We have talked about liberal Malays, “unliberal Malays” and conservative Malays. We have also talked about the good, the bad and the “ugly Malaysians”. Following the publication of an article in the Star using the words “true Malaysian”, let us now discuss what is a “true Malaysian”.
This is again in line with the efforts of promoting understanding among Malaysians so that in the process, we all can try to become good Malaysians, or true Malaysians if there is a consensus on what the terminology means.
The Star editorial entitled, “No way for any true Malaysian to act or talk”, implies that Datuk Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa (the Malay rights Non-Governmental Organization), calling for Datuk Wee Ka Siong of MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) Youth to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), is not quite a true Malaysian.
But an article by “A Junior Editor of a Chinese newspaper” published by Sin Chew Daily, another Chinese-owned organ of mass media, congratulates Ibrahim, albeit with cynicism, for the first issue of Suara Perkasa in which he made the call – see the article below it, here. The Editor acknowledges that “Suara Perkasa is published with the objective of promoting the rights of the Malays and Muslims”.
Interesting, this thing about what is a “True Malaysian”. Owned by the political party, MCA, whose members are descended from those who came to this country mainly from the 19th Century onwards, the Star implies that the Perkasa President, who is descended from the original inhabitants of this country, is not a “true Malaysian”.
It was earlier reported that, when questioning the Government’s plan to do away with overseas scholarships offered by the Public Services Department, Wee had asked if Mara scholarships would also be scrapped. Suara Perkasa headlined a call for Wee to be arrested over those remarks.
Suara Perkasa Chief Editor was called in to explain but was let off by the authorities. He explained, “The Home Ministry officials said the headline did not help the cause of national unity, and warned me not to make the same mistake” – http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/136415.
To us in this portal, a Malaysian is a citizen who respects, abides by and lives with the Constitution of the country in its entirety. But what constitutes a “true Malaysian” – let’s talk about it here.
Clearly, one ingredient of being a true Malaysian is respect for the law, the legal system and the judiciary in place. In this regard, see the article “Raising the Bar”, below, which says, “A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge”. What the writer pens down in that article shows a lot about the situation as far as legal matters are concerned in the country now.
Then there is the so-called liberal academician who talks about feudalistic minds and democracy but had not put out opinions based on research and serious studies one would have expected an academician to do. He has not quoted any research or study findings in the article published by the Star below. Perhaps Malaysians would have loved an academic dissertation on what is a “True Malaysian” from him. Stating the generalities about feudalistic minds and about rights of citizens in a democracy does not require academic standing and can be done by the average Malaysian.
Let’s discuss it in the usual manner, in the hope that the discussion will bring some benefit for understanding and harmony among Malaysians.
Sunday July 4, 2010
No way for any true Malaysian to act or talk
THE STAR SAYS…
FOR many, the plight of Suara Perkasa newsletter over its demand that MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong be held under the ISA is voluntary and deserved.
The editor concerned had reportedly met Home Ministry officials on Friday to try to explain away his decision to publish the commentary. He is scheduled to report to the ministry again tomorrow for more explanations.
It does not matter who the Perkasa NGO or any of its derivations happens to target at any particular time. What does matter, however, is the inflammatory manner in which they choose to pursue their particular agenda.
In a modern multi-racial, multi-cultural Malaysia, their chauvinistic style cannot be accepted or condoned. To make this clear to all, as well as to deter other wanton attempts at undermining the 1Malaysia concept, a firm official response is warranted.
It is all too evident that their typically callous and contentious approach to Malaysia’s nation-building project amounts to rejecting, opposing and attacking it. In the process, such champions of impudence seem oblivious to the harm they invariably foist upon our nation.
The very nature of the Malaysian nation depends, sometimes precariously, on a sensitive and advised approach to treating issues of inter-community relations. Using ill will to accuse others of bad intent is to set a sorry example for all decent, well-meaning Malaysians.
The claim that championing one’s own community interests need not diminish another community’s interests is blatantly hollow in the Perkasa “model”. If only that were true, some of its adherents would not be in the mess they are in now.
The essential subtleties and implications of harmony and unity in diversity may escape the comprehension of chauvinists. But what is inescapable is the fact that theirs is an anti-social attitude that is particularly dangerous in our society.
Is it too much to expect Perkasa and its ilk to be more mature and considerate? Their words and actions will tell us.
In the past, the authorities have used the very instrument at issue, the ISA, to clamp down on these incendiary provocations. As before, it is for the authorities to decide how they should handle this matter today.
By TAY TIAN YAN, Sin Chew Daily
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Dear Encik Ibrahim Ali,
First of all, I must congratulate you on the publication of your Suara Perkasa.
With this newspaper, all Perkasa’s activities, along with your great statements, will now travel across the nation so that Malaysian citizens can have the privileged opportunity to learn from you. Isn’t that a blessing to our beloved nation?
Suara Perkasa is published with the objective of promoting the rights of the Malays and Muslims, and unlike other newspapers in this world, it carries a truly momentous mission that has placed it a notch above its peers which are fighting for nothing realistic but democracy, freedom and justice.
