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Malaysia's dull poll campaign could spring surprise PDF Print E-mail

By Mark Bendeich and Jalil Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia votes on Saturday and the ruling coalition is virtually assured of victory, but there are signs a few painful surprises could still be in store.

ImageThe campaign has been dull even by standards of Malaysian democracy, which has never seen a change of government. But this does not necessarily portend another easy victory for the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, political experts said on Thursday.

A sharply reduced majority could threaten Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's leadership and lead to a purge of Barisan, its cabinet line-up and policy platform, they said.

"Every party in the Barisan, especially the key component parties, will face a reckoning as a result of this election," said political scientist Bridget Welsh, of Johns Hopkins University, who is in Malaysia for the election.


The Need of Caretaker Government
For a Level Playing Field

Professor Abdul Aziz Bari’s “Caretaker government: logic and the law” published in Malaysiakini news portal on 14 February 2008, aptly portrays the Opposition parties call for “fair and honest” elections. Basically, until and unless a “caretaker government” shall be put in place from amongst the neutral or apolitical officials, there can be no fair and honest elections.
ImagePrior to this, many fence sitters perhaps thought that the Opposition parties were asking for the moon and stars, or barking at the wrong tree, when they organized demonstrations calling for free and honest elections. Now, it appears that they have a legitimate issue to grouse about.
Essentially, upon the dissolution of Parliament, the leadership stakeholders in the government lose their powers and positions, respectively, from the prime minister down to the secretaries and drivers. For that matter, the King should appoint a caretaker from amongst the public servants for the duration of the election period or until the new parliament is formed. This will absolve the ruling party of being accused of using public funds and facilities to propel its election machinery.

Caretaker gov't: logic and the law PDF Print E-mail

By: Abdul Aziz Bari

The legal basis of a caretaker government has to be argued in light of the nature of a government in a parliamentary system like ours. Of course, given its role and function, there is room to argue that a caretaker government is not something that is absolutely necessary. For one thing it is just for a short period and that it merely carries out routine administration. Image

This is plausible given that the civil service – which includes the armed forces and the police force – are still around. Indeed, the system which includes the judiciary – except the government of the day – still exists and is operational. On top of that, the ultimate guardian of the constitution – the Yang di Pertuan Agong - is still there symbolising the nation.

Iran and Bush's Crisis of Truth PDF Print E-mail

By Peter Dyer, Middle East Online. Posted January 29, 2008.

Iran is not run by saints, but it has never threatened the U.S. or invaded another country.

"Iran is a threat to world peace." Iran is "the world's leading sponsor of terror." So declared President Bush in his recent trip to the Middle East. Iran, he said, is seeking to "intimidate its neighbors with ballistic missiles and bellicose rhetoric."Image

By now most of us are familiar with the President's feelings and rhetoric concerning Iran. They have a familiar ring. They sound a lot like the buildup to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Recently the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit investigative reporting institution, published a report: "Iraq: the War Card." The report documented 935 false statements made by President Bush and seven top administration officials in the two years following September 11, 2001 concerning the national security threat posed by Iraq to the US.


Turkey reviews headscarf ban  PDF Print E-mail

ImageA bill to allow women in universities to wear headscarves has been presented to Turkey's parliament   The governing Justice and Development (AK) party and the opposition Nationalist Movement (MHP) party said students would be allowed to wear headscarves as long as they tied them under the chin, leaving their faces exposed.

Presented on Tuesday, the bill will lift a decades-old ban on women wearing head scarves at universities.  Legislators are likely to vote on the bill as early as next week.

The move has worried secularists, who fear the government is raising the profile of Islam in this Muslim but secular country.

Deniz Baykal, leader of the pro-secular Republican People's Party, called the attempt to lift the ban a "threat against the republic."

The headscarf is a highly sensitive issue in Turkey which is secular but predominantly Muslim.

Much of the country's establishment, including the army, views it as a symbol of political Islam and a threat to the separation of state and religion.

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