- Syria: Accidental Diplomacy in the Devils’ Playground
- Anwar digemari Utusan, tapi portal suka Najib
- Sodomy appeal VERY IMPORTANT TEST for M’sian courts, say int’l observers at Anwar hearing
- The Racist Khairy Jamaluddin
- [PRESS STATEMENT] Bangladesh ICT has made ‘mockery of international law’ – Defence
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 03:20 AM PDT
It’s unfortunate that diplomacy has now become an accident of U.S. foreign policy. After John Kerry’s slip-of-the-tongue in London last week, warmongers in and outside the beltway are sulking at the idea that a peaceful solution might prevent them from going to war in another Middle Eastern country.
Washington politicians’ chagrin at the prospect of a peaceful resolution makes one thing very clear: they do not care about chemical weapons, they do not care about dead children, and they do not care about Syrians, period. If they did, they might have themselves put forth the fairly unimaginative proposal that Syria give up its stockpile of chemical weapons. They might have not helped to nurture the Islamist insurgency that has hijacked what was once a national struggle for democratic reforms. And they might have put their weight behind a peace plan before the death toll topped 100,000, with a third of the country now refugees from their own land.
Let’s also not forget that the U.S. has always had a love/hate relationship with chemical weapons, looking the other way when its former client, Saddam Hussein, gassed tens of thousands during the Iraq-Iran war (including 10,000 innocent Iraqi Kurds in Halabja); White House officials similarly ignored the use of white-phosphorous, an incendiary chemical weapon, by Israel in Gaza in 2008; and then of course there is their own use of depleted uranium during the Iraq invasion.
So what is motivating this policy of “If you don’t stop gassing civilians, we will bomb your civilians”? We keep hearing on cable news that if the U.S. doesn’t attack Syria, the Iranians may continue to work on their dramatically overhyped nuclear weapons program. But this is a rhetorical feint, meant to obscure a much more grim reality: that Syria is only an appetizer for a much more destructive campaign against Iran, initiated by Israel and destined to be executed by their praetorian American backers.
After all, most of the jihadist forces fighting the Syrian government are not better than the current, odious regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and the U.S. and Israel know it. And so what they strive for is not the downfall of Assad, but a state of perpetual chaos in Syria. This is perhaps why Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York, was quoted by theNew York Times as saying: “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”
Humanitarian motives indeed. But threat to whom? Prior to the uprising, the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel, were rather quiet for some time. So perhaps the better question is, threat to what? Some may argue that what is “threatened” by a stable Syria is the plan to attack and destabilize the Assad regime’s Shia patrons in Iran, a nation which lives in the crosshairs of the United States and Israel, and whose leaders use the threat of foreign attack as justification for a militarist fundamentalism of their own.
Much like Obama, Vladimir Putin is not concerned with the loss of Syrian lives. His interests lie in the billions in arms agreements that his government has with Assad. The Gulf monarchies — Saudi Arabia and Qatar — along with Israel and the United States, are interested in alienating Iran. Each of these players continues to make a terrible situation worse by throwing more bombs and guns into the mix, splashing fuel onto a fire with one hand while shaking their sanctimonious fists with the other.
And so the geo-political power games continue, with indisputably bad people on every side surrounding average, innocent Syrians who live under constant threat of death from all parties involved. Back in 2012 I made a film to highlight the plight of Syrian refugees caught in the middle of what one little girl I spoke to referred to as a “soccer match,” with Syria as the ball. The title of that film, The Suffering Grasses, was taken from the following proverb: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” With over 100,000 dead and counting, and the entrance of the biggest elephant of all into the fray, this phrase couldn’t be more apt.
Given that ethical concerns are a low priority for the U.S., one would hope that rational self-interest might play some role in their decision-making when it comes to Syria. But the primary financial beneficiary of a U.S. strike on Syria (aside from the jihadists fighting Assad and the hemorrhage-happy Israelis next door) will be Russia. As oil prices invariably rise with a U.S. strike, Russia — the world’s largest exporter, along with Saudi Arabia — will be the first to profit from skyrocketing oil prices.
