Monday, December 27, 2010


Malaysia/Indonesia bilateral relation has gone through many phases with its own ups and downs. Today it cannot be taken for granted. Previously Malaysia/Indonesia resilient relationship was grounded on nusantara and ‘serumpun’ sentiment. This is only true when the bilateral relation is not in crisis mode, like the confrontation in 1963, the spat on Ambalat/Sulawesi Sea, and when there are cases of mistreatment of Indonesian maids. Malaysia needs to make the necessary adjustments when confronted with such situations. We cannot obviously treat it as business as usual. This is the time when political and diplomatic initiatives would have to come into play in order to manage them. The Indonesian media when this happens has the tendency to sensationalize whatever issues that surfaced which could generate a strong anti Malaysian sentiment.It is my believe that Malaysia should move away from harping continuously on the nusantara and ‘serumpun’ factor, as this is not sustainable.

Currently our management of bilateral relation with Indonesia tends to be reactive. No doubt there are mechanisms to handle on the long term basis. Some observers and diplomats would say whatever is happening between Indonesia and Malaysia today is a result of the maturity of their relationship. Some may opine this state of affair comes about due to Indonesia being envious of Malaysia’s progress and development which had surpassed Indonesia’s. Albeit for certain it cannot be left to sort itself or be taken for granted. It is important that the warm and cordial relation between the two countries is sustained, as it is beneficial for both countries and ASEAN.

The more frequent ups and downs between the two can be attributed to a myriad of factors. At times we can put the blame on the slant of the Indonesian media but there are other factors that Malaysia needs to understand which can influence public perception on us. In my view Malaysia has to weigh all the factors holistically. It has to pay attention to improving media relation, not necessarily to respond to every story published by them. Malaysia should build on the positive government to government relationship and the existing linkages in term of people to people. It is essential that adverse reporting which can affect the good relation be tackled early before it becomes a problem.

The internal and external dynamics of both countries over the past 53 years have influenced the relations in many ways. It is thus pertinent that the relation be approached by utilizing informal networking as well as conventional diplomacy. Over time there is no denying that perceptions and attitudes of citizens on both sides have changed due to political, economic and socio-cultural development. Even on the issue of culture which undoubtedly contains many common traits and values can raise sensitivities. The government to government relationship even though cordial and good cannot be viewed on a standalone basis. The people to people relation can be a significant defining factor in determining the strength and state of the relationship.

Indonesia is a major player at the regional and global level because of its size and population. It makes sense for Malaysia to preserve good relationship as a close neighbor and the fact we share common history and heritage. After all Indonesia’s economic growth and development will also have beneficial impact on Malaysia.

In this context Dr Mahathir’s policy of ‘prosper thy neighbour’ is a move in the right direction. With continued economic growth and by virtue of its size and population, Malaysia stands to gain from it. Democracy and the active role of civil society have made the Indonesian government to be more sensitive to views and feelings of its grassroots. Currently they are seen to be more assertive at the regional and international arena. The bilateral relation at times will therefore be trying, difficult and complex. Malaysia needs to understand the issues and sensitivities of Indonesia over the years. It will not tolerate any patronizing or condescending attitude towards it as well as harping purely on nusantara and ‘serumpun’ factor. This factor could under normal circumstances be useful. Relations based on religion, (particularly Islam), language and geographical proximity are advantageous but the political and diplomatic dynamics should be taken into account in determining the type of relationship we want.

When Malaya became independent in 1957 and in 1960 with the formation of Malaysia which included the States of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesia declared confrontation against Malaysia. Sukarno considered this merger part of the neo-colonist grand scheme of the British to extend their sphere of influence in the region. This was the worst time for Malaysia/Indonesia bilateral relation. It only ended in 1965 with a change of leadership in Indonesia from Sukarno to Suharto. The personalities that made the return to normalcy were the relationship between Adam Malik and Tun Razak.

The question is whether common heritage and history can still be the binding force in the relation, should be reviewed. New parameters should be taken into account. Malaysia did not think at that time the differences between Indonesia and Malaysia on the formation of Malaysia would lead to confrontation and military interference by Indonesia on Malaysian territory. Learning from this experience Malaysia cannot look at the bilateral as it was by mere expectation and assumption. It is in Malaysia’s interest to review and revisit old paradigms and create new parameters to avoid such an incident from repeating. In this regard Malaysia has to pay more attention to the role of various groups including the mainstream and social media as well as civil society and opinion makers. The connectivity of these factors must be taken into account for the long term bilateral relation.

The reality is both Indonesia and Malaysia have gone through socio-political and economic transformation. There are many new paradigms that require Malaysia/Indonesia to look at. The passage of time and changing political landscapes as part of globalization process brought about democracy and freedom, greater national consciousness and a new sense of nationalism can bring new stresses to the bilateral relation. On many instances we have to read between the lines to understand the Indonesian diplomacy. Even the favorite Malaysian contention that “air ditetak tidak akan putus”(water can never be chopped or severed)[1] that’s often used by Malaysians was rejected in a recent panel discussion. When an Indonesian panelist took his turn to speak in the Awana television programme he unabashedly said even water flow can be severed. Lili Yulyadi Arnakim, a visiting Professor in University Malaya who spoke in the ‘Sudut Pandang 501’ opined that the ‘serumpun’ spirit had already been eroded.

It was contended that the generation born after the 70s in both countries have more nationalistic perspectives as compared to the prevalent feeling of ‘serumpun’ before. We should take notice of this opinion and make necessary adjustments and alignments to our thinking. Malaysian politicians, academics and think tanks have to recognize that many old assumptions or traditional views no longer hold water. After all we are dealing with two sovereign nations that have evolved its own distinct national characteristics and personality in the commity of nations. At the regional and international sphere Malaysia/Indonesia do not necessarily take the same position on all issues. This can best be illustrated when US bombed Belgrade without obtaining prior UNSC approval or Indonesia’s relation with Israel. Whilst Malaysia supported the US bombing of Belgrade on humanitarian ground, Malaysia generally has a very rigid view on multilateral process of the UN. [2]

The Malaysian press cautious and non reactive posture to Indonesia media sensationalisation does not change their perceptions. Harsh criticisms are made against Malaysia every time these are a spat by the Indonesian media or differences between the two countries. Thus Malaysia needs to develop a new kind of matrix that acknowledges the differences rather than purely playing on the similarities of people and history. True, generally the contacts at the government and personal level had been warm and constructive. Unquestionably it is a contributory factor in minimizing possible misunderstandings and conflicts. I had personally seen how good rapport and contacts played their role when I was serving as the Foreign Minister of Malaysia. However this can change.

Let me relate some of my experiences. After the Ligitan and Sipadan judgement was made in favour of Malaysia by the ICJ, a new crisis on Ambalat/Sulawesi Sea emerged. This area is rich in oil and gas. Both countries have given concessions to different oil companies, whilst the issue of overlapping claims is still unresolved. This created a lot of unnecessary tension that could have led to open conflicts between Indonesia and Malaysia. The Indonesian press was fanning all kinds of anti Malaysia stance.

I was asked to go to Jakarta on a mission to explain and cool down the situation to the Indonesian leaders. During this visit I met Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda. From the time I arrived and stepped into the hotel lobby I could sense the tension and hostility surrounding me. The press had a very conspicuous anti Malaysian position on the issue of Ambalat/Sulawesi Sea and the Nirmala Bonat incident. However the general public does not seem to bother or care about it.

From the media coverage in the print and electronic media, I felt as if Malaysia/Indonesia was at the brink of an open war, when the reality is on the ground such feeling was absent. Indonesia was said to be upset when Malaysia had, in their view wrongly acquired Ligitan and Sipadan from Indonesia. They were also upset with the mistreatment of their workers in Malaysia. One of the journalists who ambushed me asked whether I feared for my life by coming to Jakarta. I thought the question rather odd as Malaysia was not at war with Indonesia and our bilateral relations were warm and cordial. As far as the Indonesian media is concerned Malaysia is responsible for the current spat between the two countries because of their inhuman acts committed on the Indonesian maid and the outcome of Ligitan and Sipadan case. They viewed Malaysia as arrogant and greedy in taking Indonesian territory. The truth which was never highlighted nor published was that both Malaysia/Indonesia had signed an Agreement, to refer the case to International Court of Justice (ICJ) for referral and final settlement. The case was decided in Malaysia’s favour by ICJ. Instead they chose to paint Malaysia as a negative greedy and arrogant nation. The slogan ‘Ganyang Malaysia’ was replayed and appeared repeatedly on Indonesian TV. This had maximum impact and caused strong bias and emotive prejudice against Malaysia. I was asking myself what went wrong.

When I met President Yudhiyono, I expressed my surprise on how the Nirmala Bonat and Ambalat case were exploited by the press to the fullest. I could not comprehend how they could portray as if this criminal act against Indonesia maids was condoned by the government of Malaysia. There was a feeling we did not care nor sympathize with what happened to Nirmala Bonat. Of course this is not true. The story had been manipulated. The truth is the whole country condemned the act and called for justice to be meted against the perpetrator of the crime. The government realized irresponsible element could exploit the issue. They took quick action to proceed with the investigation and prosecution.

I politely informed the President that the Malaysian public is as much abhorred by the inhumane acts committed against Nirmala and they wanted the perpetrator to be brought to justice. As for Ambalat we would like to resolve the differences through negotiation. The Indonesian reports on both these incidents had left me perplexed. On his part, the President explained with democracy and freedom there was nothing much he could do with the press coverage. He is also subjected to harsh treatment by them. He understood that the case had to be dealt in accordance with Malaysian laws. However he also stressed the case must be dealt speedily and that justice is not only done but seen to be done. He understood my explanation. I accepted his view and conveyed it to Kuala Lumpur accordingly.

The President also reminded me continuous anti Malaysian reporting in the press could influence public opinion. This would put him in great difficulty if he is perceived to ignore sensitive issues touching on Indonesian citizens in Malaysia. This could have an adverse effect for continued warm and cordial Malaysia/Indonesia bilateral relations. He reiterated that the controversies had to be well managed even though he did not envisage the bonding at the governmental level could be affected. He emphasized he has no problem with his Malaysian counterparts.

During the same visit I met the Foreign Minister of Indonesia Hassan Wirayuda prior to the Ambalat/Sulawesi Sea and the demarcation of our maritime borders negotiation. I had a four eyed meeting with him. We exchanged very frank views on the prevalent anti Malaysia sentiments in Indonesia and the strained relations. I asked for his perspective on the underlying factors that had caused this situation. Inter alia he outlined to me a number of issues that he said caused anger and negative public perceptions in Indonesia on Malaysia. Among them he cited, the mistreatment of Indonesian workers, the loss of Ligitan and Sipadan and the current overlapping claims on Ambalat/Sulawesi Sea. He emphasized these issue cannot be seen as if Indonesia is making any compromises. These issues are considered explosive and continue to be an irritant to our bilateral relations unless it can be resolved amicably.

In another visit I had the opportunity to meet Alwi Shihab, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs Indonesia. He took the view that historically, when Malaysia first became independent, Malaysia depended on Indonesia on many things including providing teachers, lecturers and medical doctors. Now that Malaysia is doing well and surpassed Indonesia’s development, Malaysia had forgotten Indonesia’s good deeds and the special bond that exist between them. He also opined that a way must be found to bring back the warm and cordial relations on track.

