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20 November 2014

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[Not related with the video, below is the response from The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) regarding this issue earlier]

CAIR Responds to ‘Bizarre’ Move by UAE

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/16/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today responded to reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has added CAIR to its list of “terrorist” groups.

In a statement, CAIR said:

“We are seeking clarification from the government of the United Arab Emirates about this shocking and bizarre report. There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list.

“Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists.

“We call on the United Arab Emirates cabinet to review this list and remove organizations such as CAIR, the Muslim American Society and other civil society organizations that peacefully promote civil and democratic rights and that oppose terrorism whenever it occurs, wherever it occurs and whoever carries it out.”

Among its many anti-terror initiatives, CAIR recently joined a number of national and local Muslim scholars and leaders in Washington, D.C., to release a first-of-its-kind open letter in Arabic (with English translation) signed by more than 120 international scholars of Islam and Muslim leaders refuting the ideology of the terrorist group ISIS and urging its supporters to repent and “return to the religion of mercy.”

CAIR: U.S., World Muslim Leaders’ Open Letter Refutes ISIS’s Ideology, Urges Supporters to ‘Repent,’ ‘Return to the Religion of Mercy’

http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12663-muslim-leaders-open-letter-refutes-isis-ideology.html

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

20 November 2014

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Aliran.com

Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal at the Federal Court to reverse his conviction of sodomy by the Court of Appeal went on for eight days.

This was in stark contrast to the hasty two days of hearing at the Court of Appeal, which had overturned the earlier decision of the High Court to acquit Anwar of the sodomy charge.

Some quarters have pointed out that the hastiness in which the Court of Appeal had sat and convicted Anwar came ahead of PKR’s planned “Kajang Move”. The timing, of course, could have been mere coincidence.

Well, what’s past is past; we now await with bated breath the Federal Court’s decision on Anwar’s final appeal. Dare we hope that justice will triumph? Anwar’s defence team is claiming that the entire sodomy episode is part of a conspiracy to thwart the federal opposition leader’s political progress. The prosecution ask, in turn, “what political conspiracy?”

No matter the outcome of the appeal, life has to go on for the opposition leader. In Parliament recently, he raised some very important questions about the financial operations of 1MDB. Rafizi Ramli (PKR) and Tony Pua (DAP) too have been asking for clear answers on the actual liabilities of 1MDB and whether there has been full disclosure of the operations of this state ’sovereign fund’. The debt of 1MDB has soared to RM42bn, and should the firm fail for any reason there is grave concern that the ’letters of support’ issued would be tantamount to a sovereign guarantee implying serious financial obligations for the government.

Najib as the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Chairperson of the Board of Advisors of 1MDB, owes a fiduciary obligation to the people of Malaysia to make full disclosure of the actual financial health of 1MDB. Perhaps the Auditor Generalshould also reconsider the calls made for its operations to be thoroughly re-audited.

Malaysia has been on the path of neo-liberalism for many years. This ideology, if left to run its course unchecked and without appropriate state intervention, can only mean greater hardship for the ordinary average income earning families in Malaysia, so argues the Member of Parliament of Sungei Siput. Achieving high gross domestic product (GDP) growth means little to the ordinary rakyat especially the poor people if it doesn’t translate to an improvement in their quality of life.

Dr Jeyakumar points out that more than 50 per cent of the total families in Malaysia have a combined family income of RM4200 or less. This makes it very difficult for them to make ends meet. About 29 per cent of the families actually earn less than RM3000 per month and they have to struggle even harder; we are referring to 8.7 million lives.

Some solutions, on health and housing, are suggested but does the government of the day have the political will and the heart to do what is right for the people of Malaysia?

The Muslim transgender community received a boost and scored a significant victory last week when the Court of Appeal ruled that they have the right to dress and behave as women. In a landmark decision, a three-member bench led by Datuk Mohd Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus, said section 66 of the Sharia Criminal Enactment violated Articles 5, 8, 9, and 10 of the Federal Constitution. The Negri Sembilan Islamic Religious Department (Jain) has already indicated that it intendsto appeal to the Federal Court.

