Saturday, September 1, 2012


 Playing the devil’s advocate, those who audaciously bay for Modi’s blood ought to recall that Congress leaders accused of the anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi are yet unable to extricate themselves from the legal cobweb. And the party brass for which they became the sacrificial lamb has conveniently disowned them.
Political theorists such as Hobbes and Rousseau have propounded the laws of the republic based on the concept of  rights and the corresponding duties of the subjects of a state. No right is unfettered but the duty is absolute. Modi did his duty in cosonance with the laws of the state. That’s why he righteou
PKR bus attacked by Perkasa ‘samseng’ in Kelantan
It was a first-year neurology seminar. The topic was “sleep”.  Somehow sleep seminars are always a challenge for residents due to the immense experiments and hypothesis on the topic, and the propensity of all this data downloaded in a go, to induce sleep in the audience. I wanted to beat that. But there were risks of talking light in otherwise grim academic departments. Grimness is still understood in medicine, as a sign of discipline rather than dullness. I started by stating three important facts on the phenomenon: 1. Sleep constitutes one-third of our lives on average. Point  taken. 2. At any given time, one half of the world is asleep. Made sense. Now statement No. 3. “Sleep is the commonest Indian pastime …”. An ambivalent hush, a giggle, and the beginning of a wrinkle on the HOD’s forehead. The statement was not complete. I wanted to open the topic my way, knowing well that a week’s suspension was almost a certainty. Statement No.3 was now completed, once the hush settled, “… sleeping alone is the second commonest”. Thereafter it was all about terminology, sleep studies, data on video recordings of snorers, people with seizures, etc, euphemistically called “sleep labs”. The suspension and reprimand did come, but let me come to some recent facts commented in Law.
Sometime ago, a case in the apex court on the police high handedness on the sleeping crowd at Baba Ramdev’s first conclave was fought on the grounds that sleep was a fundamental right. It was infringed upon by the police, and thereby the Lordships passed a stricture on the law-enforcing authority. As courts, by nature of interpretation of theme of law are sympathetic to the common man, the petition could have been argued on so many aspects, and still the court’s sympathies would have been the same.
Last week, Hon’ble Chief Justice SH Kapadia, brought up the topic, in one of his public lectures. He raised the question if “sleep” can be put down in print as a constitutional right and guarantee  as  singularly and as  stand-alone an assurance as the right to speech, or the right to follow one’s religion. He was perhaps pointing to the fact that though the court was obliged to dispense justice the way it did, the precedence set on the premise that “sleep was a fundamental right of an Indian citizen” could have repercussions in unimaginable ways that only posterity can reveal. The petitioners could well have managed an identical judgment on many other grounds as injury and breach of peace by a state agency on a peaceful sleeping crowd, and dozens of ways of describing torture to the psyche, of which the Indian lawyers have devised thousands of pathetic statements, that no legal brief is ever complete without compiling the first four pages on the types and degrees of mental ruin the client has suffered, even if they forget to fight the case on the “the point of law”.
Imagine if the “Society of Insomniacs”, (if there isn’t any, one can be registered in less than a week), starts demanding state-funded medications for restoration of their dreamy states. For the sort of population we have, perhaps petrol prices will have to be jacked up again to bridge the deficit. I believe “snoring” in extreme cases has been cited as a valid reason for divorce, but not without showing a haggish-looking spouse with dark circles under her eyes, who dozes and falls off the witness box even before the cross examination begins. It is a different matter if His Lordship himself gets into a temporary slumberous state in post-lunch sessions, in hot summer afternoons, under squealing ceiling fans!
The most slumberous of our citizens who are routinely seen napping in public gatherings are the politicians on the dais, waiting for their turn to blabber, politicians again, in either House, though the “elders” have been spotted  exercising their rights more often. Embracing discretion, I would refrain from commenting on those in the Chair, so as not to denigrate the dignity of these power houses of democracy.
Dignitaries invited to inaugurate science conventions, which certainly include medical conventions, are obliged to reclaim the front row, and attend at least the first talk. The “power point” is a great relief to keep their fundamental rights protected. They just have to anchor their elbows on the arm-rest, turn the head towards the speaker, and effortlessly allow the eyelids to drop as the lights are dimmed. Not to blame. Sleep-wake cycles are light dependent by the release of a hormone called melatonin. Thirty minutes later some neuronal rhythm is restored. They are escorted out by the chief organizer as the crowd claps, only to enter another inauguration an hour later, beginning with the patent, “It gives me great pleasure …” Most certainly, back to the seat it gives comfort, pleasure and slumber again.
