Politics Galore

Proposal to have two rounds of voting

What do I mean by having two rounds of voting? I will explain by way of example.

Let us say there is a four-way fight in a particular constituency. There is a Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate, a Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate,  a PAS candidate, and an independent candidate.

After the first round of voting, let us assume that the BN candidate received 40% of the votes, while the PH candidate got 30%, the PAS candidate got 25%, and the independent candidate got 5%.

The two candidates with the most votes will then be shortlisted, the constituents will re-vote and based on my example, choose either the BN or PH candidate. At the end of the second round of voting, theoretically, either the BN or PH candidate should have a majority of the votes (barring any intentional spoilt votes as a form of boycotting the two shortlisted candidates).

This will encourage more people to stand for election (as is their democratic right) and yet reduce the current problem where the introduction of more candidates result in the splitting of Opposition votes.

Straight fights (one-on-one) based on merit will also be promoted. The best Opposition candidate (number of votes wise) – in my example being the PH candidate – will face off against the BN candidate.

Undeniably, getting the people to re-vote would mean extending polling day to at least two days (the first day for the first round of voting, tabulation of votes, and shortlisting of candidates for round two) which will lead to the spending of more taxpayer’s money. But isn’t the aim of electing an individual with a majority backing worth the cost involved?

Personally I am opposed to having a Member of Parliament/State Assemblyperson having won a seat by virtue of having the most votes AMONGST the candidates (assuming the most votes amounts to less than a majority of the votes). Such elected individuals can’t honestly say that they have the mandate of the people as they don’t necessarily have the majority of the voters in a particular constituency on their side.

An exceptions to the second round of voting could be made where a candidate has obtained at least 50.1% of the votes after the first round. In such an instance, it would be unnecessary to get the people to vote again as the aim of electing an individual with the majority of the votes has been achieved.

I acknowledge that this rough idea requires much fine tuning before it becomes a viable option. But isn’t the idea worth considering?

*This article was featured in The Malaysian Times

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Developing A Litigation Culture

Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, through his lawyers has issued a letter of demand to PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and DAP’s Tony Pua over a few things the outspoken duo have said in recent times 

Our premier wants Tony Pua to publish a retraction and apologise within 14 days in two national newspapers, or face legal action for his speech recorded in the November 3 video: “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia

Failure by Rafizi and/or Tony Pua to act as per the letter of demand would most definitely result in legal action being initiated against them

Some netizens take this as a sign of cowardice on the part of Najib because it comes across as an act to scare off his detractors. I, however, think it is a good thing that Najib wants the courts to adjudicate what has been said by the two Pakatan Rakyat leaders regarding the reduction of fuel subsidies and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) respectively

I say so because if the issue reaches the courts, evidence will be have to be submitted by both parties. Through that and the court’s ruling, the people can ascertain objectively who is actually correct/telling the truth.

Does the money saved from the reduction of petrol subsidies go into Najib or Rosmah’s pocket? We will most assuredly find out. Regarding 1MDB, is there any hanky-panky use of the people’s money? We will undoubtedly find out

If Mrs Donoghue did not sue the manufacturing company of the ginger beer after finding a decomposed snail in her drink we would not have the landmark case of Donoghue v Stevenson

In that case, Lord Atkin established the all important ‘neighbour principle’ and it revolutionised the tort of negligence as we know it today.

This shows us that case law is an important contributor to the development of the law as it ensures that the law stays relevant in light of changing social, economic and cultural conditions

Moving on, the freedom of speech does not include the right to defame a person. Therefore, if Rafizi has no evidence to support his claim that Najib or Rosmah would directly/indirectly benefit monetary wise from the reduction of fuel subsidies, he should be liable for defamation

In Tony Pua’s case, he gave some immensely mind boggling statistics. However, if he does not have any solid admissible evidence to back his allegations about 1MDB, he would have to fork out a lot of money to compensate Najib for the “tremendous stress and embarrassment” caused

If Najib wins his lawsuit(s) against Rafizi and/or Tony Pua, the enormous amount of damages usually awarded in defamation cases should act as a precedent to teach our leaders to speak only when they have proof to attest to their claim.

