Saturday, April 26, 2014
It is obvious that it was the overwhelming public opinion that finally pressured US President Barack Obama to agree to meet with leaders of Malaysian civil society movements, including Bersih, Islamic Renaissance Front and the Bar Council during his visit to Kuala Lumpur this weekend. It was also public pressure that led to the US embassy to arrange Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice to meet with Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
While these gestures may be encouraging admission that the US still values human rights and democracy but they are far from sufficient to redeem the declining faith in the super power to stand up to its role as the leader and champion of democracy in a complex and sophisticated world today.
Anwar is no ordinary man in Malaysian politics. He has managed to unite the opposition to gain the support of 52% of the voters in the last general election just a year ago. He should have been the rightful prime minister but due to undemocratic electoral practices he remains as the opposition leader but is still capable of mounting another challenge to the present government in the next elections. He is now the leader of a formidable opposition in parliament.
However he has been unjustly tried and convicted of a crime that could land him in jail for life, thereby destroying his political career. It is ironical he is may be jailed for an alleged crime that in the US is a legitimate right of a citizen – sodomy.
If Obama and the US are truly committed to champion democracy and human rights in the world where such principles are blatantly abused, he must agree meet with our opposition leader to get a first-hand information of his views which reflects the views of the majority of Malaysians.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
IN recent times I have felt like Alice in Wonderland. In Lewis Carroll’s tale, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and suddenly the whole world is turned upside down
She either becomes too small or too big, and all the odd characters around her speak in riddles. The world of Wonderland is a very puzzling place.
The world I live in too has become a very puzzling place. Things mean differently from what they used to, and reason and logic are no longer what they were.
Once upon a time, being kind to others was a very good thing to be. We were taught by parents and teachers to be nice to others regardless of who they were, because how we behaved was a direct reflection of how we were brought up.
We were also taught to be fair to others, to not take what was not ours and to be considerate to those who were older and wiser than us.
Today we are told that while being kind is still a good thing, we have to mind who we are nice to. Being considerate and polite to some people is now considered a mortal sin simply because they believe in things differently from us.
We cannot, for instance, wish that a dead person rests in peace because apparently having not believed in the same faith as we do, they cannot possibly have a peaceful afterlife.
While in all likelihood the dead person will not know what we wished them, there is still the living family and loved ones to consider. Surely we should not add to their sorrow by wishing their deceased husband or father ill in the afterlife. Not unless we want them to dislike us.
What was once just harmless common courtesy has now been poisoned by those with nothing better to do than to think of endless ways to be rude to others. Happiness today is defined by how many people you can make unhappy each day.
When we lost all those people in MH370, did anyone differentiate between which families they sent their sympathies to and which ones they didn’t? Didn’t that tragedy affect everybody equally?
Aren’t the families of MH370 now all forever linked to one another by this common disaster, regardless of who they are and where they come from?
Yet the loss of one person to an equally tragic car accident (as well as his assistant) was treated as if it was cause for celebration. Where once people were mindful not to show their ill feelings publicly, today they are advertised proudly. The world down that rabbit hole has come to the surface.
In a time not too far away, people thought that the cutting of hands and the stoning of humans were too uncivilised for a modern democratic country like ours. When some tried to introduce it, it was greeted with derision.
Today, even the most unlikely people are welcoming it as if it is the answer to all our problems. Is it because people we admire because they have lots of money have now decided that they will impose such barbaric punishments on their citizens and non-citizens alike?
For what reason do we admire this move when, apart from conspicuous consumption, there is absolutely nothing else to say about that country?
Why do we choose to ignore that this new “justice system” exempts the elite from the same punishments they want to impose on everyone else?
Is that why our elite are also rushing to endorse this new move? Because they know that it will not affect them at all, only those who are poor and marginalised as well as those whom they dislike?
What sort of society do we foresee when the poor are left crippled because they cannot afford to get justice from this system so many are now eager to introduce? If it is meant to be better than what we have now, what do these improvements look like?
What, for example, would be the equivalent of the Domestic Violence Act in the hudud laws? Or will it be completely void because in a pure “Islamic” state, men will be able to beat their wives with impunity?
Today, reason is being chiselled away daily only to be replaced by religious gamesmanship, with no thought for what the consequences will be. Everyone is trying to outdo one another with ever more “religious” pronouncements, even though so little of it makes any sense at all.
Is a religious state merely about punishing people? How does such a state deal with practical issues like globalisation or climate change, or even more mundane domestic issues like our water woes, public transport or even education?
Or is the answer simply to be like the Queen of Hearts and say “Off with his head!”?
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Refusal to meet with Opposition Leader a disappointment
The visit of US President Barrack Obama to Malaysia is being hailed as a historic one for Malaysia as he is the first president to ever make an official visit to our country. However his refusal to meet with our parliamentary opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, is very regrettable, especially coming from a leader of the country that champions freedom, democracy and human rights around the world. His decision is a big let-down for not just the opposition but for parliamentary democracy and the people at large in Malaysia.
The world is not what it used to be and US is not what it was before - a true champion of freedom and democracy in the world. Today everything is business and power play. Rights of ordinary people are overlooked for reasons that are so inhumane by the very nation that claims to champion human rights. The US is losing its moral standing as the champion of freedom and human rights in the world and Obama is just accelerating that loss of faith in his country.
Obama may be too sacred to upset the status quo in Malaysia. As the leader of the powerful democratic and free world why should he shun from meeting an opposition leader who is persecuted by an unjust regime which does not have the support the majority of the people? Anwar represents the voice of the majority of Malaysians, so why doesn't Obama have the courtesy of meeting a legitimate opposition leader?
