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Anwar, Israel and the King

OPPOSITION Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must have a lot on his mind: his ongoing sodomy trial, the upcoming Hulu Selangor by-election, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s loss of four parliamentarians earlier in 2010. But one other thing is surely preoccupying his thoughts: Israel. In fact, he is clearly bothered by two things Israeli:

How Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia campaign employed a public relations firm, Apco Worldwide, that is also connected to the One Israel campaign; and

The alleged existence of Israeli spies who have subverted the Malaysian police force.

Anwar says he is driven by a concern for national security, not anti-Semitism. At the same time, he says, “If we love our country, and we are supposedly Malay [Malaysians], then why should we sell our pride to the Israelis?” In fact, Anwar is so bugged by this assumed loss of pride that he has asked no less than the King to direct Najib’s government to cease dealing with Apco Worldwide.

The Malaysian government hires an international public relations firm to bolster its credentials to the public. That firm has also been consulted by another government, Israel. For this, Anwar wants the monarchy to interfere with the executive? Does he even know the implications of this demand? How will it implicate the Malaysian constitutional monarchy, democratic checks and balances, and government transparency and accountability?

Constitutional monarchy 101

Just to recap, here are some facts about Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy:


Shad Faruqi
According to constitutional expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, ours is largely fashioned after the British model, but with “local adaptations”.

The current British constitutional monarchy evolved from a far less democratic absolute monarchy. The British monarch is now “bound by law and convention to remain above political parties and to refrain from intervening directly in government administration” (emphasis added).

Although containing many “local adaptations”, including guarding the privileges of Malay Malaysians and East Malaysian natives, and heading Islam in eight regions, the Malaysian system still ensures that the monarch’s powers are non-discretionary. The monarch is the de jure head of state, and it is the prime minister who is the de facto head of government.

Therefore, in calling for the King to intervene in the Apco matter, Anwar is not upholding democratic checks and balances. He is, in fact, subverting the principles of a constitutional monarchy, which is part of the basis for our democracy.

Historical facts

Perchance Anwar feels that the Malay rulers’ historical track record will help uphold public interest and democracy. But if he feels this way, he would once again be wrong.

It was the Malay rulers who acquiesced to the formation of the Malayan Union in 1946. As a British colonial construct, the Malayan Union was vehemently opposed by diverse sectors of society, especially Malay groups that would eventually form Umno.


Datuk Onn Jaafar and Tunku
Abdul Rahman (Public domain)
The motives of the various rulers who agreed to the Malayan Union is up for debate. Were they threatened by the British, or protecting their own vested interests? What is clear is that even Umno’s own founder, Datuk Onn Jaafar, was dead against the rulers’ decision. That is the context in which Onn’s “Hidup Melayu!” cry became meaningful to the public — he said “Hidup Melayu!”, not “Hidup raja-raja Melayu!”

It was Onn’s successor in Umno, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who took a slightly different stance and said, “[At] all costs I want to avoid having a split with the rulers.” In fact, Tunku, of royal lineage himself, organised processions in July 1954 to display loyalty to the rulers to encourage them to support the Alliance’s policies. Not surprisingly, they in turn preferred Tunku to Onn.  

So, if Anwar thinks he is appealing to a disinterested institution to overturn a perceived abuse by the executive, he is mistaken. Even before Merdeka, the monarchy demonstrated that it was only human, and had its own interests to consider. This is not to say that the monarchy has no constitutional role to play in contemporary Malaysian democracy; it’s just that interfering in the executive should not be one of them.

Hence, one has to ask this question of our opposition leader, a self-professed democrat: By appealing to the monarch over the Apco issue, isn’t Anwar actually saying he wants royalty to interfere in the running of this country? What kind of democrat would do that? One who is unclear on the concept of modern-day democracy? Or one who is merely pretending to be a democrat?

No matter, asking royalty to interfere in the running of the country smacks of feudalism. And feudalism, as we know, has no place in a vibrant democracy.  

Burden of proof

What is especially frustrating is that Anwar is doing nothing to advance debate and deliberation on something that he claims undermines national security. Here are some things to consider:

Governments hire public relations firms all the time. Whether or not the Malaysian government hires a public relations firm that the Israeli government also hires is actually a red herring.

What is relevant to the public is whether the firm is living up to its brand promise, since tax money is being used to pay Apco. Apco says it wants to “meet and extend industry best practice in all areas of ethics, integrity and social responsibility”. So, if Anwar has a problem with its involvement in the 1Malaysia campaign, he has to tell Malaysians exactly what is unethical and irresponsible about the firm.