But with the landmark decision now in place, ripples have spread. The decisionessentially highlights the supremacy of the Federal Constitution. Constitutional lawyers are now curious as to how the courts are going to decide on several pending controversial cases such as the right to use the word Allah and the Borders case, where the Federal Court is set to decide on the challenge against a Selangor state legislation that bans religious publications deemed to be un-Islamic.

It would be useful to read the cogent arguments put forth by Shad Saleem Faruqion how the Federal Constitution is supreme.

Recently the authorities resorted to banningIndonesian Muslim scholar Dr Ulil Abshar Abdalla from entering Malaysia – purportedly because they were concerned over the impact of hisprogressive views on Islam. But modern technology had the last say: Ulil was able to participate via Skype in the Third International Conference on Human Rights and Peace and Conflict in Southeast Asia. This demonstrates thatideas can still flow across physical borders no matter the obstacles.

Finally, in full support of the articles of the Federal Constitution that provide for the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association AND the pursuit of academic freedom, we urge all right thinking Malaysians to rally behind the University Malaya students who are being probed for organising the talk by Anwar Ibrahim in University Malaya on 27 October.

20 November 2014

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Press Statement by Gooi Hsiao Leung dated 20th November 2014

1.     I refer to the media report yesterday in which the Attorney General, Abdul Gani Patail gave his reasons for not prosecuting Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali over his threat to burn the Bible.

Abdul Gani Patail’s explanation that they could not find any element of “intent” to charge Ibrahim Ali are mere excuses for not wanting to prosecute him.

3.      The refusal to prosecute Ibrahim Ali is a failure on the part of the Attorney General to uphold his oath of office to enforce the law without fear or favour.

4.     A person should be criminally charged if the facts discloses an offence in law. It is not up to the AG to accept Ibrahim Ali’s explanation that he had no intention to commit an offence. It is for Ibrahim Ali to explain and convince the Court that his intentions or actions were excusable in law.

5.     It is the Court’s duty and not personally up to the AG to decide Ibrahim Ali’s guilt or innocence under the law.

6.     Again, the AG’s reasoning that is not an offence to defend one’s religion is utterly nonsensical in this case. A person’s right to defend his religion does not give him the right to incite one group of religious faith to cause disharmony, disunity, or ill-will against another group of people of different faiths. Such an act is clearly an offence under Chapter XV in respect of offences relating to religion, and in this particular case, under s.298A(1) of the Penal Code.

7.     Since the AG is reluctant or unwilling to take up this case, in the public interest, I call upon him to instead, to give a “fiat” to the Bar Council the authority to prosecute Ibrahim Ali on behalf of the government – The appointment of a private lawyer to prosecute in a criminal matter is nothing new – as the appointment of Datuk Shafee in Anwar Ibrahim’s case has set the precedent.

8.     In this connection, I urge the Bar Council to approach the Attorney General to apply for the fiat to initiate criminal proceedings against Ibrahim Ali as this is a matter of great public importance.

9.     Failure on the AG’s part to positively respond to my call herein to issue a fiat, would confirm the public’s strong suspicions that the AG is not impartial, and is enforcing the law selectively. Just as a person who incites others to burn the Quran would clearly be a punishable criminal offence, equally Ibrahim Ali must be brought to court to face the full brunt of the law for inciting others to burn the Bible.

GOOI HSIAO LEUNG
Member of Parliament for Alor Setar
Head of Office International Affairs, Parti Keadilan Rakyat

20 November 2014

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Published on 19 Nov 2014

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim talks about his commitment to the ideals of empowerment, justice, and equity. His trials have included arrest and imprisonment for his unrelenting campaign against corruption and but he soldiers on as the strongest-ever challenge to the ruling coalition in Malaysia. In this talk, he explains his determination to continue the “Reformasi” campaign and the struggle for freedom and democracy despite a looming five-year prison sentence.

Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim, once a rising political star expected to succeed Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, is now the leader of the Malaysian Opposition. The creator of the “Reformasi” campaign of reforming the Malaysian political structure, he is an ardent supporter of democracy and is an authoritative voice in bridging the gap between East and West. He is viewed as one of the forefathers of the Asian Renaissance and a leading proponent of greater cooperation among civilizations.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

19 November 2014

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 The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat: The Life of Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim. By Charles Allers. New York: Peter Lang, 2013. 345 pp.

