AZMIN ALI

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Month: March 2013

Religious Tolerance and Respect Among the Communities Vital

Speech by Mohamed Azmin Ali, MP for Gombak, on the opening of the new extension of the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple of Ampang on 31 March 2013

First and foremost, let me say thank you to the Gurdwara committee for inviting me to today’s event. As your elected Member of Parliament, I am proud and honoured indeed to be associated with it.

Tanva yahe vaad ji; syukriya.

I am told there are a total of 112 gurdwaras throughout Malaysia. About one third of them are situated in Perak. And as for the Ampang area, there are only two. So, the opening of this new extension of your gurdwara sahib here in Ampang is a most auspicious occasion and carries profound significance beyond just this locality.

On this special occasion, I think it is important to look again at the concept and practice of Seva. The idea of ‘selfless service’ is no doubt an integral part of the Sikh religion, and I believe cannot be separated from the institution of the gurdwara itself.

The fact that anyone, regardless of religious, cultural or social background, is welcome to partake of the food and drinks speaks volumes about what the religion preaches and what the gurdwara stands for.

Being one of the central tenets of Sikhism, I believe Seva is no longer just a concept but a very active practice and a defining feature of the gurdwara itself. Today’s event is therefore not just about opening the new extension of a physical building but, more importantly, a symbolic extension of selfless service to the community.

Once again, I am therefore proud and honoured to be part of it.

As I said, this practice of Seva must be seen in a broader light and that is the religion teaches moderation, tolerance and respect for all faiths and communities.

These matters are of particular importance because we live in a country with such a diversity of religions and cultures. All citizens, what more elected Members of Parliament, must exercise the greatest consideration for the feelings and sensitivities of the different communities in respect of what they say or do.

There is therefore the need not just to tolerate but to respect the differences among the communities.

I want to take this occasion to condemn the remarks made recently by a particular Member of Parliament on the Hindu religion and the religious practices of Hindus in general. Under no circumstances can such disrespectful, shameful and seditious remarks be allowed to go unpunished. The authorities must take the necessary action.

In this regard, I believe that Sikhism teaches that all of humanity was created by the same Creator and that it enjoins its followers to respect all other religions.

Now, this is a principle which is also enjoined by Islam just as all religions carry the message of harmony, not the message of hatred and strife.

If we look at the Federal Constitution, there is an implied duty to defend the rights of not just one’s faith but that of others as well. To my mind, respect for all religions is part of democracy. To defend this is to defend the democratic process.

We are aware that lately this country is witnessing a rise in racist and hate mongering activities and speeches. There has also been a rise in organisations which are very ethnocentric being exclusively committed to the advancement of one particular community only.

Some of these have made very irresponsible statements and uttered words which cannot see the light of day. Some have also threatened violence on others supposedly in the name of race and religion.

It is also very sad that the authorities are letting these people go around the country with no action taken against them. They continue to spread lies and deception and to provoke ill-will and animosity among the people.

But to borrow a quote from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

“They are stuck in falsehood, and false are the rewards they receive.”

So, looking on the bright side, I am proud to say that the majority of Malaysians are not impressed by these racists and extremists. Similarly, we are no longer impressed by the propaganda forced on us day in day out because we believe that Malaysians are matured and are ready for the country to be taken to the next level.

In conclusion, may I once again congratulate the Sikh community on this auspicious occasion and express the wish that this gurdwara will continue to serve the community for years to come.

Thank you.

Azmin dipanggil ke SKMM

Sumber : FMT

CYBERJAYA: Timbalan Presiden PKR Azmin Ali hari ini disiasat Suruhanjaya Komunikasi Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) berhubung satu kenyataan rasminya yang dimuat naik dalam video laman sosial YouTube.

Azmin pada 18 Januari lalu menyiarkan satu kenyataan media dalam blog yang mempertikaikan penglibatan mantan Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dengan ‘Projek IC’ di Sabah.

