Tag Archives: Malaysia

[Blog] A Mockery and Travesty of Justice: The Continuing Persecution and Permanent Harassment of Anwar Ibrahim by the powers that be in Malaysia by Jose Mario De Vega

A Mockery and Travesty of Justice: The Continuing Persecution and Permanent Harassment of Anwar Ibrahim by the powers that be in Malaysia
by Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the “Anwar Ibrahim guilty in sodomy case”, by the Guardian, February 10th with regard to the latest conviction of the Malaysian Opposition leader.

Mario De Vega

As of the moment, the Old Man or Uncle Anwar is now there in Sungai Buloh prison serving his newest five year jail sentence.

Last month, the 68 year old Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto Opposition leader, the hero of the Malaysian people of all walks of life, the greatest single threat to the 58 years of bureaucratically racial and despotically selective rule of the elitist UMNO and BN, the indispensable glue that unites Pakatan Rakyat (the Opposition Coalition), the global image of human rights violations in Malaysia, a fierce political fighter par excellence and a universally acknowledged prisoner of conscience — was once again declared guilty, this time by the so-called highest “court” in Malaysia.

Prison is not an unfamiliar arena and place of struggle for Anwar.

His first spell of jail was back in 1974, under the draconian Internal Security Act, when he was then a student leader, wherein he protested the prevailing hunger and poverty then in the country.

After the culmination of the first so-called Sodomy Trial, he was sent in prison from 1998/9 up to 2004.

Who would ever forget his picture with a black eye while he is in police custody?

Said photo shocked the world!

In 2008, he led the Opposition Coalition in nearly overthrowing the Federal government. That is the Political Tsunami that completely changed not only the ideological landscape of Malaysian politics, but also its political history and historical dimension.

For the first time in Malaysian political life and history — there is now a vibrant, growing, “young”, strong and genuine opposition against traditional politics, crony capitalism and single party rule for more than five decades.

March 8, 2008 — scarred the hell out of all UMNO and BN that they’ve decided that they have to do everything — at all cost — to end Anwar’s political career — by hook or by crook — in order to save their assets and asses.

The very frightening thought of PR defeating the administration in a democratic election, send such uncontrollable fear and undeniable paranoia to the powers that be!

Said fear and paranoia is not misplaced or baseless!

In the last General Election, the PR has garnered 53% of the popular votes, yet ironically by virtue of the abnormal and sinisterly peculiar form of Malaysia’s bastardized version of parliamentary system, Anwar and his allies was prevented by the prevailing “norms” and politico-racial set up of the establishment from duly forming the government.

This aberrant and highly unusual political fiasco in Malaysia did not escape the knowledge and attention of the international community.

The central substantive question that needs to be asked is:

Why PR who won the popular votes still remains in the opposition?

Or to put it in other words:

How could the true majority be in the minority and how could the minority be in control of the bloody government?

What the hell of the right of this “government” to rule the Malaysian people?

The whole thing boils down to the issue of political legitimacy and moral ascendancy in governance.

Again, to pose the inescapable question:

What is the political and moral right of the prevailing “government” to rule the rakyat?

The fear of the powers that be that that the next G. E. will put an end to their rule has led them to concoct the gravest and the most ludicrous political conspiracy ever made in the entire history of Malaysia. Their paranoia has also led them to perpetually persecute and habitually harass Anwar and his family.

They’ve systematically, since day one, portrayed the de facto Opposition leader as a sodomist, a gay, an immoral creature, a curse and a disgrace to the Malay race and a threat to the unity and diversity of Malaysian society.

They’ve tried to brainwashed repeatedly and in such notorious manner the entire country about all of these baseless charges and ridiculous accusation against Anwar by using all the resources of the Federal government, that is from the media (both print and online), the various television networks and other nefarious means available.

Yet, despite all of these dead rat shits and tons of mud thrown against Anwar, history has shown that the Malaysian people, does not believe the “government’s” evil lies, propaganda and slanders.

The following are the undeniable proof that the people believes in Anwar and subscribes to his reform agenda/struggle:

1. In 1998, for the first time in history, the Malaysian people went out of the streets, occupy Kuala Lumpur to show their solidarity to the sacked deputy prime minister.

2. While in jail, Anwar’s Reformasi Movement continues to grow and gather strength.

3. The volume of the people who greeted him when he was released from prison in 2004.

4. In 2007, he led the massive mammoth Bersih rally in the Malaysian capital.

5. March 8, 2008, as already noted, he inspired the political tsunami that threatened the status quo.

6. In 2009, he won a landslide victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election.

7. 2012, he led the Pakatan Rakyat in garnering the greatest popular votes for the Opposition Coalition.

Question:

Why after all of these feats, triumph and victories by Anwar and his allies with the support and solid solidarity from the Malaysian people, why the hell he is in jail?

Answer:

Because the powers that be in Malaysia, that is UMNO and BN and the rest of their impertinent so-called component parties are all afraid of Anwar and his vision for the Malaysia.

A Call to the Malaysian People

You want to change the system, you want a better life and a good society for your family and children, then I say to all of you; there is no more recourse available for all of you but the path of the Struggle.

In a word: to the streets! It is only in occupying Kuala Kumpur that you shall conquer Putra Jaya.

Onward to the Struggle!!!

ALL POWERS TO THE PEOPLE!!!

REFORMASI!!

HIDUP RAKYAT!!!
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy and Social Science lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila

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[Announcement] Call for application: ASEAN Youth Forum 2015

ASEAN Youth Forum 2015ASEAN Youth Forum 2015
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
21-22 April 2015
Apply until April 5, 2015
Results of Chosen Participants:  April 7, 2015

Apply now: AYF Form
For inquiries: Contact Tom at aseanyouthregional@gmail.com

Passionate? Forward Looking?
WE ARE INDEED MOVING FORWARD!

We are opening the door for passionate, committed, forward-looking and hardworking Southeast Asians (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam) aged 15-35 years old to be part of the most important turning point of the movement towards a youth driven, rights-centred and SOGIE-embracing ASEAN region!

The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) has been serving as a space and mechanism for young Southeast Asians to amplify their voices, to further their and to forge a youth driven and rights-centred Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Forum has already been conducted in six countries (Bangkok & Huahin, Thailand in 2009, Hanoi, Vietnam in 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011, Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam in 2013 & Yangon, Myanmar in 2014). The most recent AYF in Myanmar achieved milestones for and by the ASEAN Youth:

∙         Development and Acceptance of the Yangon Declaration http://aseanpeople.org/yangon-declaration-asean-youth-statement-2014/ (ASEAN Youth Statement 2014)
∙         Development of initial strategies with other youth groups, ASEAN CSOs and ASEAN bodies
∙         Meaningful ASEAN Youth Interface Meeting with leaders in May 2014 (Nay Pyi Taw)

2015 is witness to the ASEAN Chairmanship of Malaysia. Young People, which consist of 60-70% of the region’s population, will be greatly affected by the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community 2015 (AEC 2015). At the same time, the youth can significantly contribute to either its success or failure. It is the crucial time to meaningfully be part of national and regional processes to ensure that our rights and freedoms are fully respected, promoted and protected.

The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) 2015, nationally hosted by Akademi Belia, will take place on 20-21 April 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two day forum will involve strategic planning sessions, dialogues with ASEAN and CSO stakeholders and a chance to experience life as a young person in Kuala Lumpur.

Potential participants are invited to apply for that coveted spot at the AYF 2015.

Participant has to be a young Southeast Asian who is working on a particular social, development, peace or human rights issue.
Participant needs to have strong knowledge and understanding of national and ASEAN processes on youth, peace, human rights and AEC
Participant has to be willing to work on the monitoring of the Yangon Declaration for the next six months (monitoring of the Yangon Declaration at the local and national levels)

Fill the Application Form up on or before 5 April 2015 (17:00 BKK/JKT/LAO/CAM/VNM; 17:30 YGN; 18:00 MNL/KL); Results of Chosen Participants by 7 April 2015

NOTE: Chosen participants have to shoulder their international flight costs and travel expenses. Organisers will take care of food, accommodation (19-22 April) and forum materials.

For inquiries and concerns, contact Tom (Lead Regional Liaison Officer) at aseanyouthregional@gmail.com. Thank you and hope to see and work with you in Kuala Lumpur!

Regional Core Team for
the Institutionalisation of an Independent and Relevant ASEAN Youth Body

in full pursuit of the Yangon Declaration
for a Rights-Centred & Youth Driven Southeast Asian Community

Secretariat to be established in Yangon, Myanmar

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[Blog] China’s criticism on the MH370: unjust, unfair and totally below the belt. By Jose Mario De Vega

China’s criticism on the MH370: unjust, unfair and totally below the belt
By Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

I refer to “MH370: ‘Under siege’ Malaysians hit back at China”, Free Malaysia Today, March 28 with regard to China’s stinging and strident criticism of the Malaysian authorities’ handling of the MH370 incident.

To quote from the said report:

“Authorities in Kuala Lumpur have been on the defensive since the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard, most of them Chinese citizens.

Mario De Vega

“In addition to near-daily displays of fury from Chinese relatives, China’s tightly controlled state media have heaped opprobrium on the Malaysian government and airline, while its secretive Communist government has urged more transparency in the investigation.

“A letter from the relatives, blasting Malaysia’s behaviour as “irresponsible” and “inhumane”, demanded China now mount its own investigation. And a US law firm says it is consulting with Chinese families on possible legal action against Malaysia Airlines and aircraft maker Boeing.”

By virtue of the fact that China is Malaysian’s primary trading partner and the world’s second largest economy, Putrajaya “has largely held fire” and conducted itself in a cool manner, but now, “the strain is starting to show”.

I have always been critical of the Malaysian government since day one, but on this specific issue, I am of the view that those bastard Chinese has gone too far and utterly overboard! Their harsh criticisms in my view are already below the belt and completely uncalled for.

Consider the following report of Jaime A. FlorCruz for CNN, “China treads carefully amid the anger and grief of MH370 relatives”, March 27:

“Zhang Ziyi, an actress known for her starring roles in Hollywood hits such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” took to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like micro-blogging service, to berate Malaysia. “Malaysian government, you are wrong not to revere life. You are wrong not to respect the universal quest for truth,” she wrote.

“Chen Kun, a popular actor who has 72 million Weibo followers, appealed for decisive action. “For the clownish prevarication and lies of the Malaysian government and the MAS (Malaysia Airlines), and your disrespect of our people, please let me, coming from my heart, boycott all Malaysia-related commercial products and tours related. Not just for the brief moment when the missing plane is in the heat of attention, but indefinitely.””

Commentaries:

To Zhang Ziyi, you stated that the Malaysian government is wrong not to revere life.

In fairness to the Malaysian government, I never read or heard that they said that they did not revere life. Hence, I am wondering, what the hell entered your mind (if you have one) that made you say what you said?

What or where is your evidence in charging them of your baseless charge and undeniably unfair accusation?

You are also indicting the Malaysian government for not respecting the universal quest for the truth, my question to you is: why the hell your country is lying blatantly about the so-called 9 Dash Line at the West Philippine Sea?

Why the hell your bastard and greedy country is claiming almost all of the territories (when in truth and in fact, those territories are well within the exclusive economic zone of those nations) of sovereign countries at the South China Sea which is a grave violation of international law?

You talked about the truth, now can you also tell us the truth?

Hence, I say categorically: shame on you, you hypocrite pseudo actress! In fact, I cannot blame some people if they are calling you as a slut, because it seems to me that you are such!

To Chen Kun, you are saying that the Malaysian government does not respect your people. What is your basis or evidence in saying so? When in truth and in fact, it is your government and your people who are lampooning and bastardizing the Malaysian government and its beautiful people.

The Malaysian government is not perfect, but I believe that they did the best that they could to respond to this incident using all their resources and military might.

Not content with your stupid accusation and utterly preposterous claim, you are also calling for the boycott of anything that is Malaysian. That only goes to show your myopic view and idiotic mind.

I am so pleased and very happy that not everybody agrees with your stupidity, discrimination and idiocy.

Again to quote the CNN report:

“One Weibo user retorted: “Malaysia is nice — I stayed there for a week in 2007 and had pleasant memory of the place. To boycott the airline because of the incident is like stop eating after choking on food. To boycott the whole country because of the unreliability of the Malaysian government is also a personal loss for you. It’s not the Chinese government is that reliable.””

If your country is so good, how come it does not use all of its power (instead of bullying those small countries at the South China Sea, Japan, India, etc.) and might in helping Malaysia to locate the said plane?

In fact, it was France, the US and Australia that are vigorously helping the Malaysian authorities in locating the whereabouts of this plane? What the hell is the contribution of your country, except your good for nothing criticism?

Instead of acting like a bully and a crybaby, the right thing to do under the circumstances is to mobilize your forces and use all the resources of your empire to find the said plane.

Your cries and pinpointing will do nothing!

If the Malaysian authorities are not reliable, then what the hell can you say to your country? Both of them it seems are unreliable, then, what the hell is your qualms and complaint?

Shame on you, bloody bastard!

I understand what those grieving families are going through, but it does not mean that because of what they suffered it is a license for them to run down and blast the whole of Malaysia.

They must make a critical and crucial distinction. The Malaysian government and the Malaysian people are not the same. If the Chinese believes that the former is incompetent or not doing its best in discharging their function, then call their attention and criticize them heavily, but in a reasonable and just manner.

Assuming that that is indeed the case, that the Malaysian government is not good enough, the question here is: why the hell the Chinese will involve and drag the whole of the Malaysian people to their anger?

They (China and the families of the missing) failed to understand that no sane person wanted this accident to happen and that this tragedy is a lost to all of us, because we are all human!

It is on this great and direct sense that I would like to say to China: hey, you does not owned all of the grief in the entire world! You lost a number of your loved ones, but remember that Malaysia too and other nations for that matter had lost their families! It is not only you that is grieving, because the truth is: all of us are… Do not monopolize the sadness, because we are also in pain.

Hence, do not act as if you are the sole victim here, because in truth and in fact, we are all victims here but virtue of our collective Humanity!

You want the Malaysians to divulge all the information with regard to this tragedy, well that is good, but you must also divulge all the information with regard to the SARS epidemic, the Tiannamen Square uprising and your imperialism at the West Philippine Sea!

If Malaysia must come out clean, then you too must also do the same!!!!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Liberal Arts
Department of Social Science
Technological University of the Philippines

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[Blog] Karpal’s conviction: a mockery of justice and the heights of absurdity. By Jose Mario De Vega

Karpal’s conviction: a mockery of justice and the heights of absurdity
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to “International jurists body slams High Court decision on Karpal, says his right to give legal opinion”, The Malaysian Insider, March 11 concerning the indisputably outrageous conviction of sedition of the Tiger of Jelutong.

Mario De Vega

Last Friday, Karpal stood before the Palace of Justice and stood Anwar Ibrahim’s lead counsel for his sodomy trial. The High Court reversed the judgment of acquittal of Anwar and he was convicted of the crime charged, that is despite the heroic and gallant stand of Karpal and his legal team to ask for a deferment of the sentencing. That day, justice as a virtue and its administration died and so as the hope of the Malaysian people for the courts to stand as bastion of liberty, equality and fairness.

Yesterday, it was the turn of the lead counsel of Anwar, no less than Karpal, who in my view is the greatest lawyer ever produced by Malaysian society to be convicted, by a so-called court of law.

The powers that be not content in bastardizing justice has killed it not once but twice in a span of four days. What a shame!

Karl Marx stated that history repeat itself, first as a tragedy second as a farce. His word of wisdom is so appropriate to the present Malaysian condition.

The trial of Anwar and Karpal is not only a tragedy in its self but undeniably a mockery of the highest order. Their subsequent (which in my view is scripted and choreographed from the beginning) is not only a farce but the height of absurdity and shame.

To quote a portion of the official statement of the former US Vice President Al Gore:

“The court, by accelerating its calendar, reached its verdict in a rush — early enough to prevent Anwar from running in the election. The calendar of events is itself a contextual indictment of the decision.

“By behaving in the manner it did, the court has, of course, invited speculation by reasonable friends of Malaysia in the rest of the world that its independence of judgment and judicial temperament have been influenced by political fear of, and intimidation by, the individuals now in control of executive power in Kuala Lumpur.

“The importance of the rule of law should be deemed important for the reputation of Malaysia as a nation within the community of nations.

“Moreover, the integrity of Malaysia’s parliament — a crucial asset for the future of Malaysia’s respect in the world community — would be diminished if this decision were to be accepted as “legitimate” by the elected representatives of the people of Malaysia.”

Bloody hell, the whole world knows the prevailing fiasco the Malaysian executive-judicial collusion is all about on their objective of wiping out the political opposition.

What a shame!

So now, following the trend of the nefarious powers that be, Tian Chua or Terasa Kok must be prepared to stand trial and be ready to be convicted by another so-called court of law. Their crimes? For being in the opposition and for being brave in speaking the truth on behalf of the people!

This assertion is in conformity with the lucid contention posited by an executive committee member of Aliran, P Ramakrishnan (“After Anwar and Karpal, who’s next?”, Free Malaysia Today, March 12):

“Who’s next?

“Anwar was put away on Friday; it was Karpal’s turn on Tuesday. Who else next?

“In the pending cases involving Pakatan leaders, this would be the outcome. One by one, the Pakatan leaders will be disabled and dispatched off through the predictably subservient judiciary.

“The majority of Malaysians roundly condemn this atrocious targeting of opposition leaders. They will show their anger and displeasure when they hold the ballot papers in their hands. There is no doubt about it.”

