Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mahathir says those who want to take away Malay rights are selfish

Dr M says those who want to take away Malay crutches are selfish
By Leslie Lau

KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad continued to stir the debate over the special rights of the Malays today by describing those who advocate the removal of affirmative action policies that benefit Bumiputeras as selfish.

“In making use of the provision for the ‘special positions’ of the Malays, the post-1969 leaders came up with affirmative action.

“These are undoubtedly ‘crutches’ and crutches should be discarded as soon as strength is gained. Only the selfish would advocate throwing away the crutches of others simply because they have already made good use of their own,” the former prime minister wrote in a posting on his blog today.

The debate over the special rights of Malays has gained traction since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak introduced the outline of his New Economic Model (NEM) which promises the continuation of affirmative action which is based on needs and not race.

The PM has been sensitive to the potential controversy over such an inclusive approach by arguing that a needs-based approach would still largely benefit Bumiputeras.

But a number of Malay groups have been advocating an entrenchment of NEP-style affirmative action policies as part of Malay special rights even though the PM has admitted the current approach of giving a leg-up to Malays and Bumiputeras has promoted rent-seeking and patronage.

Dr Mahathir argued today that while the constitution did not mention Malay rights, “the mention of the special position of the Malays implies recognition of certain positions and privileges that they hold.”

“The leaders of the time, the Tunku, Tun Razak, Tun Sambanthan and Tun Tan Siew Sin understood the ‘special position’ of the Malays as the indigenous people of Tanah Melayu, the ‘Malay Land’.

“For this recognition by the non-Malay leaders, something had to be done to reciprocate their acceptance. The Tunku agreed to waive the conditions for becoming citizens so that one million non-Malays could become citizens with all the citizenship rights, ignoring the required qualifying conditions.”

Social contracts, Dr Mahathir pointed out, are obviously unwritten, and is an understanding based on trust.

He said it was a measure of Malay trust of the non-Malays that they were prepared to give up what they had gained in the fight against the Malayan Union to accommodate those whose loyalty to the country was unproven.

Since last year, the Najib administration has been walking a tightrope in gradually liberalising the economy, introducing a number of measures to allow the economy to embrace a more free-market approach.

In trying to open up the economy Najib has also had to manage the emergence of Malay groups such as Perkasa who advocate fighting for Malay rights.

Dr Mahathir has emerged as an important patron of Perkasa, a group which has warned that the Chinese community were determine to take control of the country.

Perkasa, while not openly endorsed by Najib, consists of mainly Umno members who still wield influence in the ruling party.

A growing number of non-Malays and even Malays, particularly those born in the country after Merdeka, are unhappy with the perception among such groups like Perkasa who appear to see affirmative action policies as part of Malay rights.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Handling of Capitalism: Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR: Capitalism must be very carefully handled although it is a good system, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir said events that led to the present global financial crisis, which affected the West very much showed that uncontrolled capital could actually destroy even the big economies.

Capitalism has many different interpretations, some declare it as complete free movement of capital into a country to invest and exploit while others feel that there should be some control over the movement of capital.

"Because capital is a very powerful actually can destroy an economy as much as it can build an economy. Many countries now especially in Asia are wary of complete free flow of capital," he said from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a question and answer session about the future of capitalism, in a video conference interview.

The session was conducted by Dr Frank-Jurgen Richter, the President and founder of Horasis: The Global Visions Community, an independent international organisation committed to enacting visions for a sustainable future, in conjunction with the Plus International Expressway Conference and Exhibition 2101, which ended here today.

Talking further about the cause of the present financial crisis, Dr Mahathir who is in the capital city of the Balkan state for a visit, said that governments in many countries abdicated their role because they decided that the market will control the economy and the market would play the role of regulating itself.

"But the market is about making money. So, when they saw a chance to abuse the system to get money for themselves...they did not hesitate," he said.

As such, Dr Mahathir said that governments need to regulate the functions of banks and make sure banks did not lend far too much money.

"The crisis started because too much capital (was) lend out without any proper consideration as to the prudence of lending money to the people, who actually turned out unable to pay their debts," he said.

Answering a question on the rise of protectionism in the United States and Europe, Dr Mahathir
pointed out that most countries in the world including East Asia had the tendency to protect certain industries regarded as of national character or very crucial to the economic growth of their country.

"So we had to accept that there cannot be really total openness...some countries will try to protect not by tariffs or physical blockage but by having certain conditions such as qualities...specification, etc...which means in effect you have become protectionist," he said.

On China, Dr Mahathir urged those who had the idea that China posed a threat to the world, to re-think about it.