Over the five decades both countries have really travelled their own separate journeys regionally and globally. To me this is to be expected as each country has its strategic and national interests. Naturally this could not necessarily be in the same direction all the time. There was bound to be divergence in some foreign policies approaches of both sovereign states consistent with their own national interest. There are many examples of this happening. Another such example was when Malaysia established diplomatic relations with China. Indonesia was unhappy with it. It was the first and only ASEAN country then to do so. This was made worst because at that time Indonesia/China relation was strained.

Deep in the Indonesian psyche they still consider Malaysia as a younger brother who should pay respect and reverence towards the big brother Indonesia. I remember Gus Dur (Abdul Rahman Walid) the late Indonesian President told me during his first official visit to Malaysia that Indonesia should cease to treat Malaysia as its younger brother but instead view the relations as that of equals.

When Mahathir took the helm of the country’s political leadership as the Prime Minister, he played an active role in international relations. Many differences emerged at the political and foreign policy level between Malaysia and Indonesia. Notwithstanding this both sides managed their differences well at the government and media level. In the late 90s for example Mahathir advocated the creation of an East Asian Economic Caucus which created a lot of controversies. It was also resisted by some ASEAN member states and their western dialogue partners. The US and its allies were totally against it. The idea of collaboration between East Asian countries under East Asia banner was not acceptable. During the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 a way out of the impasse was found through a meeting of leaders from China, Japan and South Korea under the style of ASEAN + 3 Summit. This Summit was historic and gained acceptance until today. At that time the political climate was such that the plus three consisted of China, Japan & South Korea which is in reality East Asia did not matter, so long as it is not called East Asia Group or Caucus through this mechanism East Asia cooperation evolves. This was a successful mechanism that built confidence and understanding between ASEAN and its dialogue partners.

In December 2005 the 1st East Asian Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur expanding the membership of the process to include India, Australia and New Zealand even though it is not within the geographical footprint of East Asia. This was a political decision. Meanwhile Russia that has the necessary geographical footprint in East Asia was rejected as there was no consensus among ASEAN members. Indonesia was one of the countries in ASEAN that did not support Russia’s admission as the US was totally against it. This was in contrast to Malaysia who supported Russia to be part of the East Asia Summit process from the beginning. Malaysia’s position was made very clear when during the first Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia invited President Putin to attend the opening and spoke as a friend of the Chair. Of course today US and Russia have been admitted as a component of East Asia Summit.

Without a doubt Malaysia’s foreign policy stance has been more aggressive and assertive at the regional and international level under Mahathir. Indonesia was even said to be unhappy in the way Malaysia played a leadership role of the OIC, after all Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world.

In one of my interactions in Jakarta with Malaysian and Indonesian think tank to deliberate on Indonesia/Malaysia relation, we discussed in depth on the state of our relations and came to the conclusion that both countries had abandoned the historical and cultural linkages that previously made the relationship special. Malaysia/Indonesia had moved from the basics in the bilateral relations. The participants lamented with nostalgia when Des Alwi and General Trusitno talked how special the relationship was. They stressed on the bondage that used to exist at the political, educational and personal levels. The late Ali Al-Attas succinctly said to me the relationship is like a time bomb if not properly managed. He was quite emotional when he said there is a perception in Indonesia that Malaysians have a low opinion on Indonesian workers and consider them ‘stupid’. He then likened the relationship to that of the US/Vietnam relations during the US/Vietnam conflict. He stressed at that time the Vietnamese considered the Americans as “the ugly Americans”, even though the Americans thought they were helping or doing favour for the Vietnamese. The current Indonesia/Malaysia position is in the similar mode as Indonesians view Malaysians as “the ugly Malaysian”. Coming from a very renowned and respected diplomat, who is considered as a good friend of Malaysia is a clear indication how bad the situation has become.

I also had the opportunity to meet a number of Indonesian media representatives in their visit to Kuala Lumpur organized by ISIS. The Indonesian journalists were brought to Wisma Putra for exchanges of views on the state of relation between the two countries. I was asked to begin by giving the Malaysian perspective. After that we invited the participants to question and answers with me. One of them from Antara News Agency said that he had a lot of admiration for Malaysia and its leadership in the international arena. He ended by seriously stating he could not understand why Malaysians treated Indonesian maid so inhumanly, as if the government empathized with such abuses. I was surprised with that remark. He also said Malaysia as a rich country should have an open door policy and allow Indonesian workers (since Indonesia is poor) to work in Malaysia without any restrictions.

Again this is another example that demonstrated the gap that exists between Malaysia and Indonesia. They ignored the fact that there is already more than a million Indonesian workers legally and illegally in Malaysia. The Indonesian public may have the same view as expressed by the Indonesian media representatives during my interactions with them. Indonesia/Malaysia relations definitely require a change of mindset. The track two activities conducted as an ongoing exercise by different groups of think tanks have been useful in looking at the many issues objectively.

Under Indonesia’s transformation to democracy, one of the beneficiaries of the new regime is the media. With press freedom’s euphoria, a myriad of new print and electronic media sprung up. With the available space for freedom in Indonesia their presses sometimes choose to undermine Malaysia/Indonesia relation by discrediting and humiliating Malaysia. When Malaysia complained about it, their Indonesian counterparts just said nothing can be done as they also suffer the same fate. It is quite humorous to hear comments made by some Indonesian Members of Parliament on press freedom. The Indonesian politicians feel the heat from the same freedom phenomena. Jokingly they had commented that if previously they were oppressed by the army, now it is the press. [3] The press had shown enmity at times in inciting Indonesian public opinion against Malaysia. They offer no apologies for it, nor do they consider how it will affect bilateral relations between the two countries. The justification is public interest in Indonesia comes first. However, I am sure they do not operate in a vacuum.

They media have their supporters and sympathizers within the Indonesian political mass and also in Malaysia itself. Opposition party leader like Anwar Ibrahim, had established very close rapport and networking with many Indonesian politicians, leaders, ministers, media and civil society. This network sometimes collaborated with the Indonesian media to cause unnecessary irritation for their own narrow political ends.

In today’s globalised world, mobility of people from country to country has been a source of strength for development as well as the cause of strained relations between countries. Amongst ASEAN countries, Malaysia is one of the biggest recipients of migrant workers brought by its rapid economic development. In order to sustain this growth she had relied heavily on labour from ASEAN and other countries. The largest number is from Indonesia whether legally or illegally.

On the other hand Malaysian public thought, for this reason alone, Indonesia should show gratitude as their citizens earn their livelihood in this country. Malaysia therefore contributed a large amount of Indonesia’s foreign exchange revenue. There is a feeling in Malaysia that Indonesia takes the view that Malaysia is duty bound to accept their workers. There is no denying that the workers have contributed to the growth of the Malaysian economy. However unless both Malaysia and Indonesia are able to tackle and manage this issue in a very balanced manner it can affect the existing warm and cordial bilateral ties.

The inhumane treatment of Indonesian workers had raised new problems between Indonesia and Malaysia. However on the Malaysian side it is also a fact that many victims of accidents and careless handling by the maids of those under their care are seldom highlighted. Today within the broader Malaysian society there is resentment resulting in pressure to move away from being too over dependent on the Indonesian workers. Thus this resulted in recruitment of workers from other ASEAN and South Asian countries. When this shift of policy was announced it is perceived as an anti Indonesia act.

During Tun Mahathir’s era of fast, socio economic development in the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a steep increase in foreign workers intake into Malaysia, especially from Indonesia. This was tolerated and pushed by demand. In the plantation and constructions sectors they were on high demand. It then extended to domestic maids, restaurant and factory workers. Nonetheless the financial crisis of 1997/98 made Malaysia more cautious and selective in their intake of foreign workers.

Malaysia decided after the crisis to focus its economy and industry to technology and knowledge based sector which should reduce its dependent on workers. With this it is expected Malaysia could reduce the number of foreign workers. As is always the case Indonesian workers generally are recruited for the dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs that locals themselves are not willing to take up. As a consequence these foreign workers are lowly regarded in Malaysian society.

I can conclude in term of relationship common language and culture are not the only binding factor, as through time cultural gaps have even widened. It is undeniable that maids living under one roof with the employer can be a source of conflicts, which will ultimately cause problems for both sides.

The relationship between countries whether in the developing or developed world is very much determined by the personality and style of leadership of the leaders. We can compare the leadership of Razak, Mahathir and Abdullah Badawi in term of the consequential dynamics in the conduct of domestic as well as foreign policies.

During Tun Razak’s era, there was a shift from being pro British under Tunku Abdul Rahman to be more independent and neutral in its international relations. In ASEAN previously golf diplomacy was seen to be working during the era of Tunku and Tun Razak but not under Mahathir. Even amongst the Foreign Ministers there are less and less Foreign Ministers who are golfers. Undeniably these informal personal settings contributed to strong personal rapport and a positive working relationship.

However the relationship was under constant strain during Tun Mahathir’s premiership when he was seen more aggressive, assertive and pragmatic in leading the nation towards industrialization. Though he believed in the philosophy of “prosper thy neighbor”, his views and stance were perceived as being anti West. Indonesia on the other hand takes a softer stance and was more accommodative towards the West.

Tun Abdullah was more gentle and consultative in his approach. The current leadership of Najib is seen steering Malaysia to a new era of political and economic collaboration and cooperation with all countries. He seeks a warmer and friendly approach to Malaysia’s big trading partners especially US and Europe.

In the case of Indonesia the different styles between Sukarno, Suharto and finally under Yudhoyono when the democratic process had stabilized are conspicuous. Sukarno was nationalistic and adopted genuine socialistic policies in managing Indonesia. He viewed Malaya, as it was then as an example of British neo colonialism and with the establishment of Malaysia he declared confrontation. Subsequently, during Suharto’s era he focused more on building a market oriented economy for Indonesia, with emphasis on improving the standard and quality of lives of its people. When democratic movement took shape in Indonesia, there was a quick change of leadership, from Habibie to A.Rahman Wahid to Megawati . Under a new constitution Yudhoyono was elected as President of Indonesia. The country has emerged as a democratic, politically stable country that wants to focus its attention on economic development as well as play a more profiled role internationally consistent with its size and population.

The NGOs and individuals play an equally significant role in highlighting the plight of the workers and to a lesser extend the employers. Unless Malaysia is able to tackle the issues raised by them in a responsive, fair and equitable manner, it would be another source of problem between Malaysia and Indonesia. The physical abuse and nonpayment of wages are some of the issues that are argued on fundamental human rights. This can cause the building up of anger and prejudice against Malaysian employers. Here again what is needed is the intervention of the government to provide the umbrella for the protection of workers’ rights. Even the operations to rid Malaysia of illegal migrant workers have become contentious as they saw the handling by the police, immigration and RELA against illegals as humiliating.

We should go back to the basics and re-establish old ties in the form of students and academic exchanges which can contribute to improving bilateral relations. Networking and cooperation in multifaceted areas between Indonesia and Malaysia will be essential to sustain positive and good bilateral relation. The educational intellectual and social linkages should be re-established for deeper political and economic ties between the two countries. Relying on purely conventional diplomacy will not suffice.

The views contained in this article are my personal views and perceptions shaped during my service as Malaysia’s Foreign Minister.

