For my son, when he grows up, this site will be my legacy for him. The decisions his mother and I made for him, to understand them, to learn from them and to lead a life without prejudice and to succeed in it on his own merit.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A plea that's worth a try to the hardcore


KUALA LUMPUR, SEPT 30 - Datuk Seri Zaid Ibrahim, who quit as de facto Law Minister on 15 September 2008 because he wasn't getting any support for his proposed reforms, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the abolition of the ISA.

Zaid says in the letter that the government has failed the people in repeatedly reneging on Tunku Abduk Rahman's promise that "the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent"

Here is his letter in full:

IN our proclamation of independence, our first prime minister gave voice to the lofty aspirations and dreams of the people of Malaya: that Malaya was founded on the principles of liberty and justice, and the promise that collectively we would always strive to improve the welfare and happiness of its people.

Many years have passed since that momentous occasion and those aspirations and dreams remain true and are as relevant to us today as they were then. This was made possible by a strong grasp of fundamentals in the early period of this nation.The federal constitution and the laws made pursuant to it were well founded; they embodied the key elements of a democracy built on the rule of law. The Malaysian judiciary once commanded great respect from Malaysians and was hailed as a beacon for other nations.

Our earlier prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were truly leaders of integrity, patriots in their own right and most importantly, men of humility. They believed in and built this nation on the principles and values enunciated in our constitution.

Even when they had to enact the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, they were very cautious and apologetic about it. Tunku stated clearly that the Act was passed to deal with the communist threat.

"My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent," was what the Tunku said.

Our third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, reinforced this position by saying that the ISA was not intended to repress lawful political opposition and democratic activity on the part of the citizenry.

The events of the last three weeks have compelled me to review the way in which the ISA has been used. This exercise has sadly led me to the conclusion that the government has time and time again failed the people of this country in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This has been made possible because the government and the law have mistakenly allowed the minister of home affairs to detain anyone for whatever reason he thinks fit. This subjective discretion has been abused to further certain political interests.

History is the great teacher and speaks volumes in this regard. Even a cursory examination of the manner in which the ISA has been used almost from its inception would reveal the extent to which its intended purpose has been subjugated to the politics of the day.

Regrettably, Tunku Abdul Rahman himself reneged on his promise. In 1965, his administration detained Burhanuddin Helmi, the truly towering Malay intellectual, a nationalist who happened to be a PAS leader. He was kept in detention until his death in 1969. Helmi was a political opponent and could by no stretch of the imagination be considered to have been involved in the armed rebellion or communism that the ISA was designed to deal with.

This detention was an aberration, a regrettable moment where politics had been permitted to trump the rule of law. It unfortunately appears to have set a precedent and many detentions of persons viewed as having been threatening to the incumbent administration followed through the years.

Even our literary giant, ‘sasterawan negara’ the late Tan Sri A Samad Ismail was subjected to the ISA in 1976. How could he have been a threat to national security?

I need not remind you of the terrible impact of the 1987 Operasi Lalang. Its spectre haunts the government as much as it does the peace-loving people of this nation, casting a gloom over all of us. There were and still are many unanswered questions about those dark hours when more than a hundred persons were detained for purportedly being threats to national security. Why they were detained has never been made clear to Malaysians.

Similarly, no explanation has been forthcoming as to why they were never charged in court. Those detainees included amongst their numbers senior opposition members of parliament who are still active in Parliament today.

The only thing that is certain about that period was that Umno was facing a leadership crisis. Isn’t it coincidental that the recent spate of ISA arrests has occurred when Umno is again having a leadership crisis?

In 2001, Keadilan ‘reformasi’ activists were detained in an exercise that the Federal Court declared was in bad faith and unlawful. The continued detention of those that were not released earlier in the Kamunting detention facility was made possible only by the fact that the ISA had been questionably amended in 1988 to preclude judicial review of the minister’s order to detain.

Malaysians were told that these detainees had been attempting to overthrow the government via militant means and violent demonstrations. Seven years have gone and yet no evidence in support of this assertion has been presented. Compounding the confusion even further, one of these so-called militants, Ezam Mohamad Noor, recently rejoined Umno to great fanfare, as a prized catch it would seem.

At around the same time, members of PAS were also detained for purportedly being militant and allegedly having links to international terrorist networks. Those detained included Nik Adli, the son of Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the menteri besar of Kelantan. Malaysians were made a promise by the government that evidence of the alleged terrorist activities and links of these detainees would be disclosed. To date no such evidence has been produced.

The same formula was used in late 2007 when the Hindraf 5 were detained. Malaysians were told once again that these individuals were involved in efforts to overthrow the government and had links with the militant Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka. To date no concrete evidence have been presented to support this assertion.

It would seem therefore that the five were detained for their involvement in efforts that led to a mobilisation of Indian Malaysians to express, through peaceful means; their frustration against the way in which their community had been allowed to be marginalised. This cause has since been recognised as a legitimate one. The Hindraf demonstration is nothing extraordinary as such assemblies are universally recognised as being a legitimate means of expression.

In the same vein, the grounds advanced in support of the most recent detentions of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamarudin leave much to be desired. The explanation that Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for her own safety was farcical. The suggestion that Teresa Kok had been inciting religious sentiments was unfounded as was evinced by her subsequent release.

As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, the prominent critic of the government, a perusal of his writings would show that he might have been insulting of the government and certain individuals within it.

However, being critical and insulting could not in any way amount to a threat to national security. If his writings are viewed as being insulting of Islam, Muslims or the Holy Prophet, he should instead be charged under the Penal Code and not under the ISA.

