Permatang Pauh: Desperate people do the most idiotic of things

This is what I read on the Malaysian Insider just 5 minutes ago:

PERMATANG PAUH, Aug 25 With defeat staring them in the face in Permatang Pauh, Barisan Nasional politicians have been pulling out all the stops to damage Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim”s image.

Over the past 24 hours, several politicians on house-to-house visits in the by-election campaign have been talking about details of the sodomy charge against the Opposition icon, even pointing out that the stains on accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan”s undergarments and body matched Anwar”s DNA.

And when faced with scepticism, some ruling coalition politicians have gone a step further providing details of DNA tests conducted by the Chemistry Department.

Read more HERE. Ah well, I’m just going to put the entire article here.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the tests were conducted on several samples from the underwear and body parts a few days after Saiful lodged a police report on June 28. The tests allegedly confirm that the DNA on the samples belonged to Saiful and Anwar.

In his police report, the former aide alleged that he was sodomised by Anwar in a condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26. Anwar was charged with having carnal knowledge against the order of nature but he has asserted that this fresh sodomy allegation was part of a political conspiracy to stop him from becoming the prime minister of Malaysia.

Before nomination day on Aug 16, Barisan Nasional officials reached a consensus not to highlight the sodomy charge against Anwar, knowing that as many as six in 10 Malaysians did not believe the allegations and many Malays were uncomfortable discussing sexual issues in public.

Instead, the plan was to focus on the strengths of the local candidate, Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, a rotund politician with a common touch.

That plan was scratched a day before nomination day when Saiful swore on the Quran at the Federal Territory mosque that he was sodomised by Anwar.

From then on, the sodomy charge provided the backdrop of the by-election campaign with Umno politicians questioning Anwar”s reluctance to take an oath of innocence.

This strategy found some traction among Malay voters in the early days of the campaign but Pakatan Rakyat has since countered it effectively by getting spiritual heavyweights from Pas including Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Haron Din to speak at ceramahs in the constituency and question the validity of Saiful”s oath.

To make believers out of the unbelievers, some BN party officials have been contemplating giving voters nuggets of evidence and information about the sodomy case against Anwar, including results of laboratory tests.

But other senior officials have disagreed with this approach, saying that now that Anwar had been charged in court, evidence and witness accounts should only be presented during the trial and not during the by-election campaign.

But the hardliners won the day, arguing that the Opposition has been employing all kinds of tactics including releasing statutory declarations to damage BN leaders and cast aspersions on the government”s case against Anwar.

So for the last 24 hours, BN officials on house-to-house visits have been going into some detail on the sodomy charge against Anwar, fishing out a laboratory report where necessary to make the case that the samples taken from Saiful”s underpants and his body matched that of Anwar”s.

Is it going to be enough to turn defeat into victory? Unlikely. Is it going to turn droves of Malays against Anwar?

Unlikely. But these are desperate times for the BN.

The truest statement I’ve heard so far. These are indeed desperate times for the BN. So desperate, that they have gone into self-destruct mode.

Fishing lab results to get people to vote for them? DNA results?

How low can they go?

I’ve come across statements from other blogs, especially from those who are on the ground, that this is the dirtiest election campaign in Malaysian history. I don’t know the truth of that statement, but what I know is that the BN camp is very obviously under a lot of pressure, and are desperate for even that one extra vote.

What lab results are they fishing out of their bags? What DNA results are we talking about? I thought the government and the police were pressuring Anwar to give his DNA sample to them before this, with Anwar stoutly declining to do so every time? I thought they were exasperated because they needed that “last bit of evidence” to either prove that they had a case, or if they had none at all.

Where in the world did they get Anwar’s DNA to test and match? Wherever they got it from, it most certainly wasn’t legitimate. Because as far as I know, Anwar has not given them any new sample.

Or did they suddenly decide that whatever sample or DNA profile that they had from 1998 is now suddenly usable again? I thought it was “too old” and couldn’t be used? Did they compare the profile they got from Saiful’s underpants, and compare it to Anwar’s 10-year-old DNA profile?

