Monday, October 31, 2011

Operasi Lalang, Isa And Security Courts by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.

Today, 27th October 2011, the 24th anniversary of OperasiLalang, is different from previous anniversaries. It is the first anniversary after Prime Minister MohdNajib’sbold pledge on the 15th of September 2011 that the Internal Security Act (ISA) would be abolished.

Abolishing the ISA means abrogating detention without trial. It follows that even with the proposed anti-terrorism law there should be judicial scrutiny. Judicial scrutiny will in no way compromise the effectiveness of the police in protecting public security. On the contrary, intelligence gathering will have to be more thorough and professional. Likewise, the power of the Minister of Home Affairs to detain a person allegedly planning an act of terror should remain intact. Preventive detention of this sort in cases involving terrorism and violence is critical for saving lives and preserving public order.

However, the Minister’s decision should be subjected to judicial review. This is to ensure that regardless of the type of violence that a suspect is allegedly guilty of, his right to a fair and objective evaluation of the evidence against him is respected. For this purpose a special Security Court could be established headed by a retired Judge and two other persons one of whom could be a retired senior police officer knowledgeable in security matters. The panel would have complete access to all intelligence reports on the suspect and the suspect would have the benefit of legal counsel of his choice. Given the clandestine nature of terrorist operations, and the need to protect witnesses and informers, the proceedings could be in camera. The decision of the panel on whether the suspect should be incarcerated or acquitted would be final and non-appealable.

This approach upholds both the rights of the person and national security. The powers of the Executive in relation to investigation, detention and prosecution will not be curbed or curtailed. Yet, judicial authority in the service of human rights would also be recognised.

The concept of a Security Court proposed here will be confined to security cases related to terrorism and violence. Other threats to national security emanating from ethnic chauvinism or religious bigotry (as long as there is no resort to violence) should be dealt with in the ordinary courts. In this way we would also strengthen the role of the Judiciary which is important in a democracy.

There are of course discordant voices arguing for the retention of the ISA and detention without trialin order to combat communalism and bigotry. The last 24 years--- since OperasiLalang--- have shown us that detaining a communal agitator or a bigot will not change his thinking or his beliefs. In fact, some of those ex-detainees have become even more communal in their attitudes. Apart from addressing the root causes, it is through persuasive counter arguments, education,and the positive experience of multi-ethnic living that we will be able to reduce communalism. Laws such as ISA are of little use.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar.

Kuala Lumpur.

27 October 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deepavali advert - Monday in The STAR

Have a meaningful Deepavali: Choose the Middle Path

"It is a right and duty of the wise ones to purify the strong by teaching them their duties and to strengthen the weak by teaching them their rights."
-Subramanya Bharathi (1882 - 1921)

Why the middle path?

Here in Malaysia, we have been on the middle path from the very start.

We are situated in the middle between the northeast and southwest monsoons, the natural meeting point of the East and the West. As its height, it is said that eighty four languages were spoken in Malacca by merchant communities as diverse as Gujaratis, Indians and Burmese, Southeast Asians, the Chinese and Japanese.

The spread of religion in Malaya did not involve force. Our early Hindu-Buddhist period brought a glorious legacy of Sanskrit literacy and the tradition of kingship which we practice until today. When Islam arrived, it attracted our people with its inclusivity and moderation which absorbed rather than conquered the existing beliefs. When Christianity came, it was also embraced and accommodated without conflict. And until today we maintain a weave of different religions, all of which did not arrive with compulsion, but are embraced with moderation, accommodation and mutual respect.

The Buddha described the path of wisdom as 'the middle path' and taught about moderation in the right understanding, conduct and efforts. Hinduism teaches about a balanced life for holistic growth in body, mind and spirit. The Bible talks about temperate behaviour between the things that are permissible and the things that are beneficial. Islam prescribed 'sebaik - baik pekerjaan adalah yang pertengahan' as a way of life. All our faiths emphasize the middle way in personal growth and social harmony.

When it came time for our Merdeka negotiations, once again it was the middle path which prevailed. Our Federal Constitution has, at its core, the spirit of moderation. Rather then being idealistic, our forefathers were wise to be pragmatic to the realities of our society. The genius of our Constitution is its framework of workable compromise that has managed to bind together the weave of our multiracial, multireligious and multilingual nation.

The middle path has been our foundation form the very start. It is our way of life. Whether we embrace it or not, our legacy has proven that for our diverse society, we need to have the right balance between right principles and right pragmatism. We need to be grounded in real situations, not idealism. To choose the right compromises sometimes, so that we do not compromise the very core that keeps our nation intact.

The middle path is the path that favors moving forward. It does not mean to be 'lalang' or to shrug off making decisions. Rather, it is making a stand to apply the right principle, in the right capacity and at the right time, to create a workable path. It is choosing our shared values as our basis, and the spirit of empathy and moderation as our practice.

At zubedy, our programs draw strength from shared values and traditions. We believe that at heart, all Malaysians want good things for themselves and for their brother and sister Malaysians, simply because our nation cannot prosper as a whole if some of us are left behind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To be or not to be ... an entrepreneur - The STAR online by Tan Thiam Hock

MY big aunt once told me that I should be very proud of myself because I built a business from nothing.

I told her I would have gladly exchanged places with my cousins who went straight into their big family business upon graduation and became major corporate players by the age of 30. I spent 10 years of my life looking aimlessly for that one Big Idea that will instantaneously transform my business life. I never did find one.

The Big Idea is a myth. It is the figment of a wannabe entrepreneur's imagination. More so in the current world where there is stiff competition in every single business that you can think of. Tell me which Malaysian tycoon made his zillions legally from that one big idea that swept the world? None. Did I mention legally? None.

The low cost carrier model was based on a very successful Ryan Air in Europe but AirAsia took the opportunity and adapted it to the Asian airspace successfully. Astro brought in pay-TV which started 15 years earlier in the United States. YTL had a lucrative first bite at being an independent power producer when the opportunity arose, but again privatised utilities were nothing new.

For any successful entrepreneur, it has always been about having a keen nose to smell an opportunity and that is what separates the men from the boys. Nowadays they called it Blue Ocean strategy, or something like that ...

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Join Anas Zubedy's discussion in the 1Malaysia Roundtable

1. Anas and Dr. Chandra Muzaffar will be conducting a discussion at the 1Malaysia Roundtable, an online platform where the Malaysian public can discuss and give input to help the nation move forward.

2. Their subject of discussion is 'Empathy in the Quest for 1Malaysia' and you can take part in this discussion online from 10 - 16 October 2011.

3. Constructive and valuable ideas voted by fellow participants will be presented to our Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Razak for his review and consideration.

Join the 1Malaysia Roundtable to share your views and learn insightful ideas from others.

To learn more about the 1Malaysia Roundtable, go to

To join Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and Anas Zubedy's discussion, go to

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

At variance with the Constitution by Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

The clear intention of the 1957 Constitution was to allocate penal powers to the Federal Government and to confer on the states residual powers over minor syariah offences.

WHENEVER a general election appears to be around the corner, some people find it politically profitable to stoke the embers of controversy about the need for an Islamic state and its accompanying requisite – hudud laws – ie, laws relating to crimes, punishments and rights and duties that are mentioned in the Holy Quran.

Such a season of polemic is with us again and a few observations are in order.

First, it is a fact that since the 80s, many Muslims have been aspiring to give centrality to the Syariah in our legal system.

While this religious quest is understandable, its realisation requires massive legal reconstruction of the basic legal edifice.

We must be open-eyed about these changes and must accomplish them in accordance with, and not in disregard of, the constitutional charter.

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