[1] Literal translation giving the meaning that a relationship akin to the properties of water which is impossible to sever
[2] This was an exception as Dr. Mahathir considers the act of Serbia on attacking Kosovo an act of genocide Indonesia on principle did not support US action as it was inconsistent with multilateralism process of the UN.
[3] Paper on Managing –Indonesia Relations Post Mahathir years by Khadijah Md Khalid and Shakila Yacob

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Pada masa ini ramai dikalangan masyarakat asyik berbincang mengenai Artikel 153 dan kaitannya dengan kedudukan orang Melayu dan bumiputera. Apakah ia perlu dibangkitkan dan diungkit pada masa ini seolah ianya satu perkara baru?. Saya anggap ia menarik kerana pada masa ini, ia bertujuan untuk meraih sokongan politik. Justru itu ia diwarnai oleh emosi serta mewakili kepentingan-kepentingan tertentu. Akibat polimik yang keterlaluan ia boleh menimbulkan kesan negatif yang boleh menjejaskan keharmonian diantara rakyat berbilang kaum di negara ini.

Pada saya lebih berfaedah jika ianya ditinjau dari perspektif sejarah dan undang-undang. Persoalan samada Artikel 153 menyentuh hak atau kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu tidak patut dibahaskan dari sudut yang sempit. Dengan perbincangan sedemikian tidak akan lahir perdebatan yang rasional serta tidak dipengaruhi oleh emosi.

Kini subjek ‘hak’ dan ‘kedudukan’ telahpun dipolimikkan oleh ahli-ahli politik, akademik serta pengamal undang-undang. Banyak yang telah diperkatakan mengenainya tidak membantu dalam mewujudkan suasana tenang. Saya akan memberi pandangan terhadap isu penting ini dalam konteks sejarah dan undang-undang. Saya berharap ia dapat menyumbang kepada perbincangan tajuk dengan lebih rasional dan munasabah.

Dari perspektif sejarah, negara ini terletak dalam kawasan yang dikenali sebagai kepulauan Melayu dengan sistem pemerintahan dan kerajaannya yang tersendiri sehingga ia dijajah oleh berbagai kuasa besar pada masa itu. Apabila negara menuntut kemerdekaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malaya), dan kemudiannya Malaysia telah dilahirkan dengan unsur-unsur kompromi dan akomodasi. Jika diimbau sejarah, jelas sekali perjanjian Malayan Union yang cuba dilaksanakan oleh Inggeris ditolak oleh orang Melayu semata-mata kerana ia tidak mengiktiraf kedudukan orang Melayu sebagai anak watan dan Raja-Raja Melayu sebagai pemerintah mutlak. Masyarakat Melayu berasa marah dan menentang penubuhan Malayan Union. Oleh kerana tindakan ini juga Persatuan-persatuan Melayu telah bersatu bergabung untuk membentuk UMNO pada 11 Mei 1946. Bila pihak Inggeris sedar mereka silap langkah Malayan Union terkubur dan digantikan dengan perjanjian Persekutuan Tanah Melayu.

Apakah maknanya dalam konteks negara ini?. Pada saya ia dengan sendirinya memaparkan ianya adalah sebuah negara yang sudah ada institusi kerajaan dan pemerintahan. Perjanjian Persekutuan telah digubal oleh Sidang Pleno Inggeris-Melayu pada Jun-Disember 1946. Di akhir mesyuaratnya ia telah menghasilkan Perjanjian Persekutuan Tanah Melayu yang ditandatangani pada 21 Januari 1948 diantara kerajaan British dan Raja-Raja Melayu. Pada 1 Februari 1948, terbentuklah Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Perjanjian ini dengan sendirinya menentukan hak dan kedudukan Raja-Raja dan orang Melayu serta bumiputera lain di negara ini.  Oleh itu samada Artikel 153 menggunakan perkataan ‘hak’ atau ‘kedudukan’ tidak seharusnya menjadi polimik. Ianya berlainan jika timbul kehendak mana-mana pihak untuk memindanya atau menidakkan sejarah negara ini.

Perjanjian Persekutuan Tanah Melayu dan kemudiannya kemasukan Sabah dan Sarawak bagi menubuhkan Malaysia secara langsung mengiktiraf dan mengambil kira bahawa bumi ini bukan bumi yang kosong tetapi mempunyai penduduk dan kerajaannya sendiri semasa Inggeris dan lain-lain kuasa mula menjajah negara. Kesannya ia menjamin kedudukan Raja-Raja dan juga status quo masyarakat Melayu dan bumiputera. Masyarakat bukan Melayu yang lahir dan juga bermastautin di negara ini diberi pilihan untuk menjadi rakyat persekutuan dan kemudiannya Malaysia. Bila mereka membuat pilihan untuk menjadi warga mereka menerima apa yang telah dipersetujui bersama dan Perlembagaan Negara. Oleh itu setiap perkara yang dinikmati hari ini adalah hasil dari persetujuan dan pengiktirafan sejarah Malaysia. Untuk membahas dan merungkainya semula pada masa ini tidak menyumbang kepada perpaduan, keselamatan ataupun kestabilan pembangunan sosio politik negara.  Seluruh rakyat tidak kira apa latarbelakangnya perlu menerima hakikat Malaysia ini adalah milik semua warga secara bersama dan keadilan pula dilaksanakan mengikut perbezaan masing-masing supaya tidak ada golongan yang tersisih atau berasa tersisih.

Kedudukan Artikel 153 tidak seharusnya di tafsirkan dalam konteks bersendiri. Lagipula Artikel 153 tidak menjadikan orang bukan bumiputera rakyat kelas kedua. Mereka mempunyai peluang yang luas untuk terus maju kehadapan. Sebenarnya jika dikaji secara objektif kedudukan kaum lain tidak terjejas dan kemajuan ekonomi dan pendidikan mereka selepas negara mencapai kemerdekaan adalah lebih baik dari masa era penjajah dan terus pantas berkembang mengatasi pencapaian dari kaum bumiputera.

Ini tidak pula bermakna yang kaum bumiputera menafikan yang ada orang miskin dikalangan kaum bukan bumiputera. Namun demikian dari segi golongan professional, mereka yang terkaya dan pendapatan isi rumah, kedudukan kaum cina adalah jauh lebih tinggi jika dibandingkan dengan kaum bumiputera yang masih lagi di paras yang ke terbawah sekali. Begitu juga dalam soal pemilikan harta tanah ‘privasi’. Bila menangani isu kemiskinan tidak seharusnya ada bias terhadap mana-mana kaum. Semua rakyat miskin dalam negara ini mesti dibela. Lantas rakyat berhak menerima manfaat dari dasar-dasar kerajaan. Mungkin ada kepincangan dari segi pelaksanaan tetapi ia bukan berasaskan diskriminasi kaum.

Negara Malaysia bukan mudah untuk di urus tadbir kerana kedudukan kaum minoritinya yang agak besar. Berlainan dengan Singapura dimana kaum Melayu sudah menjadi minoriti yang kecil. Dasar kerajaan Singapura dari dahulu hingga sekarang adalah bagi menentukan kedudukan majoriti kaum Cina senantiasa tinggi, sekurang-kurangnya di paras 75%. Cara pemerintahan di Malaysia dan Singapura tidak boleh disamakan. Banyak kelainan yang wujud diantara kedua-duanya. Lebih bijak sekiranya tidak ada campur tangan dari orang luar dalam mencorakkan negara kita.

Adalah penting juga tidak dimanipulasikan sejarah. Walaupun pada mulanya ‘kedudukan istimewa’ dicadangkan ada tempoh masanya, tetapi ia rata-rata ditolak oleh orang Melayu. Akhirnya peruntukan tersebut tidak dimasukkan dalam Perlembagaan. Provisi ‘kedudukan istimewa’ dijadikan sebagai ‘entrenched’, dimana pindaan ke atasnya memerlukan 2/3 majoriti dan mendapat persetujuan Majlis Raja-Raja.

Ini bermakna samada hendak dipanggil ‘hak’ ataupun ‘kedudukan’, ia seharusnya tidak menimbulkan pertikaian ataupun kontroversi. Kedudukan dalam Perlembagaan memberikan bumiputera hak untuk dilayani khusus bagi menentukan mereka tidak terpinggir kerana ketidakadilan sejarah. Apa yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan adalah hasil penolakan UMNO terhadap had masa yang dicadangkan. Tindakan itu menyebabkan satu ‘tripartite working party’ dibentuk bagi mengkaji laporan ‘Suruhanjaya Reid’.

Banyak kekeliruan ditimbulkan apabila Artikel 153 tidak dikaji secara holistik. Bukan Artikel 153 yang patut disoalkan. Sebenarnya dasar pengagihan yang diusahakan seharusnya memberikan keadilan kepada golongan yang tertinggal. Jika dirungkai semula segala persetujuan dan persefahaman lampau di antara wakil-wakil kaum di negara ini maka ia akan mengancam keselamatan, keamanan, dan kestabilan negara sedangkan perkara itu patut ditangani secara berhemah dan dengan kefahaman mendalam terhadap sejarah negara.

Hubungan Artikel 153 dengan Artikel 8 adalah amat jelas dan harmoni.  Artikel 8 memperuntukkan supaya pelaksanaan undang-undang tidak diwarnai oleh diskriminasi agama, bangsa, keturunan dan tempat lahir tertakluk kepada peruntukan di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.  Oleh yang demikian, tiada ketidak-konsistenan di antara Artikel 8 dan Artikel 153 kerana Artikel 153 digubal dengan mengambil kira Artikel 8.

Artikel 8 telah digubal supaya memperuntukkan kewujudan Artikel 153 dengan perkataan “Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution” dan jika diselami secara logiknya, Artikel 153 yang menyusuli kemudian memanglah digubal secara kognitif terhadap prinsip am di dalam Artikel 8.

Kedudukan istimewaan orang Melayu di bawah Artikel 153 adalah pengecualian kepada prinsip di dalam Artikel 8.  Ini adalah disengajakan hasil perjanjian yang telah dicapai bagi menjamin keharmonian Negara.

Oleh itu, tidak timbul keperluan bagi Yang Di-Pertuan Agong atau suatu badan yang diperkenankan oleh Yang Di-Pertuan Agong untuk mentafsirkan Artikel 153 bagi merungkaikan maksud keistimewaan orang Melayu mengikut peruntukan Artikel 8.  Apa-apa percubaan untuk mentafsirkan Artikel 153 selain dari maksudnya yang sudah jelas adalah cubaan untuk meminda niat asal Perlembagaan.

Perdebatan bahawa Artikel 153 adalah tidak adil tidak sepatutnya dibangkitkan kerana keputusan untuk menginstitusikan kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu adalah dibuat berdasarkan keperluan jangka panjang serta persetujuan pada masa itu.  Isu ketidakadilan, penyalahgunaan kuasa dan rasuah tidak kena-mengena dengan Artikel 153 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.  Kita tidak boleh menuduh orang yang menegakkan peruntukan Artikel 153 sebagai tanda mereka menyokong gejala yang tersebut di atas.

Mekanisma pindaan perundangan juga adalah jelas bagi memperuntukkan supaya undang-undang adalah dinamik dan boleh diubah mengikut keperluan semasa. 

