Do Malaysians really need the ISA? Political power crazy or security

Proponents of the Internal Security Act justify their viewpoint by reference to the need for law to enable the authorities to deal with threats to national security. In principle, there is nothing objectionable with that position. As I explain below, the Federal Constitution allows for the enacting of laws to that end.

The shape these laws take, however, depends on the nature of the threat that is sort to be addressed and the measures needed for that purpose. These features inform any discussion concerning the relevance, if at all, of laws that allow for detention without trial under our constitutional framework.

There is no general power in Parliament to validly enact laws that contravene the fundamental liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. That is why the Criminal Procedure Code has crystallized in the form it has, obliging the police to produce an arrested person before a magistrate within twenty-four hours of arrest. If the police want to keep that person in custody without charging him or her for a further period of time to allow for further investigation, they have to convince a magistrate of the need for this extension.

Where the offence being investigated is punishable by death or with imprisonment of more than fourteen years, the magistrate can order a further detention of up to seven days with it being open to the police to seek a further seven days thereafter. Where the offence is punishable with imprisonment of less than fourteen years, the maximum period of further detention is seven days, in stages of four and three days respectively.

The rationale is that the individual being investigated should be charged as soon as possible or be let go, the thinking being that if after that many days as is permitted the police have got no basis to charge, then continued detention is not justifiable. The individual can be rearrested subsequently if more evidence surfaces and then charged, but unless and until that occurs, he is entitled to liberty. If charged, the accused then has the benefit of all the safeguards of the criminal justice system the most important of which is a trial.

That is what the guarantee against the denial of life and liberty “save in accordance with law” means.

There is however a constitutionally entrenched exception to this general rule. Parliament can enact laws that circumvent the guarantees of liberty and associated guarantees to deal with the threat of action by a substantial body of persons that aims to destabilize the nation or undermine democracy.

The ISA was enacted using this exceptional power. The “substantial body of persons” concerned was the communist insurgent army whose actions had led to concerns about the security of the nation and its way of life. That is what made its enacting valid; it was a necessary means to disenfranchising the insurgents and preventing them from regrouping. The criminal justice system might have impeded efforts to deal with the insurgents effectively.

We tend to overlook the obvious truth that solutions must be crafted to suit the problems they are intended to solve. The ISA was designed to a particular end. It was never intended to define the upper limits of executive action where national security was concerned. It was never meant to be the yardstick.

There is no difficulty with invoking the criminal justice system to deal with individuals who are not affiliated to a larger body of persons, be they terrorists or the organizers of demonstrations or socio-political bloggers, no matter how convenient preventive detention may be.

This is not a matter of preference; it is the law.

If a crime has been committed, let the accused be tried. If no crime has been committed, then there is no basis for circumventing constitutional freedoms unless the nation itself is threatened.

For those who fear the uncertain, an anti-terror legislation will allow us to deal with actual national security concerns effectively. This law could be of a hybrid nature, applying general principles of criminal law for those acts of terrorism that do not fall within the constitutional exception but at the same time allowing for exceptional steps to be taken where the terrorism concerned does. The aim of these exceptional steps should be to deal with a clear and present danger and not to substitute criminal due process with executive whimsy. Detention periods should as such be of very limited duration, if a crime has been committed there should be a trial, and be made subject to strict judicial scrutiny. This would encourage less sloppy policing and lead to greater security.

Do we really need the ISA? With the range of more effective options available to us in this day and age, I do not think so.

Disquiet

who will go to hell and who will go to heaven, Utter Rubbish

If there is one thing that demonstrates that we are probably just a bunch of people who happen to live on the same land, it is the issue of religious conversion. This is the one thing that shows, starkly, why we still have some distance to go before we can safely say that we are one united nation.

Last week, five ministers sat down and came up with the policy that a child is to be raised in the faith of the parents when they were married even if one spouse then decides to become a Muslim. It was a decision that was greeted warmly by the non-Muslims, as well as the odd Muslim or two. But for seemingly the majority of Muslims, it was not received very well.

Firstly, let's consider the reason why this policy even needed to be made and announced. The core is that there has been a slew of cases where a marriage broke down and one of the spouses converted into Islam. And in what feels a bit like a “package deal” the saudara/i baru then converts the children into Islam too. Usually, well … obviously, without the consent of the other parent.

The cases are numerous, more numerous than most people think, and invariably they involve Indian families. Why that is so, I'd imagine that the sociologists could tell us eventually.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, the lawyer who is probably one of the most prominent persons involved in these sort of stuff, was quick to laud the decision though he expressed reservations as to how the policy would actually translate into practice.

He also wrote that in his opinion, the policy seems to adhere to the Constitution, where the word “parent” is also to be understood to mean “parents”.

Why was that pertinent? Because Zulkifli Noordin (and it had to be him, didn't it?), among others, objected to the policy, stating that there was already precedent in this matter, citing the case of R. Subashini where the court decided that under Article 12 (4) of the Constitution, any one of the parent or legal guardian is allowed to decide on the faith of the child(ren).

At that point, we start to slide down the slippery slope of logical fallacy and vacuous reasoning.

I say that because, well, let's examine the protests made by those who object to the policy.

Zulkifli argues that the matter is resolved in spite of the policy because the court asserted that one of the parents can decide which faith the child is to be in. What Zulkifli did not say, but seemed to imply, is that the one parent is to obviously be the Muslim parent. What Zulkifli did not say, but seemed to imply, is that the moment one of the parents converts into Islam, that parent is automatically elevated in status and therefore has the upper hand.

But then, Zulkifli has also always believed that converting a child into Islam is not really conversion but more of a reversion. Because he believes that every child that has not reached puberty is considered Muslim under certain interpretations of Syaria law. This, of course, might be rather shocking news to the parents of the children, but try telling that to Zulkifli.

Similarly, the Muslim coalition of NGOs calling itself Pembela protests the policy where one of the members, Yusri Mohamad, said: “In Article 12 section 4 of the Constitution, the faith of a child who is not yet an adult is determined by the parents. The courts have interpreted that the parents have the right to decide regardless if they are the husband or wife.”

Pembela's argument was that the policy would deny the parent who converted his or her right and responsibility over the future of the children, saying that it would not be fair to those who want to convert into Islam.

What is not said, but seemingly implied, is that as long as one of the parents is a Muslim, then he or she can convert the children, even if the other one disagrees. Because as a Muslim, the parent has a responsibility to raise the children to be faithful and good Muslims.

To make clear why this reasoning breaks down, let's flip it the other way. Say that the other parent who has not converted decides that the children should be in the religion of the unconverted parent, how is the “right to decide” not applied to the parent?

Or, let's say that the other parent who has not converted then decides to convert from, for example, Hinduism to Catholicism, just as his or her erstwhile partner converts into Islam. How is the “right to decide” not applied to the now Catholic parent?

If denying the right of the converted Muslim parent to raise the children in his or her faith is unfair, how is it fair to deny the unconverted parent the right to raise the children in her or his faith?

Wait, you know what, I'm going to stop beating about the bush and get straight to the point. The basic foundation of the protests by the Muslim groups is that Islam is the one true religion, the faith of the one true God, the Absolute Truth and that every other religion on the face of the earth is false. False deities, false faiths, false, false, false. As such, certain rights are inalienable to the Muslims, and absolutely alienated from the non-Muslims.

And this reasoning scares the pants out of some non-Muslims in Malaysia, and pisses off a lot of the others. In some cases, achieving both at the same time.

I write this as a Malay, ergo a Muslim. I write this as a Muslim who looks on uncomfortably at all the custody battles and conversion arguments. I write this as a Muslim who finds it hard to accept that it's okay to assume primacy over others, simply because their beliefs are considered false … rendering them as less than worthy of the same consideration as Muslims.

Islam is a religion of justice, fairness, equality and compassion. It's well past time that we prove it, isn't it? And stop scaring the pants out of, and pissing off, our fellow Malaysian brothers and sisters. They will all end up going to hell, of course, but you never know, you might end up joining them.

MI
01/05/09

mi1: World would be peace without any religion. Why arent we seeing any new gods appearing now, all happened few thousand years ago when people could not even think rationally. All gods are man made

PAS is singing a different tune now with Taliban force

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS leaders broke their silence on the religious conversion issue today and attacked the cabinet's recent decision for betraying Islam as the controversy continued to divide Malaysians.

Conservative Muslim groups have already condemned the government for decided on its own that children should be raised in the faith of their parents while they were married even if one spouse becomes a Muslim.

A number of PAS leaders joined in the chorus of dispproval, saying the cabinet should have consulted with various Islamic institution like the Conference of Rulers, the country's supreme authority on Islamic matters, and the Muslim Lawyers Association before making such a decision.

The cabinet announced its decision recently in a bid to resolve the custodial issue surrounding Indira Ghandi, a Hindu, and her ex-husband who had converted to Islam.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, Mahfuz Omar, a PAS parliamentarian, said the government in making appeared to have bypassed and disrespected the country's rulers and Islam in general.

