Month: September 2014

Who Does The Sedition Act Really Protect?

“Who Does The Sedition Act Protect?”

That is an important question that Perkasa president (Datuk Ibrahim Ali) and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan) have attempted to address in the past week or so.

Datuk Ibrahim Ali in all his wisdom articulated that the Sedition Act was enacted protect the non-malays. He was quoted as saying, “The Malays are the majority group, if there is any conflict, it would not affect them but affect the minority groups.”

It appears as though as Datuk Ibrahim Ali has found how to ameliorate decades of unresolved racial tension! However, his statement is oversimplifying everything.

What he’s trying to say is that, with all the troublemakers locked up, there wouldn’t be any conflict between the races. We will see below why this isn’t true

Moving on to Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, the former Transparency International has drawn a lot of flak for insisting that the Sedition Act is needed to preserve peace and harmony in a multiracial society.

What he said bears some resemblance to what was said by Datuk Ibrahim Ali. Basically, the Sedition Act will be used “to stop anyone from making remarks that incite violence and hatred in our society”

A quick reflection of the use (or misuse) of the Sedition Act will clearly reveal to us who it really protects.

As we all know, anti-islam and anti-malay comments are treated as seditious. No argument there as the Attorney General has been very consistent on this issue. Apparently now, anti-umno statements would be regarded as seditious (as per RSN Rayer’s “UMNO celaka” remark)

The latest additions to the list of seditious issues include legal opinion (the late Karpal Singh, Edmund Bon), liking an Israel related Facebook page (unnamed 17 year old schoolboy), publishing an article regarding an interview on police treatment (Susan Loone), and academic opinion (Azmi Sharom)

Will there come a time when everything under the sun is seditious? Nah!

1. Anti-Hindu statements are not seditious.

(i) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah:

“Pernahkah kita bersungut ketika perayaan Thaipusam? Seminggu sebelum perayaan, seluruh kawasan sekitar Batu Caves sesak. Kenderaan diparkir sesuka hati. Lautan manusia satu warna berhimpun, seolah-olah tidak ada warna lain lagi di negara ini.”

Translation:
Have we (the Muslims) ever complained during Thaipusam? A week before the festival, the entire area surrounding Batu Caves experiences traffic jam. Cars are parked everywhere. There is an ocean of similar coloured humans gathered, as if no other colour exists in this country

(ii) Datuk Zulkifli Noordin

“I have been to Sungai Ganga before. How can you (the Hindus) say it’s pure? There are chicken carcasses and small sticks floating,”

2. Anti-Christian statements are not seditious

(i) Anti-christian seminar at UiTM

“Every Jesus follower should enter Islam. If not, it would be a betrayal to Jesus” (Insan LS Mokoginta)

“The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” (Masyud SM)

(ii) Datuk Ibrahim Ali

“Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them

(iii) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

“Unfortunately Muslims do not go to churches to see how they (Christians) condemn Muslims. We are accused of oppression and cruelty towards Christians”
– such claims are baseless as churches do not preach hatred towards other religions

3. Selangor ‘darul babi’ is not  seditious

(i) Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

“I am worried, if this project (RM100m integrated pig farm) is approved, Selangor will be known as darul babi”

If indeed the Sedition Act is meant to protect the non-malays or even to preserve peace and harmony, why are all the aforementioned individuals getting away scot-free despite all the hue and cry?

So who does the Sedition Act really protect? Until now, no one can say for sure. It remains a hot potato

Henry Ward Beecher once famously said, “Laws and institutions, like clocks, must occasionally be cleaned, wound up, and set to true time.” Ergo, the Sedition Act needs to be ammended or abrogated in order to avoid the dangers of selective prosecution

* Check it out also at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, Malaysiakini, and The Malaysian Times

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Aftermath of the Selangor Menteri Besar Impasse

The Selangor Menteri Besar impasse has left a bitter taste in many of our mouths, especially of those in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. Inter alia, we have seen bickering, backstabbing, craven acts, and a myriad of volte-face.