In any event, he had already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation in respect of some of his statements. He had claimed trial, indicating as such his readiness and ability to defend himself. Justice would best be served by allowing him his day in court more so where, in the minds of the public, the government is in a position of conflict for having been the target of his strident criticism. The instances cited above strongly suggest that the government is undemocratic. It is this perspective that has over the last 25 plus years led to the government seemingly arbitrarily detaining political opponents, civil society and consumer advocates, writers, businessmen, students, journalists whose crime, if it could be called that, was to have been critical of the government.

How it is these individuals can be perceived as being threats to national security is beyond my comprehension. The self-evident reality is that legitimate dissent was and is quashed through the heavy-handed use of the ISA.

There are those who support and advocate this carte-blanche reading of the ISA. They will seek to persuade you that the interests of the country demand that such power be retained, that Malaysians owe their peace and stability to laws such as the ISA. This overlooks the simple truth that Malaysians of all races cherish peace. We lived together harmoniously for the last 400 years, not because of these laws but in spite of them.

I believe the people of this country are mature and intelligent enough to distinguish actions that constitute a ‘real’ threat to the country from those that threaten political interests. Malaysians have come know that the ISA is used against political opponents and, it would seem, when the leadership is under challenge either from within the ruling party or from external elements.

They value freedom and the protection of civil liberties and this is true of people of other nations too.

Mr Prime Minister, the results of the last general election are clear indication that the people of Malaysia are demanding a reinstatement of the rule of law. I was appointed as your, albeit short-lived, minister in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.

I need not remind you that that constitutional amendment was prompted by the same series of events that led not only to Operasi Lalang but the sacking of the then Lord President and two supreme court justices.

It was this constitutional amendment that paved the way for the ouster provision in the ISA that virtually immunises the minister from judicial review, a provision which exemplifies the injustice the constitutional amendment of 1988 has lent itself.

I also sought to introduce means by which steps could be taken to assist the judiciary to regain the reputation for independence and competence it once had. Unfortunately, this was viewed as undesirable by some since an independent judiciary would mean that the executive would be less ‘influential’.

I attempted to do these things and more because of the realisation that Malaysia’s democratic traditions and the rule of law are under siege. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with giving everyone an independent judiciary and the opportunity to a fair trial.

If there are national security considerations, then these can be approached without jettisoning the safeguards intended to protect individual citizens from being penalised wrongfully. In other jurisdictions involved in armed conflicts, trials are held in camera to allow for judicial scrutiny of evidence considered too sensitive for public disclosure so as to satisfy the ends of justice.

Any doubts as to the continued relevance of the ISA in its present form should have been put to rest by the recommendation by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) that the ISA be repealed and an anti-terror legislation suited to the times enacted in its place. Containing as it did a sunset clause in its original times, the ISA was never intended to be a permanent feature on the Malaysian legal landscape.

Through its continued use in the manner described above and in the face of public sentiment, it is only natural that the ISA has become in the mind of the people an instrument of oppression and the government is one that lends itself to oppressiveness.

Its continued use does not bode well for a society that is struggling to find its place in the global arena. It does not bode well for the democracy that is so vital for us to develop sustainably.

Sir, you are still the prime minister and you still have the opportunity to leave your footprint in Malaysian history. I urge you to do so by repealing the ISA once and for all.

Let us attempt to fulfil that solemn promise made by our beloved first prime minister to the people of this country.

Yours sincerely,

Zaid Ibrahim

Monday, September 29, 2008

How To Bid For Projects

At a project tender interview.

Tenderer 1

Interviewer: Your bid is 3 million. How do you justify your tender sum?

Korean tenderer: 1 million for labour, 1 million for materials and 1 million for expenses and a little profit.

Interviewer: Ok. Thank you. Next!

Tenderer 2

Interviewer: Your bid is 6 million. How do you justify your tender sum?

Japanese tenderer: 2 million for labour, 2 million for materials and 2 million for expenses and a little profit.

Interviewer: Ok. Thank you. Next!

Tenderer 3

Interviewer: Your bid is 9 million. This is way above everyone else. How do you justify your tender sum?

Malaysian tenderer: 3 million for YOU, 3 million for ME, and we get the Koreans to do it for 3 million.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saddle them, ride them out

Operation Lalang (Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lalang) was carried out on October 27, 1987 by the Malaysian police to crack down on opposition leaders and social activists. The operation saw the infamous arrest of 106 persons under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the revoking of the publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan.


The political developments which brought this second largest ISA swoop in Malaysian history since the May 13 riots, were sparked ostensibly by mounting political tensions having strong racial overtones. According to the White Paper explaining the arrests, various groups who had played up "sensitive issues" and thus created "racial tension" in the country had exploited the government's liberal and tolerant attitude. This racial tension made the arrests necessary and further, forced the government to act "swiftly and firmly" to contain the situation.

Vernacular Chinese school controversy

The sensitive issues were brought on by what appeared innocuously enough as Education Ministry appointments of some 100 senior assistants and principals to vernacular Chinese schools. This provoked a storm of protest when it was learnt that those appointed were Chinese who were not Mandarin-educated.

Politicians from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the Democratic Action Party (DAP), GERAKAN and major Chinese-based parties joined the protests and on October 11, 1987, the Dong Jiao Zong (Chinese educationists) held a 2,000-strong gathering at the Hainanese Association Building, beside the Thian Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, which evoked racially provocative speeches from the Chinese politicians present. The meeting resolved to call a three-day boycott in Chinese schools if the government did not settle the appointments issue. The boycott was called off later, albeit at the eleventh hour.