Beliau turut membidas Dr Mahathir yang cuba mengheret mantan Perdana Menteri Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj dalam isu pemberian kad pengenalan kepada warga asing.

Kenyataannya itu kemudian digunakan di dalam ruangan latar belakang video ‘Program Tukar ke Orang Melayu (Project IC by Mahathir)’ oleh pemilik akaun bernama ‘naturewar’ dan dimuat naik pada 19 Februari lalu.

Video tersebut memaparkan sekumpulan warga asing yang melarikan diri kerana menyangkakan ada serbuan, namun sebaliknya apabila muncul kelibat individu berseragam biru datang menenangkan serta mengagihkan kad pengenalan kepada mereka.
Turut diselitkan dalam video itu ayat ‘You help me I help you’ serta ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’.

Azmin bagaimanapun semasa disoal siasat menafikan sebarang penglibatan dalam pembikinan video tersebut.
Beliau sebelum itu hadir ke SKMM kira-kira 2.30 petang tadi ditemani peguam Datuk Prabakaran dan disoal siasat oleh Penolong Pengarah Siasatan SKMM Muhammad Iqbal Ikhwandy Mat Zain.

Soal siasat 3 jam

Proses soal siasat ahli parlimen Gombak itu dibuat di bawah Seksyen 255 Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 dan mengambil masa tiga jam dengan 51 soalan.

Beliau ketika ditemui pemberita berkata pihaknya memberikan kerjasama penuh dengan menjawab semua soalan yang diberikan sepanjang siasatan.

“Ada pihak yang cuba ambil kenyataan saya secara rasmi.
“Saya tidak terlibat dalam pembikinan video tersebut, saya tidak terlibat dalam kerja-kerja menaikkan komen tersebut.
“Saya sekadar menyatakan kenyataan rasmi saya seperti yang terkandung dalam blog rasmi saya,” katanya di luar bangunan SKMM.

Katanya, beliau dimaklumkan wujud dua aduan tehadapnya, iaitu daripada orang awam serta SKMM sendiri.
Namun ketika ditanya SKMM enggan mendedahkan identiti pengadu terbabit, ujar Azmin.

[Video Inside] ICM13GE – Speech by YB Mohamed Azmin : Advancing Best Practices of Caretaker Convention on Function of Government During Elections

YB Mohamed Azmin Ali

Member, PSC on Electoral Reforms / Gombak MP, at the International Conference on Malaysia, 13th General Elections, 4th – 5th March, 2013 at Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur

Introduction

Mr Chairman, distinguished panelists, ladies and gentlemen,

Much has already been said in yesterday’s proceedings on the introductory issues as well as the questions of electoral democracy and the challenges of the electoral process for the coming General Elections.

Let me just take a moment to say that as a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms, I have been privileged to be acquainted with many personalities and organisations who have worked tirelessly for the betterment of our electoral process and to ensure free and fair elections.

In this regard, I will be remiss in my duty if I did not acknowledge the invaluable contributions of BERSIH in helping to push for electoral reforms and the leadership of national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said and Dato S. Ambiga. I must also thank the many unsung heroes who have made sacrifices in so many ways all for the cause of electoral democracy which is the overriding theme of this conference.

I shall now cut to the chase and address the central theme of this morning’s proceedings.

Best practices of caretaker conventions

The subject of best practices of caretaker conventions is indeed not a new one for as long as democratic elections have been held caretaker situations would have arisen. These situations would require certain practices to be observed with regard to the functions of government after Parliament is dissolved and right through the period until the final results of the elections are known and a clear majority is obtained by the incumbent; or, if the incumbent is defeated, until the new government is formed.

So, pending this, what we should have is a caretaker government which means what it is: caretaker. It takes care of the normal business of government holding it in trust for the next government which has obtained a fresh mandate to rule.

This next government could well be the incumbent or it could be a new government but regardless of who the incumbent is or who the possible new power will be, certain conventions have been established to be followed by the caretaker government.

