- The strange elite politics behind Thailand’s military coup
- Fed up, families demand Hishammuddin step down over MH370 military blunder
- Elections end but Muslim-bashing continues
- [PRESS STATEMENT] Preparatory Meeting – World Forum For Muslim Democrats
- [PROGRAM] Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim di Teluk Intan
- [VIDEO] Lecture On “Muslim Democrat – The Case of Malaysia” by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim
Posted: 23 May 2014 05:05 AM PDT
Thailand’s modern era has now seen so many coups that scholars have lost count. On Thursday, the Thai military once more overthrew the government, marking the 12th coup since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. But between the failed coups, aborted putsches, and successful revolts, scholars don’t really know many times a Thai government has experienced a violent challenge to its rule.
“Please share your knowledge to help us count Thailand’s military coups once-and-for-all,” Nicholas Farrelly, a Southeast Asia scholar and a professor at Australian National University, wrote on the website New Mandala this week.
Despite robust economic growth and fitful steps toward full democratization, Thailand can’t seem to escape from under the shadow of its long history of military coups. Prior to this week’s events, which saw the military first impose martial law and then remove the government outright, the last coup occurred in 2006, when the army ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. This time around, it’s Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and her political allies who find themselves in the military’s cross-hairs.
With soldiers surrounding government buildings and tanks parked in the streets of Bangkok, the Thai military is casting itself as a purveyor of order. “In order for the situation to return to normal quickly and for society to love and be at peace again?.?.?.?and to reform the political, economic and social structure, the military needs to take control of power,” Gen. Prayuth Chan-ochoa said in a televised address to the nation.
The military has also detained politicians on either side of the country’s political divide, including the prominent protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, which allows it to claim a patina of neutrality in Thailand’s increasingly bitter political sparring. Thailand’s aggressive anti-government protesters have succeeded in sowing chaos in the run-up to the coup, carrying out protests for the last six months and clashing violently with the government. At least 25 people have died and images of streets shut down by protesters have only reinforced Thailand’s image as as a tinderbox of Southeast Asia. As a result, revenue from tourism, a crucial sector of the economy, has seen a marked decline.
In carrying out a coup and deploying soldiers to the streets, the Thai army has at least brought that unrest to an end. As has occurred with previous Thai coups, the return to order on the streets will surely be enough to lead some to call Thursday’s events “good coup.” That would be a mistake.
We’ve often written about the concept of a so-called “democratic coup”here at Foreign Policy, and this isn’t one. If the notion of a democratic coup sounds oxymoronic, consider the examples Ozan Varol, a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, cites in his research on the matter: the Turkish coup of 1960 that saw the overthrow of the Democrat Party, which had cracked down on civil and press rights; the 1974 coup in Portugal that saw the end of the Estado Novo military government; and the 2011 coup that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
The last example illustrates how fraught the concept of a democratic coup remains. In the aftermath of Mubarak’s fall, Egyptian voters elected a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, as the country’s new president. Morsi himself was removed from power a short time later after millions of protesters took to the streets to decry his government and accuse it of trying to impose theocratic law. Three years later, Morsi is facing criminal charges, thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been imprisoned, and Egypt is hurtling toward what increasingly appears likely to become a new military dictatorship.
Varol defines a “democratic coup” according to the following criteria:
On point one, it fails for Thailand: The ousted government was democratically elected and had taken steps to reconcile with the protest movement by promising new elections. And while the military certainly responded to popular opposition, the governing coalition’s ability to consistently win popular elections would point to their support among the people. On point three, the government had called for new elections in response to the protests. On point four, it depends on whom you ask. On the fifth criteria, the answer is an obvious no. And on points six and seven, it remains to be seen — and the country’s long history of coups certainly doesn’t point toward an answer in the affirmative.
But there’s a more important reason why Thailand will probably never see a democratic coup: its Borgian elite politics that made military intervention an accepted tool of maintaining the elite’s grip on power. The current political stand-off centers on the enduring political divide between the country’s elite and a political movement led by the Shinawatra clan and with its powerbase in rural areas. Shinawatra’s populist political movement has redistributed power in Thailand away from the elite networks that dominate the capital, and this has made the country’s army officers, judges, monarchists, and bureaucrats profoundly worried. The only problem is that Bangkok’s elites are completely incapable of cobbling together an electoral coalition capable of winning a national election.
In a fascinating 2013 paper Farrelly — yes, the poor scholar asking for your help tallying Thailand’s coups — paints a portrait of a craven Thai elite that gladly sends the military into the streets for motives both nefarious and underhanded. Farrelly quotes a 1972 article that describes a coup of the previous year. It could just as well have run today:
While Thailand’s king is a revered figure, the country’s elite has come to use him as a pawn in their attempts to hold on to power. Farrelly argues that Thailand’s coup culture is largely centered around the idea of protecting the king, the threats to whom are mostly manufactured reasons to send tanks into the streets. But the safety of the monarchy has nonetheless become a rhetorical gloss whose continued deployment provides the basis of an elite culture all too willing to use the military to achieve its political goals.
