Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are We Forgetting the 'Natural Eunuchs'? Or Did I Get It All Wrong?

"One of Malaysia's highest Islamic bodies has banned females from dressing or behaving like men and engaging in lesbian sex, saying it is forbidden by the religion."

"The National Fatwa Council issued its ruling following a two-day meeting that discussed recent cases of young women apparently behaving like men and exhibiting homosexual tendencies, state news agency Bernama reported."

The above is an extracted statement made by the spokesperson of the National Fatwa Council. To begin with, let us determine the key elements of the text, which arguably, could be disputed. The statement released by the National Fatwa Council seems to suggest that females who dress and behave like men, also engage in lesbianism. If interpreted on a looser tone, it would suggest that female who dress and behave like men, are inclined to resort to lesbian sex. Whilst acknowledging the instances whereby some females that dress and behave like men may fit the above bill, it is not convincing enough to rid the effect of a perceptual error.

I am not a Muslim, and yes, I did read the stern warnings issued by various quarters, particularly Tan Sri Musa Hassan and YB Zulkifli Nordin, cautioning non-Muslims not to interfere as the ban does not affect them. Tan Sri Musa Hassan confined his warning to non-Muslim demonstrators from several non-government organizations who staged a demonstration against the fatwa ruling. As an exerciser of constitutional rights, I view demonstrations as part of democracy. However, I believe that we have to be reasonable in doing so. The non-Muslims, mostly I would say, do not understand the teachings of Islam well enough. Therefore, to opt to take this cause to the streets does not seem apprehensible to me. The purpose of a demonstration is not only to vent out dissatisfaction, but also to send a strong, cohesive message across the various layers of public. But how do we do that when we ourselves aren’t equipped with the fundamental knowledge surrounding it? Let us not get carried away. While fighting a lost cause may still reflect glimpses of sheer determination, fighting an unknown cause reflects nothing but sheer ignorance. Some may point out that I am starting to practice guided democracy, but let me assert that I am merely showing respect to my Muslim brothers. Guided democracy prohibits certain lawful actions, and I do not subscribe to that system. I am in favor of ethical values to set in and complement democracy.

YB Zulkifli Nordin took a stronger approach in attempting to steer away the non-Muslims. He was quoted as saying that non-Muslims have got no rights whatsoever to interfere with matters pertaining to Islam. He went on to say that he wouldn’t have a problem with non-Muslims wanting their daughters to resort to lesbianism, for as long as they do not drag Muslims into this social wrack. To wind up his statement, he mentioned that if the non-Muslims continue to meddle with the affairs of Islam, some of them will have to rise to defend their religion.

This is the tale of a man who is not willing to allow anything to come between him and his religion. I understand his sentiments, but being an elected representative in a multiracial country, he could have constructed his thoughts in a more appropriate context. Although I indicated earlier that it is not reasonable for the non-Muslims to go as far as organizing demonstrations to voice out their opinion regarding the fatwa, that does not mean that they can’t even discuss it. Zulkifli Nordin’s remark seemingly suggests otherwise. The time has now come for us to crush the notion that religious openness would lead to untoward incidents. This is an age where we should seek enlightenment or renaissance of a sort, to say the very least. Sadly, just like in most other areas, our nation is backpedaling here too.

I will continue to raise my doubts on Islam, and I urge my fellow Muslim brothers to do the same with other religions. But let us do it with a clear conscience; let us do it for the sake of enhancing our knowledge and not as a smearing tool, for we have passed that barbaric period. As a non-Muslim, I never have, and never will, insult another religion. In fact, in my very first post, I even called on everyone to stop the attack on Islam, which I consider to be a beautiful religion.

The Quran itself says that one should go as far as China to acquire knowledge. There are many theories on this, with some believing that it was China’s civilization that prompted the Prophet to cite it as an example. Others went to say that it could be because at that point of time, the Arabs knew about China as the limit of the world. However, that doesn’t really matter. The point to note is that the Quran implies the importance in pursuing knowledge.

And this is the reason why no one, including YB Zulkifli Nordin, should prevent us from seeking the truth.

So, let's get back to the fatwa ruling; does Islam really prohibit homosexuality?

“And lo! thy Lord, He is indeed the Mighty, the Merciful.”- Surah 26:175

“Messengers of good cheer and off warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.”- Qur’an 4:165

On the other hand,

Scientific research has provided sufficient evidence to prove that homosexuality is genetic. This may not apply to all homosexuals, but it certainly does to a considerable number of them.

Looking at some of the characteristics of God as defined in Islam above, would the merciful Supreme Being ‘create’ homosexuals by birth(genetics), and at the same time, forbid it?

Did He forbit it?