"By making such a decision without having first consulted the Conference of Rulers, the BN government has shown no respect towards the country's rulers. They are the country's supreme authority in Islamic matters.

"This means they have directly ignored the role of the country's rulers. They are the 'penderhaka' (traitor) and by doing so, they have betrayed Islam and the Muslim community of this country," he said.

Mahfuz added that the government had also handled the matter hypocritically.

"In the past, they have repeatedly said that whatever the problem is, we can solve it trough the proper channel which is the courts. But here we have the government totally ignoring the decision of the court."

When asked if he thought it was right for the Syariah court to decide, without consent, that the children of Indira should be converted to Muslims now that their father had done so, Mahfuz said he believes that the capability of the Syariah court to be just in the matter should not be questioned.

"I believe the Syariah court is and has been capable of handling such matters justly," he said and added that he also believes that the parents should have the right to decide on the religion of their children.

Mahfuz' argument is backed by a fellow PAS leader, Khalid Samad, who said the decision made by the government had disrespected the country's judiciary system.

Khalid who is MP for Shah Alam said the government had denied the judiciary its innate authority by overturning the decision of the court which had 'legally' converted Indira's children to Muslims.

He also said that such 'automatic' decisions would not help solve the conversion problem and urged the government to seek a way to provide a more just solution for all the parties involved in the matter.

"No automatic decision (as made by the government) should be acted upon without detailed discussion on the problem first.

"The children must be given the access to both views and they should be given the right to decide on which faith they wish to follow," he said.

Both the Syariah and civil courts must be able to deliver justice to all the parties involved, added Khalid, who believes that the two channels are the best avenue to solve such problems.

MI
01/05/09

Usurper Zambry plotting 2nd unethical, undemocratic, illegal power grab to remove Perak Speaker Sivakumar

The usurper Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir has finally admitted that his first agenda at the illegally-convened Perak State Assembly meeting on May 7 is to move a motion to remove the Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar, who has become the most famous Speaker in the Commonwealth for his great and valiant battle in the past three months to defend the Perak State Assembly from encroachments from other branches of government and to uphold the doctrine of Separation of Powers.

Zambry should realize that his usurpation of the office of Perak Mentri Besar as a result of the the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak in early February cannot gain legitimacy by another unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab, this time by breaking all parliamentary traditions, conventions and practices by removing the Speaker through the use of three renegade Assembly members and a renegade State Assembly clerk.

How can there be any legitimate government when it is founded on two unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grabs, firstly on the office of Mentri Besar and secondly, three months later, on the office of Perak Speaker – based on three renegade Assembly persons who dare not appear publicly even in their own constituencies for three months after their political defection and betrayal and one renegade State Assembly clerk who had been sacked from his position for repeated public insubordination of his immediate superior, the Speaker?


Zambry is also guilty of acting in a most arrogant and high-handed manner even as an usurper Mentri Besar, as he seems to be dealing with an unknown usurper Speaker in convening the Perak State Assembly on May 7 – completely refusing to accept and acknowledge that Sivakumar is the Speaker until there is a proper and legal removal.

As the usurper Mentri Besar, Zambry should abandon the second unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak to remove Sivakumar as Perak Speaker in an illegally-convened State Assembly on May 7 based on the support of three renegade State Assembly members and agree to the dissolution of Perak State Assembly for at least three reasons:

Firstly, the convening of the May 7 State Assembly is contrary to the public commitment of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who said on February 28 that the Perak State Assembly cannot meet until the court has decided that the Barisan Nasional is the legal government to rule the state in accordance with the Perak Constitution. As the court has not ruled that Zambry is legally the Perak Mentri Besar, the Perak State Assembly meeting convened on May 7 should be called off.

Secondly, a second unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak based on the support of three renegade State Assembly members can neither confer legitimacy on Zambry as the legal Mentri Besar or mandate to the Perak Barisan Nasional govern the Perak state.

Just as zero plus zero is zero, illegality plus illegality is illegality!

Thirdly, if Zambry cares for the credibility, integrity and legitimacy of Najib as Prime Minister of Malaysia, he should relieve Najib of the baggage of having orchestrated an unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak by demonstrating that the Perak Barisan Nasional can secure the mandate to govern the state through a new state wide elections and not through the “biggest political robbery” in the history of Perak and Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang
01/05/09

Najib is facing criticism over Mongolian Model and Perak crisis

The so-called 'economic reforms' of PM Najib Razak.

As far as what Malaysians are concerned, it is nothing more than a political ploy aimed at appealing to the sensitivities of non-bumiputera Malaysians.

If it were an honest piece of policy in the direction of meritocracy, he would have liberalised all sectors of the government.

Therefore, let us all not immerse ourselves in an artificial sense of euphoria to justify such piecemeal reforms.

And let us all not forget that while a certain former prime minister pushed forward for economic reforms, he totally subjugated the moral standing of our nation, what with rampant levels of corruption and cronyism in his heyday.

Will it be any different with Mr Najib? For his sake, I do hope so.

Though judging from his heavy-handedness in the Perak debacle, as well his deafening silence in the face of criticism from all corners of the world regarding a certain Mongolian model, it seems to me that the blue-eyed boy shall go the way of his mentor.
30/04/09

1Malaysia: Sekadar Kosmetik dan Lunak Retorik!

“Kita Anak Malaysia, Satu Malaysia”

Laungan di atas cukup melunakkan setelah Pakatan Rakyat difitnah sebagai alat Cina!

Setelah didapati dukungan Cina dan India terhadap Umno-BN merosot parah, maka dikumandangkan semula slogan satu Malaysia.

Alahai mirip “Malaysian Malaysia” yang dituntut DAP sekian lama tetapi diserang Umno sebagai perkauman Cina. Akhirnya pimpinan Umno sekonyong-konyong melutut kapada tuntutan perkauman.

Namun jika ditinjau mendalam, apa yang diamalkan adalah sekadar kosmetik, atau botox yang menggantikan bedak sejuk dan celak. Kelonggaran dan liberalisasi adalah untuk menawan hati pengusaha kaya Cina asalkan tidak menjejaskan kepentingan projek, kontrak dan habuan kroni mereka.

Ini berbeda dengan gagasan kita merangka Agenda Ekonomi Malaysia yang menjurus kapada kepentingan rakyat terbanyak, termasuk kaum majoriti Melayu-Bumiputera terpinggir dan miskin atau Cina dan India lainnya.

Dan isu lebih mendesak dari sudut prosedur tender, ketelusan, mengelak amalan boros, rasuah dan pembaziran tidak ditangani.

Demikian slogan ampuh. Bagaimana pula dengan pengamalan “Satu Malaysia”? Lihat saja mesej perkauman dan asabiyah sempit dalam kursus BTN!

Di media umum dibicara perpaduan satu Malaysia. Tetapi dalam kursus diracuni fahaman Melayu terjerat akibat gelojoh Cina dan muslihat serta khianat Anwar Ibrahim dan Tuan Guru Nik Aziz. Bukankah munafik namanya?

Lagi pun tujuan mereka adalah untuk menyalahkan kalangan lain dan bukannya penjenayah dan perasuah besar yang menyebabkan Melayu hidup merempat setelah diperintah Umno selama satengah abad.

Disebalik tabir, dalam gelap dan berselindung mereka menyerang tetapi bacul manakala berdepan!

ANWAR IBRAHIM
30/04/09

BN's 1 Malaysia is merely a stage dance and bald-faced political move

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition icon Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has ripped into the Najib administration’s 1 Malaysia concept, calling it cosmetic and nothing more than a bald-faced political move to try and win back support from non-Malays.

This is the first time that the leader of Pakatan Rakyat has come out in such strong terms against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s main theme since he became Prime Minister on April 3.

Other opposition politicians have questioned what 1 Malaysia really means but Anwar gutted the whole concept, pointing out that Najib’s comments about unity and togetherness are only for public consumption.

Behind the scenes, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) is still continuing their indoctrination programmes for Malay civil servants and politicians, telling Malays to be wary of Chinese and Indians.

Anwar’s attack on the 1 Malaysia concept also betrays a growing uneasiness among the opposition on Barisan Nasional’s charm offensive to regain the support of non-Malay voters, the segment of voters who since Election 2008 have become a reliable vote bank for Pakatan Rakyat.

The support among Chinese and Indians for the opposition has grown steadily since March 8 last year as a result of frustration over excesses of Umno, abuses under the New Economic Policy and lack of respect for the rights of non-Malays.

Faced with the real possibility of losing more ground with this important constituency and sensing that the fracture of race relations was reaching a dangerous stage, Najib’s team cobbled together the 1 Malaysia platform.

It has yet to be fleshed out but the concept promotes the idea that all Malaysians should feel as one and that no one will be left behind, regardless of race and religion.

The new administration has also liberalised the financial services sector and attempted to solve the thorny issues of conversion of children to Islam when marriages breakdown.

Nothing has been said about dismantling the NEP or spelling out how equality can be achieved among Malaysians with the main architecture of affirmative action is still in place and the Malay-centric civil service calling the shots at implementation stage.