Then of course there are the direct costs of war. A single Tomahawk missile costs roughly $1.4 million. Experts have predicted that, putting together the costs of munitions, refueling, and keeping naval vessels within striking distance, even a “limited” cruise missile strike would end up costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Given the slow recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown, and another one likely on the horizon, one would think that American leaders would think twice about spending taxpayer money to assist an opposition that includes al Qaeda in its ranks.
The American people, scarred by lies and fatigued from wars that have profited them nothing, came out in massive opposition to Obama’s “punitive” bombing of Syria. It seems they are coming around to the idea that there is no such thing as a humanitarian bombing, and that such conditions for war bring only more war. They are beginning to recognize that, like the slaughtered innocents of Syria, they too are grass suffering under the weight of elephants.
In the end, accidental diplomacy is better than no diplomacy at all. So we must continue to put pressure on our elected officials to move in this direction and to use negotiations over chemical weapons as an opportunity to bring all the major stakeholders — the Assad regime, the opposition, the United States, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran — into further diplomacy that could end the civil war in Syria. Such intervention does not involve more weapons or bombings, but rather brings a framework for ending the violence and moving towards the peaceful democracy that the Syrian people rightly deserve.
Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:48 PM PDT
Hubungan media negara ini dengan dua pemimpin politik tertinggi negara boleh diibaratkan seperti ‘benci-benci sayang’.
Satu kajian media mendapati keghairahan Utusan Malaysia dalam memberi liputan kepada Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menjadikan beliau ahli politik yang paling banyak diberikan publisiti oleh akhbar itu (carta di atas).
Pada masa sama, media bercetak lain seperti New Straits Times,The Star dan Sinar Harian pula lebih menyerlahkan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Anwar menduduki carta teratas dalam liputan oleh Utusan. Namun, beliau didapati dihentam secukup-cukupnya oleh akhbar itu dalam satu laporan pemantauan media dalam tempoh 7 April 2013 sehingga 7 Mei 2013.
Portal Malaysiakini (lihat carta atas) dan The Malaysian Insider yang sering dituduh sebagai propembangkang bagaimana pun didapati memberikan liputan paling banyak kepada Najib.
Namun, Najib didapati diberikan liputan positif dan negatif pada masa yang sama oleh portal-portal itu, seperti dikaji University of Nottingham dan Pusat Kewartawanan Bebas (CIJ).
Sementara itu,Malaysiakini didapati memberikan liputan seimbang untuk kedua-dua pihak, iaitu BN dengan 48 peratus dan Pakatan 49 peratus (kanan).
Lain-lain pihak, termasuk bebas mendapat liputan 5 peratus.
Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:45 PM PDT
The lawyers for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim sprang a surprise on Tuesday, calling for one of the three judges hearing the government’s appeal of his sodomy acquittal to be recused.
According to Nurul, who is Anwar’s oldest daughter, the defense will also proceed to seek the removal of Umno lawyer Shafee Abdullah, who was specially appointed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to lead the prosecution.
“The request was made by our counsel for one of the judges to be recused because she was involved in a past case together with Datuk Seri Anwar and Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” MP for Lembah Pantai Nurul Izzah Anwar told Malaysia Chronicle.
“We (will) try, somewhere in time it is the government’s loss because it leave a distasteful mark in the conduct of the case which is why we have so many observers because people are concerned there’s political motivation that influencing the progress of the trial. It is incumbent on the BN government to ensure that the Attorney General’s Chambers chooses proper individuals to raise the levels of professionalism and of course fairness,” she added, when asked if the bid to recuse Shafee would continue.
After deliberating for about half-an-hour, the 3-member panel agreed that Tengku Maimum Tuan Mat should be replaced and adjourned proceedings till the next day. A new judge will be named to take her place.
Anwar, sporting heavy dark glasses due to an eye irritation, declined to speak with reporters, saying that he would do so when the case had progressed further. Apart from Nurul, he was accompanied by PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, MP for Wangsa Maju Tan Kee Kwong and PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng.
Sorting out the problems: Shafee, next on the list
All eyes are next on Shafee Abdullah, the Umno lawyer who boasted that he could nail Anwar in “2 to 3 hours”. The new Appellate panel will hear the submissions of Anwar’s defense team led by veteran legal eagle Karpal Singh on Wednesday.
“That would be our main goal, the recusal of Datuk Shafee, but we need to cross this bridge first, to sort out who the problem is, who the judges are,” Ramkarpal Singh, one of the other lawyers told Malaysia Chronicle.