 

Any attempt at offering a biography of Malaysia’s enigmatic politician Anwar Ibrahim (b. 1947) will be intriguing for many reasons. Perhaps more than any other political igure in contemporary Malaysia, Anwar has led a life whose vicissitudes have seen him oscillating from high points — popular student irebrand, social activist–intellectual, rising star of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), handpicked protégé of  Prime  Minister  Dr  Mahathir  Mohamad (b. 1925), minister and deputy prime minister, right down to the lowest points that one can imagine — twice an Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, convict stripped of human dignity, constantly excoriated opposition leader and purported hypocrite accused of heinous sexual crimes unbecoming of a professed Muslim holding leadership aspirations in religiously conservative Malaysia. Harnessing information from variegated sources, including personal interviews and published analyses of Malaysian politics and of Anwar Ibrahim’s diverse roles in it, The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat should be commended for ably capturing the different and even contrasting nuances of Anwar’s political life.

Far from being a blatantly lattering portrayal of Anwar Ibrahim as a consummate political leader once touted to be Malaysia’s “Prime Minister in waiting”, Allers’ account does not refrain from detailing episodes of Anwar’s political career that have exposed him to allegations of inconsistency, opportunism and unprincipled politicking. One example is Anwar’s alleged compromise on money politics during his days of ascendancy in UMNO, culminating in the victory of his Wawasan (Vision) Team — of which present Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin were members — in the fractious party elections of 1993. While employing analyses proffered by scholars critical of Anwar’s having indulged in patronage politics such as K.S. Jomo, Edmund Terence Gomez and Kikue Hamayotsu, Allers balances his account by citing

 

 

the analyses of Peter Riddell, Meredith Weiss and Khoo Boo Teik, among others, all of whom are inclined to offer mitigating factors in explaining Anwar’s antics in exculpatory terms.

Another instance of vacillation in Anwar Ibrahim’s political posture that Allers chronicles is his position on the draconian ISA, which had authorized detention without trial since its inauguration in 1960. Quoted in 1992 having defended the selective retention of the Act, Anwar remained mute for the large part of Prime Minister Mahathir’s recurrent instances of recourse to the oppressive legislation. These instances resulted in gross violations of human rights, as during the Operation Lallang round-up against civil rights campaigners in 1987 and the government’s clampdown on the Darul Arqam dakwah (missionary) movement in 1994. Only when out of power, and after undergoing the traumatic experience of both preventive and judicial incarceration from the time of his post-sacking arrest in 1998 until 2004, did Anwar unwaveringly oppose the ISA. For the record, Prime Minister Najib Razak eventually announced the repeal of the ISA in September 2011, but replaced it the following year with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012.

Just prior to Operation Lallang, Anwar — in his capacity as minister of education and with the backing of the chauvinistic UMNO Youth then led by Najib Razak — also clashed with proponents of Chinese-medium education  who  resented  what  they  regarded as Anwar’s unwarranted intrusion into their affairs. Such dabbling in ethnocentric politics, which diehard Anwar supporters would rationalize as a means of winning over the grass-roots Malay-Muslim support necessary for political advancement in UMNO, remains a black spot in his career. That career has featured an otherwise inclusive appeal to harmonious ethno-religious relations in the manner of convivencia in medieval Spain. The question of Anwar’s mixed history of yielding to pragmatic politics aside, Allers gives prominence to pluralism as a major aspect of Anwar’s religio-political thought that has gained credence globally, especially since his heavy-handed treatment by Malaysia’s ruling establishment  after  1998. Amidst the trials and tribulations that have befallen Anwar as a political

 

 

practitioner, Allers argues that his numerous writings and speeches relect fundamental consistency, rooted in his irm belief in not only the compatibility of but also the convergence between Islamic and universal principles such as freedom, justice and democracy. Anwar has been critical of Muslim leaders who have denied their citizens the rights due to them as human beings. Such criticisms have not, however, stopped Anwar from being honoured by his co-religionists with frequent accolades and speaking invitations from the Muslim commonwealth, not least from Turkey and Indonesia — the two countries to which he has most often referred as model Muslim democracies.

