same as before position had already united the unlikeliest of allies like PAS and DAP. The other 48% of the electorate will most likely vote for the opposition in the next general election and the national reconciliation project can be declared a success, thanks to the Najib administration's position of carry on as usual.

If Najib Razak is to survive a challenge from Muhyiddin Yassin, it is better for him to change his position and adopt the Mandela's model of national reconciliation. His current position is unstable as there are mounting pressures from the right wing factions of UMNO to push for a more conservative Mahathir Mohammad's type agendas. He cannot possibly out-conservative Muhyiddin to win the UMNO's top job.

If Najib adopts the Mandela's national reconciliation model, he might be able to elevate his popularity to a rock star status. Judging from his previous actions he seemed rather "wannabe" a rock star (remember Psy?) than a politician. Mandela is a well established global "political" rock star so to speak. Mandela and FW de Klerk from South Africa jointly won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

The unfortunate part of our present predicament is that the fate of our nation depends on the position and world view of the UMNO's top leaderships. Our nation had embarked on a divisive path for more than three decades and has lead us to the current predicament. The national reconciliation project has to come from the one in the position of power to avoid further unwarranted conflicts in the future.

It is a shame that the Najib administration is not willing to take on the Mandela's path of national reconciliation to change his fortune. Going towards the South African's direction is probably the only road left for him. If he wants to go towards the Zimbabwean's direction, Muhyihiddin is already ahead of him, furthermore that is a dead end. Fiji adopted the "Malaysian divisive model" to carry their nation forward, they've went through four definitive coups for the last two decades and they are still not out of the water yet.

The East Timorese gained independence in 2002. They quickly adopted the South African's model of "truth and reconciliation" to bring the country forward. East Timor is sailing on fine today without much trouble. Jose Ramos Horta won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

Mandela did the hard yards to prove to the world that a path and vision of a peaceful coexistence amongst people of all colours can be realised. This is the only way to move forward peacefully and positively for any nation of multi-ethnic composition. 


A Bill that Does Not Fit

Posted: 04 Jul 2013 01:30 PM PDT


It may be that BN, particularly Umno, has decided to give up on winning the support of those who do not support it and instead concentrate on those who do. If so, we can expect the Government to play the religion and race cards more strongly from now on. In which case this bill could just be the harbinger of more exclusivist actions and policies. 

Kee Thuan Chye


The amendment to Clause 107(b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 2013, tabled for passing this month, is going to be one helluva bill. Voting on it will see whether representatives of certain component parties within the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition will break from the party line and vote according to their own conscience.

The MCA, the MIC and Gerakan, avowedly looking after the interests of non-Muslims, have been critical of the bill. It will therefore be a real test of their integrity to vote against it. Abstaining from voting will not be enough. They must walk their talk.

From the layman's point of view, the bill seems to be simply about granting either parent of a child below the age of 18 the right to convert the child to Islam. The front-page headline of the July 3 edition of theSun sums it up: 'Mom or dad?' And if one were to apply simple logic, the answer would be obvious. Since both parents gave life to the child and are responsible for its growth, why should it be that only one is enough to decide?

But the issue is not so simple. It never is when it comes to religion. And more than that, this current bill indicates an about-turn by the Cabinet.

In April 2009, the Cabinet had decided that children should remain in the religion of their parents at the time of the latter's marriage if one of the parents decided to convert. It even declared that the Government would ban parents from secretly converting children.

The Cabinet also decided that outstanding issues in a marriage should be settled before conversion to prevent children from becoming the victims.

In fact, two months later, the Government then proceeded to table a bill on these matters, but it was delayed by the Conference of Rulers. Nazri Aziz, the then de facto law minister, even expressed disappointment over the delay. But after that, no effort was made to revive the bill.

It's unfortunate that the 2009 bill didn't get its day in Parliament. The stand it reflected appears to be an accommodating one that takes into consideration the feelings of non-Muslims. In today's context, it would cohere with any intention the Government may have of actually bringing about "national reconciliation" instead of just talking about it.

But instead, the Government has now taken an opposite stand. Why?

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defends it on the grounds that the Cabinet was guided by a Federal Court ruling on a previous case as well as the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

He did not elaborate, but the understanding is, he was referring to the Federal Court ruling of December 2007 in the R. Subashini case in which the court said Subashini's husband, T. Saravanan, had the right to convert their four-year-old son to Islam without the knowledge of the mother.

It said that according to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, the consent of only one parent was sufficient in the conversion of a child. "The argument that both parents are vested with equal right to choose is misplaced," it added.

This statement is now being disputed by several quarters.

The Bar Council says such conversion of children without the consent of both parents amounts to an "unauthorised alteration" of the Constitution that came about with a new Malay translation of Article 12(4) that saw print in 2002.

Article 12(4) states that "the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian". Bar Council president Christopher Leong points out that "parent", although in singular form, refers to both parents as this was in accordance with the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution, which clarifies that "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular".

Before 2002, the Malay translation of "parent" in Article 12(4) was "ibubapa" (father and mother) and therefore correct. But the new translation has it as "ibu atau bapa" (mother or father). As such, the Bar Council contends, the confusion caused by the translation cannot be grounds for amending an Act.

MIC Deputy President and Health Minister S. Subramaniam points to the same discrepancy in translation and holds it responsible for the current controversy.

However, he would not commit himself to saying that the MIC would vote against the bill. Instead, he said, "I don't think it will reach that stage."

This makes one wonder if the tabling of the bill might not just be a sandiwara to appease Muslim conservatives, and perhaps some Umno members as well in view of the upcoming Umno general assembly which promises to be a high-stakes event for leaders who will be standing for party elections.

Read more at: http://my.news.yahoo.com/blogs/bull-bashing/bill-does-not-fit-114656820.html 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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