I say that this is not new only in a general sense for in the case of Malaysia, and Singapore as well for that matter, though the subject is well taken care of academically, this will be an entirely new scenario in the event of Pakatan taking over the reins of power in Putra Jaya. In the 12th general elections, we saw transitions in the States of Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor, where power shifted to the hands of the Pakatan coalition. During the run-up to the elections at the state level many conventions were not observed or at least not observed in the best way, but thankfully when push came to shove, the transition to power was still relatively smooth.

Now that the ball is on the other court for at least four states (including Kelantan) as incumbent, the same best practices which are outlined below must likewise be observed by Pakatan governments in their capacity as caretaker governments. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the Selangor state government has already drawn up a set of guidelines which are essentially similar to the general conventions observed in established democracies.

Needless to say, these practices are of even greater import in the case of caretaker government at the Federal level. I recognise this forum is not to find fault but to highlight what is best for us to move forward. So no finger pointing is needed. Nevertheless, I do not propose to offer anything out of the blue since ‘conventions’ are by definition practices that are recognized as standard and proper over time even though they may not have the force of law. I will leave the jurisprudential discourse on this concept to our learned constitutional expert Prof. Dr Aziz Bari as I believe he is the best person to deal with it.

Public services must be apolitical

Let me deal with the first basic convention recognized by all established democracies, which is that the caretaker government must keep its distance from the public services. By “public services” I mean the general civil service plus the administrative and diplomatic service and all the essential law enforcement services in particular the military, the police, the anti-corruption agency, and of course the  Attorney-General’s chambers.

Strictly speaking, it should be stated the other way round, that is, the public services must keep their distance from the caretaker government. Keeping a distance means to remain politically neutral.

I must say that being an elected State Assemblyman (on the side of the ruling State government) as well as a Member of Parliament (on the side of the Opposition) does have its advantages. It is true that I’m just into my first term, but being in this situation at least has enabled me to see both sides of the coin – in a very practical way.

On that score, I can say firstly how important it is to separate the party from the state whether it’s the state government or federal government. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, in a caretaker scenario, the relationship between the incumbent Government and the public services is one of the most important areas to be closely watched. Now, if we are accustomed to the practice and truly subscribe to the principle that the public services should be politically impartial as a whole, then this convention is not difficult to follow.

Separation between the public services and the political party forming the government in power is a major issue. They are supposed to be apolitical in the first place but sometimes this line is particularly hard to define and often blurred by various considerations. The thrust of this convention is to prevent controversies and questionable action on the part of the public services which are established to serve the people, not the political party in power.

How does this translate into practical situations? Once the legislature is dissolved, serving ministers and all those appointed by virtue of party affiliations to be members of the Executive are no longer responsible to the Lower House simply because it is already dissolved. They continue to hold the reins of power as caretaker. They must immediately refrain from using public resources to further their political campaign objectives.

It is true that this in fact should always be the practice whether or not elections are called but we know that in reality this is easier said than done. Let us however agree that in a caretaker scenario, this requirement should be taken not just as a best practice but as an imperative because in the run up to elections, party activities will predominate over government activities. To cite a real example, Ministers and their subordinates during this period must not use government owned transportation whether it be cars or jet planes to take them around in their party campaigns.

This seems a very straightforward best practice but of course as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Impartiality must be seen in words and in deed. The general principle is that the incumbent must avoid the use of federal resources for activities that would give its party unfair advantage. Again, another obvious example would be the use of state run media as in television, whether it is to attack the political rivals or to promote its own agenda. This must be avoided at all costs.

Even more important, I believe, is with regard to access to intelligence from both military and police sources which will be particularly significant in giving advantage to the incumbent party in the run up to the elections. Both the incumbent and the public services agencies must avoid violating this restriction. They say that the test is: will the agency concerned be able to muster enough moral courage to say ‘no.’ That, of course, is the ideal situation but one must not forget that the public officers concerned may be working under severe duress and pressure. So, I believe it is imperative on the caretaker Ministers and executives whether State or Federal to abstain from putting their public services officers in a position of duress or undue influence.

