The issue of the distribution of Zakat to non-Muslims is still not over. Today, I saw three news articles of statements on the issue made by the CEO of Zakat Pulau Pinang, the Mufti of Negeri Sembilan, and the Mufti of Pahang. All of them stressed that Zakat is not to be distributed to non-Muslims.
“It cannot be given to non-Muslim individuals. If it is to be given to non-Muslims, it will be done through NGOs or associations that conduct dakwah (Islamic outreach),” said Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Rahman Osman, the Mufti of Pahang.
Many, some Muslims included, do not understand the meaning of Zakat. It is a mandatory religious obligation decreed by Allah SWT for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth. Its role in society is to preserve social harmony between the wealthy and the poor through a more equitable way for the redistribution of wealth.
I wrote two days ago (Zakat is for the Rulers to decide) that as the Head of the religion of Islam in their respective states, the affairs of Islam come under the purview of the Rulers – their Constitutional prerogative. And it is because of this prerogative prescribed by the Constitution that had the Sultan of Selangor issue a media statement on the issue.
His Royal Highness is very concerned about the number of Muslims who fall into the categories of poor, hardcore poor and the needy. A check in all the nine districts of Selangor through a page maintained by the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), the number stood at 21,621 people in 2009, 50,947 in 2018, and up until the end of September 2019, it was 54,568 people. On average, 3,300 Muslims enter the list of Zakat recipients every year!
Selangor has the highest GDP in Malaysia. In 2010 it was RM177.7 billion. In 2018 it was RM322.6 billion. Although its labour force has increased from 3.2 million in 2015 to 3.5 million in 2018, its percentage of the unemployed has also increased from 2.4 percent (77,900 people) to 2.8 percent (99,600 people). Rapid urbanisation in a short span of time and migration of workforce from other states into Selangor have contributed to escalating economic and social costs – rentals, housing, transport, land. This has in turn imposed the burden of employment generation causing an increase in unemployment, the inability to offer higher wages, and incidence of poverty.
When we talk about the poor, hardcore poor and the needy, we no longer talk about people begging on walkways or even the homeless. We now look at those earning less than RM2,000 a month, with very little or no savings, and cannot survive two to three months without work. This is the reality that we now face – rapid urbanisation presents an increase in the number of the urban poor. Those who are particularly vulnerable are those with low education level, low-skilled, handicapped, single parent, the youth, the elderly, orphans who have to leave their orphanage when they turn 18. These are the people His Royal Highness is very concerned about.
Take the Petaling district for instance. In 2009, 2,478 Muslims qualified for Zakat aid. By 2015, 7,248 Muslims in the district were qualified for Zakat aid. In 2018, it was 7,781. By the end of September this year, that number is 7,858.
The amount of aid distributed in Selangor was RM279.2 million in 2009. By the end of 2018 it was RM414.6 million..
The same pattern can also be seen in Pahang where in 2015 its population was at 1.61 million. That increased to 1.66 million in 2018. With about 75 percent of its population being Muslims, Zakat aid distributed in 2015 was RM113.4 million. In 2018 it was RM140.8 million. A 3-year study led by Emeritus Professor Chamhuri Siwar of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia between 2008 and 2011 found that the highest incidence of hardcore poverty in rural Pahang was observed among the Malays (97.33 percent), while for the urban areas of Pahang it was again the Malays (72.22 percent).
Therefore, as the Head of State and Islam, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor was right in pointing out that although Islam emphasises on humanity, Zakat aid collected from Muslims are only to be given to Muslims in need who fall into the eight categories mentioned in my earlier article. His Royal Highness added that in Selangor there are still many Muslim people who fall into both the rural and urban poor categories and are in dire need of Zakat aid. This is because almost 60 percent of its population are Muslims and its population increases by about 100,000 annually.
Zakat is a matter of Islam, for Muslims. Article 11 (3)(a) and (b) of the Federal Constitution states that Every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs and establish and maintain institution for religious or charitable purposes.
What Anwar Ibrahim et al. should have advocated was for the establishment of similar tithe collection institutions by respective religions instead of peddling articles of Islamic affairs for his own popularity and political mileage.
A week ago Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim mooted Zakat reforms saying the non-Muslims should also be included as Zakat recipients. He said this at the International Seminar on Islamic Zakat, Wakaf and Philantrophy in Selangor.
His statement incurred the wrath of the Sultan of Selangor who, through a statement issued, said that Zakat (tithe) can only be distributed to eight categories of the needy that include the hardcore poor asnaf, poor asnaf, and mu’allaf who are Muslims.
Asnaf is defined as a party that does not own any property and whose work cannot meet the demands for basic needs and therefore is eligible to receive Zakat aid collected from Muslims. A mu’allaf is an individual who are non-Muslims who have the hope of converting to Islam or those new to Islam whose faith still needs to be supported or reinforced.
Based on the above-definitions, the Sultan added that Zakat can only be given to a non-Muslim mu’allaf based on the principles of asnaf Mu’allafati Qulubuhum (those whose heart has accepted Islam). This principle is based on the Quran where Allah SWT said, “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (Zakat) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveller – an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:60).