If Suara Perkasa could go into publication 50 years or 100 years earlier, its influences could have been even much more phenomenal. It could have even transformed the socio-political fabric of Malaysia!
Perkasa has already positioned itself as a truly amazing organisation, and with its own newspaper now added to this stature, I can see that it will be further empowered for the bigger things to come.
With Suara Perkasa, a lot of hypes will soon flood Malaysia’s political scene. Sensitive topics will keep gushing out, and readers will be pampered with a multitude of readable materials.
Suara Perkasa will also lead in the country’s “right” tilt, charging ahead towards conservatism and extremism. Many politicians will likely pour in their generous support. Who knows, their political future will lie very much in the hands of Suara Perkasa or you.
The publication of Suara Perkasa will also attest to the fact that press freedom is very much alive in Malaysia.
Can you argue that the country is stripped of press freedom if even Perkasa can get a publishing permit?
As for PKR’s Suara Keadilan, no one knows whether their licence will eventually be renewed, but then this is at the sole discretion of the home ministry.
The editorial style of Suara Perkasa is also an attestation to press freedom.
On the front page, you’ve demanded that the government detain Wee Ka Siong under ISA, complete with a picture of the MCA youth chief.
Normally on an inaugural issue, the front page is reserved for the newspaper’s boss to deliver his speech.
And this has shown the humble side of you, Encik Ibrahim Ali.
You probably have worried that your face on the cover would hamper the newspaper’s sale.
As a matter of fact, this should not be of least concern to you.
You have been so generous to offer this privilege to Wee Ka Siong, and the MCA Youth should indeed feel deeply honoured.
Suara Perkasa has protruded its fearless spirit by asking the government to arrest someone already in the government under ISA.
The home ministry has reiterated that ISA would only be cited against extremely dangerous individuals such as terrorists.
I ran through the records, Wee Ka Siong did think that the PSD scholarships should not have been abolished, leaving only Mara to dish out scholarships to bumi students, as this would not reflect the 1Malaysia spirit.
And you have been courageous enough to point out that Wee had gone against Article 153 of the Constitution, challenging the special privileges accorded to the Malays.
Under your leadership, both Perkasa and Suara Perkasa will flourish for sure, and I believe there are areas we can work together for our mutual benefits.
A junior editor of a Chinese newspaper
Thursday June 24, 2010
Raising the Bar
By KENNETH WONG POH LIM
What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.
When I was asked to write an article for this column, I thought a long time for a topic I should give my views on.
Several came to mind: Should I be promoting my legal knowledge (albeit limited) on corporate matters, or should I write about something more serious and heavy like the RM1.6bil to be spent on the new Parliament building and Istana Negara?
After much deliberation, I decided that before I criticise others, I should ensure that I, or more importantly the profession from where I hail, am beyond reproach or criticism. I therefore decided to write about my legal profession – the Bar.
#1 – Be professional in dispensing our duty
Firstly, but most importantly, we need to remember that we are professionals who have heavy responsibilities placed on our shoulders and understand that the public in general would not have the perception that lawyers are expensive liars/crooks if we dispense our duty with integrity and professionally.
To me, the problem arises when we are seen as a “hindrance” to the administration of justice – for example, by not being prepared, providing the court with inaccurate statements (mostly due to lack of preparation) and many other reasons which would as a consequence result in justice not being meted out.
Before we react to some of the judgments handed down by the courts (in that they are appalling or unbelievable), we should first ask ourselves whether we had in any way contributed to such judgments being handed down.
After all, the courts rely on the assistance and representation of lawyers in arriving at a conclusion on each set of facts.
#2 – Stop focusing on dollars and cents, start empowering
the public and increasing their awareness of their rights
We should constantly remind ourselves that our tasks as lawyers are not limited to just preparing for trial, defending our clients in court or drafting of commercial agreements.
We are fortunate enough to be legally trained to appreciate and made aware of the rights as well as remedies afforded to citizens in the event such rights are breached.
Instead of just using our knowledge as a tool in earning a living, we should step up and take on the role to spread and educate the public with our knowledge.
Certainly, a good effort by the Bar Council which should be applauded is the recently launched MyConstitution campaign, the first-of-its-kind national campaign to educate the Malaysian public and create greater awareness on the Federal Constitution.
We should work towards dispelling the notion that lawyers are only interested in dollars and cents and we should use our know ledge as a tool to contribute back to society.
#3 – Stop commercialising the profession
For litigation lawyers, a person’s freedom and liberty could be at stake, depending on the arguments put forth by the lawyer in court. For corporate lawyers, a transaction worth millions of dollars could be at stake, depending on the terms penned in the agreements.
The point is, our profession allows us certain privileges but it also comes with very heavy responsibilities.
Needless to say, the legal fees charged should therefore be commensurate to the responsibilities shouldered by us.
As much as we are eager to please our clients, we should not be forced to offer ridiculously low legal fees, which would inevitably result in a compromise on the quality of work.
The public should also be aware of the following. A good lawyer will spend laborious hours researching, focusing and trying his or her very best to offer the best solutions to clients, which would result in quality work.
