Anwar Ibrahim may not get an easy ride in Kajang!

Legal obstacles may be placed in Anwar Ibrahim’s path, and any conviction will definitely throw a spanner in the works in the Kajang by-election, writes Henry Loh.

Photograph: themalaysianinsider.com

Photograph: themalaysianinsider.com

 

The Kajang by election scheduled for 23 March 2014 has been receiving a lot of media attention principally because the high profile leader of the Opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, has announced his candidacy and there is no shortage of potential opposing candidates who would love to see him contest and lose.

The Barisan Nasional has also announced its proposed candidate from the MCA, Chew Mei Fun, who is currently one of the party’s vice-presidents and formerly a head of Wanita MCA. This has led Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR) to challenge and criticise the MCA President from a gender perspective, arguing that its typical of the MCA to assign winnable seats to men and difficult and challenging ones to women.

But it is not necessarily going to be an easy ride for Anwar.

There is the argument that legal obstacles may be placed in his path, and any conviction in a legal case – for instance if the Public Prosecutor is successful in the appeal against Anwar’s acquittal in the sodomy case – will definitely throw a spanner in the works.

Hence Rama is concerned that fairness, a strong component and key ingredient of justice that should always be upheld, is unfortunately not that apparent in our Courts.

Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) has taken a clear position that it’s a travesty of justice for Karpal Singh to be charged and now convicted for sedition merely for offering a legal opinion on the Perak constitutional crisis that arose in 2008. LFL asserts that Karpal’s conviction “reaffirms the return of authoritarianism and political persecution”.

Malaysians who value democracy and freedom of expression are certainly dismayed that PM Najib has failed to keep his promise made on 11 July 2012 that the Sedition Act would be abolished. Instead what we are witnessing are sedition charges being levelled against dissidents and opposition leaders.

What really irks fair-minded Malaysians is that members and supporters of the “powers that be” get away scot free when they make clearly inflammatory and offensive speeches and statements. It reeks of selective persecution.

Over in Sarawak, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has announced his resignation effective from 28 February 2014 and named his ex-brother in law, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, to be his replacement. At the same time, it has been announced (unofficially) that Taib Mahmud is expected to be appointed the Yang Dipertua Negri (Governor) of Sarawak in place of the incumbent who is due to step down.

The indecent haste to move from the office of the Chief Minister into the Governor’s residence is quite clearly contrary to good governance practices. This is especially so as there are still ongoing investigations into allegations of graft made against the Chief Minister. Some critics of Taib argue that he should not be appointed Governor until the anti-graft body clears him.

Aliran, along with more than 50 other NGOs, has taken a strong stand that Taib should not be appointed governor at all, given his tainted image. If you visit this link, you will also have access to an online petition on this issue.

Stirring it up

Looks like there are some unscrupulous quarters who are bent on stirring racial hatred and causing discord by keeping the issue of Teresa Kok’s controversial video on “Onederful Malaysia” alive. A few days ago a dead chicken and red paint was splashed at Tersea’s service centre in Kuala Lumpur.

There was also an incident of meat (believed to be pork) being thrown into the Cheruk Tok Kun Mosque compound in Bukit Mertajam, obviously to stir anger and sow distrust among Muslims and non-Muslims.

Thankfully, we have level-headed and peace-loving Malaysians who have joined groups such as Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) to come out and condemn these moves meant to cause disunity and disharmony.

It is also encouraging and inspiring to see Malaysians taking a stand to promote peace and unity by gathering as a united multiracial and multireligious group for a ‘Walk in a Park’ that saw them visiting a church, temples and a mosque in Penang.

To end on a positive note, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Joseph Kurup, also the Minister for National Unity, made a suggestion at the first dialogue session of the National Unity Consultative Council that the word race (bangsa) be removed from all official forms. This would be a welcome step towards creating a single national identity.

Dare we dream of the day when ‘religion’ is also removed from the official forms that we need to fill?

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Salam sejahtera dan salam berjuang!

Henry Loh

Co-editor, e-Newsletter 

23 February 2014

Henry Loh

Henry Loh, a former bank manager-turned-activist, is the honorary assistant secretary of Aliran.

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