Indeed, on Thursday Gen. Prayuth assured Thailand that the military “will protect and worship the monarchy.”
The same can’t be said about the country’s struggling democracy.
Posted: 23 May 2014 01:08 AM PDT
The families of flight MH370 passengers and crew have derided Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's weak defence of military inaction during the early hours of the plane’s disappearance, and in a show of anger some have even demanded that he step down as the acting Transport Minister.
Hishammuddin told the Australian Broadcasting Corp in an interview aired on Monday that the Malaysian military had been told to keep an eye on the plane but allowed it to disappear off their radar after considering it to be non-hostile.
His statements have drawn much flak from the families of those on board the ill-fated jetliner, who said he has only fuelled more questions instead of providing answers to the incident.
They also said the statements by Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, smacked of incompetence and that more honest people should be allowed to lead the investigation into the aircraft's disappearance, instead of covering up the military's and the government's flaws.
Indian national Pralhad Shirsath whose wife was a passenger on the plane, questioned how the plane was allowed to pass through Malaysian airspace without any action taken, when the military knew that M370 was missing or in trouble.
He said the minister's statement only showed that it was part of "a plan" to make the plane disappear with some purpose.
"Mr Transport Minister said, 'If you’re not going to shoot it down, what’s the point of sending it up?'
“Well, he should understand that sending up military planes does not always mean shooting it down, but rather investigating risk and taking action (when it was already identified as a commercial jet and non-hostile but travelling through Malaysian territory without authorisation) in terms of giving feedback to those to whom the plane belongs (I assume military did not know it was Malaysian flag carrier at that time)," Shirsath told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
"Or is it OK to fly over Malaysian territory without prior permission or clearance?" he asked.
Shirsath believed that the latest revelation only proved that the Malaysian government was hiding more information from the families and the public.
"If they have reason to hide information, they should tell us and probably we will try to understand them,” he said.
Shirsath also said Malaysia's image has been dented by the way the government has dealt with the tragedy. He was puzzled as how the people who ruled the country and those in charge of the search and rescue operation managed to remain in power.
"How can Malaysian people tolerate these blunders? These leaders must step down and more honest people should lead the investigation," he said.
"It is not too late, they should tell us all truth, stop misguiding the media and families and make sure passengers and crew return to their homes safely and we will forgive them," he added.
A Twitter posting by relative of an MH370 passenger, criticising Hishammuddin over his interview with Australia’s Fourcorners programme.Sarah Bajc, the partner of passenger Philip Wood, echoed Shirsath's sentiment, saying it is both absurd and perilous for any civilian or military flight observer to disregard an unidentified airplane.
"I believe the Malaysian people and the investigation into MH370 would be well served by Hishammuddin's resignation. My guess is that most feel that way but I would not presume to speak for others," she said.
Meanwhile, Syafinaz Hasnan, the sister of M370 crew Mohd Hazrin, described Hishammuddin's statements as insensitive.
"I am saddened by the way the government has dealt with the military issue. They are also very confused with their own twisted information. Now everyone knows how incompetent they are and how vulnerable our country can be," she said.
K.S. Narendran, husband of Chandrika Sharma, one of the five Indian nationals on board MH370, found the minister’s stance and the defence “outrageous”.
He said what occured showed total neglect and incompetence on the part of the various authorities in handling the incident, and urged Hishammuddin to stop defending the indefensible by covering up military flaws.
He also said the public was not easily taken in, regardless of whether Hishammuddin had appeared sombre or savvy, contrite or confident,
“The families and the world deserve to hear the truth and the only way the government can hope to redeem themselves is by refusing to be the agents of those who want to protect their interests, seeking forgiveness for specific lapses and making amends,” said Narendran.
Lokman Mustafa, whose sister was on board the plane, said the lack of action from the military only revealed the mentality which resulted in the Lahad Datu intrusion.
"Either our military men were not inquisitive enough, or just plain lazy, which of course means a dereliction of duty. Or worse, could this be a conspiracy to hide something?" he asked.
"Let's put it this way, if we hear strange sounds on our roof, do we get out to check what's causing it?
"We may, or may not… but because our military men are paid to ensure our safety, they have to determine whether its hostile or otherwise. Just because 'we’re not at war with anybody' does not mean we should allow any aircraft to trespass into our airspace and quietly glide out to sea, because it might be Lahad Datu intruders again, or MH370. But I guess some people never learn," he said.
