Khamis, 26 September 2013

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A question of security or insecurity

Posted: 25 Sep 2013 03:32 PM PDT

While it is true that security is a constant issue, I wonder if the real reason behind it is that feeling of uncertainty or a lack of confidence and anxiety about ourselves.

Musings by Marina Mahathir, The Star

SINCE we are all worried about security these days, I decided to look up the meaning of "insecurity".

Besides the feeling of being constantly in danger or under threat, insecurity also means "a feeling of uncertainty, or a lack of confidence and anxiety about yourself".

While we worry daily about the many crimes being committed in our neighbourhoods with no real solution in sight, sometimes I wonder if we have a security crisis or an insecurity crisis.

While it is true that security is a constant issue, I wonder if the real reason behind it is that feeling of uncertainty or a lack of confidence and anxiety about ourselves.

These feelings of security and insecurity are of course related.

On the one hand, the very people who should make us feel secure are in fact making us insecure.

How certain do we feel about our future when we see hesitant and sometimes absent leadership at times when we most need it?

How can we not feel anxious when the leadership is silent on the things that matter to the citizenry?

As a citizen, I want a decent life for my family, my fellow citizens and myself. This, anyone would think, is quite basic and common to everyone.

I want to be able to have a roof over my head, education for my kids, the opportunity to earn a decent living and affordable healthcare when I need it.

When a human being is unable to have these basics, then they start to feel that most normal of human instincts, insecurity.

If enough people feel that way, then that's a recipe for instability and mass insecurity.

It is not possible for any country to be stable if many of its people feel hungry or deprived of the most essential ingredients to lead a normal life.

Countries rise and fall based on these simple facts. Once inequalities start to spread, then it is only normal that insecurity, in the sense of danger, follows.

I was talking to a friend who has been working abroad a lot about a situation that he found very stark since he's been back.

There are people who seem to be caught in a quagmire of debt that they simply cannot get out of.

The vicious cycle of inability to access what a person needs which leads to overuse of credit, which leads to an inability to pay, which then leads to getting loans at high interest rates from unscrupulous persons, seems never ending.

It leads to insecurity not just for the original borrower but also for all those within his or her family circle.

Recently, two leading religious figures have spoken about this terrible crisis that many face, of easy credit and crushing debt.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warned that the ease at which money, in its virtual form, not in exchange for actual goods and services, is available has led to much misery among people.

Most recently, Pope Francis talked about the same thing, how the pursuit of money for its own sake has brought with it "a culture where the weakest in society suffer the most" and often, those on the fringes "fall away", including the elderly, who he said were victims of a "hidden euthanasia" caused by "neglect of those no longer considered productive".

I have yet to hear the Muslim equivalent of this, of concern for a global system that is increasing insecurity of people everywhere.

Instead, I hear a different insecurity, of one where there are constant so-called moral attacks, usually by imagined assailants. Where limited interpretations of religion are to be enforced because otherwise the religion will disappear, despite evidence to the contrary.

In some ways, these self-appointed guardians of religion have reason to worry.

Every action of theirs is self-defeating. For every cruelty they inflict on those who are weak, they lose more adherents.

For every injustice they perpetuate, there are people who leave disgusted. For every justification they give to inequality, people baulk and root for equality.

When we look at the most unstable countries in the world, inevitably they are also the ones with masses of poor people.

Economic injustice breeds problems not just within countries, but externally as well.

It leads to mass migration of people to look for work, and sometimes it brings violence.

It thus makes sense to prioritise dealing with such injustice.

Instead, we see our leaders behaving like people anxious about protecting their own comforts rather than anyone else's.

This they do by distracting us from real issues, by telling us that some small groups of people, even dead ones, are a threat, by refusing to let some people speak or even be seen in our media.

So I have to ask: Who's the insecure one?

The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.