Apakah kaum-kaum lain secara umum tertindas dengan adanya Artikel 153 selama ini?  Pincang dan terdesak kah keadaan sekarang ini sehingga Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan dengannya “kontrak sosial” perlu dirombak?  Apakah ianya tidak lagi menjamin keharmonian dan sebaliknya mengugat keamanan?  Jika demikian maka terdapat saluran yang sah bagi membincangkan keadaan tersebut.

Persoalannya sekarang ialah samada pindaan kepada peruntukan Perlembagaan dan dengannya “kontrak sosial” ini adalah jalan yang terbaik bagi memastikan hubungan kaum akan menjadi lebih akrab dan baik bagi semua?

Langkah yang utama sekali adalah untuk setiap rakyat Malaysia tidak melihat segala-galanya dari perspektif kaum. Tidak ada gunanya kalau tuntutan yang berlandaskan perkauman tetapi ditopengkan dengan ‘keMalaysiaan’.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Sekarang perbahasan mengenai kedudukan Perkasa dan hubungannya dengan UMNO digembur-gemburkan. Masalah yang di hadapi adalah kerana adanya persepsi dikalangan orang-orang Melayu yang golongan bukan Melayu tertarik untuk menyoal kedudukan orang Melayu samada dari sudut undang-undang ataupun sejarah. Mereka juga menganggap dalam mempertahankan kedudukan orang Melayu UMNO bersikap defensif dan membiarkan persoalan tersebut dibahaskan secara meluas tanpa mengira perasaan dan sentuhan hati orang-orang Melayu. Ada masanya UMNO dilihat apologetik kerana kononnya jika mereka mempertahankan kepentingan orang Melayu mungkin mereka akan hilang sokongan bukan Melayu atau ia akan menyinggung perasaan atau sensitiviti kaum lain.

Pada pengalaman saya sejak negara mencapai kerajaan sendiri dan kemudian kemerdekaan, UMNO walaupun mewakili orang Melayu, sentiasa bersikap ‘Malayan’ dan ‘Malaysian’. Selama ini orang Melayu sederhana dan bertimbang rasa dalam menentukan kesejahteraan semua rakyat dan kemakmuran negara. Sikap sebegini tidak patut dianggap sebagai satu kelemahan oleh mana-mana pihak tetapi sebagai niat murni untuk menjamin keselamatan, keamanan dan kestabilan negara. Hari ini sering dapat disaksikan pemimpin-pemimpin kaum lain mempertikaikan soal ‘hak’ dan ‘kedudukan’. Sememangnya Perlembagaan Malaysia memberikan hak yang sama kepada semua rakyat. Namun hak ini perlu dilaksanakan secara adil. Keadilan pula bermakna meletakkan mereka yang layak tidak mengira kaum ditempat yang sewajarnya. Kerana dasar kerajaan maka kaum-kaum lain telah dapat mencapai banyak manfaat dan menikmati kemakmuran di negara ini.

Pada hari ini UMNO sebagai tunggak kepada kerajaan bukan sahaja menjaga kepentingan orang Melayu tetapi tidak kurang memberi perhatian kepada kepentingan kaum-kaum lain. Oleh itu ada masanya orang-orang Melayu sendiri tidak melihat UMNO menonjol dan bersungguh-sungguh dalam soal-soal melibatkan kepentingan orang Melayu. Justeru itu apa yang dianggap ‘kekosongan’ diisikan oleh NGO-NGO Melayu, terutamanya Perkasa.

Pada waktu ini penting masyarakat Melayu merasakan yang UMNO walaupun tidak mengenepikan permintaan kaum lain, tetapi masa menjadi payung dan pelindung kepada umat Melayu. Justeru itu UMNO mesti merapatkan dirinya dengan NGO-NGO yang boleh menyuarakan pandangan serta rintihan umat Melayu. Jangan menyapu sampah ke bawah permaidani seolah masalah tersebut tidak wujud. Parti-parti komponen  dalam BN tidak segan memperkatakan kedudukan kaum mereka serta tidak juga mengasingkan dari NGO-NGO yang berjuang untuk kepentingan kaum mereka. Apa salahnya UMNO mendengar perkara-perkara yang dibawa oleh PERKASA dan lain-lain pertubuhan NGO Melayu. Selepas itu imbangkan perkara itu dengan mengambil kira UMNO adalah parti kerajaan dan tunggak Barisan Nasional.

Menjadi satu kesilapan sekiranya UMNO menyisihkan diri dengan NGO Melayu semata-mata takut dianggap pelampau. Pada saya selagi NGO-NGO tersebut tidak melanggari undang-undang atau dianggap terroris UMNO perlu dengar pandangan-pandangan dari mereka yang mungkin berbeza dari UMNO.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Semakin lama jika diperhati semakin banyak kes-kes Islamophobia yang berlaku di dunia Barat. Bermacam insiden penghinaan samada di Amerika ataupun di Eropah terhadap agama Islam dan umat Islam. Seolah segala keburukan dan kejahatan itu adalah ajaran agama Islam. Undang-undang diadakan bagi menyekat hak umat Islam dan ia tidak dianggap melanggar hak asasi manusia.

Kejadian baru-baru ini yang melibatkan seorang pemandu teksi dipukul kerana beragama Islam, membakar dan mengoyakkan Al-Quran oleh paderi kristian, kenyataan penghinaan terhadap Islam oleh Ahli Parlimen Belanda Geert Wilders dan kesemuanya diberikan tempat di media serata dunia. Chancellor Germany Angella Merkel memberikan anugerah tertinggi kepada kartunis Denmark Kurt Westergaard yang menghina Nabi Muhammad s.a.w. kononnya sebagai pengganas, Salman Rushdi yang menulis buku Satanic Verses juga diberikan anugerah oleh kerajaan British dengan gelaran ‘Sir’, seorang dikatakan ulama beragama Islam dari Mesir yang menukar agama ke Kristian Katolik diberikan liputan istimewa bertemu Pope di Vatican. Siapa juga orang Islam yang datang ke Barat yang menghina Islam akan diberikan sanjungan dan kehormatan yang tinggi.

Bagaimana perlu kita menafsir sikap Barat yang sebenar terhadap agama dan orang Islam dengan kejadian-kejadian sebegitu. Insiden-insiden tersebut adalah contoh yang mempamerkan sikap benci dan bias terhadap agama Islam. Apakah kejadian 11 September tidak melibatkan orang Islam yang turut menjadi mangsa? Pendek kata segalanya disalahkan kepada agama Islam. Tujuan untuk membina satu Pusat Islam berdekatan tapak Ground Zero kini dengan sendirinya menimbulkan kontroversi dan penentangan oleh orang-orang Kristian di Amerika Syarikat terhadap Islam. Sikap tidak bertoleransi dan kebencian dilakukan di atas nama kebebasan. Pelbagai penganiayaan dan kezaliman dilakukan terhadap umat Islam setiap hari di serata dunia. Jika sesuatu kejadian dilakukan oleh orang bukan Islam ianya dianggap sebagai kelakuan jenayah tetapi jika dilakukan oleh orang Islam ianya dikaitkan dengan terrorisma.

Bekas Perdana Menteri Britain Tony Blair juga tidak langsung mempunyai perasaan terhadap umat Islam yang dipandang rendah oleh beliau jika kita teliti melalui kenyataan-kenyataannya. Apakah nyawa orang Islam tidak sepenting nyawa orang bukan Islam. Apakah pemimpin-pemimpin barat ini cukup bersih dan suci?. Mengapa kita tidak pernah mengingatkan kembali dan menghukum pemimpin-pemimpin barat yang membawa kematian dan kemusnahan terhadap negara-negara yang mereka jajah. Kini ada negara-negara yang telah mereka jajah semula diatas nama demokrasi dan kebebasan. Pemimpin Islam mudah dituduh melakukan genocide dan peperangan terhadap manusia dan pelanggaran hak asasi. Mengapa kita lekas membuat keputusan mengenai jenayah kemanusiaan (genocide) terhadap mereka sedangkan pemimpin Barat yang melakukan pembunuhan dan kekejaman terlepas begitu sahaja.

Pada saya tidak akan ada kerapatan jurang di antara Barat dan Islam selagi mereka tidak bersikap adil dan seimbang samada dalam isu Palestin, Afghanistan, Iran atau Iraq. Itulah pentingnya negara-negara Islam membina keupayaan dan bersatu supaya dapat berdepan dengan cabaran era globalisasi dan dunia tanpa zzsempadan.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Subjek tanggungjawab bersama ahli-ahli Jemaah Menteri menarik minat banyak pihak. Sebenarnya, ia mula muncul apabila sistem Raja Mutlak di Britain diambil alih oleh Sistem Raja Berperlembagaan melalui demokrasi berparlimen. Di peringkat awalnya ia juga bertujuan untuk menjamin hubungan Raja dan jemaah Menteri agar tidak bertembung. Namun demikian sekarang ini pemakaiannya adalah bagi menggariskan tanggungjawab ahli kerajaan dan bukan ahli kerajaan di Parlimen.

Bagi menentukan kaedah ini boleh dilaksanakan dengan berkesan timbullah keperluan supaya ahli-ahli Kabinet mempunyai tanggungjawab bersama dalam soal dan isu-isu mengenai pendirian Kerajaan yang telah diputuskan oleh Kabinet. Perkara ini telah diperkatakan dengan jelas oleh 

Lord Melbourne (Perdana Menteri) Britain ketika beliau menyatakan kepada Kabinetnya pada 1841:
     “Bye the bye, there is one thing we haven’t agreed upon, which is, what are we to say? Is it better to make our corn dearer, or cheaper, or to make the price steady?  I don’t care which: but we had better all tell the same story”

Apa yang disebutnya memberi gambaran jelas terhadap maksud tanggungjawab bersama yang perlu diamalkan oleh Ahli-ahli Kabinet. Dengan sendirinya ia perlu diterima oleh Ahli-ahli Kabinet yang mesti memberi pendirian dan kenyataan Kabinet yang tidak bercanggah dengan keputusan Kabinet. Walaupun konvensyen tanggungjawab bersama tidak dimaktubkan dalam undang-undang atau mana-mana akta khusus tetapi ianya diterima dan diiktiraf sebagai memiliki kuasa atau kesan undang-undang.

Perkembangan sistem Raja Berperlembagaan dalam demokrasi memindahkan hak dan kekuasaan Raja Mutlak kepada rakyat dan Parlimen.  Masing-masingnya tertakluk kepada bidang yang diperuntukkan oleh Perlembagaan.  Di sebaliknya di Britain kerana tidak ada Perlembagaan bertulis ia banyak bergantung kepada amalan konvensyen dan kes-kes yang diputuskan oleh Mahkamah tertinggi di negara tersebut.

Melihat kepada keadaan semasa, ada juga pihak yang mengatakan bahawa tanggungjawab bersama tidak boleh lagi dipakai secara total. Alasan yang digunakan adalah kerana bentuk dan saiz Kerajaan sudah berubah termasuklah peranan yang lebih luas yang dimainkan oleh media.  Mungkin doktrinnya berdepan dengan pengubahsuaian akibat perubahan persekitaran semasa.  Namun demikian prinsip dan amalan masih lagi dianggap relevan dan digunapakai bagi mengelakkan kecelaruan berkenaan dasar-dasar Kerajaan atau pendirian Kerajaan terhadap isu-isu tertentu.  Kesatuan Menteri apabila menyentuh soal dasar atau pendirian kerajaan di khalayak umum adalah perlu bagi menjamin kredibiliti Kerajaan tidak terjejas.  Jika setiap Menteri mempunyai pendirian tersendiri atau pandangan yang berbeza-beza di antara satu sama lain, kerajaan akan hilang kredibiliti dan menjejaskan kebolehpercayaan rakyat terhadap keupayaan kerajaan untuk memerintah. Tidak syak lagi perkara ini tidak boleh dipandang ringan oleh Ahli-ahli Kabinet oleh kerana ia mempunyai kesan mendalam kepada kerajaan.

