Monday, April 21, 2008


It has been reported that the DAP will support the forthcoming BN’s anti-hopping law (Star Online 23.3.08). When strange bedfellows concur, that’s always a sign that Malaysians should look at this issue objectively and be wary of moral breast beating by politicians.

Untrustworthy Party Leaders

Clearly, the root of the problem lies in the nature of the parties themselves that they breed turncoats, careerists and opportunists. We know that the BN’s biggest concern at the moment is the enticement of their MPs into the new Pakatan Rakyat. The DAP, through its dappled history has been continually plagued by party hoppers. Traditionally, it has tried to deter would-be hoppers by making all candidates sign an agreement before they stand in the elections but Dr Shad Faruqi (NST 21.3.08) has pointed out that such agreements will not necessarily stand in a court of law.

PAS also had an ADUN (Nordin Salleh) who hopped into UMNO in 1992 and the subsequent Kelantan State constitutional amendment to prevent party hopping was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1992. Then in 1994, we even saw an entire Parti Bersatu Sabah hopping to the BN after it had presented itself as an Opposition party at the 9th general election.

SO WHAT? Like most things in life, you cannot legislate fuzzy morality that clashes with fundamental liberties. When parties celebrate their “ideology-free” political platform and thrive on careerism and opportunism, this is what we are going to get! They cannot then pass a law to prevent their opportunist politicians from hopping to other parties.

Fundamental Liberties & the Constitution

From legal point of view, I am inclined to agree with Malaik Imtiaz Sarwar’s (24.3.08) position that such an anti-party hopping law will contravene a fundamental liberty, viz. the freedom of association in Article 10 (1) © of the Federal Constitution. This principle has been upheld in the Supreme Court judgement (DUN Kelantan & Another v Nordin Salleh & Another) of 1992.

Article 10 (2) © allows the circumvention of this right only if “necessary or expedient in the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof, public order or morality.” But we did not see the Federation in any danger even when the PBS hopped en masse into the BN in 1994. We normally attribute such extra-sensory powers to perceive threats to national security to the BN Home Minister!

More fundamentally, the Constitution does not restrict candidates for elections to members of political parties. Candidates sign nomination forms as individuals and not as representatives of their parties. That is why we can stand as independent candidates under an array of exotic symbols! The fact that some voters vote for a party and not for an individual is incidental to this fundamental legal point.

What of “Seat Grabbing”?

If some people are morally incensed by party hopping, yet others are outraged by the continued practice of “seat grabbing” – usually by the elite in the party who think they are indispensable in the Federal Parliament and State Assembly IN THE SAME TERM! If I am not mistaken, this is the only country where such a greedy habit is practiced.

For sociological interest, this tends to be the practice among the petty bourgeois class who still harbour a scarcity mentality and will try to convince you that they can manage to look after both their parliamentary and state constituencies with ample assistants. The bourgeoisie in the BN have more discreet charm and eye much bigger prizes than such messy inconveniences!

Should we then pass a law preventing these party elites from “grabbing” both federal parliament and the state assembly seats in the same term? The simple justification would be that this practice does not do justice to the respective constituencies and it squanders the democratic principle of representation.

Unfortunately, the law is silent on this and neither is the constitution’s role to police the politics of opportunism!

(By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 18 April 2008)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

UMNO, jangan tipu!

Saya sokong tindakan kerajaan Selangor menggunakan teknologi tinggi (high tech) untuk menyelesaikan masalah penternakan khinzir (babi).

Tindakan kerajaan Selangor tersebut bukan sahaja boleh menyelesaikan masalah kebersihan penternakan khinzir, juga boleh menjaga kebajikan penternak.

Baru-baru ini, akhbar yang dikontol oleh UMNO, Utusan sengaja memainkan isu penternakan khinzir (babi). Tujuan UMNO-Utusan adalah untuk memainkan perasaan setiap kaum dan agama. Demi kepentingan sendiri, mereka sanggup mempermainkan rakyat. Begitu zalimnya UMNO-Utusan.