In his latest blog posting, Anwar noted that Umno called Pakatan Rakyat the tool of the Chinese and also hammered the DAP as a chauvinist party for its Malaysian Malaysia concept.

“Now finding that the support of Chinese and Indians to Umno-BN is dropping drastically, we hear the slogan 1 Malaysia being used.

“If we delve more deeply into this concept, we find that what is practised is only cosmetic or botox. The liberalisation is only to win over rich Chinese entrepreneurs but will have no impact on the projects and contracts of their cronies,” he said, adding that more pressing issues of leakages, transparency and corruption were not addressed under the 1 Malaysia slogan.

In contrast, he noted the Malaysian Economic Agenda promoted by Pakatan Rakyat focused on what was good for the common man, especially the underprivileged Malay-Bumiputeras, Chinese and Indians.

Anwar wondered how it was possible to talk about 1 Malaysia when the reality on the ground was so different. He zoomed in on the courses run by BTN, a unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.

In the mainstream media the talk is about unity under 1 Malaysia but in the BTN courses they push narrow Malay interests and slam politicians like Anwar and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat for working with other races, Anwar said.

He wondered why BTN blamed other races and not the big criminals and corrupt individuals who have caused Malays to face hardship after 50 years of Umno rule.

Anwar’s sniping has set the tempo for the opposition’s campaign to puncture the 1 Malaysia concept. It could also spark a race between BN and the opposition to prove their Malaysian credentials.

MI
30/04/09

Playing the race card

RACE – the final frontier.
It’s when different racial groups vie for mastery over the rest. Racial or ethnic conflicts, if not resolved or managed properly, can often result in human suffering, wastage of resources, stagnant or negative economic growth and social backwardness of the countries concerned.

Playing the race card has often worked, which is why it is being used so frequently whenever there is the slightest opportunity and when diversion, divide and rule, and scapegoats are needed.

The main justification used for racism or racialism has always been the perceived superiority of one’s own race.

There is no such thing as a genetically superior race as there is only one human race. All humans today are descended from the same species of Homo sapiens that originated in Africa about 150,000 years ago. The exodus from Africa to the rest of the world began around 60,000 years ago as explained in the National Geographic documentary, The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, by Dr Spencer Wells, a renowned geneticist. We all share a common origin and are related at some point in prehistory.

Some races might appear to be more culturally "advanced" in their historical evolution and development due to an earlier acquisition of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, maritime travel and weaponry, better access to resources and raw materials (often by force) and sometimes, plain luck such as their geographical positions of having availability of water and food supply and the absence of natural disasters. Cultural advancement, of course, is purely subjective.

Let’s talk about racial unity or rather disunity in Malaysia. The problem in Malaysia is more about racialism or communalism rather than overt racism. We are very much a culturally, ethnically and religiously diverse society, yet the richness of our diversity, instead of being promoted as a strength, has often been exploited for parochial political objectives.

The bedrock principle governing race relations in this country has been the "social contract" which was agreed upon by our nation’s forefathers just before independence. There has been much debate recently on its various interpretations.

What is clear and stated in the Federal Constitution is the provision of special position of the Malays and other indigenous people and the position of Islam as the official religion. The other races, however, would be granted full citizenship and enjoy freedom of worship and other universal rights.

In 1971, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was drawn up, with a policy thrust aimed at eradicating poverty regardless of race and restructuring society to do away with identification of race with economic function. The NEP also made clear that no race should feel alienated or be left behind, and it was to be implemented through the adoption of affirmative action policies.

The majority of Malaysians accepted the principles and objectives of the NEP, fully understanding that, if unaddressed, social and economic inequalities along racial lines would destroy our society and that it was in the interest of all to uplift the economic status of the Malays. The controversy, however, was sparked by the implementation of NEP policies by overzealous officials who interpreted the rules according to their whims and fancies. Another group, largely politically well-connected bumiputras, used the NEP as a means to enrich themselves. While the NEP had been a partial success in fulfilling its objectives, its implementation created serious misgivings not only among many non-bumiputras but even among those in the bumiputra community who felt they were being marginalised.

The misgivings, frustration and outright sense of injustice engendered by the often capricious implementation of the NEP only served to further fuel the already fraying balance of race relations in a political system where parties were based on race and ethnicity.

The system had served the nation reasonably well in the first decade after Independence, even to the extent of subsequently enlarging the ruling coalition to include ostensibly multiracial parties. But the fundamental philosophy of governing through race-based components meant there was little room or opportunity for the growth of genuine multiracial parties.

And it soon became apparent that ethnic-based political parties, which may be useful in championing the cause of their races, would also inevitably provide a sanctuary for extremist elements who would not hesitate to become "champions of the race" as they sought to gather electoral support to move up the party’s leadership ladder.

While some may view the federal governing coalition as a single multiracial party, the March 8, 2008, general election demonstrated that an increasingly educated and well-informed citizenry no longer accepts this paradigm. In fact, the elections and their aftermath appear to have shown that the federal coalition is merely the sum of its ethnic parts, rather than a multiracial whole. Reinventing these race-based parties into genuine multiracial ones will take some doing, given the network of their power bases and structure developed over the years.

There is, of course, another, major factor impacting on race relations in Malaysia. Yes – religion. Race and religion are closely intertwined in Malaysia.

The sensitivity with which issues related to religion are handled by the authorities play a major role in determining whether race relations in Malaysia settle at a level of amity and respect – or serve to further undermine the delicate social fabric of our multiracial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic land. The cabinet’s decision last week on child conversion sent a positive signal on how such issues should be handled in future.

The writer is the CEO of a think-tank and strategic consultancy firm based in Kuala Lumpur

by KK Tan

Junior racist in action!!!

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Mukhriz Mohammad today stressed that he will defend the New Economic Policy (NEP) even though the government plans to liberalise the country’s economy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had recently announced that the government will be lifting the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity requirement for 27 sub-sectors in the services industry as part of Malaysia’s commitments to international trade agreements.

This, however, has left some in the Malay community worried that the NEP will be abolished.

“I feel that we should not be too nervous that the New Economic Policy will bit by bit be loosened. I am one of those who have always promoted NEP before I become a minister.

“So it is certain that I will defend (the NEP) because I truly believe that this policy has brought development to all of us and even though it specifically benefits the Malays but the rewards can be experienced by all, Malays or non-Malays,” he said.

NEP is a controversial socio-economic restructuring affirmative action program launched by the prime minister’s late father Tun Abdul Razak in 1971. The programme was aimed at closing the economic gap between the Malays and Chinese but many have argued that the NEP has only benefited a few.

Mukhriz promised that the NEP will not be ignored but would continue to be prioritised by government.

“Therefore I ask those who are worried that the NEP will no longer be prioritized with the liberalisation of our market, we will always continue prioritizing the NEP and at the same time, I am confident that there will be more new opportunities not only in terms of employments when the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) comes into our country,” he added.

Mukhriz told reporters that local companies are prepared to face foreign competitors as the country’s market is already open.

“The response we get from them is that actually our market is already open but the policies are not in accordance with it. That is what is being done by the government, to make our policies in accordance with our practice.

“That is why they are ready to face this challenge and at the same time, NGOs representing the service sector ask the government to continue helping local companies so that they will able to compete with foreign companies and that we are not only able to export our products but also services,” he explained.

The International Trade Minister was earlier present to launch the Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Forum and Expo organised by Perdasama in PWTC.

He told the audience that the government expects the economy to perform better in the second half of the year as the fiscal stimulus package will take effect and that the government has put in place several measures to counter the global recession.

“The government has adopted pro-active fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the slowdown of the Malaysian economy.

MI
29/04/09

Perak BN is feeling the pressure to hold an assembly before May 13

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin wants the May 7 Perak State Legislative Assembly to be postponed, pending the outcome of his lawsuit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Nizar noted his political rival faction, the Barisan Nasional (BN), may feel pressured to hold an assembly before May 13 because they consider it the deadline to prevent the State legislature from being automatically dissolved.

“For Pakatan Rakyat, we have already had a legal assembly below the tree on March 3, so for us Pakatan Rakyat, we can have one before September.

“But Barisan Nasional is quite worried because they feel pressured to have one before May 13,” he told reporters at the Palace of Justice here after the Federal Court unanimously ruled today to reject his political rival Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir’s bid to fast-track the resolution of their dispute on who is the lawful mentri besar of Perak.

The five-man bench decided the High Court had to clear up the various disputed issues raised by Nizar first before it could make a decision on the case.

“Today’s decision showed the May 7 assembly should be delayed,” Nizar pointed out.

“When we talk about today’s decision by the Federal Court, it shines a light at the end... that the final remedy should be the dissolution of the assembly,” he added.

The 52-year-old newly-elected MP for Bukit Gantang looked very tense before the court hearing this morning, smiling tightly and speaking in curt tones to reporters who approached him.

But he was all smiles when the court ruled in his favour. Leaping from his seat in the public gallery, he rushed to hug Sulaiman Abdullah, a senior lawyer and one-time Bar Council president who had argued his case in court.