In the interview with ABC, Hishammuddin said the military did not send a plane up to investigate as “it was not deemed a hostile object and pointless if you are not going to shoot it down”.
He said this in defence of the military's failure to scramble a fighter jet after flight MH370 had disappeared from civilian radar on March 8 when its transponder stopped transmitting around 1.21am during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The military radar tracked it after it made a turn-back and turned in a westerly direction across the peninsula.
“If you’re not going to shoot it down, what’s the point of sending it (a fighter) up?” Hishammuddin told ABC.
Delays in pinpointing the Boeing 777-200ER's location led to days of searching in the South China Sea before analysis from British satellite firm, Inmarsat, pointed to the Indian Ocean as its likely course.
Hishammuddin had also said that had the jet been shot down with 239 passengers and crew on board, “I’d be in a worse position, probably”.
He said he was informed of the military radar detection two hours later and relayed it to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who then ordered a search in the Malacca Strait.
This was the first time that Malaysia has said that civil aviation authorities told the military to keep an eye on the aircraft – a fact which was not mentioned in the five-page preliminary report on the plane’s disappearance released by the Ministry of Transport on May 1.
The much-criticised preliminary report made no mention of the instructions from the civil aviation authorities to the military to monitor the plane.
Instead, the brief report, which was sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), revealed a chaotic four hours after communications between Malaysia air traffic controllers, Malaysia Airlines and other regional air traffic controllers, before a hunt was initiated.
The Malaysian authorities have been severely criticised over their handling of the investigations into the missing jetliner with the international media, family members of passengers and crew, with the public accusing them of hiding and delaying information.
A survey commissioned by The Malaysian Insider last month showed that more than half of Malaysians polled believed that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had been hiding information about flight MH370′s disappearance.
Posted: 23 May 2014 12:38 AM PDT
By: Dr Javed Jamil
While on one hand, terrorism, in fact violence of all hues and colours, whoever the culprits, whoever the victims and whatever the place, has to be condemned in no uncertain terms, on the other hand, all the factors related to the rise of terrorism of any colour have to be addressed if it is to be controlled. The role of the precipitating factors, the media in fanning hatred, the politicians, community leaders and executives, the military and the police – all have to be analysed.
Elections have ended. Exit polls have already positioned Narendra Modi in the Prime Minister's seat. Within a couple of days, the new government will take the office. But if the post-poll events are any indication, we may be heading for a difficult time. As if the communal polarization during the Election campaign was not enough, the BJP candidate Giri Raj Singh has come up again with a statement, which points to the aggressive intents of the new leaders of the country. "Those who want to stop Modi", he roared, "have their Makkah and Madina in Pakistan". He went further to ask "why all those arrested on the charges of terrorism belong to a particular community."
A few days back, on a TV debate, my co-panelist was Vijay Sonkar Shastri, BJP spokesman and former MP. He expressed the same sentiment though in a little more polished way. "This is extremely unfortunate", he said, "but the truth is that Muslims alone are terrorists". When I started countering him giving data on terrorism, which showed that Hindu terrorism has been the biggest menace in the world including India, he smiled and said, "You are a dangerous debater Dr. Javed and if I pass a few hours with you, I will end up having hridaya parivartan (change of heart)".
The trend in recent years has been that while the Hindutva lobbies and the media try to project all terrorist violence as Muslim, some Muslim leaders and mediapersons behave as if a Muslim cannot be a terrorist at all. Both are extreme positions that need to be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.
The truth is that while the majority of terrorism related violence in India in the last 40 years has been non-Muslim, a few terrorist attacks might have been perpetrated by Muslims. But If we count the deaths in all the terrorist attacks allegedly by Muslim outfits, these do no cross 1500. These include all the major attacks including the serial Mumbai attacks after Babri Masjid demolition and 26/11 attack in Mumbai. http://creative.sulekha.com/hindu-terrorism-versus-muslim-terrorism-in-india_497274_blog
Now let's have a look at the other terrorist attacks in the country.
Deaths related to Naxalite violence 
Based on the above displayed statistics, it can be determined that more than 12,000 people have been killed since the start of the insurgency in 1980, of which more than half died in the last ten years. The unofficial figures put the toll several times higher.
In the violence related to Sikhs, several hundreds have been killed by Sikh militants. In Hindu-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, more than 2000 Sikhs died.
Then there are killings related to ULFA. According to a Wikipedia report, "In the past two decades some 18,000 people have died in the clash between the rebels and the security forces. So it can be seen that the violence involving Sikhs, Naxalites and ULFA has killed more than 30000 people in last 30 years."
Hindu violence is not confined to India. In Sri Lanka, more than 60000 people have died in Tamil related violence. (http://netwmd.com/articles/article1120.html)
In Nepal, Maoist violence has also killed hundreds.