We had a chief of the treasury benches some years ago, a man held in great respect by his party and even political rivals, who had mastered the art of taking micro naps between every three or four words. In a way it worked. People would get glued to the eye-closure rhythms, and twice the attention would be drawn to anticipate the next few words that would be let out. Whether this came out of a trick or compulsion is still not settled, but people often call him one of the foremost Prime Minister orators.
The constitutional validity of sleep as a fundamental right may still be debatable. Does the precedent set in the recent judgment confirm a law, or does this allowance need a backbone of legislation. We shall come to that after “Mota Maal” and “Blackmail” political strategies are settled in their true interpretation in terms of a contentious national audit. This is a stronger democracy. No comparison to the overpublicized American “Tea Party” clubs!
One Martin Luther shook America with his, “I have a dream”.
Decades ago I saw a film titled ‘Aankhe’, featuring actors Dharmendra and the late Mehmood. Its signature prologue in a baritone thundered, ‘Ush mulkh ki sarhad ko koi tchu nahi sakta jis mulkh ki nigaihbhaan ho aankhe (a nation on the vigil is impregnable)’.The movie made in the wake of the 1962 India-China war epitomizes what duty-bound citizens of a nation, irrespective of caste, creed and colour, ought to do. The actor-duo was on a mission to bust the enemy mole. And, acting in unison they did succeed.
Rajdharma prescribes that the leader has to be righteous in the dispensation of justice when a storm brews in the state, threatening the very existence of the entity he is duty-bound to protect. Making no distinction between friends and foes, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi did precisely what ‘rajdharma’ or righteousness calls for.
Mistaken by ‘hath-dharmi’ (the notional obstinacy), many a people accuse him of  engineering the 2002 riots in the state in the wake of the post-Godhra carnage. Some even let their imagination run riot, insinuating that he manipulated the Godhra episode to teach ‘Muslims a lesson’. Nothing could be further from the truth, for he, and he alone, saved Muslims of the state from the fury of the mob, post-Godhra.
Naroda Patiya happened because of the ghetto-mentality of the Ulema-(mis)led Muslims of Gujarat, in particular, and the nation at large. Modi acted in right earnest and saved the Muslim ‘ummah’ (the subjects) from the evil machinations of the ferocious Ulemma (the clergy). Or else, Gujarat would have gone a la Delhi following the death of  the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in 1984. He saved the nation, let alone Gujarat, from the impending catastrophe. That’s why he is righteous.
Modi gave the Muslim clergy a golden opportunity to introduce reform in the ultra-conservative Islamic institution at Deoband, offering Maulana Mohammed Vastanvi as its vice-chancellor. Alas,  the ‘ulema’, in collusion with forces inimical to national interest, conspired Vastanvi’s ouster. That’s why Modi is righteous. Any clue?
Public memory may be shortlived but the nation doesn’t suffer from collective dementia.
Post-Babri masjid demolition, the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao dismissed the Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh. As a corollary, the nation witnessed the 1993 Mumbai riots, engineered from across the border and meticulously carried out by anti-national elements within the country. Modi precluded such a diabolical act in Gujarat and elsewhere in India, only in national interest. That is why he’s righteous.
Those who accuse the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government of  culpability for an act of omission (as he did not dismiss the Modi government in 2002) better know their jurisprudence well. For Congress’ legal-eagles it’s rather too early to celebrate.
Here is a freer world that allows you at least one dream a day as a fundamental right, but to be aptly modest, one may say a “fundamental pastime”!
The most recent act by UMNO to try and kill off Anwar with a lowly sex video moved me to write this article.
Because it increasingly feels like we are living in a country run by GANGSTERS.
What characterizes gangsters?
Is there any difference between what GANGSTERS do and what UMNO is doing?
Use of force, fear, bribes, threats, violence, deceit, unchallengeable positions, indulgence, and parasitic existence and not worrying about appearances would be a reasonable answer to the first question.
To answer the second question “Is there any difference?”
Playing the devil’s advocate, those who audaciously bay for Modi’s blood ought to recall that Congress leaders accused of the anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi are yet unable to extricate themselves from the legal cobweb. And the party brass for which they became the sacrificial lamb has conveniently disowned them.Political theorists such as Hobbes and Rousseau have propounded the laws of the republic based on the concept of  rights and the corresponding duties of the subjects of a state. No right is unfettered but the duty is absolute. Modi did his duty in cosonance with the laws of the state. That’s why he righteou
I will examine how UMNO performs in many of these dimensions to answer that question.
