- Does the Islamic world need an ‘Iron Fist’?
- Malaysia’s Multiracial Promise Marred by Bigotry and Political Persecution
- [KENYATAAN MEDIA] Pakatan Rakyat Sedia Berdialog Dengan Barisan Nasional
- Erdogan Promotes Democratization Package
- Najib and Pak Lah privy to Project IC, claims Anwar
- Anwar: Tidak munasabah Dr Mahathir tidak tahu Projek IC
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 05:21 AM PDT
Thomas Friedman's piece in the New York Times on September 7, 2013 on the subject of whether or not the USA should intervene in Syria was essentially based on the idea that "the Islamic world will never behave properly," a perspective we have been indoctrinated with for years.
Friedman cites examples from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and even Bosnia, suggesting that they have never managed to live together unless they have been ruled by "an iron fist." He then suggested that the peoples of these lands, which he regards as "people who are unlikely to develop a culture of co-existence as equal individuals," have only been kept under control by dictators.
Friedman basically said that "They start turning on one another as soon as the dictators depart." Sadly, there is an element of truth in what is an otherwise ignorant interpretation, to put it mildly.
The following expression in particularly throws one obvious fact in Muslims' faces: "The problem is not poisoned gas, but poisoned hearts…"
Leaving aside the accuracy of that analysis, if we look at Friedman's general take on the Islamic world we see that it reflects a perspective raised in various forms by figures such as Daniel Pipes. This is a patronizing perspective devoid of human values, that does not seek to understand and improve, but rather that calculates how to shape matters in its own interests.
It always reminds me of what the British did to the Australian aborigines at the beginning of the 20th Century. Just because they regarded them as different from themselves they put them in cages, transported them to their own country and displayed them in zoos.
The language frequently employed when speaking of Muslims suggests that they are referring to an "intermediate entity," rather than human beings with their own histories, cultures and traditions.
They offer analyses with laser pointers in their hands, taking great pains to avoid touching them as little as possible. In discussing the maps they place in front of them, they ignore the fact that those pieces of paper represent real places, and that there are human beings living in them. The result is dehumanized and ruthless ideas, devoid of any conscience.
The basic error made by Friedman and the like is that they are analyzing a vast tract of land in terms of a handful of radicals and they are unable to see that this path they consciously follow represents a dead-end for themselves as well as those living in that corner of the world.
No matter what the pretext, supporting repression, injustice, oppression and dictators condemns their own countries to live in a state of fear and alarm. It does nothing but encourage the radicalism they talk about all the time, and therefore violence.
The USA and the West will never find peace so long as they say, "even if Muslims living on the other side of the world fight one another and tens of thousands of people are killed by dictators, we are only concerned with our own interests."
The road to peace runs through cultural activities directed against radicalism and hatred, the very basis of radicalism. Muslims themselves must be united in that activity.
There are many lessons that Muslims need to learn from the current situation and stance. Unfortunately, Friedman is not completely wrong. There is no desire for a quality life in the Middle East as a whole. Existence is all most people ask for.
There can be no improvement and enrichment of life, and therefore the desire to preserve differences, without a search for quality. What is worse, anger, hatred and enmity flourish very quickly in these lands. Conflicts are easily stirred up.
Occupying forces are not currently killing Muslims in Iraq. It is Muslims who are doing the dying and killing; bombs explode in a Shiite district one day and a Sunni one the next. Muslims are also killing one another in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There is bloodshed, pain and tears on every side. Yet when we look at the killers, we see familiar faces, not foreigners.
The Islamic lands that are today fighting one another were once the safest places even for Christians and Jews. Far from being hostile to Muslims, people of the same faith, and bombing their mosques, the people in these lands even repaired churches and synagogues by order of their caliphs. The love, broad-mindedness and tolerance in these lands laid the foundation for Western civilization.
Now, however, division, lust for power, a refusal to recognize the rights of others and bottomless rage have enfolded the region. It is easier to put that fire out than people imagine.
So as we are determined around love, patience and compassion, let us act in the light of conscience rather than "logic" and never stray from justice.
The salvation of the Islamic world lies in building a culture purged of superstitious nonsense that is democratic, modern, secular and loving and based on the loving spirit of the Quran that values women and is of high quality. In building that culture Muslims must not exclude the West, and the West must not look down on Muslims or disregard their peoples.