Rare scene of international support
It was a rare scene at Malaysia’s Palace of Justice where members of the legal academia, both foreign and local, nearly matched the number of supporters and media present.
“We are extremely comforted by the fact that the international community is taking a deep interest. Anwar having been acquitted, they had hoped this would be an end to a very sad tale. Now they (Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government) have taken this up to the Court of Appeal, the international media, the international community is still very interested in what happens to Anwar.We all know Anwar won the majority, with the Pakatan Rakyat winning the majority of votes yet they were denied setting up a government. Now they (Najib’s government) are pursuing this prosecution with great vigor with chief prosecutor saying, give him 2 to 3 hours and he will wrap up the case,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.
“So the presence of the international media and observers is very important to the course of reformation in this country, the course of change and we have 5 very distinguished bodies here (in court). We have the International Commission of Jurists which is represent by a very eminent jurist, Elizabeth Evatt, then we have the International Federation for Human Rights based in Paris, represented by Elizabeth Stoddard, is the foremost human rights body in the world. They are responisble for establishing the International Court in Hague. LawAsia is also present represented by Mark Trovell QC, who is also represent the International Parliamentary Union which represents 162 Parliaments in the world. They are here to see what is happening. Then we have the International Bar Association representing jurists and lawyers throughout the world with Edward Craven representing them. The last one is of course the International Legal Center in Philippines which has also sent a representative. The (Malaysian) Bar Council is also present, we also expect Suhakam is present.”
Very important test case for M’sian judiciary
One of the distinguished observers Elizabeth Evatt said the appeal would be a “very important test” for the Malaysian judiciary and legal system which has been tainted by allegations that it was corrupt and easily influenced by the top politicians of the day.
Evatt, who was a former Commissioner for the United Nations Human Rights Commission, is representing the International Commission of Jurists.
Queen’s Counsel Mark Trowell, who sits on the LawAsia committee and is representing the International Parliamentary Union, declined to comment on Malaysian legal system but said he would be furnishing his report direct to the IPU, which he added would in turn issue its report on the conduct of the case.
“There’s quite a lot of people from NGOs from different countrie in the region and overseas because we view this as a very important test for the judiciary and legal system here,” Evatt told Malaysia Chronicle.
The 66-year-old Anwar has denied the sodomy allegations raised against him and indeed, the courts have acquitted him twice. The first time was in 2004, after he was forced to spend 6 years in jail, with the Malaysian apex court only freeing him after his political foe, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, had retired from government.
In 2008, just as Anwar had led the Opposition to its biggest-ever electoral win, Prime Minister Najib Razak was accused of taking a leaf from Mahathir and using the same ‘script’ to slap on fresh sodomy charges against Anwar. However, he was again acquitted by the court.
Anwar has accused Mahathir, Najib and their Umno party of maliciously using sodomy to destroy his political career. Not only is homosexual sex banned in Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years jail, it is prohibited under Islam which is Anwar’s religion.
Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:43 PM PDT
PKR vice president N Surendran, declared Khairy Jamaluddin in Umno's vulgar mouthpiece, Utusan, was purposely attempting to anger the Malays.
Khairy, the Umno Youth chief, attributed no motive to Surendran for this 'attempt'. In fact, Surendran was arguing on a point of constitutional law that Umno has been blatantly flouting, and Khairy was issuing a thinly-veiled threat in an attempt to silence him.
Racism has become so institutionalized in Malaysia that many Umno leaders, Khairy included, consider it to be normal. They are shocked when their actions are described as racism. They do not at all like the label.
The NEP has been used by the Umno elite to enrich themselves, their families and their respective cabals.
There are so many of these worthies slithering around in the halls of Putrajaya, expecting to make millions for no effort in return, that there simply is no money left for the average Bumiputra.
He will have to make do with rhetoric and the occasional measly crumb, doled out grudgingly when the elections are nearing.
Duty-bound to serve all Malaysians
Any organization that is funded by the state, itself funded by the taxpayer, is duty-bound to serve all Malaysians.
Organizations like Mara, PNB, and the dozens of other bumiputra-only units exist in flagrant violation of the Malaysian constitution. They are symbols of the racist state that Malaysia has become.
