Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Responding to comments

Written by johnleemk on 12:44:42 pm Jan 3, 2007.

A public response...

The following message, I felt, deserved a public response since it wouldn't hurt to clarify my personal views on the issue.

Saddam's execution-cum-lynching

Quoted from: Helen

Like your goodself, I am not against capital punishment. Many people whom express disappointment at the execution of Saddam did not feel so because they believe Saddam was innocent, but at the trial he got that subsequently led to the judgment. I have no doubt most will feel the sentence justified coming from an international court and not some kangaroo court. :-)

Would it have make any difference if the same verdict comes from an international court and not a kangaroo court? IMHO, a resounding yes. People always talk about justice and fairness. Ironically, it is also the same thing that led to the death sentence of Saddam... because he denied his people none of the 2. If we can overlook the two attributes, how different are we from Saddam and his regime?

No, I'm not weeping for Saddam. I'm only weeping because injustice once again prevail over justice. I never did the death toll stats and I have no reason to doubt yours.:-) The dead suffer no more. It is the living that has to suffer the brunt of Bush's invasion. It doesn't matter how many perish or who is bombing who, it is the undeniable fact those that are still living are suffering and living in fear more than they ever did when Saddam was in power.

New year wishes and cheers. :-)

I was mostly in agreement right until the part where you said "those that are still living are suffering and living in fear more than they ever did when Saddam was in power". I think that's a highly debatable assertion. While I will not claim I know enough about the current and past situation in Iraq to evaluate things there, I think this is a bit of melodrama that hasn't been adequately thought out.

Under Saddam's regime, he conducted a number of genocides against the Kurds. It has been estimated that up to 20% of the Iraqi population was employed by Saddam to impose his reign of terror, whether they worked as soldiers, police officers, or whatnot. Under Saddam, people lived in absolute fear of being hauled away by the secret police on a whim of Saddam or his sons.

A similar situation is of course currently ongoing in Iraq - except this time, the genocides now involve religious cleansing, with the Shia pitted against the Sunni. (Even Saddam's execution was a classic example of this - the prayers said by those attending were Shia prayers, even though Saddam was a Sunni, and the execution was carried out on the day of the Eid-ul-Adha festival according to the Sunnis - Shia celebrate the same festival one day later.) The reign of terror is no longer directly imposed by the government, but instead by a number of feuding warlords, chiefly Muqtada al-Sadr.

But can one categorically state that the latter situation is worse than the former? I do not think so. An argument can be made that things in Iraq are now worse than they used to be under Saddam - but I don't think that argument has been made just yet.

And, after all, there are some important differences now. Under Saddam, there was no hope of freedom for the oppressed, no free elections, and not even much of a semblance of rule of law. While things in this area have not greatly improved as of late, they are still, by a minuscule amount, better. At least now, there is still a glimmer of hope for democracy and freedom in Iraq - even though this glimmer is fading fast as Iraq is plunged into civil war.

But regardless of all this, it remains clear that Saddam's "trial" and "execution" were utter travesties of justice. Two wrongs do not make a right - by holding ourselves to the same standard as Saddam, we validate his actions. We must seek the moral high ground and treat Saddam better than he would have treated us.

I am not quite sure that an international court or tribunal would have been the best solution, however. The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal, but they are widely recognised as a kangaroo court today. Internationalism does not automatically validate a criminal proceeding. At any rate, it is questionable how fair a trial Saddam could have had - public opinion around the world has largely been polarised either for or against him.

The most ideal solution would have been for the Iraqis to try him for his crimes against their people, before passing him to an international court to try him for any crimes he might have committed against international law. However, as this recent trial has shown, it would have been rather difficult for Saddam to get a fair trial at home - not with the Iraqi government still a puppet in American hands.

It truly does seem like a catch-22 to me - but at any rate, the Iraqis and Americans should have held themselves to a higher standard than Saddam. Saddam's execution and trial were clearly a breach of justice, and have unfortunately created an unnecessary aura of martyrdom around Saddam (as exemplified by Mahathir's whitewashing of Saddam's crimes by misleadingly claiming Bush has killed more than him).