Response by UMNO Youth and detentions

In the event, even though the boycott was cancelled, the stage was set for a mirror response from the Malays, led by UMNO Youth. A mass rally of 10,000 was held at the TPCA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur and, by then, UMNO politicians had begun to condemn MCA leaders for their collusion with the Dong Jiao Zong and the opposition DAP. Amidst calls from both sides for the resignations of MCA Deputy President and Labour Minister Lee Kim Sai and UMNO Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim, UMNO announced the holding of a mammoth rally in KL to celebrate its 41st Anniversary, which it was claimed would see the attendance of half a million members.

The proposed UMNO rally was the ostensible reason for the Inspector General of Police to precipitate the 27 October crackdown. Had the rally been held it was not improbable that racial riots could be sparked by the incendiary speeches of UMNO politicians. To make matters worse, a tinder box situation was already created by the rampage of a Malay soldier who killed a Malay and two Chinese with an M16 rifle in the Chow Kit area, straddling two large Chinese and Malay communities.

The pundits have it that the Prime Minister had to have a quid pro quo for cancelling the UMNO rally. Hence the arrests of prominent Chinese politicians.

Najib Tun Razak, then-president of the UMNO Youth wing, had led a massive Malay rally in Kampung Baru. The Chinese community was gripped with fear of the possibility of May 13 repeating, and many Chinese businesses around the city was closed for a few days to avoid any potential attacks from the Malay ultra-nationalists.


Operation Lalang resulted in the arrest of 106 people under the Internal Security Act. Among the more prominent detainees were opposition leader and DAP Secretary-General Lim Kit Siang, ALIRAN President Chandra Muzaffar, DAP Deputy Chairman Karpal Singh, MCA Vice President and Perak Chief Chan Kit Chee, PAS Youth Chief Halim Arshat, UMNO MP for Pasir Mas Ibrahim Ali, and UMNO Youth Education Chairman Mohamed Fahmi Ibrahim. Other prominent non-political detainees included Dong Jiao Zhong (Chinese Education Associations) Chairman Lim Fong Seng, Publicity Chief of the Civil Rights Committee Kua Kia Soong, and WAO member Irene Xavier.

Besides that, there was also another detainee called Hilmy Noor, a Malay Christian, who was accused for "disrupting the Malay culture by being a Christian", while the Federal Constitution of Malaysia defines a Malay as someone who is a Muslim, speaks Malay, and practices Malay culture. The detainees were kept at the usual place used for ISA detainees, at Kamunting Detention Center.

Although most of the detainees were released either conditionally or unconditionally, 40 were issued detention order of two years. Included were Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh plus five other party colleagues, a number of PAS members and many social activists. A categorization of the initially named detainees, numbering 97, gives the following breakdown: political parties: 37; social movements: 23; individuals: 37.

Effects on political and press freedom

In any case, the incident provided Mahathir's government with the excuse to further tighten the executive stranglehold on politics. In the following year, the Printing Presses and Publications Act was amended so that it more difficult for printers and publishers to retain printing licenses eliminating the renewal process. They would have to annually re-apply. In addition if any license is revoked, it could not be challenged in court. A prison term was added for publication of false news, jail sentence for up to three years.

The leading Malaysian English daily, The Star, was closed down for a few months. In the weeks prior to Operation Lalang, The Star had continuously provided transparent news coverage about the Opposition's point of view. This constituted treason as far as the government was concerned, and they were shut down under Malaysia's repressive sedition laws. The Star resumed publication months later under new management that was installed by UMNO. Most of the previous staff were laid off or otherwise threatened with prison and ISA.

From that point onwards, The Star, as well as many other media outlets in Malaysia, became government-controlled mouthpieces with an obvious pro-government slant. These media outlets were also noticeably whitewashing all of the UMNO government's wrongdoings and corruption. All the cover-up and whitewashing by the mass media became more obvious towards the late-90's, when another power struggle within UMNO (the Mahathir vs Anwar episode) revealed the extent of corruption and crimes among the UMNO executive that have never been revealed or reported.

Amendments were also made to the Police Act making it practically impossible to hold any political meeting, including a party's annual general meeting, without a police permit. A conviction could mean a fine of RM10,000 and a jail term of one year. Even an assembly of more than five people in a public area is considered an "illegal assembly" and could not be held without a police permit. This law was intentionally made to be so restrictive in order to give the police arbitrary rights to detain any group in public by citing it is an illegal assembly.
The Aftermath (Stories by detainees)
Jamaluddin Othman @Yeshua Jamaluddin, a Malay who converted to Christianity and subsequently became Pastor of the Fellowship of Indigenous Christians in Selangor, arrested on 27 Oct 1987

His interrogators stripped him naked and forced him to enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As he was made to crawl naked on the floor, for 10 minutes, one Inspector Yusoff told several other Special Branch officers in the room, “Ini orang Melayu tak sedar diri.”

He was not allowed sleep for days at a stretch and was warned that he would not be fed unless he co-operated. The same Inspector Yusoff also threatened to “disturb” his girlfriend if he did not divulge the information they demanded. Inspector Yusoff and two other Inspectors, Zainudding and Ayub, assaulted him on several occasions, causing him to injure his back and pass out blood in his urine.

At one stage of interrogation, he was made to stand for two hours on one leg with both arms outstretched holding his slippers. A woman constable and her young daughter were brought in to watch him while a police constable said, “Ini Melayu tak sedar diri, tukar agama, tak malu.”