Upon Karpal’s conviction, as reported by the Malaysian Insider:

“The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has come to the defence of prominent lawyer Karpal Singh, following the guilty verdict on him on a charge of sedition by the Hight Court, which today meted out a RM4,000 fine on him.”

The ICJ’s International Legal Adviser on Southeast Asia, Emerlynne Gil said that:

“The Malaysian government is brazenly utilising a draconian and outdated sedition law to restrict freedom of expression in the country by lawyers and public figures…

“Public discussion, including debates on the interpretation of laws, are an integral part of the nature of the legal process and a crucial step in the strengthening of a country’s democracy and rule of law.

“A lawyer’s right to freely and independently engage and express his views on the law fulfills an important aspect of his professional role…”

The whole fiasco stemmed from a legal statement of Karpal, I say legal because he gave a legal opinion in a press conference “on February 6, 2009, commenting on the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision to remove the then Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin from office. Karpal had said the decision could be challenged in a court of law.”

Commentaries:

As already stated by ICJ, the duty of the lawyer is to give his or her opinion in any public debate and discussion that affects the whole nation. Discourse of this kind is natural, welcome and should be encourage in a truly democratic society. Debates, discussion and discourse on the interpretation of the laws are not only an integral part of the nature of the legal process, but also an indispensable element utterly necessary in developing and cultivating not only the people’s political consciousness and maturity but also to strengthen the various institutions of society and the country in its totality.

Unlimited public discussions, no matter how unpopular and radical they may be are important for the nation’s democracy and its conception of the rule of law.

It is part and parcel of the duty of the citizens in a truly democratic society to comment and to argue every issue and questions that deals with matters of the public interest.

It was promised by Putrajaya on July 21, 2012 in an announcement “that it planned to repeal the Sedition Act, although critics said it was dragging its feet on abolishing the colonial-era law.”

It seems to me that they only do so to fool and dupe the people in order to get more votes for the coming general election then.

The same is true with the ten point agenda. Putrajaya made the same promise base on the same lines, yet now, the whole country is embroiled with “Allah” issue.

The point here is that, this ‘administration whose public support is only 49 % of the population is a regime of lies, political machinations, fraud and rubbish maneuvering.

They love to issue promises, yet they are so consistent in not honoring them! This is the heights of shame!

By virtue of the fact that Karpal was fined RM4,000, he is in danger of losing his parliamentary seat. Though, as of the moment he remain as the Bukit Gelugor MP that is until he has exhausted his appeal up to the Federal Court, that is because “under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if fined more than RM2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.”

Karpal’s lead counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, said that “the fine was paid and a notice of appeal would be filed soon.”

Gobind further stated that:

“He will remain an elected representative until the Federal Court makes a final decision on the appeal…”

Now, following Malaysia’s distinctive legal procedure “Karpal has two more rights to appeal against the conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.”

Again on the question of a judgment of an acquittal that is being reviewable

As I’ve stated on my latest article, “Anwar Ibrahim conviction: a travesty of justice”, The Malaysian Insider, March 10:

“Another thing that confused me since then, up to now is the stupid and idiotic principle of the Malaysian “legal” concept of reviewing the judgment of acquittal!

“In many jurisdictions, once a person is acquitted he or she is immediately discharged and he or she will no longer be prosecuted (again) on the same charge, because it will violate the legal doctrine of Double Jeopardy which is a universally sanctioned and recognised legal principle.

“Right or wrong, a judgment of acquittal is unappealable, irreversible and final, but in Malaysia, even if you are already acquitted, a higher court can still reverse the judgment of your acquittal. I believe that this principle or policy or practice is not only unfavourable to the accused but also mocks the very definition of due process.

“So, in Malaysia for example, if an individual is acquitted, he or she cannot celebrate his or her vindication, because he or she must wait whether or not the prosecutor (which in truth and in fact must be called as the persecutor) will decide to appeal his or her judgment of acquittal!

“This is preposterously unjust, hilarious to the maximum and stupid to the core, to say the least! Undeniably, this is the heights of absurdity and grave injustice! Shame!”

The evil that will be spawned by this practice or rule or policy is that of multiple prosecutions and its being violative of the Double Jeopardy rule.

The purpose of the Double Jeopardy rule

Primarily, it prevents the State from using its criminal processes as an instrument of harassment to wear out the accused by a multitude of cases with accumulated trials. (Abbate v. US, 3 L Ed 2d 729, March 30, 1959.)

It also serves the additional purpose of precluding the State, following an acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in the hope of securing a conviction. (Hoag v. New Jersey, 2 L Ed 913, May 19, 1958.)

And finally, it prevents the State, following conviction, from retrying the defendant again in the hope of securing a greater penalty. (North Carolina v. Pearce, 23 L Ed 2d 656, June 23, 1969.)

The Tiger of Jelutong

I am commending Karpal’s defiance and courage especially when he categorically stated that he is standing by his statement in February 2009 that the Sultan was not above the law.

“I was doing my duty as an MP and lawyer that the Ruler can be taken to court…

“If you are afraid, then you cannot represent the people. The fight goes on…”

LONG LIVE ANWAR! LONG LIVE KARPAL!!!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Solidarity] Malaysia: Sedition Act Conviction of Karpal Singh Condemned -Forum-Asia

Malaysia: Sedition Act Conviction of Karpal Singh Condemned
Asian Human Rights Group Calls for the Immediate Repeal of the Draconian Law

(Bangkok, 11 March 2014): The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a Bangkok-based regional human rights NGO with 47 member organisations in 16 Asian countries, joined the chorus of domestic and international condemnation of the conviction of opposition party leader and Member of Parliament, Karpal Singh, who was sentenced to a RM4,000 fine (approx. USD1,250) today. The High Court ruling could result in the disqualification of Karpal Singh as a Member of Parliament should the Court of Appeals and Federal Court uphold this decision.

ForumAsia Logo

Karpal Singh was found guilty for a remark made during a press conference in 2009, where he expressed his legal opinion that the Sultan of the state of Perak could be legally challenged for his decision in removing the then-incumbent Menteri Besar during the political crisis in the state. The colonial era Sedition Act, enacted in 1948, criminalises speeches with “sedition tendency”, an offence punishable by a maxium three-year jail term and a fine of RM5,000.

The regional human rights group viewed the High Court’s decision as part of an ongoing systematic crackdown on dissent in Malaysia. On 7 March 2014, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to a five-year jail term by the Court of Appeals, overturning an earlier decision by the High Court to acquit Anwar of sodomy charges.

“The conviction and sentencing of Karpal Singh appears to be politically-motivated and part of an ongoing systematic persecution by the Malaysian government aimed at silencing opposition and dissent. In addition to Karpal, at least seven other political activists and opposition leaders have charges under the Sedition Act pending against them,” said Evelyn Balais-Serrano, FORUM-ASIA’s executive director.

The conviction of Karpal Singh has already raised serious concerns from both at the domestic and international levels, including by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who on 7 March 2014 urged the Malaysian government to review the conviction and repeal the Sedition Act.

FORUM-ASIA has repeatedly called on the Malaysian government to repeal the Act, which it describes as “draconian, outdated, and fraught with vague provisions that seriously undermines the right to freedom of expression under international human rights law”. Najib Razak, the current Prime Minister, had in 2012 pledged to repeal the Sedition Act.

“The Prime Minister’s pledge in 2012 to repeal the Sedition Act as part of his purported reforms was indeed an implicit admission of the draconian nature of the Act. To now not only renege on his promise by failing to repeal the Act, but to actually increase the use of this law against opposition leaders, human rights defenders and activists reveals the farce of his so-called reforms,” said Balais-Serrano.

“We thus reiterate our strongest call to the Malaysian government to immediately repeal the Sedition Act. In the meantime, all charges and convictions under the Act must be dropped and quashed. Anything short of this will further worsen the already tarnished human rights record of the Malaysian government, and in particular the leadership of Najib Razak,” stressed Balais-Serrano.

For inquiries, please contact:
· John Liu, East Asia Programme Officer, johnliu@forum-asia.org, +66802828610
· Sayeed Ahmad, Country Programme Manager, sayeed@forum-asia.org, +66842176150

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction: A Travesty of Justice. By Jose Mario De Vega

Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction: A Travesty of Justice
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to “Judicial process and timing in Anwar’s case implies persecution not prosecution, says Bar Council”, The Malaysian Insider,March 9 concerning the latest conviction of the Malaysian Opposition Leader.

Mario De Vega

I overwhelmingly concur with the charge of the Malaysian Bar Council that “the charge against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the manner in which his appeal was handled fuels the perception that the opposition leader was persecuted and not prosecuted.”

It is undeniable that because of the grave fear and extreme paranoia of the powers that be to the natural and charismatic power and genuine popularity of Anwar to the Malaysian public, they have used all the resources and arsenal of the government even to the point of compromising and bastardizing the integrity and independence of the courts.

Why? For the simple reason that they do not want Anwar to win in Kajang and subsequently be the Menteri Besar of Selangor.

I am wondering, is it all worth it? Yes, they successfully blocked Anwar from contesting in the coming by election, in fact he is in danger once again of going back to prison, yet, do they know the repercussions and consequences of what they did?

It is my ardent view and so held that even if PKR will put a dog or a roaster or a cat as their candidate for Kajang, that animal will win not only handsomely but with a massive landslide.

The deputy director of Asia division of Human Rights Phil Robertson said that Anwar’s trial “was all about knocking him out of politics and the government was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen”.

In other words: they are delirious and desperate to stop Anwar at all cost!

The nefarious act of the powers that be, their continuing persecution of Anwar and his family that begun 15 years ago and all the evil methods that they’ve utilized just to silence the Opposition Leader will return like a tsunami and will explode to their very faces — one fine day!

They will be hurt tremendously by their foolishness! The people are angry and their collective wrath in time will erupt! Watch out!

I am equally in agreement with the contention of the Bar president, Christopher Leong specifically when he said “that in the first place, the archaic provision under the Penal Code which criminalises sodomy and oral sex should never have been brought against Anwar.”

Leong unequivocally asserted that:

“The case has unnecessarily taken up judicial time and public funds, and has muddied the waters of our justice system.

“We also have grave misgivings with respect to the manner and timing in which the appeal was handled, especially over the way in which mitigation and sentencing proceeded…”

On Friday, the Court of Appeals overturned the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s January 9, 2012 decision acquitting Anwar and declared him guilty of sodomy.

The decision of the court in my view is not only a travesty of justice but an extreme mockery of the whole administration of justice. This leads the wife of the Opposition Leader, Kak Wan Azizah to lament that:

“The proceedings had been conducted in the Palace of Justice, but inside there was only injustice.”

Judgment of Acquittal that is reviewable

Another thing that confused me since then, up to now is the stupid and idiotic principle of the Malaysian ‘legal’ concept of reviewing the judgment of acquittal!

In many jurisdictions, once a person is acquitted he or she is immediately discharged and he or she will no longer be prosecuted (again) on the same charge, because it will violate the legal doctrine of Double Jeopardy which is universally sanction and recognize legal principle.

Right or wrong, a judgment of acquittal is unappealable, irreversible and final, but in Malaysia, even if you are already acquitted, a higher court can still reverse the judgment of your acquittal. I believe that this principle or policy or practice is not only unfavorable to the accused but also mocks the very definition of due process.

So, in Malaysia for example, if an individual is acquitted, he or she cannot celebrate his or her vindication, because he or she must wait whether or not the bloody prosecutor (which in truth and in fact must be called as the persecutor) will decide to appeal his or her judgment of acquittal! Bloody hell!

This is preposterously unjust, hilarious to the maximum and stupid to the core, to say the least! Undeniably, this is the heights of absurdity and grave injustice! Shame!

Consider the following facts as reported by the Malaysian Insider:

The “Court of Appeal registry had informed Anwar’s lawyers to reserve April 7 to 10 as the proposed hearing dates, to which the team agreed.

“However, these dates were abandoned and replaced with earlier dates.”

Question:

I am wondering why the hell the court is acting like it is following a script or a schedule! Why the rush and the haste?

Leong further added that:

“If this is true, it raises the question as to why the Court of Appeal brought forward the appeal to be heard when the April dates had been agreed on.

“After all the defendant was facing a possible 20-year jail term and the April dates would have given the legal team more time to prepare…”

The worst part of this fiasco in my view is the fact that the court had only taken approximately 90 minutes to consider before giving a unanimous decision in reversing the acquittal by the High Court and then when Anwar’s lead counsel, Karpal Singh and the defence team sought an adjournment until next week to allow them to prepare for mitigation the court refused it flatly and one justice even ordered Karpal to submit the mitigation in one hour’s time.

Of course, this farce led Anwar to react angrily: he stood up and shouted at the decision; “do it now!”

Indeed, as Leong quipped: “these matters raise many questions, cause much speculation, and lend to the perception that justice may have been hijacked…”

Commentaries:

Imagine the scenario the Opposition Leader’s acquittal two years ago was overturned, while his lead counsel, Karpal was also convicted of sedition a month ago.

Wow! I am wondering what kind of judicial system now is being practice in Malaysia and what kind of administration of justice are they following?

Anwar is convicted, Karpal is convicted; I am inclined to ask? It is Tian Chua’s turn to be convicted? Hullabaloo, it seems to be that the powers that be are convicting all the opposition leaders!

These convictions and outrageous trials clearly shows that the establishment is compose of power-hungry despots and they will not stop from wiping out the true people’s representatives!

Yes, these men are convicted; it is because they are men of conviction and principle.

This is a shame, a farce and grim day for all Malaysians!

Phil Robertson, deputy director, Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said Anwar’s trial “was all about knocking him out of politics and the government was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen”.

Local and International condemnation of Anwar’s “conviction”

As already noted, the people of Malaysia are angry with the decision which they viewed as a miscarriage of justice.

Besides the Malaysian Bar, Lawyer’s for Liberty, Bersih and other Non-government organizations have also come out to question and criticize the said decision.

The international community’s reaction is more stringent and categorical to the core, to say the least.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned Anwar’s conviction as a mockery of justice and they even directly “casts doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Malaysian judiciary and tarnishes the reputation of the country’s legal system”.

Even the United States voiced its concern through State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki when she stated that:

“The decision to prosecute Mr Anwar, and his trial, have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the court…

“In this high-profile case, it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary.”

Warning to the powers that be and A Call to the People

We all know and so as the whole knows that this is an extreme travesty of justice! If the establishment thought and that bastard colluding stupid ‘court’ thinks that by jailing the Opposition Leader they will silence him; they are dead wrong! Anwar is used to be in jail!

This latest judicial perversity and political prostitution of the powers that be will only empower further the rakyat not only to resist, but inevitably to revolt!

It is beyond the shadow of doubt that this is exactly the time for them, the people themselves to act and to rise. They must show in a collective sense that the true power of the government lies on their hands. They must now launch and unleash the Malaysian People Power in its full force!

HIDUP RAKYAT!

REFORMASI 2.0!

ALL POWERS TO THE PEOPLE!!!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Blog] Malaysia: On the Question of Moderation. By Jose Mario De Vega

Malaysia: On the Question of Moderation
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the report of Yiswaree Palansamy’s “Bracing for protests over Allah, Christians meet Muslims bearing flowers”, The Malaysian Insider, January 5.

Mario De Vega

To quote from the article:

“Nearly 1,000 Catholics turned up for Sunday mass at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang, Selangor, this morning expecting an angry mob of Muslims protesting the possible use of the word Allah in prayers but instead, met a group bearing flowers.

“Among the few Muslims who turned up was social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who brought a bouquet of flowers, and was part of a group expressing solidarity with the Christians.”

I commend Marina for her bold and noble act. There is no shadow of doubt that what she did is a clear case of unity in diversity, a struggle for solidarity for the minority Malaysian Christians and a vehement defense of the country’s principle of Moderation — which is under attack these past few days.

Besides showing her concern and solidarity to the minority, she also “lambasted Putrajaya over its inaction and told it to forget about the ambitious Visit Malaysia Year launched with much fanfare last night.”

As she firmly stated before the various press outside the said Church:

“Who wants to visit a Malaysia like this where there is no moderation?

“Hardly an example of moderation, we are now known as a country which grabs Bibles…”

She “arrived at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang, bearing a bouquet of flowers, with members from non-governmental organisation (NGO), Sisters in Islam (SIS), and several others who turned up in a show of solidarity with Christians.” Also included in their group is the “In the Name of Allah”.

They “gathered in front of the church distributing roses to parishioners as a symbol of unity amongst the Abrahamic religion believers.”

To those idiots, bigots and morons who would accuse her and her companion of betraying her/their religion, this is what our brave lady had spoken:

“We are here to show solidarity with the congregation. A lot of us here are Muslims and we believe Islam is a religion of peace.

“It is not something that we only say (in words), but there must also be action…”

True to her words, after the service ended, Marina “passed flowers to parish priest, Reverend Father Michael Chua, with worshippers cheering and applauding the act.”

This reasonable gesture, this very act is so symbolical in my view and undeniably has shown the true picture or the genuine image of Malaysia, the true one!

Marina’s act and so as the other Muslims there who accompany her has remind me the same moving and loving scenario and that is the picture of the Muslims protecting the Christians during a Mass and the Christians protecting the Muslims during their prayers the recent Egyptian revolution.

I joined R. Gomathi’s happiness in seeing the solidarity group at the church today.

I overwhelmingly concur with the said worshipper that:

“For me, it is a wonderful day to see people of all races coming together in the name of solidarity…”

For another devotee, Fiona Biggs, “the solidarity shown by Marina and the other Muslims was heartwarming.”

