Saturday, November 8, 2008

Muslim Professionals: THE ISA MUST GO!

It's heartening to note that there are honorable souls in every profession who have the courage to make a clear stand against abuse of power and state tyranny. In response to the Shah Alam High Court's widely applauded decision to grant Raja Petra's habeas corpus and order his immediate release yesterday, the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) issued the following press release today...
The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) applauds the decisions handed down at the Shah Alam High Court and Kuala Lumpur Sessions court on 7th November, 2008.

In ordering the release of ISA detainee, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad has shown great wisdom and fairness as has judge Komathy Suppiah in denying the prosecution's request for the case of Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be transferred to the High Court. We similarly echo the sentiments of the defense counsel in the former case, when he said that this was a "historic ruling and a profound moment for civil liberties in this country."

The ISA is an archaic piece of legislation and the time has come for its natural demise. The Muslim Professionals Forum very strongly calls for the immediate repeal of this draconian relic and the prompt judicial review of all ISA detainees. We urge the government to take the bold step of doing what is right and just. Justice and fairness are principles enshrined in Islam, and it is incumbent upon every Muslim to uphold these values, elevating them to their sublime pedestal.

The decisions in our courts yesterday augur well for our judiciary, which has been the brunt of many criticisms lately. These judges are beacons that shine through the winds of change, a gust that has blown across the globe. Resistance to such would only rank amongst the most futile of actions. We have but two options, to embrace this change that is upon us, or be left amongst the outcast nations of the world.

Board of Directors,
Muslim Professionals Forum

Dr. Mazeni Alwi
Dr. Shaikh Johari Bux
Haji Mohamed Ali Ghazali
Dato' Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin

I salute the Muslim Professionals Forum for their brave and noble stand. They, too, are "beacons that shine through the winds of change." In my curiosity to find out more about these fine examples of humanity, I stumbled upon a letter written in March 2001 to Mahathir Mohamad by Dr Musa Mohd. Nordin and have taken the liberty of reproducing it below:

OPEN LETTER TO THE PM REGARDING HEALTH OF DSAI

29th March 2001

Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin
President
Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia

Yang Amat Berhormat Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
Prime Minister
Malaysia

Assalamualaikum WBT

The spinal problems (both lumbar and cervical) of Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim is causing a lot of anguish for our medical fraternity not to mention the untold anxiety of his loved ones. It was our fervent hope that an amicable compromise would be obtained and Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri Anwar would be offered the best, safest and evidence based surgery currently available for his spinal predicament. But quite clearly there is a stand off and political doctoring has gained the upper hand and evidenced based medicine has been sidelined.

The members of our association participate in numerous humanitarian and medical missions worldwide e.g Bosnia; Kosovo, Turkey, Gujarat, Maluku, Mindanao, Iraq, the depths of Pahang and Sarawak, etc., and it would seem most irresponsible of me if I did not now address what is fundamentally a humanitarian (and medical) issue vis-a-vis the medical condition of Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri Anwar.

As a healing and caring profession we are the instruments of Allah's mercy (Ar Rahmah) and I am reminded of the oath of a Muslim Physician "To be the instrument of Thy Will and Mercy, and, in all humbleness, to exercise justice, love and compassion for all Thy creation; to extend my hand of service to one and all, to the rich and to the poor, to friend and foe alike, regardless of race, religion or colour" - and if I may add, imprisoned or freed.

Being a fellow Muslim Physician I am sure that Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri subscribes similarly and continually to these noble values and would ensure that they would always prevail. I would appeal to Y. Bhg. Dato Seri to put a stop to all the unkind and merciless statements made by various politicians and enable Y. Bhg. Dato Seri Anwar to undergo the optimal surgery available.

His large central disc herniation and the associated spinal stenosis precludes a conservative dorsal approach due to the increased risk of post operative morbidities. And it has been agreed by the panel of experts in Kuala Lumpur (3 orthopaedic surgeons, 3 neurosurgeons, 2 radiologists, 1 neurologist and 1 anaesthesiologist) and Dr. Hoogland Thomas (orthopaedic surgeon and diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery from Alpha Klinik, Munich) that a transforaminal endoscopic discectomy would be the surgical procedure of choice for decompression of the nerves. Furthermore, it obviates the need for general anaesthesia and endotracheal intubation considering Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri Anwar's longstanding cervical problems, as the endoscopic procedure can be performed under local and intravenous anaesthesia. Other post operative sequelae, namely neural damage, back pain and sepsis, would also be considerably less.

