- ‘Kajang bid not to distract from sodomy case’
- Haul up Najib for okaying sex and smut campaign, polls body urged
- Anwar, Karpal slam police for ‘half-baked probe’ into BN candidate’s bribery claim
- Tunisia’s Hopes Near Realization
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 08:38 PM PST
The decision by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to contest in the Kajang by-election is not to divert attention from his sodomy case appeal this month, but to bring Selangor to greater heights, a senior academician has said.
Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (Umcedel) director Professor Mohammad Redzuan Othman (left) opined that Anwar is already immune to court cases as he has faced a slew of them since 1998.
"Since 1998, Anwar has been in and out of courts and I do not think his move to contest in Kajang is to divert the attention away from then prosecution’s appeal to his sodomy II acquittal as he is already used to being in and outside of courtrooms and has even served jail term.
"The fact is, the people are also aware of other high-profile cases like the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and other matters that sees the failure of the prosecution (to garner convictions) and government's handling of them (by not appealing) compared to Anwar’s case," he told Malaysiakini.
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 08:15 PM PST
The Election Commission (EC) was today urged to summon Datuk Seri Najib Razak to explain Barisan Nasional’s sex and smut election campaign against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Kajang by-election.
PKR vice-president N. Surendran said such a strategy would have had the prime minister's backing. Najib should bear responsibility for it.
Yesterday, Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan said it was important to explain to voters all of Anwar’s previous cases, including the appeal of his acquittal over a sodomy charge.
Ahmad said the disclosure was so that voters could make an informed choice on polling day.
”There are a few instances, including his sodomy case and his videos, which should be explained to the public so they know Anwar's character.
“Is this the type of leader that Pakatan Rakyat can offer?” he said at a news conference after a closed-door meeting with the Selangor Barisan Nasional machinery on Sunday.
Surendran said Najib must be held responsible for Umno’s decision to conduct such a campaign as it could not have been taken without the connivance and approval of its party president.
“This is an unethical, dirty and desperate bid by Umno to challenge Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat in the crucial Kajang by-election,” Surendran, who is also Padang Serai MP said, in a statement.
He said Umno was afraid of the impact from the rising cost of living and had to resort to vilification and character assassination.
“This is also a desperate bid by Umno against a backdrop of widespread corruption.”
He said the sodomy allegations and alleged sex videos of Anwar were part of a baseless smear campaign orchestrated by Umno and the BN since 1998.
“In short, Umno plans to use their own fabricated allegations against Anwar to cheat and mislead voters during the by-election.”
Surendran said it was unprecedented for a major political party to announce publicly that it would be running a sex and smut campaign against a political opponent.
The “sickening” election strategy degraded public discourse and undermined democratic debate, he added.
“The EC must respond and condemn Umno’s sex and smut campaign and summon Najib for an explanation over Ahmad’s announcement.”
Surendran said EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (pic) must be proactive in defending the integrity of the election process.
“It is his (Abdul Aziz) constitutional duty to do so under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution and failure to do so will prove that the EC is a toothless tiger and is biased in favour of BN,” said Surendran, urging Najib and Umno to withdraw their plans of a sex and smut campaign and pledge a clean and fair one.
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 08:14 PM PST
Opposition leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Karpal Singh have taken the police to task for failing to classify as sedition their reports against a Barisan Nasional election candidate who last year accused both leaders of bribing prosecutors and judges.
Karpal accused the police of dragging their feet over the case, saying the investigation not only began half a year after the reports were lodged, but was also half-baked.
“What sort of rubbish is this? We will not easily let them off the hook because our integrity as politicians is at stake," said the veteran lawyer.
Mazlan Ismail, the BN candidate who was defeated by Anwar in Permatang Pauh last year, had claimed to have received more than 6,000 anonymous letters alleging that Anwar had paid Karpal more than RM50 million since 2008 as legal fees and bribes to judges and prosecutors.
Karpal is Anwar’s lawyer in the latter’s sodomy trial involving Anwar’s former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
Karpal said both Anwar and he would not settle anything less if Mazlan was not investigated for sedition.
They also want the media which carried Mazlan’s allegations to be investigated for publishing false news.
“We will write to the Attorney General to compel the police to reclassify the case. At this juncture, it looks like the police are not serious,” the DAP chairman told The Malaysian Insider.
Last month, investigating officer ASP Mohd Zulkefli Mohd Mukhtar from the Seberang Prai district police informed Anwar and Karpal that their reports had been classified as criminal defamation, which carried a jail term of up to two years or fine, or both, upon conviction.
This followed the duo’s letter to AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on the status of their reports against Mazlan at the Petaling Jaya police on August 4 last year, after Karpal complained of no response from the Petaling Jaya police.
Karpal had repeatedly urged the police and the public prosecutor to act on the case as it also involved the judiciary and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
“I would have expected Gani to give special attention to this case as Mazlan had also implicated the judiciary and his officials,” he said.
He said Mazlan should have brought the matter to the police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Saying Mazlan and several media have committed offences under the Penal Code, Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Karpal said he would also file defamation suits against Mazlan, Utusan Malaysia and TV3.
Posted: 02 Feb 2014 07:26 PM PST
The year 2013 was a difficult year for Tunisia and for Arabs and their hopes of liberation. Tunisians placed high hopes on the revolutions they sparked in 2010. They placed high hopes on their ability to create a new model of peaceful change, one that could achieve a revolution that takes neither a step back into repression nor strays into violence. They placed high hopes on the national dialogue launched by political leaders, trade unions and civil society organisations in September to take the democratic transition out of the crisis into which it was driven by the assassinations of two political leaders in six months.
