Reduced To Ranks

An Indian man displays the indelible ink mark on his finger after casting his vote in Mumbai India - source www.dailymail.co.uk
An Indian man displays the indelible ink mark on his finger after casting his vote in Mumbai India – source http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Another Air Force personnel has been punished after being found guilty of more or less the same case as former Major Zaidi Ahmad. Quoting an unnamed source, the Malaysian Insider reported that Flight Sergeant Jamal Ibrahim “…was not brought to court but was still punished for the alleged offence,” something that I find outrageously absurd.  However, coming from the Malaysian Insider, I am not at all surprised.

The source said Jamal was given an option whether to fight his case in the martial court or be tried by the commanding officer and he chose the latter.
Before this gets blown by idiots who do not understand the system, first of all, whiners should not join the Armed Forces.  If you have problems following orders, get a pound for yourself at the SPCA or at a similar organisation.  Secondly, people are already starting to say that Zaidi’s dismissal from the service versus Jamal’s reduction of rank reeks of political arm twisting.
Zaidi was an officer. Jamal is not.  An officer holds the King’s Commission, an enlisted man does not.  An enlisted man’s rank is given by the service chief. An officer up to the rank of Captain gets his promotion from the Armed Forces Council, while Major and above get it from the King himself, as recommended by the Armed Forces Council.  Which is why you no longer have promotions exams once you have attained the rank of a Major.
So why was Zaidi tried by a court-martial and not given the option to be tried by his Commanding Officer like Jamal?  Why the harsh treatment?
Section 96 (1) of the Armed Forces Act, 1972 clearly states the following:
After investigating a charge against a commissioned officer below the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel or its equivalent, or against a Warrant Officer may, if an Authority has powers under the following provisions of this Part to deal with it summarily, be so dealt with by that Authority in accordance with those provisions
So, why didn’t that authority deal with Zaidi summarily?  Firstly, Zaidi did not have a Commanding Officer. He WAS the Commanding Officer. Furthermore, Section 89 (7) of the Act also mentions that “where an officer is sentenced to imprisonment, he is also sentenced to be dismissed with disgrace from His Majesty’s service.”  As only His Majesty has the power to dismiss an officer, only a Court-Martial could try him.
Jamal on the other hand is a serviceman. A non-commissioned officer. Not even an Appointed Officer or a Warrant Officer, let along a Commissioned Officer.  His Commanding Officer has the choice of giving him lesser punishments as prescribed by the Act including detention of not more than 90 days, or anything lesser.  He was also, at the beginning of his summary trial by the Commanding Officer, be given the choice of either being tried by a court-martial, or by his Commanding Officer.  We know he chose the latter. The normal proceeding would follow, in accordance to the law, with the unit’s Adjutant advising.  On arraignment, he will be read the charge according to the charge sheet and asked for his plea.  I would expect Jamal to plead guilty, given that that would give him a lesser punishment.  With his service taken into consideration, the Commanding Officer gave him the lesser punishment of reduction of rank (demotion, for those not well read) when it could have been any number of days in a gazetted detention center.
So, there you go.  No one was given a harsher treatment.  Everyone was given due process according to the law.  Now, please stop politicising the Armed Forces. That kind of thing is only done by anarchists bent on sowing the seeds of a civil war, unless you are one.
And for those in the Armed Forces, if you think you cannot serve the country apolitically, get out at the earliest opportunity you can get and once you get your NRIC, go ahead and peddle your political agenda.

He That Spareth The Rod

The Malays have a proverb:

“Melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya (To bend a bamboo, you must do it from its shoot”

Of course Malay proverbs don’t mean much to the others, but since Proverbs 13:24 speaks about it, I’ll quote it:

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

Today’s posting is brought about by a statement by Rohani Karim, the Minister for Women and Family Development, saying that with the ratification by Malaysia of the Child Rights Convention, caning by parents will soon be a crime:

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Even with the present Child Protection Act, the government cannot stop orphanages and Islamic-Knowledge centres from exploiting children, the government is already thinking of a new remedy instead of tweaking the old one. This is the same knee-jerk reaction the government had when it abolished the Internal Security Act and is now reeling in agony with the increase in violent crimes, seditious remarks, all on a daily basis.