And it was also emphasised that the surgery should not be delayed beyond 4-6 weeks to ameliorate any further neurological compromise. This is the art and science of evidence based medicine in practise and it should not be tarnished by political doctoring from various quarters. I would again appeal to Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri to enable the medical experts to discharge their duties professionally without any form of interference whatsoever from pseudo doctors.

The excruciating pain and physical suffering of Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri Anwar, the sense of helplessness of his family and friends alike, the diagnostic MRI scans and the consensus of opinions of the medical experts must surely touch the deep recesses of our hearts and human conscience; and more so to the Muslim Physician. And I appeal again to Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri to make it possible for Dato' Seri Anwar to undergo the endoscopic procedure at the earliest possible opportunity, in the best possible medical centre dedicated to spinal surgery. I truly believe that Y. Bhg. Dato' Seri's magnanimity in this painful medical scenario would go a long way towards alleviating the hurt that has much wounded this great nation of ours.

And to Allah, The Omniscient and The Wise Judge do we turn for succour.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin
MBBCh (Wales) FRCP (Edin) FAMM

OBAMA & UMNO ~ by Karim Raslan

OBAMA AND UMNO
Karim Raslan | MySinchew | 6 Nov 2008

Let us compare the politics of two nations - the United States and Malaysia. We are often told that we should not import "foreign influences" into our politics - but globalization renders this moot.

With his historic candidacy and extraordinary personal narrative, Senator Barack Obama - the son of a Kenyan civil servant and an anthropologist from Kansas with (in his own words) "a funny-sounding name" has upturned the Washington establishment.

Now, this mixed-race, elite-educated lawyer and first-time senator appears poised to bring renewal and hope to a country wracked by eight years of Republican misrule epitomized by George W. Bush's disastrous White House.

For all the talk of racism, Obama appears to have secured much of the support of "middle America." At the same time he's also managed to engage both America's minorities and youth- most of whom have felt marginalized from the political debate.

However, this fact appears to have escaped McCain and his strategists. They have run a campaign largely fuelled by fear: fear of the unknown and the foreign. Rather than debate on the issues and America's a rapidly imploding economy, the Republicans have run a sleazy, scare-mongering campaign, highlighting Obama's 'foreign-ness' at every opportunity.

Furthermore, McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska as his running mate has been polarizing. Her limited personal achievements matched by her insular world views have undermined confidence in McCain's judgement. Whilst Palin has energized the Republican base, polls suggest that her selection has backfired amongst the broader voting public who are less ideological and extreme in their views.

Obama has risen with class and fortitude above the ugly attacks. His election would not only be a victory for African-Americans, but for the United States as a whole as it restores and renews its battered integrity. Still, the final decision is in the hands of ordinary Americans as the world holds its breath.

(Image from Malaysia Today)

The situation in Malaysia is sadly very different. Unlike Obama, our politicians are not seeking to inject hope or even competence into public life. This is no more evident than in Umno. The ruling party (much like the Republicans) has evidently chosen to respond to electoral defeat by becoming more conservative and fearful.

Umno appears not to have realized how much corruption, inefficiency and racism have turned off Malaysian voters of all races, including the Malays. Money politics remains endemic, as the head of the Umno's Disciplinary Board; Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen has been forced to admit.

The party's ongoing rejection of genuine talent in favour of those with money and family connections is driving away young Malay professionals. This has meant that those who could do so much to revitalize Umno, are throwing their support to the more meritocratic Opposition. Even a cursory watch of the Parliamentary broadcasts will tell you that the party is suffering because of it.

Amazingly, Umno seems to feel that the mere removal of Abdullah Badawi and a return to the authoritarianism of the Mahathir years will repair the party's fortunes. In the face of calls for new politics and fresh faces it has put forward veritable political dinosaurs - men such as Rais Yatim, Rahim Thamby Chik, Syed Hamid Albar and Muhammad Taib – leaders past their prime who should really be happily retired.


At the same time I cannot understand how Mohd Khir Toyo can be a serious candidate for the Head of Umno Youth. Surely, it is inconceivable that a leader who had lost his state to the Opposition should not only be allowed to contest for a top post but even receive popular support at that.