Banned Books Week: in Asia, freedom of speech is not as simple as it seems

Posted: 25 Sep 2013 10:58 AM PDT

In Malaysia, the state censorship of my youth has been replaced with a more elusive and deadening internet conservatism

Tash Aw, The Guardian

Some years ago, not long after my first novel was published, I was in one of the largest bookstores in Malaysia, admiring piles of my novel handsomely arranged on a table close to the store entrance. I marvelled at the shiny terrazzo floors and range of titles on display, pleasantly surprised at how things had changed in 20 years – the bookstores of my teenage years had been sorry affairs, meagrely stocked with yellowing copies of Penguin Classics wrapped in cellophane. Among the inevitable stacks of candy coloured chick-lit novels and John Grisham thrillers, one title caught my eye: the recently released paperback of Alan Hollinghurst's Booker-winning The Line of Beauty. In a country where homosexuality remains illegal, the open sale of the book was surprising. Flicking through the book for signs of indelible ink blacking out offensive passages, I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing had been censored. Perhaps the authorities hadn't realised what "rimming" meant, I thought; but how could I explain the presence of the F-word, gleefully sprinkled through the novel, or indeed the scenes of drug-taking? Had the relevant authorities actually read the book? Or could it simply be that times had changed, and that freedom of speech – for so long the scourge of the young nation states of Asia – was flourishing unhindered?

I grew up in a country where censorship was a way of life, so much part of the individual and national psyche that every creative act seemed to be defined by its relationship to authority. Like most young boys, my awareness of the censorship of printed works began in a faintly laughable way – we got used to seeing words describing body parts deleted by permanent marker (applied by hand, it seemed), and black strips across women's breasts, even when they seemed to be wearing bikinis. But beyond this schoolboy sniggering there was always the spectre of banned books in the background: memoirs of communist figures, political or religious novels, sexually explicit works – anything deemed to threaten the security of a young, unformed nation state, whether in a political or moral sense. Within this restrictive framework, writers were able, of course, to find ways of expressing themselves, but they did so with a constant awareness of the boundaries within which they were operating, and of the consequences of misjudging the constantly changing limits of what was acceptable. The same sentiment expressed in different political climates would meet differing outcomes: the writer's life was a barometer for political, racial and cultural sensitivities.

But two decades of economic growth ushered in the new millennium, and money brought with it a sense of freedom. People could choose how to educate themselves, how to dress, where to live; they were free to travel abroad, where they would be exposed to new ideas; they had a stronger sense of who they were in relation to the hitherto all-protecting, all encompassing machinery of the state. And, above all, the swelling wealth of the last decade brought with it the internet, that great instrument of free speech.

The easy access to anti-establishment newspapers, blogs and self-publishing online would seem to render state censorship completely futile – even the infamous great firewall of China has trouble keeping up with the anti-government software and proxy servers that virtually every savvy urban dweller possesses. But those vague delineations of censorship seem to have worked their way seamlessly into the equally hard-to-define and forever-shifting ways of the internet, making the game of eluding censure even more complex than it was before.

Amir Muhammad, the influential Malaysian filmmaker and publisher, claims never to have had a book banned, in spite of at least two of his films being denied even a limited release. But he points to a deeper problem: the ingestion of decades of dogma and a climate of low-level fear leading to self-censorship, that precludes the need for overt state action. The largest chain of booksellers in Malaysia has refused – independently of direct government pressure, it would seem – to sell any of the Malay-language pulp fiction novels that Muhammad publishes because the presumed moral laxness of those books "might somehow lead to baby-dumping and adultery". Similar books published in English – the language of the bourgeois urban middle-class – are deemed perfectly safe (which would explain the presence of Hollinghurst's books, which couldn't possibly be a corrupting force because hardly anyone would buy them).

Read more at: 


Justice? Sorry, JAWI is not interested

Posted: 25 Sep 2013 10:28 AM PDT 

This case illustrates quite clearly why there is a need for a stringent check and balance on the way Syariah laws are implemented in Malaysia. It also underlines the very real possibility of these laws being subject to abuse, miscarriage of justice and tyranny by those in power.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, MMO 

When I first wrote about the Nik Raina/Borders Books case a year ago, it seemed to be easy enough of a case to understand even for a layperson to the law such as myself.