If our public figures do not learn that lesson, we’d have more and more Mashitah cases whereby the irresponsible person speaks unsubstantiatedly and then gets whacked left, right and centre (metaphorically) by the public

In conclusion, while Dr Mahathir is of the opinion that taking legal action for political slander is useless, i beg to differ for the aforementioned reasons. The way I see it, litigation over controversial issues would be beneficial for the common folk who ardently follow our nation’s politics. Developing a litigation culture is good to a certain extent

*Check this awesome article out at The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and Free Malaysia Today

Sedition Act: What The People Want

In 2012, our Prime Minister openly vowed that the Sedition Act 1948 would be repealed and be replaced by a National Harmony Act. In London last year, he renewed his pledge to abrogate the Sedition Act

To the surprise of many (including MIC’s deputy chief), Datuk Seri Najib Razak decided that it mattered more to please his fellow party members and regain their support, than to be a man of his word and honor his promise.

In UMNO’s recently concluded annual general meeting, Datuk Seri Najib announced that the Sedition Act 1948 is here to stay and will receive further strengthening (as if the Act is not oppressive enough at the moment)

We now know that maintaining the Sedition Act is what UMNO, its members and several other BN component parties want. But more importantly, is it what the electorate wants? The only reason the Government is in power is because of the mandate given by the people. Never forget that political sovereignity lies with the electorate!

So how do we know what the people want? One of the more effective ways would be by engaging in some form of direct democracy. It is not something new and has proven to be a good barometer of the public’s opinion

Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) wanted Scotland to exit the United Kingdom and go solo despite being a part of Great Britain since 1707. As SNP advocates Scottish independence, it is safe to assume that all of Salmond’s party members would have wanted the same for Scotland

The question is, did Alex Salmond and the SNP decide amongst themselves whether to leave the union on behalf of the people of Scotland, just because they were democratically elected? No!

What happened is that Alex Salmond and co got the UK Government, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, to allow Scotland to conduct a referendum regarding its future in the UK (see the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement)

The decision to leave the United Kingdom would have had grave repercussions, thus it was only logical that the people should be consulted. What better way to obtain the public’s views than through a referendum?

The Scottish Parliament then passed the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 and the Scottish Independence Referedum (Franchise) Act 2013 in order for the referendum to take place

The 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum showed the entire world that the majority (55.3%) of people who voted wanted Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom. Why can’t we have a referendum regarding the preservation/repeal of the 1948 Sedition Act?

Some of you may be wondering, “but going independent is not the same as maintaining the Sedition Act!” That’s true to a certain extent. However, once you see the bigger picture, you’ll see that both have the ability to impact the lives of the people

It has been established that it may be seditious to give a legal opinion (see Karpal Singh’s case), or to state the law as it is (see Azmi Sharom’s case), or to ‘like’ a Facebook page of your choice (see case of Form Five student). Still disagree with me?

Furthermore, less than a month ago, the state of Massachusetts conducted a referendum regarding the abolition of the Massachusetts 2011 casino gambling law. The result: 60% of voters agreed to preserve the statute, and the legislation remains valid till today. If a state in the United States can do so, why can’t we learn from their example?

After all, some who voted for Barisan Nasional may be against the Sedition Act because of its possible misuse due the absence of requisite to prove the accused’s intention (contrary to criminal law principles)

Perhaps many who voted for Pakatan Rakyat are against the Sedition Act because of the wide definition of ‘seditious tendency’ which leaves it open to potential abuse

Moreover, fence sitters could be sick and tired of the Sedition Act appearing to be a tool for the Government to silence dissent and Opposition leaders. There are so many uncertainties which can be resolved by a simple referendum!

Anyhow, by virtue of going back on his promise, Datuk Seri Najib has created a very dangerous precedent in which the very promises/pledges that come out of his mouth are subject to sudden change. The only silver lining is that his flip-flop attitude may lead him to someday make a u-turn regarding his decision to preserve the Act!

*The Malay Mail Online, Malaysiakini, and Free Malaysia Today featured this article

Perkasa’s New Direction?

national unity convention

Perkasa seems to be getting more and more dissatisfied with UMNO’s performance in defending malay rights. A coalition of Malay rights groups (including Perkasa) plans to submit a memorandum to the Government, touching on issues like the abolition of vernacular schools and the limitation of PTPTN loan exemptions to only bumiputeras

As of 2013, Perkasa claims to have a membership of around 500,000 (an impressive feat considering it has only been around since 2008). If the numbers prove to be true, perhaps instead of supplementing UMNO, Perkasa should become a political party and give UMNO a run for their money

I know many of us would balk at the idea of seeing a Perkasa candidate on our ballot paper. However, a hallmark of a democratic society is the presence of competitive and unique political parties (ethnic supremacist groups included)

Case in point, the United Kingdom. The UK has the British National Party (BNP), which is their very own version of Perkasa. The reason I liken BNP to Perkasa is because amongst other things, the former advocates white nasionalism

In regards to legal immigrants settled in UK, the BNP “recognises the right of legally settled and law-abiding minorities to remain in the UK and enjoy the full protection of the law, on the understanding that the indigenous population of Britain has the right to remain the majority population of our nation”.