There are people who try to argue that Naxalites, Maoists and ULFA activists are not religion-inspired. But the truth remains that they are all Hindus according to demographic records. And violence is violence, whether related to communal sentiments or to any other cause. Violence in the name of religion cannot be described as more condemnable than that related to any other ideology. Violence has to be condemned in proportion to the casualties it causes. Moreover, the killers of Sikhs in Delhi riots and those of Muslims in various riots have been the hardcore believers in Hindu scriptures. This does not in any way mean that Hinduism or any other religion is responsible for such violence. This shows that mutual hatred often leads people to indulge in violent attacks against one another. The majority communities or powerful groups anywhere in the world routinely indulge in riots or the government forces act on their behalf. The weaker communities and groups resort to terrorism and other forms of hit and run strategies.
It is clear that the percentage of deaths in terrorist attacks in India attributed to Muslims is not more than 4-5 percent. In my previous article on riots, I have already shown that the number of Muslims killed in riots in India is at least three times the number of Hindus killed.
Link of Terrorism with Riots
While it will be wrong to assume that the anti-Muslim riots and Babri Masjid demolition were the only factors responsible for the rise of some alleged Muslim terrorist organizations, it will be totally out of place as well to dismiss this factor altogether. Some analysts have argued that "terrorists" are the product of a certain mindset. They may be partially right. But it is also right that such a mindset needs fuel to prosper, and events like Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat riots multiplied with a widespread feeling of discrimination provide sufficient fuel for that purpose to be achieved. While on one hand, terrorism, in fact violence of all hues and colours, whoever the culprits, whoever the victims, whatever the place, has to be condemned in no uncertain terms, on the other hand, all the factors related to the rise of terrorism of any colour have to be addressed if it is to be controlled. The role of the precipitating factors, the media in fanning hatred, the politicians, community leaders and executives, the military and the police – all have to be analysed. On top of tem, all communities have to be socioeconomically empowered and all kinds of discrimination have to be eradicated. Only then we can hope of a lasting peace.
If the impression has gathered momentum that all or almost all terrorists are Muslims, it is on account of the media and biased activists. Every month, several Naxalite and Maoist attacks take place killing scores of people. But the electronic media hardly covers them except for a few hours. On the contrary, if an attack is believed to be caused by some Muslim terrorists, the coverage continues for days. Nobody in India knows the names of the leaders of Naxalites and other such organizations but, thanks to the media and communal organizations, the names of the Muslim terrorists are widely known. Even the Muslim spokesmen of parties like Congress appear to be taking apologetic and defensive approach and nobody bothers to present the true statistics nailing the malicious propaganda against Muslims.
Posted: 23 May 2014 12:34 AM PDT
A prepatory meeting for a World Forum for Muslim Democrats met yesterday in Jakarta to discuss the convening of the Forum’s first global conference.
Chaired by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim with the support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in collaboration with the Habibie Center and the Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research (SETA) from Turkey, it was decided that the first conference will be held in Malaysia.
The primary goal for the World Forum for Muslim Democrats is to establish a common platform for leaders, intellectuals and professionals of the Islamic faith to articulate their progressive views on matters pertaining to freedom, democracy and justice.
Nevertheless, it was stressed that the Forum will be inclusive of the multifarious political and religious persuasions in order to promote greater understanding and dynamics in the discourse.
In this regard, it is envisaged the conference will attract participants from political parties, civil society organisations, intellectuals and the media.
Posted: 23 May 2014 12:29 AM PDT
Program Ceramah Perdana bersama Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim di Telok Intan; Ahad dan Isnin, 25hb dan 26hb 2014
25 Mei 2014
1) 9.00pm: Jalan Selat, Kg Terenganu, Durian Sebatang.
26 Mei 2014
1) 8.00pm: Perkarangan Bilik Gerakan KEADILAN, Bandar Baru, Pasir Bedamar
2) 9.00pm: Perkarangan Rumah Kedai, No 11, Tmn Desa Aman, Jln Maharajalela, Teluk Intan (Dun Changkat Jong)
PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM
Posted: 23 May 2014 12:27 AM PDT
Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Leader of People and Justice Party (Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1993 to 1998 and Finance Minister from 1991 to 1998) of Malaysia visited Japan in February 2014. The Sasakawa Middle East and Islam Fund organized a lecture during his short stay in Tokyo in order to have candid discussion on the political situation in Malaysia with Japanese experts from various walks of life.
Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as the Leader of the Opposition, is among the most popular politicians in the present-day Malaysia, advocating political reform that aims to eradicate corruption from within the Malaysian polity. His political stance on Islamic justice has been highly regarded not only among the Malaysian population but also the moderate Muslims across South-East Asia.
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