I came across an article by Faris Malik that may have answered the question. Below is a compilation of quotes from his writing, which I tried to rearrange and post accordingly for the benefit of the readers.

Qur'an recognizes that some men are "without the defining skill of males" (24:31: "ghair oolaa il-irbati min ar-rijaali")

These are the ones referred to as 'natural eunuchs' in ancient years(now, referred to as gay). Here, references made to eunuchs are with regards to those who are born eunuchs. Hence, different from castrated eunuchs.

The Qur'an also says that some people are in fact "ineffectual" ['aqeem]. In other words, there are neither male nor female:

42:49 "To Allah belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth. It creates what It wills. It prepares for whom It wills females, and It prepares for whom It wills males. 50 Or It marries together the males and the females, and It makes those whom It wills to be ineffectual. Indeed It is the Knowing, the Powerful."
Arabic: "Lillahi mulku us-samaawaati wal'ardhi. Yakhluqu ma yashaa'u. Yahabu liman yashaa'u inaathan wa yahabu liman yashaa'u adh-dhukura. Aw yuzawwijuhum dhukraanan wa inaathan; wa yaj'alu man yashaa'u 'aqeeman: innahu 'Aleemun Qadeerun."

Muslim, Collection of Authentic Traditions, Book of Greetings, Chapter 912:

(5415) Umm Salama reported that she had a eunuch [mukhannath] (as a slave) in her house. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was once in the house that he (the eunuch) said to the brother of Umm Salama: 'Abdullah b. Abu Umayya, if Allah grants you victory in Ta'if on the next day, I will show you the daughter of Ghailan, for she has four folds (upon her body) on the front side of her stomach and eight folds on the back. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) heard this and he said: Such (people) should not visit you.

(5416) 'A'isha reported that a eunuch [mukhannath] used to come to the wives of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and they did not find anything objectionable in his visit, considering him to be a male without any sexual desire [fakaanoo ya'doonahu min ghair oolaa il-irbah]. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) one day came as he was sitting with some of his wives and he was busy in describing the bodily characteristics of a lady and saying: As she comes in front four folds appear on her front side and as she turns her back eight folds apear on the back side. Thereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: I see that he knows these things; do not, therefore, allow him to enter. She ('A'isha) said: Then they began to observe veil from him.

Bear in mind that in ‘A’isha’s telling of the account, she mentions that he was allowed into their private rooms because the women saw him as someone who “lacked the defining skill”. She actually quoted the Qur’anic verse stating about men who “lack the defining skill of males”, signifying that if he had really “lacked the defining skill”, his presence in the room would have been proper. In this context, hearing how he spoke about the daughter of Ghailan, Muhammad sensed that he did not lack the defining skill of males. The fact that he had sexual appreciation for women disqualified him as an intimate domestic servant, according to the Qur’an as well as the standards of the day. Since the system required household servants to be heterosexually indifferent, there is room for abuse, whereby a heterosexual male may pretend to be otherwise, solely to gain entry into the private space of women.

There is a hadith in which the Prophet's companions asked whether they were allowed to use men (presumably prisoners of war) as "eunuchs" to fulfill their sexual urges, since they were far from their wives.

Bukhari LXII 6:9 [Narrated by ibn Mas'ud:] "We used to fight [in battle] together with the Prophet, peace be upon him. There were no women with us. We said: O Messenger, may we treat some as eunuchs [a laa nastakhsii]? He forbade us to do so."

Yes, the Prophet did forbid his followers from designating men as eunuchs, but that was because one cannot just resort into ‘treating’ a straight man as a eunuch simply to satisfy his lust. In fact, that was essentially the sin of the people of Lut. The question is, could a eunuch (i.e. one who permanently lacks arousal with women) be used as a eunuch? Ibn Mas’ud did make a reference about eunuchs being used for sexual gratification, and the Prophet understood what he meant. It was in fact common in the Arabic society, and was considered a use that was appropriate to eunuchs. Since they weren’t regarded as males, there was no prohibition against it, not even in the Qur’an.

According to David Ayalon in Eunuchs, Caliphs, and Sultans: A Study in Power Relationships (Jerusalem, 1999), eunuchs were still used as sex objects for straight men in the Mamluk dynasty. Part of their roles was to avert older Mamluks from having sexual contact to younger trainees:

The eunuchs seem to have served as a shield against homosexual lust in yet another way. They themselves formed the target of that lust, thus diverting it from the youngsters. They are described as being womanly and docile in bed at night and manly and warlike by day in a campaign and in similar circumstances (hum nisaa' li-mutmainn muqeem wa rijaal in kaanat al-asfaar; li-annahum bin-nahaar fawaaris wa bil-lail 'araa'is). [Arabic quoted by Ayalon from Abu Mansur al-Tha'alibi, Al-Latâ'if wal-Zarâ'if, Cairo 1324/1906-7, p. 79, lines 1-7; and the same quote from Tha'alibi in his Tamthîl wal-Muhâdara, Cairo 1381/1961, p. 224.]

