General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin
Chief of Malaysian Arm Forces
General Zulkifeli 'shames' the Malaysian military, says constitutional expert.
A senior law lecturer today tagged Armed Forces chief General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin as "a shame" to his colleagues for questioning the loyalty of parties involved in the expose of an alleged postal vote manipulation.
Constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said the general "does not understand" the concept of loyalty in the context of a country and its people, slamming the latter of making "empty denials".
"Loyal to whom? Political parties need not be loyal to the Armed Forces. Everyone must be loyal to the country and its symbol, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," he said in a statement.
Aziz was responding to a statement by Zulkifeli yesterday, who said that those who had claimed the military's rank-and-file were involved in electoral fraud were traitors.
Aziz, a law professor with the International Islamic University of Malaysia, (UIA), stressed that the Armed Forces is a branch of the federal civil service, which means its only loyalty lies with the COUNTRY and the KING.
"There is no need to be loyal to the ruling government. It is compulsory for the civil service to be neutral, and not side with the ruling party. The Armed Forces simply needs to carry out the government's orders in line with the law. What happened in the context of postal votes is criminal," he said.
Aziz pointed out that the burden of responsibility finally falls on the Armed Forces to prove beyond reasonable doubt that postal vote manipulation has never happened in the military.
He stressed that rather than sniping at the PAS' Youth wing for raising the issue, Zulkifeli should at the very least launch a probe to verify the claims.
"The Armed Forces should thank DPP (PAS Youth). PAS are merely representing the rakyat who want elections that are clean and free of fraud. The Armed Forces must prove it is clean, not demand that the rakyat be loyal to the Armed Forces. The general must understand that the Armed Forces belong to the people. He should not follow the example of the IGP (inspector-general of police Ismail Omar) and his deputy (Khalid Abu Bakar), who have issued various statements that insulted the rakyat and went against the constitution," Aziz said.
PAS Youth, meanwhile, said it was shocked by Zulkifeli's accusation of treason against the wing for hosting a series of confessions by four ex-military personnel who revealed cases of postal vote manipulation while they were in service.
Mohd Adram Musa, the deputy chair of the wing's democratic reform and mobilisation committee, said it was never the intention of PAS to "use" ex-military personnel to dish out exposes", adding that they themselves had voluntarily stepped forward to reveal the foul play.
"It is impossible for PAS Youth to use former military personnel who are instilled with discipline and high self-esteem during training and while in service. Indirectly, the Armed Forces general has insulted the four ex-servicemen (who made the recent claims).
"I am confident that there are many other former military personnel who will come forward to expose postal vote manipulation in future... PAS Youth will give them all the space they need," Adram said.
He also slammed Zulkifeli for disregarding the evidence put forward by the four ex-servicemen, saying that the general should have instead arranged to get the information directly from them and subsequently form an investigative body that would in turn present its recommendations to the government.
"Blaming PAS Youth in this postal vote issue is not a wise move. I am very sure the general was not given the true information regarding postal vote manipulationPAS Youth is ever ready to explain this issue to the general... we are not traitors. If we were traitors, we would not give space for a discussion with the Armed Forces general," Adram added.