Nizar is suing Zambry for usurping the office of the mentri besar, which he claims is unlawful as he has not quit the post officially.

He has consistently resisted efforts to drag in the Perak Sultan into a legal battle, despite attempts by certain political quarters to do so.

Asked if he regretted having to file his affidavit revealing the details of his meeting with the Sultan of Perak in early February, Nizar said he had been reluctant originally but indicated he had been forced to “respond because those facts are what I’m going to say.”

He noted “the public will know what transpired between myself and Tuanku so they will make the judgment.

“At the end of the day, we don’t want the court to decide for the people. The government of the day must be decided by the rakyat. The court is just a way for us to seek a solution,” Nizar said.

His lawyer Sulaiman highlighted that they wanted to avoid “a hasty solution” which may lead to more complicated problems later on.

“Our view has always been go through the proper route: Go through the High Court, go through the Court of Appeal and finally come to the Federal Court with all the issues settled,” said Sulaiman, who welcomed the Federal Court’s stand that the High Court should settle all disputes before letting the apex court make the ultimate decision.

“It is not an immediate issue of who runs Perak that matters. These are fundamental issues that will arise for the country for many, many years to come and unless we get it right at the beginning, we are going to face a lot of problems in future,” he said.

MI
29/04/09

Malaysian High Court and Federal Court plays hide and seek Part 2

PUTRAJAYA: Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir today failed to get a fast-track hearing at the Federal Court, which allowed an objection raised by his ousted rival Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and sent the case back to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

The panel of five judges led by Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff noted “there exists disputes of facts yet to be determined by the High Court” when rejecting Zambry’s application to interpret several Constitutional questions.

The judge said the issue would have to be determined by the High Court, adding that Zambry’s application was dismissed based on the preliminary objection but not on merits. The decision was unanimous.

Nizar, who maintains he is the rightful mentri besar, is suing Zambry for usurping his office as he has yet to officially quit the post.

Lawyers for Nizar told reporters later the “disputed facts” were over conflicting accounts of what had taken place at a meeting between Nizar and the Sultan of Perak in early February when the former had asked for the State Legislative Assembly to be dissolved, paving the way for fresh elections throughout the state.

The Perak State Legal Advisor Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid had filed an affidavit in which he claimed Nizar had admitted he no longer commanded the confidence of the majority in the State Assembly during his meeting with the Sultan.

But Nizar disagreed with Ahmad Kamal’s version of the affair and filed an affidavit on April 21 detailing what he discussed with Sultan Azlan Shah on February 4 and 5.

Nizar is seeking a court order to cross-examine Ahmad Kamal to reveal what really took place in his meetings with the monarch on those two days, which appears to be a crucial point leading to the Perak Constitutional crisis.

The 52-year-old who earlier this month was elected the new MP for Bukit Gantang has also volunteered to be grilled in court.

Sulaiman Abdullah told reporters the judge should be given the chance to hear both versions “orally” in order to decide who is to believed.

“Let us not make any mistake. This is an account made by two opposing parties. It is not one contestant against a neutral party.

“Datuk Kamal by no stretch of the imagination is neutral in this context because he has consistently taken the stand he has to represent Datuk Zambry,” Sulaiman pointed out.

The High Court has set May 4 to hear Nizar’s request.

MI
28/04/09

Anwar prepares PKR for long battle with Najib’s Umno

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has made sweeping changes to PKR as Pakatan Rakyat (PR) prepares to face off with the resurgent Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

PKR insiders say there is an urgent need to hunker down for a long, tough battle with a Umno united under Najib and Anwar’s old nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib has been working simultaneously on several fronts — economic, financial and political — to consolidate his power base, mow down his political enemies and recoup the losses suffered by BN in the 2008 general elections.

“PKR is the main target as PKR is the glue that holds the Pakatan Rakyat together and it is we who will take the full brunt,” a PKR insider said of Najib’s strategy.

Anwar’s decision to give a bigger role as party spokesperson to Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail is significant because it was she, as the aggrieved wife and symbol of resistance, who had held the PKR together during the six-long years when Anwar was in prison.

Dr Azizah stepped back after Anwar’s 2004 release but remained as nominal party president.

She gave up her Permatang Pauh seat for Anwar in July 2008 at a time of great stress for Anwar and the PKR, with her husband again accused of committing sodomy with his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Anwar’s sterling victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election and his subsequent appointment as opposition leader in parliament helped considerably to overshadow the public fallout from the sodomy allegations.

The allegations however are set to reappear again and dominate the headlines with the opening of the sodomy trial soon and naturally the PKR is concerned about the political fallout of another trial.

It is felt that neither deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali nor the senior vice-presidents of PKR are able to handle a major crisis as well as Dr Wan Azizah who is experienced and enjoys a unique public appeal of her own unlike other PKR leaders.

Besides, she is also well known to and has developed a network of sympathetic editors and senior writers among the international media during the years in the political wilderness.

Such a network can be a powerful positive factor in times of crisis.

Considering the circumstances Dr Azizah is expected to play a prominent public role again as PKR leader even as Anwar battles his political enemies in court and in parliament — a role that only she can carry as the symbol of resistance.

Other changes involve the ever resolute vice-president Azmin Ali who has been taken-off as election campaign director and is expected to be given a major role in the PKR in a second round of changes the PKR is expected to undertake soon.

Azmin is expected to head a key state where PKR presence is dominant.

Another key PKR leader and Anwar-ally — the information chief Tian Chua has been made strategic director and his post given to human rights lawyer Latheefa Koya.

PKR sources said she is more “level headed” then Tian Chua who had several time angered top PKR leaders with his “theatrics” and “rash” media statements.

Like Tian Chua and troubled PKR lawmaker Elizabeth Wong, Latheefa is a well known human rights activist and a fixture in numerous demonstrations for justice.

Azmin is replaced as election director by Saiffudin Nasution, a former Umno youth leader who has shown his skills and organisational abilities in recent by-election battles.

“Saifuddin’s star is shining in the PKR…he is also close to PAS and well liked by the DAP,” PKR sources said.

MI
28/04/09

1 (ONE) Malaysia: A cruel joke by BN?

It never ceases to amaze me how simple and trusting we Malaysians are.

We have heard all these promises before. Pak Lah, the Mr Clean and Mr Nice Guy of Malaysian politics proclaimed his great mission of fighting corruption after 22 years of unprincipled and largely unaccountable governance under Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

We lapped it all up, initially at any rate, and believed every word the spin doctors spewed out about Abdullah Badawi.

It was not too difficult a job for Abdullah Badawi, or anyone else for that matter, after Mahathir, to look ethically spotless, clean and pure as the driven snow.

Badawi, with his religious credentials, gave every appearance of being the reformer that this country had been praying for. Alas, his leadership proved a total let-down for Malaysia.

What began as a journey full of hope and promise turned very quickly into a national nightmare. Abdullah, who skippered the good ship MALAYSIA, was in truth an incompetent and inept rating playing at being Admiral of the Fleet.

We discovered soon enough that he could not tell north from south and a sexton from a pair of compasses. We had to put up with his erratic command, watching with increasing anxiety as he set the ship adrift aimlessly, with no prospect of ever making landfall.

Now let me move away from naval to boxing metaphors, and I hope I am not mixing them in the process.

Abdullah had come to lead us laden with his own strange stock-in-trade. It was a mix, in no particular order, of Islam Hadhari that he himself could not explain to save his life, the memorably inane “Work with me and not for me” catchphrase, and the almost absurdly messianic anti-corruption clarion call that he had used to fool the entire nation.

I am embarrassed to admit, on reflection, that he had me fooled from Day One.

Abdullah was persuaded by close family members and advisers that he was doing a brilliant job, and this was what he wanted to hear.

He believed that he had what was needed to punch above his weight. He did not realise until too late that the Islam Hadhari as he had postulated it was no match for the reality of Umno politics with its long-established culture of money politics (for which, read grand corruption), in-fighting and back-stabbing.

Soon enough, he found himself out-pointed at every turn by his own seconds, Najib and Muhyiddin, whose protestations of eternal love and loyalty made with a straight face before the disastrous March 2008 elections seemed the height of black humour.

They pushed all the responsibility for the electoral failure to him, and with indecent haste, distanced themselves from him. They turned collective responsibility on its head. This was their interpretation.

And now, they are now leading Malaysia.

I am recalling the Abdullah years as a way of reminding ourselves not to be tempted into swallowing the “right noises” that Najib is making, hook, line and sinker.

He is apparently good at developing popular policies on the trot, and all his reform promises seem to flow so effortlessly and glibly off his silvery tongue and that worries many people who are looking more for substance rather than form.

His 1 Malaysia is a case in point. How does Najib propose to give practical effect to his excellent concept given the reality of Malaysia’s race-biased policies of racial discrimination?

Does he not see a contradiction? Is he clear in his own mind what he is talking about? For now, it remains a slogan and, without a clear vision of what 1 Malaysia is intended to be, it could well turn out to be nothing more than a grand illusion.