In this respect, Umno's all-powerful divisional leaders may be the source of its problems. Their influence is disproportionate to their contributions to the nation. The fact that they can throw their support behind such low-calibre personalities suggests that they do not have our best interests at heart.

Many of the leaders who they are flocking to are also very similar to Sarah Palin in that they lack verve or experience. They may be well-regarded in the party, but what of the nation as a whole? As Malaysia seeks developed status, we shouldn't compromise with the second-rate in our politics.

In this respect, I'm afraid the current slate of candidates does not inspire confidence. Whilst leaders like Mohd Ali Rustam need to be popular with the Umno faithful, Malaysians of all races need to be comfortable with them and the sad fact is that very few are. One is not sure if these are the men and women that can revive the flagging Barisan Nasional coalition either.

The fact that Najib Tun Razak, who has now secured the Presidency of Umno was forced to backtrack from his remarks about liberalizing the NEP shows that Umno's top leadership is not all-powerful. If Umno is serious about changing itself, then the momentum must come from its grassroots.

At a campaign rally, Obama was quoted as saying "Change happens because the people demand it". Umno can only be saved if its members realize this and move past from the bad faith and blunders that have blighted it thus far.

Friday, November 7, 2008

HERO'S HOMECOMING

(Courtesy of Bodohland)

(From The Star Online, 7 Nov 2008)

(From Malaysiakini.tv)

(From Malaysiakini. Click on image to enlarge!)

"Dengan serta merta..." I like the sound of that! (A decent human being in judge's robes :-)

Yaaaaaay! Daddy's back!

HE'S BREAKING OUT!!!

(From Malaysiakini. Click on image to enlarge)



BRAVO, MALIK IMTIAZ, J. CHANDRA, ASHOK KANDIAH, AZHAR HARUN, SREEKANT PILLAI & TEAM... THANK YOU, JUDGE HELMY... WELL DONE, RAKYAT!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

5 Candidates for 6th Malaysian PM

Remember that "very intelligent" (or so he claims) 24-year-old subtitler named Kavilan who got everyone in stitches with his hysterically madcap Bee En Downfall Parody based on the Third Reich's final moments? Well, Kav just tagged me to name five of my favorite candidates for 6th Malaysian prime minister (and he doesn't care whether I'm serious or satirical).

And, as tag games go, Kav would like me to tag 5 other bloggers. Sheeesh, don't we already spend too much time online? But since Kav is such an ebullient young chap, bubbling over with zany wit and acute insights into local politics - and he seems set to make even bigger waves as an all-round agent provocateur - I figured it won't hurt to oblige. Besides, this could turn out quite fun. So here are my five choices for the next prime minister of Malaysia...




1. LATOK LAT @ Mohd Nor Khalid: With so many cartoon characters in the Cabinet, we really ought to have a master cartoonist as PM. Especially one listed among the World's Top 100 Cartoonists! I've known Lat for 38 years. He used to ride a noisy old Triumph motorcycle to work (he was on the crime desk at the NST in those days and the editors had no idea the kid could draw until they saw a feature on him in Asia Magazine). He was the only one who seemed impressed by the 450cc metallic purple 1948 BSA I owned (it had no rear shock absorbers so you can imagine how rattled I'd appear at the end of each ride).

We used to chill at a mutual friend's house in PJ, getting stoned and belting out a medley of Bob Dylan songs. A few years later some friends formed a bluegrass band called K.D. Possum & The Flying Fox and Lat joined us on lead guitar and bass (he was billed as "Nashville Slim" and he was damn good too, even crooned a couple of Johnny Cash songs occasionally). So with Lat as PM I'd have little to worry about. I doubt he'd ever ISA me. The worst that could happen if I refuse to giggle at his jokes might be he'd revert to calling me by my discarded User ID. Lat has a knack of injecting so much empathy and warmth into his caricatures. Nobody is evil in Lat's world (he could even make Dr M come across as lovable). After all the badmouthing and mudslinging that's been raging in local politics, Lat as PM would bring about genuine muhibbah and transform us all into true Malaysians.



2. SUFIAH YUSOF: Now this sexy young lady might be just what we need to instill a bit of discipline into our law enforcement thugs and bottom-pinching, child-molesting ministers. I know Sufiah charges £130 an hour for her services - which works out to £39,000 a month (or RM234,000). But she'd be worth every penny if she could whip the entire Cabinet into shape and turn civil servants into fine, upstanding members of society.

