The twinkle in Najib’s eyes So who is best positioned to form the next government?

 

They say that you can leave them far behind, but can never run away from your memories. Especially if they are painful or guilt-ridden. There is more than a measure of truth in that, believe me, ’coz I know. I have this haunting memory—and try as I might it refuses to go

But you know what? This is not an isolated case. Too many horrifying incidents highlight the fact that this attitude is unfortunately all too pervasive. Whether it is a college-girl being harassed by hooligans, or a young woman being thrown out of a local train and thereby losing both her legs, or another being shot down at point blank range by a mentally aberrated man, or a man being beaten to pulp over a minor altercation… responsible members of society have chosen to save their skin and be mute spectators to these ghastly incidents. It is a frustrating and frightening scenario. Doesn’t our conscience ever tell us, “You could be next”? Maybe it does, in a barely audible whisper, but we choose to ignore it.

 

I refer to the infamous assault upon Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while under police custody, which took place 14 years ago today on 20 September 1998.

The assault was merciless, life-threatening and disgraced our Nation in the estimation of the world. On the night of 20 September 1998, Anwar was illegally arrested by police special forces acting under the orders of the UMNO-BN government led by then PM Mahathir Mohammad.

The arrest and assault was part of UMNO-BN’s conspiracy to fabricate sodomy and corruption charges against Anwar Ibrahim, who had been unlawfully removed as Deputy Prime Minister on 2 September 1998.

Dr M still unpunished

14 years later, the circumstances of the assault are still horrifying and remain a national trauma. While helplessly handcuffed and blindfolded, Anwar was punched and slapped repeatedly causing him to fall upon a concrete slab. He was semi-conscious and bleeding from the nose and mouth. Instead of giving him medical assistance, top police officers made him sign the ISA detention order shortly after the assault.

The entire top leadership of the UMNO-BN police force was present at the scene of the assault, but none of them lodged a police report or took any kind action on the assault. Worse, Anwar was denied any kind of medical assistance until 4 days after the assault! And while in this condition, Anwar was even forced to attend interrogations.

There is no doubt that PM Mahathir and the top Umno-BN leadership were fully aware of the assault and the conditions in which Anwar was being held. Despite this, on 1 October 1998, then Umno-BN PM Mahathir lied to the public by claiming that the injuries were self-inflicted.

Contempt for the law

The Royal Commission of Inquiry in its report on 6 April 1999 stated that the assault upon Anwar ‘seared the very soul of Malaysia’. Yet the real culprits behind the assault and subsequent cover-up have never accepted responsibilty or been brought to justice; the real culprits are the UMNO-BN leadership and former PM Mahathir.

It is UMNO-BN’s utter disregard for the rule of law and manipulation of the police leadership against Anwar that led to the assault. 55 years of UMNO-BN rule had so damaged police independence and professionalism that top cops allowed this assault to happen and were party to the subsequent cover-up.

And still seeking another mandate from the people

It is thus a matter of grave concern that the lawless UMNO-BN regime is seeking a fresh mandate from the people of this country. The fabrication of the Sodomy II charges against Anwar in 2008 shows that UMNO-BN has not changed or reformed.

The assault upon our former Deputy Prime Minister and countless high-handed actions since then, proves that no Malaysian is really safe under the arbitrary and amoral rule of UMNO-BN. The assault on Anwar by the country’s highest police officer starkly exemplifies the collapse of independent institutions and just governance in Malaysia under UMNO-BN.

Until today, there has been no independent investigation of UMNO-BN’s involvement in the assault and their role in the subsequent cover-up. The ambit of the RCI was limited and determined by the UMNO-BN government.

The notorious assault of 20 September 1998, which is burned into the collective memory of this nation, cannot be put to rest until the full extent of UMNO-BN’s involvement is investigated and exposed, and measures for reform are put into place.We need to do this, as much for society as for ourselves, or else before long, we would be ashamed to face our own selves in the mirror. So next time you witness any act of injustice, cruelty or violation of human dignity, don’t just stand there, or mind your own business—please, for God’s sake, do something to stop it and motivate others to join you. Remember, tomorrow the victim might be you.

Election Commission deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar talks like a politician and acts like one. He plays politics and behaves like the EC is one of the political parties contesting in the coming general election.

The political parties are managers of the nation’s assets, not owners. We, the citizens and the media, have to stop focussing on the ‘he did it, not me’ drama of the two political parties (both did it) and focus on the right solution for the future.

Of course, the parties have to change tactics too. Yes, politically speaking, throwing muck on the opponent makes sense. The UMNO has played smart politics in the waterscam. However, it should know when to stop. The UMNO too has exploited the rules.