On the whole, Allers’ book is a sympathetic rendering of Anwar’s professional life, but it falls short of being unduly laudatory. Notwithstanding contradictions pertaining to his political praxis and the continually scurrilous attacks upon Anwar’s reputation engineered by Malaysia’s state-controlled mainstream media, the fact that an American-based pastor could take the trouble to conduct both primary and secondary research in producing The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat speaks volumes about Anwar’s untainted image in the eyes of admirers worldwide. Upon reading Allers’ book, one may wonder if Anwar would not have fared better as a globe-trotting international statesman preaching the virtues of democracy in an increasingly plural world. He was, after all, once considered for the post of secretary-general of the United Nations — a itting position from which to articulate a vision that has resonated across borders on matters such as “transcending tolerance” and masyarakat madani (civil society).

Anwar Ibrahim has, however, been at the end of the day, a true Malaysian and Malay-Muslim at heart. Sacriicing the comforts of possible retirement amidst global adulation, he has remained irst and foremost  concerned  with  reform  in  Malaysia.  On  the  basis of his capricious record, sceptics might nonetheless see in him a power-hungry individual intent on avenging the injustices done unto him, his family and his loyalists. His detractors, meanwhile, will be perennially scheming to prevent his rise to the apex of national leadership. This is evident in the recent Court of Appeal ruling

 

 

dismissing his previous High Court acquittal on fresh allegations of sodomy. This unexpected verdict rendered meaningless a by-election dubbed the “Kajang Move” and designed to install Anwar as chief minister of Selangor, purportedly as a launching pad to the prime ministership.

Whatever the outcome of his judicial troubles, Anwar’s place in Malaysian history is assured. While Anwar’s practical contribution remains constricted, his post-Reformasi discourse and programmes offered to Malaysians a viable alternative to the condescending, hegemonic and racialist politics to which they have been subjected by the UMNO-led political establishment since independence. Putting aside technical weaknesses such as the frequent presence of too many quotations from authors of divergent viewpoints in single sentences, The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat manages to capture Anwar’s undying vision of a better deal for Malaysia, Malaysians and Malay-Muslims. Allers contextually locates the heritage of that vision in Malaysian Islam’s legacy of sui-centric religious tolerance and Anwar’s own socio-religious upbringing at home and school, particularly at the English-orientated secondary institution, the Malay College of Kuala Kangsar. Whether Anwar’s lofty ideals see the light of day during his lifetime is left for Malaysians to decide in forthcoming polls.

 

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid

School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia; email:

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

DOI:  10.1355/sj29-3n

Adat and Indigeneity in Indonesia: Culture and Entitlements between Heteronomy and Self-Ascription. Edited by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen, 2013. 240 pp.

 

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin has contributed to academic debates about indigenous Balinese traditions and rituals for the last two decades. Her latest edited volume targets a wider readership than fellow

This review was published on Sojourn Magazine.

19 November 2014

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Islam with a Heart[1]

Professor Emad El-Din Shahin
Visiting Professor, Georgetown University
Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Columbia University
Professor of Public Policy,The American University in Cairo
Editor-in-Chief, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics

“We have Sent you but a Mercy to Humankind” Qur’an

“I am but a gift of Mercy” Prophet Muhammad

“People are of Two kinds: Your Brother in Faith or Your Equal in Creation” Ali Ibn Abi Talib

Abstract

What I am trying to accomplish in this piece is to revisit the connection between Islam and politics and place both within a humanistic and ethical framework. While I am not challenging the significance of governance (hukm) within the Islamic legal and historical contexts, I seek to shift the focus of our intellectual attention, at least at this critical juncture, away from the state to the human being and from law to ethics.

My main argument is that the human being, and not the state, should be at the core of Islamist political activity… and that ethics should be the foundation of our new perspectives of the Shari`a. These two domains were in fact at the heart of the Muslim intellectual endeavors during the Renaissance of Islam in the 10th century and the essence of the movement of Islamic modernism since the beginning of the twentieth century. These two movements were universal in appeal, humanistic in focus, inclusive in practice, and ethical in essence. I am hoping that my lecture today can help reclaim some of these values.

