The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Thursday asked the central government to respond to charges levelled against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, by India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal.

The court, which was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) by activist Nutan Thakur, fixed November 21 as the next date for hearing.

The PIL sought a thorough probe into the charges levelled by Kejriwal and his colleagues. In her petition, Thakur told the court that she had also sent a letter to principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) but was sure that it would not be responded to.

Last week, Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan had alleged that Vadra had benefited immensely from a quid pro quo in deals with real estate giant DLF

The recent uncorroborated, shameful and absolutely baseless allegations about international conspiracies and takeover plots illustrate one simple situation – sheer desperation.

And it is clear that those politically-owned media unethically concocting and sensationalising these allegations would not have dared to make such allegations had they not been owned and controlled by their BN political masters.

Thus, we can safely assume that hidden hands were – and still are – at play. Indeed, as one of their shameless spinners put it on Friday: Nothing personal, as any politician would say, purely the business of politics.

Just when you think it’s safe to read what is happening in Malaysia, you get a spin of the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) saga.

In her defamation suit against several PKR leaders, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil had her day in court yesterday to give her side of the story.

And what a tale it was, or a yarn as the case may be.

But the facts are simple when it comes to the NFC. Taxpayers lost RM250 million and public funds were used for the purchase of condominiums and whatever else.

Some Umno leaders might have defended her family’s use of public funds but it remains indefensible. And troubling that they can’t differentiate right from wrong.

But what is amazing is that after all the information in public domain that began with the Auditor-General’s Report last year, Shahrizat still stuck to her own narrative of events.

She argued that Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had called for her head because they were influenced by the opposition.

Really, Datuk Seri, really?

Since its independence in 1947, the country has swung violently between military rulers and civilian governments criticised for cronyism, graft and mismanagement.

The 190 million-strong population blame their woes on the current government led by the Pakistan People’s Party. But two emerging powers have emerged on the horizon to hold them to account – the country’s Supreme Court and an emerging opposition movement led by Imran Khan.

In June, the Supreme Court in Islamabad convicted Yusuf Raza Gilani, the then prime minister, of contempt and ousted him from office for not investigating the case. But the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has remained defiant by electing controversial figure Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to the prime ministership.

The judiciary keeps mounting pressure on the Pakistani government to reopen old corruption cases against Asif Ali Zardari, the current president.

Analysts say the judiciary has been more effective than civilian government – giving political rights to minority groups, fixing traffic problems in Karachi and dictating the price of commodities like sugar.

By this line of thinking, did Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak ask her to step down because he too was influenced by the opposition?

Maybe it’s true that politicians live in their own cocoon or are blinkered to think everything is hunky-dory and whatever they do is good for the rakyat.

But the NFC wasn’t good for the rakyat in the end. And it isn’t because the PKR leaders brought it up. The Auditor-General blew the whistle on your family, as simple as that, not the opposition.

You can believe your story but there are Malaysians out there who know the difference and can spot the travesty of the NFC saga.

If might have taken him some time, but I commend Najib for taking action on this embarrassing episode for his government.

Guns blazing, a succession of high-powered Congress leaders came out in defence of Robert Vadra, following allegations by India Against Corruption (IAC). The IAC has charged Vadra, a high-profile businessman (high profile, more because of his lineage than anything else) with entering into questionable deals with the realty giant DLF. That was perhaps only to be expected. It’s however difficult to ignore the hard irony in all of this, which seems to be the Congress’ treatment of its own prime minister in contrast with its response to the latest controversy around Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law.

When Manmohan Singh, not so long back, had come under a volley of attacks from all quarters, the Congress party, at best, was a reluctant defender of the man. At worst, the whisper campaigners among them drummed up rumours, ready to dump the prime minister at the first opportunity. In the fractious run-up to the presidential election, the incorrigible Mamata Banerjee had even let the cat out of the bag at a joint press conference with Mualyam Singh Yadav. Among the names of  potential presidential candidates she reeled out was also that of Manmohan Singh!

