The Mask Slips On 'PM8' And His 'Clean Government'

The Mask Slips On 'PM8' And His 'Clean Government'

Malaysians are getting a reminder of what capricious, selective, vicious and arbitrary government feels like.  With each day that goes by, the yet to be legitimised UMNO/PAS/GPS administration of ‘PM8′ has been getting back to old ways, fast.

The country at large may have been told to focus on lockdown and to reserve criticism during an existential crisis.  Yet, having snatched the driving wheel, this coup coalition clearly have their minds on other things entirely as they have set about settling scores, padding out power bases and strengthening patronage.

In particular, the unconfirmed administration has been quick to fire those who have exposed the past misdeeds of restored MPs and to make clear that emergency laws imposed on ordinary folk do not apply to them. Have no doubt that the judiciary has been instructed to prepare the arguments for ‘acquitting’ Najib and all the other kleptocrats who are now treating their trials as ‘for show’.

It is a reminder that the real reason that ‘PM8′ found himself a ‘Hero of the Opposition’ back in 2016 was because he had seen the 1MDB scandal as a way to oust his boss – but miscalculated and got fired.

The 2020 defection was just a re-run attempt at another power-grab for Muhyiddin, who has one quality in common with his fellow plotter Azmin Ali, namely an established capacity for treachery towards boss and followers alike.  On the other hand, success is by no means more certain now than then, with an untested minority of MPs behind their gambit.

It is for these reasons that matters that have shocked fair minded folk, such as the abandonment of those worst hit by Covid 19 and selective ill-treatment of people caught under MCO lockdown regulations, seem to have failed to in the least perturb this slack administration. These ‘ministers’ minds are on their power grab and rivalries with each other, not the management of Covid 19.

One Rule For You 

An Open Letter from the civil rights group EDICT (Eliminating Deaths And Abuse In Custody) to the Attorney General of Malaysia has just pointed out how the treatment of transgressors of movement control orders shows how little the same privileged group of politicians have learned from their defeat at the last election when it comes to respect for the people whose interests they are supposed to represent.

EDICT chastises the unconfirmed government for issuing orders late on a Sunday night without thinking through the consequences or providing guidance for implementation by police and the civil service.

As a result, thousands have been arrested and counter-productively mistreated: chained up together, for example, and then thrown into crowded cells or faced with crippling fines at a time of huge financial crisis for all concerned. Even the prison service has asked for discretion to be used to prevent further overcrowding of their jails.

Some of Malaysia’s poorest people have nonetheless ended up behind bars, because they cannot pay fines for venturing out to seek food. According to EDICT 4,189 people had been arrested and 1,449 of them had been charged as of April 4th.

Most of these have unblemished reputations (unlike many of the politicians behind the edict) yet they have been dragged before the courts, often in chains, in stark contrast to leading figures from this same backdoor administration, who for months were treated humanely and allowed to walk into court unfettered. These are the same present decision-makers who face scores of the grossest charges of corruption affecting millions of Malaysian lives.

It seems the new government has had better things to do that think through the consequences of its edicts. Without direction on how to execute punishment on these novel orders, EDICT complains that prosecutors have tended to demand the maximum punishments for these bewildered citizens in terms of fines and incarceration and for judges to grant them.

It has left, for example, an elderly fisherman and a young teenage boy (out looking to buy noodles because of hunger) languishing in jail because they did not possess hundreds of ringgit to pay in fines.

And whilst police have hauled people off the streets with gusto, the nation has meanwhile  been treated to example after example of blatant flouting of the self same guidelines by grand new members of the bloated but largely ineffective Coup Coalition who devised the orders in the first place:

We have seen photos and videos of persons arrested for MCO offences – principally for being in public places outside of prescribed hours and for attending assemblies for prohibited purposes such as recreation.
People are herded together in contravention of the social distancing rule of leaving one metre of space between individuals and the screening rule that persons who cough or sneeze must wear masks. Enforcers have (publicly) caned some persons and have made others do squats.
Alleged MCO violators are handcuffed and chained together – unlike politicians such as Najib Tun Razak and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor when they are brought to courts, albeit on other charges.
It has also been widely reported that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister Hajjah Zuraida Kamaruddin have violated the MCO, but have not been charged. (The PM went shopping with his wife; the Minister participated in a public assembly.)
A 61-year-old cardiologist was brought by police to a courtroom in handcuffs. Students at a college in Penang were handcuffed and chained together when they were brought to a courtroom.

The shocking counter-productiveness of herding together people for breaking rules that are supposed to prevent people herding together is amongst the most galling stupidities being allowed by a government that appears to adopt the attitude that ministers need to be seen to be doing something before they take themselves off to attend meetings, play golf, have parties and go shopping.

Queueing for payments from the state

Queueing for payments from the state

Again the failure to lay out clearly how touted financial and food relief can be accessed by desperate families has resulted in several absurd and counter-productive situations.

Scenes such as this one outside the National Savings Bank have circulated after the government announced that the “Bantuan Sara Hidup” government assistance would be released today, but failed to think to manage the consequences as people crowded to receive it.

Meanwhile, equally appalling has been the revelation that whilst desperately needy folk in distant regions are simply not registered to receive the assistance, the Datin wives of the super-rich (for example Rosmah Mansor) are eligible, thanks to the inadequacies of the system put in place.

