MALAYSIA TODAY INTERVIEWS THE HOME MINISTER
Tuesday, 09 December 2008 17:31
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Malaysia Today: YB, thank you for agreeing to an interview with Malaysia Today's No Holds Barred column.
Yang Berhormat: Thank you for inviting me. It is very seldom that the alternative media would interview a member of the Cabinet so that we can set the record straight and correct the lies and wrong perception about the government, which are spread by the alternative media. Normally, the alternative media just reports rumours without obtaining the government's side of the story. I congratulate the alternative media for becoming more mature in giving the government space to inform the public of the truth.
But before we start, I would like to offer my condolence to the Indian government on the recent tragedy in Mumbai. I thank God that Malaysia does not suffer such acts of terrorism, primarily because we have the Internal Security Act, which allows us to detain terrorist before they can cause any harm to society. This shows that the Internal Security Act has been very successful in maintaining law and order and in safeguarding the security of this country.
MT: Since you have brought up the matter of the ISA, YB, can we start by talking about that?
MT: The people criticise the ISA and…….
YB: Which people? The alternative media always talks about 'the people'. But which people are you talking about?
MT: Well, I suppose the civil society movements and human rights movements.
YB: These people are in the minority. The majority of the people voted for the government. So this means the majority support the ISA. If not they would not have voted for the government. It is the majority that counts, not the minority. We can't make laws or abolish laws just for the sake of the minority. We must do what the majority wants. The ISA is to prevent terrorism. If, in 2001, the US also had the ISA, their Twin Towers would still be standing. Malaysia's Twin Towers is still standing because of the ISA.
MT: But the ISA is not used against terrorists. The government has always said that Malaysia does not have any terrorists. The ISA is used to deny the people freedom of speech.
YB: There is still freedom of speech in Malaysia. Who says that there is no freedom of speech?
MT: It is not freedom of speech which does not exist in Malaysia. It is freedom after speech.
YB: That is different. Then you can't say that there is no freedom of speech in Malaysia. There is freedom of speech. Of course, if you say the wrong things, then you run the risk of being detained under the ISA. Berani cakap, berani tanggunglah!
MT: Okay, then what would you regard as 'saying the wrong things'?
YB: Well, like inciting the people to hate the government or saying something that may start racial problems.
MT: But we already have so many other laws like the Sedition Act, Criminal Defamation, PPPA, and so on, to charge those who may have broken the law. Why the need to detain them under the ISA? Just charge them in court.
YB: That would not be so easy. We will need evidence to charge them in court. Without evidence how to charge them?
MT: But how do you know all those people who the government has detained under the ISA have committed a crime? Is it not possible they are all innocent?
YB: No, we have evidence. That is why we detained them.
MT: But if you have evidence then why not use this evidence to charge them?
YB: I already said there is not enough evidence to charge them.
MT: But there is enough evidence to detain them?
YB: Yes. The evidence is enough to detain them, only not enough to charge them.
MT: But when you sign the Detention Order you must first see all the evidence. Is this not so?
YB: That is true. Only when I am satisfied there is enough evidence will I sign the Detention Order.
MT: But you still feel that the evidence, though sufficient to detain them, is not sufficient enough to charge them.
YB: That is correct. But the detainee still has a chance to appear before the Advisory Board within three months to argue his case. If the Advisory Board is of the opinion that the detainee is innocent then he will be released. So we are quite fair.
MT: Have many people been released through the recommendations of the Advisory Board so far?
YB: Well, not many…..maybe none so far. But this only means we were not wrong in detaining them. If not, surely the Advisory Board would have recommended their release.
MT: But there have been reports that, from time to time, the Advisory Board has recommended the release of some detainees. However, the Home Minister has always overruled their recommendations.
YB: Yes, that is true. This is because the Advisory Board was mistaken and we did not agree with their recommendations. So we overruled them.
MT: This would mean the Advisory Board is a lame duck and has no power. It is the Home Minister who has the final say. Would this not be so?
