Laman Webantu   KM2: 6586 File Size: 4.4 Kb *

| KM2 Index |

MGG: When challenged, charge them with sedition
By M.G.G. Pillai

10/1/2002 11:49 pm Thu

The law minister-in-all-but-name, Dato' Seri Rais Yatim, strains at the leash yet again to put his foot in his mouth. He cannot leave well enough alone, and pounces on anything that would make him look uncomfortably the fool he deserves not to be. Why does he go about his duties looking for something to say to make him look stupid? He ate his words once in office, and continues to at every opportunity. So it does not surprise that he now threatens to charge with sedition the PAS secretary general, Mr Nasharuddin Isa, for his comment that the Sauk standoff two years ago was staged. Those involved were tried for treason and convicted, three to death and 13 to life imprisonment. But the events surrounding it is not as clear-cut as the convictions suggest. Nothing is in the highly charged political atmostphere in Malaysia.

The Al-Maunah, the group at the centre of it all, is aligned to a group suspiciously close to a former and present deputy prime minister. What that link is not revealed. Why was security so light at the territorial army (Wataniah) camp that a bunch of amateurs could rob it of weapons not by laying siege to it but by brazenly driving into the camp and getting it. Why was not the camp commandant and others courtmartialled for dereliction of duty that in some country would have earned an automatic firing squad? Why did not the the defence minister order an investigation into it? That security breach is unmentioned. I nibble at the surface. Others I want to raise, more serious than Mr Nasharuddin's, would surely land me in the dock for sedition and worse.

In other words, the convictions raise more questions, all pointing fingers embarassingly close to UMNO leaders. There would be, no doubt, a perfectly logical explanation for this. So, why does Dato' Seri Rais huff and puff with threats that give rise to only explanation: that there is something to hide, and loose political talk or reaction, as Mr Nasharuddin's, could point fingers embarrassingly close to home. He, of course, had nothing to say of the Prime Minister's remarkable bout of insanity when he reacted in anger at Kelantan's PAS mentri besar, Tok Guru Dato' Seri Nik Aziz Nik Mat, for suggesting the Al-Maunah treason trial was a 'wayang kulit' (shadow play).

Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed retorted that the Al-Maunah leader would know when the noose is around his neck if it is or not. He made a similar remark a few years ago of his deputy's sexual proclivities, and for which he pays a high price every day since. Dato' Seri Rais would not consider that breaking the law. In his view, how could the Prime Minister break the law, especially when he does. Nor would the information minister consider it a breach of his cabinet duty to regularly play a videotape on prime time news that hints of PAS as a terrorist organisation, nor the government when it denies PAS-run states its due royalties from Petronas.

And so Dato' Seri Rais persists in his Quixotic tilting at political windmills. "The Cabinet is concerned over the trend of people treating serious incidents like terrorism as a joke," he said, and considered PAS's statement as the last straw." And to put an end to it, PAS or its secretary-general ought to be charged with sedition. After all, "it should be settled once and for all. We can't continue keeping quiet. It will happen again and again, even if lives are spent." So, the Attorney-General's Chambers is, to use the trite and tired phrase, burning the midnight oil to ensure the government is on the receiving end yet again. He contemplates not of the consequences of the charge brought. If the past is any guide, the trial would be mishandled, as Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim's, and raise more questions as Al-Maunah's, and the conviction would come just before the general elections. Conviction, did I say? Yes. When the prime minister's feudal role is at stake, the rule of thumb against the opposition, parties or individuals, is: first the trial, then the execution. Let Dato' Seri Rais tell me it is not.

M.G.G. Pillai