(more…)

16 November 2014

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Program 1: Kuliah di IIIT Virginia

The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
Public Lecture on the “Reflections on the Aftermath of the Arab Spring” by Anwar Ibrahim

Founder and Board Member, IIIT. Leader of the Malaysian Opposition. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

Tuesday, Nov.18. 6:30 – 8:00pm.
IIIT Library. 500 Grove St Suite 200, Herndon, VA

Space is limited !!!
To RSVP please email [email protected]

Program 2: Wacana ilmu di Stanford University

“Islam and Democracy: Malaysia in Comparative Perspective”
Featuring: Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Malaysian Politician. Leader of Opposition (Pakatan Rakyat), Malaysia

Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PST)
Stanford, CA

PROGRAM
~ Welcome Remarks and Introduction by Prof. Larry Diamond, Director for Stanford Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL)
~ Talk by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim
~ Panel Discussion; moderated by Prof. Larry Diamond
~ Question and Answer Session

RSVP: http://dsai-20141120-stanford.eventbrite.com

15 November 2014

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Foreign Policy

Harassment. Arbitrary arrest. Torture. Over the course of the last two months, Myanmar’s Rohingya minority has faced a brutal campaign of subjugation by the state.

Oct. 3, while sitting at home in an isolated village close to Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh, Farid Alam, a 36-year-old businessman and community leader, was summoned by the local border police to one of its bases in a nearby camp. On arrival, he was arrested and quickly driven to the agency’s headquarters. There, he was brutally tortured to death — a visitor from out of town who saw his body noted that one of his legs was broken, his penis burned, and his testicles smashed.

Alam’s murder is part of a recent escalation of violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state perpetrated by state forces against an ethnic minority known as the Rohingya, according to the Arakan Project, a Bangkok-based rights-monitoring group. Since September, the group has documented a spike in abuses, such as arbitrary arrests and even torture, by the Border Guard Police (BGP), a government agency that deals with suspected illegal immigrants, and by the military. At least four people, the group says, were confirmed to have been either beaten or tortured to death in custody.

The spike in violence has driven thousands to flee Myanmar via the sea in what has been described by the Associated Press as “one the largest boat exoduses in Asia since the Vietnam War.” Some 16,000 Rohingya have fled the country by boat since mid-October, according to the latest estimates by the Arakan Project — a figure nearly double that which it recorded during the same period last year.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who is visiting Myanmar this week, has claimed the country as one of his chief foreign-policy successes. However, Myanmar’s transition has been undermined by ongoing human rights abuses, particularly in Rakhine. The predominantly Muslim Rohingya community has faced dire circumstances since sectarian conflict broke out between the group and its largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine neighbors in June 2012. According to Human Rights Watch, pogroms committed against the Rohingya in 2012 at the hands of ethnic Rakhine mobs and state forces amounted to a “campaign of ethnic cleansing.” Following this, the Rohingya endured a series of deadly sectarian attacks perpetrated by groups of Rakhine, typically with impunity. In all, as a result of these events, several hundred have died, and around 140,000 Rohingya remain confined to squalid camps for the displaced. Yet in the months leading up to Obama’s visit, as documented in a series of Arakan Project reports given exclusively to Foreign Policy, the Rohingya have faced perhaps the most sustained campaign of targeted abuse by security forces in years.

In mid-October, Abu Tayab, a 27-year-old man, was arrested by the BGP after returning to Myanmar from a visit to neighboring Bangladesh. Brought to an immigration facility in Nga Khu Ya, his dead body, riddled with signs of torture, would be released the next day to a medical clinic for a postmortem, according to the group.

About a week after this incident, another man was found dead. Locals had witnessed the 42-year-old man being apprehended in Kyauk Pyin Seik village. Showing signs of assault, his body was later found in a river.

In addition to the killings, the Arakan Project has documented 144 arbitrary arrests in 28 locations in recent weeks. (Ye Htut, spokesman for Myanmar President Thein Sein, did not respond to a request to respond to the allegations.)

The allegations have emerged as Myanmar’s government has begun to implement its recently announced “Rakhine State Action Plan.” The strategy’s exact details have not been made public, but leaked draftsoutline the government’s plans. The policy offers members of the minority group two options: either present official proof of their family’s long-term presence in Myanmar while self-identifying as “Bengali” — in line with the government’s belief that the minority is largely composed of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh — or face confinement to internment camps and eventual resettlement abroad. Those who comply will be granted the chance to achieve a form of second-class citizenship. (Rohingya would be granted what amounts to citizenship, though the government could revoke it at any time pursuant to controversial junta-era legislation.)