Undelivered messages

As far as I could ascertain, the following people have provided invalid email addresses, either accidentally or on purpose. Whatever the case, I guess it wouldn't hurt to make my intended replies public.

"you are a kaafir"

Quoted from: Ibrahim al-Jaafari

you are a 'pendatang asing' since you are a kaafir. islam is a nation (ummah) and muslims are citizens of the nation (ummah) of islam.

you will have to pay jizyah and kharaj or go back to a non muslim country. the jizyah tax is a head tax imposed on each 'pendatang asing' who are non Muslims, while the kharaj tax is a land tax imposed on 'orang asing' who lease land from the muslims.

muslims being citizens of malaysia are exempt from both jizyah and kharaj. they only pay a low tax zakat if they can afford it.

all non muslims are adviced to return to a non muslim country.

malaysia for the muslims!

Not much I can say - your ignorance and intolerance speak for themselves. You are either one who is attempting to malign the Muslims, or a Muslim who gives his fellow ummah a bad name.

Proxies - are they secure?

Quoted from: Anonymous
Question... I've googled on this, but don't understand the techy details. Will using these free proxies allow them to intercept our data..?

Unfortunately, yes - so it might not be advisable to use them for applications that require security. Normal internet usage, however, should be fine, because proxies won't endanger you anymore than you normally would.

"Malaysians are a complacent lot"

Quoted from: Lee Wee Tak
Bravo, John.

A good opening piece.

Why Ali, Chong and Mutu are are sidelined - I think they are NOT allowed to and they are also not KEEN to be involved.

Many reasons why and the draconic legislation is one but not the most important one. Lim Ki Siang, Karpal Singh, Tian Chuan, Raja Petra Kamarruddin and Lim Guan Eng are few examples of fearless and passionate Malaysians that came through ISA stronger and braver.

Malaysians are a complacent lot. No huge crises and people are not oppressed/hungry enough. The terrible living conditions in China caused many revolutions and the mother of them all - the Taiping Revolution caused a mind-boggling death of 30/40million!!! We are a blessed country but the recent toll hikes, alleged corruption in flood rescue work, the ambulance incident in Klang plus the internet,could slowly awake the sleeping Ali, Chong and Muthu.

We Malaysians need our Boston Tea Party/Pearl Habour/Sept 11/Meiji Awakening or whatever before taking a keener interest in their own right.

Malaysians are also typical of the oriental society - never question the sultan/raja/bapa/superior and whatever. I even remember subtly, my form 5 karangan typically geared towards highlighting the good of government, like "kerajaan telah menganjurkan kempen-kempen whatever...."

In this K-economy era, the courage to challenge existing thinking may bring huge profits - what we call quantum leap or breakthrough. Are Malaysians equipped to do so? One thing we are good at is finding "loobang"/"kang tau" here and there. Small smart allecks here and there. The best of Malaysian brains are thriving in US, Singapore and Australia.

I have marked down your website as a fav and will keep reading cause it is worth re-visiting

Thanks Wee Tak. I can understand your frustration with the apathy of the public. Many could not care less about what goes on at the macro level in politics, although they are keenly interested in anything micro that could affect them - that is why the government thrives, because they (through people like Michael Chong - not that I have anything against him) exploit this characteristic.

I agree that what we need is something that will awaken Malaysians. Unfortunately, by the time this great something happens, it might be much too late for our country.

In closing...

To Josh Lim of, I seem to be unable to reply to your message. It keeps bouncing, saying the message was undeliverable. You might want to use a different email address to contact me.

Anyway, it was enjoyable reading what others have to think. I hope I can do this more often - it's not exactly fun when you have a soapbox all to yourself. There's nothing more invigorating than a debate with other people, so I hope you will continue sending in your comments.

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