Borders Books store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz had been charged with committing a crime, namely selling a book (Irshad Manji's Allah, Liberty and Love) deemed contrary to Islamic Law under Section 13 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997. She faced the possibility of a RM3 000 fine, a maximum of two years' jail or both.

However, there were at least two main problems with the charge: the book had not yet been banned at that point of time and it wasn't the Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI)'s job anyway to enforce the work of the Home Ministry.

The book was only banned a week later. In other words, Nik Raina had been charged for selling a book that was perfectly legal. It was evident from the very onset that there was no case and that no offence had been committed.

The judgement of the judicial review by High Court Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof last March made this official and stated what everyone except JAWI seemed to already know. Fundamentally, you cannot retroactively charge a person for a crime that was not yet deemed a crime at the time of the incident. A first year law student could easily come to the same conclusion. It was fairly obvious that this whole case was and is a total screw-up by JAWI.

Somehow, despite this basic common law fact and the High Court judgement which is now several months old, JAWI seems to be extremely reluctant to proceed to drop the charge against Nik Raina. The case has since experienced three postponements in the Syariah Court within a single month and the charge has yet to be withdrawn based on the judgement of the High Court. Perhaps it's time for the Syariah prosecutors to go back to school.

Let us be clear. Proceeding to maintain a charge against Nik Raina would basically be an injustice to her and gives the Syariah courts and JAWI a stink and a bad name.

Judging from the behaviour of both parties of late, it seems that they really don't give a damn or more importantly consider unimportant the fact that an injustice has been and continues to be inflicted onto Nik Raina.

The reasons given to her for the postponements were that the presiding Syariah judge had to attend a meeting in Penang (August 28), that there had been a mix-up in dates (September 3), and the esteemed judge was attending yet another meeting (September 13).

Meetings are obviously more important than someone being unjustly charged under the Syariah system. The case has since been postponed indefinitely with no end in sight for Nik Raina who has now endured this ordeal for more than 18 months.

Read more at: 

Something to ponder and ponder some more

Posted: 25 Sep 2013 10:13 AM PDT 

The ''official account'' blamed the Communist Party of Malaya for the killing. And as the two men were said to be CPM "hit men", the "logical" allegation was that the "hit" order came from Chin Peng. Was the official account right? 

Mohsin Abdullah, 

"UTUSAN ni dah jadi surat khabar Chin Peng" – read a text message sent to me by a friend a day after the CPM leader was cremated. 
To this friend of mine, Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia's continuous onslaught against Chin Peng has only succeeded in giving "publicity" to the man branded a "terrorist" by some but hailed a "freedom fighter" by others. 
I've received many such messages but this one's "special" because the friend who sent it has a son who is vying for a relatively high post in Umno in the coming party polls.
To him, Utusan should just "put a full stop" to all this as the anti-Chin Peng campaign has begun to work against Umno. 
Messages received earlier as mentioned, also have the same view with a number of senders saying Umno leaders themselves should just "zipped up" as "the more they talked, the more ridiculous they sound". We know what has been said and what is still being said. No details needed.
In the words of Malaysiakini columnist Mariam Mokhtar: "Chin Peng is having the last laugh from beyond his grave". With that out of the way, ponder this:
The IGP assasination
On June 7, 1974, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim was gunned down by two men in Lorong Raja Chulan Kuala Lumpur in broad daylight.
Moments later, his son, Najib, who was a crime reporter with the New Straits Times drove towards Court Hill (where the present Menara Maybank stand) when his NST reporter friend waved frantically at him to stop to inform that a high-ranking police officer had been assassinated further up the road. Upon checking Najib found, to his horror, the officer killed was his father.
I've read Najib's writing of his heart-wrenching experience many times in which he also wrote the following:
"The two gunmen, according to the official story, were communist hit men.
"The duo allegedly responsible for father's death were eventually caught but only after they had summarily dispatched another high-ranking police officer Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong, then the chief police officer of Perak.
"And while the two men were hanged for the murder of Khoo, they were never tried for the killing of the IGP."

Read more at: 


and finally: 


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