Both the Mufti of Perlis and Pulau Pinang have made a statement supporting this. In a television interview the Mufti of Perlis said that Perlis had issued a fatwa to enable non-Muslims to receive tithes under the concept of asnaf Mu’allafati Qulubuhum in 2017.
“This means that Perlis follows the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h not only to help (the non-Muslim asnaf) but also to hopefully embrace Islam,” said the Mufti. He added that the decision of the fatwa rests on the Ulil Amri (leader – the Raja of Perlis).
The Mufti of Pulau Pinang said that non-Muslims who are poverty stricken can obtain assistance from other governmental resourcees such as the Welfare Department. Distributions should only go to non-Muslims if collections exceed what was needed for Muslim recipients.
He said that according to the Quran, Zakat could be extended to non-Muslims with the purpose of making them to favour Islam, to encourage them to help Muslims against the latter’s enemies, or for them to sympathise with Muslims. This was because the contributions come solely from Muslims who pY the tithe as a religious obligation.
Malaysia, being a country that has Islam as its religion as prescribed in the Federal Constitution holds to the doctrines of Imam Shafie who in his book Al-Umm said the following:
“The Mu’allaf (those whose heart have received Islam) are those who have accepted Islam. Zakat is not given to the musyrik to entice them to Islam. If there are those who say that during the Battle of Hunayn the Prophet had distributed collections to the Musyriks, those are the distribution from fai (spoils of war) or from his own property. Not from Zakat collection.” (Al-Umm, 2/388. Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi).
As mentioned in the above paragraph, the religion of Malaysia is Islam. The Ruler of the states that have a Ruler as Head of State, is the Head of the religion of Islam. In states where there is no Ruler, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of the religion of Islam. Matters of the religion of Islam come under the purview of Their Majesties. It is a pity that a seasoned politician such as Anwar Ibrahim does not know his position when mooting such reform.
In the words of the Sultan of Selangor: do not take advantage of and use the affairs of the religion of Islam to gain popularity or win the hearts of certain parties.
Kuala Yong near Jeli, Kelantan is a laid back but picturesque place. Located some 100 kilometres west of Kota Bharu, the village was once the seat of a global controversy that is still being spoken about today – the Pergau Dam affair.
The Pergau Dam affair was about treachery – Mahathir’s style.
It involved an arms scandal as well as aid for the poor that turned into what is now the Pergau Dam.
Allegations of bribes being passed to the then-Prime Minister of Malaysia was abound. But as with the allegations of tens of billions of Ringgits squandered by Mahathir, he never challenged these allegations either.
The Pergau Dam story started with then Secretary of State for Defense George Younger’s agreement with the government of Malaysia in 1988 that the Britain would provide aid in the amount of 20 percent the value of arms sales from Britain to Malaysia. This aid would come in the form of a dam project, despite a subsequent assessment from economists and engineers of the Overseas Development Administration (ODA – the UK’s development arm at the time, which reported to the Foreign Secretary) who found that the dam would not be a cost-efficient way to increase the production of electricity.
In 1991, then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, authorised the expenditure of £234 million from the aid budget anyway, to maintain a deal made by the defence secretary and approved by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and later John Major. The World Development Movement called for a judicial review of the funding of Pergau Dam on the grounds of a law which states that aid can only be used for “promoting the development or maintaining the economy of a country….or the welfare of its people”.
The British High Court ruled in 1994 that the project was not of economic benefit to the Malaysian people; the deal linked aid directly to commercial contracts and was unlawful.
The Sunday Times ran a story that the dam contractor, George Wimpey International, had paid an initial bribe meant for Mahathir to the tune of USD500,000 (approximately RM1.25 million then). Instead of challenging the newspaper in a court of law, Mahathir got Anwar, who was his Deputy then, to announce ‘Buy British Last II‘.
Lim Kit Siang, Mahathir’s present best friend, jumped at the opportunity to slam the latter. He openly challenged Mahathir to sue the Sunday Times in a court of law – something Mahathir never did.
Although the amount of bribe stated by Lim Kit Siang varied from what was reported by the Sunday Times the last two lines of the above screen capture of Kit Siang’s article shows that monies were transferred to ‘account numbers in Switzerland to which fees related to contract award are to be paid.‘
When the Pergau deal and alleged bribes transfers took place in 1984-85, Mahathir’s right-hand man Daim Zainuddin was the Finance Minister. Coincidentally, it was said that Daim owned, or was in control of, at least a bank in Switzerland, if not more. This was also how, according to Edmund Terence Gomez and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Daim’s company called Baktimu Sdn Bhd was able to obtain a RM40 million loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to buy a 33 percent stake in Sime UEP for RM75 million in CASH!
Daim only recently divested from the banking business in Switzerland through his company, ICB Financial Group AG.
Could Daim have been involved in providing the accounts into which these payments were credited?
Neither Mahathir nor Daim has come forth to explain, let alone sue especially the Sunday Times for running that story.
