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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Poll Position: Where's YB? Irrelevant!

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Well, the missing YB Zulkifli Noordin has since resurfaced. And quite by coincidence, he emerged from God-knows-where on the very same day (give or take) myAsylum's last poll concluded.

To those who participated, thanks for playing along. And the results?

Image hosting by Photobucket... although one does wish he were abducted by aliens...

Well, truth be told, it doesn't matter, 'cause YB refuses to tell us where he's been. Walski was hoping that he was abducted by aliens, though - but more on that later.

What does matter, however, are his thoughts on his participation in the protest against the Bar Council forum on Saturday, August 9, which resulted in the forum being called to a close prematurely.

And his stand? That he's a Muslim first, and anything else later (via Malaysiakini). Presumably, that includes being a rational, thinking individual.
(you WILL respect my authoritaah, and more, in the full post)

Ok, perhaps you think Walski is being a little harsh. So, let's analyze, from the Malaysiakini article, what YB Zulkifli has to say.

"I am a Muslim first, lawyer second; I am Muslim first, MP second" - and this appears to be his key argument. Ok, fair enough.

"It is not right... for me Islam comes first, a party member second. If you attack Islam I'll be there," he exerted.
(source: Malaysiakini)

And how exactly was Islam being attacked? With sticks? Stones? No, it was being attacked by a forum, which although had a potentially provocative title, was after all, a forum. And if anyone, the YB included, had bothered to scrutinize the agenda for the forum (rather than simply look at the title and go ballistic), and the participants, you'd have found that the forum was discussing the grey areas between two jurisdictions (Civil and Syariah), and real-world experiences of those caught in this grey area limbo.

The Bar Council, one day before the forum, had issued the following press statement (emphasis by myAsylum):

The Bar Council's forum scheduled for tomorrow will proceed. The concerns of some quarters including a number of cabinet ministers such as the DPM, Dato' Seri Najib Razak, Dato' Hamid Albar and Dato' Zahid Hamidi, various NGOs and Pas are noted.

We reiterate that our concern is to address the issues of conflicts of laws facing families caught between the separate jurisdictions of civil and Syariah laws.

The Bar Council is not questioning the provisions of Article 121 (1A), which confer Syariah jurisdiction over Muslims on the Syariah Courts.

The co-existence of two separate legal jurisdictions is not a new or uncommon phenomenon and there are naturally issues of conflicts of laws arising from the different jurisdictions.

We recognize and respect Article 121 (1A); however, there is a strong viewpoint that it is unjust to compel anyone to be subjected to laws and courts that are based on a religion that they do not profess, and this viewpoint must be addressed.

Our concern centres on the manner of dealing with the current conflicts. There must be a concerted effort by the Government to address these issues constructively and not pay mere lip service to the concerns of many.

Although the Bar Council is heartened by the PM's recently-reported statements calling for more interfaith dialogues to be held in order to promote and ensure religious harmony among Malaysians of diverse beliefs and we welcome his assurance that there is space for such dialogues, we urge that more be done by way of constructive dialogue and meaningful debates with all the relevant stakeholders to arrive at a just and amicable solution. However, the Bar Council is troubled by the continuing calls fromcertain quarters that its forum tomorrow be cancelled.

These statements that claim the forum will create misunderstanding, anger and tension, are in stark contrast with the PM's assurances.

The Bar Council reiterates that the forum will not dispute Article 121 (1A), nor question Islam or its status as enshrined in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution. The forum is not about conversion per se, as the Bar Council endorses the absolute right of individuals to embrace Islam. Instead, the forum will address the ancillary issues that arise from such situation and will emphasise the need for laws, and judicial system, that protects everyone equally.

The way forward to resolving any dispute or issue is to firstly promote greater understanding of the views of all parties involved.

We accept and understand that matters relating to faith and race are always sensitive and emotive.

However, regardless of the sensitivity, we must strive to move forward to achieve a just, fair and amicable solution to the problems faced by so many individuals.

The Bar Council agrees with the PM that there is a high degree of respect and tolerance in Malaysia, and Malaysians are able to "discuss various issues, especially on religion, without having fear of repercussions from any other party". Malaysian society is mature and responsible. It wants to, and is ready to, exchange views in public, even on difficult issues, in efforts to further strengthen national unity and foster interfaith harmony.

Discourse on issues confronting the nation cannot take place only at official levels, behind closed doors, but must be inclusive and involve the public and those whose lives are affected by them.

