- ‘Umno leaders afraid of debating with me’
- ‘EC’s constraints complaint is self-inflicted’
- The rise and fall of political Islam
- Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Speech: In Conjunction With Mr Douglas Thompson’s Book Launch
Posted: 08 Sep 2013 01:06 AM PDT
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has slammed Umno leaders for rejecting his proposal for an open dialogue with the government to address key national issues.
"These guys (Umno leaders) are afraid of debating with me," he said.
He described dialogues between the government and the opposition as "normal" and "healthy".
"In what kind of democratic country where the government is not allowed to engage with the opposition?" he asked.
Anwar firmly denied that the dialogue was aimed at forming a unity government as feared by some Umno leaders.
"This showed that they (Umno leaders) did not read my Merdeka message. I asked for a discussion in four crucial issues, including poor economic performance, increase in crime rate, corruption, and religious and racial tensions," he said.
Anwar, who is also PKR de facto leader, had in his Merdeka message on Aug 30 mooted an open dialogue with BN.
He said that although Pakatan Rakyat won on popular vote in the last general election, he was open to discussing with the government on key issues for the sake of the future of the country.
Anwar was speaking to journalists after attending the launch of a new book on DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh, 'Karpal Singh: Tiger of Jelutong', in Kuala Lumpur today. The book is written by New Zealand journalist Tim Donoghue.
When asked about Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin's urging for Pakatan to name its shadow cabinet, Anwar sidestepped the question.
"I advise him (Khairy) to focus on his ministerial work," he said
Posted: 08 Sep 2013 01:06 AM PDT
Despite the Election Commission (EC) complaining that it is tied by constraints in improving the electoral system, the obstacles are the commission's own doing, says former Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) chief Abdul Malek Hussein.
Abdul Malek said this was because the EC is responsible in making recommendations concerning the election and could have long before proposed the removal of any constraints it was facing.
"We must understand the procedure, firstly it starts from the EC which makes the suggestion, and it will then be passed to the prime minister who will then submit it to Parliament.
"Parliament will only debate the matter and pass them with a simple majority, but the idea and suggestions always starts from the EC," he told Malaysiakini when contacted.
As such, he said former EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman should not be evasive by blaming the system for EC's shortfall which has now been inherited by the existing EC leadership.
This, Abdul Malek (right) said, also applies to the malapportionment in the 2002 re-delineation process during Abdul Rashid's term.
The malapportionment saw Pakatan Rakyat only winning 40 percent of parliamentary seats despite garnering 51 percent of the popular vote in the May 5 general election.
"You can't say that the EC is an independent body that made recommendations for the re-delineation of constituencies then later say we have nothing to do with it after it is passed by parliament despite the suggestions wholly coming from the EC," he said.
'EC in cahoots'
While acknowledging that the EC does face pressure from the government, Abdul Malek said the EC, too, was not as innocent as it claims to be.
He gave an example where it was the EC, and not the government, which initiated the botched amendment to the Election Offences Act 1954 last year that would dilute the role of counting agents.
"I was involved in the meeting with (then-minister in the Prime Minister's Department) Nazri Abdul Aziz, in the presence of the EC secretary and legal adviser.
"It was shocking when I came to know that it (amendment) was not the government's recommendation but was wholly from the EC.
"When it was made known that the amendment's discrepancies and negative implication, the government agreed to withdraw it and the EC was unhappy about it," he said.
In the same light, Abdul Malek said the EC, then under Abdul Rashid, was responsible for the damaging amendment of Section 9A to the Election Act 1958 that disallow for judicial review of the electoral roll.
Abdul Malek lamented that the EC had 'nationalist' members who were more concerned about race and were political in their behaviour rather than administrative.
'Different commission should do re-delineation'
Likewise, in the upcoming re-delineation process, whether it is gerrymandered or not lies on the EC's shoulders, he said.
He pointed out that the mapping of the boundaries would only require a simple majority approval from Parliament while the two-thirds approval concerns exclusively on the increment of seats through constitutional amendment.
Abdul Malek said that to ensure integrity, it would be best for the recommendations of the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms to be fully implemented before the re-delineation exercise begins.
Specifically, he said, was to allow the re-delineation exercise to be conducted by a new commission, while the management of electoral roll will also be delegated to another commission and the EC will be left only to conduct elections.
"All three functions must be separated under three commissions. This practice is not alien and is done in many other Commonwealth countries.
"For now we have a three-in-one shampoo commission and this allows for abuse," he said.
Posted: 08 Sep 2013 01:01 AM PDT
No, it is not true that political Islam only started to become radicalized with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Before that there were two major moves.
The first was the coup by General Zia ul-Haq against Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Butto in Pakistan in July 1977. With ul-Haq, Pakistan gradually moved towards being a nuclear power, and also turned a blind eye to radical Islamist armed groups. (Importantly, in the May 1977 elections in Israel, Likud dominated Labor for the first time, also endorsing a religious focus in regional politics.)