In the words of Lim Kit Siang when his struggle then was for the people:
Baru-baru ini kita dikejutkan dengan kehadiran seorang diplomat dari Israel ke sebuah persidangan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Kuala Lumpur. Pihak pembangkang dengan segera telah menghentam kerajaan kerana telah membenarkan perkara tersebut berlaku seraya mengatakan bahawa kerajaan bersikap hipokrit dalam memperjuangkan hak-hak Palestin tetapi pada masa yang sama telah menjemput seorang warga Israel untuk datang ke Malaysia.
Lantas Kementerian Luar Negeri telah mengeluarkan sebuah kenyataan untuk menerangkan perkara tersebut. Di dalam kenyataan tersebut, Wisma Putra menerangkan bahawa segala jemputan ke persidangan tersebut telah dilakukan oleh pihak Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu melalui Artikel III kepada Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang telah dibuat di antara kerajaan Malaysia dengan pertubuhan tersebut.
Kenyataan ini juga menerangkan bahawa sebagai negara tuan rumah, Malaysia terpaksa menerima kehadiran delegasi dari Israel walaupun berkeras tidak mahu. Malangnya, sebagai memenuhi kehendak diplomasi pelbagai hala, Ianya tidak bermakna Malaysia telah mengubah pendiriannya terhadap Israel dan Palestin.
PKR PERLUKAN PENGARAH KOMUNIKASI YANG BARU
Saudara Fahmi Fadzil, Pengarah Komunikasi PKR telah membidas kenyataan Wisma Putra. Di dalam laman Facebooknya, Fahmi telah mempersoalkan kuasa Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia untuk menafikan mana-mana individu yang tidak dikehendaki untuk masuk ke negara ini.
Saya berasa amat kecewa kerana sebagai seorang yang memegang jawatan penting, Fahmi tidak memahami undang-undang. David Yitzhak Roet, diplomat Israel yang telah ke mari, adalah merupakan seorang diplomat dari negara Israel yang memegang passport diplomat yang bermakna beliau adalah merupakan seorang diplomat bagi negaranya.
Ini bermakna, David Roet tidak boleh dikategorikan sebagai “pendatang yang tidak diingini” (undesirable immigrant) mengikut Seksyen 8(k) Akta Imigresen, 1959/1963. Mari kita undur beberapa tapak untuk memahami keadaan sebenar sebelum mempercayai segala kebebalan yang ditulis oleh Fahmi tadi, atau kenapa Malaysia tidak membantah, dan juga kepada persoalan mengapa Malaysia tidak batalkan sahaja persidangan tersebut.
Pertama sekali, persidangan ini dalah sebuah persidangan yang dianjurkan oleh pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu. Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah di antara pertubuhan tersebut dengan Malaysia telah ditandatangani pada bulan Mac 2017.
Setelah perjanjian tersebut dibuat, penganjur (UN Habitat) membuat lain-lain persiapan berhubung keperluan persidangan tersebut. Hanya pada bulan Jun 2017, UN Habitat telah menghantar surat-surat jemputan kepada Menteri Luar Negeri setiap negara ahli pertubuhan tersebut termasuk Malaysia dan Israel.
PBB ada mempunyai satu format Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang seragam untuk digunakan oleh agensi-agensi di bawahnya, termasuk UN Habitat. Cuma susunan Artikel adalah terpulang kepada agensi-agensi tersebut, di antaranya menyebut:
“Konvensyen Mengenai Keistimewaan dan Kekebalan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu yang diterima pakai oleh Perhimpunan Agung pada 13 Februari 1946, yang mana negara tuan rumah adalah satu pihak, hendaklah terpakai bagi Persidangan tersebut. Terutamanya, wakil negara-negara akan menikmati keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang diberikan di bawah Artikel IV Koenvensyen tersebut.”
Dokumen di atas menerangkan dengan jelas bahawa wakil-wakil setiap negara yang menghadiri persidangan yang telah dijalankan di Kuala Lumpur, hendaklah diberikan keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang telah kita persetujui sebagai salah sebuah negara ahli PBB yang telah mengiktiraf Konvensyen tersebut.
Ianya tidak berakhir di situ:
“Semua orang yang disebut di dalam artikel II (artikel III dalam perjanjian dengan Malaysia) hendaklah mempunyai hak untuk masuk dan keluar dari negara tuan rumah, dan tiada halangan dikenakan terhadap perjalanan mereka ke dan dari kawasan persidangan.”
Semua di atas adalah berkenaan dengan Konvensyen Vienna Mengenai Hubungan Diplomatik, 1961, yang dipersetujui oleh Malaysia, dan juga Akta Hubungan Konsular (Konvensyen Vienna), 1999. David Roet adalah diplomat yang dihantar oleh negaranya. Maka, Malaysia tidak banyak pilihan kerana telah menandatangani perjanjian tuan rumah, serta perlu menghormati konvensyen Vienna.
Kalau itu sahaja yang boleh diketengahkan sebagai hujah-hujah, maka saya rasa amat elok sekali sekiranya parti tersebut menukar Pengarah Komunikasi mereka memandang Fahmi Fadzil begitu dangkal daya pemikirannya.