Jamaluddin was also coerced to convert back to Islam. “I got the clear impression that all my interviews with the Special Branch was for the purpose of getting me to change my religion from Christianity to Islam,” he told the Supreme Court.

Abdul Rahman Hamzah, a former Sarawak State Assemblyman and political secretary to the former Sarawak Chief Minister, arrested on 20 Sept 1988. He told of how he was so severely beaten by his interrogators that at one stage, he lost consciousness out of pain and fear.

Among other things, his interrogators throttled him until saliva dribbled down his chin and his tongue hung out, all the while hitting him in the face and head. They twisted his wrist and his body round several times before swinging him violently against the wall. He was forced to perform mock sexual acts by his sneering torturers, who also used stretched rubber bands to flick painfully at his ears, chest and nipples.

They threw ashtrays at him and beat and poked at him with a broom. He had to do endless strenuous exercises like duck-walking, leap-frogging, crawling on all fours and “swimming”on the floor. All these were aimed at destroying his self-esteem and reducing him to a helpless wreck. If he stopped from exhaustion, they kicked him.

They put a large tin over his head and hit it hard with a stick. The sound within was deafening and he suffered cuts and bruises all over his head and face. He was also given the notorious “wet treatment”. They pushed his face into a filthy squat-type toilet and flushed it repeatedly.

Abdul Rahman recalled, “The interrogators would appear to be possessed by the devil. When they interrogated me, their lips, hands and fingers would quiver. At times like this, I was frightened as I felt I was in the hands of people who had lost their reason.”

The torture only stopped after he caved in and “confessed” to having planted explosives at the Sarawak Semarak site in July the previous year.

Irene Xavier, social activist, arrested on 31 Oct 1987. She was abused, insulted, threatened and bullied like an animal.

“I shall always remember how on the ninth day of my detention, I was beaten with a stick. It was the most humiliating experience in my life. I was forced to stand there while an inspector of the Special Branch beat me with a stick - to remind me that they were not going to treat women more leniently. I was truly in a state of shock.

Chow Chee Keong, social activist, arrested on 28 Oct 1987.

He was questioned for nearly 13 hours, coerced to admit to being a communist Marxist. An interrogator tried to burn his genitals with a burning rolled-up piece of newspaper. They pulled his hair, stepped hard on his fingers and toes with their booted feet and whacked his back with rolled-up bundles of newspapers.

They also enjoyed kicking his chair from under him, causing him to topple to the floor and splashing him with cold water before standing his drenched body in front of the air-conditioner. He was made to do so many push-ups that he could hardly lift his arms to feed himself.

Dr Munawar Ahmad Anees, Anwar's former speech writer, arrested on 14 Sept 1998.

"They screamed and screamed and screamed, in my ears, at my face, at me, again and again, over and over asking me to say 'yes' until I gave in and broke down saying yes, yes."

The way Munawar raved and raged against a legal counsel who had turned up to represent him, exposed the cruel and chilling terror of torture and trauma he had been subjected to.

In his affidavit, he summed up his horrendous experiece: "They stripped me of all self-respect; they degraded me and broke down my will and resistence; they threatened me and my family; they frightened me; they brainwashed me to the entent that I ended up in court on 19 Sept a shivering shell of a man willing to do anything to stop the destruction of my being."

Abdul Aziz Ishak: They said, ‘Datuk Raja Abu Hanifah and Ishak Haji Mohamed have confessed. So why should you not do so?’ I was not deterred nor deluded by this line of approach. Had they not begun to realize even yet that the answers I had given to their questions were honest? Did they really expect me to break down and tell some other story that would fit in with the confessions?

Syed Husin Ali: ‘You know. I can force you to crawl and lick the floor,’ he shouted. I continued to remain silent. Go to hell with him! If they refused to believe me and wanted to torture me, let them. God would repay them for all they did.

Kassim Ahmad: I wanted to cry but my tears wouldn’t flow. The face of my youngest son, Ahmad Shauqi, nine years of age then and in Standard 3, floated before my eyes. He was the child to whom I was closest. I thought, he surely wouldn’t understand why his father was arrested.

James Wong Kim Min:A horrifying aspect of detention without trial in the Malaysian manner is that the detainee is considered guilty from the start. The old and honourable maxim that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty means nothing. From the moment I was arrested some officials seemed delighted to regard me as guilty.

Dr Kua Kia Soong: ‘Why don’t you join the Barisan Nasional (the ruling coalition)?’ was a constant refrain and offer that was put to me during the interrogations…. ‘Don’t you know you have been used? We’ve got statements from one of your leaders (also under detention at the time) to show that he has used you all along!’

Dr Tan Seng Giaw: Under sustained duress, detainees can behave in unusual manners. The pressure of a caged person in addition to temporary or permanent damage sustained during the first 60 days can affect detainees’ behaviour.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A tales of tails wagging

12 September 2008, in a single day, the police, with the use of ISA, arrested 3 individuals on what is perceived as national security and a threat to the well being of the country. Expectedly, prominent blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin of Malaysia Today website was as he described in his own posting, forecasted his arrest on the many articles he wrote criticizing the government. The other two, MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, may have been the result of some circus shows. I offered my own views and opinions on what the whole arrest is perceived to be yet I will not conclude if ever they are rightfully executed or performed.