Begitu juga dalam soal-soal melibatkan kerahsiaan Kerajaan. Jika setiap isi kandungan dalam perbincangan di mesyuarat Kabinet diketahui umum, ia akan mengganggu Menteri dari berbincang sesuatu subjek secara telus dan terbuka.  Saya masih lagi ingat satu insiden, di mana perbincangan dalam Kabinet disiarkan oleh sebuah media cetak secara verbatim (terperinci) termasuk nama-nama Menteri dan apa yang dikatakan oleh mereka.  Ini mendedahkan ahli Kabinet kepada keadaan yang amat merbahaya dan boleh menganggu kebebasan Menteri bagi terlibat dalam perbincangan. Kebocoran itu amat serius tetapi tidak dapat diambil tindakan kerana kebocoran dikatakan berlaku dari dalam. Ia memberi implikasi negatif terhadap Ahli-ahli Kabinet. PM pada ketika itu Abdullah Badawi telah memberi peringatan keras kepada Ahli-ahli Kabinet tentang tanggungjawab bersama dan kerahsiaan mengenai perbincangan dalam Kabinet.

Geoffrey Marshall seorang pakar mengenai persoalan tanggungjawab bersama menggariskan tiga prinsip yang menyebabkan pengamalannya menjadi penting dalam sistem  pemerintahan berkabinet iaitu:-
(i) Prinsip Keyakinan;
(ii) Prinsip Sebulat Suara;
(iii) Prinsip Kerahsiaan/Sulit

Ketiga-tiga prinsip yang disebutkan beliau ada hubung kait rapat di antara satu sama lain. Tanpa keyakinan rakyat susah untuk sesuatu kerajaan ditadbir dengan stabil serta boleh menyebabkan hilang sokongan rakyat terhadapnya. Begitu juga jika Kabinet tidak bersatu akan terhakis kredibilitinya dan masyarakat tidak dapat tahu apakah dasar dan pendirian kerajaan sebenar yang boleh dipegang. Contohnya dalam kes Zaid Ibrahim semasa memegang jawatan sebagai ahli Kabinet. Beliau sering mengeluarkan kenyataan dan pendirian yang berbeza dari apa yang diputuskan oleh Kabinet ataupun menunjukkan pendiriannya yang berbeza dengan rakan-rakannya dalam Kabinet. Maka akhirnya beliau terpaksa melepaskan jawatan kerana tidak mahu menerima prinsip tanggungjawab bersama. Bahkan jika ahli Kabinet tidak boleh menyimpan rahsia ia juga akan membawa kesan negatif kepada kerajaan dan boleh menyulitkan perbincangan secara terbuka dalam Kabinet.

Setiap Perdana Menteri memiliki watak dan style nya sendiri dalam memimpin negara. Pernah juga terjadi dimana, Menteri-menteri sering memberi kenyataan  yang berbeza atau bercanggah di antara satu sama lain. Ada masa mereka juga menyentuh perkara yang bukan dalam bidang tanggungjawab mereka. Insiden sebegitu merugikan parti dan kerajaan. Ia telah juga melemah dan menjejaskan kredibiliti  kerajaan.

Setelah memenangi PRU 1990 saya dilantik sebagai  ahli Kabinet Malaysia. Pada saat itu saya sedar yang saya sudah bukan lagi seorang rakyat biasa tetapi menjadi hak milik masyarakat umum. Saya juga menghayati pentingnya untuk menerima prinsip tanggungjawab bersama dan saya adalah salah seorang yang percaya  serta berpegang tegoh kepada prinsip tersebut.

Dalam soal tanggungjawab bersama, Ahli Kabinet Kerajaan atau Ahli Jemaah Menteri semestinya mempunyai tanggungjawab tersebut. Ini bermakna setiap ahli Kabinet mestilah menerima keputusan Kabinet yang telah dibuat dalam mesyuarat Kabinet. Oleh itu tidak seharusnya timbul pendirian atau pendapat tersendiri yang berlainan dengan dasar atau pendirian yang telah diputuskan dalam Mesyuarat Kabinet. Memanglah lumrah semasa mesyuarat Kabinet berbagai pandangan dan pendapat disuarakan tetapi apabila sesuatu keputusan telah tercapai semua ahli Kabinet perlu akur dan terikat kepada keputusan yang telah diambil. Soal ada pendirian atau pendapat berlainan tidak seharusnya timbul selepas keputusan.

Pada saya perkara itu mudah dan jelas. Kalau kita tidak dapat menerima keputusan secara bersama jalan yang tepat dan terhormat adalah untuk meletakkan jawatan. Jika ada perlanggaran terhadap  prinsip tanggungjawab bersama dan perkara itu serius maka Perdana Menteri berhak memberhentikan seorang ahli Kabinet ataupun memintanya untuk meletakkan jawatan sebagai ahli Kabinet. Semasa era Tunku Abdul Rahman, Aziz Ishak terpaksa berhenti kerana beliau mengambil pendirian yang bertentangan dengan Kabinet mengenai pembinaan kilang baja urea di negara ini. Perkara itu adalah sejajar dengan amalan sejagat khusus bagi negara yang mengamalkan  konvensyen berasaskan model Westminster.

Dalam Wikipedia  di katakan tanggungjawab bersama mengikut amalan konvensyen adalah prasyarat utama untuk Ahli-ahli Jemaah Menteri berpegang apabila berdepan dengan masyarakat umum terhadap soal  dasar atau pendirian kerajaan. Walaupun secara peribadinya seorang ahli Kabinet mungkin memilih pendirian yang berbeza terhadap keputusan yang telah diambil tetapi kepada masyarakat umum perkara tersebut tidak boleh diluahkan.

Menteri termasuklah Timbalan Menteri dan Setiausaha Parlimen (yang bukan sebenarnya Ahli Jemaah Menteri), juga perlu akur dengan prinsip tanggungjawab bersama. Justeru itu diwajibkan setiap Menteri untuk akur kepada keputusan Kabinet. Akibatnya jika ada pengundian berlaku di Parlimen ke atas apa-apa isu yang sudah pun ada keputusan Kabinet mereka perlu mengundi mengikut apa yang telah diputuskan oleh Jemaah Menteri. Justeru itu menteri-menteri tidak boleh mengeluarkan pendapat yang berbeza dari keputusan Kabinet. Ini penting bagi mengelakkan kecelaruan dalam memahami dasar-dasar atau pendirian kerajaan di khalayak umum. Jika ia berlaku ia pasti akan memberi kesan negatif kepada keyakinan rakyat terhadap kerajaan.

Andainya tercetus   hilang kepercayaan di Parlimen, kerajaan secara keseluruhan perlu meletakkan jawatan untuk mengadakan semula satu pilihanraya baru ataupun jika Yang diPertuan Agong berpuashati ada parti lain yang boleh mendapat sokongan majoriti ahli-ahli Dewan Rakyat, Baginda boleh menjemput parti tersebut untuk membentuk kerajaan.

Di negara ini tidak pernah terjadi di mana Ahli Kabinet  diberikan kebenaran untuk mengundi mengikut suara hatinya sendiri. Walaubagaimanapun, perkara-perkara sebegitu pernah berlaku di Britain dan Kanada. Tindakan sedemikian hanya terpakai dalam keadaan-keadaan tertentu atau kritikal sahaja dan tidak menjadi perkara lazim.

Bahkan dalam sistem kerajaan berkabinet semua keputusan utama kerajaan tidak dibuat oleh Menteri itu sendiri tetapi dibincang dan diputuskan oleh Kabinet. Bila Menteri yang berkenaan menyebut dasar atau pendirian beliau ia hanya melakukannya di atas nama kerajaan. Menteri lain tidak boleh buat komen terbuka jika tidak bersetuju tetapi merujuknya semula pada Kabinet. Apa juga tindakan Menteri  mesti didasari oleh apa yang diputuskan oleh Jemaah Menteri. Contohnya dalam isu tidak membenarkan penggunaan  perkataan tertentu untuk bukan Islam. Keputusan Kabinet terhadap isu tersebut telah  dibuat seawal tahun lapan puluhan semasa Dr. Mahathir masih lagi menjadi Perdana Menteri. Justeru itu seorang Menteri perlu berhati-hati  dan berhemah bila membuat apa-apa komen di khalayak ramai ataupun kepada media. Jika sesuatu isu berada dalam prosiding mahkamah ianya boleh menjadi subjudis.

Apakah sebenarnya kesan tanggungjawab bersama? Ia bukan sahaja menentukan disiplin dapat dikawal di kalangan ahli-ahli Kerajaan tetapi juga dapat menjamin sistem pemerintahan berkabinet agar tidak bercelaru. Begitu juga seseorang Menteri tidak sepatutnya membincangkan secara terbuka dasar yang belum diputuskan dalam Kabinet. Jika ia berlaku ia boleh mengikat Kabinet di atas perkara yang belum diputuskan lagi. Oleh kerana itu Perdana Menteri yang bertanggungjawab memimpin kerajaan sering mengingatkan kepada Ahli Jemaah Menteri supaya patuh kepada keputusan Jemaah Menteri. Ada masanya ia juga melibatkan soal menyimpan rahsia terhadap perkara-perkara yang dibincangkan dalam Kabinet tetapi tidak boleh didedahkan kepada umum.

Saya ingat dalam satu mesyuarat Kabinet Dr. Mahathir mengingatkan seorang Menteri mengenai tanggungjawab bersama ahli-ahli Kabinet. Perkara ini berbangkit apabila Menteri tersebut telah membuat kenyataan  di media cetak dan elektronik menyokong pendirian tuan-tuan tanah di persekitaran 2nd link di atas soal pengambilan tanah oleh pihak kerajaan. Dr. Mahathir mengingatkan ahli Kabinet yang tidak bersetuju dengan keputusan yang telah dibuat oleh Kabinet boleh berhenti. Walaupun ia nampak kasar tetapi itulah amalan sebenar tanggungjawab bersama.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Penubuhan mana-mana persatuan bagi menimbulkan semangat kesukarelawan dan menaburkan bakti adalah perkara yang perlu dialu-alukan. Begitulah juga bila Persatuan ZZZ dilahirkan, perasaan gembira dikalangan ahli-ahli baru terus meluap. Justeru Persatuan ZZZ telah ditubuhkan setelah mencapai Kemerdekaan, di atas niat dan tujuan yang murni. Sebagaimana lumrah pemimpin datang dan pergi seperti dalam mana-mana persatuan. Pada ahli, yang utama ialah mendapat seorang pemimpin yang adil dan bertimbang rasa.