This is nuts. I have to say this. This is about as low as they can ever go. There is simply not even an ounce of decency left in what they are doing, and the “material” that they are campaigning on.

I repeat. There are statements and comments on blogosphere that this is the dirtiest election campaign ever. And they are saying that from being on the ground. What I’m seeing and blogging about is only what I can get, through blogs and news portals, 8500km away.

If what I’m getting is only the tip of the iceberg, and already I can’t see past the murky water (It’s actually so murky that it’s now mud), then what is going on in Permatang Pauh itself is beyond even my wildest imagination.

*****

Good people of Permatang Pauh, this is my plea to you. Please go out and vote for Anwar Ibrahim. No matter what suspicions you have for Anwar, no matter how uneasy you feel about his past in UMNO, I plead for you to vote for him.

What the BN is showing now is that they are desperate. They are so desperate that they are willing to sink this low. This is not the future we want.

Our future is worth more than DNA samples on a guy’s underpants, and God knows how those “DNA samples” got there.

Our future is worth more than swearing on the Quran.

Our future is worth more than the need to feel “thankful” for being able to retain our non-Malay names.

Our future is worth more, much more than all that we have now.

We don’t have a lot that we can truly say is ours. But that one cross, on that one piece of ballot paper, is truly yours. Use that one right that we still have left. Cross wisely.

You are not only voting for a Member of Parliament. You are voting for the future of Malaysia.


Media coverage in Permatang Pauh

I wrote THIS this morning, about the imam who was present at Saiful’s swearing on the Quran. By now, anyone who’s reading this (meaning those who have access to the internet), would have known about this incident, and would no doubt have read about it in other blogs as well.

The imam made his speech, or press conference, yesterday night. Malaysiakini had it up by yesterday night, although I was already asleep by then. Most blogs had it up by this morning.

It is now 12.26 in the afternoon in Malaysia. Another half-day till Polling Day.

I tried looking for the explosive news of what the imam said yesterday on the mainstream media news portals. So far, I have found THIS in the StarOnline:

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The imam who “witnessed” Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan swear on the Quran recently has urged the public to stop blaming him, saying that he was not a part of any conspiracy.

Ramlang Porigi who spoke for just five minutes during a ceramah at Padang Ibu, Permatang Pauh late last night, said he had no part in organising the entire swearing on the Quran episode, adding that he was only asked by his superiors to be present.

Mohd Saiful had sworn on the Quran in the Federal Territory mosque on Aug 15 that he was sodomised by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Ramlang said normally, swearing on the Quran was carried out by two disputing parties after all legal avenues had been exhausted.

That is the full article. Located somewhere at the end of the webpage, and if I wasn’t looking for it, I don’t think I would even be able to locate it.

Then I read this from Mustafa K Anuar’s blog:

Berita Harian’s website did not post this news.

A check on Bernama’s website this morning shows that the Ramlang revelation apparently did not catch the eye of the national news agency.

The agency however did post an item that looks more like an opinion piece titled, ‘Swearing by the Quran strikes fear among the Malays’. The piece merely tries to reinforce what is claimed as important to the Malay community, i.e. swearing on the Quran.

More HERE.

The Sun: nil
NST: nil (In fact, it’s interesting to note that NST has all its articles that are related to Permatang Pauh starting with “Battle for Permatang Pauh:…” And all that I’ve seen so far are all from the BN side of things, and all undermining Anwar’s side of the “battle”)

To think that such a thing happened in Permatang Pauh yesterday night, and they had the galls to NOT report on it, or belittle it into something so insignificant. For goodness sake, the guy said that he doesn’t rule out the possibility of it being a conspiracy! AND he gave a press conference. Surely it must warrant more than just a 4-paragraph story that doesn’t even go CLOSE to what really transpired last night!

Some may question why I even bother with the mainstream media. Truth is, no matter how much we don’t like it, the mainstream media is still the forerunner in providing news items to those who have no access to computers and Internet. The mainstream media still have the most coverage.