     Has Apco helped the Malaysian government to lie or cover up abuses? If so, which ones, specifically? How, when and where did these happen? Does Apco have a track record of improving the image of democratically suspect governments around the world? Which governments? Using Apco’s relationship with Israel as the clincher in his argument is, sadly, Israel/Jew-baiting.

If Anwar insists on pointing out “similarities” between 1Malaysia and One Israel, he has to tell us also exactly how One Israel was a failure to the Zionist state, and how this failure is directly attributable to Apco. And then he is going to have to predict that 1Malaysia is going to fail us because of its connection with Apco, to make his claims hold water.

The only similarity between 1Malaysia and One Israel that should matter is if both campaigns have similar intentions and outcomes, not that they have similar ideas.

Holding accountable

It’s not like governments have not been held accountable before for embarking on dubious public relations strategies. After the 11 Sept 2001 terrorist attacks, Saudi Arabia engaged in a massive campaign to bolster its image, especially in the US. This campaign has been analysed in depth, and has proven to be a failure.


The Star of David, the symbol of Jewish
identity, is also associated with Israel
and Zionism (Public domain)
But Anwar seems to be doing something else with the Apco issue. He’s not trying to hold the 1Malaysia campaign under Najib’s administration accountable. He’s casting aspersions by using the emotive buttons of Israel and Zionism. Hence, this is likely Anwar’s attempt to regain or bolster his credibility with the Malay Malaysian Muslim constituency.

Really, apart from telling us that a public relations campaign will not help an undemocratic government smell like roses, Anwar must provide substantiated proof about Apco’s and Malaysia’s “abuses” before crying wolf to the public and the King.

If he doesn’t, then his “I’m not anti-Semitic” position should be little comfort to the rest of us. After all, intellectual dishonesty can’t be a trait we want in our leaders, especially those who aspire to take over government.

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21 Responses to “Anwar, Israel and the King”

  1. dbctan says:

    Spot on, Shanon. I have been increasingly disturbed by Anwar’s Apco sideshow and if I may be blunt, it is not intellectual dishonesty that’s showing him up. It’s shallowness.

  2. Farouq Omaro says:

    It is sad that the Penang Jews had to emigrate because of increased anti-semitic feelings among Malaysian Muslims, largely stemming from the Malaysian mainstream media!

  3. SM says:

    Good article Shanon. Although I support the PR, I’m quite cheesed at the way DSAI is going about this Apco and supposedly Israeli spy thing! He’s doing what Umno does, i.e. bringing up anti-Semitic rhetoric, yet saying he’s not anti-Semitic. Mahathir does this all the time, too!

    Anwar is pandering to the extremist sections of our society. And then he’s bringing in the royalty, too?! I think he has other more important stuff to worry about!

  4. Razman says:

    I think the non-Muslim Malaysians do not appreciate the gravity, anger and hatred towards Israel, so you do not see the significance of this issue. But to Muslim Malaysians, who witnessed the killings of Muslims by the Israelis who took away their land in Palestine, we feel that Anwar is right to bring up this issue. Israel is the enemy of Muslims, so how could a Muslim country like Malaysia have dealing with a company directly linked with Israel? We Muslims feel that the traces of the Muslims’ blood go back to Apco’s hands also.

    Not that I expect the non-Muslims to empathise with the deaths of Muslims, but this comment is an effort for the non-Muslims to see from our perspective.

  5. Ritchie says:

    “Anwar, Israel, and the King” is selective, subliminal and downright soggy like leftover ‘soup cuci tangan’. It lacks reasoning and is highly establiment greasy in its tone. You seem to question the intention and motivation of Anwar through pre-conceived routes that leave readers like me wondering if you have issues with Anwar the man and his politics, rather than the pivotal issue of the current goverment hiring Apco and the fingerprints of piracy, fraud and repungent ketuananism.

    With its steady manufacture of anti-Semitic propaganda, Barisan leaders from Mahathir to Najib owe the country an explanation for its demonisation of Israel and concealment of history. Are they willing to tell Malaysians what trully happened in Israel since the 1920s? History with regard to the Grand Mufti Haj Al Huessini and his orchestration of the “Hebron massacare”, and of his partnership in the Holocaust with Adolf Hitler. It takes more than ketuanan propaganda to see who is massacring who in Israel. It is no secret that the Palestinians are famous for media frauds like the “Al-Dura” and numerous other staged incidents. “Pallywood” is a thriving business and so is anti-Semitic propaganda and Jew demonisation.

