Staring at the Sun

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Someone from UK noted to me that the Sun -UK they read is quite different from the Sun we read here in Malaysia. That is true.

I get a copy free everyday (I mean the Malaysian Sun paper – You can check out their e-paper.)… and lately I’ve been enjoying very informative. educational and informative (as well as generative too!).

Especially with the recent questions on constituion the following pieces have been very helpful, I’ll throw in some excerpts:

Fighting legal illiteracy

You’re quite passionate about this need to be aware of constitutional values. Would you say that this position is a result of your years of experience in the courts?

Probably so. It comes from seeing things over the years both in court and out of court. And also, I feel that the awareness of it seems to be declining. And that’s worrying. We are becoming more affluent, but the affluence is purely monetary and economic.

How important are constitutional values today?

I don’t think there is enough awareness of it or of its importance. For example, I think in a simple way people must understand that they have rights belonging to them and that these rights are not given as an indulgence by any government but are recognised as belonging to them by the Federal Constitution.

What are some of these rights?

Freedom of speech, equality of treatment, freedom of religion, freedom of association, right to education, right not to be discriminated in education, and so on and so forth. Right to own property. Gender equality under Article 8, and all that.

So, these are rights written on their behalf in the Federal Constitution which no government or enforcement authority can override except as authorised by the Constitution itself.

Upholding our secular constitution

Do you think we are facing a constitutional crisis with regards to these contentious cases?

Yes. If you look at the Constitution, the whole idea of it is to level the playing field as best you can. And then the Constitution also provides for arbiters in the game. That arbiter is the judge. You’ve got a goalkeeper to make sure – and again the judge is calling the shots here – that the state doesn’t take potshots at fundamental liberties. It appears to me that the referee has disappeared to the terrace, nowhere to be seen. The linesman is not observing the off-side goals, and the state is just picking away at the fundamental liberties that we have willy-nilly! That’s a constitutional crisis!

And there doesn’t seem to be anything to stop this from happening?

I think there’s one thing that can. The public. Up till now, there’s been apathy. ‘If it hasn’t inflicted my family, I don’t care.’ All right. Look at what happened in Terengganu, Kampung Batu 13 [Ayah Pin’s commune]. An entire kampung decimated whilst [there was] a High Court order [for a stay]. To me, that day, the state authorities took the law into their own hands. But, gauge the public reaction to that! And then, fault me for saying apathy prevails in this country.

[Apathy is] tantamount to giving the authorities a blank cheque. ‘Do what you will. Doesn’t affect my family. I don’t care.’ If Moorthy’s case doesn’t wake the public up to what’s happening, God help this country.

[But] I don’t see why God will bother if we ourselves won’t bother.

But, yes, we do have a [constitutional] crisis. Unfortunately, we only react openly when it’s an economic crisis. ”

There’s a lot to chew on just on these two conversation pieces.

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