TIDAKKAH KERAJAAN MEMBANTAH JEMPUTAN YANG DIBUAT KEPADA ISRAEL OLEH PBB?
Ramai penyokong pembangkang serta mereka yang termakan hasutan pembangkang dalam isu ini bertanyakan tidakkah kerajaan membuat bantahan terhadap jemputan kepada Israel oleh PBB?
Saya petik laporan sebuah akhbar Israel, The Jerusalem Post, yang menyebut:
“Malaysia yang ternyata anti-Israel membenarkan penyertaan Israel dengan penuh marah hanya setelah Israel mengenakan tekanan diplomatik yang hebat sehingga ke pejabat Setiausaha Agung PBB, Antonio Gutteres.
Ini adalah kerana dengan menaja sebuah acara yang berkaitan dengan PBB, Malaysia menjadi suatu kewajiban bagi Malaysia terhadap PBB untuk membenarkan penyertaan dari semua negara.”
Jelas Malaysia telah berkeras untuk tidak membenarkan penyertaan Israel tetapi terpaksa akur dengan perjanjian yang telah dipersetujui.
Walau bagaimanapun, ianya berbeza bagi rakyat biasa Israel. Pada tahun 2015, Malaysia telah tidak membenarkan dua orang peluncur layar dari Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Pelayaran Belia Sedunia. Keputusan kerajaan ini telah dibantah bukan sahaja oleh Persatuan Layar Israel, malah oleh badan pelayaran dunia.
Pada tahun 2016, Malaysia telah enggan mengeluarkan visa bagi pasukan ping pong Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Ping Pong Sedunia yang telah diadakan di sini.
JADI, SIAPA YANG MENYOKONG ISRAEL?
Pada 25 Mac 1997, seramai 2,000 orang penunjuk perasaan telah berarak ke Jabatan Perdana Menteri untuk menyerahkan satu memorandum kepada Perdana Menteri ketika itu membantah keputusan kerajaan Malaysia untuk membenarkan pasukan kriket Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Kriket Sedunia yang dilangsungkan di Kuala Lumpur. Pada 30 Mac tahun yang sama, seramai 2,500 orang penunjuk perasaan telah menyerbu padang kriket di mana pasukan Israel dijadualkan bermain serta membakar papan-papan tanda iklan berkenaan kejohanan tersebut.
Anwar Ibrahim yang kononnya memperjuangkan Islam ketika itu, dalam sokongan terhadap bosnya berkata, sukan dan politik tidak sepatutnya dicampur-adukkan.
Pada tahun 1993, Mahathir yang ketika itu merupakan Perdana Menteri telah menulis sepucuk surat kepada Perdana Menteri Israel, Yitzhak Rabin mengenai Perjanjian Oslo I.
Ianya mungkin sukar dibaca. Jadi saya sediakan terjemahan kepada transkrip surat tersebut seperti berikut:
Encik Yitzhak Rabin
Perdana Menteri Israel
Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih di atas surat anda pada 17 Oktober yang memaklumkan kepada saya tentang Perjanjian Prinsip dan Pengiktirafan Bersama di antara Israel dan PLO.
Kerajaan saya menyokong perkembangan positif ini dan memandangnya sebagai langkah pertama ke arah merealisasikan penyelesaian menyeluruh kepada masalah Timur Tengah. Sebagai demonstrasi sokongan Malaysia terhadap pembangunan ini negara saya telah diwakili pada Persidangan Penderma untuk menyokong Perdamaian Timur Tengah yang diadakan di Washington dan seterusnya memberikan sumbangan kewangan yang sederhana kepada rakyat Palestin untuk membantu tugas baru mereka. Kerajaan saya juga telah menawarkan bantuan teknikal untuk Palestin di bawah Program Kerjasama Teknikal Malaysia.
Sebagai perkara prinsip umum Malaysia bersedia untuk membangunkan hubungan dengan Israel pada masa yang sesuai. Dalam pada itu, kami ingin melihat kemajuan yang ketara dalam pelaksanaan perjanjian damai.
Masalah di Timur Tengah terutamanya isu Palestin telah menjadi punca ketidakstabilan di rantau tersebut dan saya berharap perjanjian yang dibuat baru-baru ini di antara Israel dan PLO akan menyumbang kepada keamanan yang kekal di kawasan itu.
Saya menanti hubungan normal dengan Israel.
DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
Sepertimana yang terkandung di dalam dua bahagian surat tersebut, Mahathir menyatakan hasrat untuk mengadakan hubungan yang normal dengan Israel. Pada tahun 2014, Presiden Obama telah mengadakan hubungan normal dengan Cuba. Ini berakhir dengan penyambungan perhubungan diplomatik di antara kedua-dua buah negara tersebut. Mahathir telah menyatakan hasrat untuk memulakan hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel. Bahagian akhir yang digaris di bawah itu telah ditulis sendiri oleh Mahathir dengan menggunakan sebatang pen.
