Monday, October 24, 2011

Pot calling the kettle black

THE week should rank as one filled with double standards and two wrongs making one right. On the flip side, it can be viewed as the week when what is good for the goose may not be so for the gander.

First there was the case of the opposition accusing the Barisan Nasional and Umno of gutter politics when some pro-Umno bloggers put up postings alleging the son of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng of being involved in an outrage of modesty case.

Responding to the accusations of gutter politics, BN and Umno leaders pointed out that the opposition should not attempt to take the moral high horse when they themselves were known to have taken a similar route in their political quest.

While the debate simmered, several practical measures could have been taken to ensure such mud slinging is reduced, if not stopped.
Firstly, if the claims in the postings by the bloggers were false, Guan Eng should take the initiative to take legal action, expose them and make sure they pay for such crimes.

It will serve not only the opposition's purpose but that of the BN as well. Such a precedent will ensure that any blogger, from either side of the fence, will be cautious when they want to post something ugly about someone.

By doing that, Guan Eng, instead of engaging in the perennial debate of who is more moral in the nation's political arena, will contribute in drawing the perimeter of what should and shouldn't be allowed in blogosphere.

It is amazing sometimes that politicians will go to great lengths to deny, denounce and chastise what is written against them and yet, are not prepared to lodge police reports and take legal action to put a stop to such defamation and slander.

After all, these politicians, given their wide range of associates and supporters, including many legal practitioners, would surely be able to obtain legal services easily.

Amid the attention given to Guan Eng, of lesser interest but not necessarily of lesser significance, is the purported derogatory tweets by a DAP man.

Leong Yook Kong, political secretary to DAP's Bagan Dalam assemblyman A. Thanasekaran, is being censured when he posted on Twitter: "If they see the snake & Indian man, pukul siapa (hit who) first?"

He had not admitted he had made those remarks but he reportedly questioned why people were making a big deal of what he had tweeted, yet, were less critical when BN's Perak assemblywoman Hamidah Osman made a similar comment (in 2008).

Actually, Hamidah was severely chastised by the opposition, especially by DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang who, in his blog said:

"It is most shocking that after half-a-century of nationhood and the great government's expenditures at nation-building, including the billions of ringgit recently spent on National Service, a Barisan Nasional state legislator in Perak could utter the highly racist, insensitive and offensive statement that when you meet an Indian and a snake, you hit the Indian first!"

Guan Eng joined his father in criticising Hamidah, demanding that Umno should punish her.

Chipping in was DAP Ipoh Barat member of parliament M. Kulasegaran, who then said Hamidah's remarks had aggrieved the Indian community and MIC should pull out from BN.

Hamidah then apologised several times for the racial slur.

While waiting for Leong to apologise or defend his statement, and reactions from DAP stalwarts like Kit Siang, Guan Eng and Kulasegaran, another case of double standards cropped up.

It is on the suspension of International Islamic University of Malaysia's law lecturer Prof Abdul Aziz Bari.

The reasons for his suspension are sketchy but much is attributed to his public comments on the Selangor Sultan's statement about the issue of proselytisation of Muslims in Selangor.

Perceived to be strongly leaning towards the opposition, if not outrightly supporting it, his suspension was greeted with loud protests.

This was met with strong retorts from pro-BN supporters, asking Aziz Bari's supporters where they were when three officials of Universiti Selangor (Unisel) were sacked in August.

The sacking of the trio also led to its vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Rosti Saruwono resigning in protest over the sackings.

The icing on the cake for the week's inconsistencies if not outright hypocrisy would have to be the reasons given by Pas' leadership in deciding not to participate in the Himpunan Sejuta Umat (Himpun -- Gathering of a million believers).

Its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said Pas decided not to participate in the gathering so as to respect the decision of the organisers to keep the gathering apolitical.

This sparked accusations of Pas being hypocritical because it was more than keen to participate in July's Bersih 2.0 rally that was held to demand for electoral reforms.

Pas' critics pointed out that Bersih organisers, too, claimed that the rally was apolitical.

But the critics may have missed out on what Abdul Hadi was actually trying to reveal -- that Bersih is political, hence Pas' participation.

Come to think of it, there is nothing significant or extraordinary about this week's double standards or political hypocrisy.