YB: That is not true. The Advisory Board does have power.
MT: Power to do what?
YB: Power to recommend the release of the detainee.
MT: But the Minister does not follow their recommendation and overrules them. The Minister has the final say.
YB: But this does not mean the Advisory Board does not have power.
MT: If you say so YB. Okay, can we now talk about the Umno party elections and the numerous complaints about corruption in the party?
YB: What corruption are you talking about? There is no corruption in Umno.
MT: But the mainstream media has been reporting the many complaints of money politics.
YB: That is money politics, not corruption.
MT: Is there a difference?
YB: Of course there is. Corruption is when you pay to get something. Money politics is not corruption.
MT: What would you call money politics then?
YB: Money politics is……..well, money politics.
MT: And that is not corruption?
YB: Of course not.
MT: Okay, whatever. Now, on the matter of race relations, don't you think that Malaysia is very dangerously being pushed to the brink of racial problems?
YB: That is why we have so many times said that the opposition is stirring the sentiments of the many races.
MT: But it is not the opposition that is doing this.
YB: Then who?
YB: Umno is a responsible party. We do not play the race card. It is the opposition that is doing this.
MT: In what way is the opposition doing this?
YB: They are asking for the government to abolish Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP. This makes the Malays angry and may cause the Malays to mengamuk. The opposition should stop all this nonsense before the peace and harmony of this country is compromised.
MT: But is it not time we treat all Malaysians equal and no longer treat one race as having more privileges than others?
YB: Aiyah, how can! That is the kind of talk that makes the Malays angry. It is dangerous to suggest such things. We must maintain the harmony between the many races and not say things like that.
MT: But what gives one race the right to have more privileges than others?
YB: That was the agreement when we gained Merdeka in 1957. How can we go back on what was agreed?
MT: What agreement?
YB: The Social Contract that was agreed by the Malays, Chinese and Indians.
MT: Many say that the Social Contract does not exist. Have you ever seen it? Can Malaysians see a copy?
YB: It was not a written contract. It was a verbal contract.
MT: When was it made and under want circumstances was it made?
YB: It was agreed upon when Umno, MCA and MIC jointly negotiated for Merdeka from the British.
MT: And what were the terms of the contract?
YB: That Malay would be the National Language and Islam the official religion plus the Malays would be accorded special rights and privileges such as certain quotas in the civil service and in educational institutions.
MT: But has this not since been amended many times in breach of the original Social Contract?
YB: No! In what way has it changed? Everything still remains the same.
MT: The government imposes new rules such as companies must be 100% Bumiputera before they can get import permits or APs and 30% of houses built must be sold to Bumiputeras according to the land area and so on. This was not part of the so-called Social Contract agreed by Umno, MCA and MIC before Merdeka. They are new rules made up as we went along.
YB: True. But the non-Malays accepted them.
MT: How do you know they accepted them?
YB: Because they continued to vote for the government. If they did not agree then they would not have voted for the government.
MT: But they did not vote for the government. 49% of the Malays and more than 80% of the Chinese and Indians did not vote for the government in the last general election. This means they do not agree with the government policies.
YB: But we still won more than 60% of the Parliament seats.
MT: That is only because of Gerrymandering. Malay majority seats like Putrajaya, where the voters are 98% Malay, have only 5,000 voters while seats that are 80% or more non-Malay have 120,000 voters or more. That is why the government still won and not because the majority voted for it.
YB: That is beside the point. We still can't deny the fact that we won 140 seats and the opposition won only 82 seats.
MT: Yes, but if the votes were evenly divided between constituencies with a variation of plus-minus 20% the government would have fallen by now. It is only through Gerrymandering that the government managed to hold on to power.
YB: That is your opinion. It does not mean it is true.
MT: Thank you, YB, for the interview. I am sure you have helped enlighten Malaysians with your view of things.
YB: Thank you. I hope I have managed to rebut the opposition lies and propaganda and I look forward to similar sessions in future where the government can be given an opportunity to set the record straight.