Does he really believe that he has what it takes to reconcile Umno’s pathological obsession with bumiputra rights on the one hand with the principles of inalienable equality for ALL Malaysians on the other?

1 Malaysia without complete equality of opportunity is nothing if not a cruel and dishonest practical joke.

So, until Najib sets out his plan for 1 Malaysia that accords with the conditions for a truly “Malaysian Malaysia” (with apologies to Lee Kuan Yew), I suggest, in a manner of speaking, we do not put the champagne on ice as it could be premature.

MI
27/04/09

P. Uthayakumar: My 500th day under ISA


Today April 26, 2009, marks my 500th day under Umno’s captivity without being charged, tried or found guilty in a court of law. I suppose this is ‘justice’ for me, an Indian ethnic minority and human rights lawyer of 18 years.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s continued unilateral decree is that I be made to serve a jail sentence of two years and indefinitely thereafter under his regime. There are prisoners here at Kemta Kamunting, Taiping, serving their eighth year of their ISA sentences.

But I have no regrets. I know in my heart that every day of my imprisonment will liberate and open up a thousand new minds against Umno’s atrocities and injustices in their marginalisation, discrimination, suppression, oppression and the exclusion of Indians from the mainstream of national development in Malaysia.

Today, I have grown 500 days older. Today, I have lost 500 days of my precious freedom. Today, it is 500 days since I shaved my beard or combed my hair to protest my ISA detention. Today, it is 500 days since I have been made to wear the very same two pairs of dark blue baggy pants and white restaurant waiter-like prison uniform.

My left foot
On Jan 31, 2009, I had accidently injured the last toe of my left foot, which had gotten worse because of my long standing diabetic condition. From day one of my injury, I had repeatedly asked to be treated at the Gleneagles private hospital as I no longer have confidence in the independence of government-service doctors, which I believe had been compromised by the Home Ministry and its Special Branch police officers.

Under protest, I agreed to be treated at a government hospital on Feb 3, 2009. As I had anticipated, the doctor refused to admit me despite my swollen leg and blackening left foot condition. The doctor told me there were no hospital beds and neither did she want to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon or a consultant physician, as well as a cardiologist to treat my silent heart attack during my ISA detention.

No cast was put on my leg. No medication was prescribed. This doctor told me that my leg would heal on its own. My suspicion was confirmed when the doctor, who had written my medical notes in a police file, gave it back to the police officers accompanying me.

By the second week, my leg got even worse and despite repeated pleas, the prison authorities refused to take me even to a government hospital, which I agreed to go under protest. I had lodged four police reports but again zero action was taken. Even my statement was not recorded.
The worst case scenario ran across my mind. I may lose my left foot. For the first time, I realised that as a lawyer, I could not even save myself. There was nothing I could do, I was a prisoner.

But even then, I had thought to myself that should the worst happen, I would put on a prosthesis (artificial leg) and keep walking. I feel that at the end of the day, it was the prayers held at scores of Hindu temples nationwide by supporters of Makkal Sakthi that had actually saved my leg and ensure my well-being in prison.

Surviving on bread and biscuits
On March 22, 2009, I found pieces of beef in the chicken sambal served to me. Mohamad, a Pakistani national, and Abdul Sarjon, a Sri Lankan national, and fellow detainees who worked at the prison kitchen confirmed that chicken and beef were cooked in the same pot after which the chicken was scooped out and served.


I immediately lodged a police report. But again nothing happened as usual. But had it been the other way round - the victimisation a Malay Muslim - a different set of rules would be applied by Umno.

But I suppose this is all part and parcel of PM Najib’s One Malaysia policy. One Malaysia, two systems. Since that day, I have refused to consume cooked food from the prison kitchen in protest against the violation of my religious rights in contravention of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. As a Hindu, I do not consume beef. I am now surviving basically on bread and biscuits.

Throughout these 500 days, there was never a single day that I ever regretted starting and spearheading this struggle. I believed in justice, including for the minority ethnic Indians, in Malaysia.

In these 500 days, I have refused to meet any of the Special Branch officers who came to meet detainees once in every two to three months to “plead for my release”. I have done no wrong and I am not prepared to beg for my freedom. I had earlier also refused to meet Umno’s home minister, knowing fully well that my release from prison is in his hands, for the very same reason.

My biggest satisfaction and what keeps me going in prison is the true and sincere spirit of the struggle through Hindraf’s Makkal Sakthi.

It moved me to see thousands of Hindraf supporters who had braved FRU’s tear gas and water cannons, who were roughed up and beaten by the police, arrested, handcuffed, thrown into jail, prosecuted in court and bravely standing up in the dock to face possible jail sentences, losing their jobs, and with their wife and children suffering.

All these sacrifices, just for a public cause to put to an end to Umno’s racism, religious extremism and exclusion of the Indians from the mainstream of national development. To all of you, I salute you and I am proud of you. Makkal Sakthi Valga.

I miss my freedom
I am suffering from this imprisonment daily. I miss my freedom. I miss my family, my wife and children.

But I am prepared for the worst, even if it means another 500 days or more of imprisonment. I will do this just for the cause of Hindraf. Umno can imprison me but they cannot imprison the forces of Hindraf’s Makkal Sakthi.

Makkal Sakthi was the tipping point in the March 8, 2008 general elections. It was the triggering factor which resulted in Umno/BN losing two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as political power in four west-coast states.

Makkal Sakthi once again showed its prowess at the Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang by-elections. I never, even in my wildest dream, thought I would see Makkal Sakthi forces to this extent in my lifetime.

I am no Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, but Umno has to understand and accept that it was the genuine grievances of the people - the pent-up pain and suffering, misery and heartache - that brought about the unprecedented 100,000-strong Hindraf rally on Nov 25, 2007.

Please be patient. Umno will not change, but we will change Umno in the 2012/2013 general elections. We will put an end to Umno’s bully tactics and its rule by fear. We have waited 52 long years.

Please be patient. In another three or four years, there would hopefully be a new beginning, a new political structure and a Malaysia with equality and equal opportunities, including for the Indians. A Malaysia where the Indians would be a part of the mainstream in national development.

Every day and every moment of my imprisonment, my thoughts and prayers are with Makkal Sakthi. I have plans for our further struggle. Please pray for my freedom, and for Umno’s end of its rule so that justice will finally prevail.

Umno may have punished me with this 500 days of imprisonment but you, the Makkal Sakthi, will in turn punished Umno/BN where it hurts them most - the ballot box.

God bless.

P Uthayakumar
Kamunting Detention Camp @ Malaysian Guantánamo Bay
Perak
26/04/09

source: malaysiakini

How to avoid a political crisis in Perak, just go back to the people

No British monarch has rejected an application to dissolve its parliament, and similarly in Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah should have dissolved the state legislative assembly when ousted menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin made an application.

MCPXConstitutional lawyer, Tommy Thomas said throughout British history there was never any attempts made by the monarchy to reject a prime minister’s application to dissolve the parliament.

He said this at a forum held at the Bar Council titled: “Perak Crisis: Constitutional, Legal or Political”.

Thomas noted that throughout Commonwealth history there was only one instance when the Canadian governor, Lord Julian Byng, did not accede to the request of its Prime Minister Arthur Meigen to dissolve parliament following an impending vote of no-confidence.

“It resulted in somewhat undesirable effect akin to what we see in Perak. To avert a crisis, it is wise for the rulers to accede to a request to a dissolution like in the Perak matter,” Thomas noted.

Snap elections will resolve the issue

“When there is a political problem and when faced with possible constitutional problems, go back to the people. You will never go wrong,” he said.

As in the case of Perak, Thomas said although we have a constitutional monarchy and they have the prerogative, questions are being raised over what if they (royalty) are wrong in not approving the dissolution.

Hence, the senior lawyer said to prevent such a scenario, it would be wise to go back to the people.

“Let them decide whether they want Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional,” he said, adding the Perak impasse should not have to go through the courts and that there should have been snap elections to resolve the present scenario.

Besides him, the other panelists were senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Aliran exco member and economist Dr Subramaniam Pillay.

Approximately 100 people attended the forum which was moderated by Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan.

Subramaniam calls for anti-hopping law

Aliran exco member, Subramaniam called on the government to have an anti-hopping law as he said voters selected their elected representatives based on their party affiliations.

Subramaniam, who happens to be from Perak and is not a lawyer unlike the two, said by having such laws it could help avert such a crisis.

“If our elected representatives decide to change party, a by-election should have been called as they would be made answerable to the public and avoid such a scenario,” he said.

He also questioned the independence of the Election Commission and the judiciary when dealing with matters pertaining to Pakatan Rakyat.

“It seems they have become a tool of the ruling BN government,” he said.

Pointing to the judiciary, Subramaniam said he cannot understand the haste of the judges in hearing the Perak matter and that he had lost hope on the impartiality of the country’s courts.

“It should be allowed to go through the normal process of having the application heard at the High Court, then Court of Appeal and then the Federal Court,” he said.