It offers however voluntary repatriation where “generous grants to those of foreign descent resident here who wish to leave permanently”

It is important to note that BNP has no representative in the House of Commons or the European Parliament. This could possibly mean that the people of UK generally do not subscribe to BNP’s principles

Only by running for elections will Perkasa know if the people truly supports its ideologies. Perhaps Perkasa could outdo UMNO as its far-right stance may appeal to certain segments of society more than UMNO’s new centrist direction under the command of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

It wouldn’t be fair to gauge Perkasa’s wealth of potential just by looking at its president’s failure to recapture Pasir Mas in the 13th General Election.

After all, just because Ibrahim Ali lost his beloved parliamentary seat (which he has been contesting in without fail since 1986) to a political novice doesn’t mean the people dont want him right?

Futhermore, considering Perkasa supposedly has 500,000 members, it shouldn’t be too difficult to field a candidate for every parliamentary seat up for grabs in the next general election

Even IF 60% of Perkasa members happen to also be UMNO members, in the event of a mass exodus to UMNO, Perkasa would still have 200,000 members give or take a few

In the hypothetical situation whereby Perkasa fields 222 candidates for election to be members of Parliament, the malay supremacist group would still have plenty of manpower to go around campaigning and garnering for support. Talk about strength in numbers!

Instead of complaining and whining that UMNO does a dreadful job in upholding the Bumiputera agenda, Perkasa should play a more active role in the 14th general election and not shy away from the challenge. I’d honestly love to see the reception of the rakyat (people) towards Perkasa.

*Check it out also at The Malaysian Insider , Free Malaysia Today, Malaysia Today, and Malaysia Chronicle

The Future Of PR

It has now become more and more apparent that PAS and DAP don’t play well together. Ever since the Selangor Menteri Besar imbroglio, blows have been traded repeatedly ad nauseam

Over the past few weeks, the issue on the table has been PAS President, Dato Seri Haji Hadi Awang (HA)’s absence from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) presidential council meetings

In all fairness, HA is an elderly man and is thus more prone to sicknesses. For the sake of the betterment of PR, shouldn’t HA temporarily delegate his ultimate decision-making power to a trusted right hand man? Or at least step down in order that a physically fit person may take the helm

Yes, PAS does send its representatives (namely deputy president Mohamad Sabu and vice-president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man) for PR presidential council meetings. However, if you have been following the recent criticisms by DAP, it centers around HA having veto power and yet being absent from the meetings

Basically, whatever is agreed upon by the PAS representatives in the presidential council meetings may be overruled by HA at the end of the day. Thus, DAP has a valid point when it says that a PR presidential council meeting without HA is akin to PAS being absent

It is clearly undemocratic for a political party leader to have veto power in every matter considering other leaders are also elected by the members of the party. As cliche as it sounds, there is a lot of truth to the saying “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton)

If PAS refuses to sort out the aforementioned issues, PR’s effectiveness as a coalition would undeniably be adversely affected, and PR may need to reconsider its composition. After all, you can’t join the school but refuse to wear the uniform!

Just like when Britain entered the European Union (then known as the European Community) in 1973, it had to subject itself to EU treaties, regulations, directives, and European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions despite having done things its own way for centuries

A good example of PR’s effectiveness being hindered would be when the PR presidential council accepted the proposal for Datuk Seri Wan Azizah to be nominated as the new Selangor MB, and HA ended up vetoing the decision and nominating candidates of his liking

Another problematic issue is PAS’ continuous insistence on implementing hudud. Prior to the 13th General Election, PAS seemed to have abandoned its hudud agenda by pursuing a benevolent state concept.

Needless to say, the whole “Pas For All” election slogan, gained PAS the votes of many non-muslims who were unsure of PAS yet wanted a regime change. However, after GE 13, PAS reverted back to advocating hudud

Since PAS is seriously considering implementing hudud in Kelantan and has taken many steps to realise it (e.g. a federal-level hudud technical committee, finalising that “trained professionals” will be carrying out the amputations), it is high time for PKR and DAP to consider whether to move on without PAS

PAS’ move may gain support from the more hard line Islamists, but it is sure to cause loss of votes for PR because DAP and PKR will be seen as being inable to influence PAS to abandon its wishes for hudud.