Sure, we may say that with Internet, our network of news is now increasingly quicker and better. And we get more versions of news. We get some things that are not reported on the mainstream media.

But we must also understand that it’s only half of us, maybe even less.

And that’s the reason why I think it’s appalling, and absolutely horrible how the mainstream media is reporting on the events happening in Permatang Pauh now.

From Anil Netto’s blog, he had this to say about national television:

Just caught the 8.00pm news over TV1 and TV3.

For the first 20 minutes it was almost all BN propaganda. The propaganda centred on four main areas:

  • challenge to Anwar to swear on the Qur’an
  • 200 “PKR members” crossing over to BN(!) – ho hum, the usual thing.
  • greater compensation or financial assistance to the poor/squatters within Permatang Pauh
  • rifts within the Pakatan, conflicting ideologies etc; therefore the coalition will be unable to govern the country

We all know that it’s not the first time that the mainstream media is used as BN propaganda tools. This is not unlike the campaigning leading up to the General Elections earlier this year.

In fact, from what I heard from my friends, they were all so bored and pissed at all the unwanted advertisement by BN on TV and the newspapers that they decided to vote against them.

I have a feeling that by using the mainstream media to their advantage, they’re actually doing themselves more damage.

Perhaps if they had learnt a little about “reverse psychology”, the mainstream media could have been used to work in their favour.

But since it’s not meant to be, my bets are still on Anwar to win big tomorrow.


Imam says: Might be a conspiracy

I was just writing in here the other day about Najib following in Saiful’s footsteps, and swearing on the Quran. Saiful swore that he was sodomised by Anwar, Najib swore that he has nothing to do with Altantuya.

Now, Najib PROBABLY decided to swear on the Quran, and in Permatang Pauh no less, to put pressure on Anwar to do the same, and swear the negative of what Saiful swore.

I don’t want to question the contents of their oath. What they swore was between them and Allah.

But when you get news like THIS, it’s difficult to ignore:

Ramlang Porigi menjelaskan beliau telah diarahkan hadir di majlis sumpah pemuda itu pada 15 Ogos lalu, yang mendakwa diliwat oleh Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Dalam sidang media bersama naib presiden PKR Mohamad Azmin Ali di Yayasan Aman, Penanti tengah malam ini, Ramlang mendedahkan arahan itu dikeluarkan oleh “orang atasannya” tetapi sekali lagi enggan menamakannya.

Seharusnya, tambah imam itu, kedua-dua pihak Mohd Saiful yang menuduh dan Anwar sebagai tertuduh hadir di majlis sumpah laknat.

Mengulas lanjut mengenai majlis bersumpah Mohd Saiful, Ramlang berkata, beliau bukannya menjadi saksi sumpah Saiful.

“Apabila kebetulan Saiful tersalah sebut lafaz sumpahnya, oleh kerana saya berada di situ, jadi saya tegurlah,” katanya.

Oleh itu, jelasnya, beliau tidak ada sebarang kaitan dengan sumpah Saiful, yang diadakan sehari sebelum penamaan calon pilihanraya kecil Parlimen Permatang Pauh.

From Malaysiakini HERE.

Hold your horses just a minute. Did he say that he wasn’t there as a witness?

Ramlang berkata, beliau bukannya menjadi saksi sumpah Saiful.

Okay… I’m officially lost now. Because I thought this imam was there as a witness to the oath taking. But if he now says he wasn’t, then who was there to witness it?

And according to this imam as well, the two persons involved, namely Saiful and Anwar, have to be present for the oath to be “good”.

So what happened?

This “admission” coming from the imam two days before Polling day in Permatang Pauh, cannot be good for the Barisan Nasional camp. They were banging on and on about the swearing by Saiful that took place, and questioning the reasons why Anwar simply would not do the same.