1. Tan Hoon Cheng – A branding exercise

Released 18 hours later because the police have no further grounds to detain her, and with the contradicting statements made between Home Minister Syed Hamid and the police, the government realized that a blunder is in the offing.

The only recourse is to release her unconditionally. The police acted in view of her braveness in publishing the article which caused a furore among the coalition ruling parties and even from the opposition. That article alone had somehow contributed to BN failure to win the Permatang Pauh by-election which PKR won with a huge majority.

This detention is seen as a message to the press and also to ensure that certain sensitive issues are to be buffered accordingly not to create disharmony. There was never any real reason to detain her in the first place. What she went thru was merely a ride in the park in the presence of watchful authority, and please forgive me if it sounded like a picnic. I’m sure it’s not, for Tan Hoon Cheng.

I see it as nothing more than a “branding” exercise for the ruling government.

Until today, the police have yet justified their action on this arrest. But it’s very obvious that the media, both controlled and otherwise, had came out more vocal and opinionated than before.

2. Teresa Kok – A publicity stun

Accused of spearheading the petition for the call of azan to be toned down at mosque, which she relentlessly denied ever having any part in it. Her arrest was deemed by many organizations including ministers in the ruling party as politically motivated.

Probably the real agenda is the sentiments of the muslims which could caused some uneasiness and to curb this, investigation of a publicity nature is carried out to clear the air of any misunderstanding which could be crucial. Before her ISA arrest, the issue was only a flicker in the news print.

By applying the ISA onto her, the police not only made themselves more popular with the general population, it also reinforces BN policy on their supremacist rule. This is evident by the lack of proof on all three accusation made on Teresa by the police during questioning as highlighted during her media statement after her released 7 days later. And the mosque incidents now have indirectly became a national issue in no small part by this action.

However, no further probe on the accusation as to who initiated it in the first place. Though the bloggers world all had their definite conclusion and the police did not probe further.

3. Raja Petra Kamarudin – A staunch critic to be cleansed

Many times over, his controversy articles have raised awareness among Malaysians with his unique style of expression and writing. He put forward facts which was never, or hardly, disputed or challenged with a lawsuit. It was simply denied in press conferences by the unfortunate entities.

This is not someone who can break easily under pressure by the authority to comply. In the event any or all of his articles were contested in court, there is a possibility all the sources of his information will be revealed and the authenticity of it’s articles will be put to the test. Can someone of high ranking whom are the issue of his writings dare risk that?

His arrest was long anticipated, under ISA. While he is fully aware of the consequences, his continuance to subscribe to a free flow of information to the Malaysian public in it’s rawness with cold hard facts that have yet been condemned by it's own recepients.

As the judiciary process itself is a long period which could span into months or years, he still have the opportunity to further expand his activities, the ISA is invoke to severe such prospect of continuing the alternate media stream. It is also a distraction in itself from the general public of turmoil facing the ruling party. This has clearly proved to be true in the last few weeks after his arrest.

Till to date, no explanation on the released of Ms Tan or Teresa Kok or to the progress of the said crimes or acts which caused national security and stability. Neither did the police offer any justification as to their arrest except the media statement which was read out in monotonous dialogue.

With all the news upfront now on the abolishment of ISA, there’s a signal going round that all is not well at the national front. The above 3 acts alone and it’s aftermath have created a media frenzy occupying so much space in our dailies that our own economy is at a perilous stage.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fast Forward - Malaysia circa 2024

Looking out the oval shape window, I could see endless clouds for miles and miles ahead hovering over a landscape that is all too familiar by now. Peering across my son still asleep after an almost 12 hour non-stop flight from where we resided for the last 15 years since early 2010. Coming back to my birth place, although 3 visits made in the past, this time, it’s different. Different because now we are returning to help rebuild a nation out of a long drawn concealed cancerous ruin and allow our children to really grow up to become a new breed of countrymen without fear and prejudice.

I sadly recall the time when we made our final bid for farewell after successfully applied for residence in a country where its culture is still alien to us. But we adapted well and my son had since graduated and went on to become a prominent consultant to the education ministry of our host country who gladly accepted us then for our merit.

We continued to follow up on events and happenings in our birth country amid all the uncertainty thru the years and advising those needed help and a way out of their situation. With rare precious occasional visits by family and friends which we gladly put them up to know face to face of detail updates brought our hearts closer to home.

2009 was the year of that fateful event. It was the year where new policies and regulations implemented to curb the ever increasing flow of information in that digital age. The government invested some RM5 billion installing the latest state of the art software and hardware system capable to monitor and track down every insinuation made on the digital hemispheres. We see our friendly neighbours, their children and friends, being arrested for speaking their mind of the government’s short comings that once fought their rights for freedom of speech. From the very government who gave us independence.

Demonstrations and protests did not deter them from their stands and the continuance of seemingly lawful arrests, to a point where every police station in the nations were congested and trials were becoming too tedious for the judiciary to preside. Eventually, one can wait for years before even having his, her or theirs first hearings.

The opposition had failed in their mandate to take over the country and slowly, one by one of their ministers in parliament were beginning to disappear from sight and fighting for the nation rights in a different environment – detention. Aptly named to have a clean sweep in a single venue, Operation “Kenduri” 2009, came out in full force where every citizen who dare speak, write or express in any forms, were dealt with quickly and swiftly. Even college students were not spared.

However, the opposition leader was spared and became a recluse with little or no air time in the media and parliament with his every movement closely watched and guarded considering his connections and the implications of strong international backlash. When we return this time, he would have been 85.