Berlanjutan dengan perkara tersebut, Chua Jui Meng dari PKR yang pada ketika itu merupakan Timbalan Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri berkata Israel boleh menjadi destinasi pelaburan Malaysia (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).
Hasilnya, pada tahun 1999, eksport Israel ke Malaysia berjumlah USD107 juta. Pada tahun 2000, ia adalah USD732 juta, dan USD615.5 juta pada tahun berikutnya. Pada tahun 2002, laporan Kementerian Perdagangan Israel mengenai hubungan perdagangan dengan Indonesia dan Malaysia menasihatkan warga Israel yang berminat untuk menjalankan perniagaan dengan syarikat Malaysia bahawa “tiada sebarang bangkangan untuk mengadakan perhubungan perdagangan selagi ianya dibuat secara senyap-senyap“.
Di akaun Twitternya pula, Mukhriz juga menyatakan bahawa “Di atas permintaan daripada pelabur asing yang besar di sini pada tahun 1996, Kabinet mengarahkan MITI untuk meluluskan import dan eksport ke Israel.”
Kabinet tahun 1996 yang dimaksudkan adalah kabinet yang dipimpin bapanya, Mahathir Mohamad. Tulis Mukhriz lagi pada tahun 2011:
“Apabila kita meluluskan pelaburan langsung asing, bukanlah untuk kita mengenakan syarat bahawa mereka tidak boleh berdagang dengan Israel. Sesetengah pelaburan ini berjumlah berbilion Dollar di negeri-negeri di bawah Pembangkang.”
Ini bermakna negeri-negeri di bawah pentadbiran pihak pembangkang pada tahun 2011 telah menerima pelaburan langsung asing dari Israel. Pada tahun tersebut hanya tiga buah negeri yang berada di bawah pembangkang, iaitu Kelantan, Pulau Pinang dan Selangor. Dan saya tak fikir Kelantan terlibat dengan dana dari Israel.
Jadi, siapakah sebenarnya pencinta Israel yang wajib kita sanggah?
In June 1969, a month after the 13 May tragedy, Mahathir wrote a letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman and began it with the following sentence:
“Patek berasa dukachita kerana tujuan patek membuat kenyataan kepada akhbar telah di-salah faham oleh Y.T.M. Tunku. Sa-benar-nya tujuan patek sama-lah juga dengan tujuan Tunku, ia-itu untok menyelamatkan negara ini daripada bahaya yang menganchamkan-nya.”
The Tunku’s popularity was at an all-time low. He had lost control over the issues that were dogging the population and had allowed that to spiral into a nationwide communal violence. Mahathir saw that as an opportunity to finally conclude a personal battle against the Tunku that had begun 27 years earlier, and end the latter’s political career.
That letter earned the Tunku’s wrath. Mahathir was expelled from UMNO. Seeing that the end is nigh, the Tunku chose to step down a day after his nephew, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, was sworn in as the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
Mahathir was brought back into UMNO’s folds by the Tunku’s successor, Tun Abdul Razak, with the recommendation by Selangor Menteri Besar, Harun Idris. When Razak died in January 1976, his cousin Hussein moved up and Mahathir became his deputy.
In 1981, Hussein had had to go for a coronary bypass surgery at the Harley Street Clinic in London. Mahathir saw this as an opportunity to have Hussein out of the way. In a post taken from Tian Chua’s Malaysia Chronicles, it is said that the DAP mysteriously received documents alleging that Hussein’s wife, Suhaila, was running Petronas from their residence in Sri Taman (now Memorial Tun Razak). There were also documents alleging that Exxon was stealing oil from Malaysian oilfields without Petronas’s knowledge.
In the same article, it was reported that it was Mahathir himself who started a rumour when Hussein was seeking treatment in London saying that the latter had a “terrible heart condition” and would be stepping down as Prime Minister upon his return from London “for health reasons”.
Purging of Cabinet Members and Interference in the Judiciary
After Hussein was gone, Mahathir had to remove other obstacles. The biggest obstacle was in the form of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. The ‘Team A’ versus ‘Team B’ rivalry saw Mahathir being returned after beating Razaleigh 761 votes to 718, Mahathir took further steps to eradicate Razaleigh’s influence by purging all Team B members from his cabinet.
This led to 12 Team B members to bring the matter to the High Court alleging that 78 of the delegates had been selected by branches not registered with the Registrar of Societies, and as a result were not eligible to vote. They also claimed that certain documents related to the election had been “tampered with”. Although Razaleigh was not among the twelve plaintiffs, he was widely believed to be funding and co-ordinating the suit
As a result, Justice Harun Hashim declared UMNO “an unlawful society” in 1987, but it took Mahathir, who was also the Home Minister then, just two weeks to have UMNO (Baru) registered – a process that would have taken months, if not years. The Registrar of Societies come under the Home Minister’s purview after all.
Mahathir did not take Harun Hashim’s judgment lightly. In an attack on the judiciary, he had several judges, including Harun Hashim, reassigned to other divisions. Salleh Abas, who was the Lord President of the Supreme Court, was pressured to convene a meeting with 20 Supreme Court and High Court judges where they agreed that the Lord President should write to the Yang DiPertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers expressing their grievances against Mahathir’s interference in the Judiciary.
