Monday, February 22, 2010

Anwar, Allah and the caning of women

commentary: I knew Dato' Jema from the social scene and he is very outspoken person but yet a very party man ie UMNO while he was on the UMNO exco...  kudos to you Dato'... may we all hear you again.... or maybe it is time for you to come back out from political retirement and come back to the main stream.... Malaysia probably needs your leadership again...

By Jema Khan | The Malaysian Insider

FEB 18 — I have been a loyal member of Umno since they came to Sabah in the early nineties. I have served in the Umno Youth exco, as Umno Youth chief of Sabah, as Umno Youth chief of Tuaran and even as a branch leader in my division.
I retired fully from politics in 2000 to focus on my business with a sense of satisfaction in having done some good both in Sabah and in Malaysia. That was good enough for me and I felt I had done my duty and could now concentrate on my business, family and myself.
In the passing of time since, I have seen many a friend being elevated to the highest level of Government. That pleased me in that at least I knew the main players in Government personally. From time to time, I would give my views to them on this issue or that when the opportunity arose. I would not be writing this if there was a more discreet way to repair the serious damage done to my country.
I consider myself a liberal Malay and have always acted as such even when I served Umno a decade ago. Although I would toe the party line eventually in most issues, I espoused my liberal views often to my compatriots and they listened though not necessarily agreeing. Nevertheless, we all remained firm friends. Today they seem unable to tackle issues which I consider basic and yet having serious repercussions.

The most serious issues today are Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial, the use of the “A” word for non-Muslims and the caning of women under Syariah law. These issues are all fundamental to all of us as they can dilute our rights as individuals in a civilised nation. A decade ago, all these rights remained intact for all of us.
In Anwar’s case a decade ago, he was found guilty for abuse of power only: the sodomy conviction being overturned on appeal eventually. No matter how one feels about it, justice eventually prevailed on appeal as there was reasonable doubt to cause his sodomy conviction to be considered “unsafe”.
Here we are again, putting the nation through another trauma all over again; surely we all know the burden of proof lies with the prosecution and it has to prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt”. From the press reports, I would say that there are serious elements of doubt. I fear for all of us if we were the ones to be prosecuted in a criminal case and guilt was determined other than by the test of “beyond reasonable doubt”. That can be the first dilution of our rights.
The “A” word to be used by non-Muslims had never been an issue before. especially where I come from, which is Sabah. We have all lived in peace respecting each other’s rights, why change now? Strike two for the dilution of our individual rights.
The issue that breaks the camel’s back for me was the caning of women under Syariah law. It is ignoble, unjust and an affront to my dignity as a man. Caning of women is not even allowed under our penal code and we never did it before, why start now? Strike three.
If the US has a “three strikes and you are out” law, I wonder what it means to us in Malaysia? Is it that our individual rights are no more sacrosanct? Shall we just give up and let the powers that be or want to be, continue to trample all over us? Shall we just cry for our nation as the title suggests? Or shall we strike back?
I propose that we set up a liberal Malay party and call it “Parti Liberal Melayu” and allow all likeminded constitutional Malays and Bumiputeras to join. Although I am very much for “1 Malaysia”, my previous experience has shown me that politics in Malaysia was still along racial lines.
In any event, what I really want to prove is that there are still many liberal Malays who often are hiding somewhere inside themselves. Come out of the closet and join a former “Umno Putra” and show the world that “liberal” and “Malay” are not an antithesis. Any takers?
* Datuk Jema Khan is the former Sabah Umno Youth chief. The original title of this piece is “Cry baby cry”.

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