A PR without PAS would most definitely appeal to the more progressive Malaysians. Will we see a PR coalition without PAS/DAP? Or will we see PR end up just like Barisan Alternatif? Or will PR learn how to sort out its differences and work together? Only time will tell

On a side note, if UMNO Kelantan supports PAS’ efforts (which is has in the past), it is time for MCA, MIC, and Gerakan to reconsider its partnership in BN. After all, what’s the point of being in a coalition if your view doesn’t matter?

*This awesome article appeared in The Malay Mail Online, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, and Free Malaysia Today

Bibles and Selangor

Many of us would like to express our gratitude to Selangor MB, Azmin Ali for orchestrating the return of the Malay and Iban language bibles which were seized by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) in January 2014

Under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution (which contains the legislative lists), religion is under the purview of the state

As per Frank Murphy (former US Supreme Court judge), “religious freedom is too sacred a right to be restricted or prohibited in any degree without convincing proof that a legitimate interest of the state is in grave danger”

Although religious issues are under the scope of the state, it is trite law that state enactments cannot contradict the Federal Constitution which is the ultimate law of the land.

Prima facie, the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988 is constitutional as it is made as per Article 11(4) Federal Constitution which allows for laws to be made to control or restrict the propogation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam

Under section 9(1)(a) of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988,

a person commits an offence if he in any published writing uses any of the words listed in Part I of the Schedule, or any of its derivatives or variations, to express or describe any fact, belief, idea, concept, act, activity, matter, or thing of or pertaining to any non-Islamic religion

At first glance it appears as though as the Malay and Iban bibles breached s. 9(1)(a) by virtue of containing “Allah.” However, there shouldn’t be an offence under the enactment for the following reasons

Firstly, there is no proof of propogation because the bibles were taken from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM)’s premises. At most, JAIS can say they acted under suspicion, but whether their suspicion is reasonable is a different story

Then BSM president, Lee Min Choon, pointed out that all its Malay bibles were imprinted with a picture of the cross and the words ‘Penerbitan Kristian’ on the cover and noted that the Home Ministry regularly inspects its bible shipment imports .

This is a huge sacrifice on the part of BSM to abide by the law in order to ensure that its customers may have access to Malay bibles

As to why the bibles are in our national language, “more than 60 per cent of Malaysian Christians only speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the word used for God in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Al-Kitab) since its translation in 1731, is “Allah.”

“The word is used by Bumiputera Christians who only have Bahasa Malaysia as their common language in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, and by the Baba community in Malacca” (Christian Federation of Malaysia)

Regarding why the Bibles are in Selangor and not in Sabah and Sarawak, it is important to note that BSM is the one that imports, prints and distributes Malay bibles to Sarawak and Sabah (as per Nic Ng, BSM’s executive council member). Perhaps the bibles were in storage awaiting importation?

Even if some of the bibles were not to be imported, it shouldn’t be an issue that the bibles are in Selangor because there are Malay speaking Christians in peninsula Malaysia (e.g. sabahans and sarawakians who come over looking for jobs)

If Malay language bibles aren’t allowed in Selangor, it would most definitely infringe on the right of the Malay speaking Christians to freely practice their religion (enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution)

In June, after much investigation and deliberation, the Attorney-General (AG) accurately concluded that JAIS erred in seizing the bibles and ordered for the case to be closed.

US Politician, Mike Quigley once wisely said that the “protection of religious freedom means considering the faiths and beliefs of everyone involved.”

In future, JAIS and other religious enforcement agencies should not be so overzealous, especially when dealing with holy books of other religions. Perhaps a more thorough investigation (which would have made the raid unnecessary) could have prevented this dark dent in our history

Even if the roles were reversed and Qur’ans were superfluously seized, right thinking Malaysians would stand up and speak out against the blatant infringement of the freedom of religion!

*This awesome article featured in The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, Malaysia Chronicle, and The Malay Mail Online

DPM, Enough Double-Talk

“This racial understanding must be protected and strengthened so that the aspiration of making Malaysia a role model for other countries can become a reality soon” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Christmas 2011)

“I believe in racial tolerance as it is integral to peace in Malaysia. It can be retained if mutual understanding, respect and cooperation continue to be practised” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Chinese New Year 2013)

“I hope the Festival of Light of the Indian community in Malaysia will overcome all darkness which obstruct unity among the various races so that we can enjoy life in harmony in the spirit of tolerance which is
important for a multiracial country like Malaysia” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Deepavali 2014)

Aren’t the aforementioned excerpts from past speeches by our beloved Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) touching? They are full of racial tolerance and promotes moderation, in view of our multi-racial society.