If this is the case, Islam does not forbid homosexuality among those who were born eunuchs. Therefore, wouldn’t it be unjust for all gay men to be prosecuted under Islamic laws? What if they were in fact eunuchs, who actually lacked the ‘defining skills of a male’? Does this qualify to lead us to a whole new perspective regarding lesbianism in Islam? What if they were actually "ineffectual", as acknowledged by the Qur'an itself?

I hope my fellow Muslim friends would be able to provide me more information on this topic.

by Argus Eye.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Need to Eliminate the Grey Area Surrounding the Social Contract.

There have been many articles showered with numerous viewpoints with regards to the Social Contract, and it would be an act of repetition for me to indulge into it again. With my limited knowledge on this agreement, allow me to share, what I consider would be in the minds of most laymen in Malaysia. With exception to the tenet and the basic, underlying-fundamental concepts of the Social Contract, we may not be able to seize the entire framework of the contract. We, however, are not spared from feeling the effects brought about by what was said to be an agreement between our founding fathers.

The Social Contract has surely been one of the most debated agreements concerning Malaysians and yet, almost surprisingly, none have even come close towards drawing the curtain on it. Disputes vary in many forms of opinionated ideologies and thoughts; the only consistent element being the fact that it remains a barrier to racial unity. Different parties, have their own defined interpretation, all of which conveniently fit into their pre-established theories. Their motives, although some seemingly intellectual from the outset, masquerade in different shapes. Some use it as a trump card for political mileage, and the rest merely use it to suck up to the ones at the summit. I am not in a position to say whether there are flaws in its structure, but I can say, for certain, that the various forms of interpretations surrounding it does not help our course towards achieving the Bangsa Malaysia agenda.

For us to even consider moving pass this stalemate that we’ve gotten ourselves into, there is an urgent need for us to acknowledge that the Social Contract has to be reviewed. In the first place, does the Social Contract even exist? If it does, is it relevant today? It is time for various groups, particularly the law makers, to work together to ensure that a proper understanding of the Social Contract is crafted out. It wouldn’t take long for a non-Malay to point out, almost instantly, that the Social Contract is a fantasy; one that never existed to begin with. But again, are we being biased? Are we basing it on historical facts, or are we jumping into this conclusion simply because, we too, are inclined to structure our thoughts in line with what conforms to our own assembled set of beliefs. This is the sad state, we Malaysians are living in today. Consciously, or perhaps even subconsciously, we tend to judge from a racial perspective. And this is exactly the reason why we have yet to reach a consensus on this issue.

Could we, for once, act as Malaysians and resolve this issue? From a personal point of view, I believe that once this is done, it would set up a solid ground for us to think, act, and behave like Malaysians. But how do we do that? Firstly, as stated on the title head of my post, would be the need to eliminate the grey area surrounding the Social Contract, which is undeniably, ambiguous. The very existence of the Social Contract has been a question that many have failed to answer, as it was not explicitly stated in the Federal Constitution. However, the proponents of the Social Contract believe that it was an implied term agreed upon by our founding fathers, in return of citizenships being offered to the Non-Malays.

Some have since argued that, even if it was implied to be part of the Federal Constitution, it is not relevant for it be applied at a time when our nation had progressed through half a century of Independence. Tunku Abdul Rahman, was quoted as saying:-

"...when we (the Malays) fought against the Malayan Union (which upset the position of the Malays' rights) the others took no part in it because they said this is purely a Malay concern, and not theirs. They also indicate that they owe their loyalty to their countries of origin, and for that reason they oppose the Barnes Report to make Malay the national language. If we were to hand over the Malays to these so-called Malayans when their nationality has not been defined there will be a lot of problems ahead of us."

However, he continued to say that "For those who love and feel they owe undivided loyalty to this country, we will welcome them as Malayans. They must truly be Malayans, and they will have the same rights and privileges as the Malays."

As mentioned earlier, advocates of the Social Contract have often claimed that the founding fathers of our nation have agreed to adhere by the contract, and it would not be appropriate for it to be disputed now. However, if that was the case, why would Tunku Abdul Rahman, who could surely be considered the leader of the founding fathers, himself, explicitly say that the Non-Malays will have the same rights and privileges as the Malays, should they remain loyal to the country? Today, we have non-Malays who are of second, third and even fourth generation Malaysians living here, in this country. On that ground, arguably, it could be implied that the Social Contract, even if it was once accepted as an implied agreement, is no longer relevant today. Apart from that, the act of those who have, in recent times, attempted to equate the Social Contract with the New Economic Policy, and use it as a discriminatory tool, as some may opt to believe, have also been a subject of debate.