Being the opportunist that he is, Mahathir knew that the then-Yang DiPertuan Agong was not in favour with Salleh Abas, over an issue about the noises that came from the construction of His Majesty’s private house which was in Salleh Abas’s neighbourhood, took advantage of the situation to agree with the Yang DiPertuan Agong that Salleh be removed.
A tribunal was set up. Five Supreme Court judges were removed – Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah. With the Supreme Court suspended, the challenge toward the legality of the tribunal could not be heard.
Salleh Abas was removed as the Lord President. Soon after, two other Supreme Court judges were also removed. They were Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah.
Removal of Dissent via Ops Lalang
In 1987, tensions between the Malays and Chinese were high, partly as a result of Anwar Ibrahim’s education policies in particular the replacing of Chinese-educated assistant headmasters of Chinese schools with those unversed in Chinese language (Mandarin) On 5 September 1987, Lim Kit Siang had to send a wire to Anwar Ibrahim asking him to stop all transfers until the issue had been resolved. What did Mahathir do? Absolutely nothing to appease both sides.
Within a month, the tensions turned ugly and the threat of another 13 May loomed. The police had to take drastic action by executing Ops Lalang. A list of troublemakers and potential trouble makers were drawn up in a meeting between senior police officers in Fraser’s Hills, away from the eyes of the public, and when the danger of a racial clash was imminent, the police arrested those shortlisted.
The police did not have to seek the blessing from the Home Minister (who was Mahathir then) to conduct the arrests. However, the police would have to brief the Home Minister on the person(s) arrested. According to the now defunct Internal Security Act, 1960, only the Home Minister could sign a detention order to put a person behind bars without trial for a period not exceeding two years, IF THE HOME MINISTER IS SATISFIED WITH THE REASONS FOR ARREST. If not, they should be released.
And only the Home Minister was given the power to review the detention of a person, and extend the detention period for a period not exceeding two years each time. Not the police.
Turning the Brits into Suckers
The UK economy was in a bad shape back in the 1980s. Mahathir took the opportunity to strike at the UK by starting the ‘Buy British Last’ campaign in order to launch the infamous “Dawn Raid”. It was a time when Thatcher was trying to tackle high inflation. She tightened up her fiscal policy and aimed at reducing inflation by increasing taxes and interest rates, and cut spendings. As a result, the British government decided to increase foreign students’ fees by threefolds, from around £300 to £900. That was one of the reasons for the “Dawn Raid”.
In the end, it was an excuse to get the already weakened British government to provide financial aid to Malaysia in what is now known as the ‘Pergau Dam Affair‘. According to UK’s The Independent, Thatcher’s determination ‘to bat for Britain’ led her to agree to a huge development aid package as part of an arms deal which she negotiated during a visit to Kuala Lumpur in September 1988. The deal, at that time involving the sale of Tornado jet fighters, artillery, radar, submarines and Rapier missiles, was so sensitive that civil servants were banished from the room during the final stages of the negotiation.
The original Tornado jets deal, worth more than £1 billion, was cancelled when Mahathir decided to buy instead 18 MiG-29N fighters from Russia and eight F/A-18 Hornet fighters from the US. The deal with Britain was reduced to a mere £400 million sale of 28 BAe Hawk 108s and 208s.
More Treacheries In The 1990s
In 1986, Mahathir persuaded the docile Ghafar Baba to become his deputy. This move was to appease those who were against him in UMNO, and was made of want to be seen to welcome some form of neutrality. But really Anwar was his choice for a deputy. But Anwar was still “too young” then in political terms. Furthermore, Ghafar pledged his loyalty to Mahathir – a weakness that Mahathir exploited very well.
In 1993, Anwar was ready to take on the seasoned Ghafar Baba. When asked why did he not fight back, Ghafar had this to say:
“I had no means to fight, no money. Also, I did not want to attack Anwar then. How could I? We were in the same party. It would have only benefited the Opposition. My mistake was I did not see that politics had changed. In the past, they supported you based on your track record. Now it’s something else –this money politics.”
What did Mahathir do to stop Anwar from attacking Ghafar? As usual, nothing.
Anwar Ibrahim’s meteoric rise to the No.2 spot made him a very popular man especially with the youth. Many were already disenfranchised with Mahathir who not only by then had been in power for 12 years, but had two deputies removed before Anwar.
Soon, Anwar’s popularity became a threat to Mahathir. When the Asian Economic Crisis caused a financial meltdown, Mahathir allowed it to go on. On 3 December 1997, a cabinet meeting was held in Langkawi. Mahathir got a shock when, upon arrival, seeing that the meeting had been chaired by Anwar and had already been concluded. The cabinet members had decided to adopt an austerity plan similar to those imposed on neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia by the International Monetary Fund. The plan would cut public spending and halt infrastructure projects championed by Mahathir.