    1. Force –The Police, the Attorney General’s office, the Courts (I will call them the Unholy Trio from now on) are the instruments of force of UMNO.You see them figuring prominently in all occasions where UMNO’s lawlessness are questioned.
      Being involved with Hindraf Makkal Sakthi, I can tell you that, without batting an eyelid– our people are constantly threatened with detention under ISA, or with charges of sedition, or are charged with being involved in an illegal organization after UMNO unconstitutionally and unlawfully outlawed Hindraf.
      The form of force used and the way it is administered may vary in specifics between the gangsters and UMNO but in essence they are the same – UMNO and the gangsters equally resort to force because that is the sole source of their power.
      UMNO has lost its moral legitimacy in its claim for power and hangs on to power only because of the control of the instruments of force – the Unholy Trio being the prime instruments.
      The gangsters never had moral or legitimate basis for claims to power, their claim to power hinges only on one thing – the use of raw and brutal force.
    1. Fear – UMNO so readily instills fear just like the local gangsters.UMNO uses the Unholy Trio along with the Media, and when necessary the underworld members to achieve this. The Police have a special unit the Special Branch just for this – the Malaysian Gestapo.
      Every so often we see battalions of the Light Strike Force or the Federal Reserve Units to disallow, to disrupt, to frighten off citizen’s gatherings.
      You should have seen the hundreds at the anti –Interlok forums throughout the country and the thousands at KLCC for Hindraf’s Solidarity March against UMNO’s racism.
      This is exactly what the local gang boss. Putting in the fear of god they say.What the gang boss does is what UMNO is doing.
    2. Threats – The laws enacted by UMNO – ISA, Publishing and Printing Presses Act, Official Secrets Act, Seditions Act, Police Act and even the MACC are all actually devices crafted by UMNO that threaten all those that dare cross the line.This is the primary purpose of these acts and organizations, though more noble intentions are proffered to legitimize them. But the true intentions of these are to act as a sword over the heads of any that dare.
      The Media for its part carries statements from time to time from the Ministers, from the IGP, from the Attorney General,from UMNO stalwarts, from Right wing Perkasa or carries images and reports of the Police overpowering any attempts to challenge them or of right wing demonstrations threatening the rest.
      But the purpose is one – to pre-empt potential trouble makers.
      The gang bosses just use outright threats, they do not need these more sophisticated devices.
      As the saying goes, cut the throat of one chicken in front of all the monkeys so the monkeys will behave themselves. In that sense the devices of threatening may be different but both UMNO and Gangsters use threats to remain in power.
    3. Violence – What happened in Kampung Medan in 2005 is a clear example of the workings of the Unholy Trio, the Media and the underworld in the meting out violence whenever they see a need.A little further back we had the May 13th riots and May 13th is still a keyword for violence . Hundreds of police killing and maiming continue till today in UMNO’s Police Stations.
      The Police in the fore and the Armed Forces at the back are nothing more than UMNO’s killing machines.
      The threat of violence that UMNO can unleash, should it decide to, is what holds much of the opposition back. Violence is the bread and butter of gangsters and it is the bread and butter of UMNO.
      UMNO and the gangsters understand this very well.
    4. Bribes – When expediency requires and it is wiser, then UMNO bribes to clear their way of trouble makers.They buy up leaders of groups outside their circle of influence. They make “mafia offers”. They use skeletons in cupboards to assist them, as we see regularly happening in buying up of the opposition members of the legislature. Other forms of bribe, we see at election times.
      There is a free flow of gifts, goodies and promises. These are tidbits used to corrupt and remove obstacles or create perceptions while UMNO walks away with the loot – to UMNO these bribes are nothing more than the cost of doing business.
      Gangsters for their part use bribes to share their bounty when attempting to get at very large bounties. It is a cost of doing business for them too.
    5. Unchallengeable positions – UMNO’s positions on issues are unchallengeable, just like it is with the local gangster. You challenge at the risk of losing everything.When you challenge they fight tooth and nail so you do not get what you seek, on the contrary they make you lose further with intense vindictiveness. Case in point is the Interlok novel. The book remains in the curriculum and the rest who voiced dissatisfaction get beaten up and charged in courts for speaking up, but the book remains in the curriculum.
      Another clear case in point is what UMNO is doing to Anwar Ibrahim. He gets all kinds of s*** thrown at him and with increasing frequency just because he dares to challenge the UMNOPutras.
      Challenge at great personal risk – they will ruin you if they can. Their position must not be challenged. This is very clearly the ways of gangsters too.
