Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ayatollahs, Generals, and Garden-Variety Dictators

Malaysia, Iran, and Burma. One might be forgiven to think that there is not much in common among these three countries. To be sure, there are vast differences between them. But of late, it is also become apparent that they’re each in their own way, quite notorious for their kangaroo courts.

Iran is once again on the world stage engaged in forcefully repressing democratic voices and circumventing the democratic process there, and especially putting dissidents and political opponents on trial. In this climate of crackdown in Iran, nothing about its so-called legal process comes as any surprise to the international community.

In a similar way, the cowardly but brutal regime in Burma has again shown its true colours. Was the latest verdict against Aung Sun Suu Kyi a surprise to anyone? You’d have to have been living on another planet until last week to be surprised by the outcome of the co-called trial in Burma – even though Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s sentence might seem tempered (but undoubtedly politically calculated to diffuse some of the harsher international outcry against the regime).

Similarly, we had our infamous Sodomy (I) Trial back in the late 1990s and fully revealed to the world just how pathetic our judiciary had become under the reign of an authoritarian dictator. We’ve of course not relented nor has the regime been shamed by the mockery that was made of the judiciary. Indeed, despite the rhetoric, Umno has remained true to its anti-democratic instincts – and further affirmed its reputation for political persecution with the latest episode of the pursuit and political persecution of Anwar. This is of course in addition to its repeated use and abuse of the ISA to enforce so-called order.

Who said you need to have fanatical Ayatollahs or brutal Generals to make a mockery of a judicial system.

G. Krishnan