In contrast, there are many other basis used by those in favor of the Social Contract to believe that the agreement should be still upheld; among others, as a vital agreement to ensure racial unity. It is impossible for all the areas of this contract to be covered, unless an in-depth discussion is done to evaluate it. I think, most of us Malaysians, want a clearer picture of the Social Contract and its relevance to our nation today. But for us to even sniff this desired outcome, all relevant parties, including us, should move beyond our racially encircled mindset, and start carrying ourselves as a true Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

Daring to hope,

Argus Eye.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Copy of My Reply to Datuk Saravanan.

I came across an article posted by Datuk M. Saravanan, who is the Deputy Federal Territory Minister and also Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) Information Chief, titled ‘Indians need a sense of belonging’. My immediate impression was positive in nature, and it got me wondering if this chap had just received a stunning revelation from Abraham Maslow. But it was not to be. I had merely hoped against hope.

Below are some extracted paragraphs from his post, which could be accessed at http://msaravanan68.blogspot.com/2008/10/indians-need-sense-of-belonging.html.

“From my observation over the last eight months since taking office as deputy minister, I realise that Malaysian Indians do not have a sense of belonging towards the government of the day, in this case the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN). We used to feel that we belonged to the BN, but this is not the case anymore.”

“It has more to do in the way in which the BN has operated in the last decade or so. BN leaders at their meetings do not sense this because the comradeship is strong. The feeling of belonging is even stronger at this level. Meetings are conducted in an open manner. Leaders are more open-minded when issues are discussed. There is no Indian, Malay or Chinese distinction. That is good and well. But if one is to go down further, the spirit of togetherness deteriorates. The case in point is the civil sector. When an Indian walks into a government office, immediately he or she gets hostile based on the surroundings. Whatever the leaders are promoting gets lost down the line. The spirit of togetherness, that we are all Malaysian regardless of race and religion, is lost at government offices.”

“As a first step to remedy the situation, I suggest that each government department has a director or deputy director who is an Indian. This way, even if the lower rung staff are unable to offer sincere help, Indians can always look up to the said director or deputy director to solve their woes. These directors or deputy directors would be able to bring-up problems and issues confronting Indians at the department level and higher-up.” –Datuk M. Saravanan.

Basically, he is trying to signal that leadership crisis, with regards to racism, does not exist in UMNO. In fact, it probably remains a jargon to those who walk along the corridors of power. He believes that all is well and fine as far as the leaders are concerned, and that the problem lies with the lower rungs, particularly the civil sector and government offices. To address this, he suggests that each government department has a director or deputy director who is an Indian, so that Indians can look up to them to solve their issues.

Note: I have just sent an e-mail of my response below, to Deputy Minister Datuk Saravanan. For those who share my view and find his piece of article insulting, do send him your thoughts at msaravanan68@hotmail.com.

Datuk Saravanan,

I would start with touching on your claim that the comradeship is strong among the leaders, and that there is no distinction among the various races, before moving on to lambast you on your almost ignorant and equally silly suggestion. I would not go back as far as Mahathir’s premiership, but instead cite instances during Abdullah Badawi’s tenure as Prime Minister. Hishamuddin’s antics at the 2006 UMNO General Assembly which irked the Chinese, alone, are sufficient to contradict your statement about the existence of a strong sense of belonging at the top level. What about the youth wing of UMNO exerting pressure upon Gerakan by issuing them an ultimatum to clarify the issue surrounding S.Paranjothy’s statement, in which he claimed that Indians were being treated as 4th class citizens? Dr. Koh himself was quoted as saying that UMNO should not threaten Gerakan. Is this the type of comradeship you are talking about? Datuk, I understand that by painting a rosy picture of UMNO, it would surely elevate your chances of climbing up the ministerial ladder, and subsequently be promoted to the rank of a Minister. But as much as you would like to believe, we Indians, aren’t that much a bunch of fools.

Now, moving on to your classic suggestion of appointing an Indian director, or deputy director, at each government department to resolve this issue. I am an Indian, and I am proud of my roots, but I find your suggestion downright ridiculous. I would like you, Datuk Saravanan, to read up a quote from one whom I consider a true Malaysian at heart and hopefully, with God’s grace, learn a thing or two from him.