    So, when Anwar exposes such hypocrisy of a goverment that on one hand supports anti-Semitic propaganda and on the one hand hires Apco to promote 1Malaysia after its One Israel – thinking Malaysians would naturally want an explanation.

    The picture and the music does not correlate. And instead of conveniently flogging Anwar for the expose, I think journalists should have the intellectual capacity to ask the right questions. It is all too convenient to wag the dog and play ricebowl institutionalised puppy when the story calls for a hound dog.

  6. M.K. says:

    Very well written. This episode is beginning to expose some of Anwar’s weaknesses, much to his political disadvantage. Better to focus on more important affairs of the state.

  7. Desert dog says:

    No excuses for either. Poor states[person]ship on this affair. Losing Malay [Malaysian] support will be a cause of concern to Anwar. He needs all to be cohesive. Anwar’s deeds while with Mahathir seems to have been forgotten by the Rakyat. What short memories we have!

    We rightly deserve what we get!

  8. Khairul says:

    Remember Nixon’s “I am not a crook.”

  9. Farouq Omaro says:

    Saudara Razman,

    In your comment you said, “But to Muslim Malaysians, who witnessed the killings of Muslims by the Israelis who took away their land in Palestine, we feel that Anwar is right to bring up this issue. Israel is the enemy of Muslims.”

    But I find it strange why it is only the Israeli aggression against Palestine that creates anger among Muslims. What about East Turkestan where the Chinese communists have been oppressing for centuries to the extent that the Turkic Uighur population has dropped drastically that even in the capital Urumqi the Uighurs are a minority! That in East Turkestan the non-Muslim Chinese communists dictate to Muslim scholars what part of Islam can be taught and cannot be taught!

    It is saddening that some Muslim nations have China as their largest trading partner. The Uighurs are Muslims, Sunni Muslims too at that. Don’t tell me you have never heard of Uighur men and women disappearing, tortured and killed in prisons.

    Secondly, how did Muslim nations respond when Russia decided to crush aggressively Chechnya’s unilateral declaration of independence? Chechen president Dzokhar Dudayev declared Chechnya independent because of a clause which said that all the Russian republics were in association with Russia by free-will. The Russians destroyed the capital, including mosques, killing women and children and even killing Dudayev. Today, they have installed a puppet president Ramzan Kadyrov who hides behind the mask of an Islamic fundamentalist but freely engages in alcohol and womanising! The Russians are happy, because the Chechen, who are predominantly Muslims, are under their control!

    There are many other instances of suppression, aggression and oppression of Islamic societies worldwide, including some by Muslims themselves. But why do we always focus on Palestine? Is it because the other suffering Muslims are not Arabs?

    Can Muslim nations severe ties with China, Russia and Myanmar among others? If they cannot, then all these criticisms against Israel [are rubbish]! Does Anwar Ibrahim have the guts to ask his Muslim supporters to boycott everything that is Made in China and Made in Russia?

    To me the demonisation of Israel is the biggest lie to turn away Muslim eyes from the real evil in the world – capitalism introduced by secular atheist Westerners! Capitalism can make us be friends with murderous China, make us turn a blind eye to weapons proliferation in Africa. All these slowly kill and suppress Muslim society, but they cannot see it, because in their eyes the bigggest enemy is Israel. And who created ISRAEL?

  10. Rezuan Asrah says:

    Nice one. Consider me as your new fan =P

  11. Jennifer says:

    Nothing like Islamophobia to counter anti-Semitism.

  12. jew says:

    Anwar is much closer to the Jews than Malaysia to Apco…hahahaha.

  13. Ritchie says:

    “Turnspeak” or (a form of phychological conditioning that potrays the victim as the aggressor and the aggressor as the victim), as what goes on in Gaza and Israel gets the truth eclipsed. That’s why when you watch such reports, it is pivotal to ask who is telling the story, and if the information given can be verified objectively through non-partisan sources.

    The Palestinian “pallywwod” propaganda is an industry that manufactures user-friendly lies for global consumption. Some international media support it because it makes a better return than the real thing.

    A good place to unravel propaganda from reality is to research history minus the ‘replacent-history’ virus. For many, Haj Al-Huesseni may sound irrelevant to the crisis we see in the Middle East. However, this individual and his role in Israel and later in collaboration with Hitler and the Holocaust will shed much light on concealed historical data and the continued massacre of non-Muslims throughout the world today.