As she put it clearly:

“Nothing much from the government but the support from common people like Marina and her Muslim friends is nice…”

Last week, the “seizure of some 300 copies of the Bible by the Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais) in the Malay and Iban language further strained worsening ties between Muslims and Christians over the usage of the Arabic word Allah which translates as God.” Worst, the said act was done without the knowledge and concurrence of the Selangor State Government.

I agree with the position of some that the act of Jais is unconstitutional and immoral!

I overwhelmingly concur with the De Facto Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim that Putrajaya must answer to this incident and must make it clear to the whole nation its stand with regard to the whole fiasco!

This is a clear case of a vulgar display of supra unreasonable power! When Jais were asked, why it is that they did not even inform beforehand the Selangor State Government, they said that: Opps, we forgot!

What a bloody lousy and super stupid excuse!

Are they implying to the whole of the Malaysian people that every time they will conduct a raid, they always forgot the Constitution, the laws, civility, courtesy, morality and ethics?

HOW ABOUT COMMON SENSE? Are the Jais proving Voltaire correct that: common sense is not so common? Bloody hell!

It clearly reminds me of their illegal and unmistakably unethical raid on a Methodist Church two years ago. The same raid, so as the seizure of the Bibles were done in bad faith and in a manner that is contrary to law and morality.

Shame!

As reported:

“Although global Islamic scholars have clarified that the term can be used by anyone, state Islamic authorities in Malaysia have reacted negatively to reports of churches using the word Allah in its Malay language sermons.

“The tussle over the word Allah arose in 2008 when the Herald was barred by the Home Ministry from using the Arabic word. The Catholic church had contested this in court and won a High Court decision in 2009 upholding its constitutional right to do so.

“Putrajaya later appealed the decision and successfully overturned the earlier decision when the Court of Appeal ruled last October that “Allah was not integral to the Christian faith”.

“Christians make up about 9% of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million. Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as Allah in their prayers and holy book.”

Commentary:

No one has the exclusive right to own the word Allah. For in truth and in fact, prior to the advent of Islam, the people of the Middle East have been calling and addressing their God as Allah. Allah as a generic and as a religious word does not belong to a specific group of people or specific race. The word belongs to the whole people of the world!

Anyone who says that Allah is exclusive to Muslims will betray their idiocy, arrogance, ignorance and religious supremacy.

Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians and the Federal Constitution guarantees every citizen their constitutional right to religious worship!

Despite this statutory law, one bunch or a so-called coalition (the question here is: they are a coalition of what? For what?) of religious fanatics has even threatened a local priest.

As reported by Alfian ZM Tahir, “Apologise, or else….”, The Free Malaysia Today, January 5:

“The coalition wants Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew to apologise for saying that Christians in the state would continue using the term to refer to God.”

Commentary:

This is absolutely absurd and preposterous. Those bigots wanted a priest and a citizen to betray his beliefs and renounce his constitutional rights to believe and practice his own religion?

This is ridiculous to the maximum!

It was also reported that:

“The Muslim coalition said the failure of Father Lawrence to apologise would result in a backlash from Muslims who want to defend purity of Islam.”

Question:

Is this a threat? How come the Federal Government is not suing them for sedition, when in fact and in truth their words are already seditious?

Why the Double Standard? Or, it is because they are friends and colleagues of Ibrahim Ali?

Wow!

Is this their concept of moderation? Whatever the hell happened to the nation’s central principles of unity in diversity?

I am sad by what is happening in our beautiful land, yet I cannot end this humble exposition without saying in a categorical sense that despite my sadness and disappointment, I am also equally happy and hopeful seeing Marina and reasonably, critical and liberal-minded Muslims like them who has the courage to stand up for their fellow Malaysians who belongs to the religious minority.

It is beyond the shadow of doubt that there is hope in our Malaysian society.

Marina and her courageous companions has reassures us once again that Moderation is still alive in our collective community and their great example has emboldened us to further remain vigilant, patient and firm for our continuous quest and struggle for national solidarity, harmony and societal peace!

Bravo, Marina!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Religious Freedom in Malaysia Under Threat By Jose Mario De Vega

Religious Freedom in Malaysia Under Threat
By Jose Mario De Vega

The right of the minority is on the same statutory level as the right of the majority in the eyes of the Constitution

I refer to “Courts continue to ignore rights of Christian minority – Christian Federation of Malaysia”, Side Views, the Malaysian Insider, October 14 and ‘We respect Allah ruling, but…’ by Anisah Shukry, The Free Malaysia Today, October 14.

Mario De Vega

So after waiting for nearly four years, the Court of Appeals has ruled and their ruling is to overturn the ruling of the lower court that gave non-Muslims the right to use the word Allah.

The said judgment sends shockwaves not only to the mainland but most importantly to East Malaysia “who have used Allah in Christian prayers and worship services for more than 100 years. Yes, far longer than the birth of this nation or for that matter, the age of the chief protagonist, Umno.” Now, they are compelled and enjoined not to use the said word, because to do so, they are in danger of violating the law!

In light of the said pronouncement of the court, I clearly understand that the “Christian community in Malaysia is gravely dismayed and very disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the power of the Minister to ban the use of the word Allah in the Herald publication. In a wide-ranging decision, all Christian publications in Bahasa Malaysia would appear to be affected by this ruling.”

Commentaries:

It is my firm view that the ruling of the court is not only unwise, but totally preposterous by virtue of the irrefutable fact that it is completely unconstitutional.

Point one: the ruling has reinterpreted and reinvented the constitutional provision that guarantee the right of the people to religious freedom.

With all due respect, to the learned judge who wrote the decision; this is clearly an ultra vires act of the court, because this is unmistakably a judicial legislation; which is not allowed in a truly democratic system of government!

Point two: the ruling did not categorically answer head-on and squarely the very reason why non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah.

I concur with the noble contention of PAS that:

The Court of Appeal’s decision to ban the word ‘Allah’ in Christian publication The Herald does not change the fact that Islam allows non-Muslims to use the word in the first place.

Specifically, I share Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad’s position that:

“The government should educate Muslims regarding all the verses of the Quran which mentions non-Muslims discussing about Allah with the Prophet Muhammad, and using the word freely without any hindrance whatsoever. Instead, our government seems to be very proud that we are the only Muslim nation that practices this ban – that we are going beyond even what the Prophet Muhammad had done.”

I am also in complete agreement with the Samad that: rather than banning the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims for fear of retaliation by “stupid people”, the government should focus on educating the Muslims on what the Quran said over the issue.

The Question of the integral part of the faith and practice

Again, with respect to the court, specifically to the learned judge that penned the decision, I would like to state my question and clarification.

First, I wonder what is the basis of the said magistrate in stating that the name Allah is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity; when in fact the whole of the country knows that he is a Muslim?

How can he speak base on the perspective of a Christian when he is not one?

Never mind, let us presume that as a learned judge and as a man of tolerance, who knows how does it feels or believes or practice as a Christian, yet how did he knows that the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith and practice of the Christian?

I wonder did the learned judge know that even during the days of the Prophet, the word is being used by the people of the Middle East; people of different faiths and beliefs?

Up to now, people there are still using the word Allah to refer to god, but it does not necessarily means that they are Muslims, though admittedly they are the majority there. There are so many religious groups there that use the word and no group has ever claimed that the said word is exclusive to them or to their community.

What seems to be the debate or the issue with the word Allah? When in truth and in fact, said word is known all over the word as Arabic for god!

The biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia, Malaysia’s neighbor has no issue or quarrel or animosity with their local Christians using the word to refer to their god. Hence, what is the point in Malaysia? What is the big deal?

I am not persuaded by the court’s ratio decidendi and appropriation of some utterly questionable “nebulous concept of confusion and stability and harmony in Malaysia.”

Rather, it is my firm view that the court’s ultra vires act of overturning the 2009 ruling is the very thing that confused the public and society at large. Worst, said ruling again made Malaysia land on the world stage but in my view, albeit on the ‘wrong page’ of the international opinion!

Is this what we want?

The ruling instead of stabilizing unity in diversity has undermined it and in no small way it has contributed in shaking the nation’s religious harmony.

Worst, by “stating that “the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity” the court has totally ignored the position of our East Malaysian Bumiputra and Orang Asli Christians, who constitute 60% of the church in Malaysia and who are Bahasa Malaysia-speaking.”

The recent ruling, “by holding that “the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community” and applying this principle to freedom of religion, this decision is yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practise their faith and to manage their own affairs.”

Question:

Are we now heading to the dictatorship of the majority? Does the fundamental law now only favor the religious majority?

I do not think so!

The last time that I checked, it is still written at the Federal Constitution that Malaysia is a democratic and secular government. That I, as a citizen, constituted a majority of one and that the supreme law recognized that inherent right!

The right of the minority is on the same statutory level as the right of the majority in the eyes of the Constitution.

Therefore, I question what it appears to be a re-reading and re-interpretation of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Further, “it would now appear that a minority religion can only be practised and professed in Malaysia to the extent that it does not upset the “peace and harmony” of adherents of the majority religion.”

I reiterate my position that this is patently illegal and utterly unconstitutional!

Needless to state, I overwhelmingly concur with the Christian Federation of Malaysia that:

“The Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches have been using the word Allah both before and after the independence of Malaya and the formation of Malaysia. The use of the word Allah by the Malaysian churches had not been an issue all these decades.

“However, the various authorities in this country, by making an issue of it and by what would appear to be selective action or inaction, have only encouraged and fuelled further misunderstandings, mistrusts and brokenness between the Muslim and Christian communities. This will only further undermine the unity of Malaysians.

“Despite this very negative development, the Christian Federation of Malaysia reminds all churches in Malaysia to always look to God and to pray for wisdom and guidance for all involved as to the next steps that they should take.

“We welcome the fact that the decision of the Court of Appeal does not appear to cover the use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Al-Kitab.

“We expect our Honourable Prime Minister and the Cabinet to continue to honour the 10-point solution with respect to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Al-Kitab. We shall, therefore, continue to use the word Allah in our worship, liturgy, prayers and educational materials of the church.

“As Malaysian Christians we are committed to our beloved nation and our love for Malaysia remains steadfast and we continue to respond with love and not in hatred as we face this on-going trial and tribulation.”

My humble suggestion to them is to promptly file an appeal to the said ruling of the Court of Appeal.

If on the event that the ruling should still be adverse, CFM and other aggrieved parties must resign themselves to communicate this matter to the ASEAN Human Rights Advisory Council. If it still necessary, then transmit or elevate this matter all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Muhyiddin Yassin’s Blunder, The Habitual Method of Selective Prosecution and the Question of Double Standards by Jose Mario De Vega

Muhyiddin Yassin’s Blunder, The Habitual Method of Selective Prosecution and the Question of Double Standards

Mario De Vega

I concur with PKR supremo, Anwar Ibrahim that “the recent hullabaloo on dog trainer Maznah Mohd Yusof should not have been made into a national issue, stressing that she should have been advised, instead.”

The Opposition Leader further stated that: “Just give her advice and give her the opportunity to explain…”
Anwar also surmised that that “the issue might have been blown out of proportion as it was linked to Aidilfitri.” (See the report of Alyaah Azhar, “Dog video blown out of proportion, says Anwar”, Free Malaysia Today, August 4, 2013)

Some claimed that they were hurt, offended and shocked by the said video, but I am deeply wondering what are they feeling and what would be their answer to one specific question of the Opposition Leader:

“We keep quiet on other matters. We have a Muslim acquiring shares in San Miguel Corporation (alcohol brewery) and no one does anything about it.

“This reflects badly on what’s supposed to be our priority.”

Can I have the categorical answer of those offended Muslims, those who were shocked and those who claimed to be hurt with Maznah’s video with her dogs — with regard to this utterly shocking revelation?

In fact, this is not a revelation; a lot of our people know this case and they also knew precisely who that person that is a stock holder to the said alcohol brewery.

Question:

Is it allowed by the Quran? What is the opinion of JAIS and JAKIM with regard to this matter?

Another person who appeared to be hurt by the said video is no other than the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

It was widely reported by various media outfits last July 30th that Muhyiddin during breaking-of-fast with children from the Anak-Anak Rumah Amal Kasih Bestari in Putrajaya stated that: “Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims… But non-Muslims are insulting our religion.”

When I first read about this pronouncement from no less than the DPM of the country, it makes me very sad!

He is the second highest official of the land and he is uttering words like that that further stir racial tensions, forge not unity but more division, mistrust, distrust, fear and paranoia!

What a shame!

This is not the first time that the person under discussion has committed an act like this which in my view is unworthy of being a Minister and utterly un-Malaysian.

Who would ever forget his infamous racial statement that he is Malay first and Malaysian second?

During that time when the issue was raging, I commended Nazri (then, acting as the de facto Law Minister) who rebuked publicly Muhyiddin and people like him, when he stated courageously that: I am Malaysian first and Malay second. Do you have a problem with that, bigot?

Now, the so-called DPM has committed another act which in my view is totally idiotic and worst, supra preposterous! Such pronouncement is completely against the public interest and seditious to its very core!

It is on this great reason that I overwhelmingly concur with the Democratic Action Party’s action in lodging a police report against Muhyiddin to compel the police to probe and investigate the DPM for sedition.

As reported by Anisah Shukry, “DAP: Probe Muhyiddin for Sedition”, August 2nd, FMT):

“DAP wants Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin probed for sedition following his statement that non-Muslims were insulting Islam.

“The opposition party felt that since the police were quick to arrest dog trainer Maznah Mohd Yusof for allegedly wounding religious feelings, the same should be applied to Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president.

“The party said the Deputy Prime Minister’s declaration that non-Muslims were insulting Islam, was offensive and had enough grounds for the police to investigate him under Section 298A of the Penal Code and the Sedition Act.”

I agree with the contention of Taman Segamat DAP branch chairman Yew Jia Haur that:

“Maznah is being investigated under the same Acts, so since she was said to be insulting the peoples religious feelings, we ask that Muhyiddin to be probed under the same Acts as well…”

If the police and the other law enforcement agency will not act on this matter, then it will refuel and further reinforce the apparent view of the people that the police are biased and engaged both on Selective Prosecution and Double Standards. I shall discuss these two concepts later!

After a couple of days, realizing perhaps that he committed an unpardonable blunder of astronomical proportion, the DPM through Bernama has issued a “clarification” with regard to the issue.

By virtue of the inescapable fact that this case is utterly impressed with public interest I beg the indulgence of the reader that I am going to post the whole report.

Bernama, On August 3rd reported that “Muhyiddin was not referring to Maznah and her dogs video clip”.

“Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was only making a general statement and not specifically referring to the YouTube video clip entitled “Satu Hari di Hari Raya” when he issued a reminder to the people to refrain from touching on the sensitivities of the Muslim community.

“Bernama in its earlier report had said the deputy prime minister’s statement on Tuesday was referring to the video clip which showed an individual appearing to perform ritual ablutions by washing her hands and feet but then did the same to three dogs.

“Muhyiddin in his address at the breaking-of-fast with children from the Anak-Anak Rumah Amal Kasih Bestari in Putrajaya did not also specifically mention that non-Muslims had belittled and mocked Islam, as the report suggested.

“What he actually said was: “Certain parties have belittled and mocked our religion lately and hopefully it will not persist as to cause tension, as what is happening in other Islamic countries.””

Comment:

Wow, it seems to me that after the damage has been done, now the DPM is engaged in a damage control mode.

The first question is: how come the Prime Minister did not rebuke and criticize his DPM? How come he did not question his DPM with regard to his intention in uttering those utterly sensitive and seditious words?

Second question: how come it took the DPM three to four days to come out with these “clarification”?

The said “clarification” stated that the DPM is not referring to Maznah and her dogs, my golly, then who the hell he is referring to?

Is he referring to Tom, Dick and Harry with their cats and squirrels?

Assuming for the sake of the ‘argument’ that was such the fact (no matter how unlikely and undeniably impossible it is), then how could it be explained that the DPM was asked specifically about Maznah, then how could he answered NOT about Maznah and her dogs?

Imagine a person who in lives in Perak, was asked his opinion about Perak; will said person reply about Johor or Kelantan?

This is against logic! It does not make sense!

Is Bernama and the DPM telling us that: the DPM were asked about A, but he answered B and the media heard C?

Good lord, the so-called “clarification”, instead of clarifying things has further confused the people!

The “clarification” also stated that the DPM was merely making a general statement. Again the question there is: he was asked specifically, pointedly on Maznah and her dogs, hence how could it be that the question was specific, but the answer is in general?

What is the point? Again, I cannot get the logic (if there is any logic at all)!

The “clarification” stated that, below is the exact words uttered by the DPM:

“Certain parties have belittled and mocked our religion lately and hopefully it will not persist as to cause tension, as what is happening in other Islamic countries.””

Comment:

So, all of those media outfits has misquoted the DPM? All of them misheard the DPM’s exact words?

I do not think so!

Let us speak the truth, in my view, the DPM’s changing of his words and softening of his tenor is his sordid and pathetic attempt to do damage control after he bungled and bungled he did at its worst form!

Now, he is denying that he referred to the video clip when his guilt is very clear to all and as clear as the clear sky.

How could you deny something that came out directly from your mouth? This is a perfect example of “straight from the horse’s mouth” and the “fish being caught from one’s mouth”.

Nonetheless, the DPM’s act of retracting and denying his statement is a grave insult to the common sense and intelligence of the people as a whole!

I disagree with the Chief Minister of Penang in his call to punish those media agencies “for falsely reporting that Muhyiddin accused non-Muslims for mocking Islam.”

Question to the Chief Minister

Sir: how could those media agencies be able to report a false narration of the facts when in fact, substantially all of them had the same quotation verbatim from the DPM? Are you telling us that all of them were wrong?