The ruling party continued to reign in the country and when the 13th general election came around in 2013, it barely manages a menial majority even though they fought against what they called greenhorns from the opposition. The people cast their votes and elected seemingly inexperienced opposition representatives to show once again, like they did in the previous 12th general election, the ruling party their grievances since most of the capable contenders were still in detention.

This set the foundation for further aggression as more “private” public listed businesses began to lose their competitive in the global economy with mismanagement and massive funds siphoned away never to be heard again. This was contributed by the insertion of loyalist from the ruling party with little or no prior experiences in dealing with the ever complexities of the business world into privately owned established organizations. With their authorities over the company’s day to day operations, they had inadvertently caused the business to deteriorate and viabilities of competitiveness against the world market. However, their standings and connections brought in unconditional bailing outs by the government and taking a further stakes in the company’s coffers. Some of these well known ousted founders from those organizations, after tremendous pressures from the government, had resided in a foreign country with their pay off.

More arrest were made thereafter, while Operation “Kenduri” 2009 never seem to have any closure in sight, with all the detainees still in their forced habitat, in the year of 2014, Operation “Kenduri 2” came into force. This time, journalist, writers, novelist and even entertainment celebrities and sportsmen/women, were called up or arrested for their views of the nations predicament. Even those with a one off comment were brought in for questioning and warned for citing assumedly harmless truth.

By 2018, the 14th General Election came out with more surprises. The ruling party returned to parliament in all their full glory with massive wins over every electoral constitutions and districts. It was a result the ruling party did not expect. Since the people dare not speak publicly of their sentiments. That result will go down in history as the most wins ever for the ruling party. Most speculated, restricted mainly over coffee shops, mamak stalls, travelling in private cars, etc, that the people voted out of fear. “Put them back where they want to be and see if they can perform better”, so said most.

Apparently, it was not to be. The ruling party confidently releases most detainees from Operation Kenduri I & II deeming them no longer a security threat to the nation since the ruling party once again dominated completely the entire political scene. But a new movement was already forming secretly even before the ruling party’s political triumph that year.

Upon release from detention, this same population smelt a renew wave of revolution albeit under suppression but carefully and slowly crafted their return with even more precision. Operating from global networks which the ruling government could not access, ‘international waters’ so to speak, citizens residing overseas who helped to spread the ever increasing patriotic sentiments, stronger and full hearty this time around, begin to rise up once more.

Even with their sophisticated investment, the government was unable to track down any of these descendants of the previous metaphor. It was a simple system of hosting it offshore in neutral territories where contributors’ identity is only privy to the host master. The influx of information and intelligences are channel thru a middle host and vetted thru in detail on their authenticity before arriving at the final site where it will be release. Therefore, none of the posting can be traced to its’ original source unless the government issue an order to the host country to reveal the owner. Multi usernames and passwords at both stages were necessary to deter intrusion and prevent jacking. It was a long and tedious strife for them and the coming years later was beginning to bear fruit.

2020 came and went without the realization of an industrialized or elevation to first world nation status, what with the same monopoly being played in politics and businesses. The 15th general election that year saw the opposition gaining additional seats in parliament. Most of the earlier descendants from Operations Kenduri 1 and 2 are now back in politics.

While the nation still struggles to recoup the lost of earlier failed ventures, our oil resources were beginning to reside. More ventures and projects were scraped as the national coffer was slowly dwindling. By year 2022, our oil reserve is nil – zero! Our partnering oil nations were progressing on their own and no longer needing our expertise having since graduated in terms of educations and wiser on world economy and development.

While the general population accepted this fate, an increasing gripe was taking place underground. All appears calm on the surface and the people go about their daily affairs without a second whisper of what’s happening. The underground network generated so much interest even from international communities that it was necessary to rope in expert analysts and investigators to conduct researches and verifies all postings with sufficient facts and evidences. But all these personnel are based overseas so there’s no jurisdiction over them even if they reveal themselves. And the ruling party could not issue such order to avoid scrutiny and valid justifications from the host country.

In the months leading to the 16th general election, those in the ruling party are beginning to feel weary of any improvement to the political scenario. Accusations adrift within the ruling party of mismanaged & disappearing funds, award preferences to tenders, policies backfired and more bickering than ever before till at one parliament session, it had to be stopped 30 minutes into the session due to extremely tensed vocal exchanges especially from ministers who failed to get “a bigger slice of the cake” from policies implemented. Those suspected to have stashed away huge sum of money overseas were complacent and oblivious to the happenings in the country.

As they were no more external obstacles, internal squabbles were the order of the day. Their objectives for the nation had strayed far beyond repair even with the forthcoming general election in 2 months time.

The whole nation was watching gleefully all these fracas right before their very eyes on live coverage. It was clearly an opportune time for the opposition to take heed of the situation since it is obvious the ruling party may be at their most vulnerable.

The country’s 16th general election year 2023, political analyst have estimated that the ruling party spent an approximate RM150 million on the campaign on TV commercials and advertisements, celebrity styled grand ceramahs, giant life size bill boards across the country and for the first time in election history, sponsored unity concerts performed by local and invited international artists.

The opposition’s campaign was dwarf in comparison to the mammoth programmes of the ruling party. Impressive turned outs to all these events appears to have seal the ruling party’s confidence. It would seem that another massive victory is in sight for the ruling party, or so they thought.

Sunday, March 10, 2023, on the stroke of midnight, the electoral commission and its officers commenced counting the votes after 2 months of furious campaigning. By 5.00 A.M. the whole nation’s vote tabulations was completed.