    Why the silence when it comes to ethnic cleansing done by the Egyptian goverment against Coptic Christians or millions of citizens who refuse forced conversions? Almost a century of bloodlust and the politically-correct media pretends to look the other way? What about the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Maluku Islands in Indonesia? What about Yala, Mindanao, Sudan and millions accros the globe. What about the vast infiltration of Muslim militant migrants into Europe and the continued infiltration and colonisation of non-Muslim countries?

    Turnspeak leads to psychological confusion and a feeling of being “burned-out” or “overwhelmed” with too much information, effectively creating a blanket of “white noise” which makes clarity difficult to achieve. Are there any Malaysians courageous to speak about the well-documented terrorist links to Yala, Mindanao and of arms exports to Muslim militants abroad?

  14. Ida Bakar says:

    To Ritchie,

    Without wanting to go off tangent on the initial topic, I think it is a bit rich of you to dismiss the above as a soggy piece of journalism when you yourself are guilty of selective historicism. To call Palestine as ‘Israel’ in 1920s when Israel was created in 1948, to have a confused analysis of the problems in southern Thailand and Mindanao, and lumping Sudan with Yala demonstrates extreme ignorance of world events.

    Perhaps you should look into the activities of AIPAC, the reports by B’tselem, and the amount of USD proping up the Zionist state before you cry foul over Pallywood and the Gazans.
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

    In case you have forgotten, there is a ‘western aggression’ going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  15. Ritchie says:

    Perhaps it is you Ida Bakar who need a history revision. Anthropoligical evidence aunthicate that the Jews had inhabitated Jerusalem and to a territory much larger than what is now geographically called Israel. The real issue is a mission to eradicate Jews and a deep-seated malice altogether driven by a replacement history contagion.

    There was never a nation called Palestine, neither was there an independent state, currency or ruler who reigned over it. There was no Arab state or nation called “Palestine” in the Middle East in 1948. Or ever.There was no “Palestinian” nation that the Jews could steal. Or occupy. For four hundred years until World War 1, the Middle East was ruled by Turks, the Ottoman Empire (1553-1922). There was no Palestine, no Jordan, no Lebanon, no Syria, and no Iraq. They were all created by the European powers out of the ruins of the Turkish Empire.

    The Jews have lived continuously in Palestine for 3700 years. Since the 19th Century, the Jews were a majority of the population in Jerusalem. Israel has as much a right to exist in the Middle East as do any of these Arab states. The history of Israel can be traced back to the beloved King David or (Daud) as refered to in the Quran. No one can claim that a nation becomes non-existent or is the heritage of someone else after they have been exiled from it.

    Such pernicious propaganda eclipses fact, just as in Malaysia, history is construed to begin only after the 13th century. Why are numerous documented historical and archeological evidence of ancient Chinese and Indian kingdoms, like the Chola which ruled in Kedah and Malacca being concealed and replaced with “ketuanan history”?

    As I stated earlier, it is not a new phenomenon but one that is charateristic of religous and racial chauvinists on a “turnspeak” jihad mission to conquer and Islamise at all cost.

  16. sans says:

    Razman, very disappointed with your comment. It seems that the suffering in Palestine is some kind of exclusive domain. What you are creating is “Muslim suffering” and “non-Muslim suffering”. No such thing. Compassion, empathy, understanding are possessed by all of us and it is not exclusive to any one religion. So please don’t get possessive of people’s suffering. There is no exclusivity.

  17. kamarulzaman says:

    The rights of everybody who lives in this country are saved in accordance of the constitution/law. The constitution reveals clearly that the monarch has authorities/legal powers over us on mattters concerning politics, the economy, and social matters. A true and honest guy will respect others people’s rights. Monarchy by constitution/democracy by Parliament – [these are our] political systems in this country. Legitimate authority and influential authority, are our main perspectives on political practices in this country. The Ruler is the chief on each government function.

