Sunday, January 06, 2019

Ops Lalang-ish Malaysia Redux under same PM?

Malaysiakini - Why is Harapan continuing to use BN’s muzzle? by Commander (rtd) S Thayaparan:

"Among the most important objectives of Pakatan Harapan when it was struggling to overthrow the kleptocratic government of former premier Najib Abdul Razak was the restoration of the rule of law."

– Dr Mahathir Mohamad

"I have always been of the view that the Sedition Act ought to be repealed."

- Ramkarpal Singh

COMMENT | Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's latest missive on the rule of law is not so much about Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to said principle but, in this writer’s opinion, more of a veiled threat against the royal establishment. Is writing this seditious? One can never tell.

That is the point of pernicious laws like the Sedition Act and the other laws that civil society groups and political operatives from Harapan like Ramkarpal Singh and Latheefa Koya (amongst others who have made public statements) are objecting to and demanding that Harapan keep its election promises of repealing such laws.

These laws are enacted to muzzle the public but, more importantly, are vital tools in the “fear box” to remind the public that whatever they say or do against the state is always under scrutiny. You can never tell what you say or do, is seditious or an illegality because these laws are there for the convenience of the ruling elite rather than any kind of traditional normative values or reasoning of a functional democracy.

Its chief aim is to instil a "them vs us" mentality through fear. These laws do not apply to them – unless they betray the party and not the state because to the fascists, the party is the state – hence we get examples like the persecution of someone like Fadiah Nadwa Fikri (photo above) for saying things that the ruling political elite have said themselves.

Consider this – “Let us not be precious. The ruling elite over the decades has curtailed the power of the monarchy. The last attempt was a brazen power grab by the former Umno regime through the National Security Council (NSC) gambit. The current Pakatan Harapan grand poobah has done his fair share of rabble-rousing when it comes to the power and the role of the monarchy. When it is convenient to defend the institution of the monarchy as a sacred cow of Malay/Muslim politics, political operatives jump up and down attempting to outdo one another in burnishing their ethnic and religious credentials.”

Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy is correct when he claimed that laws such as Sosma and Poca that would ensure safety and security were “deceitful at best”. What these laws really ensure is political hegemony.

What I have argued and so have many other legal and security professionals, academics across the ideological divide – some of whom were detained under these laws and political operatives – who were also detained – is that there are enough legal provisions to maintain safety and security provided a professional and impartial state security apparatus does its job without resorting to such immoral, undemocratic measures.

Far-right elements

There is this meme spreading around Harapan supporters, who now think that these laws are needed to curtail the religious and racial excesses of the Malay far right. These people are delusional. Since Harapan has come into power, what the state has done is to capitulate to these far-right elements instead of using these so-called laws which are claimed to be needed to preserve safety and security of all citizens.

Remember when people talk of the sensitivities of "all" races, what they really mean is the primacy of the sensitivity of the majority race. This is why such laws are only used against people who are a threat to political hegemony and what is needed is fear and a quick removal of certain voices from contemporary discourse.

Forget the recent examples of some of the statements made by political operatives and ethnic nationalists which could be considered “seditious”; all we have to do, is look at something like the
Gugusan Manjoi incident, and realise that these laws will never be used against instigators who commit robbery and vandalism of private enterprises in the name of religion. Indeed what these people got were not harsh measures from the state but rather sympathetic noises from the ruling elite. A recap:

“This would have been an ideal opportunity to discuss regulations on these so-called Islamic NGOs and a revamp of state and federal religious bodies so they do not encourage an atmosphere where religious extremists harass legally-run business and expect no sanction because they claim to be religious people.”

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin claimed this recently: “If the current laws are not maintained, there will be those who think they are free to do anything and threaten the country through gangsterism and terrorism.”

What if anything was the Gugusan Manjoi incident if not gangsterism and a kind of terrorism? Did we see the political establishment claim that these laws were needed so that religious extremism like the case above could be dealt with? Did we see the political elite coming out in droves, crying “safety and security” "lock these people up", using the laws they promised to abolish? Did anything like that happen?