Joys of tears was seen, shouts of relieved, fists pounding the air, phone lines congestions, etc. The people may not have been heard all these years, but their eyes were never closed.

From 12.00 noon onward, half the ministers of the old ruling party were seen in our airport with their families readying to board the next available flight. This will continue until the last airplane taking off for the rest of the day. Those managed to be interviewed at the departure hall said they are taking their family on a long deserved holiday after months of stressful campaigning. Later, it was discovered that these ex-ministers have exiled themselves with their families in another country. And in the immediate months to come, high ranking officers, prominent figures and business leaders began relinquishing and tendering resignation from their positions.

The Nation, will undergo a transformation for the next few months, opposition party, now the ruling party, will be at task to rejuvenate the country and start a new brand of patriotism. Changes will be imminent in parliament and cabinets and it wouldn’t be for another 12 months before any physical effect will be evident. While this has been genuinely unexpected, celebrations, jubilations, festivals, etc, went on for months and months. Families are united once again and as more and more cases of funds misappropriation uncovered, with more citizens coming forward to testify, stream of individuals are apprehended and placed under protected house arrest to safeguard them from public retaliations even in police custodies.

The process to recover all those funds would exhaust the new government efforts and resources for years to come. The new government was careful not to let this due process of justice becoming a witch-hunt with the slightest suspicion and each case is treated in its own merit. While it may be considered a priority, it still proceeded ahead with other reforms in the civil services, police forces, health, housing industries, agriculture, transportations, trades and development and most importantly, education.

Early 2024, the new government, in realizing that a whole lot of challenges and fair policies need to be implemented with the right human resources and capabilities, called out for its citizens around the world to return home and to steer the country into a new nation without fear and prejudice starting with our children, revamping our education system among others to be on par with world standards and acceptance. And to eventually lead this country to even greater heights and recognition.

One day, my son asked me, “Let me return and be a part of the new nation building where I can really make my contribution with what I know”.

I said to him, “No son, we all did our part from where we are, let us all return and continue to make that contribution as a whole family”.

Those memories were interrupted by the captain’s announcement to fasten our seat belts for our landing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are we rising up to a new era?

This article was extracted from Malaysia Today website.


The extension of Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s period of detention to two years is another example of the nefarious uses of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, says Daniel Chandranayagam. But the reaction of ordinary citizens shows the tide may be turning in favour of free expression

By 11pm on 12 September, the streets of Kuala Lumpur were quieter than the usual Friday night. Just after noon that day, blogger and webmaster of news portal, Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), had been detained without trial under the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA). But many were not surprised. RPK himself told the BBC that he was expecting such an arrest just days before his detention.

Things got more sinister at around 8 in the evening, when Sin Chew journalist Tan Hoon Cheng was also apprehended under the ISA. By the time the last detainee, opposition MP Teresa Kok, was arrested at around 11pm, it was the kind of Friday night Malaysia had not experienced in many years. You could almost hear a pin drop.

Stifling freedom of expression through fear is not an uncommon occurrence in Malaysian history. The arrests of these three dissidents are almost parallel with Dr Mahathir’s Operasi Lalang in 1987, during which 49 dissidents were held without trial under the ISA. And like Operasi Lalang in the 1980s, three newspapers — Sin Chew Daily, the Sun and Suara Keadilan — were recently given show-cause letters (a legal injunction forcing a publication to explain why its licence shouldn’t be revoked) on recent political and social commentaries and opinions published.

In fact, there is a perceived ‘climate of fear’ in Malaysia. While many of the mainstream press is either owned, controlled or has affiliations to the ruling party and the economic elite, the government still constantly reminds the press to report ‘responsibly’ and to even practise self-censorship. Dissenting voices, mostly online, also are habitually reminded to ‘behave or else’. Alternatively, bloggers and online dissidents are discredited as ‘snipers’ or rumour-mongerers. On occasion, legal means or threats by ‘unknown persons’ [see Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia (2008 Strategic Information and Research Development Centre) Tan, Jun-E and Ibrahim, Zawawi] have been used to mute online dissidents.

The three recent detainees were considered champions by many. RPK was arrested because the authorities claim he had published articles on his news portal which tarnished the leadership of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam. RPK’s troubles do not end there; he also is facing sedition charges as well as defamation law suits.

Tan’s arrest was believed to be in relation to her report on racist remarks made by a member of parliament from the ruling coalition, Ahmad Ismail. This appeared the most feasible reason, especially since Sin Chew Daily, in which Tan’s report was published, was given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry, asking the publication why the government should not revoke its licence for having reported the racial slur.

Finally, Kok was detained as she had allegedly petitioned mosques to turn down the volume for their calls to prayer. In response, Kok had denied this accusation, with the religious leaders from the mosques confirming that she had done no such thing. This notwithstanding, she was still apprehended. Kok was released six days after her arrest.

Although fear and Malaysians are no strangers, they have been somewhat estranged in the last few years. Many Malaysians hope for a country with new leadership soon, leadership that will be more accountable and transparent. This hope culminated in Anwar Ibrahim’s by-election win in Permatang Pauh in August.

During this by-election, Ahmad Ismail, a Malaysian politician from the ruling coalition, was reported to have made a racial slur. The newspaper which had initially reported his racist remark, Sin Chew Daily, was given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry, asking the newspaper why the government should not revoke its license for having published the racial slur. The aftermath of Ahmad’s racist comments, including his defiance, was fanned by some of the mainstream press and the ruling coalition. This brought to some minds the incident of 13 May 1969, Malaysia’s infamous race riots, which witnessed the loss of many lives.