Is the umno willing to change itself? Is it ready to give up the major perk of being in power – the total control over valuable assets? The political opportu-nity now is no longer proving the umno as a thief. It is to show that the umno is willing to make a sacrifice for the sake of national interest.

Some UMNO leaders, while clearly wrong, are so high on power they come across as extremely arrogant. To be haughty after making a mistake is the bigger mistake. It irritates voters. Power doesn’t mean the umno person are not public servants. Humility, reason and, if possible, some ethics are what need to be on display.

The water scam is not a soap opera. Let us all cut the drama, and come up with a solution. Whoever doesn’t might be digging their own deep pit mine in 2013

By the way, have you registered your ‘party’ yet for the coming polls?Wan Ahmad is supposed to be a neutral referee, but when he is sucking up to the PM with his statement, which is not related to his work as an EC official, he has shown what we knew all along, that he is biased.

To mitigate the cheating in the voting process, we call upon all, even those who are overseas, if possible, to come back to vote. Every vote counts. This coming GE13 will be the watershed in the history of Malaysia.Wan Ahmad, when is it the role of the EC to comment on the disrespect shown in the stomping of PM Najib Razak’s photograph?

What about peeing on the photographs of Kelantan MB Nik Aziz Nik Mat or holding a mock funeral in front of the Penang CM’s residence, not to mention the burning of Lim Guan Eng’s photograph?

Deadwood like you do not know the meaning of ‘apolitical’ but yet hold the post of EC deputy chairperson.

Do Malaysians a favour, balik tidur, jangan buka mulut (go sleep, don’t speak) until you know the meaning of ‘apolitical’.First of all, this has nothing to do with elections – yet. So why is the EC deputy chief frothing in the mouth on this issue?

Secondly, on a completely different matter, Wan Ahmad should be voted Sycophant of the Month
We have heard that the end of all learning is humility, the realization that we actually know nothing compared to all we need to know! If you believe this, you believe that all learning and knowledge lead you to a feeling of nothingness, a feeling that you are shunya, a zero.

Sounds alarming, but the zero you feel after a lot of learning is a very different place to be in from the zero you feel before you embark on that learning! Recently, some probationers were surprised when a senior bureaucrat told them, “Please walk into my office whenever you need to. I am nothing, I’m a zero.” Used to the pomposity of bureaucracy, they may have been taken aback. But this is how the officer explains her comment, “What I meant was that they should not stand on ceremony or hierarchy with me. In the vast structure of government and the general scheme of things, each one of us is nothing. The
emptier you consider yourself, the more space you have to learn; the more insignificant you believe yourself to be, the more effective you are, and the more receptive you are, the more you absorb from all around. I am as willing to absorb learning from a probationer, as I am from my seniors.”

Impressive! We started talking. We discussed how most problems occur when we fancy ourselves meaningful and substantial. How if we thought we were zeroes, we would have no expectations, and so no disappointments; if we had zero chips on our shoulder, we would not suffer any affront to dignity; if we had zero mental clutter, we wouldn’t suffer from useless feelings of guilt or fear. If we had zero memory, there would be no bitter carry-overs, no half-truths that prevent new learning. A person who comes to a situation with zero understanding or in other words, an open mind, can understand a new situation afresh, encouraging creativity. If we are zero in ego, we don’t take offence easily, while forgiving and forgetting fast. Zero brings peace; it brings a feeling of calmness and power over self and over situations.

Training ourselves to clear the clutter and enjoy the quiet of emptiness helps build better relationships and better lives. Complicated relationships are the result of past baggage; try approaching a situation afresh, forgetting past bitterness and start with a clean slate. In a corporate world, keep a hierarchy-less approach, open your door and learn more about your organization, tuning in with the vibes you feel.

Perhaps, it was not a coincidence that zero was discovered in India by mathematician Aryabhatta. When we meditate we are told to look within into nothingness and to think of nothing. It is in that space that enlightenment comes. The Bhagvad Gita and Vedas talk of the Universe being created out of nothingness, shunya or zero. God in his unmanifest form is also shunya; in his manifest form, He is ananta, or infinite; and so, from zero comes infinity. God was one but manifested in many forms — that is the power of zero!

Keeping your mind a tabula rasa is a great point to begin —- and an equally great point to end at! This is not the zero of ignorance, illiteracy, lack of knowledge or confidence. This zero is the natural outcome of knowledge and supreme wisdom; it is the zero of extreme self-confidence. It is not that you don’t know anything; it is more that you are willing to learn everything! A zero mind is accepting and receives, hears and registers, and notes critical points. It is the abode of peace, quiet, bliss and solitude. It means you have everything, you know everything and yet are willing to begin at the starting point!