“My name is Haris Ibrahim. Trained in the law. Late father was Malay and my mum is Ceylonese. I am Malaysian. My ethnic background is relevant in helping me to understand my cultural make-up but is irrelevant in defining my status as a citizen of Malaysia.”- Haris Ibrahim as stated in his blog, The People’s Parliament.

The very act of appointing an Indian director at every government department is an act of racism, and this is exactly what MIC is promoting. Why must an Indian turn towards another Indian for help? Divide and rule is the tenet of Barisan Nasional’s strategy, and this surely, has to be buried. We, the Indians, and I’m sure the others too, want a Malaysia for all Malaysians. Elect the best candidates for each position, without giving room for racial criteria to set in. We want a Malaysia whereby all Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion, would stand tall together as one and come to each others’ defense when the need arises. We, the Anak-Anak Bangsa Malaysia, do not want a Malaysia in which the spirit of racism precedes the spirit of nationalism, and this, my friend, is the reason why irrelevant leaders like you earn no respect from us.

Signing off,

Argus Eye.


by Argus Eye.

also published in Malaysiakini at http://malaysiakini.com/letters/93310

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tan Sri Zaki Azmi- The Unsolved Jigsaw Puzzle.

After an almost comical ride to the top post in Malaysia’s judicial hierarchy, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi keeps us guessing on what he has left to offer. Let us start by briefly looking into his controversial journey towards becoming the 12th Chief Justice of Malaysia. As a lawyer, he created history in September 2007, becoming the first lawyer to be appointed directly to the highest court. The controversy of his appointment was fueled by his close ties with UMNO, in which he was their legal advisor. He also held several posts in UMNO, including the Chairman of Disciplinary Committee. Following his appointment, the public openly expressed their doubt over his integrity with regards to the highly held separation of powers notion, given his previous links with the country’s largest and most dominant party. Three months on, more eyebrows were raised when Zaki Azmi was appointed the Court of Appeal President, thus, occupying the No. 2 position in the judiciary. Today, Tan Sri Zaki Azmi is our Honorable Chief Justice of Malaysia. His credibility was also clouded by the infamous divorce case with his second wife, with whom he got married to in a ceremony conducted by a Thai kadi in a textile shop in Perlis three years ago. He allegedly burned the marriage certificate to hide the marriage from his first wife, as reported by The New Straits Times. Now, he may argue that this is a personal issue and has no bearing on his conduct as a professional, but being a Chief Justice, Yang Arif, I’m afraid some of the acts that you have resorted to, including burning the marriage certificate, in one way or another, gives us the right to question your integrity. You are no ordinary man, and your actions do reflect the image of our country in the eyes of the world.

In less than two weeks after occupying the country’s top judiciary position, in his first speech in his capacity as Chief Justice, he vowed to get tough of errant judges who destroy the reputation of the institution.

“And for those in the practice of toadying, I say ‘stop it’. This small group have failed to fulfill their responsibilities and have affected the image of our institution. If they are being dishonest, they are also being irresponsible.”

The above is a few extracted lines from his speech, in which, he appeared to have acknowledged the rot in the institution, caused by certain corrupt judges. He did not mince his words, and neither did he attempt to deny the true color of the judiciary system. Although it was a promising speech, many of us Malaysians were still very much skeptical about it. To us, he was merely playing to the gallery. History did not favor him either.

Two major judgments were delivered last Friday, one in Raja Petra’s habeas corpus application, and the other in the prosecutors’ application to have the Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial be transferred to the High Court. Both cases were politically motivated, and surprisingly, both cases handed the Government knock-outs. In previous times, we rarely witnessed the Government been given a blow in judgments, but on the 7th of November 2008, many of us pictured the Government on their knees giving out blow j***. Yes, it was a double blow to them.

Now, how does this fit in? We practically have an UMNO man as the Chief Justice, but the courts did not rule in favor of them. While it is understandable that it is not possible for all judgments to go in favor of UMNO even if their very own man occupies the seat, the vital and highly critical ones would’ve surely swung towards their side. Raja Petra would continue to bash UMNO and implicate their leaders, particularly Najib, for his alleged misconducts and Anwar, even if some may disagree, still poses a great threat in soon forming the Federal Government. Therefore, the stakes are too high for the government to slip up.

Should the credit for these court verdicts, which most of us consider just, go solely to the judges? Did they stand strong and weather the pressure and threats that came in their way for the sake of justice? If they did so, well done and thank you.

Did Tan Sri Zaki Azmi really practice what he preached in his opening speech by ensuring a free trial for all without exerting any pressure upon the judges? We wouldn’t really know, would we? If he did so, well done and thank you too.