These hopes are nearing their realization. This week, Tunisia took the penultimate step to solidifying its transition to democracy with the adoption of the greatest constitution in its history, which embraces the values of freedom, dignity and justice, and with the handover of power from the elected government to an independent, technocratic government that will manage the period leading to legislative and presidential elections and the transition to a full-term democratically elected government.
Going back a little, the flame of the Arab Spring, sparked in Tunisia three years ago, opened a horizon of hope that politics could be different in this country where dictatorship had reigned for over half a century. It gave hope to Arabs that they could enjoy freedom and democracy, far from the despotism that had held back their progress and stifled every effort at reform.
On the third anniversary of the sparking of that flame, the principal question is: has the Tunisian model for democratic transition succeeded in placing Tunisia on the path of democracy? And what are the principal features of this model that make it successful?
The revolution granted everyone freedom – the fruit of sacrifices made by generations, particularly youth, from across the spectrum. However, freedom brings diverse possibilities – just as it can bring the blessings of peace, security, democracy and prosperity, it can also bring chaos, brutality, division and failure, if it is not practiced with responsibility and awareness.
The Jasmine Revolution has been fighting poisonous winds and waves of counter-revolutions. The democratic process has more than once faced the risk of collapse as a result of internal and external challenges, including the weakness of the democratic heritage and experience of most political players, both in power and opposition, in a democracy that has not yet completed its third year.
The process of democratic change is a long and complex one, requiring patience, long-term vision and willingness to put aside immediate partisan interests in order to build a shared system respectful of, and respected by, all. The intense transitional process Tunisia has undergone is that of building consensus around a common architecture for managing public life – drafting a new constitution in which every Tunisian can see herself or himself, establishing key institutions such as the Election Commission, Media Commission, Human Rights Commission, Local Government Council and others that establish new rules that safeguard and embody the principles of peaceful alternation of power, participatory democracy and respect for rights and freedoms. This process is one of painstakingly building shared institutions, mechanisms and rules that give life to the values of the revolution and the burning demands that drove people to the streets three years ago – freedom, dignity and justice.
This process of constructing a new body politic through consensus has been complicated by the dialectic of struggle between the old system that the revolution sought to bring down and a new system that is being built. This tension is found in every post-revolutionary phase. In Tunisia, we sought to strengthen the dynamic for change by building an alliance between those parties committed to democracy and the struggle against dictatorship. Building a coalition government of moderate parties, secular and Islamist, was an important step for overcoming ideological differences that could weaken the democratisation process.
Building consensus and sharing power require compromise. After the tragic assassination of Mohammed Brahmi, a member of the assembly, in July, opposition voices called for cancelling the entire democratic process by undoing all the new democratic institutions that emerged out of the 23 October 2011 elections, including the assembly, the government and the presidency. Most opposition parties withdrew from the Assembly, making their return conditional on the government’s resignation. The withdrawn deputies constituted less than a third of the total number of deputies which meant that the Assembly could have continued its legislative, and even constitutional work without them. However, Ennahdha Party and its partners in government chose to enter into discussions with the opposition to secure their return to the constitution-drafting process. We did not want to push through a constitution that would not represent all Tunisians and would have divided society. More than just being a document, drafting a constitution is a process by which society establishes a common coherent understanding of their core values and the aims, ends and means of government.
The final text must reflect and encompass the demands and aspirations of all sections of society so that all have a place and can see themselves within its vision.
For those reasons, we chose to hand over power in order to preserve the integrity and continuity of our transition. Our legitimacy is clear – an elected government formed out of free and fair elections and supported by a broad parliamentary majority and popular support. We chose to strengthen the transition by building it on a higher level of legitimacy – one based on consensus, not majority. We chose to hand over power to an interim technocratic government for the sake of something far dearer: placing Tunisia firmly on the path to democracy, writing a constitution for all Tunisians, building common institutions, and organizing elections whose results would be accepted by all since they would be held under a neutral government whose ministers will not stand for election.
The moving scenes of celebration at the adoption of Tunisia’s first democratic constitution proved the success of this model of coexistence. Today, we have a new constitution for a modern Tunisia, adopted by an elected democratic representative body, drafted with the participation of citizens and civil society, and signed by three Presidents of the coalition government of different political trends. The constitution is something all Tunisians can be proud of, enshrining civil liberties and social, economic and cultural rights for which they had fought. The constitution is pioneering in many ways, protecting environmental rights and the rights to free healthcare and education, promoting equality between regions and ensuring equal participation of women and men, going further than many constitutions worldwide in the protection of social and economic rights. Just as the Tunisian model, based on consensus and cooperation between political trends, has succeeded in founding the first Arab democracy of its kind, we hope it will succeed in protecting the fundamental bases for a dignified life for all citizens.
This achievement also crowns a number of significant steps this year, including the passing of the transitional justice law and the establishment of several important institutions such as the independent commission against torture, the first such body in the Arab world.
We, Tunisians, can be proud of what we have achieved, of presenting a new model of peaceful revolution to the world. This model of consensual democracy has taken the country to the shores of safety. Tunisia, a country small in its geography, population and natural resources, has, through the work and sacrifices of its people, its great cultural and intellectual heritage, and the ability to dialogue to overcome challenges, given its region and humanity a new, unique model in democracy-building.
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