A former child prodigy in mathematics, Sufiah would be outstanding as finance minister too. In fact, with her undisputed multi-tasking skills, she could take over all the ministerial portfolios, thereby freeing the other MPs from tedious routine and allowing them the opportunity to take up healthy, useful hobbies like cycling, earthworm-breeding and yoga. The National Fatwa Council would be abolished and replaced with the National Fat-Reducing Council, with a special mandate to monitor the weight of all top rank bureaucrats. All those prone to obesity would be nominated as contestants in state-sponsored marathon fuckfests - or summoned to the PM's office after hours to perform national service.

Another distinct advantage of having Sufiah Yusof as PM would be getting Hannah Tan (left) as deputy PM. I've only ever bumped into Hannah once at the Actors Studio foyer in Bangsar and she came across as an extremely friendly and enchanting person with heaps of undiscovered potential.

As deputy PM her official duties would include doing what she's already does so well - which is to reassure Malaysians that there's no place like home. As DPM Hannah would also serve as our roving ambassador-at-large, luring more foreign investors to embark on joint ventures and breed more irresistible Pan-Asian beauties.



3. NURUL IZZAH ANWAR: Izzah is only 27 (she turns 28 on 19 November) and has been an MP for just eight months, but judging by her effortless poise and magnetic personality (she has nearly 5,000 friends on Facebook!) - not to mention her sparkling intelligence, maturity and dedication - she's already light years ahead of veteran politicos like Tengku Razaleigh - and every inch a natural-born Princess too. Put Nurul Izzah in a line-up with Rosmah Mansor, Rafidah Aziz, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Azalina Othman - and for good measure throw in the alluring Umno Princess Noraini Ahmad, the winsome Hannah Yeoh, and the indomitable Teresa Kok - and see just who the rakyat will nominate as prime ministerial candidate. Yup, Izzah is Daddy's Girl right down to her determination, her drive, her charismatic beauty and above all, her winning streak.



4. WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: No other woman in Malaysia has done as much to demonstrate the quiet, gentle power of the Feminine Principle as former Opposition Leader Wan Azizah, fondly known as Kak Wan. She studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was awarded gold medals in obstretics and gynecology, but opted to graduate as an ophthamologist instead. When her husband was sacked as deputy PM and finance minister in September 1998, Wan Azizah rose to the occasion and led the Reformasi movement as president of Parti KeADILan Nasional (the National Justice Party, which later merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat or the People's Justice Party).

All through the difficult years when her husband was incarcerated and in grievous pain from an untreated spinal injury, Wan Azizah carried herself with courage, dignity and stoicism - and yet she had a warm smile and a kind word for everyone she met at ceramahs. The people of Malaysia not only hold Wan Azizah in the highest esteem, but wholeheartedly adore, respect, and trust her. Not given to raising her voice or using harsh words, this living embodiment of nobility and virtue is the complete antithesis of - and the perfect antidote to - the degeneracy, corruption and hypocrisy within Umno that crept in during the Mahathir administration (and which continues to block the way for truly inspiring leaders to take over). With Wan Azizah as PM this nation will experience a massive healing and be restored to its destined greatness.



5. DATO' SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM: Is he the world's most successful failure - or Malaysia's response to Barack Obama? How come he's still the Opposition Leader and not PM? And why did he insist in September that he had "the numbers" for a bloodless takeover of the federal government? Will Saiful Bukhari's sodomy accusation be exposed as a vile conspiracy and the whole ridiculous case thrown out - or will Anwar find himself sucked into a rerun of the same nightmare, like a Prometheus chained to a rock and subject to having his reputation devoured by a vulture named Mahathir for all eternity?

Anwar Ibrahim is undeniably a man of extraordinary destiny, whose life reads like classic mythology, and whose trials and tribulations have been epic, perhaps even messianic. Feared, mistrusted, slandered, betrayed, unjustly accused, cruelly arrested, brutalized, politically crucified and thrown in the dungeon for six long years - Anwar Ibrahim's resurrection and heroic return from the political wilderness is the very stuff of legends. Despite the jaw-dropping miracle he has wrought by pulling and holding together the diverse factions within the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition - facilitating the political tsunami of 8 March 2008 that swept away Umno/BN's hitherto unvanquished and behemoth monopoly on power - some Malaysians remain skeptical and continue to mock Anwar's publicly stated ambition to become PM.