Each of my children have been spanked at least once when they were little for breaching the “line.” I won’t say that they are perfectly disciplined but not one of them grew up touching things they are not supposed to, be it at home or in other people’s home. I am glad they know how to show respect to others and are not as wild as other children are, and know when to draw the line. You don’t beat them up senselessly, you discipline them and explain why they aren’t allowed to do certain things and what would the consequences, other than getting punished, be.

I don’t know if Rohani Karim understands the contents of the CRC before ratifying, or did she ratify because it would be trendy to do so? You know, the “I am part of the big league” feeling you get, and the pat in the back others give you for kow-towing to their standards? Let me refresh her knowledge on the CRC:

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So, children in countries that have ratified the CRC must be given the rights to choose their own religion, while parents only have the right to advise. The government would also have the authority to override the decision parents have made for their children. The children can also seek “governmental review” if they disagree to the decisions that have been made by their parents.

What is this world coming to? What will Malaysia become?

Malaysia is already suffering from a high number if juvenile crime. Gangsterism, rape, substance abuse, break-ins, violent crimes committed by juveniles increased by more than 5,000 cases in 2013 compared to the previous year, said the Home Ministry. People are clamouring for an amendment in the various laws to send parents to jail with their children for any crime that they commit due to neglect by the parents, yet Rohani agreed that children should not be punished. We already suffer from teenage Mat Rempits making a ruckus at night while we are trying to sleep, schoolboys on motorbikes without licence scratching our car, not wearing helmets, or turn into snatch thieves injuring, maiming or killing some old lady in the process.

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The CRC will also give the right to children access to information, and you know what kind of information that are readily available on the Internet like they are not doing that already; they will have the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association. And the CRC applies to children below the age of 18.

We as a nation are already suffering since the next generation of leaders are already without conscience and moral, and Rohani sees fit that we give them more freedom to decide on what they want while parents are to slave to make sure that their needs are met and protected. Soon, we will have more cases of abandoned children and newborns found in toilet bowls and rubbish bins because of this.

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Come on, Rohani. Wise up! You should weigh the requirements of the CRC against our culture and religions before deciding to become popular with foreigners.

What I would give to have a decently-intelligent Minister here in Malaysia.

One day, you will find parents being sued by their children for “mental abuse” by merely staring at them!

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Do You Choose A Person Who Is A Populist, Or One Who Can Actually Work?

It is interesting how time and time again we, our ASEAN neighbours included, vote in or root for people who are popular rather than people who can actually do the job. The Philippines had Cory Aquino, Eric Estrada; Indonesia had Gus Dur (Abdurrahman Wahid). In Malaysia, we have people rooting for Anwar Ibrahim despite the comical and absurd nature of his “struggle” to become a Prime Minister come what may. What is more absurd and even funnier was the populist campaign designed by Najib Razak’s consultants to paint a popular image of the incumbent.

And that failed badly.

So, what do we Malaysian people actually want? Someone who wins on a big popularity ticket, or someone who can actually work, proven to have truly serviced his/her constituency and not just offer lip service?

Indonesia now has Joko Widodo. See one person’s observations of him before and after the elections and see how the same reflects many politicians here in Malaysia.

The Drama King

The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) which is a component party of the ruling Barisan Nasional is at loggerheads with the Registrar of Societies as the latter had detected irregularities in the MIC party elections. As such, the RoS had instructed the MIC to hold another party elections or something to that effect. The party’s President, G Palanivel has thus far disobeyed the RoS instruction.