      The hallmark of a gangleader is one who has overcome all those who have challenged him and anyone who challenges the leader must lose or the leader loses his basis to continue as a leader. Exactly the case with Najib –ala UMNO and UMNO ala the people.
    6. Deceit – “Biji setelor, rio sekampung” as the Malay proverb goes. UMNO throws a tid bit here, a tidbit there and the media steps in and creates perceptions of a totally benevolent and caring UMNO.UMNO holds the reins of the media tight. UMNO is able to manufacture perceptions in people that are so far removed from the truth that the lies are more real the reality itself. You speak the truth and no one listens to you, for they think you distort, for personal advantage.
      UMNO has established monopoly over their minds and UMNO will do with it what they want. They deceive the people and leave the rest of us biting the mud.
      UMNO caught between getting the non-Malay votes and increasing their appeal to the Malays use their outsource vehicle,
      Perkasa to create a perception of the Malays losing out to the non-Malays because the Malays are split.
      The reality is both the Malay And non-Malay people are losing out to the UMNO leaders and their Non-Malay elite accomplices as they use this perception to delude the people and walk off with the loot. No one really listens to this truth, they think it is distorted for personal use. This is a very refined deceit-making machine that we are up against.
      On this count UMNO has improved over the gangsters, recognizing they have to operate within a community of nations and have to be seen to be in accord with norms of civilization. They worry about how they will be perceived, they need to legitimize their position, the gangster does not have to.
So, except for this last point there is really not much difference between gangsters running this country and UMNO running this country.UMNO is nothing short of being dignified gangsters. This truth may look far- fetched, but you think about what I have said, deeply. Just think about it.
If you agree, then do not be the person UMNO, the gangster wants you to be, the meek and powerless person. Look at what is happening in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.
When all the people get together, the empire crumbles, because the true sovereign is the people united. We have to move out and into the light, to a future based on competence, not on force.
The people have to get out from the grips of gangsters.
It’s an age-old question, pondered by both moody adolescents and adults in the throes of midlife crises: Am I normal?
First, making society more equitable, yet more educated and competitive globally. The BN, the Pakatan said, has failed. There are pockets of wealth, education is on the decline in standards and Malaysia is generally not competitive if subsidies are removed.
How will Pakatan better the BN in making society more equitable? Higher spending on education has not worked so long as education is not managed rationally and with a merit-based system in place. More importantly, who in the Pakatan will lead this initiative?
Secondrace and religion will continue to be thorny issues. More so when coupled with economic development or the lack of it, as in the case of certain segments of the Indian Malaysian community.
Cross-Generational poverty
Hindraf leaders are correct when they ask the BN and PR to explain their strategies to alleviate cross-generational poverty and its associated social ills that have plagued certain segments of the Indian Malaysian community. I dare say that there are also equally serious pockets of poverty in Sabah and Sarawak.
Ultimately, effective and sustainable policies to deal with this problem have to take into consideration how Malaysia is predicated on ethnicity and religious divisions.
Inherited from the British, ethnic categorisation has given rise to ethnic profiling. This has resulted in certain ethnic groups getting the rough and short-end of the “stick”. In what way will Pakatan deal with this problem that is more systematic and effective than the BN?
Can Pakatan describe these policies and how it will ensure that policies are ultimately translated into practice? The BN also has a raft of very good policies but they are not implemented. If the BN’s failure is systemic, meaning that its ethnic-based policies are part of the problem, what is Pakatan’s solution?
Ultimately, the real measure of success will be the end of movements like Hindraf, when Malaysians of whatever ethnic complexion find little need to support ethnic-based affirmative action.
Third, it has to do with the transformation of the Malaysian economy. There is no doubt that we cannot continue to rely on Petronas to subsidise everything from Proton to sugar. We must get productivity up without spending our children’s legacy.
Here, corruption is only one reason why there is widespread anger against the BN. But how will Pakatan get to grips with the underlying problem? Malaysia is just not as efficient and productive as it should be.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will be the first to tell you that there is only so much cost-cutting measures and savings from corruption will go. After the honeymoon period is over, how will Penang move forward into the post-industrial era?
Services will be one answer, but how to up standards when three-quarters of the workforce is not properly trained or educated? Penang suffers from a huge brain-drain: so, how to turn the situation around and create brain-gain?
Whatever happens to Penang will happen to Malaysia, except that Malaysia will not do as well. It was so during the days of trade and commerce; and it was so during the manufacturing period where Penang’s growth was on average 2% points higher than that of Malaysia.