Calls to halt discussion on any issue imply that there are aspects to those issues that the public does not have right to know about, which is counter to the principles of the open, progressive and democratic society that we have evolved into.

We believe that it is the continued suppression of open and respectful discourse, not public forums, that will cause tension and jeopardize national unity.

The Bar Council advocates the democratic rights of all individuals and groups, and defends their freedom to assemble, to associate and to express their views. We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that the dialogue takes place in a controlled and constructive manner, by holding the forum in a closed setting and by requiring participants to register for the event. The forum is open to everyone.

The Bar Council urges supporters and critics alike to attend the forum and to air their views so that together, we can strive to seek just solutions to the issues faced by our fellow citizens.

But the angry protest went on anyway. Why?

"I am a Muslim first, lawyer second; I am Muslim first, MP second" - almost like card blanche implying whatever the protesters believe to be the truth is the truth. No room for reason. Thinking not allowed, almost.

But here's the interesting part. From the same Malaysiakini article mentioned above:

"You have a misleading fact. There was no question of us stopping the forum. They have already discussed with the police to stop it... it's not because of us."

And that, folks, is a blatant lie. The protesters were there for one and one reason only - to stop the forum. The police, based on the volatile mob-like atmosphere, had no choice but to "advise" the organizers to cut the forum short. But don't take Walski's word for it (hat tip to The People's Parliament).

With veiled threats issued by Dr Badrul Amin Baharom (also of PKR), between time markers 1:16 and 3:26, of violence if the police didn't "cooperate" to stop the forum. And the fiery student leader, representing GPMS, hinting at bloodshed (between time markers 3:43 and 5:43). Or how about what the YB Zulkifli Noordin himself said (between time marker 7:36 to the end)?

"I am a Muslim first, lawyer second; I am Muslim first, MP second" - is that an excuse to lie?

And on what grounds did the people of Kulim Bandar Baru elect him on March 8th this year? On the grounds that he's a Muslim first, MP second? Guess again.

Some supporters of Pembela and their like have even gone as far to say that August 9th was a "victory for Islam". The only thing victorious about it is the clear proof that it's the self-proclaimed "protectors of Islam" that are successfully reinforcing the notion that Muslims are unreasonable, and do not respect the right of others, hence in one fell swoop further tarnishing the image of Islam. Yay! Victory!

Perhaps this letter, published at Malaysiakini, from online friend Umran Kadir sums up the disappointment of Malaysians in the actions of Zulkifli Noordin and the other political leaders - the "I am a Muslim first, whatever else second" so-called leaders. The following is an excerpt from that letter.

Thank you for finally coming out of hiding and delivering a much needed press conference. During the press conference, you made the claim that one can ‘talk about Islam but you can't talk for Islam’.

In a similar vein I would like to make it clear that you and Pembela can talk about Muslims but you can't talk for Muslims. You certainly don't speak for this Muslim and I daresay there are many other Malaysian Muslims that you do not speak for.

You and the other leaders of that demonstration have only brought shame upon Muslims and moreover, brought Islam into disrepute because by your actions and words on the morning of Aug 9, you lend credence to the notion that Muslims are irrational liars who are prone to threats of violence and that our faith is too weak to be discussed in the open.

(source: Malaysiakini - letters are viewable by all)

"I am a Muslim first, lawyer second; I am Muslim first, MP second" - Umran, later in the same letter, points out to the conflict of interest that this stand has put YB Zulkifli Noordin in.

You are keen to emphasise that to you, Islam comes before PKR. However, the far more pertinent question for you to answer is whether Pembela or your collective constituents come first, and in my view by your actions you have placed Pembela above your constituents.

As an illustration, consider if you had another Shamala or Revathi as a constituent. Would you be sympathetic to the plight of such a person? Could such a person count on your support? Would such a person even be comfortable now to approach you?

Would you be willing to cross swords with Jais or other Islamic authorities to seek justice for a non-Muslim? I am guessing the answer to all these questions is a resounding 'no'.

You maintain that you attended the demonstration as a member of Pembela and not as an MP. Since you are still in a state of denial, I provided the above illustration to demonstrate how your actions as a member of Pembela have created a potentially calamitous conflict of interest with your responsibilities as an MP. Who would now believe that you can impartially serve the interests of all your constituents?

So, where was YB? Who the heck really cares... what's more important is that in the here and now, it's these less-than-sincere split-personality politicians that this nation doesn't need. Perhaps, August 9th was a blessing in disguise, after all.

Incidentally, Walski's own choice for the poll was that the YB was abducted by aliens.

They should've kept him, too.