With the imam coming out and saying all these, although he didn’t say that he thinks Saiful is lying, still throws a spanner in their works. What are they going to say after this? After all, I would imagine that they are the ones who chose the imam for Saiful.

There are some videos of what transpired on Susan’s blog HERE. I have yet to watch them, so I have nothing to comment as yet. According to Susan, it was explosive.

(Added 1:58pm NZ time: Susan said it’s explosive, and explosive it is! Perhaps the one that caught my attention most from the videos was the imam answering to one question by a journalist:

Journalist: Ustaz, boleh saya tanya, masa sumpah itu adakah itu satu konspirasi, oleh Saiful atau sesiapa untuk buat sumpah?

Imam: Bagi saya, boleh jadi. Sebab ia dibuat sehari sebelum penamaan calon.

If I were on the BN camp at this moment, I’ll be going “Ouch..” Because this has just got to hurt where it matters most.)

I will wait and see what BN comes up with next.


Give him a chance, give us a chance

Did you read the latest article written by Bakri Musa?

That is exactly the kind of article that should be read by all Malaysians. That is exactly what it is. What he has said is quite true. How can this boy enter a holy place and put his hand on a holy book, and say such lewd words? So uncouth!

Anwar is right in saying that he is not going to swear on the Quran. He shouldn’t.

And did you read the part where Bakri Musa said that if Anwar is to swear on the Quran, might as well get him to swear that he will keep his promises to Malaysians. That would be the best thing to take oath on. That he will keep his promises.

At this point, the only thing I can say is that Anwar really deserves the chance. The chance to make change happen.

Even when he was accused of sodomising another person (this time around), even though I don’t believe it, I still didn’t believe that Anwar is clean.

Anwar was, without a doubt, part of UMNO back before 1998. He was part of the regime that he so blatantly criticises now. How to trust him like that? If last time he didn’t do anything, how do we know that he will do things any different now?

But if we don’t let him have this chance, maybe we won’t have any more chances. Taking a chance on him, is like giving ourselves a chance to have change.

At this point, I think Anwar is the only choice we have, if we want change. We have to take the chance.

If he doesn’t keep his promises, what can we do? At least we must give him the chance to fulfil his promises first. If he doesn’t keep them, we’ll just vote otherwise during the next elections.

My support is for Anwar this time. Let’s give him the chance. Let’s give ourselves the chance.

The people of Permatang Pauh practically hold the future of Malaysia in their hands. I hope they go all out to vote for Anwar. I hope he wins by a bigger majority.

A clear message must be sent to Barisan Nasional: You are not wanted anymore.

Anwar has my full support.

_______________________

My dad said all of the above. Edited by myself to try and compact our 1-hour conversation into a blog post that’s not too long. We touched on other things as well, but I’ll keep them for another day.

My dad was born 1956. He remembers the old days when Anwar was in power in UMNO and BN. He had experienced things and policies implemented during Anwar’s time in power, things that I’ve only heard of.

My dad is a cynical person. He simply won’t sign the petition to the Agong, because he says it will come to naught. No amount of pestering has done him in. “You don’t know the powers of the powers-that-be”, he says.

That’s why I was surprised when he finally said that he fully supports Anwar this time. He believes Anwar is not stupid enough to sodomise someone at the height of his fight back, but never has he said, in so many words, that he thinks Anwar should be given a chance to go back to Parliament.

My dad and I don’t always agree with one another. That’s what father-daughter relationships are all about.

But I agree with him on this one.

It’s not about anti-establishment, not about anti-BN. It is simply about our frustration with what is happening to Malaysia, and our hopes that it can and will become better.

I came across Haris’ open letter to Anwar about an hour ago. I sat here for 20 minutes, thinking about what I could write in response to what he’s already written. All I could think of was: It’s all so true.

Haris does not speak for everyone, because there will be people who disagree with his views. But Haris, and The People’s Parliament have spoken for me and my dad, through this open letter to Anwar.


To swear or not to swear..

..that is the question. For Anwar Ibrahim, at least.