If they were wrong, then why it took a couple of days for the DPM to right this so-called ‘wrong’?

Further, you want the media to be punished for telling the people the truth?

With all due respect, Sir, for the first time, I cannot understand your stand and I am questioning your decision. By the way, are you aware that some of your party-mates had already lodged a police report to the DPM?

The police must probe the DPM and they must do so promptly.

The Question of Selective Prosecution

Wikipedia defines Selective Prosecution as:

“In jurisprudence, selective prosecution is a procedural defense in which a defendant argues that he should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law, as the criminal justice system discriminated against him by choosing to prosecute. In a claim of selective prosecution, a defendant essentially argues that it is irrelevant whether he is guilty of violating a law, but that the fact of being prosecuted is based upon forbidden reasons. Such a claim might, for example, entail an argument that persons of different age, race, religion, or gender, were engaged in the same illegal actions for which the defendant is being tried and were not prosecuted, and that the defendant is only being prosecuted because of a bias.”

In short, Selective Prosecution is committed the moment the powers that be is engaged on bias and discrimination based on age, sex, gender, race and religion of the supposed defendant or accused.

Selective Prosecution is not allowed by most constitutions of the universal civilized world! Such vicious method run counters to the inherent constitutional right of the citizens.

Selective Prosecution and Double Standard in a sense are intimately related. Nonetheless, both of them are considered unconstitutional!

The Question of Double Standard

Again to quote Wikipedia,

“Double standard can therefore be described as a biased or morally unfair application of the principle that all are equal in their freedoms. Such double standards are seen as unjustified because they violate a basic maxim of modern legal jurisprudence: that all parties should stand equal before the law.

“Double standards also violate the principle of justice known as impartiality, which is based on the assumption that the same standards should be applied to all people, without regard to subjective bias or favoritism based on social class, rank, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or other distinctions.”

All parties are equal before the law

This modern legal jurisprudence is base on the legal principle that: no one is above the law in the same vein that no one is underneath it. The law applies to all, otherwise none at all.

All individuals appearing before the courts are deemed equal before the eyes of the law, by virtue of the fact that the aim of the law is to dispense justice in an egalitarian and fair manner. That is precisely the very reason why Lady Justice is blind! Meaning, she is not biased but rather fair, just and objective!

Double Standard is against the legal principle of Impartiality

Impartiality refers squarely to the fairness and objectivity not only of the law but also of the court, the judge and/or the magistrate hearing the case.
The judge is mandated by the law to render and dispense justice without subjecting and resorting to subjective bias and favoritism such as referring to the accused or defendant’s cultural background, economic status, gender, sex, race, religion and other unworthy social distinctions.

Hence, base on the foregoing discussion, the police by virtue of their social vow to the public and by reason of public interest must probe and investigate the DPM, without fear and favor and without bias and favoritism!

They must show to the whole nation and so as the entire world that justice is not an empty phrase in Malaysia and that Selective Prosecution and Double Standard is not being practiced wantonly, habitually and arbitrarily in the country at the expense of the people with prejudice and detriment to their inherent constitutional right!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Maznah and her Humanity by Jose Mario De Vega

Maznah and her Humanity
by Jose Mario De Vega

Mario De Vega

I refer to the Free Malaysia Today’s “Woman in Hari Raya dog video arrested”, July 31st.

When I read the whole report, I do not know whether I will laugh, be sad or will get angry and mad.

I feel like laughing because I cannot understand the seriousness of the whole matter that it generated such brouhaha. Imagine a girl was arrested because of a video (that is already three years old) wherein she is with her dogs and greeting people a Selamat Hari Raya. What is the point?

As the report clearly narrated:

“Dog trainer Maznah Mohd Yusof has been arrested following a public outcry over a three-year-old YouTube video showing her bathing her dogs and wishing viewers Selamat Hari Raya.

“According to law reform NGO Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), Maznah, or better known as Chetz, was arrested by police around 4.30pm and taken to Bukit Aman for questioning.”

I feel sad, because I cannot locate nor pinpoint any criminal intention on her part that will warrant her arrest.

The whole thing makes me angry and terribly mad!

What is happening now to our Malaysia?

Are we now getting nuts? Are we now “going into the dogs”?

Are we becoming so sensitive that we are getting away by the day to the basic tenets of logic, reason and decency?

Whatever the hell happened to our humanity?

Why is seems to me that some of our people are turning into paranoid?

Why is it that some individuals are hooking and connecting normal and innocent matters to the issue of Islam, when in fact such is not the case?

On the Question of the legality of her arrest

I cannot help but wonder on the character of our law enforcer! I cannot understand why they are so slow to respond to the rising criminality that besetting our nation, yet ironically they are so prompt and to quick to arrest people whose charges are flimsy and if I may say categorically, ridiculous and utterly preposterous.

Consider the case of Ong Sing Yee! She already voluntarily surrendered herself to the police, yet our so-called law enforcers still decided to put her on hand cuff. Her crime? She is caught stepping on the face of the national leaders in a pre-Independence Day rally.

As I’ve stated then in my article then, “Selective use of handcuffs reflects badly on cops”, Malaysiakini, September 12, 2012:

It is clear from the reports that Ong surrendered to the police and voluntarily placed herself in the jurisdiction of the law.

What is the point or the purpose of putting her in handcuffs?

Yes, I admit that this 19-year old girl has committed a wrong act, yet in the same vein, the very inhumane act of the police on putting her on handcuffs; that is after she already surrendered peacefully to their jurisdiction is also wrong and utterly sinister.

In my view, the police are guilty of overkill. What they did was grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction.

Their excessive act of showing their authority is a vulgar display of power.

Again to quote, Lim Kit Siang: “But is it right and proper for the police to treat her as if she is a hardened criminal requiring her to be handcuffed, when Malaysians can see for themselves BN VIPS, including ministers and former ministers, treated with kid’s gloves although charged with grave crimes against the state and people?”

These are pertinent questions and they deserved to be answered squarely by the relevant authorities concerned.

The case of the Alvivi couple is another case in point. They were promptly arrested and thrown into jail, without first hearing judiciously their right to bail. Their crime? They are accused of offending the religious sensitivities of the majority.

Now, we have Marznah. Same as the Alvivi couple, our girl is also charged of offending the feelings and sensitivities of the majority especially during this holy month of Ramadan. (I invite the public to read the beautiful essay of Ravinder Singh, “Religious sensitivities — respect begets respect”, FMT, August 1st. Said article in my view has answered squarely the question of religious sensitivity.)

Specifically she is charged of violating allegedly section 298 of the Penal Code, which relates to “uttering words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.” That is according to the Dang Wangi district police chief ACPT Zainuddin Ahmad.

The law stipulated that if found guilty, the offender faces between two to five years in prison. So, Maznah is in danger of spending time in jail because of her humanity? This is a shame and a tragedy! (I invite the reader to read that impassioned letter of Shenaaz Khan, “In the doghouse for being kind”, FMT, August 1st.)

If ever she indeed violated the said provision of the law, the same law mandated the law enforcer to execute the operation of the same in the proper and decent manner.

Counsel Latheefa Koya told the FMT that:

“She called me and said she was being taken to the Bukit Aman commercial crime division. She did say she is under arrest…”

When the said paper asked the said lawyer, if the police were allowed to arrest Chetz before questioning, Latheefa firmly stated that:

“They don’t have the powers. That’s why I need to question them why they arrested her before taking her statement. It is rather rash of them”.

I concur with the courageous view of the said counsel. The criminal procedure is clear on this matter. The police must first question the subject and duly record her statement before they can effect or execute her arrest.

Indeed, the police, as usual has acted rather rash and agitated. Again, they have jumped the gun for the nth time!

Consider what they did, they arrested her first, thereupon only then they did question her and record her statement.

This is a clear circumvention of the law and a negation of our law enforcement processes at the prejudice and detriment of the citizens’ constitutional rights.

The police in my view had violated Maznah’s right to know the nature and the cause of the accusation against her! This is not allowed in constitutional law!

This is a clear case of unjust and vexatious acts of the police and a vulgar display of power that clearly betrays their ignorance of the standard operating procedure.

This is a shame!

The Question of the Offense

I cannot understand why some of our people are offended by the said video!

1. Are they offended with the greetings?

2. Are they offended with the dogs in the video?

On question one, what is the offense on greeting?

On question two: what is wrong with the dogs?

According to some, they are shocked and offended because the dogs are against Islam.
Abdul Rani Abdullah, the MJMM president has called for the arrest of the video producers, categorically stressed that: “We are angry, insulted and sad. Dogs are dirty in Islam.”

Dogs are dirty in Islam? The pertinent question there is: how come?

Said accusation made me dizzy and utterly confuse!

The Quran makes no mention of dogs being dirty in Islam or to Muslims.

Further, according to ex-Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, a person who cares for dogs is rewarded in Islam, and hunting dogs is also allowed by the religion.

So now, it makes me even dizzier.

Some Muslims are saying that dogs are dirty, yet one Muslim scholar is affirming the contrary. The question here is: who among them is correct?

Nonetheless, in determining the truth and falsity of this controversy, it is my firm view that the authority on this whole matter is the Quran itself.

Is there a specific provision, a categorical pronouncement from the said book that clearly says that “dogs are dirty in Islam”?

If the answer is in the negative, then what is the basis of those Muslims who maintains the affirmative view?
If truly there is/are no provision that talks about the uncleanliness of the dogs in the Quran, then what is the basis of the allegation of those people who claimed to be shocked, hurt and offended by this video?

Are they saying that they get offended and hurt by something that is not written in the first place in their book?

This is outrageous!

Maznah’s intention

I overwhelmingly concur with Maznah’s clarification with regard to the whole matter.

She said that it was not her intention to insult Muslims and Islam, but to remind them to celebrate Hari Raya with animals as well as humans.

In her Facebook message posted today, she asked:

“Is this Islamic? To those who called me a dog, I am very happy to be equated with an amazing creature of God.”

“If you don’t know the nature of true dogs, and don’t bother about it, why do you accuse? It is because of Malay Muslims like these that Islam’s good name is tarnished…”

Question:

What is the right of some judgmental people to call Maznah as a dog?

Her only “crime” in my view is the undeniable fact that she is a good human being animated by extreme kind of humanity that cares and love animals, unlike some bastard bloody creatures in our society who might admittedly have a human form, yet worst, acting like animals themselves and violating the rights of these lowly beings!

Some creatures, not only violate the rights of the animals, yet irony of all ironies, even go beyond it and violate the rights and dignity of their fellow men!

Hence, the ultimate question here is: who are the true animals? Who is the true dog?

What is wrong in celebrating the Aidilfitri together irrespective of species, colour and origin?

I believe that our society, specifically those so-called people who were allegedly shocked and offended by Maznah’s video with her dogs, instead of condemning her must and should rather commend this beautiful girl for being a being of kindness, gentleness, diversity and humanity.

Maznah has shown us what does it means to be a true blue human being!

I call for her immediate release from detention and join the president Shenaaz Khan of the Malaysian Animal Welfare Society’s call that:

Using Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony on the grounds of religion clearly reflect the inability of the authorities to make a distinction between Islamic principles and Muslim prejudices. And while there appears to be a crime wave in this country, animal lovers are being assailed by the authorities for promoting unity, tolerance and animal welfare! This madness must cease. Maznah should be commended not condemned. She has committed no crime and therefore must be released.

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Self-Autonomy: The Question of Beauty, Discretion and Self-Independence by Jose Mario De Vega

Self-Autonomy: The Question of Beauty, Discretion and Self-Independence

Mario De Vega

I know that the topic that I am going to write today will not be greeted by approval and mass agreement. I am also fully aware that perhaps a couple of my friends and colleagues will condemn me and my thoughts.

I also expect that some will try to mock my thoughts and paint my words as offensive and demeaning, yet nonetheless, as a philosopher and a social critic, I am not writing to please people or to make the whole public agrees with my principles and views.

The duty of the social critic and revolutionary intellectual is to tell/speak the truth, no matter how inconvenient it is and expose the perversion of the social milieu, no matter how uncomfortable it is; regardless of whether this abnormal world will agree or not and irrespective of the preposterous opinions and utterly stupid viewpoints of the undeniably idiotic, herd crowd and the powers that be!

Today, with the indulgence of the readers, I would like to talk about Ms. Sara Amelia Bernard’s “My thoughts on being disqualified from Miss Malaysia World because I am Muslim”, MSN, July 22nd in relation to the decision of the Jawi Director Datuk Che Mat Che Ali that informed Miss Malaysia World organiser Datuk Anna Lim that Muslim girls will not be allowed to take part in beauty pageants following a review of the fatwa ruling. (See, “Non-participation of Muslims in Miss Malaysia World confirmed”, The Star, July 29, 2013)

As Ms. Bernard’s herself had stated:

“I’ve always wanted to join Miss Malaysia, and was so excited to receive news that Muslim girls would be able to participate in Miss Malaysia World this year. It was finally an opportunity to show the world what true Malaysian beauty is. A beauty queen is not merely a pretty face but is intelligent, cultured, well-spoken, kind hearted, warm and friendly. She uses her title to help others and participates in various charities worldwide. The idea of working with underprivileged children and the less fortunate motivated me deeply.

“I went for the auditions where I first met the pageant organiser, Miss Malaysia Universe 1990, Datin Anna Lim. She’s the type of lady who has a smile that can light up an entire room, a real beauty queen who radiates happiness and warmth wherever she goes. I was told that as a Muslim participant, I would not wear a bikini in the swimsuit round and instead be required to wear something more modest- either a swimsuit with pants or sports attire. I was also informed there that the international grand finals would be held in our Muslim neighbouring country, Indonesia.”

Comment:

I join her in her excitement and happiness to receive the prospective good news that Muslim girls may be allow to participate (though she and all of us knows that this may be improbable or worst, impossible) in Miss Malaysia World this year.

I applaud her noble intention in grabbing finally the elusive opportunity to show to the whole world what true beauty is (Malaysian beauty that is)!

I overwhelmingly concur with her view that: A beauty queen is not merely a pretty face but is intelligent, cultured, well-spoken, kind hearted, warm and friendly. She uses her title to help others and participates in various charities worldwide. The idea of working with underprivileged children and the less fortunate motivated me deeply.

I cannot see why anyone would contest such a noble goal, which in my view is so humanitarian and indeed a work of universal philanthrophy.

But enough of this talk; let’s go direct to the point which is the bone of contention. That is the issue of so-called inappropriate dress code and showing one’s curves to the public.

I cannot see any problem what so ever and what the hell is all the brouhaha with regard to this whole fiasco. What are all the fuzz and the buzz and all the nonsense!

As Ms. Bernard clearly stated:

I was told that as a Muslim participant, I would not wear a bikini in the swimsuit round and instead be required to wear something more modest- either a swimsuit with pants or sports attire.

Comment:

There you have it! So now, what the hell is all the fuzz with regard to this issue?

Questions:

1. Are the Muslim participants forced not to participant to the said event because of the “dress code”, the nudity”, showing of their bodies and curves”?

2. Are the Muslim participants were forced not to participate to the said event because of they are Muslims?

3. Are the Muslim participants forced not to participate to the said event because of the fatwa?
Comment:

Question one is already answered squarely by Ms. Bernard and so as the organizers of the said event: they will not be wearing bikini, but a modest dress. Is that not enough? Is wearing a modest dress still tantamount to being nude?

I am having a problem of how I will construe the ruling laid down by the powers that be.

Assuming for the sake of the ‘argument’ that nudity is forbidden; then is the act of wearing a decent and modest dress not enough in order not to violate the “law”?

On question two, are Muslim women absolutely forbidden to participate to events like these? Then, how about Indonesia? Last time I check, they still have the largest Muslim population in the entire world. Why is it that Indonesia allowed the said event and even agreed to hold the same at their country?

Are they being less Muslim, in doing so?

I do not think so!

What is wrong for a Muslim woman to participate to an event such as this?

That is the central point! I heavily doubt the persuasiveness and propriety of the answer given by the powers that be to convince a reasonable mind to agree with regard to their decision. Said decision in my view is not only unjust, but indisputably oppressive and discriminatory!

It is on this reason that I condemned their unwise and utterly preposterous decision!

On question three, what are the power of those people who ordered this so-called fatwa over the freedom and the autonomy of the individuals concerned?

I agree with a certain Ms. Celine (check her commentaries on the said MSN article) in defending Ms. Bernard’s courage to write her side of the story and her fortitude in speaking her mind with regard to the whole matter.

“To those ripping Sara apart by calling her names, I don’t think it is fair and I don’t think anyone should be able to judge her and point a finger without the other fingers pointing back at themselves as judging without knowledge. I am sure there is something in the Quran regarding unknowingly judging others without a clear understanding of your own ‘clean soul’.

“Aurat. As far as I know, the aurat is all intimate parts of a man and woman. Scientifically speaking, it is not every single part of your body except the slits of your eyes. To a comment below that mentioned Sara will be in outfits that will show her aurat, that isn’t really true, because beauty pageants are not a live porn show. She won’t be nude. She will be showing off her curves, her WOMANLY BEAUTY, but also her MIND and her intelligence.

“For the men who will perve at beauty pageants, is that the fault of the participants? And I am pretty sure that these men will be a mixture of many different men, from Muslims to atheists to Catholics, etc. What does it matter? No matter what religion, every teenage boy has watched porn, or fantasised, or woken up from a wet dream. What can you say about that? Castrate them? Imprison them? You can bind someone physically but you can never bind someone’s mind and soul that will always wander. And who are you to so boldly judge Sara and say ‘You are causing men to be perverts’? This sounds strongly like that insane lady who created the wives’ club and saying ‘If your husband cheats, it is your fault.’