Vital to have an independent judiciary

“Why bring the matter directly to the apex court when the matter have yet to be decided by the High Court where the application is filed,” asked Subramaniam.

Subramaniam, who is also an economist, pointed out that an independent judiciary is vital to attract foreign investments as the court is the last bastion to handle disputes.

On the EC, the Aliran exco member noted the task before the commission was to hold elections and it should not be questioning whether it was wise for one to be held, he said in referring to the expected Penanti by-election.

Subramaniam also questioned why the resignation letters of Mohd Osman Jailu (Changkat Jering), Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang) and Hee Yit Foong were not accepted. Being adults they should have known what they were signing into and should have been held liable for it.

The Aliran exco member noted that despite the uncertainty surrounding the Perak issue, the people have got to know the constitutional law matter better and also PAS and DAP who were once bitter enemies had managed to bond well together.

“This point is important, (a moderate PAS and DAP) working together, as this would form a strong basis for a two-party system in the country,” he said

“BN also have to buck up to ensure they remain in power in Perak. As for Pakatan, consisting of PAS, DAP and PKR, the episode would result in the coalition growing stronger and it would be a viable alternative come the next general election,” he said.

Shafee: May 7 would be a chaotic day

Meanwhile, Shafee the other lawyer on the panel, was asked what the public can expect to see on May 7 (when the Perak assembly have its seating). He replied: “Chaos”.

“Can you imagine what would happen on that day if the Sultan of Perak comes and he would be greeted by two menteris besar. Or what if the Perak speaker decide to banish Zambry Abdul Kadir (BN menteri besar) and his exco members or the three assemblypersons.”

“Fortunately, there may not be live coverage because if there is, people will be glued to their televisions,” he joked.

Shafee, who had represented Umno in numerous cases also pointed out that the apparent resignation letters signed by the three assemblyperson should not have been accepted.

He said they signed under duress and questions are being raised whether the speaker had consulted them before handing over the resignation letters.

“The speaker should have asked the three elected assemblypersons before submitting their resignations,” he said.

Shafee also pointed out the suspension order meted to Zambry and his exco were different from that of Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo.

“The Speaker V Sivakumar never brought their suspension before the house and hence the 18 months and 12 months suspension was wrong. In Gobind’s case, the matter was brought before the house and deliberated for two hours before the suspension order was given,” he said.

Shafee said nobody including legislators (i.e. elected people) should be above the law, as this would result in them having unlimited powers to break the law.

Malaysiakini
26/04/09

Malaysian Courts shouldn’t interfere in parliamentary matters


KUALA LUMPUR: The judiciary should not function as a court of appeal for matters of Parliament, as this would violate core democratic doctrines, a constitutional lawyer said today.

Speaker V Sivakumar's legal battles in relation to the Perak political crisis is "best proof that parliamentary matters should not be heard by the courts", said Tommy Thomas at a Bar Council forum entitled Perak Crisis: Constitutional, Legal or Political?.

Styling the conduct of the Federal Court as "terribly unsatisfactory" from the plaintiff's perspective, Thomas argued that the Sivakumar's treatment by the court was "a reaffirmation of the doctrine that [the legislature and judiciary] must remain separate."

Thomas referenced the recent Federal Court rulings against Sivakumar regarding his suspension of Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive council members, and the resignation of three now-independent state assemblypersons.

Tommy Thomas "This is a total disregard for the separation of powers," Thomas said.

The lawyer also revealed that the Sivakumar had reasons for "substantive complaints", owing to the fact the plaintiff had been initially denial choice of counsel, and that the cases had been hurried.

He revealed that the Federal Court's rulings on Sivakumar violated the legal precedent set by five previous cases, such as Fan Yew Teng v Government of Malaysia (1976) and Lim Cho Hock v Speaker, Perak State Legislative Assembly (1979), which essentially ruled that proceedings in parliament or legislative assemblies could not be questioned in any court.

This is due to Article 72 (1) of the Federal Constitution, which says: "The validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any Court." Equivalents to Article 72 exist in the state constitutions, including Perak.

"Lawyers are very angry when cases to which we can predict the outcome goes the other way," Thomas, who served as legal counsel for Sivakumar in the suit brought against him by assemblypersons Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Capt (R) Mohd Osman Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang), said.

"Now a dangerous precedent is being set," Thomas added, citing Puchong parliamentarian Gobind Singh Deo's decision to take the Dewan Rakyat speaker to court over his one-year suspension.

He called on the Bar Council to appoint constitutional scholars from other Commonwealth nations to study the Federal Court's judgements in relation to Sivakumar, and certify in their opinion whether the rulings were wrong or right.

The Bar Council forum, which was attended by 100 people, also featured lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Md Abdullah and human rights group Aliran's exco member Dr Subramaniam Pillay.

Letter dating
Muhammad Shafee, in his presentation, argued that the Perak Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government's treatment of Jamaluddin, Mohd Osman Jailu, and Hee's resignation letters was "very criminal".

"Dating the letters can be considered forgery," he said.

Muhammad Shafee added that embattled Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was duty-bound to resign, according Article 16 (6) of the Perak state constitution.

Ambiga However, an observer from the floor, former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan argued that the resignation letters, whether they were dated or not, were perfectly legal, as they were signed by consenting adults.

"As an adult, if you sign a blank document, you should know what you're doing," Ambiga said, adding that the courts ought to have upheld the letters.

Subramaniam zoomed in on the issue of elected representatives switching sides, and recommended that anti-hopping laws be introduced.

He also called for the repeal of Article 48 of the Federal Constitution, which disqualifies parliamentarians from sitting in Parliament for a period of five years, from the date of their resignations.

Subramaniam stressed that party-hopping was morally wrong, regardless of whether elected representatives crossed over to PR or Barisan Nasional (BN).

"Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PR have some soul-searching to do," Subramaniam said, citing the opposition leader's plan to take over the federal government via cross-overs by 16 Sept 2008.
26/04/09

MINDRAF: Does Malaysia Need Another Sectarian Political Party?

As if the political landscape of Malaysia wasn’t overcrowded already, there has come into the fray yet another sectarian community-based party, Mindraf (Malaysian Indian Democratic Action Front). Ostensibly set up by ‘good samaritans’ concerned about the plight of their community, Mindraf has announced its political ambitions with the aim of representing Malaysian citizens of South Asian origin.

Now allow me to be blunt here: In the opinion of this writer, Malaysia does not need another communitarian party that caters to the primary concerns of a particular ethnic or religious community. We are already forced to work on a contested landscape where there are too many parties that are based on ethnic and religious loyalties, and yet another sectarian party will hardly bring us any closer to realising the notion of a Malaysia where identity is based on universal citizenship and equal rights.

If anything, the tendency of such sectarian parties is to further add to the process of divide and rule and to further entrench sedimented notions of ethnic-racial differences. This comes at a time when a younger generation of Malaysians have demonstrated their ability to transcend the ethnic divisions that once haunted the generation of their parents. So while we hope and pray for a better, more united and colour-blind Malaysia, whose idea was it to create another ethnic-based party?


The momentum for Mindraf was quite probably generated by the Hindraf movement that had managed to challenge the hegemony of the MIC over the Malaysian Indian community for decades. But even then, Hindraf’s appeal - as suggested by its name - was limited to Malaysians of the Hindu faith primarily. But some of us have maintained all along that the issues related to the Malaysian Indian community were issues that also affected Malaysians in general as well. The destruction of Hindu temples during the Badawi period was a loss for all Malaysians, and not Hindus only.

Over the past four years we have see how some parties have gone out of their way to accommodate the concerns and needs of others: PAS, for instance, has stood up for the rights of non-Muslims to build temples and churches and have defended the right for non-Muslims to practice their faith. It is clear that for some leaders of PAS like Nik Aziz, it is better for PAS to be allied to PKR, PSM and DAP rather than UMNO. So how much more accommodation does it take before the communitarians in our midst realise that we have to build a new non-racist Malaysia on the common platform of a universal citizenship?

The other worry is that Mindraf may yet drain support and members from the other parties of the Pakatan, notably PKR and DAP. At a time when we need to create an alternative mode of Malaysian politics that transcends the narrow, parochial and primordial sentiments of racial and religious solidarity, a party like Mindraf merely goes against the grain - and in fact confirms and further sediments the hegemony of divisive communitarian politics in Malaysia.

It is also during times like this that I feel that all our efforts (not mine alone) to promote a new de-racialised non-communitarian politics in Malaysia has achieved so little, despite the energy and time invested. Honestly, we are not going to have a new Malaysian politics unless and until we think, live and behave like Malaysian-minded Malaysians. And that day has yet to come, my friends. Sadly.

Farish A. Noor
26/04/09

WHY IS AG SHYING AWAY FROM KUGAN’S MURDERERS?

It has been two months since the murder of Kugan in police custody, yet there has not been a single charge forthcoming from the AG’s office for the murder.