"Because China is there and will be there, no matter what you do, and is going to be a great world power...but I think to curb China's growth and all that is not the right approach.

"You have to accept that China is going to be very strong economically and strong economies obviously must have strong military capability to protect themselves. This is not a threat to the world," said Dr Mahathir.- Bernama

The courts and the Law — Dr Mahathir Mohamad

I think it was the President of the Bar Council who pointed out that the law provides for a judge to accuse a person with contempt of his court and to punish him.

I am not disputing this legal provision. But we know of the cynical reference to some laws being an ass. In fact many lawyers would claim that the Internal Security Act which provides for detention without trial as bad law, and many have urged that the law be removed from the statute books.

The reason cited is that without a hearing in a court of law, the executive has assumed the role of prosecutor, judge and executioner. In today’s society this is a denial of justice.

But the same people, who strongly object to the ISA, support the law providing for contempt of court in which the aggrieved judge becomes the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner.

Clearly we are seeing double standards in the implementation of justice.

To say that the judge knows best as to the culpability of the accused person is to once again breach the principles of justice. A judge should not know and prejudge a case. He should be quite ignorant of the case coming before him and he should allow himself to decide simply based on the evidence put before him, the words of the witnesses and the pleadings of the prosecutor and the counsel for the accused person.

If a judge is also a witness to the case then he would be biased and cannot possibly do justice to the case.

There is certainly a need for a law against contempt of the court but it should follow the same procedures as applicable to all other cases including being heard by other than the aggrieved judge.

The charge should be made properly. There should be no arbitrary arrest before a charge is made. The accused person should be given his right to hear the charge and to state his defences before a judge who is not personally involved.

Court procedures would take time but in the case of Matthias Chang, there was really no hurry as he was in fact given one week to pay the fine or be jailed. In fact when he turned up on the stipulated day the judge was not available and he was told to come back the next day.

Yet when he willingly went back the next day to surrender, he was told that his arrest would be made in the car park.

I suppose this is again standard procedure but it would amount to additional punishment because it would humiliate him.

At the time of writing this in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am told he is unconscious because he had chosen to protest by fasting against the injustice of the way the law was used by the judge.

The Government may not be moved by his act but if it does not then it would compare very badly indeed against the British Raj which responded humanely to the fast by Ghandi.

Matthias' health in poor form

He is 'weak and dehydrated', says lawyer of Dr Mahathir's ex-political secretary

FIGHTING FOR A CAUSE: Chang in hunger strike in prison

KUALA LUMPUR: Matthias Chang's condition has taken a turn for the worse.

His lawyer, Manjit Singh, told The Malay Mail this morning that the lawyer was "weak and dehydrated" due to his selfimposed hunger strike.

Despite his condition, 60-year-old Chang, the former political secretary to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is adamant to continue with his hunger strike in protest against a month-long sentence for contempt.

"He is expected to be sent to the hospital soon," he said when contacted at 11am today.

"He doesn't want to stop his hunger strike, contending that it was a matter of principles. He is adamant, arguing that he has done nothing wrong."

His persistence has caused anxiety for his family members and friends.

Yesterday, Manjit had told The Malay Mail that Chang's health was "rapidly deteriorating" in the Kajang prison. Doctors at Serdang hospital were alarmed when Chang insisted on being returned to prison despite not having fully recovered.

Incarcerated on Friday, Chang was rushed to the Serdang hospital on Monday afternoon and placed on intravenous (IV) drips. When these IV drips were stopped, Chang still refused to consume anything and insisted on returning to his prison cell, reasoning that he could recover faster there.

"Chang returned to the Kajang Civil Prison on Wednesday morning but it was quite premature because he did not receive a clean bill of health to leave," he said.

"But because of his persistence, it's back to square one with the doctors saying that his condition is a cause for concern."

Stating his client has been frequently visited by family and friends at prison and the hospital, Manjit said the RM20,000 fine was not the issue.

"Many of his friends have come forward with the money. But, he has refused their offer. Not that he doesn't have the money either," said Manjit.

Instead of being in the comfort of his home a long time ago, Chang instead chose to share his cell with fellow inmates.

"Being a man of principles, Chang refuses to give in to injustice. That's why he's still on hunger strike.

"His family, relatives and friends are looking at alternative options of helping him without his consent. This is workable. Actually, anyone can pay the fine."

Chang was cited for contempt on March 25 when he refused to apologise after a spat with High Court judge Noor Azian Shaari and a lawyer during crossexamination in his breach of contract and defamation suit against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

He was ordered to serve a month-long sentence after refusing to pay the RM20,000 fine for contempt.