I am certainly not one of them. Since 2 September 1998 - the day Anwar ceased to be DPM, finance minister and Umno bigwig - I have been observing the man closely and he has conducted himself impeccably as a spiritual warrior and visionary leader. From grudging admiration and growing respect, I have come to love the man as dearly as I love myself and my country. Yes, I believe and trust in Anwar Ibrahim and I have absolutely no qualms that he will prove the best prime minister for Malaysia at this juncture of our political evolution.

Go for it, bro - and keep smiling!

These are the five bloggers I'm tagging: donplaypuks®, Bodohland, Patrick Teoh, ShadowFox, and Sarawak Headhunter.

(I don't know why I didn't tag any female bloggers, which I'm generally inclined to do, but I trust some of the guys I've named herein will rectify this gender imbalance ;-)

Michael Moore on Barack Obama

MEMO FROM MICHAEL MOORE | 5 Nov 2008

Friends,

Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair.

In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle out in our lifetime.

There was another important "first" last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan.

The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday.

It's been an inexcusable 44 years since a Democrat running for president has received even just 51% of the vote. That's because most Americans haven't really liked the Democrats. They see them as rarely having the guts to get the job done or stand up for the working people they say they support. Well, here's their chance. It has been handed to them, via the voting public, in the form of a man who is not a party hack, not a set-for-life Beltway bureaucrat. Will he now become one of them, or will he force them to be more like him? We pray for the latter.

But today we celebrate this triumph of decency over personal attack, of peace over war, of intelligence over a belief that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs just 6,000 years ago. What will it be like to have a smart president? Science, banished for eight years, will return. Imagine supporting our country's greatest minds as they seek to cure illness, discover new forms of energy, and work to save the planet. I know, pinch me.

We may, just possibly, also see a time of refreshing openness, enlightenment and creativity. The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles. All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?"

Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom! We've entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this:

Anything Is Possible.

An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.

We really don't have much time. There is big work to do. But this is the week for all of us to revel in this great moment. Be humble about it. Do not treat the Republicans in your life the way they have treated you the past eight years. Show them the grace and goodness that Barack Obama exuded throughout the campaign. Though called every name in the book, he refused to lower himself to the gutter and sling the mud back. Can we follow his example? I know, it will be hard.

I want to thank everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this victory happen. It's been a long road, and huge damage has been done to this great country, not to mention to many of you who have lost your jobs, gone bankrupt from medical bills, or suffered through a loved one being shipped off to Iraq. We will now work to repair this damage, and it won't be easy.

But what a way to start! Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States. Wow. Seriously, wow.

Yours,
Michael Moore

Martin Jalleh on the new Chief Justice

“Imagine having two Umno men at the top of the judicial hierarchy, one as AG and the other as CJ. You will be able to literally get away with murder." - Raja Petra Kamarudin


Of Pretentious Promises, Parachuting Promotions & Pressured Praise

By Martin Jalleh | 5 Nov 2008


The Palace of Justice has a new “prince” – Zaki Tun Azmi. He was promptly sworn in as Chief Justice (CJ) soon after the Conference of Rulers went through the procedural motions and provided consent to his extraordinary elevation.

His Lordship had leap-frogged from the legal profession into the Federal Court last September. Two months later he was proclaimed Court of Appeal (CoA) president. Now (almost a year later) he is proudly perched on the highest post in the judiciary.

Zaki’s political “parachuting” has no precedent. But be not perturbed. Did not the PM promise (especially after his party had quickened his passage into the sunset) that he would produce profound changes in the judiciary?

Indeed, before he packs his bags and participates fully in Umno's early retirement plan for him, Pak Lak would prove to the whole of Bolehland that he still has the penchant to produce the very opposite of what he initially promises.

In April this year, at a Malaysian Bar Council dinner where he paid tribute to former Lord President Salleh Abas and four former Supreme Court judges all of whom were sacked in 1988 by Dr M, Pak Lah had promised the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission to help the PM choose judges.

Pak Lah had also very proudly declared then that such a step was to “renew the people’s trust in the judiciary” and to “make the process of nominating, appointing and promoting judges more transparent and representative.”