Objektif Persatuan pun dibuat secara mudah untuk dilaksanakan dan dipatuhi, iaitu bagi menjaga serta menjamin kebajikan dan kesejahteraan ahli-ahlinya. Tiada siapa boleh menyatakan objektif tersebut adalah sesuatu yang tidak baik. Ramai ahli yang menjadi komited dengan matlamat sedemikian untuk membolehkan mereka memberi sumbangan. Lagipula ia tidak terlibat dengan kancah politik. Fokusnya adalah untuk semata-mata memberi khidmat bakti secara sukarela. Oleh kerana tujuan murni sebegitu lahirlah kerjasama serta semangat kekitaan dan kemesraan di kalangan ahli.

Saya mengikuti perkembangan persatuan ini secara dekat kerana saya memang suka melihat kerja-kerja sukarela diberikan sokongan konkrit dan bersungguh-sungguh. Saya perhatikan ahli-ahli memberi sumbangan pun bersungguh-sungguh tanpa mengira penat lelah selaras dengan objektif dan aspirasi persatuan. Tidak syak lagi niatnya adalah semata-mata untuk berkhidmat dalam kerja-kerja amal bagi kebaikan rakyat jelata. Rakyat juga menghargai sumbangan persatuan.

Suasana dan hubungan ahli-ahli memang ceria, mesra dan seronok kerana mereka dapat menjalin silaturrahim sesama ahli. Semua aktiviti yang dilaksanakan berjalan dengan baik dan lancar. Namun begitu suasana mula berubah bila salah seorang ahli mempunyai cita-cita untuk menguasai dan memiliki Persatuan ZZZ. Dia pula rela melakukan apa saja bagi mencapai cita-citanya. Selaras dengan niatnya dia merancang dan bertindak untuk menjadi popular termasuk menggunakan wang ringgit. Pelbagai pelan tindakannya telah disusun oleh orang-orangnya supaya dia akan tiba di atas bersama-sama kelompoknya.

Sebenarnya kerana sikap dan caranya bertindak suasana persatuan menjadi renggang dan tegang. Dari awal-awal lagi dia telah menanam perasaan dendam untuk bertindak menyingkir sesiapa juga yang tidak menyokongnya. Dia melakukan apa sahaja untuk memenuhi kehendaknya. Ada masa dia berlagak mesra dan ada masanya angkuh dan sombong. Sememangnya ramai yang tidak tahu bagaimana untuk melayan kerenahnya. Lebih menakjubkan semua orang jauh dan dekat menakutinya. Salah satu perangainya adalah dia menyimpan dendam keatas sesiapa yang dianggap menentangnya.

Bila dia mengambil alih jawatan Presiden tindakannya menjadi lebih terserlah kerana dikatakan dia banyak menzalimi dan menganiayai orang yang tidak berdosa. Dia terang-terang hanya bergaul dan berasa selesa dengan “geng”nya sahaja yang pandai ‘kipas’ dan memujanya. Kawan saya dapat merasakan seolah dia terdiri dalam golongan yang tidak disukai dan dimusuhi oleh Presiden. Dia tidak segan memulau sesiapa yang tidak disukainya. Oleh kerana itu ramai ahli menjadi hilang minat kepada Persatuan. Lantas tidak lagi mahu mengambil bahagian dalam aktiviti persatuan. Sikap Presiden meminggirkan orang yang dibencinya itu tidak berakhir di situ. Kawan saya yang tidak berdosa dan tidak ada cita-cita untuk mengambil alih tampuk pimpinan persatuan pun menjadi mangsanya. Ramai juga yang hairan mengapa walaupun telah menjadi Presiden, masih tidak puas dan terus bermusuhan serta berasa ada ancaman terhadap kedudukannya.

Kata kawan-kawan saya bila dia marah, dendamnya semakin memuncak. Dia sering memberitahu “geng-geng”nya “Tunggulah bila aku berkuasa aku tahulah ajar mereka”. Memang benar bila dia berkuasa dia segera melakukan apa yang dikatakan. Bagi mengelak dari dimalukan dan dihina kawan saya terus memisahkan dirinya dari Persatuan. Walaupun begitu bila berada diluar persekitaran persatuan Presiden cepat memberi persepsi semuanya elok, sedangkan keadaan sebenar disebaliknya dan terus bergolak.

Dari awal-awal lagi Presiden Persatuan, sudah mengatur apa yang hendak dilakukan serta bagaimana beliau hendak menguruskan Persatuan mengikut rentak dan caranya. Ramai yang tidak suka pada kerenahnya tapi semua orang takut dan patuh padanya kerana dialah yang berkuasa. Ahli pun tidak berani menentang. Mereka yang menentang pasti akan berdepan dengan padahnya.

Lebih buruk lagi apabila akhirnya dia menyingkir kawan saya. Berbagai alasan telah digunakan untuk tujuan tersebut. Presiden baru itu setelah mencapai cita-citanya terus melakukan perkara-perkara yang dijanjikan. Diluar mereka bercakap macam-macam hal berkenaannya. Tetapi bila bersamanya terus memuji kerana mereka takut berdepan dengan kemurkaannya kerana mereka tahu kesannya berbuat demikian. Boleh dikatakan Presiden memiliki dwi watak. Pada orang awam dia cuba menunjukkan sifat lembutnya tetapi hakikatnya dia menggunakan kuasa untuk menzalimi orang lain. Pada mulanya saya tidak percaya cerita kawan saya tetapi setelah lebih ramai memberikan cerita yang sama baru saya yakin. Kawan saya menganggap dirinya malang kerana tidak pandai memuji atau mengampu. Saya mengoyangkan kepala. Lebih buruk lagi bila ada dikalangan ahli yang menjadi tukang pengapi dan pemfitnah kawan-kawan sendiri. Presiden pula terus mempercayai tanpa usul periksa.

Saya terus tanya pada ahli dan orang lain yang mempunyai pengalaman, kisah mengenai Presiden, semuanya konsisten dengan satu cerita. Saya teringat balik lagenda dongeng dari Shakespear “Macbeth” dan “Louis Carol” dalam “Alice in Wonderland”. Banyak betul kisah lama rekaan manusia yang mempunyai kesamaan dengan hakikat kehidupan hari ini. Saya hairan mengapa bila sudah berkuasa mesti bengis dan garang. Cita-cita sudah tercapai lebih baik bertindak adil. Tidak merugikan sekiranya berbuat demikian. Tapi dalam hidup ada macam-macam perangai dan tabiat. Kuasa dan pangkat memabukkan. Semoga Allah s.w.t berikan pentunjuk dan hidayah kepada kita semua.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Saya merasakan yang dunia masih lagi terpukau dari mengambil apa-apa tindakan terhadap Israel supaya patuh kepada obligasi serta tuntutan masyarakat dan undang-undang antarabangsa. Pelbagai usaha telah dilaksanakan untuk menyedarkan masyarakat dunia yang mangsa sebenar dalam konflik ini adalah rakyat Palestin. Israellah yang telah melakukan jenayah dan pencerobohan terhadap rakyat Palestin. Sabra, Shatilla dan kini Gaza mencerminkan sikap melampau dan zalim rejim Israel terhadap rakyat Palestin. Bantuan kemanusiaan telah disekat dan dicerobohi, seolah apa yang dilakukan oleh Israel adalah perkara yang hak.

Dalam pertemuan Barrack Obama dan Benjamin Netanyahu baru-baru ini, Obama secara jelas dan terbuka memberi sokongan kepada Israel, dengan mengatakan hubungan Israel dan Amerika tidak boleh dipisahkan. Beliau secara terbuka menunjukkan simpati dan kefahaman terhadap program nuklear Israel. Apakah harapan yang tinggal dalam mencari penyelesaian supaya dua buah negara yang berdaulat iaitu Israel dan Palestin terbentuk serta hidup dalam keamanan dan keadaan selamat. Di dalam konflik ini, Israel tidak seharusnya dianggap sebagai mangsa. Mereka telah merampas dan menceroboh serta melakukan pelbagai kekejaman kemanusiaan serta terrorisma terhadap Palestin. Yang mutakhir sekali baru-baru ini mereka telah menyamun dan membunuh sukarelawan dalam kapal Flotilla diperairan antarabangsa semasa kapal tersebut membawa bantuan kemanusiaan untuk penduduk Gaza yang menderita akibat sekatan oleh pihak Israel.

Dunia tidak boleh menerima justifikasi keselamatan yang diberi oleh Israel untuk menghalalkan apa jua tindakan yang tidak berperikemanusiaan selama ini. Mengapa PBB membiarkan Israel melanggar usul-usul PBB serta undang-undang antarabangsa?. Apa yang dituntut rakyat Palestin dan masih tertunggak sejak tahun 1948 hingga hari ini adalah supaya dihentikan terrorisma yang dilakukan oleh Israel terhadap rakyat Palestin dan supaya ditubuhkan negara Palestin yang bebas dari belenggu Israel. Masalahnya pada hari ini dasar Amerika Syarikat terhadap Palestin dan Timur Tengah masih lagi dipengaruhi polisi zaman Perang Dingin. Pendirian dan sikap Amerika Syarikat dan Kesatuan Eropah terhadap konflik Israel/ Palestin perlu berubah. Matlamat untuk menubuhkan sebuah negara Palestin yang aman dan damai masih lagi tergantung dan ianya perlu disegerakan tanpa hanya mengikut kehendak dan rentak Israel.

Apa yang pasti jika disenaraikan setiap perlanggaran Israel, tidak dapat dinafikan ianya adalah satu-satu negara dan kerajaan yang beroperasi mengikut kehendaknya sendiri. Mereka tidak mengendahkan undang-undang dan pandangan antarabangsa. Mereka tidak menghiraukan sesiapa pun kerana mereka ada pelindung yang kuat dan gagah. Tidak salah jika kita merasakan seolah kehilangan nyawa Arab tidak menimbulkan persoalan tetapi sebaliknya nyawa orang Israel dianggap lebih bernilai dan berharga lagi.

Seperti yang dapat dilihat, masyarakat antarabangsa cepat mengambil tindakan keatas Iraq kerana kononnya Iraq memiliki senjata pemusnah. Sehingga sekarang kita tahu tuduhan tersebut tidak dapat dibuktikan. Hari ini dikatakan demokrasi di Iraq telah terlaksana tetapi Iraq sehingga kini bukan lagi negara aman dan selamat. Malahan ia terus dilanda keganasan.

Disebaliknya, Israel sah memiliki senjata nuklear namun negara barat mengunci mulut dan langsung tidak membangkitkan isu tersebut. Lebih istimewa lagi layanan kepada Israel apabila keengganannya menandatangani NPT supaya senjata nuklearnya tidak diperiksa. Namun tiada desakan atau tindakan diambil. Amerika Syarikat hanya meminta dengan secara lembut dan menjustifikasikan kononnya Israel mempunyai kedudukan unik dirantau tersebut. Berbeza pula bagi Iran atau negara-negara lain di Timur Tengah. Walaupun tidak memiliki senjata nuklear yang mengancam keselamatan Israel, mereka akan tetap dihukum dengan berat jika Israel membuat tuduhan bahawa mereka memiliki senjata nuklear.