A farmer lost a watch in a haystack. He asked a group of children to help him look for it, promising a reward. The children hunted for hours, but couldn’t locate the watch. Sometime later one of them came back and looked again. He found the watch within a few minutes. Asked how he did that, the child said, “I sat still and concentrated. I heard it.”

Mr Prime Minister sir, where have you been these past few weeks? Why are you still harping on whether your political foes want to change the Jalur Gemilang?

Where are you, sir, when Bernama insulted your popularity by photo-shopping a crowd at your event? Why didn’t you admonish them, sir?

Do you need this kind of magic to show how popular you are? Do you need to talk about the non-story of the opposition trying to replace the national flag?

Why don’t you respond to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, sir, who talks about how close you are to buying votes with your programmes like BR1M?

Is the flag issue more important? Or you have been losing the plot and have a delayed reaction to events that has happened in the past two weeks?

Bernama made you look bad, Dr M made you look bad but you want to talk about the flag?

“We see the flag as a symbol of purity and sovereignty of a country.

We harshly condemn anyone involved in such acts,” you said today.

But you don’t condemn those who make you look bad?

Take charge, sir. We need a good leader for Barisan Nasional to win the next elections. At the rate things are going, sir, it doesn’t look that way.

And despite saying Barisan Nasional will score big, there isn’t any sign of an election in the offing. Your Umno general meeting is in November and you are talking about a flag.

We need someone forthright, sir. We need someone on the ball. We don’t need someone who goes on about a flag. That’s an old story, sir.

We don’t need you to be an old story, sir, or with blinkered views. Come on, take charge, Mr Prime Minister.

Conservatives “reject reality” on whether Obama is even a citizen, born in the US [GALLO/GETTY]
There’s no two ways about it, Democrats decisively won the convention wars. The daily tracking polls show it, and Nate Silver of the New York Times even foresees the possibility of a decisive seven or eight point Obama victory. Even though convention bounces usually fade with time, they have still lasting impacts on how the race unfolds. Romney needed a game-changing convention – and didn’t get it. The Democrats excited their base, finally closing the enthusiasm gap. That’s the good news for Democrats.

The bad news is that it doesn’t matter. Even if Obama wins re-election handily, conservative Republicans have made it clear, they’re not about to let him actually do anything. This is, in fact, the GOP’s ultimate argument: vote for us, or nothing gets done. N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

Think I’m exaggerating? First, here’s what Obama said to donors in Minesotta, several months ago: “I believe that if we’re successful in this election, when we’re successful in this election, that the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that.”

He added, “My hope, my expectation, is that after the election, now that it turns out that the goal of beating Obama doesn’t make much sense because I’m not running again, that we can start getting some co-operation again.”

More recently, he repeated this fantasy in an interview with Time magazine: “[O]ne of the good things about this election is it’s going to give voters a very clear choice… [G]iven how stark the choices are, I do think that should I be fortunate enough to have another four years, the American people will have made a decision. And hopefully, that will impact how Republicans think about these problems… So my expectation is that there will be some popping of the blister after this election, because it will have been such a stark choice.”

Preferring ‘appealing theory’

And how do Republicans feel about this? Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at the conservative National Review, put it starkly: “If Obama wins re-election, the Republican Party will react by moving right, not left. It will become less likely to compromise with Obama, not more.”

 

 Obama kicks off bid for second term

The reason is simple: “Republicans, especially at the grassroots level, would react to Obama’s re-election by assuming that Romney failed because he was too moderate. That’s a very widespread view among Republicans about why Senator John McCain lost in 2008.”

It might not be the most accurate explanation, Ponnuru admits, but “it will nonetheless be an appealing theory for conservatives”.

And why wouldn’t conservatives prefer an appealing theory to cold, hard reality? They reject reality on global warming. They reject reality on whether Obama is even a citizen, born in the US. New polls in Ohio and North Carolina show that good chunk of them even believe that Romney – not Obama – somehow is responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. This is not a political party that very much cares about reality.

This is hardly a surprise, really. It would just be a replay of what’s been happening ever since Obama took office – after winning the White House with a substantial 7.2 per cent popular vote margin – over nine-and-a-half million votes. That was not a close election. The American people had clearly spoken. And yet, the immediate Republican response was to double down in opposition.

As Robert Draper’s book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives, reported, Congressional Republicans held a four-hour meeting strategising how to defeat Obama on the very day of his inauguration, which was attended by approximately 1.8 million people – the largest event in Washington, DC history.

There could be no clearer demonstration of the popular support for Obama than what was happening in the streets of Washington that day. And yet, the Republican leaders simply shrugged it off. Dogged opposition to his every move was to be the order of the day… for four long years. That was the plan they came up with, as Draper explained:

The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:

  • Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: “Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it – please?”)
  • Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)
  • Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)
  • Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.