However, the million dollar question would arise if Tan Sri Zaki Azmi did conduct himself professionally to ensure a free trial; why on earth did he do that? Well, it could be because of all the negative remarks that have been piled on him, and he sees this as an opportunity to clear his name even if it is at the expense of irking the wrath of those in UMNO.

But, there is an alternative answer to it, which is probably the one we are looking for. Ironically, it is the spicier answer. If we go back to the drawing pad, we would see the answer at the very beginning. It lies with Zaki Azmi’s history of being an UMNO man. It is no secret that Najib, along with Muhyiddin, have been the crafters that planned Abdullah Badawi’s early exit. Abdullah Badawi had no choice but to concede as the tides were moving strongly against him. Now, in his final few months, he has got nothing to lose. Until March 2009, power is something that he can still execute. Vendetta, perhaps? Tan Sri Zaki Azmi was appointed as the Chief Justice during Abdullah Badawi’s tenure as a premier, which only establishes the fact that they have good ties between them. Through Zaki Azmi, Abdullah Badawi has a chance to get back at Najib and give him a beating of his life for being ‘disloyal’. Raja Petra’s release would surely help. As for Anwar’s claim to take-over the government, the pressure is on Najib and Muhyiddin, not Abdullah Badawi. He is stepping out, with nothing more to gain or lose. The only thing he can do within his capacity now, is to create a platform for the battle, and enjoy the show with a cigar when it erupts.

But then again, is that who Zaki Azmi really is?

Whoever he may be, let us hope that during his term as Chief Justice, judgments would be delivered without fear and favor. Good judgments are not defined by the degree in which it favors us; it is defined by the ability of the court to interpret laws in a fair manner without any interference. For that purpose, and also for the sake of justice, I hope that these decisions favored Anwar and Raja Petra because the courts were acting impartially on the grounds of evidences presented before them, and not because they simply happened to be part of a political ploy.

by Argus Eye.

also published in Malaysia Today- http://mt.m2day.org/2008/content/view/14787/84/

The Malaysian Bar, Hats Off to You.

Just as I was about to leave for court at lunchtime today for RPK's Sedition Trial, i received a call from a friend saying the proceedings had ended for the day and would continue tomorrow morning. In a way, this has created some room for me to blog. In the light of the recent arrests of the Bersih/Anti ISA vigilors, the Malaysian Bar have come out strong again, reiterating the need to respect democratic rights of citizens. The Bar have also, in a verry consistent manner, condemned any action that compromises democracy. Below is the Press Release by Ragunath Kesavan, Vice-President of the Malaysian Bar.

Malaysian Bar's Press Release: Respect the Right to Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression were again dealt a severe blow yesterday with the arrest of 23 citizens – including journalists and activists, a Member of Parliament, State Assemblypersons and a City Councillor – who were participants in a peaceful gathering to commemorate the first anniversary of last year's BERSIH rally.

The Bar Council is alarmed at the disproportionate and heavy-handed approach adopted by the police, who purportedly began dispersing people as early as an hour before the start of the vigil. Needless physical force was allegedly used during the arrests, causing injuries to a number of participants. Such unprovoked intimidation and oppression is unjustifiable as the group was reportedly calm, did not pose any threat to public order and was merely exercising its democratic rights.

While the Bar Council disagrees with the laws curtailing the right to assemble and express dissent, we are concerned that the authorities seem to use these laws selectively to disperse and arrest demonstrators. Several demonstrations against the Pakatan Rakyat government's policies in Penang and Selangor have proceeded without much harassment nor arrests by the police.

This gives rise to the perception that police actions are not based on any objective criteria relating to preservation of public order. Such subjectivity breeds the notion that the authorities act in a biased, or even arbitrary, manner.

We call on the police to protect the rights of speech, expression and assembly of all those who legitimately engage in expressing dissent, fairly and without bias.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar

We should also note a special thank you to the Bar Council for their swift action in sending some members of the Bar to the PJ Police Headquarters immediately after the arrests of the vigilors, to assist them through the police procedures. You have shown that you indeed walk the talk. To Ambiga & Co, hats off!

by Argus Eye.

RPK Sedition Trial 10/11/08: Court rejects application by prosecutors to amend charge.

It was a positive day in the PJ Sessions Court today when judge Rozina Ayub rejected the application submitted by the prosecution team to amend the sedition charge leveled against Raja Petra Kamarudin. The additional
elements that the prosecutors wanted to include were the website address and the title of the allegedly seditious article. The defense council argued that the original charge was not published by the accused and claimed that the prosecutors are attempting to substitute the appendix to seek new alternatives. Well, I guess this only goes to show that the prosecutors are running out of options and it now appears possible for this charge to be thrown out. Well, let’s hope. After the judge ruled out the application, the prosecution team proceeded to question their witnesses, forensic analyst S.Sivanathan, and ASP Wa’ie. The absence of Supt. Gan, who did not appear in court today supposedly because he was on medical leave, irked the defense team and they urged for a medical certificate to be produced in court as a document of verification.

