Monday, February 22, 2010

The party or the man?

by Mohsin Abdullah was until July 2009 Editor in Chief News and Current Affairs ntv7 & 8TV. He is now a freelance writer.

FEB 22 — Most folks know this but I say it anyway. Article 48 (6) of the Federal Constitution states : “A person who resign his membership of the House of Representatives, shall, for a period of five years, beginning with the date of his resignation take effect, be disqualified from being a member of the House of Representatives.”
There is similar provision in every state in respect of state legislative assembly representatives.
Meaning a Member of Parliament or state assemblyman who resign (vacate their seat) will have to sit it out for five years before trying to get reelected ie contest election.
The MPs we have now in our midst , who quit their party but remain in Parliament or state assembly as “independents,” have no intention of quitting as YBs . They should have “used” the provision in the Constitution to “justify” their stay when responding to calls from their former parties that they resign. Instead the independents come up with all kinds of rhetorics.
Still the reality is the independents are here to stay. At least for now until the next election. The question is until then, will they be effective “wakil rakyats”? Can they serve their constituents? But before that, another question: What do we want our MPs to be?
Some “demand’ that MPs and state assemblymen are “wakil rakyats” right to the latter . Rather “servants of the people? ie they must take care of the problems of the people who voted them in. These problems include no electricity and water supply in the respective constituencies, uncollected garbage, bad roads, no bridge, scholarships for children of their voters, help out in wedding or funeral expenses : a people’s champion all the way .
But there are others who would argue that was the “criteria” of the “wakil rakyat” of old, which is that of a “welfare officer’. Now the responsibilities listed above should be shouldered by full-time welfare officers. In other words, the responsibilities should be borne by the civil servants. That is the opinion of some people who would argue that the present day YBs have different roles to play. They see our MPs (government and the opposition) as law makers, legislators, people who can shape the policies of the nation which will benefit the rakyat, similar to that of the US congressmen.
Perhaps we need our MPs to be both; the “welfare officer” type with a “congressman” responsibility. But to do that wouldn’t they need the backing of a party? More so if they are to deliver “humanitarian” help?
Based on that will Independent MPs be effective?
In the old days, there independent wakil rakyats were very efficient. Highly popular, the independents then, had no problem getting voted in without the support of established parties. A shining example is Haji Abdul Jabar Yusof or Cikgu Jabar who stood as an independent candidate in not one, not two, but three general elections and was voted in as the state assemblyman for Selangor.
Then there was Datuk Shahrir Samad, who in 1988 resigned his parliamentary seat in Johor Bharu (following the big Umno “war” a year earlier). He was Welfare minister in the Mahathir administration. Shahrir quit, forced a by election, stood as an independent and defeated the BN/Umno candidate. It’s true he got help from Umno’s Team B, led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (who was anti Mahathir).But the fact remains that Shahrir stood as an independent and won. (Incidentally the Federal Constitution was amended after that. Hence article 48(6). No more quit “suka suka”).
The above is a classic example of ‘it’s the man not the party’. They didn’t need political parties to help them carry out their responsibilities towards their constituents.
But in recent times, candidates who contested as independents never won. Most of the time they were accused of “trying to split the votes “ and associated with “negative elements”. They lost because voters were not convinced they can be of any good without the backing of a political party. So this is the case of ‘it’s the party and not the man’.
The independent MPs we have now are not independent in the true sense. They contested in the general election under the ticket of DAP, or PKR and won. They then quit their parties but not their seats and remain MPs and state assemblymen as an Independent.
The DAP and PKR say these Independent MPs are in the “Dewan’ because the “rakyat voted for us and not them in their personal capacities”. So to the DAP and PKR it’s also a matter of party over candidate.
Incidently this “it’s the party and not the man,” line has always been the BN’s campaign strategy. We’ve heard many times before how the BN has urged the ‘rakyat” to look at “our track record’ and “ it’s the party that matters not the candidates”. It had worked. Strong was the BN brand, and Umno used to boast that, “even if we put a songkok to stand for election under the BN/Umno symbol , it will win”. Another example of it’s the party not the man. But of late, the Chairman of BN Datuk Seri Najib Razak, admitted “ the days of even the songkok can win for us” are gone. Emphasis would be on quality candidates he says. Man over party ?
There are many who feel the days when Independent MPs were effective and good for the rakyat ( like the days of Cikgu Jabar ) are no more. To them MPs must be members of political parties to be effective. In short MPs must have the backing of a good strong party or coalition.
But the present day Independent MPs have declared themselves “BN friendly”, thus they can expect the assistance and backing of the coalition, at least in taking care of their constituencies. That would make them effective? Or would it?
Who, or rather what did you vote for in March 2008? The candidate himself or the party the candidate represented? Hang on. I shouldn’t have asked that. Your ‘undi’ is ‘rahsia’.

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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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commentary: wow !!  ...I have not seen any writing of Tun Dr Mahathir as strong as this.... I'm sure he has a point that he want to pass across to be this adamant  against PM Blair....

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1. I am shocked. I am shocked that Malaysians have invited Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain to speak in Malaysia. I am even more shocked and I am disgusted that the organisation, which is inviting this liar of a Prime Minister, is one concerned with being achievers. Presumably they are keen to learn about the achievements of Prime Minister Blair and to learn from him how to achieve.

2. Maybe they have not heard that this is the man, the Prime Minister of Britain who has been proven to be a liar, who had admitted that he lied about the capability of Iraq to launch a nuclear attack against Britain within 45 minutes. He lied about this absurdity because he wanted his Government, Parliament and the British people to support war against Iraq, to support his violent overthrow of a foreign Government he did not approve.

3. He lied that he had information that Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Today the whole world knows that Iraq had no WMD (maybe those who are inviting him do not know about this. If they didn't know then they don't deserve to call their group as wanting to be achievers).

4. On the basis of these lies, he joined Bush in the war against Iraq, a war that has killed over 300,000 Iraqis, mostly non-combatants; which has destroyed the cities of Iraq with billions of dollars of losses, which has destroyed the city of Babylon and ancient artefacts in its museum, the birthplace of human civilisation.

5. Hundreds of British soldiers died for nothing. The shock and awe attacks have unleashed a fratricidal war between Iraqis where there was none before. It has largely been responsible for the "acts of terror" now facing the world.

6. Yet there is no end in sight. The coalition of the willing cannot even withdraw. More troops have been committed instead. But nothing has been achieved.

7. Blair has been subjected to a public enquiry. All he can say for himself is that he wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein - to achieve a regime change even if Saddam had no WMD. Saddam has been hanged along with other members of his Government. Regime change has been accomplished. But it is illegal, it is against international laws for any country to violently force a change of government in another country. For this alone Blair is guilty. But to lie blatantly in order to achieve this regime change, to kill hundreds of thousands of women, children, the old and the infirmed along with a few soldiers is more than criminal. It is certainly something that Malaysians should not want to emulate or to achieve.

8. Are the Malaysian achievers hoping to learn from Blair about how he achieved his murder of a foreign country's leader to achieve a regime change, to lie as he did in order to achieve something, to care little for the lives of innocent people, to send his soldiers into battle for nothing? These are his achievements - shameful, cruel and totally uncivilised.

9. Malaysians must protest against this liar coming to Malaysia, much less to talk on his lying achievements. I pray to God that no Malaysian would harbour this idea of learning from the achievements of this unmitigated liar, Tony Blair, the lapdog of the arch-liar Bush and the self-appointed Deputy Sheriff Howard of Australia.

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