Enter the party’s Secretary-General, Kumaar Aamaan, who some say is the illegal Sec-Gen given that the RoS did not recognise the party elections thus rendering all appointees illegal. He went to the RoS office and went on a hunger strike:

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He also declared that he would fast until his last breath:

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Then he said because of his hunger strike, he received a death threat:

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Now, why would anyone bent on dying for his cause feel threatened by a death threat? It does sound funny, doesn’t it?

I really think he was feeling very hungry at that point:

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And just as I thought he would sit there through the weekend in front of the RoS office, all skin and bones, came the shocking news:

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SAY WHAT???? You said you were going to fast until your last breath! Are you hungry?

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That is the Drama King who has turned the much-respected MIC into another lawless DAP. If you think that that’s funny, wait until the next bomb I am about to drop:

WHERE ARE THOSE BN PEOPLE WHO MADE SO MUCH NOISE ABOUT THE DAP DISOBEYING THE INSTRUCTION FROM THE ROS LAST YEAR? WHY HAVE THEY ALL GONE SILENT?

Now you may laugh and wonder.

The Final Curtain?

Another former Minister has spoken out at Najib Razak’s apparent use of Anwar Ibrahim to attack his opponents. Former Minister, Sanusi Junid, has hinted that if Najib does not step down now, UMNO and BN will suffer.

Anwar, who has been in TV3’s bad books, and who also issued a general ban on broadcast journalists from that station to cover any of his or PKR’s events, has been given full attention by the station to lambast Najib’s opponents within UMNO.

Najib, who took over the helm of both UMNO and BN from a weak predecessor, is seen by the public as a weaker Prime Minister. That the BN fared as bad as or worse than GE12 in the last general elections says a lot about his leadership. While he does try to have a hands-on approach on many things which is good, his policies and decisions made seem to lack any prior thoughts, begging the public to ask if it is really Najib’s consultants who do the thinking while Najib just read the scripts and smile or frown as directed.

I, for one, don’t give much thought on the political squabbles. I am more concerned with those who incessantly try to run down the country; but this latest tiff between Najib and his critiques started off with the 1MDB fiasco, and it seems that someone has unearthed the leadership’s Pandora Box.

Who after Najib is none of my concern. Whoever commands majority support of UMNO with the blessing of the component parties in BN should be able to lead. However, the UMNO tradition (budaya) of never to shine before your leader does ought to be done away with. I was told that during the recent floods, although the Deputy Prime Minister was in town while many including the Prime Minister were away shopping or golfing abroad, the former did not act swiftly until instructed to do so. How true this is, I don’t know but if so, it truly is damaging that you cannot decide as a Deputy Prime Minister on behalf of the Prime Minister who was away golfing. “Mana boleh! Ini budaya UMNO!” said the person to my father when asked why did the Deputy Prime Minister not act since the Prime Minister was on holiday abroad.

Najib could easily have called for an impromptu press conference to announce that the DPM was to head the disaster management team while he had to golf with Obama to discuss pressing matters. There was a whole army of foreign press there that he could have used to convey the message to worried Malaysians, but he did not. Was he waiting for his consultants to come up with a script and a set of more acceptable wardrobe?

It was equally bad that (I’m very sure it was his consultants who prepared this line) Najib made only the home and business insurance issue as THE reason for not declaring an emergency in the flood-stricken states. There was a bunch of other stronger reasons that could have been used, but maybe his consultants thought it was best to use the insurance issue as that was more personal for flood victims. Well, it backfired. Miserably! Adding insult to injury, the disaster-relief operation was like a dumbstruck Medusa. Every agency was doing its own thing with no clear command and control until much later. Given that the head of the National Security Council is an administrator rather than a field man, and has had no experience managing disasters, with the Prime Minister being abroad, things did not move as they should have.

Anyway, I have digressed from the issue of Najib’s quarrel with his detractors. But I think Najib’s continuous display of dishing out half-baked policies and display of desperately holding on to the Premiership simply means that he is no Tun Razak, who was brilliant in character and leadership that even political dinosaurs like Lim Kit Siang misses him, and Dyana Samad remembers Tun Razak’s superb leadership although she was still swimming inside her father’s balls when the Tun died.

