Do Not Belittle The Role Of The Armed Forces

I am in complete agreement with the 13 August 2019 statement by the Deputy Minister of Defence, YB Senator Liew Chin Tong on the role of Malaysia’s Armed Forces.
As I have stressed on many occasions, the one and only job of Malaysia’s serving men and women should be to defend our country and its people.
It is also certainly not true, as some have allegedly claimed,
The statement by Koon Yew Yin that that our military personnel are “…doing nothing except eating and sleeping,” does not only belittle the role of our soldiers but is entirely untrue.
I take note of his statement of apology.
Proposals to use our military for political or extraneous purposes should be firmly rejected.
The country does not need unsolicited, hare-brained ideas on how to utilise its armed forces.
Rather, what is needed is wise policies and public support to maintain and upgrade their professionalism; as well as to ensure the welfare of the men and women who keep our nation safe.


The Malaysian Stand On The Rohingya Must Be Respected

There have been reports that the Government of Myanmar has summoned the Malaysian Ambassador to that country on 31 July 2019 in relation to remarks made by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the plight of the Rohingya people.
For the record, Dr Mahathir had recently called for the Rohingya to either be treated as nationals by Myanmar or given territory to form their own state. This is part of the Malaysian government’s entirely correct, consistent and just stance on the Rakhine crisis, of which I am in complete agreement with.
A bloody, genocidal campaign waged by Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, in the state since 2017 has resulted in more than 750,000 Rohingya fleeing the country, as well as credible allegations of mass killings and rape. According to the United Nations, one million Rohingya are now virtually stranded as refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the government of Myanmar would object to the Dr Mahathir’s comments. Nevertheless, their actions betray how completely in denial, indeed, delusional they are regarding the catastrophe the Tatmadaw—who are the true rulers of the Union—have deliberately engineered within their own borders.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that the Prime Minister’s remarks go against ASEAN’s principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. The Ministry however is either wilfully ignorant or blind to the fact that the ASEAN Charter and the principle of non-interference does not give its members carte blanche to commit human rights abuses or engage in acts of gross impunity.
Indeed, Article 2 (2) (i) of the of the Charter mandates that ASEAN and its member states shall act according to the principles of “…respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice”.
The Yangon regime under its so-called State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi should also realise that the Tatmadaw’s crimes in Rakhine have sparked a humanitarian crisis that has had negative ramifications for the Southeast as well as South Asian regions and beyond. The plight of the Rohingya is no longer an internal issue of Myanmar’s but a regional and indeed global tragedy in the making should urgent action not be taken.
Should Myanmar wish to end the international opprobrium that it has so rightly been subject to, then it should rein in the out-of-control Tatmadaw, punish the preparators of the atrocities in the Rakhine and ensure that all the Rohingya are returned to their homes as well as given their rights as citizens of the Union.


The Appointment Of Latheefa Koya To MACC

I note the recent appointment of Latheefa Koya as Chief Commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Latheefa, is both a prominent lawyer and human rights activist. Besides other major cases, she was part of the legal team which represented me in my trials related to the Peaceful Assembly Act—for which I am of course grateful.

Her appointment, however, has given rise to questions which need to be urgently addressed.

Latheefa was, until very recently, a member of KEADILAN. While she has resigned from the party, she did so after the fact of her appointment.

Hence, concerns over her impartiality as head of the MACC—which is an increasingly and especially important public institution in the national reform process—cannot be dismissed.

More importantly however, the manner of her appointment, which, again going by media reports, was decided upon by the Prime Minister alone, goes against the promises Pakatan Harapan made in its last General Elections manifesto.

The 14th Promise of the Buku Harapan clearly states that under a Pakatan Harapan government, the: “MACC will report directly to Parliament, rather than to the Prime Minister. To ensure effective check and balance, the number of MACC Commissioners will be increased and there will be a quota for civil society. One of the Commissioners will become Chairman of MACC, and all Commissioners will have security of tenure.

Appointment of these Commissioners must be validated democratically by Parliament.”

It is true that the relevant amendments to the laws have not been made to provide for these pledges, including for the validation of the Commissioners by Parliament.

However, the appointment ought to have been referred to the Major Public Appointments Committee anyway, to show, if nothing else, that the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government intends to keep its promises.

We cannot blame voters for being cynical or sceptical about our attempts to govern if we cannot deliver on such simple promises.

This has nothing to do with the new Chair’s qualifications or her political preferences when she was a member of the party.

One is sure, and the public has the right to expect, that she will perform her duties without fear or favour.