It has been an abject past few months to say the least. Even in the aftermath, we have boorish comments (such as Lim Guan Eng labelling the former 4 PAS excos that stood by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as “traitors” and PAS Youth saying PAS will one day leave PR) coming from the different PR parties which are supposed to be Malaysia’s hope of one day replacing Barisan Nasional (BN) as the federal government

It’s time that PR stops drying their dirty linen in public. The more insults hurled at one another in public, the less confidence the people have in PR as a whole. A survey by The Malaysian Insider and Merdeka Center indicated that PR may lose Selangor if snap polls were held

PR should learn to settle their differences behind closed doors. They can learn a lot from the constitutional convention of collective ministerial responsibility (a.k.a cabinet collective responsibility) whereby members of the Cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them

Basically the PR component parties must maintain a united front and all toe the line. No more puerile statements made in public! Behind the scenes is where discussions are held, ideas are ridiculed, chairs are hurled, name calling is done, etc

PR’s current system of operating on consensus has proven to be greatly flawed in the recently concluded Selangor MB saga. PKR and DAP agreed on only nominating Dr Wan Azizah’s name but PAS had something else in mind.

There was clearly no consensus and the fact that PKR and DAP were so obdurate and kept insisting on having their way shows that the consensus system is more effective theoretically than practically

OMG!’s proposed decision making mechanism will greatly benefit PR. His/her proposal is that each member of the PR triumvirate be allotted votes to decide on matters involving PR according to its representation in Parliament and state assemblies, with 60% allocated to Parliament and 40% to all 13 state assemblies.

“(a) First, the number of Parliament seats is divided: (PAS: DAP: PKR) as (21:38:29) at GE13

(b) The number of state seats is divided similarly as (85:95:48) at GE 13.

Note: In both cases, PKR’s total has been reduced by one state seat and 1 Parliament seat reflecting Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s new Independent status.

(c) After applying the 60:40 weightage, we find that the votes, within PR, to be allotted to the 3 members PAS:DAP:PKR, are 29:43:28. Total 100 votes in the new proposed system.

The present, less satisfactory consensus/(agree to disagree) approach could now be replaced by a 2/3 majority vote, i.e., a 2/3 majority of 67 votes means that the decision is adopted by PR and dissenting members must fall in line”

Regarding any decision, the PR parties will meet up, deliberate, and then vote on the issue. The moment a 2/3 majority is achieved, the issue is resolved and every party has to stand firm with it.

This decision-making system that is similar to the “electoral collegial system which governs the US presidential elections based on the results in the various states” would prevent further straining the already strained relationship between PKR, DAP, and PAS

The parties not happy with the votes allotted to them can work harder to win more seats in the 14th General Election in order to increase their say in PR policies & decisions. This proposal appears to be the panacea that PR has been looking for. The idea should be seriously and thoroughly considered!

*This article also appeared in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and Malaysia Today

A True Malaysian

It saddens me to know that our beloved Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (henceforth Dr M) is of the opinion that there will never be a true Malaysian. After 51 years of being an independent nation, is it cockamamie to think that true Malaysians exist? Is it really something unachievable?

Dr M’s opines as such because the people (you and i) continue to hang on to our own identity, culture and language. Our former premier further elaborates that such obstacles would not only hinder unity but also block the government’s efforts to create a new Malaysian race

He added that unless Malaysians of different race, language, and culture embrace ONE identity for the sake of our future and nation (like in the Philippines and Thailand), there will never be a true Malaysian.

Dr M clearly regards our different races, cultures and languages as a stumbling block rather than a stepping stone. That is disappointing because ever since my schooling days, I have been thought to take pride in the fact that i live in a multi-racial and multi-religious country (negara berbilang kaum dan agama)

Malaysia has always played that fact to our advantage (e.g. on websites, brochures, etc). We often promote ourselves to the world as a unique country whereby citizens of different races & religions live in harmony with one another (evidenced in the Malaysia Tourism Guide)

Furthermore, tourism.gov.my states that the “Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All these cultures have influenced each other, creating a truly Malaysian culture.”

By virtue of “hanging on to our own culture,” we have developed a Malaysian culture. Should we all now abandon our own culture and embrace a common identity? No! If we do so, what would make us any different compared to our neighboring countries?

