I hope Malaysiakini won’t mind me posting in full the article Duplicity of Pak Liar by its columnist Dean Johns – call it an ad for Malaysiakini’s quality goods and I won’t charge the online news portal for my service too.
I have been following Johns's articles for his tongue in cheek style but this one shows a glimpse of Johns' anger, which we all share.
Following Johns’ article I have posted another article from the Sydney Morning Herald, to show a world of difference in Prime Ministerial style.
When Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s utterances are at variance with the truth, we’re usually inclined to excuse him on the grounds that he’s either misinformed or, as he often claims himself, he doesn’t know the facts.
But there was no doubt about his recent utterance regarding the bringing of charges against citizens who walked in the recent Bersih, Hindraf and Human Rights Day rallies: “We do not discriminate, there are no double standards in enforcing the law.”
A statement that was, by anybody’s standards, a barefaced, outright lie.
If there’s one glaringly obvious fact of life in Malaysia, it’s that there is one set of laws for Barisan Nasional (BN) members, cronies and supporters and another for everybody else.
For example, charges of attempted murder have been brought against 31 people arrested at the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25, yet no charges have been laid against the member of the police force who shot two PAS members Suwandi Ab Ghani and Muhammad Azman Aziz, during a Bersih gathering on Sept 8 at Pantai Batu Buruk in Kuala Terengganu.
Nor do any charges ever appear to be brought against police responsible for one of Hindraf’s many causes for complaint, the shocking rate of deaths - especially of Indian - that occur among ‘suspects’ in custody.
Then there’s the fact that leaders of the Nov 10 Bersih rally in KL have been charged with threatening the peace and stability of the nation. Yet Umno members who, during the party’s 2006 general assembly threatened to bathe the keris in the blood of fellow Malaysians were not so much as reprimanded.
And following the Hindraf rally, roundly condemned by the government as being racist, ex-Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik wasn’t so much as chided for the incendiary remark that “The Malays have never taken to the streets so do not force us to do so as we will draw our parang to defend the Ketuanan Melayu in this country.”
Perhaps the most frequently mentioned example of the double standard in enforcing the laws pertaining to public assembly has been the denial of police permits for the recent rallies, compared with official approval if not encouragement of an earlier protests led by PM-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin at the Burmese Embassy and at the arrival of the visiting US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice.
Then there are the contrasting styles of law enforcement against illegal signage and construction. Lawyer Edmund Bon has been charged with “obstructing Kuala Lumpur City Hall officers from performing their duty” in removing a Human Rights Day banner from a building on which it was lawfully displayed, but hundreds of illegally-erected billboards in PJ are permitted to remain in place on the pretext that it’s too expensive to pull them down.
Hindu temples and other places of worship are demolished on the grounds that they’re illegal, while the so-called Istana Impian, built without a permit by Klang assemblyman Zainal @ Zakaria Mat Deros on public land acquired suspiciously cheaply by his wife, is allowed to stand unscathed.
But the falsehood of the prime minister’s “no double standards in enforcing the law” remark gets much closer to home than that.
His very family and in-laws have been suspected of being above and beyond the law. His son’s amazingly successful company, Scomi, has been accused of complicity in the supply of US-blacklisted uranium-processing equipment to Iran.
His former sister-in-law’s name has been linked with the Iraq food-for-oil scandal. And his son-in-law, Khairy, famously received a ‘loan’ of a great many shares in a local company, and then claimed to have sold them ‘at a loss’ after this windfall was embarrassingly revealed.
Some of Pak Lah’s cabinet ministers have come under suspicion too, but somehow spared the inconvenience of legal action against them. S Samy Vellu and Rafidah Aziz, for example, have both faced apparently credible corruption allegations but in the event have proven untouchable.
I could quote a great many more examples of selective application of the law, but I’m sure you can think of even more than I can.
And in any case, as the prime minister well knows despite his repeated denials, the rot in Malaysia’s legal system is much more serious than simple inequity, as the very institution of the law is iniquitous.
The previous chief justice was a symptom of this malaise, hence the walk by lawyers in Putrajaya in October. But now, far from seriously addressing the problem with the royal commission that was called for, the prime minister has presided over the appointment of an even less desirable chief justice-to-be, the former Umno and government-linked company fixer Zaki Azmi.
As Kim Quek wrote recently, Azmi has “not even warmed his seat as a judge, and yet he now looks poised to succeed Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad five months from now when Hamid retires in April 2008 upon reaching 66 years of age”.
Pak Lah has demonstrated a similar level of bias in the face of Bersih pressure for free and fair elections with his plot to pass a constitutional amendment to extend the term in office of the thoroughly discredited chairperson of the Election Commission, Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.
Abdul Rashid is so far from independent in the performance of his duties as to reveal in a recent speech that he believes that “there is only one regime in this country that is capable of running” the nation, and that Malaysia would be “in trouble” if he was in disagreement with BN politicians in terms of what the country needs.
So, all in all, as far as free and fair elections and equality under the law are concerned, it’s painfully evident where Malaysia’s future currently lies - in the hands of that master of empty words and paragon of broken promises, the duplicitous and deceitful Pak Lah.
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
The 33-year parliamentary career of John Howard ended today when he finally conceded defeat in Bennelong and congratulated the woman who beat him, Labor's Maxine McKew.
"It was very long campaign and it was a tough campaign and I have no complaints," he told a poll declaration ceremony at Chatswood.
"The Labor Party won the seat fairly and squarely.
"This is a wonderful exercise in democracy. You can count on the fingers of one hand the countries which have remained democracies for over 100 years.
"It is a privilege to be part of that process. And, to see such a seamless transfer of power is a remarkable tribute to the durability of democracy in this country and an example to the rest of the world.
"I wish the new Government well and my own party well.
"I know that in Opposition it will stay true to the ideals upon which it was founded.
"Above all I wish Australia well because, as I have often said, things that unite us as Australians are greater and more enduring than the things that divide us."
Mr Howard had held the Bennelong electorate in Sydney since 1974 and he is only the second serving prime minister in Australian history to be dumped at the ballot box.
Electoral Commission officials formally declared Ms McKew the winner by 44,685 votes to Mr Howard's 42,251.
After the results were announced at the sometimes awkward ceremony, the former ABC TV journalist paid tribute to Mr Howard's years of service.
"I know how much serving in the Australian Parliament meant to you," she said.
"You went to the highest of public achievement and I thank you for what you have done for this country.
"I wish you and Mrs Howard all fulfilment."
Much as I dislike Howard for his obsequity towards Bush and his all too willing participation in the Coalition of the Killing I have to take my hat off to him for his gracious exit.