Sunday, July 03, 2011

Conduct unbecoming of a Prime Minister of Malaysia - 'comments about Ambiga and Mat Sabu'

Watching the news on RTM yesterday, I was totally disappointed with the behaviour of Prime Minister Najib. These are my opinions and views based on what I saw and heard on TV yesterday - my own perception of what was said, how it was said and what could have been in Najib's mind when he said it. 

With regard to Bersih, he questioned how come Mat Sabu (Pas Deputy President) was willing to be led by Ambiga (former Bar Council President)?

Was it a sexist remark? Can't a woman not lead? And the fact that Mat Sabu and many others allowed this speaks about the progressiveness and openness of PAS and others - but the comment does not fare well for Najib and BN.

Was it a racist remark? Can a non-Malay a non-Muslim lead? Many Malaysians do not see 'ethnicity' or 'religion' or 'sex' when they choose their leaders - only leadership qualities, personality and capacity matters. Again PAS and others comes out looking good and progressive - and certainly more acceptable to Malaysians as an alternative political party - but not so for Najib and the BN.

“Who doesn’t know Ambiga. She’s the one who threatened Islam. And below her is Mat Sabu,” Najib (picture) told a 20,000-strong crowd, referring to the Bersih chief who once took up a case involving the faith and the new PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu. 
For one, I do not think she ever threatened Islam or challenged its position in Malaysia. 

As a lawyer and human rights defender, it certainly is the right of every Malaysian to take up issues concerning religious freedom - rather than quietly sit by silently expressing no opinion for fear of being branded. 

Tell us, Najib,  the details of the case that Ambiga took up and  all we see that it was certainly not anti-Islam. For Najib, it seems that anyone that takes up the issue of freedom of religion is anti-Islam. Again, PAS has come out  being more progressive and more Malaysian - more 1Malaysia

We recall one of  the issues on Islam:-

Najib & UMNO (or was it also BN by default) - Only Muslims can use the term 'Allah', 
PAS - Muslims have no exclusive right to the usage of the word 'Allah' - all can use

Some pending issues, still not resolved, (in my opinion)
* When a spouse converts to Islam - what then are the rights of the other spouse? Custody of children? Right to matrimonial property? Alimony?
* When a person converts to Islam - what happens after he passed away? How will his property be distributed, especially with regard his non-Muslim parents, siblings, children, spouse, ___?  Or will all non-Muslim parents, siblings, spouses and children not receive anything because they are non-Muslims?
It is good that this movement is not led by politicians or political parties - but by an independent Malaysian, which is right. This is not Pakatan Rakyat's movement - but a Malaysian peoples' movement - and the government just declared it unlawful, and seem to be also behaving as though the T-shirts are also illegal - or is it 'yellow T-shirts/clothes' that have become illegal.

Before this, the other time a colour was made 'illegal', it was saffron or 'orange' during the HINDRAF action. So, now in Malaysia, wearing yellow is also bad. Red was also a colour that was not OK - as it was associated with the Communist party - but now Najib and BN is using it.
Now, Najib, as Prime Minister of Malaysia - is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation - and must always be be seen to be truly 1Malaysian and democratic. He must be an advocate of human rights and freedoms. He must never be seen to be a sexist, racist or an extremist of any sort.

One may have expected such remarks from some minor BN politician but certainly not Najib, our Prime Minister. Much more is expected from Najib..

I wonder, if Malaysia was like the US, and people had the right to vote for the Prime Minister whether he will be chosen as the leader of this nation.

His present stance against a movement, which is multi-racial and multi-religious in nature, calling for free and fair elections is certainly disappointing.
Is he against free and fair election? 

As Prime Minister, certainly he is the one in control of the police and their actions - and whatever the police has done and will do will be his own doing. 

Sadly, in Malaysia still there is not enough openess and transparency - and forums for one to express one's view, that is those views different from Najib's and the BN government's. 

Look at RTM (Radio Television Malaysia) and the other mainstream media and television/radio - they do not give others sufficient time and/or space (if any) to express different views.  Maybe, we should just rename RTM to RTBN (Radio Television Barisan Nasional). We should be having more 'debates' like the one between Shabery Cheek and Anwar - maybe an Ambiga-Najib debate.
Parliamentary proceedings in Malaysia is also not broadcasted live to every home in Malaysia. The live from Parliament programme now is a 'joke' where most of the time we have to sit and watch interviews - not the actual proceedings. 

Even in Parliament, MPs are denied the right of free choice - if they are BN, they are prohibited from supporting views of the Opposition. Recent 'minimum wage' Bill also was rushed through the Dewan Rakyat in less than 10 days - with about 4 hours only for debate. People just never got the choice to communicate their views to their MPs or to the government.
That is why...people believe that they have to resort to peaceful assemblies - to show also to the government that their views are not just the views of a few but many. One person can hand over the memo - well, it can happen but then there maybe possibly no (or very little coverage) in the media the government has influence over or the government could easily dismiss it as the view of a few.