“Maybe Sara wants to join a beauty pageant to prove all this wrong. To show that a woman can do what she wants to do without giving a flying fart what men or society thinks of her. She states that as a beauty queen, she can be given a role to help the community and give light to those in need. This, to me, does not sound like a disrespectful, dumb, idiotic woman.

“It is up to individuals what they deem as right and wrong, and their relationship with the supernatural forces, or God, or whatever the people believe in, is personal to them and them alone. No one else has the right to tell them they are wrong because they are not on the same path as the ‘do-gooders’. And there are so much BIGGER problems out there that everyone should be working to fix, not a girl trying to get into a beauty pageant.”

Comment:

I totally concur that “it is up to individuals what they deem as right and wrong”.

No one has the right to act as if they are the “chosen one” or they are the “paragon of morality”.

In school, I was taught that no person or institution has the monopoly of knowledge; the same is true in the same vein that there is no such thing as moral cartel.

The unpardonable and disgusting act of those so-called “moral police” and “moral idiots” commanding and telling the rest of the world that a Muslim girl cannot participate to the said beauty contest because it is against religion and that a lot of men will commit sins by staring at them — should consider going to the nearest psychiatrist or better yet consult a nearby psychologist.

The preposterous act of the powers that be to forbid Muslim women to participate to the said beauty contest is a form of moral discrimination and a grave violation of those women’s constitutional rights to decide how will they going to live their lives.

It is a form of moral discrimination by virtue of the fact that it implies that those who will abide by this imposition are the only morally pure people in this society and the other individuals who will defy or not believe or conform or subscribe to their views are immoral and impure. This is logically untenable and morally impertinent.

Though, they did not categorically say so, only a moron by nature or worst, an idiot of the highest order will fail to observe the underlying implication of the said order.

Go and check all of the negative accusations, slanderous remarks and utterly below the belt comments received by Ms. Bernard on her Face book account and various social networking sites!

Due to all of these bad words, she decided to deactivate her FB account! Yet in my view, the damage has been done! This is a shame!

What is the authority of these creatures to tell the people how are they going to conduct themselves and how would they going to live their lives?

I also concur with the views stated by a certain person by the name of Kenneth in his commentaries at the said MSN article concerning this issue:

“I must admit that I have not been keeping up with Malaysian headlines as I found myself reading a lot of statements made incoherently and without forethought by a lot of the speakers. When I came across this article on the banning of Muslim women from participating, I wondered:

1. Are the men of Malaysia, myself included, so uncultured, uneducated and so without morals, that the mere sight of a woman on stage, and at one point in the competition, in a swimsuit, would send us into a tizzy? And the four ladies have already agreed to dress modestly (although, honestly, in today’s Malaysia, a Muslim woman would probably have to be dressed in a full-on Hijab to be considered modest) …so really? What’s the deal?

2. Is this just another misguided attempt at controlling everything that happens by using the religion card and branding these women as infidels if they don’t comply? What’s next? Stoning? Honour killing?

“What has Malaysia come to?

“I’m terribly disappointed that instead of looking at the many plus points, these gentlemen in suits and ties and skull caps sit down in some office or mosque and single-handedly bring us back to the Stone Ages. There’s so much good that can come from this and yet, all they focus on is ‘their’ version of their religion.”

“Disappointed, but not surprised.”

Intention

I have not written this article to disparage or discredit my Muslim friends, brothers and sisters but to condemn the decision of the powers that be which in my view is anti-Islam, intolerant and discriminative in its core.

I have written this article not simply to defend Ms. Bernard and other Muslim girls like her, but also to highlight the undeniable arbitrary powers of the powers that be in deciding cases and issues that infringed, obstruct and violate the rights of the people.

As I’ve stated then in an article, “Its about cherishing love”, The New Straits Times, February 16, 2011 and “A reminder to value and cherish all those who love us”, The Star, February 18, 2011:

“Human beings will do good and evil acts not because of the month or the time of year, but rather based on their moral code and ethical standards.

“Sex and morality can never be validly imposed or forcefully legislated.

“To do so would amount to oppression and that would pave the way to a return to the Dark Ages, which is antithetical to modern civilisation.

“Humans must do the right thing, the good thing and the ethical thing because it is the right thing to do, because of the nobility of our spirit, the genuineness of our love and the pureness of our hearts.”

Who determines society’s morals?

Is it the individuals who comprises the said society or is it the state through its government that determines what is the suitable moral social codes from its people?

My firm thesis is that it is precisely man himself that should legislate and must craft his own values, morality and virtues to the complete exclusion of the state and/or the government.

We are who we are. Ethics and morality can never ever be enacted as laws and enforced as statutes that will regulate how people and the citizens will live their lives.

If that will be the case, then it would undeniably diminished man’s humanity and autonomy. That is besides the fact that it will incontestably violates man’s right as a member of the political community.

The state has no right whatsoever to pass moral laws that impliedly telling the people how the people would live their lives.

In the lucid words of Professor Kristine Korsgaard:

“We are masters of our own self-mastery, in control of our self-control. Being human is not sapping our strength, for we still know when to fight…”

No one has the right to impose their concept of morality and sense of righteousness to another. That is a clear case of moral cartel. To each it’s own! Your morality is yours; while my ethics is mine.

It is my firm view, no matter how controversial it is to the majority that morality and ethics are beyond religion, customs and beliefs…

People who are just and fair will do acts of fairness and justice not because of their religious beliefs or theological upbringing but because it is the right thing to do!

Humans are inherently beautiful within because Mother Nature herself is beautiful, not because those individuals are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, atheists or whatever they are!

Their beauty has nothing to do with their religious beliefs; because in the final analysis, they are truly beautiful, if indeed, they are beautiful within — their very souls!

That is the central substantive point in all these issues!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[Blog] Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds by Jose Mario De Vega

Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds

Mario De Vega

This humble paper is an affirmative response to the lucid and scholarly essay of Ms. Natalie Shobana Ambrose’s “Empowering our thinkers”, The Sun Daily, July 12th.

Though I overwhelmingly concur to her general proposition, I beg the indulgence of the reader that I may be allowed to adumbrate and elaborate on the various theses that she laid down.

Indeed, “throughout history, the most dangerous people to any regime have not been the thugs, thieves or murderers but rather the thinkers and the intellectuals. For centuries governments have crafted laws limiting the opinions and vetoing findings of studies from being publicised or rubbishing theories that do not fit with their agenda. So much so modern academics find that they constantly self-censor or thread far away from what is deemed sensitive or controversial subjects as a form of self-preservation and survival.”

Said dangerous people, namely the thinkers, the intellectuals, the iconoclasts, the mavericks and independent observer has always been the irritating thorn to any regime, especially a state that is perceived to be unjust, unfair and perverted.

More often than not, said regime’s program to neutralize these individuals is to either eliminate them or silence them by sending them to the dungeon or by banishing them altogether from the territory of the said country.

Another vicious method being resorted into by these kinds of regimes is to enact laws that stifle, delimit, impede and denounce the unorthodox opinions of the said intellectuals.

Added to this is the Macheviallian act of the said regimes of harassing, questioning and denying the very position of these intellectuals whose radical views do not subscribe or follows the “official” program of the state.

These evil regimes also forced the thinkers and the independent observers to conform to the state-sanctioned policy.

Some, gave in due to pressure, hence instead of pursuing their research and project up to its conclusion; they engage in an internal conflicting act of censoring themselves, editing their work, doctoring their data, altering their findings and worst, some even decides not to proceed with their endeavor at all.

The reason is plain and simple: they have to engage in all these preposterous and ridiculous means for purposes of self-preservation and survival.

This is a shame!

As the writer contended:

“This missing voice is a great tell-tale of how authoritarian a government is and how much or little such talent is valued in the society. We see this throughout the world – talented academics who would rather bypass the red tape of taking on local issues as study topics instead embark on ground-breaking research in other lands so as to not rock the boat back home.

Malaysia has not been spared in this respect. Not only have we lost bright stars to other lands by limiting the very essence of their work, we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.

“Malaysia is going through fascinating transformation both socially and politically. In the last 10 years, the change has been profound. Yet so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony, and the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet. We have to ask the question why.”

Comment:

By reason of fear and reprisal, persecution and state violence, some scholars, instead of embarking on ground-breaking enterprise and earth-shaking endeavor would rather avoid the great possibility of offending the powers that be and instead leave their country of origin and hesitantly exile themselves to other lands that is more tolerant and appreciative of their talents, potentialities and bright ideas.

This is a tremendous lose to the native land of the said researcher and a big goldmine to the adopted country.

Why?

This is a clear case of brain drain to the country of origin and as already noted; a gold mine to the new country or sanctuary.

The one that will benefit from the product of the intellectual labor and academic insights of the said scholar will not be his/her own native country but the nation that is presently adopting the said researcher.

This is not a new phenomenon, when Socrates was condemned to death unjustly by the stupid mob, his student Plato cannot bear the thought to stay in the city that killed his teacher so he decided to leave Greece for a while.

The same is true of Aristotle, when his student Alexander the Great dies, he also decided to leave Athens, saying thus that his act of leaving is his way of “saving the Athenians from sinning twice against Philosophy.”

The writer’s question is totally in point: why is it that despite the fact that Malaysia is going through a fascinating transformation both socially and politically in the last 10 years wherein the changes has been so rapid and utterly profound; ironically so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony and why the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet?

This is irony of all ironies, indeed!

It is beyond dispute that it is the author herself that squarely answered her own query.

Undeniably, the local bright stars are leaving the country due to the lack of equal opportunity, unfair policy, unjust government selection program, social injustice and the stupid conception of the state of affirmative action.

Added to these list of grievances and complaints is the irrefutable fact that “we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.”

This is a shame!

Again, we return to the perennial social evils of the problem, namely: the act of the state in belittling, mocking, irritating, questioning, and harassing the thinkers through fear, bureaucratic brouhaha and economic blackmail.

Not added to this is the state’s act of political persecution such as dismissing the academic from the university or college, suing the said lecturer, teachers or professor and engaging in a character assassination of the said intellectual by using the vast powers of the government to disrepute the integrity of the thinker and put into doubt the product of his/her labor and scholarly work, when the only fault of the said academic is that his or her work is critical of the government or run counter to “the official line” being promoted by the state.

For those who decided to stay and confront bravely the perverted system of corruption, they must also face the full wrath of whole state machinery.

This is precisely the reasons why the thinkers and intellectuals had not taken advantage of this hotbed of potential study topics and areas of possible research.

Imagine an academic that will write a thesis which title is: How could the BN form the government when they are only voted 49% of the population?

Will the government accept that kind of research?

And what do you think will happen to those intellectuals who had undertaken the said studies? How are they going to be treated?

The answer is: either they are dismissed from their posts, or their contract will not be renewed or perhaps they will see themselves at the dock appearing before a court answering some silly and flimsy charges or their books will be ordered to be banned or they may die accidentally or they may disappear mysteriously or they may struggle economically to find some sponsor or funding that will going to support their work.

I concur with the writer that the problem I feel lies in space. The exact term being use in political science is the so-called “democratic space”.

Again, the bold questions posited by the writer are highly in point:

Is there a space where people are empowered to provide evidence-based critique?

Comment:

Yes, there is a certain degree of “space”, but here’s the caveat: be ready and be willing to face the repercussions and consequences of your intellectual actions.

A true thinker and a genuine intellectual that proceeded to present an unorthodox work to the public must be ready and utterly prepare to hear the following idiotic and preposterous charges:

a. “if you don’t like it here, leave!”

b. “go back to where you came from”

c. “what more do you want, ingrate?”

All of these are the price that an intellectual and a scholar have to pay and confront bravely in order to his or her quest of pursuing the truth and consequently spreading his or her ideas and thoughts to the public and the world!

“It seems far easier for a foreigner to write a book, article, thesis on Malaysian issues than it would be for a local. If we don’t agree with their findings – we can rubbish it as not correctly understanding Malaysia since they are an outsider. Of course the other argument is that Malaysians are too emotionally embroiled to carry out such studies. Perhaps there is some truth to it but that is not a good enough reason to leave a gaping hole in research work by local thinkers.”

Comment:

On the Question of Empowering the Intelligentsia?

The great Russian novelist, Maxim Gorky said that the existence of the intellectuals is necessary in any form of society.

In my view, an intellectual has no nationality, because genius is universal. Nonetheless, I concur with the author that a community must produce its own thinkers and intellectuals before the world claim him or her.

Therefore, the Malaysian academic must rise above their “emotional embroidery” and carry out their studies — against all odds and regardless of the adverse consequences — whatever they may be.

To quote the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

The Role of the Intellectuals

Professor Noam Chomsky said that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

To quote from my article:

What is an intellectual?

According to Wikipedia, an intellectual is: a person who uses thought and reason, intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning, in either a professional or a personal capacity and is:

1. a person involved in, and with, abstract, erudite ideas and theories;

2. a person whose profession (e.g. philosophy, literary criticism, sociology, law, political analysis, theoretical science, etc.) solely involves the production and dissemination of ideas, and

3. a person of notable cultural and artistic expertise whose knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.

Based these definition, an intellectual is a person or an individual who is involved or is engaged in creating erudite ideas (whether abstract or not) and making some theories.

The primordial duty of the intellectual is to disseminate ideas. He or she is of notable culture and held some artistic expertise which standing gives him/her a sense of intellectual authority in public discourse.

Who are the intellectuals?

There is no iota of doubt that the intellectuals are the philosophers, the teachers, the writers, the poets, the artists and the like!

The French existentialist philosopher and Marxist revolutionary, Jean Paul Sartre pronounced that the intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age. He passionately believed as he himself lived his life the way he wrote and taught that: the task of the intellectuals is not limited by merely observing the political and social situation of the moment, but undeniably to be involved and engaged actively in all of society’s issues and concerns. Finally, he also maintained that part and parcel of the duty of an intellectual is to serve as a voice of the marginalized, the oppressed, the idiots, the exploited, the lowest members of the society and indeed to speak out—freely—in accordance with their consciences.

Professor Noam Chomsky, like Sartre also subscribes to the belief that a true intellectual must not be silenced nor cowed. They must always stand for the truth and condemn all the injustices and inequalities in the world.

Hence, on this ground, an intellectual is not only a member of his/her community, but a citizen of the world. This is in conformity with Professor Foucault’s concept of the universal intellectual!

Are they necessary for one society?

Answer:

Yes, indeed! The intellectuals are truly necessary and indeed important in one society or political community. Their ultimate function is to serve as the critic of their society’s malaise. It is not an exaggeration to state that the intellectuals are precisely the eyes and soul of the community. (“The Significance of Social Sciences in Education, the University and the making of the Intellectuals”, Etniko Bandido Infoshop, May 5, 2012; “Creating students of substance and character”, February 3, 2013, The Star)

I completely concur with the author that “for a Malaysian though, embarking on potential research topics within the range of race relations, governance, electoral process, human rights, security, migration history and the likes is best left untouched. The retribution is not worth the contribution to the academic discourse – and this happens in a country where we enjoy “democratic comforts”.

The writer then listed her suggestions and what she perceived is the antidote the pressing problem that she saw in the Malaysian society and its academe.

“Malaysian intelligentsia needs to be empowered – both from the inside and out. How though?

“First, our universities, research institutes and think-tanks should be given the mandate to be neutral – not just on paper but also in accepting and engaging in research and study findings that are pertinent to today’s Malaysia, even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. Of course this should be done within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based.”

Comment:

Indeed, universities, research institutes and various think-tank academic groups must be given mandate, not simply for purposes of neutrality, but most importantly for objectivity.

Our duty is to let the university as free as possible to discharge its social function of creating intellectuals who are critical thinkers that will lead to their being civic-minded and responsible citizens.

The quest to unravel the varied and complicated truths of the social dynamics of one’s society demands that said institution are not shackled by bureaucratic intervention and governmental reprisal.

The universities must be given their independence and autonomy to conduct their own independent research and academic undertaking without thinking of whether the result of their project will please the powers that be or not.

Definitely, the said venture must be done “within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based”. Besides being transparent and evidence-based, said endeavor must also be daring and courageous to make public the product of the said work — whatever its findings are.

“Information should be readily available and funding provided with no swaying strings of political positioning attached. This of course is the ideal, perhaps then we should first, start with undoing the politicisation of administrative posts if genuine change is to happen. Also there needs to be a paradigm shift that thinkers are not traitors but rather people who can contribute knowledge to informed decision making. It is also important for thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias, reducing the gap between the different levels of society.”

Comment:

Let me highlight the various problems listed by the author, namely:

1. the inaccessibility of the information;

2. said information is inaccessible because of lack or deficient funding;

3. lack or deficient funding due to political machinations and attachment of political positioning;
4. the politicization of administrative posts;

5. the tendency for the thinkers to be tagged or called or be accused of being traitors; and,

6. the necessity for the thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias.

In fairness to Malaysia, these problems or dilemmas or imbroglios and conflicts are not exclusive to them!
Universally, intellectuals have face and confronted all or some of these issues, yet they are not a reason and they are not an excuse for the intellectuals to abandon their duty and betray the people’s trust!

The author is correct for demanding a paradigm shift to the powers that be for them to change their view of thinkers.

However, despite the existence of all these problems and challenges that a thinker and/or an intellectual must confront, he or she must resigned to the fact and be prepared that he or she may be tagged or called or be accused of being a traitor, radical, a danger, a menace, etc.

That is the price one has to pay for being an intellectual.

“Second, the public should demand for such high standards in academics and thinkers, only then will our intellectual movement be reliable and powerful enough to support reforms in a peaceful manner. Such public support is important for an intellectual revolution to take place.”

