I can’t help but make a comparison between what is happening in the United States and with what has been happening for a long time in Malaysia. Of course, it is also because I am currently in Los Angeles attending a transmedia workshop at the University of Southern California.
Newly-minted US President Donald J Trump has been making the headlines in the last two weeks as he signs one executive order after another trying to change the laws and policies of the country as fast as he can after taking over from his predecessor Barack Obama.
The most controversial so far has to be the one concerning immigration. The order suspends entry of all refugees for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, blocked entry for Iranians, Iraqis, Libyans, Sudanese, Somalians, Yemenis and Syrians, even if they held green cards.
This caused protests in the country by tens of thousands of people who disrupted international airports in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and many other states. Lawyers offered help to those who were affected by the order.
I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at the time when the order took effect and saw first-hand the chaos there. Of course, I did not face any problems entering the country because I had a valid visa and Malaysia is not on the ban list (despite the rumours).
Several Federal Court judges from New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Washington even issued emergency rulings against the order. And all those affected but have a valid visa will now be granted a stay. The rulings will not allow the government to remove anyone who has arrived.
A day later, acting US attorney-general Sally Yates announced in a letter that she refused to defend the order regarding immigration signed by Trump because she does not believe that it is lawful:
"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful. Consequently, for as long as I am the acting attorney-general, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so."
So what does Trump decide to do? He fires Yates, stating that she has “betrayed the Department of Justice” and replaces her with Dana Boente:
“Ms Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration. It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.”
We, too, ‘removed’ our AG
But that’s how politics in Malaysia works as well...