The travesty of justice for a Malaysian Indian is so obvious in this episode of event even when the murder took place in police custody. How difficult is it to ascertain this murder unless it is again a protracted attempt by the police department in cohort with the AG’s office to suppress justice against a Malaysian Indian.

HINDRAF understands and acknowledges the shortcoming in the current administration, but what we observe in Kugan’s case is beyond comprehension in present day and time in a so called democratically elected government.

To date no reasonable or a justifiable answer had been provided by any of the departments other than claiming that they are still investigating on a murder that took place in the police custody.

To add salt to wound the Health Ministry secretary general “revealed” findings of another body consisting of foreign doctors who reviewed the findings of the second post mortem without examining the body of the deceased. We challenge the Health secretary General to make public the documents/reports purportedly prepared by a team of doctors including doctors from Singapore.

HINDRAF demands an explanation and more so the Malaysian public, why is the government elected executives dragging their feet in this matter unless of course there are other hidden motives behind this premeditated murder.

We urge elected representatives of the society, NGO’s and the Malaysian public to mount pressure on the government to act immediately in charging the murderers of Kugan.

Thank you
P.Waytha Moorthy
HINDRAF – CHAIRMAN

Hindraf chief seeks talks with Najib

KLANG: Hindraf leader P. Waythamoorthy wants Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to consider having a dialogue with the organisation.

The chairman of the outlawed group, who is in self-exile in London, says he was prepared to meet Najib to highlight the grouses that had pushed Hindraf to mobilise members of the Indian community to the rally on Nov 25, 2007.

“It is timely for the prime minister and the government of the day to engage Hindraf and the Makkal Sakthi movement in a dialogue to discuss ways and means to tackle the various problems afflicting the Indian community in Malaysia,” said Waythamoorthy.

He added that Hindraf and the Makkal Sakthi movement had always been open to initiating an open and honest discussion with the relevant authorities to help solve the socio-economic ills plaguing the Indian community.

“Given that Najib is propagating his 1Malaysia philosophy, solving the Malaysian Indian problem must be made a top priority,” said Waythamoorthy who is recovering from heart surgery.

He added that he was keen to put forward to Najib the movement’s 18-point demand that was self-explanatory.

Among the points is the need for all Tamil schools in the country to be made fully-aided entities.

Currently, Tamil schools are only partially-aided and this has resulted in students having to make do with ramshackle structures for classrooms.

“We are willing to work with the current government to ensure that the interests of the Indian community is taken care off,” said Waythamoorthy.

Waythamoorthy, who spearheaded the movement with his elder brother Uthayakumar –, now detained under the Internal Security Act – recently reshaped Hindraf into a non-governmental organisation to tackle the various socio-economic problems faced by Indians.

He had also insisted in maintaining Hindraf as a non-political entity

Star Online
25/04/09

Why Perakians lost the government they had voted?

KUALA LUMPUR: Tommy Thomas and Datuk Shafee Abdullah, two of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, turned a Bar Council forum on the Perak constitutional crisis into a courtroom today, debating fine legal points.

But it was Subramaniam Pillay, an unknown economist with social pressure group Aliran, who probably articulated public frustration over the power grab by Barisan Nasional (BN) which has plunged Perak into chaotic battle for control with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) that is being played out in various courts.

“I've absolutely lost hope in our current judiciary,” said the Teluk Intan native.

Subramaniam was referring to recent court rulings which appears to have ignored the doctrine of separation of powers and also constitutional provisions which say the judiciary cannot rule on proceedings of legislative assemblies.

“Give everybody a chance so everything is aired and then we come to a decision, whichever way it goes then the public will understand why the decisions were made and were not simply arbitrary decisions,” he said in commenting about the swiftness in which various legal disputes are being disposed.

“This is the perception of not just me but many Malaysians. We’ve lost faith in the courts. That’s bad because it has severe consequences to the economy.

“All this is bad for the economy of a country because it will deter foreign investments,” said the economics lecturer, adding it reduced the public’s overall respect for the law at a crucial time when the country needed to create a climate of stability.

However, Subramaniam also pointed out the Perak crisis was a “blessing in disguise” as it would ultimately benefit the public, especially Perakians, even though they may have lost the government they had voted in at last year’s general elections.

He noted a greater public awareness of their rights, which would force the political parties to buck up and become more service-oriented or face the voters’ displeasure.

He called for an overhaul of public institutions such as the Election Commission and the recently-created Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and raised the idea of creating an Anti-Hopping law, to ensure voters get the last say in who represents them in parliament.

Of the three speakers, Subramaniam received the loudest applause from the audience.

This was despite the presence of the two stars in Thomas, a constitutional law expert who represented Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar in court recently and Shafee, a veteran lawyer who had previously acted for BN.

Thomas offered the forum an insightful view from the Speaker’s perspective.

He questioned the federal court’s haste in wrapping up the legal wrangling between the two political rivals without carefully considering the consequences of its decisions.

“In constitutional law, there is no doctrine of automatic dissolution,” said Thomas, pointing to a lack of description for such under Article 36 of the Perak Constitution.

He attacked the idea put up by BN on the need to resolve the legal dispute before May 7, its self-imposed deadline to avoid an automatic dissolution of the state legislature.

Shafee presented arguments from BN’s perspective.

He argued that the “crisis” proper began right after the general elections on March 8last year, when DAP, PKR and Pas formed a “loose federation” to persuade the Sultan of Perak to allow them to govern the state even though BN had the majority votes in the Assembly as a “solid federation”.

He explained the present “crisis” arose only because PR refused to admit defeat despite the alliance having realistically lost its majority.

Shafee defended the court’s apparent hasty rulings as a “sarcastic” attempt to follow the new Chief Justice’s directive to improve the delivery of justice as many court cases had piled up over the years.

MI
25/04/09

What does Article 72 states in Malaysian Constitution?

‘The validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court’.

But Nazri, being the ‘wise’ man as usual, interpreted otherwise. Even with his legal background he fails to understand the constitution.

In the case of Article 72, its intention is very clear in that the court can not interfere with whatever transpires in a state assembly. Even a fifth former can tell Nazri this intention.

Nazri, I wonder how you can be a minister? It is well-known that a court cannot mete out any punishment or sentence which is not provided for by the law or constitution.

For example, if an accused is found guilty of an offence which carries the mandatory death sentence, the judge has no alternative but to send him to the gallows.

Simply because that was the intention of the law.

Nazri, I believe you should go back to school to brush up on some basic English. With your current level of English understanding, I hope you do not go around making a joke out of your good self.
Article 72(1) of the federal constitution is clear and straightforward. It is shocking and amazing to note that the learned judges could decide a case erroneously without taking into provision what is enshrined in the constitution.
The wise choice for the Perak speaker is to ignore the decision of the Federal Court and to rule that the BN menteri besar and his six exco members cannot attend the proceedings.

Malaysiakini
25/04/09
mi1: Barisan Nasional MP and Federal government minister, how pathetic?

Kugan's death: Months later, still no action by Malaysian Police or BN government

It has been four months since 23-year-old youth Kugan Ananthan was found dead in a police station, but no one has since been charged for his murder.

Hindu Right Action Force chairperson P Waythamoorthy has described the apparently lack of action by the Attorney-General’s Chambers as a “travesty of justice”.

“How difficult is it to ascertain this murder unless it is again a protracted attempt by the police department, in cohort with the AG’s office, to suppress justice for an Indian Malaysian,” he said.

“Hindraf understands and acknowledges the shortcoming in the current administration, but what we observe in Kugan’s case is beyond comprehension in present day and time in a so-called democratically-elected government.”

Kugan, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang for suspicion of being involved in luxury cars theft, died five days later while in custody.

The cause of death was initially classified as sudden death caused by fluid accumulation in his lung.

However, relatives who were called in to identify his body at the Serdang Hospital mortuary on the night of his death, alleged they found lacerations and bruises all over his body.

Backed by video evidence, Kugan's family subsequently demanded that his body be sent for a second post-mortem at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

The new post-mortem revealed that the cause of death was due to, among others, brutal force on

Case reclassified as murder

After much public outrage of what was considered to be an extreme episode of police torture, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail reclassified the case as murder.

Although 11 cops from the police station where removed and assigned desk duties after the re-classification of the case, no action has been taken against them so far.

It was reported on Jan 29 that the police officers involved were supposedly to be charged for murder in February.

However, on April 8, the cops raided the office of UMMC pathologist Dr Prashant N Sambekar, the man who had conducted the second post-mortem, and seized Kugan’s forensic specimens and samples to be sent for a toxicology test.

“To date, no reasonable or any justifiable answer has been provided by any of the (government) departments other than (they) claiming that they are still investigating the murder,” exclaimed Waythamoorthy.

Make committee findings public

The Hindraf leader also questoned the findings revealed by the Health Ministry, which set up an independent committee to probe the two post-mortem reports and concluded Kugan died of acute pulmonary oedema cue to acute myocarditis, compounded by blunt force trauma.

“To add salt to the wound, the Health Ministry secretary-general revealed the findings... of the second post-mortem without examining the body of the deceased,” said Waythamoorthy, who also urged the ministry to make the findings public.