UMNO needs to evolve and revamp itself in order to stay relevant in the next general elections. But first, it needs a serious change in leadership.

I Don’t Know What To Say

There is this flurry of signals flying around that factions within UMNO that are aligned to Najib Razak are at war with those pro-Dr Mahathir. Some accuse Dr Mahathir of being behind a movement to topple Najib, while the latter is being accused of using Anwar Ibrahim to hit out at Daim Zainuddin, Dr Mahathir’s long-time confidante.

I don’t really care who is fighting whom; I have stated time and time again in this blog that I was and shall remain a soldier and my loyalty is to my King and Country. However, if the allegations about both parties are true, the next general election will become UMNO’s curtain call.

You see the same thing happening in MIC where supporters of the President and Deputy President are at war, and the dormer President, Samy Vellu, has been dragged into the fray.

I don’t know what to say. But this blog posting from former Chief Editor of Utusan Melayu and former Information Minister, Zainuddin Maidin, paints the chaotic picture of the squabble within UMNO itself.

It is in Malay. Malaysians should be able to read and understand the post. Only non-Malaysians would need Google translate for this:

Salam Terakhir Zam Kepada Penulisan Politik

Conduct Unbecoming

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“Loose Talk Could Sink This Ship”

“The Walls Have Ears”

The above are among reminders you would normally see then in a military establishment. Whether or not these reminders are being repeated today remains to be answered. At least such reminders should be repeated in all courses attended by military personnel.

Back in the 1970s, at the height of the Second Emergency, soldiers got killed after wives talked eagerly in public about the husbands going for operations against communist terrorists. Mind you, wives and children are the only people in any military establishment that are never vetted by security agencies.

One such wife was even employed as a typist at one military establishment. For years she mailed the carbon papers of each important military correspondence to the intelligence service of a neighbouring country before she was arrested.

In the late 1980s, 10 officers and men of the Armed Forces were nabbed by military intelligence after they were found to have sold strategic defence files to the intelligence agencies of a neighbouring country. The highest amount paid for a file was USD96,000 for a document on contingency defence plans of a particular state. The rest were defence plans of an Air Force Base, a naval base, and the layout of a military hospital.

In the Armed Forces too you have channels to complain or air your grouses. Your quarters is leaking, you complain to the Facilities Officer. Your mess food sucks, you complain to the Mess Messing Member, or in the case of the other ranks (rank and file if you must), complain to the Duty Officer who is supposed to eat the food you eat with you. Your senior officer has wronged you, the Armed Forces Act, 1972 allows you to seek redress of wrong. Your indelible ink wears off your finger in less than a day, you complain to the Officer Commanding the Administration Branch. Better still, if it is on the same day of voting, you complain to the Elections Commission officers at your place of voting.

There is a reason that you are an Armed Forces member and not a civilian. It means that you are not a civilian. You come from a highly disciplined institution that lives by its codes of rules, regulations, standing orders and orders. You cannot whine like an old lady in public, more so when you are in uniform.

Former Major Zaidi bin Ahmad was a good officer, until the day he appeared in the photo above. He was my junior by two intakes. He was a good pilot. He flew the F-5E Tiger II before progressing to a F-18 Hornet driver, after which he was picked to lead No.12 Squadron (F-5E Tiger II) as its Commanding Officer. He was a quiet man, well-mannered, and according to those who know him, it was no secret that he is a staunch supporter of PAS.

There is nothing about being a military man and have a liking for whichever political party. When I was a serving officer, I told my men that they were free to vote for anyone they wished, but as a member of His Majesty’s Air Force, they should remain apolitical in their conduct.

