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Chua should keep his word and quit

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 11:53 AM PDT

If people want him to go, he should do so gracefully, rather than be placing conditions for others to go as well.  

Kee Thuan Chye 

Chua Soi Lek is being extremely unreasonable in telling his deputy, Liow Tiong Lai, to quit the leadership of the MCA before he himself will step down. And his push for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to overturn the party's resolution not to take up government positions in light of its poor performance at the last general election (GE13) is a betrayal of his pre-GE13 promise.

On these two issues alone, he has lost all dignity and should just slink into a corner and disappear. He should not be blustering like he is doing in order to try and get things his way. It only makes him appear more and more like a dictator, and an irrational one, to boot.

It is no wonder there are groups within the party campaigning to bring about his downfall. Like the Save Party Committee 3.0 and the ABC (Anything But Chua) movement. The latter was initiated by newly-elected central delegate Lee Hwa Beng, who was summarily sacked from the party last week at a meeting chaired by Chua, clearly to get rid of the latter's opponents.

If Chua can't see the writing on the wall, he must be blind or thick-headedly stubborn. If people want him to go, he should do so gracefully, rather than be placing conditions for others to go as well. He shouldn't be saying, "I am willing to go but Liow must leave with me because he is not the right man to lead the MCA in this challenging political situation."

Why should Liow step down just because Chua wants him to? Liow has every right to contest for the presidency during the upcoming party elections in December. Who is Chua to tell him he should not?\

The reasons Chua cites to support his contention that Liow is "not the right man" are idiosyncratic. Metaphorically speaking, they won't hold up in a court of law. They reflect his personal opinion, which of course is vulnerable to challenge.

The reasons are that Liow is weak and indecisive, that he is not a fighter, and that he is easily influenced by people outside the party. Others – for example, Liow's supporters – might say the opposite of him, and who's to say which side is right?

When it comes to this, the best option then is to let the party delegates decide. It is not for Chua to assume the role of Big Brother and say who should and should not contest, who is fit or not fit to be leader. He can of course express an opinion, but he should not dictate terms.

He contends that the party should be led by younger people. But can he be absolutely sure that these people will not be as unfit as Liow? If he can't be, then he has no business making assumptions with the hope that they will turn out true.

Read more at: 

Pakatan, beware!

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 10:06 AM PDT 

The leaders of the three parties in Pakatan must put an end to factionalism within their own parties. All unhappy and disputing parties must be called to the negotiating table to iron out differences for how can Pakatan battle the external enemy when internally there is conflict and strife? 

Selena Tay, FMT

While the main focus for Pakatan Rakyat now is to be a good and strong opposition by speaking out against the government's mismanagement, Pakatan must also go back to the drawing board and learn from history not to repeat the blunders they made in the 13th general election and the biggest blunder was none other than deciding the candidates list at the 11th hour.

In January this year, everyone had already known that GE13 would be held within the next few months. Therefore by end of February, the list of candidates should have been finalised instead of waiting for finalisation to be done only after Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had dissolved Parliament.

The way Pakatan decided upon the candidates list was akin to recruiting soldiers only after the war has been declared. Pakatan should have an army ready beforehand, all set for the war.

As of now, the next general election is still a long way off and this gives Pakatan time to lay the groundwork for the future polls.

However recently for the past few weeks, a local English daily has highlighted the issue of factionalism within DAP. While DAP leaders may not believe everything churned out by this daily, it still pays to look at this issue with grave concern as factionalism also played a role in the candidates list prior to GE13.

This means that factionalism must be stamped out before it damages the party from within.

For GE14, in regard to Penang and Perak, DAP should field Malay candidates for their state seats. Long-serving Malays should be given a chance to prove that they can also serve the rakyat well and DAP should end these Malay grouses by putting more Malays in the race.

Seats for Malay candidates must be identified in ample time so as to allow them to do the groundwork before the polls.

In addition to that, candidates who had lost in the previous general election should be notified early whether they can still contest in the same seat. Otherwise the new candidate must be sent there early enough to enable him or her to do the groundwork before polling day comes.

Interviews with the local folks revealed that they dislike not knowing who is the candidate right up till the 11th hour.

There should not be what can be labelled as certain 'cliques' or factions trying to influence the choice of candidates.

For DAP two things that must be carried out prior to GE14 is to give more opportunities to Malay candidates and to choose the candidates early.