He added that the government was 'dragging their feet' as there were other hidden motives involved and he alleged that the murder was premeditated.

“We urge elected representatives of the society, non-governmental organisations and the Malaysian public to mount pressure on the government to act immediately in charging the murderers of Kugan,” he said.

Malaysiakini
24/04/09

Does Umno care what general Malaysians think?r

Come on Malaysia, stop feigning surprise and indignation.
Umno has always had a different value system from the rest of the country.

This is a party which has celebrated chauvinists, defended the corrupt and provided refuge for individuals with question marks draped over themselves.

So why should it surprise Malaysians that Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (V K Lingam video clip fame) was re-appointed as the secretary-general of the ruling party and Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam (corruption) and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (Approved Permits) were appointed to the supreme council by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Their appointments merely confirm what many suspected — the bar is much lower for Umno. It also suggests that despite all the flowery talk of change, the new prime minister cannot toss out realpolitik considerations when making decisions on the country or party.

There was a major spin campaign by the Najib camp after he unveiled his Cabinet line-up several weeks ago.

They noted how several individuals touched by scandal were dropped from the line-up of ministers and how this signaled a desire by the PM to start with a clean slate.

Much of that spiel was puff and fluff.

More than eighty per cent of those appointed ministers were old faces and a sprinkling of them had dodgy records.

The fact is that Najib had to fall in line and follow the old BN formula of picking the Cabinet.

He had to reward component parties and loyalists, and make sure all states had representatives as ministers.

That is why the slim line Cabinet was jettisoned for a bloated one.

Similar considerations were at play today when he appointed Ku Nan, Ali and Rafidah.

Najib wants to be inclusive and cast his dragnet as wide as possible. He wanted Tengku Adnan Mansor because this chap is an operator, a true party warlord who can organise the troops and get his hands dirty if the need arises. He is also fiercely loyal to the party president.

So what if the Putrajaya MP was censured by the Royal Commission on the VK Lingam video clip for being one of the main actors who fixed the appointment and promotion of judges.

So what if the commission recommended that authorities investigate him and others for a slew of offences?

The commission in its report last year said that “having regard to the totality of the evidence and for the reasons stated, we are of the view that there was, conceivably, an insidious movement by Lingam with the covert assistance of his close friends, Vincent Tan and Tengku Adnan

Tengku Mansor, to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges, in particular, the appointment of Tun Ahmad Fairuz Abdul Halim as the Chief Judge of Malaya and subsequently as Court of Appeal president.’’

The Attorney-General has since said that no further action will be taken against some of the individuals implicated.

But truth be told, Ku Nan’s involvement in this sorry episode was never a problem with Umno members.

They could not understand what the fuss of judge fixing was all about.

Indeed, they were upset that the Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration made public the commission’s report.

In Ali’s case, he was probably co-opted into the supreme council to assuage his supporters who remain upset that he was barred from contesting the number two spot in the party after being found guilty of money politics by the Umno Disciplinary Board.

The Chief Minister who upset the Chinese community with some pointed barbs has played the role of loyal party man since being prevented from taking part in the party polls.

While chief ministers and mentris besar are usually appointed to the supreme council, if Najib wanted to make a statement about the importance integrity in Umno he could have overlooked Ali.

But...

Rafidah’s inclusion is not surprising.

Najib wants to close ranks in Wanita Umno and send a message that winners don’t gain everything, and losers don’t lose everything.

Despite being backed by Najib’s supporters, the former Minister of International Trade and Industry was thumped by Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for the top position in the women’s wing.

She was one of the Umno officials who played a critical role in convincing Abdullah that he would not be able to obtain 58 nominations from the divisions to defend the party president’s position.

Rafidah was a minister in Abdullah’s first term as PM but had to live with a big cloud over her head after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned her over the distribution of Approved Permits.

She denied any wrongdoing but the former prime minister has never retracted his allegations that there was abuse in the AP scheme. More recently, the Opposition has alleged that APs were given to a company owned by her relatives.

Still, these allegations and question marks over her character may not matter much in Umno. So there is little downside for Najib to have appointed her to the supreme council.

What lesson should Malaysians take from this exercise?

Simple, that there is one set of standard for the men and women of Umno and a higher set for

the rest of the country.

It has been that way for a long time.

Does the party care what the rest of the country thinks? Apparently not.

MI
24/04/09

Rais Yatim, The bogeyman returns

Veteran politician Datuk Seri Rais Yatim made it back to the Cabinet as information, communications and culture minister. And he lost no time to resurrect a bogeyman from the past, accusing the foreign media of a “grand design” to topple the prime minister.

He charged the foreign media of using various terms to describe Datuk Seri Najib Razak's character and give the impression that he was unacceptable to some Malaysians, saying this also happened but failed during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's watch at the country's helm.

He is right. In fact, the last time the foreign media was accused of doing anything was during Dr Mahathir's long reign as prime minister where he once called them “congenital liars”.

But it is this kind of broadsides that was an aspect of “Mahathirism” that might rally some but also rattle others. Dr Mahathir himself brought this up early this week when he said the foreign media was out to “demonise” Najib.

Their proof is the laundry-list of allegations and claims that began in cyperspace and finally made it to print in many broadsheets and tabloids across the world. The allegations are as yet unproven and beyond denying them, Najib or the government have not taken any action.

Until now. Until Rais decided to call it a grand design to topple the country's sixth prime minister. But he believed the allegations will eventually die down.

"However, we must study (the situation) and if I have the chance, I want to have a debate with those trying to implicate our leader with unbecoming and nonsensical words," said Rais as quoted by state news agency Bernama.

He also challenged Datuk Zaid Ibrahim to a public debate about allegations against Najib as the former minister has been frequently quoted by the foreign media.

Rais, a lawyer by training, is within his right to accuse and challenge detractors to debates which is the way a civilised society works.

But he should really make his point by taking those who make such claims to court. If the foreign media is found to print lies, sue them. If someone slanders the prime minister, sue them.

Blaming the foreign media and raising the prospect of a grand design to topple the current prime minister is as old as the time Rais first worked under Najib's father, Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

It’s a tired excuse and a bogeyman that should be put to rest. And perhaps Rais should listen to Lim Kit Siang. Concentrate on broadband.

Not broadsides.

MI
24/04/09

Zaid: I will debate Rais on any subject, anytime and anywhere

KUALA LUMPUR: Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Datuk Seri Rais Yatim today and says that he is ready to debate the new Minister of Information, Communication and Culture.

The maverick politician's only conditions are that Rais has to specify exactly what he wants to debate and that it has to be televised.

"Yes, I will debate Rais on any subject he wants, anytime and anywhere," Zaid told The Malaysian Insider.

"But RTM must show it otherwise it is a waste of time."

Bernama today reported that Rais challenged Zaid to a public debate over his allegations against Najib, as the former minister has been often quoted in the foreign media.

Rais also accused the foreign media of trying to topple prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"However, we must study (the situation) and if I have the chance, I want to have a debate with those trying to implicate our leader with unbecoming and nonsensical words," Rais said.

The veteran minister has been reported as blaming the media for various troubles that plague Umno and the Barisan Nasional ever since he was appointed to his current portfolio earlier this month.

Zaid quit the government and Umno last year over disagreements on political reforms. He remains an independent politician but is expected to join an opposition party.

MI
24/04/09

Nizar wants full panel of judges for Federal Court

KUALA LUMPUR: In the latest development over the lawsuit to decide the lawful Perak mentri besar, Pakatan Rakyat’s Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is asking for the full panel of nine judges to hear his arguments next Tuesday when the case moves to the Federal Court in Putrajaya.

Nizar, who maintains he is the rightful mentri besar as he has not resigned from the post, is suing Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir for usurping the office.

He is also objecting to Zambry’s application to refer several constitutional questions to the Federal Court to decide, claiming the questions posed were irrelevant to his suit.

“They keep saying ‘Sultan, Sultan, Sultan’ but we’re not challenging the Sultan, only Zambry,” said one of Nizar’s battery of lawyers, Leong Cheok Keng, referring to the list of questions drawn up by Zambry for the apex court to answer.

Leong told The Malaysian Insider a letter was written to Chief Justice (CJ) Tan Sri Zaki Azmi earlier this week requesting the full bench of nine judges as it concerned the “life and death of a regime” in Perak.

Leong explained that a full bench sits in criminal cases where the mandatory punishment is death, to show the importance of the matter.

He pointed out that Nizar’s case was just as important and deserved to be treated with the same gravity, as the outcome of the court decision would decide the continuity or termination of Nizar’s administration.

Asked if Nizar was also requesting a fresh panel of judges to replace the five who had previously heard the matter when it was first brought up, Leong said the letter did not state as such but hoped the CJ would take into consideration the need for “fresh minds” to hear the arguments from both sides.

He noted that the judges who had heard the matter a short while ago are unlikely to change their minds so swiftly. But Leong stressed they were not trying to “dictate” what the CJ should do.

MI
24/04/09
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