Comment:

I agree that the public should demand for a high standard in academics and thinkers, yet the process should not end there. The intellectuals, the academics and the thinkers themselves must also demand recognition, support and solidarity from the public.

The duty of the intellectual is to study his or her society and everything about it, then craft it into a public discourse for the public’s consumption for their eventual acquisition of higher knowledge, which the thinker hope will lead to the development of the political consciousness and maturity of the people as a whole and all these in the end, if we combine will make the people and the general public responsible citizens, not only of their community, but of the whole world.

The obligation of the public is to listen to the intellectuals and the thinkers with regard to the latter’s view of their society. Besides listening, the people must also act upon the suggestions, studies and programs laid down by the intellectuals.

The intellectuals are researching and studying for their society and the people must study and act accordingly on the said social research to further enhance the validity, accuracy and veracity of these social realities.

The creation of a just society is not only the function of the thinkers; the people themselves must also contribute to attain the said goal.

The intellectual and the masses must forge a dialectical and symbiotic relationship! Undeniably the former serves as the social vital element, while the latter acts as the instrument of the social nucleus!

Why? The intellectual or thinker is nothing without the people and the people will not develop maturity and consciousness that would utterly be necessary in order for them to cultivate their civic-mindedness, sense of community and responsible citizenship (both locally and globally) and corollary to this, the people themselves will be powerless without the helping hand and enlightened guidance of their thinkers, academics and intellectuals!

In theoretical terms, the intellectuals and the masses are theory and practice. They must unite to form a single collective whole! It is only on this way that an intellectual revolution shall ensue!

“Third, the intelligentsia themselves need to restore the confidence that the academic world is untouched by political rhetoric and not governed by fear. Start by reinstating critical discourse and continue by measuring your worth not in local currency but of international standards. Allow students to be involved in substantive debate and empower the younger generation with academic freedom – start within the confines of your own classroom.”

Comment:

One way to restore the confidence of the intelligentsia to the academe is for the government to allow more universities to be independent and autonomous.

The court’s ruling on the Universities Act is a welcome development, but still a lot more is needed to be done.

As I’ve stated then in my article:

I APPLAUD the ramifications of the decision by the Court of Appeal in upholding freedom of expression.
Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 restricts students from “expressing support or opposing any political party”.

The court said this provision was in direct contravention of the Federal Constitution, by virtue of the fact that it violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Justice Hishamuddin Yunus said he “failed to see how a student who expressed support for or against a political party could bring about an adverse effect on public order or morality”.

I think he said it well.

If we were to limit the sociopolitical exposure of our young to prevailing conditions and social milieu, we would be doing them a disservice.

Instead of creating critical-minded and civic-oriented citizens, who are responsible, bold, dynamic and proactive, we are moulding apathetic, lazy and passive people, who by virtue of their inadequacy and being puerile, cannot contribute to society.

Universities should be the breeding grounds for reformers and thinkers, and not an institution to produce students trained as robots.

A true democratic society is not afraid to allow its citizens to enjoy and exercise their rights to the maximum, so long as the citizens themselves use those said rights intelligently and responsibly.

Universities gear students to become independent and critical-thinkers so that they can become responsible members of society and cosmopolitan citizens of the world. (“Universities and University Colleges Act: Breeding grounds for reformers”, The New Straits Times, November 9, 2011)

It is my firm and ardent view that a great way to reinstate critical discourse in the university is to offer compulsory the subject of Philosophy and other Humanities subjects to all our college and university students nation-wide.

My core suggestion to the Malaysian educators and policy makers is for them to support and encourage the Liberal Arts programme.

Why? What is the importance of this subject/programme for the advancement of critical public discourse?

As I said then in one article:

THERE is no doubt that the subjects of Liberal Arts education, such as Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Sociology, Anthropology, etc, – the Humanities as a whole – is the branch of knowledge that specifically deals with the study of what makes us human.

Hence, the value and importance of a Liberal Arts education.

In the words of Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University: “Liberal learning introduces them to books and music, the science and philosophy that form disciplined yet creative habits of mind that are not reducible to the material circumstances of one’s life (though they may depend on those circumstances)… The habits of mind developed in a liberal arts context often result in combinations of focus and flexibility that make for intelligent, and sometimes courageous risk-taking for critical assessment for those risks.” A Liberal Arts’ education is the source of critical thinking. Critical thinking is the capacity to think independently beyond the ordinary conception of prevailing reality.

Its mind is reason; while its heart is humanism. The precise utilisation of critical thinking will undeniably lead our students to the joys of critical analysis which in turn will certainly give them the philosophical tools necessary and pertinent for the conscious and bold exercise of complex insights.

In the words of Chris Hedges, “The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralised authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think.”

It is in this exact sense that I overwhelmingly subscribe to the contention advanced by Professor Azhari-Karim of Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang (“Arts on the losing end” – NST, May 9).

He said, “One way is to teach Philosophy once again. This subject has been long absent from the curriculum for undergraduates. The idea is to refocus attention on the Arts and Sciences as being in the very rubric of knowledge and re-emphasise the philosophy of knowledge as a starting point for all academic pursuits.”

This is in conformity with the argument of Ganesan Odayappen (“Education is beyond race and politics” – NST, May 2,) of Kuala Lumpur who said in his letter: “When we talk about educating a nation, we must understand clearly what it means, how it is going to be achieved and its objectives. A nation which is striving to be a developed one needs tremendous human intellect and knowledge.”

A Liberal Arts education is absolutely necessary for the continuous progression and development of a country. There is no shadow of doubt that this type of education, which centres on humanism and universal reason, is truly beyond race, politics, religion, sex, gender, cultural background and other discriminatory categories.

Humanism is the study of being a good man in the truest sense of the word; while the central aim of a Liberal Arts education is to further cultivate and harness the humanity of Man’s humanism. (“Nurturing Critical Thinking”, The New Straits Times, May 11, 2011)

“Most importantly, do not hide behind the protection of the Chatham House Rule (When a meeting, or par thereof, is held under the rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.) – use it sparingly so that your work is exposed for the betterment of the country.”

Comment:

I would like just to add that a true academic and intellectual is a brave soul. He or she must not be afraid to pursue the ultimate conclusion of his or her studies and projects and he or she must be prepared to be mock, ridicule, antagonize and even ostracize.

The same thing happened to Einstein, Galileo, Tesla, etc. they were isolated, persecuted, hounded, mocked, etc., but where are they now? Hence, just be brave and carry on with your studies.

The intellectual is like the individual which Friedrich Nietzsche said “has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

“It’s a long road ahead yet one that is vital and necessary in our democratic process. Malaysia in this instance pales in comparison with the vocal scholarly voices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It’s time we studied ourselves, our communities, our societies, our politics, our beliefs, our history and our democracy without fear – who better than someone with local knowledge, who better than a Malaysian?”

Commentaries:

Yes, it may be a long road ahead for the Malaysian academia, yet to paraphrase a Chinese saying: the first great step on a long journey begun with the first step itself.

The March of Reason must continue at all cost…

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Statement] Civil society urges Malaysia to be consistent as a peace broker; calls for dialogue on Sabah crisis -MPW

Civil society urges Malaysia to be consistent as a peace broker; calls for dialogue on Sabah crisis

Mindanao PeaceWeaverThe Sabah crisis may be hogging the headlines now, but the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) hopes that the raw passions generated by the politicization of the issue will not derail the collective gains we continue to harvest from the GPH-MILF peace process that is about to wind up.

Indeed we cannot totally insulate the GPH-MILF peace talks from issues that have implications on the ties between the Philippines and Malaysia who is the facilitator of the process. Thus MPW believes that Malaysia must reiterate their commitment to peace by ending the violence in Sabah. Malaysia should enter into dialogue among parties involved to peacefully resolve the dispute the same way that it has sought to do with the GPH and the MILF.

MPW also calls on the Philippine government to pursue the peace process resolutely while it fulfills its obligation in protecting the legitimate and human rights of its citizens affected by the violence in Sabah and the needs of the refugees in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

MPW also appeals to the Sultan of Sulu and his followers to maintain their earlier declaration of a unilateral ceasefire and exert all means to resolve the issue peacefully and honorably. We urge them to be mindful of provocateurs that may use their legitimate concerns with other selfish agenda. The Sultanate has made their point.

Once again, we reiterate our message to the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu to: IMPLEMENT A “HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE” IN THE CONFLICT-AFFECTED DISTRICTS IN SABAH.

1. CEASE & DESIST MILITARY ACTION & ATTACKS of Malaysian police, army and the followers of Sultan Kiram III by declaring a bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities until the humanitarian crisis is fully addressed.

2. A PUBLIC CALL FOR HUMANITARIAN ACTION to adequately address the humanitarian crisis in Lahad Datu, Sabah and Tawi-Tawi, Sulu.

3. ADDRESS the forced evacuation and deportation of Filipinos and provide immediate consular assistance.

4. ALLOW & PROVIDE SAFFE PASSAGE of independent local and international humanitarian groups to help conduct humanitarian action and monitor the situation

5. NEGOTIATE a consensus on the mechanics of “disengagement” of all armed actors in the conflict areas.

6. URGE for the governments and the followers of Sultan Kiram III to discuss key issues on the table and exhaust dialogical means in conflict resolution.

7. AGREE & IDENTIFY an external dialogue facilitator (specifically from among the ASEAN member-states) in bridging the process.

8. DENOUNCE the reported increasing human rights violations caused by the OPS Daulat of the Malaysian Government in their mopping up operation against Kiram’s followers

9. ENCOURAGE independent and civil society-led fact-finding missions to study and investigate on the status of the human rights situation in the districts of Sabah

10. CALL for a convergence of local and international/regional actors to assist and monitor the refugee situation in the Sulu Islands and the borders of Sabah. Urge for an interagency action from ASEAN existing mechanisms, UNHCR, OCHA, IOM, etc., to facilitate.

With utmost humility, we also request both the GPH and MILF to release a joint statement on the Sabah issue the soonest – not only to serve as an assurance that the peace talks is moving, but also an affirmation believing that the power of dialogue will deliver the promise of humanity in the districts of Sabah and Tawi-Tawi, Sulu.

MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS CONVENORS :

Agong Peace Network (AGONG)
Bisayang Dako Alang saKalinaw (BISDAK)
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference (MPAC) – Lawig Kalinaw
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC)
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)

MPW SECRETARIATS :

Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) – Lead Secretariat
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc (BMFI)
Catholic Relief Services – Mindanao (CRS)
Sentrong Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN-Mindanaw)

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[Statement] Statesmanship for Sabah: A time to Step In, A Time to Step Up -IID

Statesmanship for Sabah: A time to Step In, A Time to Step Up

IIDIn the short month’s time since the unfolding crisis of Sabah gained attention across many borders, the Secretary General of the United Nations himself, Ban Ki-moon has added his voice and concern on the issue, calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the grant of access to humanitarian aid, the observance of human rights and the penultimate call for dialogue to resolve the ongoing conflict. The Secretary General knows full well that while the strength of state forces being brought to bear on the dissidents may quell the armed uprising, he and the UN are well aware that it is ultimately with dialogue, discussions and negotiation that lasting peace is truly crafted.

Underscored by this example of global statesmanship, we fellow neighbors of Sabah are again reminded of our own need for such paramount and effective mechanisms in our region, a capacity to guarantee the primacy for human rights, the value of a resident echelon of statesmen, negotiators and peacemakers, a shared consciousness keenly mindful of a regional rather than parochial perspective, and a common bias for resolution rather than accommodation. For much of these in this challenging situation, we now hopefully turn our eyes on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

For over forty years and 21 summits, the ASEAN “Community” has worked on strengthening its three (3) common pillars of security, economic and socio-cultural cohesion and unity. For over forty years the ASEAN “Way” has pursued a respectful, non-interfering and non-confrontational policy in addressing intra-state and cross-border disputes and conflicts among its members.

It has also been fifty years since the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia penned the “Manila Accord”, much of which called for a peaceful resolution to the issue of Sabah, and a precursor to the formation of the ASEAN itself. And ironically, it has been less than six months since all three principals now embroiled in Sabah, were all present in the Philippines’ Malacanang Palace for the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Yet in this time of need for resolute leadership in our region, we today still find ASEAN’s voice markedly silent on Sabah. Technically, there is no mandate for the ASEAN to intervene, as Sabah is not born of a conflict between member states, but rather a conflict between a member state and a people from a fellow-member state. But this is exactly the emerging challenge for ASEAN, to recognize a higher calling beyond maintaining the status quo when humanitarian issues are at the fore, or when the marginalized plaints of the few come in conflict with the many, when maximum force takes over for maximum tolerance. This we feel is unacceptable.

Granted the maturation process the ASEAN has had since inception, we feel that it is time for the ASEAN to step up and lead in this time of crisis. We now therefore urgently call on the ASEAN to:

First, call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and guarantee the grant of humanitarian aid to all those affected and displaced by the conflict;

Second, to emplace the mechanisms and modalities to bring the parties concerned to the negotiating table for a just and lasting resolution of the issues at hand;

Third, to utilize the “Troika” and the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) allowed for by the ASEAN Charter to identify acceptable and capable mediators to guide the process to its conclusion;

Fourth, to harness the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AIHCR) as one of the essential mechanisms ensuring human rights have been observed and honored during the Sabah conflict;

Fifth, to activate the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) to generate the necessary information on the roots of this conflict and potential options for resolution;

Sixth, to expand the existing dispute settlement mechanisms within the ASEAN to also include the aspect of prevention to preclude existing and future disputes maturing into armed conflict;

Lastly, for the ASEAN to actively pursue a more decisive leadership role in addressing humanitarian issues as well as potential and existing conflicts wherever and whenever these occur among its member-states;

Guided by the Almighty, motivated by peace, and fueled by the humanity we all share, we submit these calls to the ASEAN and its leadership and all its member states, praying that by the acts we lead in and resolutely undertake now, the future finds us living in true expression of an ASEAN community.

Contacts:
Gus Miclat, Executive Director
IID Main Office (Davao City)
Phone: (+6382) 2992574 & 75
Mobile: (+63)9177013099

Richel de los Santos
IID-Manila Liaison Office
Phone: (+632) 9110205; (+632)4352900
Mobile Ph: (+63)927.644.6524
Email: iid.manila@gmail.com

 

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[Blog] THE SABAH ISSUE: The Betrayal to the Republic of the Philippines of Mr. Aquino by Jose Mario De Vega

THE SABAH ISSUE: The Betrayal to the Republic of the Philippines of Mr. Aquino

Mario De VegaI concur with the statement of the Anonymous Philippines (February 28th) that President Aquino‘s February 26, 2013 statement on Sabah issue is problematic.

In fact, I will even argue that the pronouncement of Mr. Aquino is unpatriotic and treasonous. Whatever little respect I have in him is completely gone the very moment I heard him uttered those traitorous words!

Shame!

Where can you find a president whose allegiance is not with his people but with another state?

I also agree with candidate Dick Gordon that Mr. Aquino is courting an impeachment case against him for not “executing faithfully the laws of the land”. In failing to do so, he is betraying the “public trust and the public and patrimonial interest of the nation.

It is beyond dispute that “the context of this action by the Sultan of Sulu and his followers is beyond question. It is not a power-grab. Neither is it a land-grab. It is a reassertion of their historic, legal and moral right to be in Sabah, the vast track of land in Northern Borneo controlled by the Federation of Malaysia. It was for them the pursuit of a noble cause.”

Anyone can check all the available sources that they can find, whether it is an encyclopedia, atlas, almanac, Wikipedia, history books, etc. In all of them, Sabah can never ever be separated with the Philippines, specifically the Sultanate of Sulu.

Consider the words of Mr. Aquino:

“You are a leader of your clan, and every leader seeks the well-being of his constituents. These times require you to use your influence to prevail on our countrymen to desist from this hopeless cause.”

I wonder who the hell is his adviser on Sabah? Whoever the hell is that creature, he/she should be immediately shot on the spot. I also wonder why it is that this so-called President appears to be ignorant and blur on the whole issue?

Are those words quoted above, the words you want to hear from your so-called Chief Executive?

Hell no! I DO NOT THINK SO!

Following the line of his ‘reasoning’, if one can imagine or construe, what kind of ‘argument’ is that: why is he egging our people to stand up and fight and not be intimidated by giant and bullish China? Yet, when it comes to the Malaysians, he seems to be soft and apathetic?

This is a clear contradiction!

If the question of the ownership of Sabah is a hopeless cause then, how about our cause against China? Is that not a hopeless case, too? Again, that is following Mr. Aquino’s ‘mental mechanism’.

If our cause against China is not hopeless, then how come our cause against Malaysia is dormant?

The aberrant position of Mr. Aquino defies logic and mock reason!

Further, I would like to ask: what is the distinction in our Sabah dispute with regard to our conflict with China? Why in the latter, he is so eager to stand up with the giant (to the point that a newspaper in China and even here went to the point of tagging and calling him/us as a “trouble maker”) yet he is so cautious and soft with regard to the former?

I see no distinction by virtue of the fact that Sabah and
Scarborough Shoal, etc are both our properties and territories.
Why he is not afraid to irritate China, yet he appears to be uneasy to offend Malaysia?

Indeed, there is no shadow of doubt that “it must have been a totally disappointing and devastating feeling for Sultan Kiram and his followers to hear that their noble cause is, for the President of the Philippines, “a hopeless cause.””

Sad but true!

It is my considered view that Mr. Aquino’s call to the followers of Sultan Kiram: “To desist from this hopeless cause” is not merely an impeachable offense but undeniably treasonous and the heights of unpatriotism!

I am ashamed that he is the president of this country.