Mahathir agreed to go along with the cabinet’s decision. However, the very next day he announced that he would proceed with a controversial USD2.7 billion rail and pipeline project, effectively shooting down the cabinet decision. That sent alarms to investors and caused the Malaysian Ringgit to tumble to a new low.
As Prime Minister, Mahathir did nothing to arrest the fall of the Ringgit. At one point in January 1988, the Ringgit was traded at RM4.88 to the USD. Anwar being the impatient Anwar, launched a veiled attack on Mahathir with his “cronyism, nepotism” war-cry. Mahathir was then handed on a silver platter two reasons to get rid of Anwar.
The Opportunistic Hyena Now
Observers commented that Mahathir now spits at the sky. When his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made errors of political judgment and received salvoes of fire from the Opposition, Mahathir saw that his successor may not win the 12th general elections – an event that would not augur well with Mahathir. Furthermore, Abdullah refused to interfere in the Federal Court’s decision to quash the sodomy conviction against Anwar. Anwar would then be released and was free to launch attacks on his former boss.
When Najib Razak was being attacked over the 1MDB issue, Mahathir thought that there was no way that the former would be able to explain himself. Naturally, the Barisan Nasional could even lose the next general elections. In the run up to the 13th General Elections, the Opposition promised that they would bring Mahathir to trial for his sins as the 4th Prime Minister. If BN loses, Mahathir would be sitting duck.
Being the opportunistic political hyena, Mahathir launched an all-out attack on Najib. At one point, political observers were very sure that Najib was going to crumble. However, when Najib fought back and started to gain grounds, Mahathir was left with no choice but to align himself with the very people he sent to prison without trial.
Mahathir’s fear has always been of being prosecuted in a court of law for corrupt practices during his tenure as the Prime Minister. He needs a strong Prime Minister who could protect him. By getting on the wrong side of Najib, he had lost all the protection he could get from the BN government. His solution was to form an alliance with his enemies, form a political party and join the Pakatan coalition. At least if Pakatan wins the next elections, he would be protected.
But at the back of his mind he knew that someone in Pakatan might turn his or her back on him and decide that he should stand trial for corruption – and that the billions his family owns would be frozen and confiscated. Therefore, he made his other move – be Pakatan’s Prime Minister-designate. All he needs is about two years if he lives that long, to escape the law.
As for now, Mahathir would say just about anything to show his relevancy, and to plead to the voters to accept him as their Prime Minister again – just as how his long-time friend Robert Mugabe has decided to form his own political party. It does not matter how damaging his words may be to the country, as long as he gets to fullfil his personal mission.
This brings me to remember the time when the Tunku launched attacks on Mahathir. Anwar Ibrahim was interviewed on the matter by foreign journalists. Anwar said the Tunku is a voice of the past, speaking for a style of politics that no longer exists. ”A grand old man who has done his bit,” he said to the journalists ”But I don’t know if he’s even conscious of what he is saying.”
We don’t know what Mahathir the Hyena is saying either.
Recently, 14 European Union ministers and 3 Charges D’Affaires met with members of Pakatan Harapan. Rais Hussin (above) who heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Pribumi wrote that the claim of Foreign Minister Anifah Aman that Pakatan had breached the sovereignty of Malaysia was ludicrous and off target. He went as far as quoting the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961.
Very laudable, Rais. Good effort in trying to at least look clever. They say ‘The Devil is always in the details‘, Rais. The very least you could do is read the statement by the Foreign Minister properly.
He said ‘mengundang campur tangan‘ which, if translated properly, means ‘inviting interference‘ in Malaysia’s domestic issues as well as the issues raised to the delegates would effect the image and sovereignity of the country.
The concern of the Malaysian Government is why is Pakatan Harapan members, especially PPBM members who do not even hold seats in Parliament (with the exception of self-proclaimed Brunei citizen Mukhriz Mahathir who is the ADUN of Jerlun), air domestic issues to representatives of foreign nations? What is the intention here?
Years ago, Mahathir chide the west for poking their noses into Malaysia’s domestic affairs. Now you are asking foreign nations to interfere but at the same time chide the Government for inviting foreign investments from China and the Middle East. That is blowing hot and cold at the same time. It is a known fact that you are full of hot air anyway but you are undoubtedly a qualified and proven strategist. Just look at how spectacular Muhyddin is doing now (that was being ironic and sarcastic in case it escaped your alleged intellectual mind).
Did Mahathir chide Anwar for seeking support from Al Gore, Estrada etc? Wait! You reformed! Of course! That is why Mahathir has done a U-turn and is doing what Anwar did. So was Anwar right? Did Mahathir actually screw Malaysia for 22 years?
Bad mouthing our country to outsiders is simply in bad taste. Sabotaging the country for your own political gain? And it was thought that Mahathir and PPBM could sink no lower.
Are you hoping for the EU to place an embargo on Malaysia? It would definitely affect the Palm Oil industry which will in turn affect the small producers. So, when these people lose their income and can’t provide food on the table, will you be answerable?