For all purposes, the prime minister, heading the UPA coalition, seemed dispensable. While Robert Vadra, though not even a party leader seems entitled to greater loyalty of Congressmen and women. The difference lies in the tone and tenor of the Congress’s furious and vicious rebuttals of the IAC’s allegations. In contrast, Manmohan Singh seems a lonely man, condemned to carrying the cross of his government, without much enthusiastic support from his colleagues. Before the government went on the reform binge, the most spirited defence for Singh that the fellow Congressmen have intoned from time to time is a somewhat limp reaffirmation about his ‘impeccable personal integrity’.

But where was the passion that’s now emanating from the top echelons of the Congress party? In the usual course of things one would expect a political party to zealously guard its prime minister, the top office in government. That’s however not the case with the country’s oldest party.

The Congress has always treated its prime ministers, barring those from the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, somewhat shoddily. Look at the fate of Narasimha Rao, the man who introduced economic reforms, which the Congress is known to take credit for. Not only has Rao been consigned to oblivion in the party’s active memory, many Congressmen wouldn’t even mind taking public potshots at him. Manmohan Singh too seems destined to suffer the same party slight.

But hurt the dynasty and the Congress will summon all the nerve and the verve at its command to teach a lesson. Interestingly during the recent altercations, Congress leaders have repeatedly pointed out that Vadra is a ‘private citizen’, who has the right to transact business deals like any other businessman in the country. So what’s the fuss about?  But that argument ties itself up in knots. Why then have the top party leadership taken it upon themselves to defend a private citizen. In fact, that line of rhetoric could have worked, had Robert Vadra acted like a private citizen and put up his own defence within 24 hours of the IAC’s press conference. Why has he not?

Do you want me to tell you who to vote for on G13? Sorry. I’m not going to do it.

After 20 years of service in the same church, I share a level of mutual respect and trust with members of my congregation calling on my opinion as a regular part of conversation. However, there are some questions that I will not answer, endorsements of candidates among them. My refusal to endorse a candidate is not because of my disinterest in politics, but because of my respect for the integrity of religion generally and the pulpit specifically. A church pulpit is the nexus of Christian beliefs and contemporary issues. The pulpit’s authority is compromised if those who stand in it and preach from it claim a divine authority for their endorsements of candidates. Such a commendation from a sacred desk trivializes other comments made there. Let me tell you what I do. I stand on the pulpit of my church every Sunday and talk about the challenges we face as a nation and how faith can guide us in our thoughts and actions. I call on members of our congregation to demand that our elected leaders work together to find real solutions to major problems. But never will I even hint that there is a divine right of leadership in our community or that fidelity to any political agenda can serve as a litmus test for genuine faith. Our church is comprised of members of the BARISAN and PAKATAN

An independent federal lawmaker today sought to revive last year’s “Christian Malaysia” allegations against the DAP, revealing in Parliament what he claimed was photographic evidence of an alleged plot by party leaders and foreign clergymen to turn the country into a Christian state.

advocates, and people so sick of political divides that they will not vote. I respect the members of my congregation to make their own choices in elections. And, because of my interest in protecting the integrity of the pulpit, I will ask my fellow clergy to stop allowing themselves to be used as a political weapon by turning their pulpits into political stumps. I share the same concerns related to elections and churches with pastors across the country. Unfortunately, not all of my colleagues agree with me. Ignoring the First Amendment’s protections of religious freedom that have allowed faith to flourish in this country, some members of the clergy are participating in an event called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” organized by the so-calledAlliance Defending Freedom. Their goal is to tear down the prohibition barring clergy from making endorsements from the pulpit. It’s an in-your-face approach to religion-based campaigning that dares the IRS to challenge them. These people ignore both the damage partisanship in the pulpit does to the gospel and the legal reality that the prohibition of political partisanship in the pulpit is settled law that has been tested and ruled on by the courts. This is not the first time for this intentional violation of election law, and I have long been a vocal critic of it. In past election cycles, I circulated a pledge signed by hundreds of clergy, to keep politics out of the pulpit.

with the elections just down the road, however long, rocky and winding it may seem for some, such happy news tend to be drowned out by quite pathetic ones.

The most odious story had to come from the state that for so long was held in awe for having produced five legendary warriors. Indeed, Malacca, according to our ever-changing history books, is renowned for the warriors five Hangs, Tuah, Jebat, Lekir, Lekiu and Kasturi.