Currently, very few look likely to assent to the government’s plan. Lewa reported that communities have been subjected to beatings, looting, and blockades by the security forces for not complying with “family list verification” exercises led by visiting immigration officials.

“It seems that the authorities may have been trying to get some Rohingya to classify themselves as Bengalis without their consent,” as per the requirements of the Rakhine State Action Plan, she noted.

With the issue of Rohingya migration being placed center stage in mediacoverage of Obama’s trip to Myanmar, the president has taken the opportunity to speak out against the Rakhine State Action Plan and emphasize his support for full citizenship rights for members of the group.

Yet it is unlikely that these statements can stem what Lewa calls “new surges of violence.” Matthew Smith, executive director of Bangkok-based NGO Fortify Rights, amplified these concerns, observing that attempts to force some Rohingya into referring to themselves as Bengalis, combined with the abuses outlined by Lewa, are likely to continue, contributing significantly to the increases in Rohingya maritime flight.

The persecution, he said, represents “various forms of ethnic cleansing at work.”

To some advocates, the timing of the recent abuses suggests some sort of coordination. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, observed that “an escalation of these attacks, especially at the outset of the traditional sailing season, when the weather in the Andaman ocean calms down, is far too convenient to be a complete coincidence.”

“It appears that the ethnic Rakhine and their allies in Burma’s security forces are doing what they can to empty Rakhine state of the Rohingya,” he added, “one boatload at a time.”

15 November 2014

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Malaysiakini

Sasterawan Negara Datuk A Samad Said menasihatkan agar masyarakat Melayu tidak taksub dengan dakwaan sesetengah pihak yang mengatakan bahawa bangsa itu kini semakin terancam.

Katanya, masyarakat perlu memahami bahawa Malaysia diperintah oleh seorang pemimpin Melayu yang turut mewakili parti yang dikatakan memperjuangkan bangsa itu.

Oleh itu, beliau hairan kerana masih timbul dakwaan dakwaan masih timbul bahawa kedudukan orang Melayu kini terancam, katanya  yang lebih mesra dengan panggilan Pak Samad.

“Saya harapkan masyarakat Melayu janganlah terlalu taksub dengan hebahan bahawa orang Melayu sedang terancam.

Macam mana orang Melayu terancam? Macam mana agama, Melayu terancam apabila orang yang berkuasa di atas adalah orang Melayu selama lima dekad. Apa yang dia buat duduk di atas selama lima dekad itu?

“Kalau kedudukannya itu tidak mampu membuat orang Melayu berfikir secara waras, keluar (turun) sahaja.

“Biar orang Melayu lain (yang tadbir). Dia tadbir lima dekad. Bukan satu dekad,” katanya dalam satu temubual denganMalaysiakini.

Kebimbangan seperti itu antara lainnya dibangkitkan oleh anggota majlis tertinggi Umno, Tan Sri Ibrahim Abu Shah yang percaya orang Melayu tidak akan dapat menguasai pentadbiran sekiranya Umno dan BN tewas dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.

Perkara sama turut dibangkitkan oleh Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek yang dilaporkan mendakwa orang Melayu kini berasa tidak dialu-alukan di sebuah negeri yang dipimpin sebuah parti pembangkang.

Walau tidak menyatakan parti khusus, beliau dipercayai membayangkan negeri Pulau Pinang yang diterajui DAP.

15 November 2014

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Malaysiakini

Perhaps – perhaps – the auditor-general may not be able to or have to audit the accounts of scandal-ridden national strategic investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd or 1MDB. But surely he can make an assessment of the impact of 1MDB on government finances and the threats it might pose. And more.

It’s easy for auditor-general Ambrin Buang to throw his hands up in the air and say there is no reason for him to audit 1MDB because it has already been audited by a big four accounting firm – Deloitte.

To quote him: “Why are we not auditing 1MDB? My answer is that its accounts have already been audited by one of the ‘big four’,” Ambrin told a town hall meeting session with the media on Wednesday on the third series of the 2013 Auditor-General’s Report that was released on Monday.

“So, there is no reason why we should come in again,” he said, responding to media questions on why it had not taken any audit action on the controversial 1MDB.

“Auditing financial statements is a very labourious examination.”