“You will remember this day,” Newt Gingrich proclaimed to the others as they said goodbye. “You’ll remember this days as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”

In short, it didn’t matter what the American people had voted for. And it certainly didn’t matter what Obama did. Implacable opposition was the GOP game-plan from the very beginning.

And they meant it: Just eight days later, the House passed an early version of the stimulus bill with every single Republican voting “no”. This lock-step opposition was anything but a matter of principle, as can be seen from three different basic facts.

First, the bill was about 1/3 tax cuts, even though tax cuts generally deliver less bang-for-the-buck in terms of stimulating the economy. Second, Republican House members had strongly backed their own almost equally large stimulus bill – as well as a much smaller all-tax-cut version.

Third, after the fact, House Republicans had no problem proudly taking credit for the money spent back home in the months to come. None of these facts comport with principled opposition, all are signs of cynical political gamesmanship.

Blaming Obama

The problem is, neither Democrats nor the media seem capable of figuring out the game, even though it’s no more complicated than Lucy pulling the football away every time, just as Charlie Brown is about to kick it. Because that’s exactly what’s been going on for over 30 years now: Democrats try to compromise and be reasonable, and Republicans respond by moving the ball. Democrats fall on their butts and look stupid, but then they compound the problem by getting up and doing it all over again. (Obama’s recent remarks about the GOP magically becoming more reasonable after the election are just more of the same willful stupidity that Democrats have been practicing since 1980.)

 

 Inside Story US 2012 – US elections:
Funding unlimited?

Last summer, the GOP took this routine beyond the point of absurdity to the very brink of economic suicide, when they threatened to force the Federal Government into default – all in the name of “fiscal responsibility”!

After that, something seemed to have changed in Obama. He shifted focus from deficit reduction to job creation, and he shifted modes from conciliation to confrontation. Republicans, naturally, responded with complete intransigence. Their message is clear: do things our way, or don’t do anything at all.

Of course, they try to blame Obama. It’s a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. But the very fact that Obama’s still talking about working with Republicans after his re-election, rather than trying to destroy them – the way that they talk about him – is proof enough that Republicans are lying about who’s the one who’s unwilling to compromise.

But it’s not just a question of compromise. This pattern of GOP behaviour reveals a fundamental hostility to democracy itself. And that is what neither the Democratic Party nor the American media seems capable of grasping, despite all manner of evidence.

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration responded to congressional opposition to its Central America policy by running an illegal, off-the-books arms-for-hostages operation with Iran in order to fund a terrorist army to undermine the elected government of Nicaragua.

In the 1990s, Republicans in Congress and the judiciary engaged in six-year witch-hunt trying to find some grounds to impeach President Clinton since they couldn’t beat him at the ballot box. During that same time-period, the struggle for healthcare reform saw the Republicans shift from offering their own plan (what eventually became RomneyCare and ObamaCare) to no-holds-bared obstructionism.

This then lead into an anti-democratic structural strategy. On the one hand, it combined a shift to parliamentary-style top-down party discipline, first in the House, then in the Senate, along with increased reliance on procedural tricks and traps.

In the House, members were lied to – most famously about the projected costs of Medicare Part D – and votes were delayed as long it took to arm-twist members into line. In the Senate, the once-rare 60-vote filibuster cloture vote became the standard replacement for 50-vote majority rule.

On the other hand, it relied on mobilising special interest money as never before – eventually supercharged by theCitizens United decision – while doing everything possible to suppress popular opposition.

In the 1990s, this meant widespread foot-dragging in implementing the voter registration provisions of the Help Americans Vote Act, but in the 2000s, this shifted gears into active efforts to purge unwanted voters and otherwise block them from voting, culminating in a whole raft of “voter ID” bills and restrictions on voter registration and early voting.

A media paralysed by a “both sides of the story” ethos – even when one side is clearly mistaken, even lying – has proven itself incapable of telling any of these stories clearly enough for them to be understood separately, much less for them to be recognised as part of an integrated pattern. And yet, the total rejectionism of the GOP’s current presidential campaign makes that pattern increasingly difficult to ignore.

Obama may continue striving mightily to ignore it, but conservatives in the GOP have declared that democracy is dead. “Who cares what you vote for?” is their de facto slogan.

Unfortunately, Obama’s own record seems to echo this same sentiment. Every time he tries to compromise with the GOP, he stabs another loyal Democratic Party constituency in the back. As soon as the election is over, he has already said, the compromising will begin once again. What he means is, so will the back-stabbing as well.

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