Scene at 8.35a.m

I arrived late at the PJ Sessions Court at about 8.35a.m. Didn't get much of a sleep yesterday, thanks to the hide-and-seek experience with the cops. Previously, the court would be crowded by this time. The scenario has changed a little now that RPK is out of ISA.

Scenes in the Courtroom

There weren't many people in the courtroom when I got in. Despite my previous encounter with the court security, I continued riding my luck by secretly snapping pictures. The court was full about 9a.m.

Image stills in the courtroom before the proceedings began. Again, without authority.

Scene at 10.45a.m

Taken at the entrance of the court, during a short adjournment shortly before 11a.m. With RPK are his defence councils, Gobind Singh(extreme left) and Chandra(right). An interesting occurance took place here, as the European journalist came up to RPK to tell him that he's working on a documentary on the Altantuya murder. RPK and Gobind Singh agrees to give their cooperation. God Bless You, Najib Razak.

Scene at 1.00p.m

In the court compound during lunch break. RPK is partially hidden, and Zorro is in red.

Moments before making way for Nasi Kandar, at a restaurant opposite the court.

by Argus Eye.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Update on the BERSIH Candlelight Vigil: Selangor CPO, a man with Zero integrity.

The police force has come under fire again, this time by the blatant lie made by the Chief Police of Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar stating that the police did not storm into the crowd while the National Anthem was sung. Below are some excerpts from Malaysiakini:-

Excerpt 1-

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candle-light vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.

That is what they (participants) are claiming,” Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight.

When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.”

Well, my friend, I was among the hundreds who had to flee away from the bunch of uncivilized, armor-protected personnel. It is downright stupidity to deny the obvious, and it takes a real fool to attempt deceiving the public when footages of the event are already being circulated online. It saddens us, Malaysians, to have an incompetent figure like you to head a state police force. Above all, it worries us. My friendly advice to you would be to re-enroll into Pulapol(Pusat Latihan Polis) in Jalan Semarak.

Excerpt 2-

Asked why Syukri had detained when he was on duty, Khalid said “He was part of the illegal organisation.” –This was in reference to the arrest of a Malaysiakini videographer, Syukri Mohamad.

It is the duty of a journalist to be present wherever there is a matter of interest to the public. Whether or not the event was legal, is secondary. Even if it was an illegal gathering, the journalist is duty bound to be present and report the event. These are the fundamental roles of the media understood even by fishermen at the shores of Tumpat district in Kelantan. Yet, the Chief Police Officer of Selangor fails to grasp it.

Excerpt 3-

Asked if the group had posed a danger to the public, Khalid replied “That doesn’t matter. The law says that a permit must be obtained.”

Asked if this amounted to double standards, since no action had been taken against pro-government groups such as those protesting against the appointment of a non-Malay to head PKNS (Selangor government investment arm).

Khalid denied this, and reiterated that the group had failed to heed demands to obtain a police permit for four weeks.

A typical UMNO response; a no-response. He did not even answer the question directed at him. Instead, he maneuvered his way around and kept on harping on the fact that a permit has to be obtained. Why doesn’t the same rule apply to UMNO. Maybe it does, but only theoretically. Never before has the police force rejected a permit by UMNO applicants, and never before has an UMNO event been disrupted by the police. That speaks for itself.

The press should bombard him with questions and push him for an answer. As RPK fondly says, “Let’s milk the cows till their tits run dry!”

The videos that contradict the statement by the Chief Police Officer of Selangor:-

The list of those who were arrested:

1. Tony Pua Tiam Wee
2. Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew
3. Lau Weng San
4. Teoh Way Keng
5. Ashok Kandiah
6. Ong Boon Keong
7. Father Paulino Miranda
8. Ambrose Goh
9. Shukri Mohamad
10. Sunny Lim
11. Andrew
12. Angelia Ooi
13. Arrif Abdul
14. Augustine
15. Goh Chien Li
16. Johny Andrew
17. Kenny Goh
18. Khairul
19. Mohd Faizal
20. Rahman
21. Ramesh
22. Syed Ahmad
23. Tinggaran

by Argus Eye.

BERSIH Candlelight Vigil: Police charge into crowd midway through Negaraku.