Granted that Zaidi might have had good intention by talking about his experience with the indelible ink, he went against the Armed Forces Council’s Order No. 13 of 1960. What more, he was wearing his uniform. As a member of the Armed Forces, you are not to talk to the media unless you have prior clearance from the Public Relations Office at both the Air Force HQ and the Ministry of Defence. You might be subjected to unguided and mischievous questions and you might answer wrongly. You might give away more than you should, as the information you are privy to may cause harm to the defence of the nation if leaked whether intentionally or unintentionally.

After the episode above, he was under investigation I presume, and an orders signal was issued for him to be transferred to a lesser sensitive post pending investigation. Each signal (in the civilian world before the advent of the E-Mail is much like the telegram) is either an unclassified document (Pendarjahan TERBUKA), or RESTRICTED and above (Pendarjahan TERHAD ke atas). I would expect the signal pertaining to his transfer was classified as PERSONNEL-IN-CONFIDENCE (SULIT DARIHAL ANGGOTA).

A transfer is normal when one is under investigation. Policemen under investigation are always transferred to “desk” duties. The same applied to Zaidi. Instead, perhaps for political reasons, he decided to show the signal to journalists who do not have the necessary security clearance to be privy to the information on the signal.

One might argue that a transfer order is hardly detrimental to the security of the nation. Well, in this case, maybe it wasn’t. It is not so much the content that is in question but the act of showing any document to those unauthorised to view it. Imagine if his grouses are bigger, I cannot imagine what a Commanding Officer of a fighter squadron, charged with taking care of the nation’s defence, could and would reveal to unauthorised people. That act, to me, shows how this senior officer’s conduct was very unbecoming, and is not trustworthy to be looking after the nation’s defence.  To add insult to injury, Zaidi even sent out an SMS in the form of a political incitement; definitely unbecoming of a senior officer of the Armed Forces.

Was the punishment of being discharged from His Majesty’s service received by Zaidi harsh? My answer is a definite no. Firstly, Zaidi was a senior officer and a Commanding Officer. He was not some less-educated Private or Airman. He was charged under Section 50 (2) and Section 51 of the Armed Forces Act, 1972, for disobedience to superior officer and disobedience to standing orders.

If I may read to you the punishments prescribed by these sections. They read:

Every person subject to service law under this Act who, whether wilfully or through neglect, disobeys ny lawful command of his superior officer/standing orders shall, on conviction by court-martial, be liable to imprisonment or any less punishment provided by this Act.

The scale of punishments for an Officer of the Armed Forces prescribed by the Armed Forces Act, 1972, can be found in Section 89 (2) of the Act. They are:

Death,

Imprisonment to a term not exceeding 14 years,

Dismissal with disgrace from His Majesty’s service,

Dismissal from His Majesty’s service,

Forfeiture of seniority of rank,

Dismissal of an officer from the ship he belongs to,

Fine,

Severe reprimand,

Reprimand,

In the occasion of expense, damage, or loss, stoppages.

In the case of Zaidi’s, the gravity of his offences and his rank and position make only the first four punishments applicable to him.  However, since the death punishment is out of the question, the members of the Court-Martial chose the least: dismissal from His Majesty’s service, meaning that he is still entitled to his benefits.

Is that harsh? Not at all. There have been officers dismissed for lesser offences. Examplary? Yes. And very necessary.

Zaidi no doubt was a good guy. However, his political beliefs led him to do what every officer and man of His Majesty’s Armed Forces should not do: disobey orders and putting the uniform you wear to shame. A King’s Officer does not whine about his grouses in public like a yeast-infected aunt. He should live the organised life of his organisation instead of abusing his uniform for his own benefit. There were channels he could have gone through but no. He thought he knew best and in doing so he did injustice to his family.

He is now a political celebrity, a nicer way to call a donkey in politics. He will now be part of a circus act and may earn a bit from the collection made from the spectators of the nightly circus shows he will be performing in, all in the misguided name of justice. Once the next general elections is over, we hope he would have found a steady job by then.