Anwar must be forceful

Next we come to PKR. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has to be more forceful in taking charge and taking the lead.

Although there are factions in PKR too as there are in every political party, this matter too must be firmly dealt with. Those who do not have the party's interest at heart must be cast aside. No looking after self-interest.

Again, similar to DAP , there should not be any policy of selecting candidates based on which faction they belong. Factions are destructive – they destroy the party from within. If the party is full of cliques, the party will soon implode. A house divided upon itself will soon fall.

And last of all, there is PAS. Their grassroots workers are good and well-organised. But according to the latest insider information, there is a group in PAS who is inclined to take PAS out of Pakatan.

Factions also exist in PAS. If this group succeeds in their unwise move, they will not only destroy Pakatan, they will also succeed in destroying PAS itself.

The only job for PAS to do now is to convince the Malays that the Chinese are disinterested in power-grabbing.

All in all, the three parties in Pakatan must work together well. There must be give-and-take in the candidates list. The folks in the small towns need to be convinced that Pakatan is the better alternative but when they see Pakatan having disputes or struggling with the candidates list, they will have doubts in Pakatan's ability to govern well.

Of course, the lack of internet facilities in small towns make the problem worst for Pakatan because for the small town folks, seeing is believing.

Therefore when these folks see Pakatan being indecisive on the candidates list, they will think that Pakatan is not ready to govern.

Overall it can be said that Pakatan would have won more seats if the candidates had been decided early. It must be noted that BN had ironed out their candidate problems much earlier than Pakatan.

Disputes between Pakatan's component parties had led to BN winning three state seats (Damak, Semenyih and Kota Damansara) wherein the votes polled by the two Pakatan candidates added together could have easily defeated the BN candidate.


Government is Playing Politics with ‘Allah’

Posted: 18 Oct 2013 09:58 AM PDT 

Since the issue is political, and most Malaysians don't believe that the judiciary is independent, what should happen next? The Herald has said it would bring the case to the Federal Court, but would that be of any use? Already, before the Court of Appeal sat to hear the appeal, many of us had thought its verdict would be a foregone conclusion. So when it came out, it was not the least bit surprising. How would the Federal Court be different?

Kee Thuan Chye

Firebombs didn't go off in mosques. Pigs' heads were not thrown into mosque compounds. These things did not happen after the Court of Appeal ruled against the High Court's 2009 decision to allow the Catholic weekly newspaper The Herald to use the word 'Allah' in referring to God.

They did not happen despite Muslim group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia's adding insult to injury by telling Christians to accept the verdict or leave the country. Its president, Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, said, "They can choose to move to another country if they cannot accept the supremacy of Islam and the royalty that protects the supremacy of the religion." It was irrelevant, uncalled-for and provocative, but the community that was targeted did not retaliate with violence. This of course is to its credit.

It did, however, react angrily to the verdict. Rev Eu Hong Seng, chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, declared: "This is yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practise their faith and to manage their own affairs. The decision might encourage and fuel further misunderstanding and mistrust between the Muslim and Christian communities which will further undermine the unity of Malaysians."

Bishop Thomas Tsen, president of the Sabah Council of Churches, said, "It is not fair to say that using 'Allah' would confuse Muslim practitioners. No, we have always called our father in heaven 'Allah Bapak' or the Lord God 'Tuhan Allah'… We are sad and disappointed about this current ruling … it challenges the government's sincerity to see our people united."

Archbishop Bolly Lapok, chairperson of the Association of Churches, Sarawak, censured chief judge Mohamed Apandi Ali for saying that the use of the word 'Allah' was not integral to the Christian faith. In strong terms, he said, "The church does not need an apologist from outside to decide what is integral or not integral to our faith. It is repugnant to the universal common sense."

With justified defiance, he asserted that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak would "continue to reverently worship this 'Allah' till kingdom come, and we are asking the Government, 'What are you going to do about it?'"

Bully for Bolly! That's the attitude to strike against a government that is proving to be increasingly hostile to the minorities. That's also the way to call a bully's bluff. That's what Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno did when in 2009, she was dealt a punishment of six strokes of the cane and a fine for drinking beer in a hotel bar. Instead of cowering, she stood tall and challenged the authorities to bring it on. In the end, her sentence was commuted to three weeks of community service.

