Friday, 22 July 2011

Protecting the royal institution

Brave New World (The Star)
14 July 2011

The monarchy is held in very high regard among many Malaysians. If we are to ensure that this high regard continues, then the royals must play their role as determined by the Constitution.


NOW that the Bersih march is over, I would like to raise an issue that appears to have been overlooked. Just before the march was due to happen, the King intervened and said he would prefer it if a street demonstration did not occur. At the same time, he acknowledged the peoples’ right to express their legitimate expectations.
It all looks and sounds very reasonable and laudable. Indeed, I reckon most people would say that it is. However, I would like to raise a small warning flag if I may.
Our country is a constitutional monarchy. This means that the powers of the King is determined by the Constitution. His Majesty’s powers are limited. His only true power is to select the Prime Minister and to decide whether to dissolve Parliament or not.
In the past, the King was much more powerful but his immunity from prosecution and power to veto legislation was taken away by a constitutional amendment under the Barisan Nasional government led by Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
There is, however, one power that the Constitution never provided for, and that is for the King to be involved in politics and governance.
His Majesty is meant to be above the petty politics of the day. In this way, he is above partisanship and also beyond reproach. Thus this seperation of royalty from politics is, in my view, a manner of protecting the institution.
What the King did when he made his statement about the Bersih march arguably borders on involvement in governance. It is of course his Majesty’s right to say what he wishes, but there is always a risk that his statement may have serious implications on public life.
As it is, both sides in the Bersih debate have claimed that the King supports them.
The Government said Bersih defied the King by taking to the streets. Bersih said they were merely following his Majesty’s request by wanting to have the rally in Merdeka Stadium, and it was the closing of the stadium that forced them onto the street.
Already, we can see here how all parties have dragged his Majesty into the fray. If the dignity of the monarchy is of concern, then this should not occur at all.
However, I am also worried that the royal statement may start a precedent where the King gets involved in public matters.
The danger here is that there is no constitutional provision empowering him to do so. And if he does so, he is beyond reproach due to laws such as the Sedition Act. That means that if the King gets involved, the people can’t criticise his involvement or his statement.
In a democracy, it is surely wrong that a hereditary — not an elected — leader can have such influence. This is not only because we the people can’t criticise him but we also have no avenue to show our displeasure via the ballot box.
Many people often point to Thailand where the king has a lot of influence in public life and is still largely beloved. All this is well and good as long as the Thai king is as respected and popular as the one they have now.
What if he is replaced by someone who is not held in such high regard? Such a situation, where a monarch who gets involved in public life and yet has all sorts of laws preventing the citizenry from publically opposing him, would lead to a system of governance that would be an uncomfortable mix between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy.
As I write this, I am aware that there are many out there who will be jumping up and down claiming I am being derhaka. This is another danger of the King making public pronouncements about issues on governance.
Even if the government of the day does not take action against those who criticise His Majesty, there will be plenty of little royalists who would love to take matters into their own hands, regardless of the resonableness of the complaint or the unreasonableness of the royal statements.
I come from Penang, which means I do not have an instinctive attachment to royalty, having never had a “sultan of my own”. Yet I realise that the monarchy is held in very high regard among many Malaysians.
If we are to ensure that this high regard continues, then the royals must play their role as determined by the Constitution. Only in this way can we make sure they remain untouched by the dirt of politics and the tenuous democracy we have is not watered down further by putting royal involvement in the mix.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Impartial referees matter

Brave New World (The Star)
30 June 2011

Without faith in the impartiality of referees, the beauty of football just goes out the window as doubts over his fairness will mar the proceedings, no matter who wins or loses. The same goes for the EC referees when it comes to elections.