Peperangan di Timur Tengah pada hari ini sering dimulakan oleh Israel. Walaupun mereka membunuh orang awam kononnya diatas nama keselamatan, Israel tidak perlu khuatir kerana mereka akan tetap dilindungi. Apa yang jelas ialah semenjak ia dilahirkan pada tahun 1948 sehinggalah hari ini Israel terus membelakangkan resolusi PBB, serta terus memperluaskan wilayahnya. Kawasan pendudukan Israel dibangunkan secara haram diatas tanah rakyat Palestin. Pelanggaran yang dilakukan Israel, semuanya serius dan bertentangan dengan undang-undang antarabangsa. Namun demikian tidak ada hukuman setimpal yang dikenakan terhadap Israel.

Kelakuan jenayah yang tidak dihukum ini membolehkan Israel bertindak sesuka hati. Masyarakat antarabangsa mesti bersungguh-sungguh menyokong dan melaksanakan pembentukan sebuah negara Palestin. Walaupun kini sudah dicapai persetujuan yang negara Palestin akan wujud sebelah menyebelah dengan Israel dalam keadaan aman dan selamat, rantau itu terus bergolak kerana Israel berdegil dan ingkar.

Tidaklah menjadi kehendak dunia Arab dan Islam supaya Israel dihapuskan sama sekali tetapi keadilan sejagat mestilah dipraktikkan dalam mengurus persoalan Palestin. Dunia mesti bebas membincangkan dan merumuskan pandangan terhadap pelanggaran Israel yang tidak henti-henti. Adalah tidak adil apabila sesebuah negara atau orang yang mempersoalkan Israel akan dilabelkan sebagai anti semitik.

Persoalannya juga timbul samada benarkah Israel sebuah negara demokratik yang tidak mengamalkan diskriminasi terhadap rakyatnya sendiri?. Sedangkan keadaan sebenarnya mereka menyekat kebebasan bersuara dengan cara cukup teliti dan halus. Apakah alasan yang sah apabila membiarkan Israel menzalimi kanak-kanak dan wanita?. Apakah justifikasi bagi mereka memusnahkan dan meroboh sewenang-wenangnya rumah-rumah orang Palestin dan membina secara haram rumah untuk penempatan rakyat Israel diatas tanah tersebut?. Adalah tidak munasabah apabila Israel dibenarkan memenjara Ahli Parlimen Palestin tanpa bantahan. Hairan juga bila Israel terus dibenarkan melanggar hak asasi manusia tanpa apa-apa tindakan dari PBB. Pembinaan tembok yang diputuskan oleh ICJ sebagai bertentangan dengan undang-undang antarabangsa juga tidak diendahkan oleh Israel.

Macam-macam seminar dan beratus resolusi telah diluluskan terhadap kekejaman Israel, namun ia terus bebas melakukan apa yang dikehendakinya. Walaupun begitu melalui usaha-usaha gigih negara Turki dan NGO-NGO antarabangsa termasuk dari Malaysia masyarakat dunia mula sedar dan mempersoalkan tingkah laku Israel. Saya yakin jika negara-negara Arab bersepakat tentu kedudukan rakyat Palestin akan dapat diubah. Mengapa dunia Arab tidak boleh memainkan peranan sepertimana Malaysia untuk memaksa Amerika Syarikat dan Kesatuan Eropah bertindak secara seimbang dan adil?.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Would you support the abolition/review of the Internal Security Act (ISA), in particular the provision that allows for detention without trial? Why or why not?

Although many have argued that the ISA has outlived its purpose and should thus be abolished in its entirety, it is my view that the ISA should not be abolished. Instead, it should be cautiously reviewed without undermining the importance of national security.

The ISA is still a necessary tool to curb extremism, terrorism and other threats to national security. What should be done is to review the ISA to ensure that its implementation and enforcement are in tandem with current development, and not in conflict with the liberalisation process which is taking shape within our country. In short, a balance must be struck between the need to protect and preserve human rights and the need to ensure that national security is not compromised. This exercise, however, is easier said than done. That is why the ISA must be reviewed cautiously.

In my opinion, the review should focus on the due process of law right from the moment a person is detained under the ISA. The right to legal representation, for example, should not be denied arbitrarily. The detainee should be given the right to legal counsel from the beginning of his [or her] detention, unless there is a cogent and compelling reason in not allowing him [or her] the right to legal access and representation.

The period of initial detention by the police should also be made shorter and subject to judicial review, which will mean the home minister’s power (as the minister in charge of the ISA) will also be subject to the due process of law.

These are, of course, just examples of making the whole process more transparent and open, to correct the misconception of political interference or undue executive interference in the ISA’s usage and implementation.

Currently, the prevailing perception is that detention under the ISA is politically motivated. With respect, I disagree. It should be pointed out that even within the existing framework, the home minister acts on the advice of the police and the ministry’s legal adviser. Based on the facts and advice presented to him [or her], he [or she] will make [a] decision. The home minister does not make decisions at his [or her] own whim and fancy under the ISA. There are procedures to be followed, and they must be complied with.

No one is above the law. But there is this new feeling, somehow, that politicians are above the law. If politicians act in a way that is considered a threat to national security, they are equally subjected to the same law.

Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?

In terms of the constitutional framework, we have two parallel systems governing Muslims and non-Muslims. However, Islamic law is only applicable to Muslims in respect of personal laws affecting, for example, marriage, and the distribution of assets after death. In this context, Malaysia is not a theocratic state governed purely under syariah law, except in specific matters affecting Muslims.

It must be pointed out that Muslims are also subject to the country’s civil and criminal laws. It is not a typical secular state either, as understood by the West, as the Federal Constitution guarantees Islam’s position as the official religion.

Personally, I would describe Malaysia as an Islamic country, not in the theocratic sense, but from the constitutional and historical point of view. [This is because] the majority of the population are Muslims, and in the Federal Constitution, Islam is the official religion.

How do you define your role as an elected MP? Does Parliament provide you with the necessary infrastructure and support to fulfill your role?

As an elected representative, you must first represent the interest of your constituency, and in the wider context, the whole electorate. As members of the legislature, elected representatives must look at their roles holistically. We are responsible for making laws for the whole nation, and thus are obliged to ensure, to the best of our abilities, that they must be just, fair and for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

In order to be an effective MP in representing the people’s interests, we must strive to improve the facilities and infrastructure provided to MPs. We should, for example, consider employing staffers like in the UK and the US to assist the MPs in discharging their duties effectively. This will allow us to have quality debates and discussions.

Would you support a Freedom of Information Act? Why or why not?

I do not think there is an obstacle or hindrance to information. What people want now is to have access to more information.

Personally, I have no objection to a Freedom of Information Act, but we must know and study carefully the subject matters that are intended to be included in this proposed act. There should be balance between the state’s right to maintain confidentiality and security, and citizens’ right to information.

However, I agree that we do need more transparency and accountability in some areas, especially when dealing with matters of public interest within the government or its agencies. This is a developmental process in a participative democracy all over the world. But whatever we want to do, we must view it from our own country’s perspective.

Malaysia’s democratic processes and institutions have evolved. I can say today there appears to be more freedom than before. Notwithstanding that, one cannot simply import an alien culture of democracy into our country. Democracy is unique and has to be nurtured based on our customs and traditions.

If there was one thing you could do to strengthen parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, what would it be?

Parliamentary democracy is a system of representative government in which the dominant party in the legislature forms a government. This party system within the concept of parliamentary democracy is common all over the world. Admittedly, sometimes, this party system becomes a hindrance or obstacle for an MP to really speak his or her mind as he or she is subjected to party ruling and discipline. It is quite a universal practice as well as a problem when you have a party system.

Personally, I am of the view that MPs should be allowed, without affecting or compromising their party loyalty, to speak their mind in a constructive manner. I would like to see a more liberal attitude for MPs to speak their minds freely, especially on matters of public interest. MPs should not be too partisan in all cases. They should speak objectively and constructively for the country’s good and well-being, rather than to score points and make political gains or mileage. By doing this, the executive can respond more positively.

Just because you are a member of the opposition, you must not oppose for the sake of opposing. I would like to see less politicisation when it comes to matters of public interest.

Do you believe in separation of powers between the executive, Parliament and judiciary? Why or why not?

Our system is based on the UK’s Westminster model. In any parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, as practised in Malaysia and the UK, the doctrine of separation of powers is sacrosanct, allowing checks and balances to function effectively.

However, due to the party system, where the executives are also MPs from the same party, there appears to be some obstacles to act freely in all cases. In short, there can be some grey [area] or a thin line of division between the two.

Judicial independence is of prime importance. It must not only be independent, but be seen as independent. Court decisions must be arrived at purely on the basis of law and judicial reasoning, and there must not be any interference or pressure from the executive, opposition or other quarters.

There have been incidents from time to time when the government or the executive has been accused of interfering with the separation of powers. This is a mere perception brought about by certain events which were manipulated by cunning politicians to gain political mileage. However, whether we like it or not, this has affected public confidence in the judiciary’s independence.

Be that as it may, the separation of powers must be maintained and preserved. While the executive must understand its role, the opposition too must curb their lust to politicise court cases for the sake of political gain. This will go a long way towards restoring public confidence in the judiciary as well as in the principle of separation of powers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

‘Keynote Address’ “World War II & the Rise of Multilateralism” At the International Conference on WW2

By Honorable Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar
Member of Parliament Malaysia
KL Convention Centre , 13 May 2010 (Thursday) @ 10.30 am

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Let me begin by thanking the organizers for inviting me to address the conference on World War II and the Rise of Multilateralism. I also like to congratulate you for holding a conference on a subject of great importance. To look at the past and to chart our future and avoid pitfalls. I am sure it is not the intention of the organizers simply to remind us on the atrocities but more on the lessons to be learned. I realize though that this is a subject, we can without any difficulty find voluminous materials written by historians, academics and war experts.

2. I was born in 1944, close to the end of the war and when the Japanese were about to surrender. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the end of the WW II. Though 65 years divide us from the date of the final victory over the aggressors who unleashed the most violent and murderous confrontation mankind ever saw, the lessons of the WW II must not be forgotten. The atrocities committed, the deprivation and violation of human rights and the acts of criminality were just ugly and downright frightening and despicable. Nonetheless it has been contended by some that the only way to stop a war against the aggressors is to declare another war on the basis that it is necessary to achieve peace. This is the paradox and irony of wars. Right or wrong is not an issue.

3. The far reaching effects and devastation of WW II are before us to see even to this day and age. We can view the causes of war from multifarious perspectives, be it political, philosophical, moral or social. There are those who would justify war by saying it’s inevitable as it is inherent in the culture of mankind. There are those who would attribute the causes of war to greed for power, the desire to conquer and expand territorial boundaries or regain lost territories. Personally whatever the reason may be I am just simply appalled by the kind of atrocities committed in the conduct of war. In my opinion, war should not be used as a tool of resolving differences and conflicts although admittedly this is easier said than done.

4. What is obvious, WW II brought about changes that resulted in inevitable transformation. Statistics have shown us the many lives lost as a result of this global military conflict lasting from 1939-1945. Even though no conclusive figure can be obtained on the actual number of casualties because many deaths were not recorded, it is believed that about 60 million people died, comprising of 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. The Soviet Union suffered the most, with 27 million deaths, almost half of all the number of casualties of WW II. The largest number of civilian deaths in a single city was 1.2 million citizens in The Siege of Leningrad. The total deaths, approximately 85% on the Allied side (mostly Soviet and Chinese) and 15% on the Axis side. In Nazi concentration camps alone, it is estimated 12 million people were killed.