Akhirnya, YB Tuan Yaakob Sapari (PENGERUSI JAWATANKUASA TETAP PEMODENAN PERTANIAN, PENGURUSAN SUMBER ALAM DAN PEMBANGUNAN USAHAWAN) menunjukkan bukti bahawa, ADUN Tanjong Sepat UMNO, Karim Mansor pernah pergi ke Ladang Penternakan Khinzir (Babi) di Jerman (German). Karim Mansor mengangkat ibu jari dan cakap bagus!

ADUN Tanjong Sepat UMNO, Karim Mansor di ladang penternakan babi Jerman.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Days of hope: A check-list for reform

Kua Kia Soong | Mar 15, 08 11:58am

When the euphoria of the 2008 general elections has evaporated and we have all come down to earth, it is time to see what is possible to reform in the states ruled by the PKR-DAP-PAS coalition.

As each community pushes forward their demands and grievances, let us not neglect the Orang Asli community, our original people who need the most assistance and are the only community that deserves affirmative action because they are still largely unruffled by class differentiation.

Basically, the whole State List and the Concurrent List of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution are potential targets for reform but feel free to add to the list. These include:

1. Land

Land tenure for indigenous peoples, farmers and titles for New Villagers who have used their land for years should be settled once and for all instead of being given out only as election candy to a few at each election. Only then will landowners have the incentive to develop their land or enterprises to the benefit of the whole nation.

2. Rent

To regulate rent and regularise the relation of landlord and tenant, we should institute a Rent Tribunal to ensure fair rents for tenants and landlords.

3. Forests

Re-gazette forests that have been degazetted and rectify all the despoliation by the old regime. Allegations of corruption in these development projects involving permanent forest reserves and wildlife reserves should be investigated and the culprits brought to book. Halt all projects involving destruction of hills and forests and gazette all possible green lungs in the state.

4. Local government

Introducing local government elections is a priority. Also, services including education, housing, health, transport, places of worship and burial/cremation grounds should be brought under the purview of local governments.

Local Education Authorities should be brought back as a means not only to meet the needs of the various ethnic communities but also as an effective way to stop the politicisation of education. Allocation for the various services including the different language-stream schools would then be on the basis of proportionate need.

5. Water supply and rivers

Each state under PKR-DAP-PAS should implement a State Water Policy as an example for the other states. This would incorporate water conservation; water demand management through pricing and fiscal measures; re-piping; cleaning up rivers and preserving our natural water catchments. All new water supply projects should be halted in view of this state water policy and until proper evaluation and peoples' views have been heard.

6. Libraries, museums and heritage protection

The PKR-DAP-PAS-run states should be an example in providing excellent libraries in every town and city; aim toward having at least one good museum in their state, and gazette as many heritage buildings as they can throughout the state.

7. Social welfare and social services

Priority should be given to lifting the livelihood of the poorest in the state, especially the indigenous peoples, plantation workers, urban settlers, and farmers; more facilities for women, young persons, children and the disabled; a system of mean testing to ensure that the poorest are helped and a sliding scale of diminishing assistance for those higher up the scale. Throughout this exercise, emphasis should be on empowering the communities concerned and encouragement of self-help.

8. Scholarships

Awarding of scholarships should be based on merit although consideration should be given to under-represented groups. Grants and loans should be based on means testing according to a sliding scale of affordability.

9. Housing

A new housing policy would ensure decent housing for the lower income groups and adequate compensation for those who have to make way for new housing or development projects.

10. Culture

The PKR-DAP-PAS-run state governments should implement a truly multi-cultural policy by giving adequate allocations and encouragement to all cultures and language streams. Thus, they can compensate for the federal government's discrimination against Chinese and Tamil schools in terms of financial allocation by providing much-needed assistance.

DR KUA KIA SOONG is director of human rights group Suaram.