The duty of a true and valiant president is to be the first one to recognize the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu that “Malaysia has no ownership rights over Sabah and that such ownership rights belong to the Sultanate of Sulu over Sabah which is rightfully within Philippine territory. The position of the Sultanate of Sulu is, in fact and in law, exactly the international claim of the Philippines on Sabah against Malaysia.”

This argument is in conformity with Ambassador Lauro L. Baja, Jr. (A veteran Philippine diplomat. He was the Philippine Permament Representative to the United Nations (May 2003- Feb.2007). Prior to that, he was Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy) in his article ‘Don’t play into Malaysia’s hand’, VERA Files, February 27th, when we categorically state that:

Mr. Aquino’s “statements and actions give the unintended consequence of leaning on our own nationals over a foreign power. We may be playing into Malaysia’s hands who have been adopting a studied but cavalier attitude over the standoff. They are exercising acts of “effectivités” over Sabah during this standoff by their actions and even by their silence over our naive pronouncements.”

The “wisdom of doing it in public” (the President’s act of appearing on TV appealing and at the same time chastising and criticizing the Sultan of Sulu over the stand-off in Sabah) has clearly shows that he has no concern with our Sabah claim and that instead of taking the cudgel of our Filipino Muslim brothers, he let them down, worst he even appears to be the Malaysian spokesperson.

The whole thing exploded to his very face!

I strongly doubt if he could still recover the trust and confidence of the people and the public as a whole!

The reaction of the people is swift. Check the Yahoo online survey.

The latest is that Mr. Aquino is viewed by a greater number of our countrymen as pro-Malaysia. What a shame!

The so-called ‘president’ of daang matuwid became the pang-gulo ng kalsadang baluktot!

As Ambassador Baja said:

“The Sabah standoff should rouse the Philippine Rip van Winkle attitude towards our claim to the area. It provides the country with a unique but sensitive opportunity to revisit our claim. If the Philippines can deal with the situation with some diplomatic imagination and finesse it can correct some missteps of the past which led to the current state of helplessness insofar as the issue is concerned…

“The solid legal foundation of our claim still exists.

“In the transfer of sovereignty document which the Sultan of Sulu signed with the Philippine government, it was expressly provided that the transfer shall be deemed voided if the Philippines shall fail to pursue the claim. The sultan understandably feels he is now free to pursue the claim himself.”

Why? Because this President does not give a damn about them, hence I concur that the Sultan had no choice but to pursue their historic claim by themselves.

Indeed, “it is a sad commentary on the Philippines if our own nationals should run to the UN because their government cannot protect their rights. This is not the spectacle our country wants to portray to the international community.”

Professor Randy David is in point where he stated in his article, “The Real Sovereign”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 7th that:

The Sultan can very well file his private claims before a Malaysian or international court; he does not need the Philippine government’s consent to do this. Since the Philippine government has not actively pursued its sovereign claim over Sabah, the Sultan is free to seek help elsewhere.

One thing he cannot do is force the Philippine state to go to war for him.

Proposal

My suggestion is for the United Nations to intervene on this issue and assume jurisdiction.

I welcome their call this Thursday (finally, after weeks of silence) for the parties to stop from killing and wiping out each other.

I also call upon the Organization of Islamic State (OIC) to mediate between the followers of the Sultan of Sulu and Malaysia to engage in a dialogue.

Further, I certainly believe that the intervention of the Sultan of Brunei, as the original historical owner carries some moral and persuasive effect to the contending parties.

The Sabah “invasion”

How could be the act of the followers of the Sultan of Sulu be considered as an “intrusion” or invasion” when said land subject of the dispute is their land?

If Malaysia owned the land, as they are claiming then why the hell up to now they are paying rent, no matter how nominal and small the amount to the Sultan of Sulu?

The use of excessive force

I concur overwhelmingly with Professor Harry L. Roque, Director, Institute of International Legal Studies of the University of the Philippines Law Center that:

“The use of modern fighter jets and air strikes against the followers of the Sultanate of Sulu is illegal. Under human rights law, the use of force in police operations should be absolutely necessary and strictly proportional to the threat posed by the Filipinos in Sabah. Moreover, Respect for the right to life of a police suspect requires that the nature and degree of force used be proportionate to the threat posed by the suspect to the safety and security of the police officers, other individuals and society as a whole. Malaysian Law enforcement officials should, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to force, and in particular, the resort to airstrikes.

“Since the use of force against the Filipinos involved in the standoff is illegal, Malaysia has committed an internationally wrongful act. Accordingly, the Philippine government, in addition to espousing the rights of its nationals, should also demand that the international community should ask Malaysia to cease and desist from further breaching human rights law. It should later be asked to pay compensation to the victims of its use of disproportionate use of force.”

According to the Malaysian authorities, they have already defeated the ‘militants’, yet even their senior police officer is doubting that that is the case. Further, the so-called “mopping operations” have yet to produce the dead bodies of the “intruders”. Hence, what ‘victory’ is this?

The barbarity of war

I condemn Malaysia for using excessive force, in the same vein that I also condemn to the highest degree the acts of the followers of the Sultan of Sulu (if the reports are true) that they engaged in torturing and beheading the police and/or soldiers that they caught!

This is a shame!

Both sides are wrong on this score!

Yes, there is an on-going conflict, but as the American philosopher William James said, there should be a certain degree of morality, even in war.

Why? Because if both sides will engaged in acts of barbarism, then there would be no distinction between the two and the two of them would be no different from animals and scoundrels.

The Cyberwar

It saddens me that the on-going stand-off in Sabah has already spilled to the cyber world!

According to the reports, Malaysian hackers hacked the site of Globe; thereupon in an immediate retaliation, the Anonymous Philippines Cyber Army also hit back and hacked numerous Malaysian sites!

This pierces my heart profusely!

On this juncture, I would like to thank and commend the Anonymous International in their intervention and call for both the Filipino and Malaysian hackers to stop this unnecessary cyberwar.

As they said in an official statement:

“Let us help both The Philippines and Malaysia unite, not find a reason to fight…”

We all have to find a way to stop this fiasco before, a more bigger and much sinister development happen!

According further to the reports, the ‘war-front’ that begun as a single area has now spread to other areas. Now, the front-lines of battle are on three different locations.

So, now how will the Malaysian authorities conduct the so-called mopping operation, if the delineation of the battle-fields is not clear?

I do not know whether the Malaysian authorities are aware of the consequences of its actions!

They claimed that the so-called ‘militants’ and/or ‘intruders’ are numbering from 100 to 300; then why not send 1, 000 to 2, 000 marines or soldiers to subdue them? Why bring in the tanks and the fighter jets?

Are they afraid to fight in a mortal combat those so-called ‘invaders’?

It was also reported that one Malaysian fighter jet instead of hitting the position of the ‘militants’ rather wrongly bomb their own soldiers. Is this a case of a ‘friendly-fire’ or due to some human error or can we attribute this to the stupidity of the pilot?

Yes, they can wipe out and kill all of those ‘intruders’, yet I doubt if that would be the end of the problem!

Do they not know that the sons and daughters and the heirs of those ‘militants’, ‘invaders’, ‘intruders’ will not cease from continuing what their ancestors have struggled for!

The heirs of those ‘martyrs’ will not stop from fighting what they believe righteously belongs to them…

The ‘war’ will not end and this is because of the fault both of the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines…

WE ARE ALL LOSERS HERE! SAD BUT TRUE!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
March 8, 2013

Lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Department of Humanities and Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Institute of Arts and Sciences
Department of Humanities, Literature and Philosophy
Far Eastern University

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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[Joint CSOs Statement] Standoff in Lahad Datu: Engage in Dialogue Now with all stakeholders to resolve the crisis peacefully

March 7, 2013

Standoff in Lahad Datu: Engage in Dialogue Now with all stakeholders to resolve the crisis peacefully

IIDWe the undersigned Civil Society organisations (CSOs) from Malaysia and Philippines are extremely concerned over the on-going standoff between the Malaysian security forces and followers of the Sultanate of Sulu’s heirs, Jamalul Kiram III at Lahad Datu, Sabah. We the CSOs, together with all individuals, organizations and networks, urgently call upon President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of Malaysia and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, to disavow all forms of violence, and instead supports dialogue as the primary mechanism for a resolution to the siege.

We are very concerned and worried about the security of civilians in Lahad Datu, Semporna and the surrounding villages and we would like to see a peaceful solution to resolve this ongoing problem. According to media reports, at least 43 people have been killed in Lahad Datu, Semporna and Kampung Tanduo, Sabah.

We believe the situation in Lahad Datu requires swift and peaceful intervention. We urge all parties to resist from using force while remaining committed to dialogue and negotiation throughout this process.

We are also very concerned with the lack of real-time information with respect to what has actually taken place so far in Lahad Datu. Up to this point the information received through the Malaysian news media lacked transparency and created unnecessary rumours and assumptions about the situation. The people has rights to get the information on on-going issues in Sabah.

In this context, we call on the governments of Malaysia and Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu to:

  • Immediately declare a HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE so that agencies concerned can take immediate measures to ensure the safety of women, children, elderly and other vulnerable persons in the affected area. And provide “safe zones” where humanitarian organizations and relevant agencies can install facilities to be accessed by those who are injured and require immediate medical care; 
  • Take immediate steps to end the use of violence and to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders to resolve the crisis peacefully. 
  • Take proper measures to ensure that in the process of resolving the crisis, the human rights of everyone involved are respected and protected especially civilians from Lahad Datu, Semporna and nearby villages;
  • Take immediate measures to secure the safety of journalists who chose to access the area at all times to ensure fair reporting and dissemination of information to the general public;
  • Cease and desist from using excessive force and armed violence to end the prevailing conflict;
  • Initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the killings that has taken place and make the findings of the investigation public.

We fervently dissuade all the principals involved from brinkmanship by instead living up to your respective legacies as genuine leaders of your people with honor and dignity.

We urge you to come to terms with the unfolding of events that has serious implications on many lives and social institutions. We all can’t afford that this will escalate into a grave humanitarian crisis spilling over into other nearby villages aside from Lahad Datu and Semporna, Sabah.

Time is of the essence. The world is looking at you, now.

Sgd.
Civil Society of Malaysia and Philippines
March 7, 2013

==========================================================

Please sign this joint statement to show your concern, support and commitment to resolve the issue in Sabah in a peaceful manner.

MALAYSIA
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
JUMP
ALIRAN
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
Justice for Sisters
Seksualiti Merdeka
Pusat KOMAS
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Community Action Network (CAN)
Persatuan Sahabat wanita Selangor
Community Development Centre (CDC)
PHILIPPINES
Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
Free Burma Coalition – Philippines (FBCP)
Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF)
Agri-Aqua Development Coalition, Mindanao
AGONG Peace Network, Mindanao
Akbayan Citizens Action Party
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
Balay Mindanao Foundation, Inc
Banwaon One Tribe, One Territory, Mindanao
Center for Peace Education – Miriam College
Citizen’s Peace Watch
Civil Peace Service Program – Southern Christian College
Coalition of Social Development Organizations
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Council of Organized Social Service Agencies in Mindanao
Derepa te Erumanen ne Menuvu, Mindanao
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Focus on the Global South -Philippines
Generation Peace
Gitib Inc., Mindanao
GZO Peace Institute
Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP)
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)
KAGDUMA, Incorporated, Mindanao
Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP)
Kebager te Ked-Inged, Mindanao
Kahugpongan sa Mindanaw
KAISA – UP Diliman
Lumad Mindanaw Peoples’ Federation
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference
Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) Secretariat
Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative Center
Mindanao Congress of Development NGOs and NGIs –Mindanao
Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partnership of Philippine Support Services Agencies – Mindanao
Pakigdait, Incorporated
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Pax Christi Institute – Philippines
Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ)
People’s Alternative Studies Center for Research & Education in Social Dev’t (PASCRES)
People’s Global Exchange (PGX)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine Business for Social Progress – Mindanao
Philippine Partnership for the Devt of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA)
Redemptorist Center for Social and Ecological Concerns – Mindanao
SANLAKAS
SANLAKAS-Youth
SPREAD – Oblates of Notre Dame
Sulong CARHRIHL
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (We Act 1325)
Women’s Human Rights and Legal Bureau (WLB)
World March of Women – Pilipinas
Young Moro Professionals
REGIONAL/GLOBAL
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – Southeast Asia (SEA-GPPAC)
Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
ALTSEAN- Burma
Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt & Development (JSAPMDD)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
International Peace Bureau (IPB)
ISIS International
Media Defence South East Asia
Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP-Asia)
South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)

BANGLADESH
Humanitywatch
NABODHARA, Bangladesh

BURMA/MYANMAR
Generation Wave Institute

CAMBODIA
Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)
EAST TIMOR
East Timor Students Solidarity Council (ETSSC)

GERMANY
Asienstiftung (German Asia Foundation)
Philippinenbüro – Asienhaus
INDIA
Burma Centre Delhi

INDONESIA
Solidaritas Perempuan (SP)

NEPAL
All Nepal Peasants Federation (ANPFa)
All Nepal Women Association (ANWA)

PAKISTAN
Center For Peace & Civil Society (CPCS)

INDIVIDUALS
Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, University of India
Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, University of India
Mr. Ramon Casiple, IPER, Philippines
Ms. Sia Phearum, Director, HRTF Cambodia
Mmk Tggw, Myanmar

————————————————-

Contacts:

Gus Miclat, Executive Director
IID Main Office (Davao City)
Phone: (+6382) 2992574 & 75
Mobile: (+63)9177013099

Lyndee Prieto
Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) Secretariat & IID
Mobile:(+632) 9177247579
Email:lyndeeprieto@yahoo.com, lyndeeprieto@gmail.com

Malou Tabios Nuera
IID-Manila Liaison Office
Phone: (+632) 9110205; (+632)4352900
Mobile Ph: (+63)9177247580
Email: iid.manila@gmail.com

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[Blog] Maid abuses and human exploitation: the highest form of dehumanization and barbarism by Jose Mario De Vega

Maid abuses and human exploitation: the highest form of dehumanization and barbarism

by Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to “‘Slaves at home’, really extended family” by Frankie D’Cruz, The Malay Mail, Being Frank, October 31.

D’Cruz has once again highlighted two important social issues that affect the public interest as a whole. October 24th, he wrote “I’ll fight, thump burglar anytime!” said piece deals with the mind-boggling application of the death penalty concerning the case of two Indonesian brothers who were engaged in a self-defense. Instead of absolving the siblings of any criminal liability they are ironically are facing execution. What adds up to the imbroglio, the state, instead of going hard against the true criminals had begun the discussion on decriminalizing the death penalty. Said article generated much discussion amongst our people and expanded in a no small way the public discourse.

Last week, D’Cruz has stroke again on his piece, “Slaves at home”. This time, he brought to our collective attention the horrible and harrowing plight of foreign maids, specifically of those coming from Indonesia.

As an ardent observer of our society and constant reader of our paper, I would like to congratulate the said writer for his no-nonsense approach, hard-hitting beats and truly humanistic acts in reporting these issues of public, human and universal interest.

As D’Cruz has stated:

“THE appalling flyers — “Indonesian maids now on SALE” — fastened on structures in Kuala Lumpur have provoked yet another rift between Malaysia and Indonesia and revealed attitudes of astounding decadence on our part.

“It comes amid a moratorium involving prospective domestic help — whom we should rightly call extended family members — from Indonesia, banned from leaving for Malaysia until their safety can be assured.

“It comes in the wake of recent allegations of maid abuse, hijacking a traditional Indonesian dance, claims of organ harvesting and accusations of police violence.”

I join him in condemning the sheer absurdity of the “Maids for Sale” advertisement by a foreign manpower agent. Such act has clearly shown the moral depravity and indeed the “worrying intensity of heartless that has continually seized our mind-set towards foreign workers”.

I do not believe that it is merely a sales gimmick on the part of the said agent. To say so is to admit one’s disregard of human values and utter disrespect of inherent human worth.
Maids are human beings, like you and me; they also have feelings, they have rights and privileges that is recognized and protected by law. They may be working for us, but they are not our properties or commodities. They have humanity and dignity which money can never ever buy nor acquire. They are not slaves. They are human beings, too!

I overwhelmingly concur with the admonishment of the writer, especially when he asked us to have an internal moral examination of ourselves:

“Look inward. Are we vultures who peck at the meat until they reach the driest of bones?
Further, he continued his direct query and morally quizzed us:

“But maids? In fact, the very word “maids” should be dropped as national policy and replaced with “extended family members”. Maids are old colonial mentality. Maids, some people think, are to be exploited.”

Undeniably, D’Cruz’ contention is beyond dispute. To call those people who work for us domestically as maid is to betray our corrupted colonial mentality, our preposterous sense of being a master, an absentee landlord and our inhumanity.

Indeed, there is no iota of doubt that ““Maids for Sale” ad is shameful, disgraceful and completely without conscience. It betrays a giving Malaysian society that is consumed voraciously by kindness.”

Finally, D’Cruz talked about the worst form of exploitation:

“I can’t resist taking the issue of “slavery” into our throbbing nightlife. As a nocturnal creature, I can steadfastly vouch for the transgressions against the very people (women) who pulsate our club scene.

“What if I told you that foreign bargirls here have to pay their agents a penalty of RM75 for each kilo they gain in weight while working?

“What if I told you the girls have to maintain the exact weight when they were brought in and don’t necessarily get the fine refunded if they shed the fat?
“These agents want to maintain quality among their girls but at the same time force them to drink and eat excessively for their benefit and that of their clients (club owners).
“Does it make sense that these girls drink beer, eat fatty foods all night long and are expected to keep their original lean shape?