The second was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in April 1978 following a pro-Soviet coup d'etat. The Mujaheed resistance, assisted mainly by U.S. and Saudi intelligence agencies, paved the way for organizations like the Taliban an al-Qaeda.
Then we see Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returning from his exile in Paris to a restless Tehran on Feb. 1, 1979, which marked the start of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That was the emergence of the Shiite pole in political Islam after hundreds of years, following the emergence of the Sunni one in Afghanistan.
The next step in the ascending ladder of political Islam was the July 16, 1979 coup in Baghdad, in which Hasan al-Bakr was toppled by his deputy, Saddam Hussein. There is an interesting detail here. If al-Bakr had not been toppled, he was about to close a deal with Hafez al-Assad of Syria, who had taken power through a coup d'etat back in 1970, about the merging of the two countries. However, the Iranian revolution motivated al-Assad, he led the Shiite leaning Nusayri minority over a Sunni majority in Syria, while Hussein ruled over a Shiite majority based on Sunni tribes. The first result of that polarization was the Iraq-Iran war that started on Sept. 22, 1980, only 10 days after a military coup took place in Turkey.
The Israeli announcement to declare Jerusalem as their capital in July 1980, the Syrian massacre of 1982 in Hama and Homs against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (originally founded in Egypt in 1928), and the Israeli military campaign against the Palestinians in Lebanon, all contributed to the further radicalization of political Islam.
The 10 year adventure of the Soviets in Afghanistan resulted in a total defeat, which was one of the last nails in the Soviet coffin. As the Taliban and al-Qaeda turned their guns acquired from the West on the West, Iran started to adopt a revisionist policy: From the export of Islamic Revolution to a neo-Persian nationalism, sugar coated with Shiism.
In Turkey, political Islam has further evolved into a vote-based movement by adopting Europe-focused economic and democratic standards, the model of the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) that won the 2002 elections and is still ruling Turkey. The AK Parti positively influenced certain factions of Brotherhood movements in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Syria, and the Arab Spring from 2010 on carried a pinch of that influence. That was the point where Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdo?an started to prioritize the Middle East and showed an interest in this new wave of political Islam. The misfortune of the Brotherhood movements in those countries was the lack of a democratic and secular experience that Turkey had had, despite a lot of pain. As neo-political Islam started to decline, al-Qaeda like movements started to gain support, especially among youngsters full of Western hatred.
A good scenario is the hope of new political movements believing in the separation of religion and government, but which have respect for faith, in the near future. No one would really like to talk about the bad scenario.
Posted: 08 Sep 2013 01:00 AM PDT
What strikes me the most is that it is not so much a biography of Youssef Nada (YN) but an insightful perspective of the initiatives that he is part and parcel of. It leaves one with a clear impression that the Ikhwanul Muslimin (IM) and YN inseparable.
And my own memory saves correctly here and of course after reading the book which has refreshed my recollections.
Back in 1980, still fresh from the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Thanks to his foresight and initiatives, our privileges together with IM and Jamaat Islami Leaders to be received by Ebrahim Yazdi (Foreign Minster), Mehdi Bazargan (Prime Minister) and met with the Ayatollah Khomeini who was gracious enough to spend lengthy hours conferring with us. (Reference is made to this in the book)
At a very personal level, I and my family remain eternally grateful for his moral support during my incarceration even to the point of personally meeting Tun Dr Mahathir.
Another very significant event, was of course the increasing effort on behalf of the IM that YN made in relation to getting Saddam Hussein to hit the call of the international community to withdraw from Kuwait. At that time, he was earnestly worried, as reinforced by the IM believes, there would be an imminent attack from the US if Saddam did not immediately withdraw. This is in the book but I am relating this from my recollection of YN's own account to me. For reasons best known to himself, Saddam stood his ground and the US launched operation Desert Storm.
The significance of the IM roles is not confined to Egypt or even the issue of opposing state oppression though that remains one of the foundational calling of their struggle.
It goes beyond that and very much unknown to the world at large, is that the IM has played major roles in regional conflicts with a clear objective of restoring peace.
Contrary to the false impression orchestrated by the west and autocrats of the Muslim World alike, that they are war mongers; prone to violence – this biography would throw more light on this.
And most significant is the role of IM in spearheading political reform in the Muslim world. Of course, it came with a heavy price for their leaders. But that is precisely, what it makes more profound. In YM you have a living example of the sacrifices, and the trials and tribulations of what an Islam leader has to endure in order to be true to his cause. As you know after 9/11 he was even alleged to have links financially to Al-Qaeda and because of that had to suffer the consequences even though there was no truth in the allegations.
In YN what finds a benign face of the IM. And that represents the mainstream as also reflected in the likes of prominent leaders after Imam Hasan Al-Bana such as Hasan Hudaiby. The late Hasan Hudaiby had the unenviable and most challenging task of soothing the high emotions that was generated by the assassination of Syed Qutb by the Nasser regime. I still remember that as ABIM leader the moving supplication by Hasan Hudaiby duat la qudat council and not judge. He was cautioning against extremism or any attempt to resort to violence to focus the radical call for change through peaceful means.
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