Last month, when poet A. Samad Said was arrested and questioned for sedition, the NGO Gagasan Pendidikan Melayu Malaysia urged the Government to take away his Sasterawan Negara (National Laureate) title. And Culture and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said it was up to the panel that awarded Samad the title to decide whether it should be revoked. But was Samad cowed by it?

No. Instead, he said, "I welcome that with open arms." He even went further to say, obviously to satirise the recent calls made by a few ministers to revoke the citizenships of some critics of the government, "I even welcome the revocation of my citizenship if that's what they decide."

Since then, no further action has been taken against him.

Defiance apparently works. In the 'Allah' case, as the Christian community expressed its outrage at the Court of Appeal's verdict, the Government found itself on the back foot and had to resort to damage control – because the Christian populations of Sabah and Sarawak amount to 1.6 million, and the votes from these two states have been keeping the ruling party in power, including at the recent general election.

To appease them, ministers Joseph Kurup and Maximus Ongkili came out three days after the verdict to say that the Cabinet had decided it would not restrict Sabah and Sarawak Christians from using the word 'Allah' in their worship and in their Bahasa Malaysia Bible, Al-Kitab. They emphasised that the Court of Appeal's ruling was applicable only to The Herald.

But why should there be two standards for this matter? Why is 'Allah' all right for Sabah and Sarawak, and not all right for The Herald, based in Peninsular Malaysia?

Besides, the Government's argument has all along been that 'Allah' is to be used exclusively by Muslims. So how come it's all right for the Government to let the Sabah and Sarawak Christians use it too? This is contradictory to its stand. Obviously, then, the decision to allow for this contradiction must be political.

And since the issue is political rather than religious, Malaysians must see through this ploy of the Government's and view the issue objectively. Instead of being charged by religious emotion, Muslims must grasp the reality that 'Allah' has not been exclusive to Islam even in Arab countries for more than a  thousand years. They must realise that the Government is playing with religion for its own political gain.

Former Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin has argued that the word 'Allah' predates Islam. This was corroborated by The National, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) newspaper, which, when commenting on the verdict, wrote, "The word 'Allah' is never exclusive to Islam – indeed, both Christians and Jews used the word 'Allah' to refer to God even before the coming of Islam. When Christians across the Middle East pray to God, they use the term 'Allah'. Walk into a church in Cairo, Baghdad or Beirut this coming Sunday and you will hear the name of 'Allah' invoked."

The National, which is based in Abu Dhabi, even said that the Court of Appeal's decision appeared to be "wrong". How's that, coming from a Muslim-brother nation?

Since the issue is political, and most Malaysians don't believe that the judiciary is independent, what should happen next? The Herald has said it would bring the case to the Federal Court, but would that be of any use? Already, before the Court of Appeal sat to hear the appeal, many of us had thought its verdict would be a foregone conclusion. So when it came out, it was not the least bit surprising. How would the Federal Court be different?

The Herald could of course challenge the Court of Appeal's justification for its verdict, particularly its interpretation of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. This interpretation assumes that the use of the word 'Allah' will cause unrest in society because the Muslims would be confused, and therefore to maintain "peace and harmony" as spelt out in Article 3(1), the Christian publication should not use it.

However, as has been pointed out by constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari and Bar Council President Christopher Leong, the meaning of "peace and harmony" pertains to the Federal Constitution's guarantee that religions other than Islam enjoy the right to be practised freely, so the Court of Appeal is mistaken in reading it the way it did.

The wording of Article 3(1) is: "Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation." (my italics) It is clear from this that Abdul Aziz is right in saying that the "plain meaning" of Article 3(1) is "that despite the fact that Islam has been made official religion, non-Muslims may go on practising their religions freely without restriction", and that "the court is there to protect and enhance the provisions for fundamental liberties, not to narrow them down".

By the same token, Leong is also right in saying that "the words in their clear and ordinary meaning provide for the right of other religions to be practised unmolested and free of threats", and that it is unreasonable for a fundamental liberty to be denied "on the basis that some people would be confused".

Would the Federal Court agree with this and adjudge the Court of Appeal to have erred? Would it also uphold the High Court's ruling that 'Allah' is not exclusive to the use of Muslims?

The answer to that might well be the same for this question: Are there at least a few good men left in the judiciary, even if there appears to be none in the Government? Well, the jury on that, as they say, is still out.



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