PKR is a confused party. I have refrained from visiting the subject for the longest time because I thought I have proven my points and the other side have proven theirs especially with the coalition PKR brought together as the result of the March 8 Malaysian general election. Today, MP Zulkifli Noordin from PKR just proved my point again and I just have to say I told you so.

I was not surprised when I found out that a mob forced a forum held behind closed doors to an abrupt end.[1] It is clearly a transgression of liberty in form a tyranny of the majority. For this reason, I am long not a fan of unconditional democracy. Majoritarianism is the purest form of democracy and it does not guarantee liberty. And this was demonstrated on Saturday.

After all, this is not the first time a mob overcame a group of individuals’ liberty. There is a trend here to be seen here.

I am also not surprised at how the police handled the situation. In an illiberal democracy that we live, I have lost trust in the police. I view them with embedded prejudice and I am incapable of holding a neutral view of the police anymore. The reason is simply because the police are uninterested in protecting liberty.

I am holding this view because I have experienced how disinterested the police force was in protecting my liberty against transgression by foreign citizens. When the Olympic Torch passed through Kuala Lumpur back in April, I went out to protest how the PRC handled protesting Tibetans. In the process, citizens of People’s Republic of China used mob power to silent me, pushing me around and the police did nothing despite see what was happening. When a person tried to help me, the person was assaulted by the mob.

The police came in later only to force the assaulted to leave the area while the mob was left off the hook.

The same scenario happened earlier in the morning of the relay day. Several individuals whom protested peacefully against atrocity committed by the PRC government were assaulted by the mob from PRC and police arrested the assault victims, not the mob.

The police was never interested in protecting liberty. The police was never interested in protecting minority rights. The fact that the police could side with foreigners raised in a mostly unfree culture against our own citizens demonstrates how disinterested the police is in protecting individual liberty.

The same case recurred at the Bar Council.

In libertarianism of minarchist strain, one of the primary roles of the government is the protection of individual liberty. Absolution of this responsibility by the state necessarily breaks the link of the state from the individuals of the state, making the state irrelevant and the state has proven to be downright hostile to individual liberty. As such, I have trouble trusting my state.

Moreover, while I do not believe in the law that stifles liberty, it is clear that the weight of the law was not evenly applied on Saturday. The demonstration by the mob was clearly illegal under our illiberal law but yet, the police did nothing to disperse the mob. What the police did was advised the organizer of the forum at the Bar Council to unceremoniously end it instead of providing the organizers with protection. This questions the credibility of the state.

It must be added that the protest against the forum itself is perfectly fine from liberty point of view, regardless of laws set in place. As Thomas Jefferson said long ago, law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. What is wrong was how a number of protesters prevented others from exercising liberty.

While the transgression of rights by the mob and the failure or refusal of the police to protect liberty are indeed disgusting, all that however does not disappoint me considering how jaded the history of individual liberty is in Malaysia. Might is right in Malaysian culture, contrary to the concept of a liberal democracy in which individual rights are embedded and protected from crass majoritarianism.

What is disappointing is Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s indirect association with the mob. One of its MPs, Zulkifli Noordin actually led the protest. It is comforting that the party has come out and condemned the use of mob rule as well as the MP almost immediately.[2]

But then again, this demonstrates what is wrong with PKR. So engrossed with big tent politics, PKR is all happy to invite anybody into their tent, regardless of philosophies. The party has been successful in practicing big tent politics and the past general election has proven its advocates right. And lately, terms such as “competition of ideas” and “diversity of thoughts” have been adopted within the party to further rationalize the idea of big tent politics.

I am a big fan competition of ideas but my affection for it stops when coercion is used and clearly, threats were issued by the mob. And because of that, I will not miss MP Zulkipli Noordin leading the mob to storm the forum hall at all if he loses the ongoing election petition.[3]

As for advocates of big tent politics however, it has come to a point where big tent politics is threatening to tarnish the party’s relatively liberal outlook.

Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved Mohd Hafiz Noor Shams. Some rights reserved

[1] At 9.50am, a handful of protesters, led by Kulim Bandar Baharu parliamentarian Zulkifli Noordin from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), muscled their way to the front of the first-floor auditorium at the Bar Council headquarters in Leboh Pasar Besar here amid an ongoing and lively discussion on the 2006 court case of R. Subashini, whose ethnic Indian husband T. Saravanan had embraced Islam and converted their five-year-old son without her knowledge or consent. [The day the loudest won… or did they? The Malaysian Insider. Debra Chong. August 9 2008]

[2] The People’s Justice Party (keADILan) regrets that the police force present failed to control the situation but instead appeared to collaborate with some of the demonstrators who wanted to force their way into the hall to stop the seminar. This incident reminds us of what happened during the APCET conference on East Timor that was held a few years ago, when members of Umno-Bn forced their way in to sabotage the seminar.

We take serious view of the rough action taken by a small band of the demonstrators who shouted rude and uncivilized language against some of the organizers and participants of the Seminar. We regret that unfortunately the “fiercest” among them was someone known to be a lawyer and member of parliament who pretentiously claimed himself to be “representing all the Muslims”. [Condemning action against Bar Council seminar. Parti Keadilan Rakyat. August 9 2008]

[3] It was a direct reference to PKR’s own Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin who led the protest and the storming of the forum hall here which prompted the police to ask the organiser, the Bar Council, to call off the session only an hour after it started. [PKR condemns protest against Bar Council forum. The Malaysian Insider. August 10 2008]

3 Responses to “[1742] Of thoughts on mob rule, the police and MP Zulkifli Noordin”

  1. on 10 Aug 2008 at 19:38 anon

    Democracy, without the necessary safeguards for individual freedom and liberty, IS mob rule – and can only result in a form of tyranny. Most dictators and madmen in power were democratically elected one way or another e.g. Hitler, Suharto.

    Contrary to popular perception, freedom and democracy are not the same thing. They are ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. In a democracy, 51% of the population have the ability to vote away the rights of the remaining 49%.

    I personally consider individual freedom to be of far greater importance – take Singapore for example, it’s an autocratic state but there’s IMMENSE SCOPE for economic and personal freedom even if there are certain state-imposed limits on public expression and personal freedom. My opinion is that democracy, if left unchecked, will eventually instate a socialist/welfare state of some form – that’s the Road to Serfdom staring at you. It’s important to remember that socialism is actually a milder form of fascism.

    The American founding fathers were well aware of this – that’s why ‘democracy’ never once appears in the Constitution. And knowing that the powers of the state – democratically installed – tends to GROW, they came up with a Bill of Rights to limit state powers, and to ensure that individuals were protected from the whims of the mob, and their agents – the government.

    How can the state be trusted to protect individual liberty and rights? It’s the state (and superstates, like the European Union) which tramples all over it.

    But there’s also Switzerland’s system of ‘direct democracy’ even if they have become less hard-core-capitalistic nowadays. I’m curious if their system can be transplanted to some other country on this planet.

  2. on 11 Aug 2008 at 00:42 donplaypuks

    We have no police, only a BN Militia, and one suspects it is now a case of the tail that’s wagging the dog! The new Sodo Mee case suggests a face-saving exercise for the enforcers.

    The RCI on the Police is now more than 2 years old and the IPCMC has not been implemented and therefore indicates the (failed at Fgn Affairs) Minister of Home Affairs, PM and Govt are not in control.

    And when racists, religious extremists and demagogues are openly allowed to flout the Rule of Law by the inaction of the Police while others are sprayed with pepper-laced water and locked up post-haste under the ISA, we are doomed unless we vote wisely.

    We must vote out this BN Govt & itspenchant for ‘behind closed doors’ discussion which is the root of all corruption in our country!!

  3. […] who can forget how Zulkifli Nordin of PKR stormed a forum demanding it to be halted; he has yet to be punished by PKR for what he […]

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