In his perfect closing the PM pleaded poignantly, pointedly and so passionately: “Let us move on... The rakyat wants movement and progress, not continuing strife... Let us write this proud and new chapter together!”

About five months later, the PM picked and plucked out an Umno lawyer from the Bar, parked and planted him in the Court of Appeal for a while, so as to place him at the pinnacle of the judiciary at the opportune time!

The PM’s preference of the most junior judge in the Federal Court to take the place of the outgoing CJ implied that it was the government’s perception that there were no senior serving Federal Court judges qualified for or worthy of the job.

It also implied that the government had practically no confidence in the judiciary... and ironically in itself! What a proud new chapter! In fact, Pak Lah was writing a whole new book by himself – on how to catapult a lawyer into the CJ’s chair.

The PM who had made plenty of pious pronouncements on collaboration, consultation and commitment towards what he had called a “judicial renaissance”, looked very pleased when his controversial candidate received his papers from the King to be crowned the new CJ.

At the opening of the 21st LawAsia conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, Pak Lah presented Zaki as "a man who likes reforms" – just like the PM himself – who loves to talk and take the rakyat for a ride on reforms?

Predicted


Many had predicted Zaki’s promotion to CJ. When the latter was made CoA president, Lim Kit Siang (who was then the opposition leader in parliament) called the appointment “a prelude” to Zaki becoming “Umno's Chief Justice.”

Activist lawyer Haris Ibrahim (left) who runs the popular The People's Parliament blog had sent two petitions to the King, the latest containing 25,700 signatures urging His Majesty to appoint the seniormost judge of the Federal Court to the position of CJ.

Pakatan Rakyat had also sent a memorandum urging the King to defer the appointment of the CJ and to consider public opinion. Aliran was “shocked that a person who is so junior in rank with nothing outstanding about him should now outrank all the senior, serving judges...”

Can anyone be more accurate than [political blogger and ISA detainee] Raja Petra (left)?:

“Imagine having two Umno men at the top of the judicial hierarchy, one as AG and the other as CJ. You will be able to literally get away with murder (as if they are not already getting away with it).”

Writing before Zaki’s amazing ascent, Kim Quek, a well-known political commentator, had described Zaki as “the person planted to the highest court to succeed Fairuz.” He listed the reasons why Zaki would be “a poor candidate for any judicial appointment.”

Zaki was a key player in Umno. He was chairman of the party’s election committee, deputy chairman of its disciplinary board of appeal, party legal advisor, etc. As Umno’s legal man, he was involved with “the party’s myriad scandalous financial misadventures that were bailed out by the government (of Dr M)."

“Apart from acting as Umno’s nominee, Zaki also has held directorships in scores of major companies. Even if he has the superhuman capability to totally severe his umbilical cord to the ruling party and his commercial interests to eliminate conflict of interests, there is still the insurmountable problem of public perception.”

Kim Quek had also questioned Zaki’s “moral integrity arising from his controversial marriage and divorce from his second wife Nor Hayati Yahaya,” who was half his age and whom he married in a ceremony conducted by a kadi from Thailand in a textile shop in Perlis in March 2005.

“They separated three months later. In the messy divorce that ensued, it was revealed that Zaki burned the original marriage certificate to hide the marriage from his first wife. Further, the marriage was ruled by the Syarah court as illegal.

“Following the revelation of Zaki’s marital troubles, he resigned as deputy chairman of Umno’s disciplinary board, for which he told the press: ‘Considering that members of the disciplinary board are of the highest integrity, I have made this decision following reports in the media...’”

“The question we must ask now is: If Zaki is morally unfit to serve in Umno’s disciplinary board, how could he be considered morally fit to be a federal court judge, not to mention his lightning elevation to the No. 2 position, and anticipated imminent rise to the top job in the judiciary?” Kim Quek quipped.

“Is this country so poor in legal talent and integrity that we have no choice but to appoint someone so glaringly unsuited for such an important judicial position arising from his multiple conflicts of interests and questionable integrity?” Kim Quek quizzled.

(In an attempt to placate the growing protests in parliament against the parachuting of Zaki, Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Aziz (left) portrayed Zaki as “a straight fellow” and that the “only reason we roped him in was due to his past performance and his character”! Nazri was at his very na├»ve best!)