If Obama doesn’t have the courage to meet Anwar, he should not come here and allow Najib and gang to gain political mileage from his visit. We know for sure our mainstream media are just waiting to do that in the coming days.
The majority of Malaysians and others being suppressed around the world would like to send this message to Obama, “Mr President, you represent the great USA, please do proud to you nation by having the courage to do the right thing to defend the principles on your country was founded”
Monday, April 21, 2014
The curtain has come down on the life of one of the fiercest politician and fighter for justice, YB Karpal Singh. His sudden death in a tragic road accident came as a shock to all Malaysians. In just a spit moment the nation has lost an illustrious son. He was given a grand send-off by the people of all races who came out in the thousands to pay their last respects and follow him to his final resting place. Karpal showed his greatness by winning a place in the hearts of the masses by courageously standing up for their rights in the courts, in parliament and outside.
It was encouraging to see leaders of the past and present from both sides of the political aisle paying their last respects to the man, who became an icon of the fight against injustice and lawlessness. They put aside their differences and paid tribute to the man who was their ardent critic before. However it was disappointing that besides sending their condolences, the present top leaders did little to show their respect and appreciation for a man who had contributed so much in his own ways to the nation as admitted even by his archrival former PM Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohammad.
It was disgusting they made no efforts to even reprimand some fanatics who uttered insanity on Karpal on his death. The PM was quick to send his condolence message from abroad but when back in the country chose to participate in an anti-corruption run in the morning when massive crowds were gathering in Penang for the funeral. The English and Malay dailies did not even see it fit to report the funeral in its front pages. It was extremely disappointing that the federal government chose to ignore the death of a man who had been a dominant national figure, active opposition leader and prominent lawyer for over forty years. It speaks volumes for the democracy we claims to uphold and the caring culture we are claiming to promote.
The mammoth crowds at the funeral of Karpal were reassuring being a sign that the people value the ideals of justice which the late leader was identified with. At a time of so much corruption and abuse of power, it was encouraging that the people at large are yearning for justice, accountability and respect for law and order by rallying around a dead leader who stood for those ideals.
In the nearly fifty years of his turbulent legal and political career, Karpal fought for three major things that were close to his heart and which are also dear to all Malaysians today. These are the rule of law, the need to remain a secular state and the need to respect the rights of all citizens.
His firm believe in the superiority of the Federal Constitution, which he defended with great fervor and vigor, often brought him into direct confrontation with those in power. In a country that is fast deteriorating into lawlessness he was a conscience in the hearts of the leaders and enforcers of the law. His strong stand against as secular state was a pain for many who saw him as an obstacle to the establishment of an Islamic state. His constant and persistent call for justice and fairness for all citizens regardless of race and creed was a blow for the increasing use of racial and religious provocations and the marginalization of the minorities in the country.
Over three decades of misguided policies, the country is beginning to reap the many disasters that are starting to unfold, the disappearance of flight MH 370, being the most obvious and which has brought great loss in our credibility and honor. The deterioration in the quality of our education, biasness of the judiciary and enforcement agencies and the loss of professionalism of almost all the various institutions due to their subjugation by a long-ruling regime are all leading to a rapid decline in our reputable standing in the international community.
In a recent interview he was asked why he stays in Malaysia in the face of so much adversity, Karpal’s answer was simple. “They want to make it as difficult as they can for us here so we’ll go away. But we will not go - that would be giving them what they want, and that would be wrong. We have to stay and fight.”
Karpal Singh stayed and fought till the end. He may be gone but his legacy of “Never give up” must continue among the younger generations.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
A loss difficult to replace
The sudden and tragic death of Mr.Karpal Singh, veteran opposition and DAP stalwart caught the nation by shock and surprise on an otherwise peaceful and uneventful Thursday morning. The news of his death in an early morning road accident was met with disbelief initially and then sadness and grief.
Many of us know Karpal Singh as a fierce and combatant lawyer and opposition politician who dared to do what many feared, confront the government in parliament, in the courts and outside without fear for five decades. Even jailing could not stop him from his fight for the people.
He was a man of integrity and a defender of the constitutional rights of all Malaysians regardless of race and creed. Despite the many setbacks, intimidations and harassment by the authorities he stood firm to his principles and rose up to courageously to defend the poor and victimized in society. He did that unwavering till the very end, even after being confined to a wheelchair due to injuries sustained in a road accident in 2005.
Coming from very humble origins he worked his way up to become one of the most respected and sought-after lawyer in the country. His courageous and vocal criticism of the government for nearly five decades won him the title of the “Tiger of Jelutong”. At an age of 74,paralysed and sickly and convicted for sedition and possibly even jailed, Karpal was still fighting for his ideals for a just and fair Malaysia for all. In fact he died fighting and became a hero in the hearts of many.
His untimely death is a great loss for the country and for fight against corruption and injustice in the country. His death is a great loss for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, at a time when it is getting closer to the capturing Putrajaya,to the various human rights groups and the people at large seeking justice. The nation has lost an illustrious son who will be extremely difficult to replace for many years to come.
Karpal may be gone but he has left a legacy as fervent fighter against legal, political and social injustice in the country. He has earned a place in the hearts of all Malaysians and generations to come will continue to hear the roar of the Tiger of Jelutong loud and clear.
Our deepest condolences to his wife and children and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this very difficult time.
We also convey our deepest sympathies to the family of his personal assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu who died with him in the accident. At 39years of age his death is a great tragedy to his family. He was devoted to his master even in death.
May they rest in peace.
Michael was literally the man behind Karpal since the 39-year-old, would push his boss around in his wheelchair wherever he went,even to his death
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