World peace can be established with a spirit that regards everyone as equal and that value and respects them. It is not enough for the radicalism in the Islamic world to be cured for that to happen:
The uncaring, selfish orientalist mentality left over from the 19th Century must also be cured. When we start that treatment with a rational, moderate, common sense and majority alliance, then we will see that the enlightened world for which we long is not as far off as we think.
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 04:56 AM PDT
Race-based incentives, crackdowns on opposition figures, and an exodus of non-Malays: how Malay supremacists are creating a divided and fearful society
The return to court on Tuesday of 66-year-old opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim — who has spent the last five years fighting "sodomy" charges that he insists are politically motivated, and now awaits the verdict of a government appeal against his acquittal in January — is the latest fissure in the nation's fractious politics. Others include the announcement of $9.4 billion worth of race-based incentives and a worsening climate of racial bigotry and hate speech that has seen Malaysia declared one of the world's least tolerant societies.
General elections on May 5 saw the incumbent National Front coalition government of Prime Minister Najib Razak returned to power by the narrowest of margins — 50% to 47% of the popular vote. This translated to 133 to 89 parliamentary seats due to the "first past the post" electoral system, alleged electoral irregularities and apparent widespreadgerrymandering.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) coalition, led by Anwar, complained bitterly and tens of thousands took to the streets to demand an investigation. In response, several opposition figures were arrested amid a crackdown that saw democracy take "significant steps backward," according Bridget Welsh, an associate professor in political science at Singapore Management University.
Despite lauding itself as a democracy, Malaysia has been characterized by racial politics since 1971, when statutory privileges for the Bumiputra, or "sons of the soil" as the Malay and smaller indigenous minorities call themselves, were introduced in the wake of bloody race riots. Ethnic Malays make up roughly two-thirds of the population, but Malaysians of Chinese immigrant ancestry are generally wealthier and better educated. (According to Najib, they are 50% wealthier.)
On Sept. 14, statuary entitlements for secondary education, government-linked jobs, entrepreneurship and housing were increased for ethnic Malays at the expense of the Chinese and Indian population. "[The government is] insisting on a racist agenda at the expense of the country," Anwar told TIME from the Court of Appeal in Kuala Lumpur. Najib, however, insists that the policy is fair. "We are doing what is right and we are doing what is equitable," he said upon announcing the move.
Curiously, Najib, an economist, previously described himself as a reformer who wanted to dial back Malay entitlement through his 1Malaysia drive, which championed ethnic harmony, national unity and needs-based instead of race-based assistance. The promises did not last long, however. "This guy has portrayed himself as a reformer of the highest level, but what he is actually doing is very much against reform," says Welsh.
Instead, Najib appears to be focusing on hardliner support, which he needs in order to avoid losing his job at the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) annual general assembly on Oct. 5. "Najib is in a contest with hardliners for the hearts and minds of his party," says Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. The Prime Minister's "complete turnaround," Robertson says, is due to his "fighting for his political life" after a disastrous performance at the ballot box.
The near unanimous opinion among economists is that racial entitlements for Malays come at a cost for the country. Reserving key posts for unqualified people, for example, simply drives talent away. One out of ten Malaysians with a tertiary degree migrated in 2000 — twice the world average — while 90% of Malaysian migrants to Singapore were educated Chinese. Currently more than one million Malaysians work abroad out of a voting population of around 13 million.
"Economic advancement and progress will suffer and we will lose competitiveness because of the brain drain," says Anwar. Last month, Malaysia cut its 2013 growth forecast from around 6% to as low as 4.5%. "Using the race card is not helping Malaysia but just family members and cronies," Anwar adds. "This is 2013 and nobody is questioning your right to help those who need help, but it should not be based on race."
The same Malay supremacist elites championing racial entitlements are also driving the charges against the opposition leader. "I can think of no other politician in Southeast Asia that's been more persecuted over the last ten years than Anwar Ibrahim," says Robertson. UNMO's motivations are plain. As the head of a coalition of secular, Chinese and Islamic parties, Anwar "is the one person that everyone agrees has the stature to step up and be a legitimate candidate for prime minister," Robertson explains.