Indeed it is. But does that mean that the auditor-general sits around and twiddles his thumbs while a major scandal involving a company fully owned by the government’s Minister of Finance Inc unfolds right before his eyes? Surely he has been reading the newspapers.

Don’t highly questionable things like raising funds willy-nilly, underpricing bonds while paying too much for assets, paying high interest rates, keeping billions of ringgit in low yielding deposits while raising even more funds and paying a fortune in fees to Goldman Sachs not pique the auditor-general’s curiosity?

Let’s put down some facts first about 1MDB for the benefit of the auditor-general. It would not have made any profits since its inception in 2009. If not for revaluation of government property sold cheaply to it, its losses to date would have been RM5 billion as at end March 2014.

On the liability side, it is funded by RM1 billion in share capital by the Minister of Finance Inc. But its borrowings as of March 31, 2014 amount to a massive RM42 billion, 42 times the share capital.

The gearing ratio, the percentage of debt to shareholders funds or equity of RM1.7 billion, is a massive 24 to 20 percent which could be among the largest if not the largest for any large company in Malaysia. In the private sector, that kind of gearing will be considered unbearable.

To cap it all, it is doing very little with that kind of borrowings. It has bought power assets worth some RM10.5 billion for which it took a loan despite there being considerable liquidity within the firm. Even if we subtract that RM10.5 billion from RM42 billion, some RM31.5 billion is substantially unaccounted for.

Available for sale assets, a vague term for financial assets which are held for sale and for which there may be no provision for diminution in value, comes up to a massive RM13.4 billion, including RM7.7 billion tied up in Cayman Islands in a mysterious segregated portfolio company which no one knows anything about.

Apart from that, there are various cash or near cash assets which account for a further RM9.1 billion. Add these up and the total amount of assets doing practically nothing comes up to a massive RM22.5 billion. Why keep these assets in near cash and then borrow some more?

In the first few years alone of its life, after stripping out revaluation gains, it is obvious that 1MDB has not been able to earn more than the interest on borrowings as shown by the RM5 billion losses. Why? And why is it continuing to borrow? And can it ever get assets that will earn significantly more than the interest costs?

Loan mispricing

What about 1MDB’s loan mispricing, which is already over RM4 billion and could eventually amount to RM7 billion or more if new loans were made on the same basis? And what about the massive fees paid to Goldman Sachs of over RM500 million for arranging some loans?

Surely the auditor-general can do something about these. After all, the Minister of Finance Inc, is a government company, no different from any company owned by a ministry. 1MDB is that company’s wholly owned subsidiary. Surely the auditor-general has every right to probe any government company which poses a threat to government finances.

Remember that the government originally said that it guaranteed explicitly only RM5.8 billion of loans and denied there was any letter of support for anything more. But now after the support letter came out in the press, it now concedes there was indeed such a letter for a further RM10 billion.

How many more letters of support could there be for 1MDB? And what about other government companies and bodies?

Legal opinion is that the letters of support are in substance no different from guarantees and that the government will have to pay up in the event of default by 1MDB. Surely this is an area which concerns the auditor-general and the amount of contingent liabilities the government has to bear.

The auditor-general plays a role as the watchdog of the government and the public. It is his obligation to publicly highlight potential threats to government finances and to make recommendations to avoid them, and probe them if need be.

He has done this commendably well for other government departments and bodies. Why should any exemption be given for 1MDB? What’s so special about 1MDB?

5 November 2014

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Article written by John Esposito and John Voll.

Anwar Ibrahim is in the Malaysian Federal Court this week for what hopefully is the last chapter in a sordid affair that has done nothing but distract him from his reform agenda. We have been critical of Malaysia’s judiciary in the past and hope that at this moment in time, the five judges who are tasked with reviewing the appeal of Ibrahim’s March conviction on charges of sodomy, will adhere strictly to the rule of law and not be swayed by external political influences.

Malaysia’s image as an example or a model of a Muslim majority country that is on a democratic path, economically vibrant, adheres to the rule of law, and a model to the world on how to exist as a pluralistic society is under tremendous strain today. Ibrahim’s trial is just one example of how dissident voices calling for reform of institutions in Malaysia are being persecuted. In just the last two months, nearly two dozen activists have been charged under Malaysia’s archaic Sedition Act, including Ibrahim.