WHENEVER Tottenham Hotspur play Manchester United, we Malaysian Spurs fans, we few, we happy few, will check out who the referee is. There are a couple of them (who shall remain nameless) whose names we dread every time this particular fixture comes about.
It’s not that any of us have any proof that these men are corrupt and biased in favour of the ruling team, it’s just that this is our perception.
And who can blame us, when a ball that falls a metre into the goal and should have won us the match is deemed as not having crossed the line by the man in black.
Now, before you Manchester United fans out there write angry e-mail about how I’m just another whining Spud (which I suppose I am), let me say that there is a point to all this.
Referees matter. They are important and they must be seen to be impartial.
Without this faith in their impartiality, the beauty of the game just goes out the window as no matter who wins or loses, the doubts over the fairness of the match will mar the proceedings.
Now, if referees are important for something like football, imagine how vital it is to have free and impartial referees for something which will have an effect on our very lives (and not just our Saturday night thrills).
I am speaking of course about elections and the Election Commission (EC).
Do I feel that our electoral system needs an overhaul?
Absolutely, and I believe it has to be much more than just the introduction of indelible ink and other such measures to prevent fraud.
Primarily I think that the EC has to be given the same status as it used to have before the 1962 Constitutional Amendments.
Bear with me as we delve into a bit of history.
Before the 1962 amendments, the EC had tremendous power and, more importantly, it had a great deal of independence.
Between 1957 and 1962, it was the EC that determined the delineations of the constituencies. And because commissioners had security of tenure (it was really hard to get rid of them as once appointed their tenure was akin to that of judges), their decision could be made independent of any sort of pressure from the government of the day.
However, in 1962, all that changed. The security of tenure was stripped away so that the commissioners worked at the pleasure of the Executive. Furthermore, the delineation of parliamentary constituencies was now placed into the hands of Parliament.
The implications are obvious. Whoever controls Parliament could then determine the delineation of the constituencies that best suits them.
And because you have control of Parliament that means you also determine the Executive. Thus, you will have power over the EC, too.
In the words of H.E. Groves at the time of the amendment:
“The vital power of determining the size of constituencies as well as their boundaries is now taken from a commission, which the Constitution makers had apparently wished, by tenure and status, to make independent and disinterested, and has been made completely political by giving this power to a transient majority of Parliament, whose temptation to gerrymander districts and manipulate the varying numerical possibilities between ‘rural’ and ‘urban’ constituencies for political advantage is manifest.”
I do not care who has the majority in Parliament, be it Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat or any other party that may pop up.
The current situation is simply not a good state of affairs because it can be abused by whoever has power.
So to those who think that the election system is hunky dory, I beg to differ.
And please don’t tell me that I can’t differ, because we are supposed to be a democracy and we have the right to express ourselves.

Wham, Bam that’s my Man!

Brave New World (The Star)
16 June 2011

There are many “soft men” out there who do not understand what it means to be male and as a result the girls start to get ideas above their station.


WELCOME gentlemen, welcome. Please take a seat. Anywhere will do. The serving wenches will be coming in a moment to serve your tea. Feel free to ogle at their bosoms and buttocks. That’s what they are there for.
We are gathered here today for the inaugural meeting of the Husband In Charge Klub or HICK for short. In the light of the creation of the Obedient Wives Club, it was thought that it would be appropriate for us men to have an equivalent society; something to help men in Malaysia truly understand what their role is.
After all, there are so many “soft men” out there who simply do not understand what it means to be male. It is these idiots who give us a bad name and they cause so many social problems. For example, they believe in women’s rights. This gives the wrong message to women.
Just because of a small bunch of sissy boys, it is as though we all agree with all that feminism rubbish. The girls start to get ideas above their station and because of that we poor men are not treated well and we have no choice but to have affairs and what not.
Therefore, for the good of society, we must set all men straight. Let there be no mistake, gentlemen, we are here to put things right in this country. We are doing a service to our nation. We should be as proud as a cock strutting the farmyard.
So, let’s establish our core principles and ideals. First, and most important, we are masters. Our word is final. We are the kings. We can express this through various means.
For example, there is no real need to actually talk to your woman. A grunt is sufficient. It is up to her to interpret what that grunt means.
In the first few weeks of marriage, you might need to help her understand by slapping her on the back of the head if she doesn’t get the difference between the “I want a drink” grunt with the “take off your clothes and wait for me in the bedroom until I finish watching football” grunt.
It is also great to have some public displays of subservience from your woman. Make her kiss your hand when you drop her off anywhere. What is important here is not the hand kissing as such, but your own attitude to it.
Don’t look at her when she kisses your manly digits. Look away as though you have something better to do. And remember, if you can zoom off in your car before she has the chance to step away, even better.
The next thing we must concern ourselves with is personal hygiene and fitness. The rule here is simple, neither is necessary. You can be as smelly and as unfit as you like.
She should learn to appreciate and to love your manly musk. And if you get overweight, well, it’s just more of you to love isn’t it?
Mind you, it is very important that this does not go both ways. Your woman must be as fragrant and as slim as on the day you met her.
If she gets podgy as a result of her dropping all those brats that you put into her womb, you have every right to complain about how unattractive she is and how it is because of her that you can’t get it up any more.
Now, the OWC is going to train women to be high-class prostitutes in the bedroom. This is very good. However, our women do not have the same experience as we do with high class prostitutes, so let’s help the girls a bit by telling them exactly what high-class prostitutes do.
On a final note, if they are going to be high-class prostitutes, then what about us? Do we have to be high-class studs?
Of course not, we have to put up with their incessant whining for jewellery, shoes, handbags, clothes, marketing money and all that. It would simply be inhuman to expect us to give them good sex as well.
Remember our motto: “Our Pleasure is Their Pleasure”.
That’s about it gentlemen. I think it is time for our tea break now. Ah, here come the wenches. Move your lovely butts, sweet things, we’re parched!