The father-of-six was accused of consensual sexual relations with his political aide Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008, but High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah ruled in January that the DNA evidence presented by the prosecution had not been handled properly and could have been tampered with. (Anwar was originally charged with forcible sodomy until the defense questioned how a man in his 60s with a history of back complaints could have overpowered a healthy 20-something.) Nevertheless, the government chose to appeal the acquittal, with the case described by Welsh as "flawed at best" and indicative of the "tragic comedy" that Malaysian politics has become.
"We saw this in the May election, we saw it with the arrests of people after the election, we saw this with the dismissal of both the electoral officials," says Welsh. Now, she adds, Malaysia's tragicomedy can be seen in "the fact that [the government appeal against Anwar] is even moving forward."
Posted: 19 Sep 2013 03:42 AM PDT
PAKATAN RAKYAT BERSEDIA BERDIALOG DENGAN BARISAN NASIONAL
Majis Pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat yang bersidang pada 18 September 2013 sekali lagi menyatakan kesediaan kami untuk mengadakan dialog dengan Barisan Nasional, bertujuan menyelesaikan masalah-masalah negara yang kian runcing seperti bebanan hutang kerajaan yang menggunung, harga barang yang meningkat mendadak, jenayah dan rasisme menular yang menggugat hubungan baik di kalangan masyarakat.
Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Ketua Pembangkang merangkap Ketua Umum KEADILAN
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 11:52 PM PDT
At Beyaz TV last week, I worked on preparing a program about the life of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. After a taping with him, we had an opportunity for a chat. I told the prime minister I was contributing articles to Al-Monitor, which has become an important website tracking the pulse of the Middle East. He was glad to hear it. We then spoke of the democratization package at the top of Turkey’s agenda these days. Erdogan and his associates see the package of reforms as the "second silent revolution," tackling a number of issues until now considered taboo and therefore unaddressed in the 90 years of the republic.
The democratization package, on which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is putting the final touches, covers a range of topics while focusing on four main issues: the peace process with the Kurds and resolution of the Kurdish issue, the Alevi issue, solutions to the problems of non-Muslim communities and the injustices of the Feb. 28, 1997, coup. AKP staffers say the core of the reforms covers a range of injustices.
The package is expected to be disclosed by Erdogan at a news conference dedicated to introducing it. The final contents will be approved at a meeting of the government. In addition to the steps to be taken in the context of the peace process, others are expected to include anti-discrimination measures, punishment for hate crimes, lifting restrictions on head scarves and expanding the boundaries of the freedoms of expression and protest.
Another important part of the package concerns the elimination of practices that have drawn criticism from Europe and resulted in Turkey being indicted too many times at the European Court of Human Rights. In this respect, Erdogan hopes to reshape the Turkish legal system to conform with the criteria of the European court. The following democratization measures are among those expected to feature in the package.
The reactions of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and PKK-affiliated politicians to Erdogan’s proposals are of course of significance. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), responding to reports that the democratization package had been taken to Imrali prison for Ocalan to review, said, "Whether the package has been taken to Imrali or not is meaningless, mere speculation."
When asked by a reporter whether he will be traveling to Imrali, Demirtas revealed that delegations have not been able to visit Ocalan for 20 to 25 days. He said such meetings should take place every other week, and with larger delegations, but until now, the government has not allowed these changes. He later added, "We think a BDP delegation will be going to Imrali by Sunday at the latest."
Demirtas asserted that if the government consults with political institutions to get the opinions of the opposition and civil society organizations about the reform package, the final product would be improved and more comprehensive.
Asked if the BDP's views had been sought in drafting the reforms, Demirtas recalled that they had shared a 25-item list of reform proposals with the government and the public at the beginning of the second phase of the process. Demirtas said their demands covered not only the Kurds, but general problems of democracy in the country.
Demirtas said, "The government says it has been working on the package for a long time, but in an atmosphere of mystery and secrecy. All the key items are well known. We all know how democracy will come and what is missing. At the moment, the government is trying to shape its own political agenda before submitting it to the public agenda. Otherwise, why would they need weeks and months of nightlong deliberations to work on the package. When it is revealed, we will see what it includes, how far the demands are met, what is satisfactory? We will make our position known then.
Demirtas concluded, "This democratization package is very important for a lasting solution [to the Kurdish issue] and peace. For people of Turkey the most vital issue is that no young people have died in the mountains in the last ten months."