In an unwarranted display of sheer arrogance today, the police charged into a crowd of about 400 Malaysians while the National Anthem was sung. The timing of the storm alone is testimony to the quality of the Malaysian Police Force. I just got back from the Petaling Jaya Police Station, where the 24 detainees would most likely be kept overnight before being charged tomorrow. It is 4.10am now and I'm certainly not within the right scope of physical capacity to blog, especially after having to endure a hide-and-seek game with the police around PJ State. I shall allow the pictures below to do the talking. Sorry for the quality of the images, as it was taken using my faulty camera phone.

Early images: Scenes at the field opposite Amcorp Mall at about 7.30pm.

The normally packed Amcorp Mall parking zone appears empty as most vehicles couldn't make it through. Police blocks were set up at various points leading to Amcorp Mall, forcing people to park hundreds of metres away. I received the news of the road blocks through Anil Netto's blog, and opted to park at the Taman Bahagia LRT Station and commute the train to Taman Jaya, which is right opposite Amcorp Mall. As seen, there were several police vihicles and the personnels were all on stand-by mode.

The little girl with her huge RPK T-shirt on. Our hopes for tomorrow.

Scenes at about 8.30pm

The crowd picks up steam and the police tries to disperse the crowd. A minor stand-off takes place but everything was under control. Some policemen were seen beating their baton against the trees, probably as a sign of intimidation. The crowd stays, but many seemed confused.

Haris arrives shortly after, and the crowd gathers in front of him at the Amcorp car park.

Tony Pua joins in.

The police interrupts the gathering again, this time along with the Chief Police of Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar(in white). He warned that does who do not disperse will face the risk of an arrest as no permit was applied for the vigil. *Any sane citizen of Malaysia in the right frame of mind would know that the police permit would not have been approved even if it was rightly applied for.

The crowd then moves towards Amcorp Mall again, and conduct a short candlelight vigil. It ends with Haris leading them all to the tune of Negaraku. I met with 2 cops at the junction of the LRT Station, Sarjan Azizon and Sarjan Taufik. These men expressed their dissatisfaction over the course of events taking place in Malaysia, and conceded that they have no choice but to work under instructions of their higher ranking officials. They also suggested to me to wear my "I Am With RPK" T-Shirt upside down for if there were an order for an arrest-spree, those wearing this shirt and also the BERSIH ones would be arrested first.

At about 9.45pm, the crowd headed towards PJ Civic Centre, which is about 2 kilometres away. We marched there without any police intimidations. In fact, it appeared to many that the police have decided to call it a day. How they wish..

Scenes at about 10.00pm

At the entrance of PJ Civic Centre. There weren't many there yet when i reached. Most of them were still on their way.

The small crowd make their way from the entrance of PJ Civic Centre to the park which is about 30 metres aways.

The man himself, Raja Petra Kamarudin arrives, much to the joy of the crowd and gives a short speech. He asserts the importance of our continuous struggle against the abolishment of ISA.

Someone from the crowd proposed that we sang the Negaraku before releasing the balloons to mark the 1st anniversary of the BERSIH Rally. At this point, I was having a conversation with Hishamuddin Rais somewhere behind the main crowd. Midway through the National Anthem, the FRU charged in and started nabbing individuals. One seemingly plain-clothed FRU/Police personnel chased us as we ran towards the main entrance. We split at the entrance, with me moving towards the main road and Hishamuddin running into the PJ Civic Centre Building. Well, now that the cop did not trail me from there on, I can only assume that he had followed Hishamuddin into the building. Let's just hope he's safe.

I made my way across the road to meet up with my cousin, who also had a share of sprinting moments. The police were lurking around there as well, and we witnessed people being chased even into the Lotus Restaurant opposite the park. I wasnt able to take pictures of these events. It takes time for my faulty camera phone to start up, and time was something that wasn't on my side. We knew that we could be arrested any moment, and continued to flee the place. When we reached the HSBC Building, we noticed Raja Petra running too. That was surely a sight to remember.

Scene at 11.00pm

This is how it looked like outside the Petaling Jaya Police Headquarters. YB Charles Santiago was present(in picture, on the handphone). Others who were there include YB Lim Kit Siang, YB Gobind Singh Deo, YB Gwo Burne and YB Dr.Jeyakumar.

It is learnt that Tony Pua and Lau Weng San are among the 24 who had been arrested. Tony Pua was practically dragged and pulled into the Black Maria, while Weng San suffered major bruises as a result of being punched twice on his face.

The Malaysia Police Force never fails to amuse us with their constant act of stupidity. Well, if Syed Azidi was arrested for placing the Malaysian Flag upside down in his blog, what action should be take against the force who brutally stormed and physically assaulted the people of our country who were singing the National Anthem?

Im off to bed to catch an hour of sleep before attending Raja Petra's trial shortly at the PJ Sessions Court. Will keep you posted on that.

by Argus Eye.