Tuah, especially, has long been credited with having provided the rallying call that always warms the cockles of the ketuanan mob. Unfortunately, the reputation of these five as proud Malay warriors has received a bit of a setback lately, with some historians asserting that they were more fantasy figures than real ones, and others whispering – shock, horror – that they may not have been Malays after all and, may, instead, have had Chinese origins.

Zulkifli Noordin (IND-Kulim Bandar Baharu) urged Putrajaya to investigate the matter, saying the Malay community, as the country’s dominant ethnic group, have compromised too much over the years.

“Imagine if it was revealed that imams and mosque authorities had helped Barisan Nasional (BN) to win the polls… what would have happened then? They (opposition) would not have kept silent,” he told the House when debating Budget 2013 this evening.

The former PKR lawmaker said he was in possession of photographic proof of a thanksgiving held in Penang last year on May 5, shortly after the Sarawak state election on April 16, where DAP leaders and a group of local and foreign clergymen had prayed to install a Christian Prime Minister and turn the country into a Christian state.

Listing those in attendance, which he said included priests and pastors from United Kingdom and South Africa, Zulkifli said it was also admitted during the dinner that foreign churches were willing to channel funds to help the opposition’s political struggle here.

“The priest from South Africa said he was invited to observe the Sarawak polls, and that he was disappointed in how the Christians have been sidelined in Malaysia, especially on the AlKitab Malay language bibles issue.

“He requested that something is done to help spread Christianity here and said that money is not a problem and that the churches in Africa are ready to help.”

Speaking at a press conference later, Zulkifli maintained that his remarks were based on actual proof of the dinner function, which he said he had obtained from “sources”.

He, however, refused to release the photographs to the media, but denied that it was because he was afraid to be sued by the DAP.

Christians won't over-run this country: Neither will they try to baptise you, Nasha!

It was reported that PAS Nasharuddin Mat Isa claimed that the victory of Islam (success of Muslims) has never been attributed to the “kafir “(infidels) but Muslims themselves.

The hollow statement by Nasharuddin smacks of arrogance and reflects his very low intellectual insight of Islam. Nasharuddin is a despondent politician who has now sunk to the lowest bottom of his party’s hierarchy.  He is aware that he will not be voted in by Muslims and non-Muslims in the next general election if he were to contest a seat.

A political opportunist who lacks political charisma, Nasharuddin served as the Deputy President of PAS from 2005 to 2011. He won re-election to the position in a contested battle in 2009, which was claimed by observers to be a win for PAS’ conservatives.

However, he was defeated for re-election in 2009 by moderate candidate Mohamed Sabu. PAS today is a moderate party.

A drowning man will not be troubled by rain but will look for any straw to clutch on for survival. Unfortunately, it’s too late as the dye is now cast. Presently he is “neither here nor there” in politics due to his incredulous orotundity and seemingly his future in politics is doomed.

Help of the non-Muslims

Nasharuddin is still clinging to a warp thinking relevant 1400 years ago when the “victory” of any tribe at the time depended on the forces within. In the present world, nations are built and “victory” is achieved not through forces of inclusivity or politics of religion but tolerance and intellectual continuum existing among people of different race, religion and nation.

Is it not a glaring fact that many Muslims have found “victory” in life in many ways in all spheres of their life with the help of the non-Muslims? There are thousands of Muslims studying in non-Muslim countries and aren’t the non-Muslims helping to educate them?

Millions of Muslims have found jobs in non-Muslim countries and vice-versa – helping to develop these countries. Unfortunately, Muslim refugees from their “vanquished” war-torn countries are escaping in droves to non-Muslim countries to eke out a living and they have found “victory’ in their newfound “paradise”.

Almost all Muslim countries are doing trade with non-Muslim countries and aren’t these non-Muslim countries helping them to develop their own economy?  Aren’t Muslims enjoying the benefits of modern knowledge and inventions in all fields of science and technology created by non-Muslims and making life easier for them?

The car they drive, the computer they use and the jet they fly in are all inventions of non-Muslims. All these are a “victory” for the Muslims helped by the non-Muslims.

“Victory” to the Muslims

In the local setup, thousands of non-Muslim gurus have taught Muslim students from primary to tertiary levels and many of the present Muslim leaders are the product of these gurus. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals have helped the Muslims in many ways and no right-minded Muslim will rebuff this fact.