By reducing legal fees to a ridiculous low, most lawyers would be forced to accept more briefs to maintain his or her earnings (to pay the bills) and naturally, would be forced to spend less time on each brief.
Consequently, quality of work would be compromised.
#4 – Give back to society
“There is a difference between a good person and a great person.
“A good person works hard for himself and his family, providing opportunities for his circle of friends.
“However, a great person, while working towards supporting his family and friends, also strives to make the world a better place to live in.”
The Bar should continue to support and create more avenues, such as charitable events, for members of the Bar to give back to society. The yearly Charity Night, brainchild of the Kuala Lumpur Bar Young Lawyers Committee, is an example. Charity Night is an event where members of the legal fraternity, including pupils in chambers (trainee lawyers) and lawyers, showcase their other talents in the name of charity to raise funds, usually to be given to homes for abandoned children and the elderly.
This year, Charity Night takes place on July 2.
In conclusion, this writer believes that most members of the Bar do practise the above points and as such, the above points are only meant to serve as a reminder. He humbly hopes that the same members of the Bar would indicate their acknowledgement of the same by contributing to Charity Night.
Inquiries can be made by contacting the Kuala Lumpur Bar Secretariat at 03 2693 3585. This writer will constantly be checking the fund box to see if he was right about his brothers and sisters at the Bar.
The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, please visitwww.malaysianbar.org.my/nylc.
Thursday July 1, 2010
It’s democracy and not derhaka
BRAVE NEW WORLD
By AZMI SHAROM
It is one thing to have a populace that does not quite understand the full extent of their democratic rights, it is quite another to have leaders perpetuate a feudalistic atmosphere to keep their grip on power.
After the 2004 general election, the newly chosen MP for Putrajaya was being interviewed on the telly. He was obviously very happy with the result – his chubby face was glowing. The Barisan had won big in that particular constituency.
His happiness was understandable but his explanation for the victory, however, was a little bizarre. He said the reason Barisan won the seat so easily was because Putrajaya was home to mainly civil servants. In other words, it was expected that these people will vote for the “government”.
Two points of clarification should be made here. Firstly, the freedom to choose is the right of every single Malaysian, regardless of job description. And secondly people don’t vote for a “government”, people vote for a party which will then form a government.
It’s all pretty basic Democracy 101 type stuff, but I guess for some it’s a lesson which is a little tough to grasp. Not surprising really, consi dering how terribly feudal our country is.
Why, just today I read that tribal leaders in Sarawak have been warned not to vote for the opposition. The last time I checked, the right to choose belonged to all Malay sians. I didn’t realise there was a tribal clause.
To a certain extent, I can understand why some people may think that once a party is in power then they deserve undying loyalty. It is a throwback to our days of absolute monarchs, chieftains and the like. You had an allegiance to your ruler, whoever that ruler might be and woe betide you if you were to be rebellious, or to use that most heinous of Malay words “derhaka”.
But times have changed and we are a democracy now. Or so we claim to be. If we are, then this thinking is simply not in line with our rights as citizens to choose our leader and to choose whoever we like as our leader. A feudal system is very much top down whereas a democracy moves the other way.
But like I said, I am not too surprised that we ordinary people may fail to understand and appreciate the power that is in our hands. I’m not surprised because the everyday business of governance in this country is infected with the trappings of feudalism.
Look around you – if you are in any public building, chances are you will see several portraits smiling benignly down at you a la Kim Jong Il. Apart from providing income to a bunch or photographers, printers and framers, I really don’t see the point in having these elected mugs smirking down at me. After all, what is important is the office, not the individual holding that office.
And although our national characteristic is one of politeness and respect, I don’t think it should degenerate to base toadying and brown nosing. It is distasteful to see grown men slobbering, bowing and scraping to elected officials who, let’s face it, are our servants and not the other way round.
Again, in a warped kind of way, I understand why people do this. These big shots have power. But then, even here there is a distortion of how things should be. They have power, that is true, but that power must not be in any way unlimited and the use of that power has to be accountable and transparent.
Because our system of governance lacks transparency and accountability, the amount of power wielded by the few is far too great and this merely feeds into the feudalistic thinking of the society we live in as people will prostrate themselves before someone whom they think can give them reward, regardless whether they should have such power to reward or not.
However, back to the Sarawak tribal chiefs. Michael Manyin, who is the Sarawak Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister, said in a speech that “tribal leaders are the government’s agents in developing local communities and are not supposed to go against the government”.
This may be true in the daily life of a tribal leader. He will have duties to carry out and he should not do anything to undermine that. However, during election time, there is no longer a “government”. There are only parties vying to be the next government and in that situation, a tribal leader or any other citizen for that matter can choose who they want.
It is one thing to have a populace that does not quite understand the full extent of their democratic rights, it is quite another thing to have leaders perpetuate a feudalistic atmosphere in order to keep their grip on power.
It is about time we realise that this country belongs to all of us, the citizens. It definitely does not belong to elected officials who are at the very most merely managers entrusted with the running of the nation and managers with no security of tenure because we can fire them.
And that is not “derhaka”, that is democracy.