Indeed it would appear that this over-sized cabinet of plotters has been too preoccupied with political matters, such as sacking independent minded and honest officials and replacing them with yes men, than to attend to their duties over public safety and sustenance.

Also, of course, in making ‘crucial appointments’ for key allies, such as Hadi, now designated Malaysia’s ‘Middle East Envoy’ – a region he cannot travel to any time soon, not just because of Covid 19, but also because he has been registered by Saudi Arabia and its allies as the deputy leader of a banned terrorist organisation.

The favouring of crony businesses to continue operations whilst others are forced to shut, is also something this government has found time to devote attention to. One case was most outrageously exemplified by today’s admission that exemptions for Heineken and Carlsberg beer to resume production have now been revoked.

Managing the consequences of the lockdown, avoiding counter-productive punishments and suffering, showing the same laws must apply to all should preoccupy anyone in government at this time. For Azmin Ali, placed in charge of food security, ensuring there is a sufficient supply of rice as available markets dry up to Malaysia, which has over-relied on palm oil ought to be paramount.

However, ‘PM8′ and Azmin, who reportedly has spent much of the week measuring up furniture for the DPM office he has just moved into, seem to have other more important fish to fry and matters to occupy their minds.

Read the full Open Letter below or at this link:

04 April 2020 Open letter from EDICT (Eliminating Deaths And Abuse In Custody) to the Attorney General of Malaysia, Tan Sri Idrus bin Harun

Dear Tan Sri,

Rationalize enforcement of the COVID-19 Movement Control Order

We are sure that when you accepted your appointment as Attorney General, you did not imagine you would have to provide legal leadership to the nation during a pandemic.

During a pandemic, major limits on movements must be enforced, rapidly, with little time for training. Cases of excessive use of force, resistance to rightful authority and unequal treatment will be legion. The AG must monitor and respond to developments by providing guidance.

In the spirit of collaboration, we offer you some analysis and suggestions.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yakub said that as of 2 April 2020, 4,189 people have been arrested and 1,449 of them have been charged for violating the Movement Control Order (MCO) which came into effect on 18 March 2020 (The Star).

There have been many news reports of persons being arrested, brought to police stations and subsequently charged and sentenced in courts.

Today is day 18 of the MCO gazetted by your chambers. The MCO classifies many actions as offences. Those who have been charged include children and adults. They comprise various strata of our society, ranging from expatriates in Mont Kiara to teenagers in Terengganu.

We have seen photos and videos of persons arrested for MCO offences – principally for being in public places outside of prescribed hours and for attending assemblies for prohibited purposes such as recreation.

People are herded together in contravention of the social distancing rule of leaving one metre of space between individuals and the screening rule that persons who cough or sneeze must wear masks. Enforcers have (publicly) caned some persons and have made others do squats.

Alleged MCO violators are handcuffed and chained together – unlike politicians such as Najib Tun Razak and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor when they are brought to courts, albeit on other charges.

It has also been widely reported that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister Hajjah Zuraida Kamaruddin have violated the MCO, but have not been charged. (The PM went shopping with his wife; the Minister participated in a public assembly.)

A 61-year-old cardiologist was brought by police to a courtroom in handcuffs. Students at a college in Penang were handcuffed and chained together when they were brought to a courtroom.

Prosecutors mercilessly press for high fines and magistrates award them.

Poor fishermen with families to support have been fined RM1,000. Some are in prison because they could not afford to pay the imposed fines.

The prosecutors are unreasonable in setting bail. A Form Six student, with no prior convictions, who, out of hunger, went to purchase a packet of instant noodles, is languishing in Marang prison because his family cannot raise the bail which was set at RM800.

There is also what appears to be selective policing and prosecution for breaching the MCO.

A doctor who attempted to reason with enforcement officers was charged for an MCO violation 11 days after the alleged infraction, while Minister Zuraida who participated in a public assembly is allowed to roam freely, just like PM Muhyiddin who went shopping with his wife.

Your chambers has been diligent in gazetting various laws and notices. These have enabled the implementation of pandemic control measures. Yet, it appears that you have not issued clear directives and guidelines to the police and prosecutors on how the measures should be enforced.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put our nation in uncharted territory. There is mounting evidence that the government, through enforcement officers, is using the crisis as an opportunity to exercise coercive power.

There are also reports of persons who flagrantly violate the MCO and even reports of abuse, by the public, of police and other enforcement officers.

In these difficult times, we ask you to exercise your powers under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution to ensure proportionality and uniformity in the implementation of the MCO regulations. We ask you to uphold Article 8, which makes all persons equal under the law. We ask you to:

Direct the police to be mindful of the social distancing rules and therefore avoid marshalling people to police stations for filing of charges and to courts for prosecution.

Direct the police and prosecutors to continue prosecution of all persons who flagrantly abuse the police and other enforcement officers.

Direct the police to investigate and file charges against enforcement officers who take actions which amount to humiliation or punishment.

Direct the police and prosecutors to defer prosecutions of alleged MCO offenders till the pandemic is over – so as not to further burden the already crowded lockups and prisons.

Direct prosecutors not to press for maximum penalties for first-time offenders.

Direct the police to treat all persons who are charged alike. No cooperative accused person should be handcuffed or chained when brought to court.

We urge you to fearlessly exercise your constitutional power to curb actual and potential abuse of power.

We continue to wish you well as you seek to fulfil the unique and onerous responsibility which you have chosen to bear.

Yours sincerely
EDICT

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