The founders of Malaysia cannot have meant for the country to practise such blatant racism as was exhibited by Najib Razak in his speech last Friday. We are well on the way to becoming an international pariah nation, like Zimbabwe or apartheid-era South Africa.
Khairy Jamaluddin and his like have become so used to the daily racism practised in Malaysia that it has become the new norm for them. They are therefore surprised that anybody should comment on what has become standard practise.
This racism has pervaded all aspects of Malaysian life right up to the horrible recent case of children being made to eat in the shower area of a school toilet, with no action taken on the offending Headmaster.
Enriching the few
As for the GLCs being asked to hand out more contracts to bumiputras, without doubt such contracts will go to the usual Umno contractors.
This was the problem with the NEP. It enriched the few. The worst excesses of the NEP were clearly illustrated by the NFC case. This has not stopped Umno Women’s chief Shahrizat Jalil from clinging to power. Vampires do indeed walk the earth.
In any event, periodically handing out money does not make people richer. Building enterprises which continually generate income while providing quality products and services to its customers is what the bumiputras should be trained and mentored to do.
‘Bimbo boy’ Khairy
Khairy Jamaluddin should take a hard look at himself before he indulges in further such racist attacks. The Umno election is a poor excuse for his behaviour.
As for his amateur and self-serving attempts to interpret constitutional law, he has been contradicted by Tommy Thomas, Azmi Shahrom and Latheefa Koya, all in one day.
He might want to focus on the Malaysian sports scene, which remains, after 4 months of his 'leadership', an awful bloody mess. Or is that too about race?
Posted: 17 Sep 2013 08:33 PM PDT
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh delivered its verdict today on Abdul Quader Mollah. Mr Mollah was convicted of five counts of Crimes Against Humanity by the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh and originally sentenced to life imprisonment. Now the Bangladesh Supreme Court has allowed the retrospective application of the death penalty and the Appellant is now prevented from exercising any further appeal. This decision has been reached despite strong criticisms raised by several UN Special Rapporteurs earlier this year and a critical report issued by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last year describing the process as arbitrary and breach of international law.
In a statement to the media following the appeal judgment, the Bangladesh Attorney General stated that the right to review contained under the Constitution in capital cases would not apply, as the war crimes trial fell outside of the Constitution.
Abdul Quader Mollah was convicted following a highly controversial trial in which the Presiding Judge was removed following the resignation of the disgraced Chairman as a consequence of the 'Skypegate' scandal. The defence were prevented from calling witnesses and the case was promptly closed by the Tribunal and rushed to judgment. Both the Tribunal and the Supreme Court have failed to apply the law as it stood in 1971 and took judicial notice of contentious facts that were not in evidence. The defence were also prevented on numerous occasions from having privileged communications with the accused. The countless defects in the trial process and the numerous errors in law were so severe that they invalidate the entire judgment and any conviction amount to a miscarriage of justice. It is deeply regrettable that the Supreme Court has failed to remedy these defects on appeal and has applied a law that is unconstitutional and in breach of international law.
The law as it stood at the time of conviction did not permit any prosecution appeal for a higher sentence. Yet the law was subsequently amended for the sole purpose of allowing retrospectively a prosecution appeal seeking the death penalty in this particular case. The amendment was passed following the PM's remarkable statement in parliament, as a result of mass demonstrations on the streets of Dhaka, that the tribunal judges should listen to 'the sentiment of the people.'
Commenting Toby Cadman, Foreign Legal Counsel, said:
'What is clear from a number of damning disclosures by the international community and the media is the overwhelming evidence that reveals serious judicial and prosecutorial misconduct and the collusion of the Government with members of the judiciary and prosecution to bring about a desired result by convicting and executing leading members of Jamaat-e-Islami.
'It is deeply regrettable that the Supreme Court has failed to remedy the very serious defects in the trial process and has upheld a law that we consider to be in breach of fundamental rights.
Commenting John Cammegh, Foreign Legal Counsel, said:
'Turning a blind eye to the injustice that is currently unfolding in Bangladesh is no longer an option. What is required now is unified and effective action to ensure that the trials of the accused before the Tribunal are suspended pending a fully independent, international investigation into the practice of the Tribunal, as well as senior members of the Bangladeshi Government.'
Toby M. Cadman and John Cammegh
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