In a way, the non-Muslims have given considerable “victory” to the Muslims. And they are happy to do so in the name of religion or humanity.

The country is fortunate that it has majority right-thinking Muslims who appreciate the contributions made by the non-Muslims as compared to only a few obsessively bigoted ones – the stiff-necked, arrogant and failed politicians – who deny this fact.

The issue of non-Muslims not supporting the establishment of an Islamic state should not arise in a multi-racial Malaysia.

A secular state

Nasharuddin must be sorely ignorant of the Malaysian Constitution. Malaysia has been constitutionally declared a secular state and naturally there cannot be the issue of establishing an Islamic state unless the Constitution is changed with the support of the majority – Muslim and non-Muslim lawmakers – and with the blessings of the King.

But he has higher ambitions than the issue of establishing an Islamic state best known to him and his few supporters.

It was actually in the good spirit of Muslim and non-Muslim “brotherhood” that the country achieved Independence from the British in 1957. And the Constitution has rightfully defined the country to be a secular state.

The Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman had a great vision for the country – a vision for the people of all races to live together in harmony as Malaysians.

Even with a Malay majority voice right from the days of Independence, UMNO being the main political base in the previous Alliance and the present Barisan has never mooted the idea of making the country an Islamic state.  UMNO is aware of the fact that this is unconstitutional.

UMNO has honoured the Constitution realising that Malaysia is multi-racial and multi-religious and the best formula for unity would still be by adhering to the secular system. The five prime ministers that came after Tunku kept to this structure unscathed.

UMNO has party associates comprising non-Muslims and the major component parties MCA and MIC are, by and large, considered as non-Muslim parties. MCA and MIC for that matter have never objected to the Constitution making Islam the official religion of the nation.

Their support for UMNO has given victory to Barisan and the mandate to govern the country for more than half a century.

Islam as the official religion

The people on the whole observe Islam as the official religion of the country where Islam is the only religion allowed to be presented and propagated on air or television.  It’s also part of the school curriculum for Muslim students. No other religions are given this privilege.

And yet the non-Muslims have no objection to this.  This can be considered as a “victory” for the Muslims but not necessarily a defeat for the non-Muslims. The tolerance threshold is obviously high among non-Muslims in this context.

Prayers are generally offered to the nation and its leaders by people of all religious groups found in the country. The intention has always been sincere– for the country to be a peaceful place for all to live in.

Non-Muslims in the country seldom bring in religion into politics. They only seek their basic rights to practise their religion as enshrined in the Constitution.

The Constitution guarantees the rights of the non-Muslims to practice their religion even when Islam is made the official religion. And the majority Muslims in the country have no objection to this.

In the name of “religion”

The country has survived without any major religious turmoil for the past 55 years.  There are countries in the world with single race and single religion and yet they are facing intra-faith conflicts and sectarian wars and many have become failed states.

People are being killed and properties damaged in the name of “religion”. They see no “victory” to their system of governance.

The advent of a two-party system in Malaysia is not going to destroy the fabric of the society sewn by Tunku and other leaders.  A two-party system does not imply a Muslim party versus a non-Muslim party, as both the coalitions are today well represented by Muslims and non-Muslims.

Certainly no parties, even with their majority non-Muslim members, exist to usurp power or demean Islam as the official religion. The Christians in the country only form less than nine percent of the populace.

The country comprises about 60 percent Muslims and 40 percent non-Muslims. The power equation in both coalitions reflects the multi-racial and multi-religion composition of Malaysians. Both Barisan and Pakatan have Muslims and non-Muslims as their members.

Even in a situation where UMNO is the major political party in Barisan it still has Muslim and non-Muslim members. UMNO itself is not purely a Malay-based party. There are non-Muslim indigenous who are members of UMNO.

There are Muslim members in MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP too. A Chinese or an Indian Muslim can be members of these parties. The same goes with DAP and PKR – both catering for Muslims and non-Muslims. PAS for that matter accepts Muslims of any race to become its members.  But PAS also has non-Muslim supporters.

Bigoted politician

Looking at the nation’s political and demographic profile, Malaysian political parties are almost all of mixed entities. The non-Muslims in Barisan or the previous Alliance have helped to prop up a government that has been dominated by Malay Muslims for the past 55 years.