You talk about 1MDB, SRC and Felda without any hint of knowledge concerning the matters. The US, Singapore, Switzerland took action after Bank Negara hit 1MDB with heavy penalties.
The SRC, Felda and Mara are still under investigation in case you are unaware. Any form of investigation would not happen if Mahathir were the Prime Minister because he would just instruct the MACC to turn a blind eye just like in the case of the BNM Forex scandal.
By the way, do you even understand what 1MDB is all about? You probably do a little after all those hours of trying to memorise and parrot what the blogs alleged. Or perhaps you received advice from Pakatan’s renowned economists i.e. Mat Sabu, who coincidentally is the person who coined the term ‘Mahafiraun‘ for your beloved ‘Prime Minister’-designate, a name that is still being used by the original reformasi people in reference to him.
With regards to the 1MDB, not one individual has been charged or arrested in the US despite all attempts by Pakatan to get the DOJ to take action. A civil action has been taken, which the DOJ had applied to the US courts but even that, further action had to be postponed. Why is this so? It is because although Pakatan sent its goons over to the US to report about the loss of money from 1MDB, the US DOJ is having problems trying to ascertain where the money is actually from as 1MDB has not lost any money.
However, you can be proud of the constant use of the word ‘kleptocracy’ which shows that you are capable of some form of basic intelligence – amoeba level, that is.
Those arrested and charged in Singapore were all bank employees who flouted the local financial regulations. Sorry to spoil your stupid fun but those people are NOT related to, nor are they employed by the 1MDB.
Perhaps, if you were to put in some effort to properly read the Foreign Minister’s statement (two months should do for you given your level of comprehension), the concerns were regarding the good name, integrity and guaranteed sovereignty of the country. It did not at all touch on electoral monitoring groups.
The point is, both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were disturbed by the actions of Pakatan bad mouthing Malaysia to outsiders. And this begs a question from me: IF YOU ARE SO CONFIDENT OF FORMING THE NEXT GOVERNMENT, AND HAVE THE NUMBERS WHY DO YOU HAVE TO SEEK THE HELP OF FOREIGNERS?
Surely a person like Anifah Aman who has served two terms as the Malaysian Foreign Minister and widely respected on the world stage knows, unlike you, his subject matter. Anifah spoke facts on possible ramifications of the shallow-minded actions Pakatan had made.
The Foreign Minister made no mention that it is wrong for the EU Ambassadors to meet with MPs of the Opposition as this is the norm in democratic nations but the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations allows the Government to take the necessary action if any diplomat intervenes in the internal affairs of a country.
Unlike you, the Foreign Minister is a man who is not just a politician, but more so that he is a very well respected diplomat. He is well respected around the world, and in the US is well received by both the Democrats and Republican Senate reprentatives. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise to you that he also holds several important international portfolios and, unlike your master who gave Malaysian identity cards to foreigners in Sabah, has the undeniable loyalty and affection of the majority of Sabahans.
Stop behaving as if you are intelligent. Allah Knows. Ada faham, Rais?
It was a movement to topple the second most-hated dictator of the South East Asia. Tens of thousands would march on the streets of Kuala Lumpur chanting “Undur Mahathir, undur!” and the infamous “Reformasi!” after Anwar Ibrahim was summarily expelled from UMNO and denied a chance for the premiership over reasons Mahathir himself claims to have forgotten or something to that effect.
Leading this group of demonstrators was Anwar’s most loyal lieutenants, Azmin Ali, who was his Principal Private Secretary in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. With Anwar still in jail, Azmin is the most favourite choice for Pakatan’s Prime Minister-designate amongst the younger generation.
Or that was what we all thought would happen.
Suddenly, the 92-year old Mahathir manoeuvred his way into being accepted as the Prime Minister again if Pakatan wins the next general elections. DAP and the anti-Azmin camp inside PKR namely Wan Azizah’s camp accepted the nonagenarian but this was rejected by several opposition-friendly NGOs as well as Selangor’s PKR.
Several hints on social media platforms and insiders’ information of Anwar’s opposition to Mahathir being designated as Pakatan’s Prime Minister warranted an article by The Star’s Joceline Tan. The writing is all over the wall – REFORMASI is dead.
In a move seen to insult Mahathir, Azmin offered his Gombak parliamentary seat for Mahathir to contest in in the next general election, an offer rejected outright by the latter.
A leopard never changes its spots – and true to his character, Mahathir announced that he will deal with dissenters quietly – a reminder of his 22-year reign of terror.
Just like Anwar whose colour of underwear was made public for going against Mahathir, Azmin now finds tales of his sexual trysts being made public. We are reminded of the time Anina Saadudin’s steamy WhatsApp messages were made public after falling out with Mahathir’s inner circle.
Anything Azmin is now being attacked, therefore it’s going to be interesting to see how the champion of Reformasi will now go against the man he has been fighting against for the past 20 years.
If he fails, it would be Mahathir’s masterstroke – for killing off the Reformasi movement from inside and finally making it his own Reformasi where dissent can never be tolerated.
Welcome to Mahathir’s Reformasi – or Dictatorship 2.0 as we know it.