There are many popular aphorisms about rules and the law. They reflect the rightful cynicism of law-abiding folk, when they discover that regulations, which are being harshly imposed on the majority, are being happily ignored by those in charge – the people who drew up the said rules.
Certain groups of people are said to have ‘risen above the law’, for example. There is ‘one rule for BN and another for everybody else’ is another. Another way of putting it is ‘don’t do as I do, but do as I say’. To sum it up, pretty much everyone in Malaysia now recognises that Najib and his party have become a ‘law unto themselves’.
Thus it has been that over the past days the country has been treated to a spectacle that surprised no one. The opposition party Bersatu, led by Najib’s dangerous contender for power, Dr Mahathir, has been suspended by the Registrar of Societies for allegedly breaking the rules of its own constitution.
This has conveniently ruled Mahathir’s party out of contending in the election at the very last minute and he has been forced with his followers and colleagues to fight under PKR instead.
The violation in question was too vaguely explained by the Registrar for Sarawak Report (or anyone we have asked) to fully comprehend, but it seemed to have something to do with a complaint by certain members that elections that ought to be held within an agreed period had not taken place.
The party had responded that it had not yet been constituted long enough for the violations to have occured and that the claim was false (many suspected bogus BN plants within the new membership had raised the issue as a deliberate sabotage, since they left the party afterwards).
Different Rules For UMNO
Next, turn to a parallel complaint that has been raised by sixteen longstanding UMNO members against their own party, headed by Najib, which is a complaint that everyone in Malaysia can understand.
They complained that ever since the 1MDB scandal broke in 2015, after which Najib sacked his elected Deputy and replaced him with a new un-elected Deputy, UMNO’s annual leadership elections, which are enshrined in the party’s constitution, have been arbitrarily suspended.
By this method Najib has blocked any opportunity by the membership of his party to get rid of their famously corrupted leadership, should they so desire. He has replaced the party’s democratic constitution with iron personal control.
Yet, faced with this latest and self-evidently valid parallel complaint, the ‘independent’ Registrar of Societies arrived an entirely different ruling. She has opined that there has been no violation of the party’s constitution and that UMNO ought not to be suspended.
Moreover, the longstanding members, who had raised the issue, were then summarily sacked – their UMNO membership axed!
A mirror situation indeed, with the opposite outcome on each side. One law for UMNO, to ensure permanent power, and another law for anyone that threatens it.
In the same way, UMNO and its friendly parties have been allowed to get away with plastering their flags and election paraphenalia all over the country, weeks before the official election period, called by their own leader. Yet everyone else is obliged to wait and abide by the official rules.
The only action taken by law enforcers (ie the police) on this matter has been against infuriated citizens, who have been arrested for pulling down the illegal flags.
The Cops Won’t Help, So What About The Courts Instead?
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing those UMNO complainants, Hanif Katri, has now, quite justifiably lodged a legal action on their behalf. He said the complainants had pointed out that the last day for UMNO branches to hold their elections was on Feb 28 and the last day for the supreme council and 191 divisions to function was April 19:
In a statement today, Haniff said the action filed by the 16 is on basis that the Umno Supreme Council had breached Article 10.16 of the party’s constitution in delaying its party elections until next year.
“Now, when the 16 have taken the Registrar of Societies and Umno to court, the very party constitution which the Umno supreme council has breached is being used to justify the ‘sacking’ of the members,” he said. [Malaysiakini]
Of course, one needs to go through the motions, but one in Malaysia has any doubt what the court system will decide. A High Court judge may indeed find against what is evident breaking of the rules. However, that would be appealed and everyone knows that Najib and UMNO do not lose in the higher courts.
There remains just one rare, ultimate court that might, just possibly, still be in a position to sort out the law-breakers who have put themselves in charge of Malaysia. It sits on May 9th.