5. It cannot be denied that many of the deaths were acts of genocide and other war crimes, committed by German and Japanese forces. The most notorious of German atrocities was the ‘Holocaust’ and the ‘Japanese Nanking Massacre’, where Chinese civilians were raped and murdered. This part of our human history can now be visibly viewed on films and documentaries. All of us I am sure would find it difficult to fathom the absence of compassion in the commission of the most horrendous crimes by human being upon another human being.

6. As an outcome of the war new dynamics emerged. European boundaries were redrawn, the United Kingdom became a welfare state, and the communist took over China and Eastern Europe. Vietnam became two states of North and South Vietnam. WW II also caused the beginning of many multilateral organizations including the United Nations (UN), The World Bank, GATT and later the World Trade Organization (WTO) and The International Monetary Fund (IMF). It also brought technological changes such as nuclear fission, the electronic computer and jet engine, to name but a few.

7. At the political level, the world turned from a multi polar world to a bipolar one, dominated by the US and Soviet Union, the superpowers. With the end of the WW II and the failure of the League of Nations to prevent the war, a new multilateral institution, the UN was formed in 1945. It was also the UN that was responsible for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 as an answer to the Holocaust and following the British undertaking under the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

8. After her defeat, Germany was partitioned into 4 zones of occupation. The American, British and French zones which were later grouped as West Germany and The Soviet zone became East Germany. Austria became a separate state from Germany, originally divided into four zones, which later was reunited as the Republic of Austria. After the Korean war, Korea was divided into two – North and South Korea. The war also created continental, national and local phenomena.

9. The UN Charter clearly spells out interstate relations and the rights and obligations of its members. The Preamble to The Charter outlines the reason for its formation. The UN is a byproduct of the failure of the League of Nations. The participation and support of the world superpowers namely the US and Soviet Union made it possible for the new UN not to face the quagmire of its predecessor, the League of Nation and gave it necessary clout and international power. Consequently this body would play a more active role than the League of Nations in world affairs, including fighting diseases and providing humanitarian aid to nations that need assistance badly. It was able during the Cold War to play an intermediary role at the diplomatic level between both sides.

10. One of the most prominent aftermaths of WW II was the adverse impact on the reputation of the imperial nations as they were no longer considered invincible. Indeed the war was an eye opener and led to growing sense of nationalism and patriotism amongst its citizens. It also marked the end of United Kingdom as a global superpower and the emergence of a new and dominant power namely the United States and the Soviet Union. The relationship between the two victors worsened and the military lines of demarcation became de-facto the new countries boundaries. This was the beginning of the Cold War and two blocs namely NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

11. When UN was established, it incorporated in its Charter provisions to ensure the shortcomings of the League of Nations are not repeated to avoid another world war. Due to this, UN was able to play an active and proactive role to prevent war as well sustain peace and stability globally. However, although the UN was able to prevent the occurrence of a third world war, it has failed to prevent and act decisively in preventing military conflicts within state inter and intra states. This multilateral vehicle may slow the process of open military conflict but it cannot constitute a guarantee for sustaining a lasting peace. This is because there is always that unequal relationship between states and the absence of a level playing field.

12. Questions are often asked, whether the multilateral system can establish an international order that would be just and equitable to all? There have been some suggestions that the multilateral system has outlived its usefulness as a mechanism to achieve global peace and security. The truth is even if there are setbacks the international community has not found a credible substitute to replace the UN. Under the circumstances, until a better, effective and efficient system is found, members have to manage and cope under the constellation of this system. It is for this reason I consider it absolutely necessary to be a member of a regional or sub-regional grouping in order to have a sense of safety and protection.

13. Many of us may think that with the appearance of a unipolar world and the absence of countervailing force this further emphasizes the imbalance in the current world order. The US started the war in Iraq unilaterally. Countries of the south did not like the stranglehold of the IMF economically. GATT (subsequently replaced by the WTO) a creation of multilateralism, is supposed to bring a more conducive and mutually beneficial environment for trade between states. Has it then been able to do so? Yes but it has benefited the economically strong and powerful nations more than the developing nations of the south.

14. The reality is that all specialized agencies of the UN are governed by multilateralism. Philippe Moreau Defarges in his article on “Multilateralism and the End of History” interalia said, “Multilateralism is the application of democratic principles to international relations”. What type of democracy are we intending to establish? Is it the desire to create homogeneity or to empower universal diversities?

15. The popular subject debated widely amongst politicians analysts and diplomats for years was their concern on the ability of the multilateral system to be sustained when its credibility and integrity has been badly undermined by unilateral actions. Some even say UN might as well be construed as dead but no solution was offered in lieu of it. However, many still consider it as a working and useful institution, that allowed the presence of multilateral diplomacy to augment bilateral diplomacy. The UN has undertaken reformed, but not to the extent that member states desire in order to reflect the current situation. Multilateralism is meant to function for the good and well being of the committee of nations.

16. Understanding multilateralism as practiced today is a very challenging task in view of the changing global geopolitical landscape of the world. For some of us we may have nostalgic feeling about the ‘good old days’. Be that as it may, for sure we cannot bring it back. Even the bipolar world a product of the confrontation era of the Cold War, has made the poor nations poorer. The multilateral system itself has gone through tremendous transformation since the end of WW II. What is clear is that the multilateral system is part and parcel of the UN system. The demand for the UN to reform by member states including Malaysia has been going on for more than two decades so that it is consistent with the dictates and requirements of today. Furthermore multilateralism itself is being viewed and interpreted especially by the dominant powers to suit their particular circumstances and situations to support legitimacy of their actions or inactions. There are about 5000 international treaties and conventions signed by states. New non-state actors and the NGO’s are playing more conspicuous roles.

17. During the Cold war period UN was not able to play an effective role as the P5 members were at odds with each other. Nevertheless with the end of the Cold War, international relations has somewhat improved but the issues of Middle East conflict, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan remained unresolved. However new trends have surfaced where internal affairs have been internationalized under the pretext of championing the cause of democracy and human rights. Furthermore Chapter VII of UN Charter has been used and abused. Another phenomenon confronting the global community is on the issues of failed/collapsed states issues.

18. The WW II remained a German-Polish affair until September 3, 1939 when Britain and France, bound to Poland by military pacts, declared war on Nazi Germany, pulling their then powerful empires into the war. In Russia, meanwhile, what is known as the “Great Patriotic War” started on June 22,1941.

19. For West European, it remained the so called “Phoney War” until 1940. That year, Nazis swept through Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and attacked Britain from the air, and Germany’s ally Fascist Italy entered the war. The United States found itself at war on December 7,1941 with the Japanese bombing of the US Navy’s base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

20. In the meantime American forces in the Pacific continued to press back the Japanese perimeter and in the middle of June they started an offensive against the Mariana and Palau Islands scoring a decisive victory against Japanese forces in the Philippine Sea within a few days. These defeats led to the resignation of the Japanese prime minister Tojo and provided the United States with air bases to launch intensive heavy bomber attacks on the Japanese home Islands. In late October the US forces invaded the Filipino island of Leyte and soon after Allied naval forces scored another large victory during the Battle of Leyte Gulf – one of the largest naval battles in history.

21. The most bloody conflict in the world history ended with the Germany’s crushing defeat in May 1945 and the Japanese capitulation in September 1945.

22. The unconditional surrender of the German forces in Europe and the defeat of the so called “thousand Years” Third Reich was achieved due to the close cooperation between the Allies – USSR, Great Britain and the USA whose leaders wisely preferred to put aside differences in opinions and approaches while consolidating their forces to fight the common enemy. This noble principle carried out by the leaders is outside the timeframe and should be followed by the Great Power even today and especially in the face of challenges we encounter in our unstable modern world.

23. Despite certain notorious attempts to rewrite history and classify aggressors as victims of circumstances, there’s one forcible argument that defeats decisively all the faint effort of those not knowing their roots – the judgement of the Nuremberg trial. No trial in the history of the humankind provides a better basis for understanding the real nature and causes of evil and brutality than do the Nuremberg trials that took place in the defeated Germany from 1945 to 1949.

24. On August 6, 1945 the representatives of the Allies signed the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, establishing the law and procedures that would govern the Nuremberg trials. After numerous witnesses and hundreds of exhibits that had been committed in Europe declaring the war: Unfortunately several criminals escaped trial and punishment by committing suicide or fleeing abroad. But the majority that had been captured by the Allies were tried and got the just retribution they deserved.

25. In over half a century the images and testimonies that came out of Nuremberg court rooms have not lost their capacity to shock. The trials also helped expose many defendants for the criminals they were, thus denying them a martyrdom in the eyes of the public that they might otherwise have achieved.

26. It is the moral duty of all nations to cherish the memory of the enduring importance of the victory over Nazism, Fascism and militarism and the genuine Allied effort that took place over the dramatic events in the world history. And it is the moral duty as well to keep firm to the rulings of the Nuremberg Trial that condemned war criminals who started the bloodiest war in the world history.

27. The most significant development of WW II for Asia was that local leaders were able to advance the cause of nationalism in the region, leading the way towards independence. This may have been the most positive impact of the WW II in this part of the world.

28. The war also resulted in the re-configuration of the world’s superpowers. The British Empire for instance, gave way to American domination in all parts of the world except for the communist bloc, which became a force to be reckoned with, led by Russia and China. The end of war also witnessed the emergence of the arms race spearheaded by the United States. Japan joined the rest of Western Europe and United States in becoming economically powerful. A new international political equation has surfaced, resulting in the emergence of conflicting ideologies and animosities which could once again set the world on the war path.

29. In a multipolar world there are many centres of power to ensure checks and balances that in turn prevent the dominance of any one single nation or group of nations over the rest of the world. This phenomenon of multipolarity and the balance of power that it ensures, need to be clarified and deliberated in depth, for clearer understanding and awareness of both current as well as future world trends to emerge.

30. The world seems not to have learned from history since we are still witnessing violation of sovereignty, oppression of the human rights, military invasions and operation, coup d’etat and other manifests of intolerance, injustice and brutality. Every simmering conflict could start a fire of another devastating war as in the Middle East, Afghanistan and other hotspots. This can be another beginning of a possible clash of interests of existing and emerging superpowers. This time the war may be fought between states and non state actors.

31. I hope that this international conference will do its best in helping to impart the culture of peace, trust, understanding and goodwill, WW II should have taught us to resolve whatever conflicts peacefully and diplomatically and surely not through the power of all-devouring weaponry. It’s the main aim of all of us to create an awareness that war is not the answer or the resolution for conflict or differences. Let there not be a World War III.

32. I am confident the conference will hence focus on the reasons that lead to the war and not to rewrite the history of the Second World War. There is a necessity to revisit the role of nations. The world paid a heavy price for the war.

33. Victor or victim, war is a great waste to both sides. As we are all aware war kills innocent lives, young and old, which of course a huge loss of human resources. Wars also destroy farmlands, towns, cities and irreplaceable ancient and historical sites were not spared.

34. As for the survivors of war, the bitterness, emptiness, disillusionment, hate and rage will have to be endured with each passing day.

35. Someone once wrote, “Though nothing can bring back, the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flowers, we may grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind”.

36. In concluding my speech I would like to thank the organizers of this conference – World Future Online Islamic portal and its partners for inviting me to this event.