  18. I’d like to dispute the fact on Onn Jaafar. He was a royalist. He was the adopted son of Almarhum Sultan Ibrahim of Johor. Umno was formed on the steps of the Istana. If you were to check the facts it can be said not all rulers supported the Malayan Union. The late Sultan Ali of Terengganu was dead set against it, he was deposed and his uncle Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin took the seat. [The same happened] to Raja Perlis. Sultan Ibrahim was dead set against Malayan Union because his independence would have been severely curtailed. He used Umno and Datuk Onn to galvanize support against the Malayan Union. It was because Hidup Melayu was no more in sync with the Malays and the idea of Umno opening up its membership to the non-Malays that Datuk Onn lost the support of the Malays. Datuk Onn’s idea of self government, not independence, was not what the Malays wanted. But it was in line with the British and the Sultan of Johor who on gaining of Independence decided to live in England and later died there at Dorchester Hotel in 1959. He was supposed to be the first Yang di Pertuan Agong because of his seniority but decided not to and to show his protest. Please Shanon if you do want to write and comment on anything get the historical facts right.

  19. I am dismay with Ritchie who swaggers as a learned man. Please do read the book on The Case of Israel written by Roger Garaudy first publish in France in 1983. Again Ritchie will describe him as a anti-Semitic person, forgetting Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all Semitic religions!

    There is no anthropological evidence to suggest that Jews were the original inhabitants of Palestine. There is none – in fact they were [of] many tribes: the Canaanites, the Hittites (around Hebron), the Ammonites (around Amman), the Moabites (east of Dead Sea), and the Edomites (southeast). And there were the Philistines at Mount Carmel. The name Israeled only appeared [in] 1225 BC. Commemorating the victories of Pharaoh Merneptah which said [the pharaoh] destroyed Israel and the [race] is no more!

    What evidence there is only exists in the Bible but no historical proof! On 31st December 1922 a population census was conducted by the British which found there were 757,000 people – 663,000 were Arabs and only 83,000 Jews! In 1845 there were only 12,000 Jews out of a population of 350,000! So what right have the Jews to say they were given the land by God! Was it fair that on 29 November 1947 the state of Israel [was created by] the Jews, who by that time had increase [in] population to 32% and who owned only 5.6% of arable land of Palestine [but] were alloted 56% of the territory and given them the most arable land! And this was written by David Ben Gurion that when the British left, no Jewish land, however remote, was seized by the Arabs, while the Haganah (the Jewish guerrilla army), liberated and captured many Arab positions in Tiberias Haifa Jaffa and Safad! Is this fair?

    Yes, there was no independent nation of Palestine, she has always been a Vassal state ruled in modern times by Jordan and the British. It was always semi-autonomous, please do go and get the book! To me what is wrong is to believe and making it a policy that the Jews are a chosen people. It is wrong when the Chinese call others devils, or when the Muslim Malays have a superior attitude. It is wrong when the Nazis spoke of the Aryan race. In my Quran it is stated that what differentiates [among] men and women is their faith in Allah. Faith should be differentiated with belief. Faith is shown by action and how you treat your neighbours your friends, your enemies or strangers. It is shown in how you respect the environment and all living things. That is what being a Khalifah [means] to me. That is my belief and that constitutes my faith.

  20. cyber trooper says:

    See? Anwar is a racist too.

  21. Ida Bakar says:

    Dear Ritchie,

    It is your sort of argument that stokes the fires of anti-Semitism all over Europe for most of the last millenium. Edward I expelled Jews from England in1290 and Jews did not return until 350 years later. Fast forward a few hundred years, you have the Nazis and their gripe against the Jews, that they did not belong in Europe. Now apply that to the Palestinians in Palestine.

    Perhaps it has escaped you that Palestinians (and Syrians and other inhabitants of the Levant) are descendents of the ancient Phoenicians, contemporaries of the Jews.
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0410/feature2/index.html

    It is also peculiar of you to say “There was no Arab state or nation called ‘Palestine’ in the Middle East in 1948″ then proceed in the next paragraph with “The Jews have lived continuously in Palestine for 3,700 years.” The soldiers who fought the Stetrn and Irgun terrorists might like to educate you on the British Mandate of Palestine. Perhaps you would like to explore the Sykes Picot agreement.

    You said, “No one can claim that a nation becomes non-existent or is the heritage of someone else after they have been exiled from it.” Tell that to the Palestinians who are being cleansed out of their land and the likes of you who deny them their history.

    Jews were and are not the only inhabitants of the holy land. It is the CURRENT brutal occupation of Palestinian lands, the abhorrent treatment of Israeli Arabs within Israel and the normalisation of these inhumanities by the Zionists that deserve worldwide condemnation.

    You seem to want to blame everyone who disagrees with the status quo in Israel-Palestine, except the Zionist regime that perpetuates these miseries. Perhaps you would like to blame Hadrian for the expulsion of the Jews in AD 135, too.


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