However, the manner of her appointment is cause for concern as it gives rise to questions over the government’s commitment to the cause of reform.

We were elected on a platform of bold institutional and economic reform.

Our seeming lack of progress on both these fronts is highly worrying.

The Pakatan Harapan federal government must take cognisance of this if it wishes to retain the support of the Malaysian people moving forward, and most importantly, to avoid the mistakes of the past.


50 Years After 13 May: The Lessons For Malaysia

50 years have now passed since the tragic events of 13 May 1969. It is, naturally, a solemn, sombre day for Malaysians.
We should all reflect on its lessons. The chief among them is that we should never take our country’s peace and stability for granted.
These are things that we all must contribute to and defend. It is a duty and responsibility for all Malaysian men and women—whatever their station in life.
It is a cause for which we must dedicate our time on this earth to.
National unity and harmony, after all, are always works in progress. Different generations must—in their own way—contribute to the building of our nation and the unification of our people.
There are, regrettably, nefarious elements that are still trying to use race and religion for their own ends, seemingly oblivious to the damage their irresponsible actions and rhetoric are causing to our national fabric.
They are leading the country, as well as the races and religions they pretend to champion to disaster.
Such people and those who back them must be rejected firmly by all Malaysians who love their country.
But we must also realise that our national unity, as well as our capacity for racial and religious coexistence, are intricately linked to the extent of our political freedoms and civil liberties.
Reducing any one of these will diminish the other. Indeed, Malaysia will not be peaceful or secure if its people are not free.
What is needed is maturity—among both Malaysia’s leaders and led—to exercise such freedoms responsibly, for the common, ultimate good of individuals, society and the nation.
By that same gesture, reform will be futile without the creation of better education, jobs, healthcare, housing and opportunities for everyone who lives and works in our land.
Genuine liberty and “shared prosperity”, or more accurately, economic justice—are inseparable: they are dependent on each other; one and the same.
We will have neither if we close our hearts and minds to each other.
Malaysia’s strength lies in its diversity.
It not only gives our country character and variety—but also allows us to be a dynamic force in international affairs and commerce, as well as act as bridge between the different civilisations of the world.
We must realise—and teach our children—to respect, accept and celebrate Malaysia’s multiculturalism and traditions of pluralism.
Difference is not something to be feared, but a means for us to get the best possible outcomes for our country.


The First Anniversary Of The GE14 Victory

Today, we celebrate the first anniversary of the historic 9 May 2018 General Elections.

Many Malaysians will of course be reminiscing about that day.

Many more will also be taking stock of how the Pakatan Harapan federal government has performed and what it needs to do in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.

We won the 14th General Elections because we were united and had the better platform—one that truly gave all Malaysians hope.

Our alliance’s work to reform and save Malaysia has just started.

As recent events highlight, the expectations of Malaysians are high and that they will not hesitate to punish Pakatan Harapan if it lets them down.

Indeed, the greatest “gift” of 9 May was that it showed Malaysians that they can always vote their governments out.

It showed everyone that nobody has a right to be in power indefinitely; that leaders who breach the trust of voters and abuse their privileges will be removed sooner or later.

Moreover, Malaysians showed on 9 May that they expect the highest standards from their elected representatives.

It is not enough for us to just be clean, diligent and personable: we must also lift the dignity of the people.

Still, the only thing our government should have to worry about—and the only thing is needs to be unapologetic about—is to fulfil the promises of Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.

The promises we made can, should and must be met—with hard work and perseverance.

Saying that they cannot be accomplished will make Malaysians think that we sought power for its own sake.

It will signal to voters that we are no better than the previous regime.

Therefore, on this first anniversary of 9 May, I call on all Pakatan Harapan leaders and component party members to recommit themselves to achieving our manifesto in full.

It will of course not happen overnight—but everything we do and say must be towards achieving the goals set out there.

Fulfilling the manifesto will boost our economy, reduce inequality and accelerate nation-building.

In short, it will move the nation forward and guarantee greater economic justice for all Malaysians.

We must not only it make it easier for our people to do business—whether small or big—but also create jobs with liveable wages for all Malaysians willing to work.

So even as we work to realise our manifesto, the minds of Pakatan Harapan leaders should also be on this: jobs, jobs, jobs.

Though we can and should celebrate the memories of 9 May 2018, our hearts, minds and eyes should be on the future.

Let us never be satisfied with what we have and what we have accomplished. We must move Malaysia forward.

The spirit of 9 May 2018 must live on. We must never let the flame of hope that was ignited that day die out.