“Does it make sense that these girls are dragged into a police or immigration van when their agents or club owners aren’t locked up too?

“Does it make sense that the girls are deported and the very people who brought them here on the pretext of office jobs and the people who hired them to work in nightspots are not charged with human trafficking?

“That to me is pure slavery, pure exploitation of the flesh. But only one party, in this case, the girls, pay for it. Where are the human rights activists in such circumstances in Malaysia?”
I completely concur with the indictment of the writer that such horrifying and undeniably inhumane act is pure slavery. Sad but true, this slavery of the worst kind; not simply of economic exploitation but also sexual degradation and physical abuse.

I reecho the question of the writer, where the hell is the human rights activist in such circumstances in Malaysia? Further, I would like to also ask where are the various NGO and different cause oriented groups that fights for the rights of domestic workers and preventing the numerous cases of human trafficking?

The Amnesty International (AI) stated that “governments must improve working conditions for tens of millions of domestic workers around the world. This is after the adoption of a new treaty setting global standards for domestic work.”

Last June 16th, the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s annual conference overwhelmingly adopted the Convention on Domestic Workers. Said law extended a range of measures to protect labor rights that have been abused or have gone largely ignored in the past.

This is indeed, without a doubt a landmark treaty to further protect domestic workers’ rights.
According to Michael Bochenek, International Director of Law and Policy for Amnesty International:

“Abuses against domestic workers – the vast majority of whom are women and girls – are all too common in many parts of the world, but until now we’ve lacked good measures to stop them…
“All countries should ratify this landmark treaty, which lays a strong foundation for a global legal framework to put an end to such abuses.”

Further, Amnesty International’s “research in many countries has shown that large numbers of domestic workers, particularly those who are migrants, are exploited economically and denied their rights to fair conditions of work, health, education, an adequate standard of living and freedom of movement.

“Lured overseas by the promise of work, migrant domestic workers are often easily exploited, both as racial and ethnic minorities and because they may depend on their employers to maintain their immigration status. Employers commonly withhold passports and use the threat of deportation as a form of coercion.”

Hence, based on reason, humanity and the dictates of international law and treaty stipulations, Malaysia are a member of the international community has a moral responsibility and legal obligation to see to it that the rights and welfare of its foreign workers, especially the most vulnerable among them which is no other than the domestic workers must be recognize, defense and protected.

Lastly, how Malaysia treats its foreign workers will undeniably show what kind of society and country it is. Her acts towards the least of the member of her community will incontestably reveal what kind of soul she has.

Are we a rich nation known as a maid abuser or are we a prosperous country known as a haven and refuge for foreign domestic workers?

To put it in a personal manner, do we treat our maids as our slaves or do we treat and consider them as member of our extended family?

That is the question!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Lecturer IV
College of Arts
Department of Humanities and Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Sta. Mesa, Manila, Philippines

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

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[Blog] To do or not to do: A discourse on the naked truth, the Freedom of Expression and Individuality by Jose Mario De Vega

To do or not to do: A discourse on the naked truth, the Freedom of Expression and Individuality
by Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the letter of Angeline Lesslar, “Young sex bloggers a sign of societal breakdown”, Malaysiakini, October 25th.

Indeed, “our young adults are once again creating headlines through their actions and exhibiting the values they uphold.” The initial question here is: so what is the problem?

The latest burning issue that is being face by our society concerns the recent posting of sexual encounters by a Malaysian law student on his blog.

I concur with the unorthodox views expressed by one on-line commentator, thus:

“I honestly don’t see what the problem is. It’s their own free will, their body. We have the choice of whether or not we want to read and watch what they put up on their blogs. No one is arm-twisting anyone here to read their blogs or interviews. If they’re not blogging about having sex with animals or minors or little kids, I fail to see what the problem is. They’re not harming anyone, except their own reputation in the future. Have they done anything to you? No? So, why the pearl-clutching?”

The fact that there is a mutual consent by the couples; I cannot see any issue that offends anybody.

Ms. Lessnar, said that:

“While the Internet provides the freedom to express oneself, one must exercise this gift responsibly.

“We must use our conscience and think before we indulge in our fantasies. Will our actions contribute positively or negatively to the morality of society as a whole?”

I cannot understand what she meant by exercising one’s right or gift responsibly! The said couple did not make love in the public; they posted their sexual escapades in their own blog. So, where is the point to protest and to contest? You are offended by the said blog? Then, deblog it, delist it, block it and to me that’s it! Finish! Subject closed! Why this brouhaha? Why this animosity and noises? What is the fuss all about?

Is the author implying that I cannot express or speak or act on my own sexuality and fantasy and physical discretion in my own blog?

I certainly believe that it is a grave form of coercion and indeed, a violation of my right to privacy and an intrusion to my own personality and cherished individuality!

She and the others may argue that: But, Sir, how about the effects of their acts to society in general? Yes, they have a right to do what they wish to do, but how about the interest of the public?

Reply:

I overwhelmingly agree to the categorical contention of Mr.Anonymous #58437020 (an on-line commentator from the Malaysiakini):

“Every day we hear of stories in the media or pregnant students and low income women getting pregnant and killing their own babies. Are Malaysians being too prudish when we know that some rich Malay man take four wives, rich Chinese and Indian men keep mistresses and here we try and tell young members of society not to have sex, and that sex is dirty. Sex is a private matter and we encourage sex amongst married members and try and promote marriage as an important social institution. However, Malaysia’s progress in modern society has also created many hypocrites who are quick to pass judgment. I don’t condone what these two students do, but I would urge all Malaysians especially the Malay society to think how we can actually help the young single mums.”

Same as Mr. Anonymous, I also do not condone what these two students do, yet as we are a democratic government governed by republican ideals; their acts no matter how ridiculous, absurd, preposterous, malicious, dirty, disgusting, detestable, offensive, etc. to our senses, beliefs and values — nonetheless is protected by the Constitutional provision of the Freedom of Expression.

Believe it or not, the Freedom of Expression does not only give a citizen the right to speak his or her mind, but also the right and the discretion to humiliate himself or herself before the very eyes of the public as a whole.

Clearly, Ms. Lessnar recognizes the peoples’ sovereignty, albeit in a guarded fashion. The right of expression pursuant to Article 10(1) (a) is manifest sovereignty for every citizen. The couple, though some may consider them as immoral and deviants are citizens of this country. If the right of expression means anything minus the exceptions, exclusions, excuses, and exemptions, then, what the heck is wrong with regard to the acts of this unusual couple? This is a clear case of freedom of expression that that is regardless and irrespective of whether their acts of expression are dirty, disgusting, reprehensible, etc.?

The said couple expressed themselves without reservations. That is guaranteed in the supreme law of the land, unless Article 10(1) (a) is an extreme flaw entombed in the supreme law.
In the case at bar, a couple posted pictures of their sexual escapades, some of our people are offended and dismayed, yet that is the price we have to pay to protect and advance the Free Market of Ideas rule of the Fundamental Law!

I do not subscribe to the position of Ms. Lessnar that:

“This act by the couple is regressive to mankind as it places us on par with animals which do not exercise self control and shamelessly give in to their sexual urges in public.”
This is a clear case of being self-righteous.

In school, I was taught that no person or institution has the monopoly of knowledge; the same is true in the same vein that there is no such thing as moral cartel. The unpardonable and disgusting act of some of our self-righteous people condemning and blasting the couple in the media is a form of moral discrimination. It is a form of moral discrimination by virtue of the fact that it implies that they are the only morally pure people in this society and the other individuals who does not believe or conform or subscribe to their views are immoral and impure. This is logically untenable and morally impertinent.

I directly view Ms. Lessnar’s negative view as dangerous and sinister. To quote Gusnargh (another on-line commentator):

Why the proselytizing? Why the holier-than-thou attitude? The way I see it, nobody’s hurt by these actions. If this is not something you approve of, just don’t watch! Nobody’s forcing anyone to watch.

There you go! That’s the point! Yet, in my own view the most telling and substantive problem that needs to be addressed is the issue of being self-righteous.
Who determines society’s morals?

Is it the individuals who comprises the said society or is it the state through its government that determines what is the suitable moral social codes from its people?

My firm thesis is that it is precisely man himself that should legislate and must craft his own values, morality and virtues to the complete exclusion of the state and/or the government.
We are who we are. Ethics and morality can never ever be enacted as laws and enforced as statutes that will regulate how people and the citizens will live their lives.

If that will be the case, then it would undeniably diminished man’s humanity and autonomy. That is besides the fact that it will incontestably violates man’s right as a member of the political community.

The state has no right whatsoever to pass moral laws that impliedly telling the people how the people would live their lives.

In the lucid words of Professor Kristine Korsgaard:

“We are masters of our own self-mastery, in control of our self-control. Being human is not sapping our strength, for we still know when to fight…”

No one has the right to impose their concept of morality and sense of righteousness to another. That is a clear case of moral cartel. To each it’s own! Your morality is yours; while my ethics is mine.

Yes, this and other social problems are just symptoms of a deeper problem facing our society today.

Why are we talking about this insignificant issue? In fact, for all intents and purposes this is a non-issue by virtue of the fact that this only involves the affairs of two hot young couple?
Why don’t we talk about those matters of transcendental concerns? Those issues of national and paramount importance, such as corruption (whatever happened to that bloody submarine?), the general election (when the hell would it be held?), the sorry and horrendous status and plight of our education sector (what kind of blue print is that?), the rampant cases of baby-dumping (what is the root causes of this social problem?), etc.

In the words of Platform_sinking (another on-line commentator):

“To me it is a private matter and not a big deal. There already too many moral policemen in this country trying to impose their moral standards on others. The key thing to ask, did it harm anybody. If not, just leave it. There are many bigger problems to handle in the country like rising crime rates which are more and more violent. Also, the dropping standards of education and the increasing influx of foreign labor (talents) with the related social and health issues.”
These are the pertinent and relevant matters that should concern our minds, hearts and soul; not the sexual lives of private persons.

What kind of society do we have?

Instead of concerning ourselves and dealing with the important matters, we are wasting our time and efforts, confusing our focus and unjustly deviating our attention to those matters that does not concerns us, unnecessary and utterly irrelevant. What a shame!

I agree with Ms. Lessnar is her query that:

“Has our education system helped provide the correct knowledge and shaped the minds of our young adequately about reproduction and responsible sex?”

We all knew the answer! Sad but true, but the government, up to now fail miserably to lay down a comprehensive program with regard to this undeniably important undertaking.

I also concur with her ultimate point and central question:

“As parents, we are ultimately responsible for the way our children turn out. Have we played our role to be there for them throughout their adolescence years, especially, to guide and answer the many questions they have about life in general and sex?”

Indeed, we are who we are because of our upbringing.

The question might be asked: So, Sir, how are we going to explain the acts and the conduct of the said couple under discussion?

The rule may be state unhesitatingly and indisputably that good parents produced good children and correspondingly, bad parents will gave way to irresponsible and ungrateful offspring. However, there are some instances, wherein this rule would not apply. There are many narratives and testimonies of kids and child who were abandoned, neglected and did not receive proper and correct upbringing from their parents but still remain noble and decided to be good and do good in their characters and lives. Sadly, there are also a lot of horrible and ironic stories of good parents who did everything for their kids, yet the same child turn astray and betray all the goodness, harmony and love that were given to them by their loving parents.

Henceforth, the ultimate issue here is not only the upbringing and the rearing of the child by his or her parents. Rather, this is also unquestionably a question of the individual themselves.
Hence, it is a personal discourse, in the final analysis!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Passport No.: XX 4070556

Lecturer IV
College of Arts and Humanities
Department of Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines
Sta. Mesa, Manila, Philippines

The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Klang Valley.

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[Statement] Women’s NGOs in SEA oppose “public morality” in draft ASEAN HR Declaration

Women’s NGOs in SEA oppose “public morality” in draft ASEAN HR Declaration

The Southeast Asia Women’s Caucus on the ASEAN (Women’s Caucus) is alarmed by moves to put “public morality” in the draft of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). We believe that this will further endanger the lives of women in Southeast Asia with the “morality” standards already being exercised by the dominant patriarchal and traditional beliefs in each ASEAN member state.

Public morality” has been used as a ground in limiting human rights, discriminating against women and girls and other minorities such as lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. Worse, when used in concepts of chastity, virginity, the crimes against persons such as rape and other sexual abuses have become crimes against honor even in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The Syariah Law governing Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia and other parts of the region has restricted the freedom of expression and control of women over their bodies, and has led to criminalization of women.

In Indonesia, 207 policies at the national and regional level with moral and religious nuances that deprived the rights to protection and legal certainty of women, restricted women’s rights to freedom of religion for the Ahmadiyya community, and curtailed women’s enjoyment of their fundamental rights to public services.

As Aceh adopted a local regulation based on Syariah Law (callled “Qanun”), Muslim women are obliged to use veil and long dress, otherwise they risk being arrested by the Shariah police. Another Aceh regulation is khalwat where an unmarried woman and a man, who are found in secluded places are arrested and caned in public. They are punished by being forced to walk nude around a village, doused in sewage, or being forced to get married.

The Law No. 44, year 2008 on pornography even became a setback for the enforcement of women’s rights in Indonesia. The law aimed to protect women and children from pornography, but this law was actually used to control women’s body and sexuality with the threat of being charged with criminal violation if perceived to be doing pornographic acts.

“Public morality” under Syariah laws in Malaysia was used by the state in policing Muslims, citing indecency, liwat (sodomy), musahaqah (lesbianism), drinking alcohol, khalwat (intimate acts of unmarried couples), zina (sex out of wedlock), and not observing fasting during the fasting month as acts violating these laws.

Discriminating on the basis of gender identity, the Syariah Criminal offences include any male person who wears a woman’s attire and poses as a woman for immoral purposes in public places. When convicted, the offender will be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

Malaysia’s civil laws are also used to police non-Muslims. In March 2012, three women were charged for indecent behaviour for doing pole dancing in a nightclub in Seremban. The women were fined RM25 each and charged for allegedly being “dressed scantily”.

In reality, “public morality” failed to protect women in prostitution in Thailand, precisely because this contradicted Thai’s moral code. Although some aspects of prostitution have been decriminalized, women engaged in this practice, particiarly women migrants from other parts of Mekong, remain vulnerable when dealing with the police. The police arbitrarily exercise their own sense of morality and this leads to human rights violation when used as a standard for public law enforcement. In fact, one case involves a police who arrested a woman for solicitation but this was because the woman was wearing short dress and high heels.

Thailand has a draft gender equality law that said to provide equal protection from discrimination and access to resources. However, the bill exempts protection on certain grounds such as religion. Again, the AHRD must set the standard, ensuring non-discrimination on all grounds, including standards of morality of dominant groups and belief systems.

Right here in the Philippines, our fellow feminists are worried that this move to put “public morality” in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will justify the interference of the Catholic Church in the deliberation of the Reproductive Health bill in Philippine Congress.

The church will waste no time in raising morality issue as a weapon in every possible measure as they are doing now to block this bill that aims to protect the reproductive health rights of Filipino women.

Another classic case of public morality standing in the way of women’s gender rights is the rape case of Karen Vertido. A mother of two children, Karen did not fit the usual profile of a rape-victim survivor, who is expected to be young and innocent. The rape case was dismissed by the local court because of the Judge’s opinion that the victim did not escape when she appeared to have had so many opportunities to do so.

The acquittal of Custodio came from clear gender biases and gender-based ‘morality’, myths and misconceptions as espoused by the Judge of the local court and this clearly violated Vertido’s rights. The decision of the local court was criticized and overturned by the United Nations through the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The CEDAW Committee ruled that the Philippine government also violated a legal obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfill Vertido’s right and the right of all Filipino women to non-discrimination, including the judiciary and other state agencies.

The inclusion of “public morality” in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration poses great challenge to CEDAW, of which all the ASEAN member-states are party to. It poses great challenge to CEDAW’s efforts towards the transformation of cultural tradition and practices that have been oppressive to women and girls.

We have been engaging with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the body that has been tasked to draft the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). We sent to AICHR our first submission on October 21, 2011, and the addendum that focuses on the draft AHRD as of June 2012.

In the second addendum that we intend to send in line with the 9th meeting of the AICHR in Manila on September 13-14, we reiterate our call to omit “public morality” in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

STATEMENT
10 September 2012

REFERENCES:

Jelen Paclarin
Nina Somera +668 1162 1073

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[Solidarity] Internet Black Out Day campaign on August 14 by Malaysian NGOs for internet freedom – Forum Asia

Dear friends,

The amendments to the Evidence Act in Malaysia hold all internet users liable for content appearing in their blogs and websites and shift the burden of proof to the owner of the blogs and websites. This severely impacts internet freedom, freedom of expression and the right to be presumed innocent before proven guilty. Now, there is a Internet Black Out Day campaign on August 14 by Malaysian NGOs, including FORUM-ASIA’s member, SUARAM against the Evidence Act and to call for the withdrawal of the amendments.

Please support this campaign in whatever way you can. The campaign is led by Center for Independent Journalists (CIJ) at http://cijmalaysia.org/2012/08/07/cij-to-launch-internet-blackout-day-on-14-august/
For more information about the Internet Blackout Day and to take part in the campaign, please visit:

1. The official blog at stop114a.wordpress.com

2. The Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/evidenceamendmentact.

3. Stop 114A’s Twibbon page for Twitter: http://twibbon.com/join/Stop-114A

4. Stop 114A’s Twibbon page for Facebook: http://twibbon.com/cause/Stop-114A/facebook

For additional information, please contact CIJ via e-mail at cijmalaysia@gmail.com or call us at 03-4023 0772.

in solidarity,

Yap

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