The truth of the matter is that we dont all need to have one identity in order to be a true Malaysian. A true Malaysian is one who:

1. Knows the cultures of different races
– During Chinese New Year, red packets (angpows) are given out by those married to their younger relatives,
– Malay children are brought up to shake and kiss the hands of their parents/elders,
– Henna body art is an essential part of the Indian culture,
– Kadazandusuns in Sabah celebrate the Kaamatan (harvest) festival while the Dayaks in Sarawak celebrate Gawai Dayak

2. Speaks a little of every language
– Tamil: Dei/Deyh, Thambi, Anne, Tani/Thani
– Cantonese: Tabao, Leng Lui, Leng Zai
– Mandarin: Wo Ai Ni, Lao Shi, Ni Hao Ma
– Hokkien: Wa, Lu, Toh Long,
– BM saints: Kantoi, Lepak, Awek, Cun

3. Supports national athletes & national teams
– Datuk Lee Chong Wei (badminton),
– Harimau Malaya (football),
– Pandalela Rinong (diving),
– Azizulhasni Awang (cycling),
– Datuk Nicol Ann David (squash)
– Sazali Samad (bodybuilding)

4. Refuses to racially abuse his/her fellow brothers and sisters
– The quote “We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race” by Kofi Atta Annan has become somewhat of a platitude
– However, there is so much truth in it!

5. Knows key historical events
– 31st August 1957 marks the independence of Malaya
– Sarawak achieved independence on the 22nd of July in 1963 while 31st August 1963 was when Sabah became a sovereign state
– Malaysia was formed in 1963, on the 16th of September, comprising of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak

6. Knows the national anthem (Negaraku) by heart
– Though those of us out of public school no longer sing it every Monday, we live out the words everyday!
– On top of that, we temporarily have the honor and privilege (no, I’m not being sarcastic) of singing it collectively in the cinema prior to any movie

The list is not exhaustive. Take some time to think what else should be a touchstone to being a true Malaysian. Embracing a common identity is definitely not one of it!

The 40th President of the United States (i.e. Ronald Reagan) once said, “If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.” It clearly makes no sense to say that you love your country but don’t love your countrymen!

Simply put, a true Malaysian is one who places his fellow brothers and sisters first. By loving our fellow Malaysians, we can forge an indestructible unity! It all begins with love!

*This awesome article appeared in The Malaysian Insider

Malaysia’s Own Social Networking Site

This article is in response to Social and Cultural Affairs Advisor, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim’s suggestion to the Government for Malaysia to have it’s own social networking site similar to Facebook. In light of all the fake FB accounts posting abhorrent things, the suggestion isn’t at all baseless

This year itself, there are fake facebook accounts using the names of royalties. Then there are also the cases of Facebook users  “Chandra Lawan Tetap Lawan” who insulted the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and “Man Namblast” who referred to Hindus as “syaitan” (demons)

It is a fait accompli that creating a fake facebook account is pretty simple as the only pre-requisite is an email (which can also be faked). Hence, this leaves the authorities at a disadvantage when trying to deal with repugnant postings by fake accounts

With our very own ‘Facebook-like’ social network, the Government can make Malaysians register for an account using their identity card number. This will put the authorities in the driver’s seat as it would be easy to identify the perpetrator(s) & appropriate action can be taken swiftly

An alternative option would be for Malaysians to register using their phone number(s). Although there is the possibility that people may create fake accounts because they have multiple phone numbers, this can be countered by strictly enforcing the rule that each phone number must be registered to a passport/IC number

Malay Mail Online columnist Khairie Hisyam Aliman in his article listed down a few advantages of having our own version of Facebook. Those worth mentioning are ‘job creation’, and ‘economy stimulation.’

Syed Hassan (secretary general of Perkasa) gave his two cents’ worth that having our very own Facebook would be able to stop all insults against any religion and race, prevent insults against the royalty and the nation, besides preventing local women from falling victim to online fraud.