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 11:49 PM PDT
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has implicated a former and sitting prime minister for perpetuating the mechanism of Project IC, despite the covert operation being said to have ended in 1995.
Anwar said a "secretive" special task force which was responsible for the arbitrary granting of citizenship still exists under former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, better known as Pak Lah, and current Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"I do not believe that they have been disbanded, therefore I do not understand why Abdullah and Najib have not been called (to the RCI)," he testified before the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on immigrants in Sabah at the Kota Kinabalu court complex today.
"They would have better knowledge, purview and understanding by looking at the notes and minutes of the task force which is under the National Security Council (NSC)," added Anwar.
Anwar claimed that the recent handiwork of this task force was in Selangor, where it had illegally given citizenship to foreigners like in Sabah.
However, Anwar, too was put under the microscope as he was grilled about his apparent inaction against Project IC when he was deputy prime minister between 1993 to 1998.
Anwar defended himself, saying that the likes of Project IC and matters related to the Home Ministry were kept closely to Mahathir's chest even though he was one of his most trusted aides at that time.
"I must say, even for Mahathir's successors, when it comes to national security, they hold it close to their chests.
"All those years I was deputy prime minister, I had nothing to do with the Home Ministry except to attend Quran readings and launching police stations in Perlis and Permatang Pauh," he said.
Furthermore, he said Sabah leaders at the federal level during that time also did not press on the issue and therefore it was never seriously taken up by the cabinet.
It was only later when local Sabah leaders complained about the influx of immigrants did he take notice of the problem, but even then did not understand the seriousness of it, Anwar conceded.
'I would have done more'
"I would humbly admit that I would probably had done something more had I been made aware of the gravity of the problem at that time," he said.
Former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim, who leads the RCI, also grilled Anwar on the perception that Project IC was intended to alter Sabah's demography and paved the way for Umno's creation in the state.
Anwar, who was then an Umno vice-president, admitted that he was amongst the leaders tasked to set up Umno in the state in 1991 but said the entire party should not be faulted for Project IC.
"You have to differentiate between a political party fighting a legitimate battle within the bounds of the constitution, and illegitimate means.
"I don't believe it is entirely fair to blame the party as a whole because the operation was very secretive.
"Probably it was only among certain party leaders who continued to support or condone the excesses and illegal means, and they should be held responsible," he said.
Anwar said that Umno should reveal the record of its supreme council meeting minutes and go on record over the matter.
Posted: 18 Sep 2013 11:44 PM PDT
Tidak munasabah jika Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad berkata beliau tidak tahu menahu mengenai Projek IC di Sabah kecuali beliau tidak bertanggungjawab atau tidak cekap, kata Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim ketika memberi keterangan di hadapan Siasatan Suruhanjaya Diraja (RCI) mengenai pendatang asing di Sabah, hari ini.
Anwar berkata, sebagai Perdana Menteri ketika projek ini berlangsung, Dr Mahathir sepatutnya bertanggungjawab terhadap skandal itu dan Anwar menolak penjelasan bekas perdana menteri itu bahawa beliau tidak tahu mengenainya.
Anwar juga berkata, beliau tidak pernah mendengar mengenai Projek IC ketika berada dalam Kabinet dari 1982 hingga 1998.
Anwar berkata demikian ketika menjawab soalan yang dikemukakan Pegawai RCI, Manoj Kurup sama ada beliau tahu atau tidak mengenai projek itu.
Bagaimanapun, katanya, beliau mendengar mengenai kewujudan satu pasukan khas yang ditubuhkan untuk memasukkan pendatang asing sebagai rakyat Malaysia.
“Antara 1993 hingga 1998, ketika saya timbalan perdana menteri, saya tidak pernah dijemput dalam mana-mana mesyuarat Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN).
“Saya ada mendengar satu pasukan khas ditubuhkan oleh MKN pada 1989 tetapi tidak mendapat maklumat lanjut,” katanya di hadapan panel lima anggota RCI yang diketuai Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.
“Hatta semasa menjadi pemangku perdana menteri selama dua bulan, saya tidak pernah diberi penerangan oleh Ketua Pengarah MKN atau diminta menandatangani apa-apa fail berkaitan dengan MKN,” katanya dan turut memberitahu, Projek IC tidak pernah dibawa kepada Kabinet.