So, here is a problem that involves both short- and long-term policy changes. Can someone in Pakatan please tell us how they are going to deal with it? Once again, who will lead the charge?If the ‘angel’ turns out to be worse?
Next comes the question of BN legacy issues. Pakatan has gone to town listing a raft of BN wrong-doings. From independent power-producers to the judiciary; how will Pakatan overhaul the system to make sure that the goose is not killed in the process of reform?
In most countries that experience regime change for the first time, there are two ways that things pan out. First, like in Kenya, the “angel you don’t know”, turns out to be worse than the regime you kicked out. It is “our turn to eat” as they say in Kenya.
With former UMNO elements in PKR, including Anwar Ibrahim, this is a very real concern. Next, things turn really bad before they get any better. One sees this in most European countries in the early modern period. Again, how will Pakatan go about instilling discipline among its ranks and making sure that all its members follow the new rules and standards it intends to set?
Finally, democratisation is key to making sure items one to four are kept in good order. The BN is now doing window dressing, replacing odious laws that regulate individual freedom with ones that are worse and even more draconian.
Even the BN’s own rank-and-file are not happy with newly passed legislation. Pakatan has highlighted this and a lack of local level democracy like local elections as part of it public manifesto, the Buku Jingga.
How will Pakatan go about guaranteeing the freedoms of its own critics without resorting to the law, the courts and Police to silence them? Even if they are as “extreme” as PERKASA, how will Pakatan deal with demonstrations, student activism and civil society movements?
If it reintroduces local elections and a strong opposition to it emerges, what will Pakatan vow not to do to make sure that local elections and local government truly become a third level of democratic representation?
Devolving of power from Putrajaya
Equally important and related to democratisation is the devolving of power from Putrajaya to the state capitals. This involves giving states more incentives to balance their budgets and putting greater pressure on non-performing state governments to become more efficient.
At the same time, those states that are doing better should be rewarded with more fiscal autonomy. Will Pakatan make the necessary sacrifices at federal level to give away power to the states?
The five issues above are all inter-related and Pakatan should make a systematic effort to describe how a government it leads can do better than the current BN on all these matters. Of course, there is one thing that Mahathir said, which may be true – if Pakatan comes to power, the BN may never recover.
This is not so much because Pakatan will use its authority to crush the BN but because the BN is a coalition of convenience. Once power is removed, the reason for being dissolves. It is not that Pakatan will use extra-constitutional means to prevent the BN from coming back, it is the BN that, without power, will disintegrate.
That is also an outcome that we do not want for Malaysia. It is best to keep the two political camps alive, competing and in perpetual “gratefulness” to the electorate.
If politicians are all power-hungry and corrupt feral beasts, it is better to have two groups of thieves jealously guarding against each other, rather than being dependent on any one. In the end, there are no angels in politics, just whiter devils.
 There was Eid-like euphoria in the 1,000-odd houses of Naroda Patia which bore the brunt of mayhem in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Heavy rain in Ahmedabad on Friday did not dampen the spirits.
“It was a late Eid — one after 10 years. I haven’t seen so many smiling faces in Naroda Patia over the past decade, which we spent praying for this day,” said Dilawar Saiyad, 74, one of the prime witnesses in the case against BJP MLA Maya Kodnani. “I had lost faith in everything, but the judgment has proved that not all is bad in my India.”
As the 32 convicts in the Naroda Patia massacre were awarded punishment, the families of victims and witnesses breathed a sigh of relief. Even those who had moved out of the locality for a day fearing a backlash returned home in the evening to join their society members. With securitymen dotting all lanes of Naroda Patia, residents checked their jubilation and shared the joy of their victory in small groups. The most elated were the survivors and witnesses who for the past four years had stood behind the case despite all odds.
“I was offered lakhs of rupees to change my statement and was also threatened,” said Harun Sheikh, a rickshaw driver. “I had lost 10 people in my family, including my son and wife. I didn’t want their lives to go waste and fought for justice. Today, I feel they would be happy with our victory too.”
But as Patia remained alive, the mood was sombre in Hindu neighbourhoods of Kubernagar (Kodnani’s home turf), Chharanagar, Meghaninagar and parts of Naroda, home to most of the convicts. Security arrangements remained tight as many shopkeepers voluntary observed bandh to protest the verdict. Tension even prevailed in the Mahajanvas area near Naroda Patia.
At Patia, the most excited of all witnesses was 29-year-old Shakila Bano, a tailor. “I have lived most of my life hidden inside the veil which I threw away in 2008 and pulled up my socks to nail the culprits. Today, I feel the happiest… I feel like flying.”

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