However, all is not a bed of roses as the suggestion by Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim and the backing by Perkasa failed to address the issue of international connectivity. Currently with Facebook, people are able to keep in contact with their relatives no matter where they are (except China and whatnot). However, our own Facebook substitute would most likely only be on a national scale (at best)

It is undeniable that there are other alternatives to keep in contact with one’s relatives (e.g. Skype, Whatsapp). However, none of them provide the diverse range of functions that Facebook does. Amongst others, Facebook allows you to chat with your friends, as well as see and comment on their posts & pictures

Malaysians conducting businesses with their international counterparts through Facebook would also be affected by this change. All the effort and money (through paid advertising, etc) spent into developing their Facebook page goes down the drain. At the time of writing this article, there isn’t any alternative social network with a reach as great as Facebook

Conclusion
While the concept is good, it is not without its flaws. If indeed one day Malaysians want to have their own social networking site, the chinks in the armor have to be thoroughly addressed

*This article also appeared in The Malay Mail Online , The Malaysian Insider, and The Malay Mail

Sedition Act 1948: Repeal or Maintain?

Two years ago, our beloved Prime Minister vowed that he will repeal the Sedition Act 1948 and replace it with a National Harmony Act. Fast forward two years and we’re still clinging on to a promise (or a re-promise if you will) although there have been positive signs that the National Harmony Bill is slowly but surely getting ready for tabling

However, it was reported yesterday that most UMNO grassroots leaders are for the Sedition Act. Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed 161 out of a total 191 divisions nationwide had voiced a desire to keep the pre-independence law in a recent survey undertaken by central Umno.

The news is not at all surprising as in recent times, UMNO leaders haven’t been charged with sedition despite making arguably seditious statements. We have Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement about a repeat of the May 13 racial riots, as well as Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s recent “non-malays are getting arrogant” rant

A joint statement made by a coalition of Malaysian NGOs in protest of the Sedition Act  listed down those who have been charged under the draconian and archaic piece of legislation. They are:

1. David Orok – ​​​​Member, Sabah Reform Party
2.​ Azmi Sharom – ​​​​Law professor, University of Malaya
3.​ N. Surendran –​​​​ Lawyer, Padang Serai MP
4.​ Khalid Samad – ​​​​Shah Alam MP
5. R.S.N. Rayer – ​​​​Lawyer, Seri Delima assemblyman
6.​ Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman – President, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia
7. Teresa Kok – ​​​​Seputeh MP
8. Chua Tian Chang​​​ – Batu MP
9. Hishamuddin Rais – ​​​Social activist
10. Adam Adli​​​​ – Student activist
11. Safwan Anang – ​​​​Student activist
12. Haris Ibrahim​​​​ – Lawyer/ Social activist
13. Tamrin Tun Abdul Ghafar​​ – Political activist
14. Md Shuhaimi Shafie – ​​​Sri Muda assemblyman

Numerous others are being investigated, including:

1. Viktor Wong – ​​​​Activist, Parti Rakyat Malaysia
2. Susan Loone – ​​​​Journalist, Malaysiakini
3.​ Hassan Karim​​​​ – Lawyer/ PKR Johor vice chairman
4. Rafizi Ramli​​​​ – Pandan MP
5.​ Ali bin Jalil – ​​​​Member of public
6. 17-year-old schoolboy​​ (unnamed)
7. Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin – Changkat Jering assemblyman

It is undeniable that some of the aforementioned things said/done are controversial. But do we need the Sedition Act when we have the Penal Code (s.298, 298A, s.500) and the Defamation Act 1957 to deal with such sensitive matters?

To get a better view of whether to repeal/maintain the Sedition Act, it is necessary to do a nationwide referendum. A survey of the UMNO division heads nationwide would be insufficient to safely conclude that Malaysians want the Sedition Act to stay

A referendum is the most effective way to obtain public opinion as evidenced in Scotland, whereby on the 18th of September this year, Scottish citizens will be asked whether they want Scotland to go independent, thus leaving the United Kingdom. It is only logical that the rakyat are consulted about such a momentous thing

Similarly in our country, we should have a referendum about the future of the Sedition Act. The wishes of the majority should then be respected and acted upon. On my part, I am Joshua Wu Kai-Ming and I demand the abolition of the Sedition Act #MansuhAktaHasutan #AbolishSeditionAct

*This article also appeared at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and Malaysiakini

Recent Updates:

(i) Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has made an about turn regarding his past pledges to abolish the Sedition Act 1948. Instead, he intends to strengthen it (27th November 2014)