Friday, March 28, 2014

Pakatan Rakyat silence

The Sarawak Chief Minister has challenged Anwar Ibrahim to take the Sarawak State Government to court. Maybe Anwar should do just that and get the court to rule that the 18/20-Point Agreements are unconstitutional and that Sabah and Sarawak should not have the right over immigration policies.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Ex-political activist Kassim Ahmad charged with insulting Islam
Former political and social activist Dr Kassim Ahmad pleaded not guilty in the Syariah High Court here today to insulting Islam and not complying with religious authorities.
Kassim, 81, was charged with committing the offences at a seminar in Putrajaya here on Feb 15 and 16.
On the first count, he was alleged to have tabled a script of his speech entitled ‘Speech for the National Political Conference to Determine the Direction of Malaysia over the next 30 years’, which insulted Islam by criticising Islamic practices.
On the second count, he was alleged to have tabled the same script which insulted or was not in compliance with religious authorities, defied the order issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the head of the Islamic religion as well as the ‘fatwa’ (edict) issued by the mufti.
Kassim was charged under Section 7 (b) and Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997.
He faces a fine of up to RM3,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both, upon conviction. Judge Ummamuddin Yunus allowed Kassim bail of RM3,000 in one surety on each count and set April 7 for mention. Kassim posted bail.
The prosecution was conducted by the Federal Territory syariah chief prosecutor, Ibrahim Deris, while Kassim was unrepresented.
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A very interesting development is about to unfold in Malaysia. The Malaysian government has been trying to get Kassim Ahmad for a very long 30 years now, ever since the time that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the Prime Minister. The only reason they could not get him is because he was more or less under Dr Mahathir’s protection, at least as far as PAS is concerned and according to what they complain.
In fact, due to the ‘protection’ that Dr Mahathir was alleged to be giving Kassim Ahmad, that, said PAS, is strong evidence that Dr Mahathir, too, is a deviant Muslim, just like Kassim Ahmad. Dr Mahathir shares the same beliefs as Kassim Ahmad and that is why no action could be taken against the latter.
That is what the anti-Kassim Ahmad (and anti-Dr Mahathir) people say, of course, although I do not really know if this true or not.
Anyway, now, after 30 years, they finally got Kassim Ahmad. And the crimes he was alleged to have committed were alleged to have been committed during a seminar entitled “The Thoughts of Kassim Ahmad: A Review“ that was organised by the Perdana Leadership Foundation, of which Dr Mahathir himself is the patron.
How ironical. How coincidental. Poetic justice. They tried to get him for 30 years but could not because he was allegedly under Dr Mahathir’s protection and when they finally do get him it is because of what he said at Dr Mahathir’s Perdana Leadership Foundation.
Is this a message to Dr Mahathir? And if so who is the one behind this message? Umno politics is very complex, is it not?
The issue he is, Kassim Ahmad was explaining his thoughts. And some of these thoughts he explained do not quite dovetail with the thoughts of others, those appointed by God to protect God’s interests here on earth. Hence Kassim Ahmad has committed a crime, a crime of having different thoughts. And thinking the wrong thing is a crime in Malaysia as even Dr Mahathir himself said when he was the Prime Minister.
And who decides what you can and cannot think? Well, God, of course, and those who represent God in the corridors of power.
Does this violate your civil liberties, human rights, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and whatnot? Of course it does but what has civil liberties, human rights, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and whatnot, got to do with it? Are those important?
I don’t know. Maybe the defenders of all these rights and liberties, Pakatan Rakyat, can tell us. So far, since the last 24 hours, we have not heard a squeak from Anwar Ibrahim or from any of the PKR, DAP and PAS leaders. Are they agreeable to what the government is doing to Kassim Ahmad? Or are they not agreeable?
According to the opposition, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s silence on certain issues is proof of his tacit approval. Silence means consent, is how they see it. Is this also how we must interpret Pakatan Rakyat’s silence on the Kassim Ahmad issue? Do the Pakatan Rakyat leaders believe that Kassim Ahmad should not be allowed his views and he deserves being arrested and should be sent to jail?
This is a golden opportunity for Pakatan Rakyat to reveal its stand on civil liberties, human rights, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, etc. If the opposition is serious about these values then they must defend to the death Kassim Ahmad’s right to be different even if they do not agree with his thoughts.
You may think the world is round but if Kassim Ahmad thinks it is flat and that the moon is made of cheese that is his right to think so. And no one should be arrested and sent to jail for thinking differently from you. After all, some people even believe that Jesus died on the cross and came back to life three days later and as much as you may think this is a silly belief that is no reason to arrest and jail someone who believes this.
Oh, and one more thing, the Pakatan Rakyat people are outraged that Sabah and Sarawak have the power and prerogative to bar non-Sabahans and non-Sarawakians from entering their state. But then this is their right under the 18/20-Point Agreements. And, according to the Agreement, they do not need to give any reason why they bar you from entering their state.
Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, etc., also do the same. They, too, can bar you entry into their country if they suspect you are entering their country for devious reasons (such as to look for a job). A mere suspicion (such as you do not have enough cash in your pocket or they find your CV/testimonials in your luggage) is good enough to bar you entry. Like it or not this is their right and there is nothing you can do about it.
On the one hand, we scream that the government has to respect the 18/20 Point Agreements. On the other hand, we get angry when they exercise their rights under these Agreements. So which is it we want?
The people from Sabah and Sarawak are also not happy with West Malaysian states that have passed a law that forbids Christians from preaching Christianity to Muslims or the law that forbids Christians from using Allah and two dozen or so other ‘Islamic words’, especially in the Malay language Bible.
Maybe Selangor, Penang and Kelantan, which are Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states, can take the lead. These states should remove all these laws, especially the law that forbids the Malay language Bible from using Allah. Then, after this is done, they can ask Sabah and Sarawak to also remove the draconian law that bars Malaysians from West Malaysia from entering those two states.
Pakatan Rakyat should also explain if they were to take over Sabah and Sarawak in the next state elections whether these laws would be retained or removed. No doubt we can scream that there is nothing wrong with the law itself but it is the application of the law that is bad.
Well, if any law can be abused in such a manner then it is a bad law and should be removed. We cannot say that there is nothing wrong with the law but it is the abuse of the law that is at fault. This is the same excuse the government uses in the detention without trial law. It is not the law that is wrong. It is the abuse of the law that is at fault.
And our response has always been: if a law can be abused, such as the detention without trial law, then that is a bad law and it should be abolished. Any law that is open to abuse is a bad law. So the law that allows Sabah and Sarawak to bar Malaysians from entering their states must be regarded as a bad law since it can be abused.
So will Pakatan Rakyat remove this law if it were to take over those two states? Or will Pakatan Rakyat keep this law in the spirit of the 18/20 Point Agreements? I am sure the voters from Sabah and Sarawak would be very interested to know the answer to this question.
The Sarawak Chief Minister has challenged Anwar Ibrahim to take the Sarawak State Government to court. Maybe Anwar should do just that and get the court to rule that the 18/20-Point Agreements are unconstitutional and that Sabah and Sarawak should not have the right over immigration policies.

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