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Will Khalid be a big winner or a big loser?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013 02:02 PM PST

Three key things stood out in his blog posting. First, he slammed the group that claimed it is out to save PAS from practising the "culture of slander and destruction". This group has been pushing for ulama candidates in the party polls and running down those from the Erdogan camp.

Joceline Tan, The Star

SHAH Alam MP Khalid Samad will either be a big winner in this week's PAS election or the big loser.

His latest blog post, a no-holds-barred opinion piece on the party's election campaign attracted mixed reactions. Some agreed with it, some accused him of campaigning for incumbent deputy president Mohamad Sabu while others think he is too emotional and has gone overboard. One PAS branch is even contemplating lodging a complaint to the party's election committee.

Three key things stood out in his blog posting. First, he slammed the group that claimed it is out to save PAS from practising the "culture of slander and destruction". This group has been pushing for ulama candidates in the party polls and running down those from the Erdogan camp.

Second, he rubbished claims that Mohamad, who is seeking re-election, is a Syiah and said it was concocted by external enemies and perpetuated by "orang PAS" or people inside the party. He disagreed that the No. 2 must be an ulama and said that Mohamad should be retained.

Third, he said the agenda of those who claimed they want to save PAS actually want to take the party out of Pakatan Rakyat.

He appealed to delegates to vote for status quo so that the Pakatan coalition will remain intact.

The Erdogan have been under attack by the young Turks in the ulama group and Khalid is taking a calculated risk in hitting back.

About 30% or so among the 1,300 delegates who will be voting on Friday are ulama; that is, those who went through religious education and who work as religious teachers and preachers.

Delegates who approve of the ideas and approach of the Erdogans comprise about 30%.

Khalid is reaching out to the re­­maining 40% fence-sitters who will decide on the outcome of the polls.

The pro-ulama group has been preparing for the showdown since September when the Dewan Ulama hosted a big gathering or Multaqa Ulama in Alor Setar to discuss issues of concern to their circle.

About 1,500 ulama from the party attended and this was where the now famous call to review the political cooperation or tahaluf siasi between PAS and the Pakatan parties came about. They also called for more ulama to occupy the top party posts.

"There were suggestions that the top leaders including the deputy president and vice-president in the party should be from the ulama group.

"We have made our stand and we leave it to the delegates to decide at the muktamar," Johor PAS commission Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamed.

The ulama clout in PAS is what makes this party special and different from arch rival Umno.

This group does not necessarily want PAS to quit Pakatan, as claimed by Khalid, but they want the party to redefine its role in the coalition.

For several years now, the Erdogan group had convinced the leadership that the party should focus on winning Putrajaya instead of frightening voters with talk about their Islamic state goal.

But PAS lost the Malay ground to Umno in the general election and the ulama feel that the party needs to review its political approach.

Some of those in the pro-ulama group have even come up with a menu of candidates who have their support. Top of their list is Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah who is challenging Mat Sabu for the No 2 post.

Their choice for the three vice-presidents are Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and Datuk Abu Bakar Chik, both ulama, and the popular incumbent Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.

Their endorsed list of CWC candidates includes 10 religious scholars.

Also on the list are Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, the son of Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, and Khairuddin Muhammad, the son-in-law of Datuk Seri Hadi Awang.

Meanwhile, some leaders in PAS are still denying there is a rift between the ulama and the pro-Erdogan camp, insisting that the media is making it up.

They are suffering from what is known as the elephant-in-the-room syndrome.


Is it time to 'retire' the hangman?

Posted: 18 Nov 2013 12:59 PM PST

Liew wants the Malaysian government to emulate Singapore and amend our laws to allow discretionary sentencing in cases of mandatory death sentences with a long term view to abolish the death penalty.

Mohsin Abdullah, 

"THE hangman and his assistant arrive outside the condemned man's cell about five minutes before the scheduled time for execution. The prisoner is handcuffed behind his back and a loose fitting hood is placed over his head.

"In an ideal world, the prisoner cooperated by walking to the large single trapdoor capable of accommodating three people at one time. Once positioned on the trapdoor, it was the hangman's job to pull the noose tight under the prisoner's left jawbone.
"For those whose legs did not have the strength to hold them in their final moments, a small two legged support would be offered to enable them to rest their bodyweight.
"The executioner's assistant pinioned the legs and then, following the command from the senior officer, the lever was pulled, plunging the prisoner (or prisoners) to an instant death into the pit below". 
Terrifying moments that one. It was an execution by hanging in Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Jail as described by veteran journalist Tim Donoghue in his well written biography of lawyer cum politician Karpal Singh.
The book is entitled 'Karpal Singh - The Tiger of Jelutong'. And in it Donoghue also wrote that "Karpal agrees with former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke that hanging is barbaric" as the lawyer believes there are more humane way of doing it, if at all, executions need to be carried out.
Karpal, as Donoghue tells us, "knows as he has had to help more than 50 mainly condemned men and their families to get through the process".
And the veteran journalist went on to write "there is also the toll the death penalty takes on the family of the prisoner to be killed by the state. In Malaysia the lives of the condemned person's family are placed in limbo for ten years - the average length of time the court process take - and very often parents and siblings can think of little else but the welfare of their loved one as he or she slowly works their way through the legal system".
Needless to say it is not easy for anyone involved including the hangman who, in the words of Donoghue, "get absolutely no satisfaction out of having to execute a prisoner by hanging, no matter what crime they have committed".
Capital punishment in Malaysia applies to murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, treason, waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. And recently - acts of terrorism.
And as far as drugs and possession of fire arms are concerned, it's the mandatory death sentence for those found guilty. Most of those sent to the gallows were drug traffickers - the "low ranking drug mules who are the easiest to apprehend", as said by former Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee.  Many agree to that. 
The Karpal biography tells us death penalty for drug trafficking became mandatory in  April 1983 and the Malaysian government then helmed by Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad was praised in 1985 by the UN International Narcotics Control Board for its efforts to curb drug trafficking.
In his biography we are also told that Karpal "genuinely sympathised with his government in its stringent efforts to clamp down on the illegal drug trade but he did not see well published weekly hangings as the answer to the problem".
To him the mandatory death sentence was no deterrent. Obviously he's still holding on to that stand. As recent as last year, Karpal – in his capacity as MP for Bukit Gelugor – had  asked in parliament then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, if the tough laws carrying capital punishment had been effective in reducing drug related crime.
Based on Hishamuddin's written reply, the mandatory death sentence has not stopped drug dealers.
Also last year, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz then minister in the PM's department went on record to say the government was looking into the possibility of withdrawing mandatory death sentence of drug offences, replacing it with jail terms.
One of the main reasons, said Nazri, was there were close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad.
"It is difficult to justify our appeal to these countries not to hang them when our own country has the mandatory death sentence," said Nazri as quoted in the media.
Now there is at least one Malaysian, arrested and sentenced to death abroad who have escaped the gallows. And it wasn't because of our appeals.
Yes, by now we all know of Yong Vui Kong, the Malaysian, who was spared the hangman's noose after being on death row in Singapore since 2009 for drug trafficking.
The Singapore government had last year announced changes to the mandatory death penalty, allowing death row inmates to be given a lighter sentence if they met certain conditions.

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