Berpakaian sut biru gelap dan berbaju putih, Anwar dalam keterangannya berkata, pada masa itu Dr Mahathir adalah Menteri Dalam negeri.
Anwar yang memakai cermin gelap sepanjang menjadi saksi itu kerana masalah mata, kelihatan tenang semasa menjawab segala soalan yang dikemukakan kepadanya oleh Kurup, Shim dan wakil daripada Persatuan Peguam Sabah.
Sebelum ini, Dr Mahathir mendakwa kepada pemberita di Kuala Lumpur, bekas timbalannya itu pasti tahu jika pengeluaran kad pengenalan palsu di Sabah dibuat secara rasmi oleh kerajaan.
Tanpa menamakan Anwar, bekas perdana menteri yang paling lama berkhidmat di negara ini berkata, pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat (PR) itu seharusnya mengetahui kejadian yang berlaku di Sabah.
“Jika ia polisi kerajaan, kenapa dia tidak berhentikan?” katanya.
“Adakah dia akan menipu di suruhanjaya dan mengatakan saya yang arahkan? Dia mesti tahu, kerana dia timbalan saya,” katanya merujuk kepada RCI itu.
Sehubungan itu itu, Anwar memberitahu The Malaysian Insider, beliau akan menjawab segala tuduhan Dr Mahathir itu dalam RCI ini.
BUKAN MAHATHIR SAJA SALAH
Dalam pada itu, ketika soal jawab, Anwar berkata, Dr Mahathir tidak patut dipersalahkan sepenuhnya atas apa yang berlaku dalam skandal pemberian kad pengenalan untuk warga asing di Sabah.
Ini kerana para pengganti mereka juga patut dipersalahkan, kata Anwar kepada Suruhanjaya Diraja Siasatan (RCI) hari ini.
Anwar ketika membela bekas bosnya itu berkata, Tun Abdullah Badawi dan Datuk Seri Najib Razak juga patut dipertanggungjawabkan terutama selepas ia bukannya berlaku di Sabah sahaja.
“Dr Mahathir tidak patut dipersalahkan sepenuhnya dalam Projek IC, kedua-dua pengganti dia juga mesti disiasat kerana ia juga berlaku ketika keduanya menjawat jawatan itu,” kata Anwar kepada penal lima anggota RCI yang diketuai bekas Ketua Hakim Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.
Anwar mendakwa, apa yang berlaku ketika Dr Mahathir juga berlaku kini di bawah Najib.
Katanya, pegawai kerajaan di Selayang dan Sepang yang mendaftar pendatang asing juga mengeluarkan kad pengenalan untuk mereka.
Bagaimanapun Anwar tidak bersetuju dengan cadangan Steve Shim, sistem di negara ini lemah, dengan berkata, ia bukan lemah tetapi korup.
Anwar berkata, Perlembagaan Persekutuan dengan jelas menyebut suasana yang membolehkan pendatang asing boleh dijadikan warga negara.
“Ia tertulis dengan jelas apa yang dibenarkan dan apa yang tidak. Hatta semasa saya sebagai Timbalan Perdana Menteri, saya tidak berkuasa untuk memberikan kad pengenalan kepada sesiapapun. Kuasanya terletak penuh di bawah Menteri Dalam Negeri,” kata Awnar.
“Memang ada kelemahan ketara dalam sistem tetapi pengeluaran kad pengenalan secara besar-besaran kepada pendatang asing tidak akan berlaku kecuali mendapat kebenaran dari orang tertinggi dalam kerajaan,” tambah Anwar merujuk kepada perdana menteri.
Wakil Persatuan Peguam Sabah Datuk John Sikayun bertanya Anwar, adakah beliau berpendapat penguatkuasaan adalah punca utama kemasukan besar-besaran pendatang asing ini.
“Penguatkuasaan memang masalah utama, khasnya di Malaysia. Daripada mengawal pendatang asing, polis lebih berminat untuk menghantar 60 anggota dari Cawangan Khas untuk mengikut program dan ucapan saya,” kata Anwar.
“Polis sepatutnya hantar satu atau dua anggota Cawangan Khas ke program saya dan selebihnya menguruskan pendatang asing.
“Juga ada pegawai yang korup, bukan sahaja dalam pasukan polis tetapi juga dalam Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara dan juga Jabatan Imigresen,” katanya.
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