Since Saiful swore on the Quran on Friday, one day before nomination Day in Permatang Pauh, the heat has been on Anwar to do the same.

Perception is as perception goes, swearing on the Quran is such a solemn act that one tends to believe that whoever is swearing on the Quran must be telling the truth.

I think I’m not too far off when I say that there have been people to second-think their loyalties and support for Anwar after Saiful swore on the Quran on Friday.

For others, me included, the timing was just to perfect.

Nevertheless, it was swearing on the Quran. No small matter, even to a non-Muslim like me.

But respected Islamic people like Nik Aziz have come out to say that swearing on the Quran is “non-Islamic”. That because during the Prophet Muhammad’s time, there was simply no Quran to swear upon, and therefore not recognised as an “Islamic” act.

I found this link somewhere in the comments section on Malaysian Insider. Written by a certain Hajj Ahmad Thomson, who is a barrister specialising in Charities, Employment, Discrimination and Islamic Law, in the UK.

8 pages long, and well worth the read.

The gist of it goes like this:

[…] when a Muslim is swearing an oath it is not necessary for him or her to hold a Qur’an, since the oath is “by Allah” and not “on the Qur’an”

“Not necessary”, he said. But still done, especially in today’s world. Why?

Strictly speaking holding a Qur’an or referring to the Qur’an when swearing an oath “by Allah” is not necessary, but it would nevertheless be fair to say that for many Muslims, holding a copy of the Qur’an when swearing an oath by Allah is an outward demonstration to those who are present that they intend by this action to emphasise that their oath is a sincere and solemn oath.

I don’t want to challenge anything here. I think swearing, whether on God’s name, or “by Allah”, or on a holy book, or merely just swearing (NOT of the vulgar type), is a solemn act, and one to be done only in the most serious of events.

What I’m curious of, is the exact same question that Lim Kit Siang asked in his blog post:

Will the criminal charge of Sodomy II against Anwar under Section 377B under the Penal Code for consensual sodomy be withdrawn if Anwar swears on the Quran?

Should it?

If we were to imagine for a moment, that Anwar does swear on the Quran, say..later this evening. What would happen then?

Because instead of having two sets of allegations, with one by Saiful claiming that Anwar sodomised him, and another by Anwar saying that there is a conspiracy against him, we would now have two sets of “swearings”, if you like, on the Quran.

What difference does it make? We’re back at square one.

This swearing on the Quran, if Anwar were to do it, would produce the same situation that we’re in at the moment. Saiful saying “He did it”. Anwar saying “It’s a lie!”

The only difference, perhaps, would be the perception war. The psywar.

But then again, it comes back to the same predicament. If I were a very VERY religious Muslim, and will only believe those who choose to do everything the Islamic way (so to speak, no disrespect for anyone), I would be believing Saiful at this point. Why? Because Saiful has sworn on the Quran, and no one in their right, spiritual mind would EVER swear on the Quran, and lie.

But if Anwar were to swear on the Quran as well, then what would I believe? Who am I to believe? Because they have both sworn on the Quran, but two totally different stories.

So in the end, I have the choice of believing either one of them. Hence why I said, square one.

I’m fast losing my point here, so what I’m going to end with is this.. I don’t know if Anwar should swear on the Quran. In my believing that he is innocent, I don’t see what he has to lose. Those who argue that swearing on the Quran is not Islamic and advised him not to do so, can equally advise him to just make an oath “by Allah”. To me, it’s the same thing. But if I’m wrong, I stand corrected.

If Anwar were to make an oath “by Allah”, and not “on the Quran”, I’m pretty sure the ulamas, ustaz, and muftis in Malaysia would find it equally valid.

So should he? It would make no difference, except clear some minds who have started to suspect him. Which could very well be an important factor to consider.

But should he? Really?

I don’t know.

Afterthought: No matter whether Anwar swears or not, the matter remains the same. He has been charged, and I think there should be a free and just trial. Evidence should be put forward. And Anwar is, to me, still innocent until proven guilty.