The pot is only doing what it has been doing in previous weeks and the in weeks to come -- calling the kettle black.

p/s This article first appeared in the New Sunday Times on 22 Oct, 2011.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

HUDUD - The chicken and duck talk

THE Chinese proverb "a chicken talking to a duck" would best describe the protracted debate between Pas and DAP on the implementation of hudud.
Of course, the barrier is not that either party did not understand the language of the other, as the proverb dictates. It is rather the "political language" used, whereby intentions and expressions do not run parallel.

If attention were to be given to the details, the confusion appears to be intended.

From the word go, when Pas' venerated Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat decided to revive the dormant hudud issue on Sept 17, it was obvious the debates and opinions expressed would end up in a babel.
Nik Aziz, then reacting to reports of high incidences of HIV/AIDS in Kelantan, said the problem would have been curtailed had the state been allowed to implement hudud.

He then blamed former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the stumbling block to its implementation.

What commenced is classic political grandstanding, spewing of rhetoric and irrelevance, so much so that the basic issue plaguing hudud has been totally ignored.

The issue of hudud today cannot be addressed in the context of when it was introduced in Kelantan in the 1990s, when Pas took the helm in the state.

Then, at best, Pas and its partners in the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah -- comprising Pas, the now-defunct Parti Melayu Semangat 46, Hamim and Berjasa -- were only focusing on winning the Malay-majority states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis.

At the same time, Semangat 46 led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, was straddling another opposition grouping -- the Gagasan Rakyat (comprising Semangat 46, DAP, Parti Bersatu Sabah, Indian Progressive Front, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and some smaller entities).

The reason for the two opposition groupings then was obvious -- Tengku Razaleigh could not bring DAP and Pas together. Much of it was because of ideological polarity, the former for its ideological commitment to secularism, and the latter for its commitment to theocracy.

All this was created in the run-up to the 1990 general election -- and there was much talk the opposition would succeed, through the two fronts, and deny Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority.

The results proved otherwise, though Pas managed to take over Kelantan and made many inroads into Kedah and Terengganu.

The results also burst the bubble of the opposition and its supporters, and by 1995, DAP pulled out of Gagasan Rakyat, describing its position in the grouping as untenable due to its association with Semangat 46, which, in turn, was associated with Pas which was then actively promoting hudud and a theocratic state.

Such is the allergy of DAP towards Pas, that even indirect association via Semangat 46 was not an option.

That was in 1995.

Then in 1999, DAP seemed to have overcome its allergy to Pas and joined the Barisan Alternatif (comprising Parti Keadilan Nasional, DAP, Pas and Parti Rakyat Malaysia.

Again, the opposition failed to deny BN the two-thirds majority, but Pas was again the biggest gainer by further securing Kelantan, winning Terengganu and making major inroads into Kedah.

In 2001, obviously realising that it was losing its electorates, DAP decided to pull out of Barisan Alternatif, citing irreconcilable differences with Pas over the Islamic state issue.

While all past developments vis-a-vis Pas and DAP relations had always proven that the two would team up for the general election only to fall out post-polls once the results were not in their favour, the 2008 general election conjured a different equation.

For the first time, under Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition denied BN its two-thirds majority, DAP got to rule Penang and went on to become the power behind the "throne" in Perak and Selangor.

Pas, apart from retaining Kelantan, took over Kedah and got to be the "titular" head in Perak.

In other words, finally, the cooperation between DAP and Pas paid off for both parties, though the former was the bigger gainer.

The 2008 election success had given opposition supporters and leaders the belief that they might just be able to pull the carpet from under BN's feet in the next general election.

With that, the past equation when Pas wanted to implement hudud changed.

Previously, Pas was able to blame Umno and BN for blocking its theocratic ambitions.

But now, as Pas and its partners rally their supporters to believe that they will take over the nation's rule, it cannot use such reasons to justify its inability to implement hudud.

Based on the premise that the opposition will win in the next general election, if Pas is serious in wanting to implement hudud, it must convince its partners to include the law in its manifesto, regardless whether it is to be confined within the Malay states or nationwide.

If it can't, then Pas must be honest enough to admit that it is not going to be able to implement hudud because its partners oppose the implementation.

This is based on the opposition's projection, post-election; Umno and BN are irrelevant in the equation as they would be the opposition.

Maybe Pas is still blaming Umno and BN because it knows the opposition won't be able to take over Putrajaya.

The babel is then understandable.

p/s This article first appeared in The Sunday Times - 16th Oct, 2012