I have often argued that terrorism – especially religious terrorism – should be dealt with as a criminal enterprise and there are enough laws to handle such crimes without the need for special laws that in reality threaten democratic first principles and institutions. Indeed even in the West such laws are used to stifle dissent.

In the
Seafield temple riots, the police were given orders to investigate under these laws, even though there was supposed to be a moratorium on these laws. How is that working out? I guess using these laws against Indian rioters demonstrates that these laws work because they provide safety and security for a certain demographic.

So if you think that the state will use it against the provocateurs, gangsters and terrorist of the far right, you are naive. But the good news is that you will be in good company. Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali does not want these laws removed and so do the Malay religious and racial far right. Why do you think this is?

Because they know – some of them from experience – that these laws will not be used against them from religious or racial transgressions against the state but rather political transgressions against Malay power structures. For the rest of us Malaysians – Malays and non-Malays – they will be used to stifle dissent against political, social and religious orthodoxy.

Look, we are a country which bans books, that offer alternative interpretations of Islam which go against official state narratives. Which side do you think these laws would be used against, when it comes to narratives that the state deems dangerous to the Malay polity when it comes to flashpoint policy issues?

While lawyer Syahredzan Johan – who is also the political secretary to Lim Kit Siang - acknowledged that it would be easier to remove the law than attempting to modify, the reality is that all these euphemisms of removing certain aspects and other such nonsense is merely political speak, for not doing anything to honour election promises.

This is bad enough but it also means not honouring the memory and sacrifice of those who have been abused with these laws. Before the election, this was a non-issue, in the sense that everyone in Harapan was going on about the evil Najib regime and his pernicious laws. Now it is a different story.

Please keep in mind that if you believe in a flawed system, if you believe that a compromised system will go after those who you think deserve such treatment, believe this, the system will eventually come after you.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired Barrister of Law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot)


  1. The numbers required to revoke these laws at the Senate is still not available.

    Just like the Fake News Act which went nowhere after passed thru Diwan Rakyat but failed to pass at the Diwan Negara.

    Blame the elected reps of BN for the roadblock first and later when PH has the numbers, then only would be fair to criticize PH Govt. for not repealing such anti Human Rights laws.

    1. There is no Ops Lallang Redux.

      I'm glad people like Ah Moc are not in power in this country.

      For those he dislikes you are considered guilty and punished accordingly without actually doing anything.

    2. Wakakakakaka……

      "I have often argued that terrorism – especially religious terrorism – should be dealt with as a criminal enterprise and there are enough laws to handle such crimes without the need for special laws that in reality threaten democratic first principles and institutions. Indeed even in the West such laws are used to stifle dissent."

      Indeed, in the light of the homeland security laws of both the UK & USA - yr TWO greatest democracies of the current world!

      U conveniently forget about the time element, just to showcase yr misguided bleeding heart approach!

      Dealing with such crimes using current criminal enterprise require time, usually long & tedious! & these scums could always play with the bleeding-heartish approaches of these laws by engaging well paid lawyers to defence their cases!

      法治, the rule of laws, as promulgated within the current existing anti-terrorist laws dictate & demand that dracronian implementation!

      Dealing with radicalised religious fanatics, time is of the essence!

      Many enforcing authorities would rather err on the side of wrong prosecutions than letting the suspects slip through the dragnets.

      Simply, bcoz the end consequences could be very unpleasant & heart broken to the ordinary victims as proven in many of the horrendously bombings & killings carried out by these radicalised fanatics!

      For f*cks who have not been through those traumatic experiences, talk is just PURE cockagroo of the nth degree.

      U want to showcase yr 'civilised' maturity. Instead, u play with innocents' lives as if of zero outcomes.

      Yes, such laws can be misused by equally evil minded dictators. But difficult time calls for difficult approaches.

      A necessary inconvenience that the current level of the human PD demands!