Surprisingly, this time around, Malaysians did not take too kindly to the attempt of instilling fear. By Saturday afternoon, press and bloggers began to voice their outrage. Vigils for the three detainees were arranged. Many civil society groups, opposition leaders and even some politicians within the ruling coalition protested the use of the ISA, and had called for the abolition for the laws on detention without trial.

By noon the following day, Tan was released, just 18 hours after her detention. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, was reported to have said that Tan was detained under the ISA for her own good, since she had purportedly received threatening phone calls. This statement caused more public outrage than anything else.

Despite efforts to keep people in a state of fear, for example by telling them that they should not question the government’s decision on detaining the three, mounting pressure to release the detainees continued. De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim resigned from his position as a principled stand on the use of the ISA on civilians.

On 19 September, opposition MP, Teresa Kok was freed, after the authorities determined that she wasn’t a threat to national security. Her release was a surprise to everyone, considering that the authorities had issued a statement that she would be in detention for 28 days.

Unfortunately, the fate of RPK is less encouraging. On 23 September, the Home Minister had signed a detention order of two years for RPK, stating that the police found strong grounds for a detention of two years. However, the Home Minister had stated that there would be reviews after three months and six months. The civil society group Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) stated that this move was designed to frustrate RPK’s bid for freedom. GMI chairman, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, was reported to have said, ‘We believe the invoking of section 8 of the ISA for a two-year detention period subsequent to eight days of detention [from a maximum of 60 days under Section 73(1)] is to bypass the habeas corpus hearing of Raja Petra scheduled today.’

This appears to be analogous with a blog post RPK managed to put up while in detention, where he wrote, ‘… I am already facing one sedition charge for the article, “Let’s send the Altanthuya murderers to hell”, plus three charges of criminal defamation… Assuming I win my cases in October and November, they can still hold me under the ISA. Either way I will still remain under detention; heads they win, tails I lose.’

Even so, the spirit of defiance, and sometimes even ridicule, on the recent stifling of these dissenting voices, appear to be predominant among Malaysian urbanites. Perhaps backed by the hope of a new government, or perhaps because they know that there is international pressure not to use the ISA for the peaceful expression of political views, perhaps because even Tun Dr Mahathir, the prime minister under whom the Operasi Lalang was conducted, has spoken up against the ISA detentions, it appears that the 21st century is blowing away the climate of fear which pervaded Malaysia.

Published in
Daniel Chandranayagam blogs at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Murder in the First

I like to share this with everyone in Malaysia on the current climate that is upon us now.

Murder in the First, was and still is one of my all time favourite movie. Produced in 1995, it starred Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and the devilish Gary Oldman. So intrigue by this movie, that I scouted around town looking for the DVD and after almost a year, finally found it in BSC. This movie did not last long at the cinema, apparently boring for the general audience who craved for action stuff. After having to wait for another 2 months to have it ship in from the US, paying RM160 for it, this show never ceased to inspires me each time I watch it.
The story line goes as follows:-

A group of convicts failed in their attempt to escape from Alcatraz (the rock) during the depression era of 1930's. All killed except for two convicts. One was thrown back in jail and put in solitary confinement, he's Henri Young (Kevin Bacon). The other was allegedly the informant who betrayed them and was put back in the general population of the prison with no charges made.

Solitary confinement, with no contact with any other human beings and no or little lights in the cell. 3 years 2 months later, Henri Young was released from the cell into the general prison to continue his sentence. Washed up and shave cleaned, takened to the canteen and his first action was to take out the one who betray his escape. Killing the betrayer with a spoon in front of hundreds of inmates including the guards. Looks like a simple open and shut case in the assessment of the authority.

James Stamphill (Christian Slater), a young attorney tasked with the case of defending Henri Young, considered by many as a "monkey" case due to the over whelming evidence, had a different perception.

"The only problem that will keep us from wrapping up this case in record time, is they have not caught any of the co-conspirators, because Henri Young is only the weapon". His opening statement to the jurors and judge. With this, he literally put the whole institution of Alcatraz, the warden and the system on trial.

The message of the movie was very clear from the beginning. A supposingly minor criminal, due to the system and the punishment vetted on him, became even more diluted and disillusioned with life. The very system imposed on him that created more resentment than it is to rehabilitate oneself.

The court scenes, are the ones to watch out for. Stamphill questioning the methods and inhuman ways the prison associate warden Milton Glenn (Gary Oldman) and warden James Humson (Stefan Gierasch) and the effects of indefinite solitary confinement endured by Henri Young.

"We aim to make him a better self". Proclaimed warden James Humson.

"The prison runs under your guidelines, so you created the murderer, didn't you? Didn't you!!!!! Stamphill controlling the witness and going in for the final kill.

On the day of judgement, the jury deliberate. "We, the jury, find the defendant, Henri Young not guilty of first-degree murder and guilty only of involuntary manslaughter."

The jury further address the court. "Though we know it will have no legal or binding effect, we'd hope that it will have a moral effect. We the members of the jury, recommend the immediate investigation by the proper authority of the federal penitentiary known as Alcatraz."
Based on factual events of the Alcatraz, this prison was closed forever in 1963.
Maybe we all should get this DVD, watch it and see how a system will cause more problems than it is solving them.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This is far out

Never in my mind that I will be doing this. Well, here I am. All comments and posting are welcome. As I go along, will update as much as I can and share my thoughts and perceptions here, the way I sees it, and of course, your ways too.