Najib and the BN government can change, and here are some of the things that they could do to make Malaysia more democratic...

What are some of these available options?
1) Allow more space for differing views and opinions to be aired in the radio, TV and mainstream media. In fact, freely give licenses to people to operate radio and TV station, newspapers, etc. [The Opposition is given the permit to have their own publication - but then conditions are imposed, i.e. 'for members' only]
2) Allow permits for public forums & allow the usage of public halls for this. [It is a joke, when we hear that permits are given for political parties to hold dinners - but on condition there be no 'political' speeches]

3) Have public consultations - better still referendums where every Malaysian can express their view and choices.

4) Bring democracy to every level - kampungs, kampung barus, taman, kampung orang asli, local council - let the people participate and choose their own leaders. Stop the practice of 'appointing' - let people choose. And after people have chosen, respect this choice - and not create alternative structures to by-pass peoples' choices.

5) Stop discriminating people who exercised their rights and choose people/parties other than BN. As Prime Minister and Federal government, you should serve all people equally... Promising people development and benefits only if you vote for BN is so undemocratic - after all the money and resources belong to all Malaysians - not the UMNO,...not the BN.

6) Openly broadcast live Parliamentary proceedings fully (not edited)

7) Allow members of Parliament/Senators freedom to vote as per their conscience - not as dictated by the political party.



With the dawn of ASTRO, Malaysians finally got access to other media - not just the 'controlled tailored' RTM - and this has opened the minds of Malaysians, and now many desire true democracy - not a democracy where one only has a choice to vote once every 4-5 years...

Malaysians today, no more 'frogs under a coconut shell' (katak di bawah tempurung), no longer ignorant, no longer 'blindly loyal', no longer happy with just what the PM and government 'hand down' to them - they desire true democracy, human rights, freedoms, equality, justice...  and, if Najib and the current BN government does not get this and believe that the old methods of 'fear tactics', 'keeping people ignorant', 'patronage', etc will still work - they are wrong and outdated and will not survive politically much longer in Malaysia. 

No longer will people fear governments - but, as in every democracy, governments must start to fear the people - and make sure that they do serve the people, or face the risk of being 'kicked out' come next elections.

The myth that was propagated by the BN before, i.e. that no others other than the BN can effectively and efficiently rule and govern Malaysia, went out of the window after GE2008 and DAP, PAS and PKR has shown Malaysians, that given the opportunity, they too can rule and govern. 

The next General Elections would be interesting as it could see people of Malaysia, after 50 over years, giving a chance to other than BN, to rule and govern Malaysia... [And, if and when the Opposition wins, I hope that they will immediately implement the recommendations of BERSIH...]

Is this the real fear of Najib and the BN? Don't worry, this is democracy at work.  It is never up to you - it is always up to the people to decide whether they choose you or some other.

Najib blasts Ambiga, PAS over Bersih rally

July 02, 2011
PASIR PUTIH, July 2 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak lambasted Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and PAS for the planned July 9 rally, telling people here the Islamist party will do anything to capture Putrajaya.

The electoral reform movement has called for a rally to press for free and fair elections but the Najib administration is taking all measures to stop the demonstration which is a repeat of a 2007 rally that drew some 50,000 people in Kuala Lumpur.

“Who doesn’t know Ambiga. She’s the one who threatened Islam. And below her is Mat Sabu,” Najib (picture) told a 20,000-strong crowd, referring to the Bersih chief who once took up a case involving the faith and the new PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu. The prime minister is in Kelantan for a day-long visit.

Najib’s remarks were carried by Radio Malaysia news at 1pm. The station also played public service clips against the rally and praising the prime minister as leader of all Malaysians.

Najib said Mohamed was willing to be deputy to Ambiga as a means to get power for PAS, which has ruled Kelantan since 1991.

The PAS No. 2 is no longer in Bersih although the party supports the movement.

Bersih, comprising 62 groups, has vowed to continue with the rally although police has said it will not issue permits.

The government has also issued a special sermon for Friday prayers yesterday to criticise the rally apart from state-run media castigating the protest without specific reference to Bersih or the rally date.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday there would be no more room for discussions, and warned the organisers — Bersih, Perkasa and Umno Youth — to be prepared to be arrested if they did not abort their respective rallies.

Bersih has asked the police to suggest different routes and directions for the three groups on July 9 to ensure that its rally goes off without a hitch.

Among others, the group is demanding that the government ensure a clean and fair general election, reforms in the postal voting system and an extended campaign period of at least 21 days.

The first rally, also organised by Bersih, was held in 2007 and saw some 50,000 people take to the capital’s streets. The gathering eventually descended into chaos when the police deployed tear gas and water cannons on demonstrators. - Malaysian Insider, 2/7/2011, Najib blasts Ambiga, PAS over Bersih rally


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