Ultra right wing groups have targeted minority communities threatening to burn bibles and tell the “immigrant” Chinese and Indian population of Malaysia to go home.

Academic freedom is also under attack. Two highly regarded professors were charged with sedition and Ibrahim’s lecture scheduled to take place at the University of Malaya on Monday night was systemically blocked. University staff, dismissed early in the day, and the front gates of the university were put on lockdown. A few thousand brave students defied the ban and were able to hear Ibrahim speak.

At a time when the world is confronting violent and regressive movements in parts of the Muslim world, Malaysia could be a shining example of what is possible when Muslims focus on rebuilding the tradition of scholarship, technology, and pluralism that is present throughout the history of Islamic civilisation. While the prime minister has made positive remarks about the need for a “movement of moderates” in the Muslim world, the actions of his party at home belie his intentions.

The continuing efforts to use the judicial system against opposition political leaders will undermine Malaysia’s leadership role in regional and global affairs as well as weaken Malaysia’s traditions of political openness and democracy.

Malaysian authorities, as Human Rights Watch Asia director, Phil Robertson, has stated, “risk making a travesty of the country’s criminal justice system” unless they withdraw their case against Ibrahim.

Former US Vice President Al Gore framed the issue clearly last March when he said: “It is extremely disturbing that the government of Malaysia – by continuing to press this case beyond the bounds of reason, let alone the bounds of justice – has used the courts to short-circuit the political process.”

John L Esposito is University Professor and Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Georgetown University. His recent books are The Future of Islam and (with I Kalin) Islamophobia and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century.

John O Voll is Professor of Islamic History at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/11/questionable-trial-anwar-ibrahi-201411455121912547.html

2 November 2014

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

I have been a trial observer in Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trials since 1999. In fact, I have only missed to observe his trial once -that was when the Malaysian Court of Appeals overturned the High Court’s previous decision acquitting him from all charges.

I made it a point hence to observe oral arguments in Ibrahim’s case before the Malaysian Supreme Court. Similar to ours, the Malaysian Supreme Court sits in many divisions. The proceedings I had the chance to observe had five justices on it.

Unfortunately, my commitments at home did not allow me to observe for more than two days of oral arguments. I thought that the two days would be enough because in our own Supreme Court, very seldom will the Court hear a matter for more than two sittings.

But the Malaysian Court is different, Unlike ours, which will only hear issues of law, the Malaysian Court heard arguments point by point on why the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the High Court. I had the privilege of hearing two children of the revered but recently passed barrister Karpal Singh, both of whom argued that the Appellate Court erred in convicting Ibrahim on the basis of dubious DNA evidence.

While DNA as a science is itself accepted, what made the use of DNA evidence dubious in Ibrahim’s case was the fact that while the DNA extracted from a towel, a comb and a tooth brush allegedly used by Ibrahim came from one and the same person, there was nonetheless no direct evidence that they were in fact the DNA of Ibrahim! DNA as a science would itself confirm if DNA found from an object is from a particular person. But in the case of Ibrahim, the Appellate court overturned his conviction on the basis of mere circumstantial evidence that they could only have come form Ibrahim, despite the absence of scientific link to him.

This kind of a conclusion would not have been possible in the Philippine or any other jurisdiction with the semblance of an independent judiciary. The fact that the Malaysian Appellate Court convicted him under this dubious condition could only mean that it abdicated its independence and agreed to be a tool of the ruling party, UMNO, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in an effort to stymie Ibrahim and the rest of the country’s opposition into surrender.

But battle tested democrats don’t succumb to threats easily. By highlighting the obvious, Anwar has turned the table on the Malaysian Judiciary. No court in this planet could have convicted him on the basis of DNA evidence with no direct link to him. The questions now is whether the Malaysian Supreme Court will exhibit independence and acquit Ibrahim, or be swayed by the ruling party as did the Court of Appeals. In a way, what I observed was the Malaysian Courts on trial, and not just Anwar Ibrahim’s case.

All freedom loving people of the world eagerly await the outcome of this trial. For with it is also a verdict on the independence and integrity of the Malaysian Courts.

Harry Roque

Roque & Butuyan Law Offices
1904 Antel Corporate Center
121 Valero Street, Salcedo Village
1227 Makati City, Philippines

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