This is why serving officers in the public services must refrain from any kind of political campaigning or participation for either the incumbent party or the opposition party. They must discharge their duties impartially and refrain from promoting any individual or party. Nevertheless, their right to vote remains sacrosanct which means their freedom of choice must remain intact. In this regard, warning public servants against voting for the Opposition whether at State or Federal levels is totally out of line with the requirements of proper governance let alone of caretaker conventions.

Avoiding major contractual undertakings

The next area of best practices is the avoiding of entering into major contracts that would have the effect of committing the incoming government to legal undertakings. The reason is obvious. The incoming government might well be a new government replacing the incumbent and with that comes its own set of policies and strategies in relation to matters of the state or the federation.

In this regard it must be emphasised that major policy decisions during this interim period must be avoided until final resolution of the elections and the new government takes over.

In line with this too, significant appointments to public service must also be avoided during this interim period. It is true that what constitutes ‘significant’ could vary from circumstance to circumstance. No hard and fast rules can be laid down here but in times of uncertainty common sense should prevail.

Observing these conventions under this subhead is crucial so as not to limit the incoming government’s freedom of action.

Conclusion

If I may just sum up, while the business of government does not stop during the caretaker period, certain best practices including restrictions need to be observed. This is because every general election brings with it the possibility of a change of government. Therefore, condemning the Opposition for campaigning for a change of government is a denial of the rationale for elections. In fact, the entire basis of elections is to allow the people a choice to change the party or parties to form the government. They may or may not want to change but this is what electoral democracy is all about. And to facilitate this process, the best practices of caretaker conventions must be observed.

Thank you.

 

Kerajaan Bertanggungjawab, Jangan Kompromi Kedaulatan Wilayah Negara

Setinggi – tinggi ucapan penghargaan dan tahniah buat seluruh pasukan keselamatan yang berani dan penuh dedikasi mempertahankan negara. Salut buat mereka !

Manakala itu, dua anggota keselamatan negara telah disahkan terkorban akibat pertempuran di Lahad Datu. Inspektor Zulkifli Mamat dan Sarjan Sabaruddin dari Unit 69 Komando gugur tatkala mempertahankan wilayah negara yang telah hampir dua minggu dicerobohi sekumpulan bersenjata berasal dari Sulu di Selatan Filipina.

Saya berhasrat merakamkan ucapan takziah buat keluarga Allahyarham Inspektor Zulkifli Mamat dan Allahyarham Sarjan Sabaruddin. Moga ruh pahlawan negara tersebut dicucuri rahmat dan ditempatkan bersama mereka yang soleh.

Walaubagaimanapun, insiden ini memunculkan persoalan besar berkaitan keselamatan wilayah negara. Sementara keyakinan kita dengan kebolehan serta kecekapan anggota keselamatan negara tidak pernah goyah sama sekali, adalah amat dikesali, pencerobohan yang berlaku lebih dua minggu ini seolah-olah tidak dipandang serius oleh Menteri Dalam Negeri, Menteri Pertahanan dan YAB Perdana Menteri.

Adalah tidak masuk akal pencerobohan wilayah di Lahad Datu oleh sekumpulan bersenjata ini berlarutan selama hampir dua minggu. Kenapa YAB Perdana Menteri, Menteri Pertahanan dan Menteri Dalam Negeri tidak mengambil tindakan tegas mempertahankan kedaulatan negara ?

Justeru kita menggesa YAB Perdana Menteri, Menteri Dalam Negeri dan Menteri Pertahanan bertanggungjawab dan memberi penjelasan yang terperinci kepada rakyat Malaysia tentang bagaimana wilayah negara boleh sewenang-wenangnya dicerobohi serta kenapa hampir dua minggu penceroboh bertapak di Lahad Datu. Pimpinan negara perlu sedar kedaulatan wilayah negara tidak boleh sama sekali dikompromi.

Mohamed Azmin Ali
2 Mac 2013