The quotes above are exactly what the average Malaysian has always wanted and still wants to hear! Whoever makes our DPM’s speeches deserves a raise!

Sad to say, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin (and many other politicians) practices double-talk. During racial/religious festivals, we get to hear wonderful 1Malaysia speeches (such as those above). Other times, we hear the usual divisive mantra

In 2009, Malaysia’s DPM blamed BN’s loss at Bukit Gantang (parliamentary seat) and Bukit Selambau (state seat) on the ungratefulness of the non-malays towards the Government. In an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, he said:

“Ini yang mungkin menyebabkan sukar BN mendapat sokongan walaupun kita fikir bila mereka hendak sekolah Cina dibantu, kita bantu, sepatutnya mereka membalas budi.”

“Pada waktu itu, kita pun tidak berharap
sokongan kaum Cina akan meningkat 40
peratus dan sebagainya cuma kita berharap ada peningkatan sedikit tetapi apa yang berlaku ia mencatatkan penurunan, macam tidak ada penghargaan terhadap apa yang kita lakukan.”

Rough translation:
This (the removal of former Perak MB, Nizar Jamaluddin) could have made it difficult for BN to get support although we thought that when they wanted aid for Chinese schools, and we helped, they would have repaid the favor

At that time, we didn’t expect support from the Chinese to rise to fourty percent and all. We hoped for a mininal increase in support but what happened was that a decrease was recorded, as if there was no gratefulness towards what we have done

Eh, why the change in tone? If Muhyiddin was one who always treasured racial unity, he wouldn’t have blamed a specific race or community of people for BN’s loss.

Doesn’t he know that doing so would lead to dissatisfaction towards the Chinese? Why the double-talk?

A year later, Muhyiddin found himself in the limelight when he said the following:

“I am a Malay first but I want to say that being a Malay does not mean that you are not a Malaysian.”

“How can I say I am a Malaysian first and a Malay second. All Malays will shun me and say it’s not proper as Indians will also say they are Indian first,”

Our dear DPM doesn’t even believe in being a Malaysian first! Those prioritising their respective race may end up developing a superiority complex (e.g. malay supremacy) in which they feel those of other races are inferior to them

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was also quoted in 2010 as saying that anyone was free to form an association, including Chinese or Indian versions of the Malay rights group, Perkasa. He added that it would be acceptable as long as it was formed with good intentions

Again we see emphasis on one’s race over being Malaysian first. Groups championing the rights of any particular race definitely falls under the category of an ‘obstruction to unity among various races’

Groups like Perkasa stand up for Malay rights at the expense of other races [e.g. “…when their (Malaysian Chinese) power spreads, then it will threaten national security and the May 13 incident will return” – Ibrahim Ali]. If we wanted to promote unity amongst everyone, shouldn’t we be encouraging the establishment of NGOs that fight for the rights of Malaysians?

In 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the Chinese-dominated DAP was now looking to increase its Malay membership, suggesting that it would be poaching supporters from the same pool as PAS, whose members are predominantly Malay Muslims.

“And now we hear DAP wants to encourage Malays to join its party.

“My question is, if Malays enter DAP, who will enter PAS?”

There are so many things wrong with Muhyiddin’s statements. First of all, is it wrong for Malays to join DAP? Constitutionally and legally, no. Socially, it’s not wrong and has even become somewhat of a trend (e.g. Dyana Sofya, Melati)

Morally, it’s arguable since a significant amount of people (including Muhyiddin, as per his 2011 opening speech in the AGMs of Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri) believe that DAP is anti-malay and anti-islam.

Next, is it socially unacceptable for non-malay muslims to join PAS? Not at all actually. What about Indian Muslims? I’m sure PAS has at least a  few! How can our DPM have such a skewed view that a Chinese must join DAP while a Malay must join PAS

PAS even has a non-muslim wing! I don’t see UMNO having a non-malay or non-muslim wing! Why isn’t racial-unity-promoter Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin advocating UMNO’s membership to be opened to non-malays? (similar to what was proposed by Dato Onn Jaafar)

Just a reminder to our DPM and every other politician out there, spare us the empty rhetoric! It’s time that you ALL walk the talk! The rakyat (people) are paying attention and will hold you accountable for every word spoken

*You can also find this at The Malaysian Insider , Malaysia Today , Free Malaysia Today