As it turned out, the PM chose to ignore the very pointed issues and pertinent questions that Kim Quek and the public had posed regarding Zaki’s then imminent ascension to the apex court. There were no consultations with the “primary stakeholders” – in spite of Pak Lah’s promise in April.

Pleasantries


The public pooh-poohed Pak Lah’s preference of Zaki as the new CJ. Lim Kit Siang (left) described it as “the most controversial appointment of the head of the judiciary in the nation’s 51-year history.” Din Merican, an Anwar Ibrahim aide, called it a “retrogressive move” in the PM’s reform agenda.

After the swearing-in ceremony of the new CJ, and hard-pressed by the press, a rather resigned Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan (below, right) extended the pleasantry that “Zaki must be given a chance to prove he can bring about the much-needed change to the judiciary system.”

“There had been concerns in relation to Zaki’s political affiliations and business connections (and) these concerns can only be dispelled by him through the conduct of his duties and by a demonstration of independence and impartiality at all times,” Ambiga added amiably.

Alas, in Bolehland many things function on the reverse. What had in fact to be proven by the Government was whether Zaki was "worthy" or qualified in every way, to occupy the CJ’s chair. And such proof had to be provided – PRIOR to the appointment, and not after.

The search for the "right man" for high office begins with a process of discernment to ascertain, as far as possible, whether he fits the criteria of the job – and this is done prior to making a final decision. Further, the CJ’s Office being a public office, the public has the right to know and critique the proposed candidate.

Ambiga’s implied request, therefore, that the office of the CJ is an "opportunity" for Zaki to prove himself does not make any sense at all. It is like "putting the cart before the donkey (horse)." (But then again very little makes sense in Bolehland these days!)

Pretense

The NST had for its headline on Zaki’s maiden speech at the Palace of Justice: "Zaki shows he means business." Perhaps it would be more accurate if it had been: "Zaki says he means business."

According to The Star, Zaki had “vowed to get tough on errant judges,” whom he said formed a small group and of whom he accused of besmirching the image and reputation of the judiciary.

“Such errant judges should consider leaving the judiciary. I will not hesitate to take tough and drastic action against this small group (of judges) if the occasion calls for it. And for those in the practice of toadying (currying favour), I say ‘stop it’,” Zaki added more zing into his warning.

Ambiga, who attended the ceremony, praised Zaki for having delivered a “hard-hitting” speech (Malaysiakini): “I think it was a no-nonsense and tough speech... He is off to a good start with that speech.”

It was more humdrum than hard-hitting. Zaki’s mundane maiden pronouncements were in fact practically the same as that made by one of his predecessors – Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim (left), who had said that “judges should resign if they cannot lead a judge's life.”

Sadly, the tenure of Fairuz was “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It ended as a flop, a farce and a fiasco. The verdict of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Lingam tape scandal reduced his appointment as CJ to a first-class joke. Will Zaki Tun Azmi meet with the same fate?

Will our nation be “cox-zakied” (coxsackie is a hand, foot and mouth disease) by a tough-talking Chief Justice? Will we see real, rapid and radical changes in the judiciary or will we be regularly reassured by the CJ’s reiterated rhetoric accompanied by a rudderless leadership?

Will the PM stop the Umno warlords from pulling the strings as he plays their puppet, preaching judicial reform but practising the very opposite? Will the judiciary – the very "portal of justice" – continue to be a playground of political expediency where the-powers-that-be persecute their foes by a perversion of the rule of law?

Business executives in Asia make no pretence about their worsening perception of Bolehland’s judiciary – as revealed recently by a Hong-Kong based Political and Economic Risks Consultancy. Local lawyers in a Transparency International Malaysia interview shared the same or even greater corroding perception. Genuine change is crucial.

Time is not on Pak Lah’s side. What kind of legacy will he leave behind in terms of the judiciary? Will he be remembered for his pretentious resolve for judicial reform or will he be respected as a courageous and committed PM who translated into reality his talk given in April this year: Delivering Justice, Renewing Trust (in the Judiciary)?



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen... PRESIDENT OBAMA!

An historic occasion. It’s President Obama. Let’s hope he fulfils his promises and works in the interests of the ordinary people, the working class, rather than Big Business. [anilnetto.com]

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

IF THERE IS ANYONE out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.


I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.


There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.


Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.


She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


[Images courtesy of Associated Press & Reuters]

You've read Obama's speech. Now see Barack in action - live from Chicago!