Neither is it a marriage of convenience or for short-term political gains for opportunists or self-centred Muslims or non-Muslims. It’s a reality that Malaysians are multi-racial and multi-religious.

This same pragmatic formula has worked in states controlled by Pakatan – Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan. The government is formed with the support of Muslims and non-Muslims.

It’s therefore uncouth for a bigoted politician to call the non-Muslims “kafir” (infidels) and that they have never helped to give “victory” to Islam or establish a government dominated by Muslims in the past. The word “kafir” used on non-Muslims in the Malaysian context is too generic a term and is unwarranted.

The bigoted politician does not seem to acknowledge the country’s real political equation and is embarrassingly manipulating religious sentiments to score some brownie points – a short cut to his brand of politics to achieve his sinister goals.

Self-serving politician

The people are aware that Islam is not threatened by any other religions in the country.  Neither is Christianity or Hinduism a threat to Islam in Malaysia.

Only a self-serving politician will make religion a tool to seek power. There are many leaders who are despondent, ambitious and rejected by the majority who are making use of religion to seek supreme status in politics. These leaders will be rejected by Malaysians – Muslims or non-Muslims.

It’s without doubt that power sharing in the country has made the country unwarlike – Barisan at the national level and Pakatan in the four states they control.  No other formula will work better for the nation other than this time-tested formula that exists today.

It can be Barisan or Pakatan but the governance of the country has to be based on power-sharing among politicians of various races and religions. Ignore this formula and the country will end up becoming a pariah state.

Praying for the country

Accusing the Christians that they are praying for the country to become a Christian state is just immature, preposterous and disgusting.  All Churches offer prayers to the nation no doubt but the norm is praying for the country to be blessed by the Divine power for the people to live in harmony.

Prayers are also offered in places of worship of other religions. One unique element found in the local context is that people of all races and religions pray for the King too – the country’s symbol of unity.

Barisan or Pakatan, the formula of power sharing in a multi-racial Malaysia is a momentous constituent found in their respective political manifestos.  A politician who is short-sighted and keeps on using religion as a tool to divide the people to achieve his personal goal will be weeded out by the majority voters.

The world has seen enough wars and wrecks in many countries caused by intra-racial and intra-religious conflicts.  They see no “victory” whatsoever in their formula of governance. This will not happen in this country as long as both Barisan and Pakatan adhere to power sharing between Muslims and non-Muslims within their political ranks and framework when given the mandate to rule.

Thrown out by the voters

No coalition between the two – Barisan and Pakatan – can survive with an anti-Malay or anti-Islam stance. Neither can they be against the non-Malays or the freedom of non-Muslims practising a religion of their choice.

The Constitution is supreme and as long as the Constitution remains “sacred” Malaysians will hear zilch about splitting up.  Voters are not oblivious to the fact that politics exploiting divisive elements can never be the solution for the future of this country.

In any case, one swallow does not make a summer. A politician who is politically “broke” and puts his foot on the wrong stepladder will soon find himself tumbling and thrown out by the voters.

Let him seek solace elsewhere if he is still wanted by any political party.

The clergy signing our pledge are people devout in their own faiths, who respect their congregants’ right to make their own judgments about which candidate to support. They refuse even to imply that a person is not a good Christian if that person does not agree with their political preferences. The “pulpit freedom Sunday” participants, on the other hand, seem eager to dismantle the boundaries between religion and government so as to impose their own way of thinking on not only members of their congregations, but on all Americans. These members of the clergy seem to have no confidence in their own ability to provide their congregants a moral grounding sufficient to choose the “right” path. Let us be clear about motives. Clergy endorsing candidates from the pulpit are trying to provoke a legal fight, not convey a spiritual truth. I am certain the ban on endorsements from the pulpit is constitutional. However, even if it didn’t exist – if the courts did away with it tomorrow – it would do nothing to change my belief that clergy diminish their standing and damage their faith when they use their pulpits to further a political candidate. Similarly, just look at the corrupting influence that has resulted from the ever increasing intermingling of corporate interests and politics where all too often, self-interest has trumped national interest.

Our founders gave us a precious gift in their drafting of the First Amendment. I will not stand idly or quietly by as other try to destroy it and change the nature of faith.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s