Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Regional law society says assembly law breaches human rights

Regional law society says assembly law breaches human rights

November 30, 2011
Malaysian Insider

Malaysian Bar members marching to Parliament to protest the Peaceful Assembly Bill November 29, 2011.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — LawAsia, an international society of lawyers, judges and legal experts said today Malaysia has directly or indirectly breached the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in passing the Peaceful Assembly Bill.

The 45-year-old society — which the Malaysian Bar is a member — pointed out that Article 20 (1) of the UDHR states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and which principle is entrenched in other international and regional instruments”.

In a statement today, its president Malathi Das said it objected to the prohibition of street protests, the age restrictions on who may organise and attend an assembly, and the onerous procedures required to seek permission to hold an assembly as provided for under the new law.

It also noted that the new law increased the police’s powers with regards to an assembly but lack the definition to safeguard the public from excessive misuse of such powers.

It is noted that members of the Malaysian Bar had marched peacefully to Parliament yesterday to present their alternative, which proved street demonstrations could be peaceful and not threaten public order or safety.

Muhyiddin’s speech at UMNO General Assembly “the mother of all lies, falsehoods and racism”

Muhyiddin’s speech at UMNO General Assembly “the mother of all lies, falsehoods and racism”

-- Lim Kit Siang ( DAP Parliamentary Leader)


The speech by Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the UMNO General Assembly last night to UMNO Youth, Wanita and Putri wings is the “mother of all lies, falsehoods and racism”.

It qualifies as the worst and most irresponsible speech ever delivered by a Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy UMNO President and I challenge any UMNO leader to cite any speech made by any Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President at previous UMNO General Assemblies which is worse, more racist and tell more lies than Muhyiddin’s rants last night.

Muhyhiddin accusations against the DAP as anti-Islam and anti-Malay are false, baseless and pure unadulterated lies.

DAP is a fully patriotic Malaysian party wholly committed to the betterment of all races, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans and all religious, whether Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism or Taoism.

What is most despicable are Muhyiddin’s irresponsible, incendiary and seditious allegations, as for instance, that the DAP’s agenda is to form a republic, with the rhetorical question founded on the lie:

“If not, do they dare to suggest the prime minister’s position be selected based solely on elections and without being chosen by the Yang di Pertuan Agong? What is the meaning of this?”

For the record, DAP had never proposed that “the Prime Minister’s position be selected based solely on elections and without being chosen by the Yang di Pertuan Agong”.

What new lie and mischief is the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President up to now and I challenge Muhyiddin to substantiate his dastardly falsehood that the DAP wants to set up a republic.

Right from the beginning, the DAP had declared in Parliament in my first speech 40 years ago in Parliament on Feb. 23, 1971 that DAP fully supported the system of constitutional monarchy and that we “do not and have not questioned the sovereignty of Rulers”.

In making the most irresponsible and racist speech ever made by a Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Muhyiddin has lived up to his declaration that he is Malay first and Malaysian second – totally at variance with the 1Malaysia transformation programme of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in wanting to create a Malaysia where all Malaysians perceive themselves as Malaysians first and their race, religion, region and socio-economic status second.

As it is rightly said, a leopard cannot change its spots.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pakatan says Umno taking after Hitler

Pakatan says Umno taking after Hitler

November 29, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — The federal opposition accused Umno today of “doing the same as Hitler” after its information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan said Malays will lose their rights and power should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) win more seats in the next general election.

The deputy minister said at a forum this morning that “the Malay language will be lost, say goodbye to the Malay Sultans ... say goodbye to Islam” if the opposition gains more power as DAP “do not respect the royal institution ... (and) are agents of Christianisation.”

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said today the statements by Datuk Ahmad Maslan could be compared to those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph McCarthy. — file pic
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng told The Malaysian Insider that the remarks were seditious and would raise racial tension.

“This is the same thing Hitler raised about the Jewish threat and internal enemies,” the Penang chief minister said referring to Germany’s World War II leader Adolf Hitler whose Nazi party perpetrated the Holocaust, the genocide of an estimated six million European Jews.

The Bagan MP also said that “Umno wants to play the role of the new McCarthy,” referring to former US senator Joseph McCarthy, the face of anti-Communism in the US in the 1950s who was censured by the Senate for being unable to substantiate claims of Communist subversion that fuelled Cold War fears.

“This will lead to the persecution of innocent people with no regard for the sanctity of the rule of law,” Lim said.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Ahmad’s remarks showed Umno is “still stuck in its racist agenda” and “cultivating a culture of fear” ahead of a general election expected early next year.

“We will work even harder to secure a majority in Parliament,” he said in response to the Pontian MP’s claim that a “hung parliament” would result in the worst-case scenario for Malays.

Datuk Ahmad Maslan claimed today that a “hung parliament” would be the worst-case scenario for Malays. — file pic
Kuala Selangor MP Dzulkefly Ahmad said the statement was “obviously trying to bait us in PAS” after Ahmad said PAS should join Barisan Nasional (BN) instead of “consorting with DAP.”

“This is the worst kind of forked tongue speak. How do they say the same to MCA, MIC and Gerakan?

“Closer to the finishing line, they are banking on Malay votes, having given up on the Chinese and Indian voters, and are falling back on and targeting the rural Malays, those in traditional kampung who don’t have access to new media,” he said.

He added the ruling party is now “confused by the aspirations of the progressives” like its president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

“I’m sure they (Khairy and Saifuddin) are cursing him right now,” the PAS research chief said.

PAS’s former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, whose government had a DAP majority, also said the move was to “increase fear among Malays” despite “Guan Eng already saying it was impossible to have a Chinese prime minister.”

Ahmad had claimed the threat of “Malays losing power” was very real as the Chinese community was slowly gaining control of the country’s politics and economy.

Umno is currently holding what is likely to be its last general assembly before a general election expected early next year.

Prime Minister Najib is said to need a marked improvement from the last polls to retain his position as only a return of Barisan Nasional’s customary two-thirds majority of Parliament can guarantee he remains in office.

BN ceded 82 federal seats and five state governments to the opposition in the landmark March 2008 election.

BN will definitely pay a heavy political price in the next general election if it bulldozes the Peaceful Assembly Bill .

( Last night attended the Candle Light Vigil Event to protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill at Dataran MBI in Ipoh

Among the people present to lend support were YB Dr.JayaKumar,YB Thomas Su, NGO's and concerned citizens).

BN will definitely pay a heavy political price in the next general election if it bulldozes the Peaceful Assembly Bill .

As an attempt to improve his popularity ratings which has dropped from its peak of 79% to 59 %, the Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib made the Malaysia Day announcement of a slew of legislative changes which included the repeal of ISA.

He later said the repeal of the ISA was possible at this time because of the success in developing the nation, the increasing maturity of the people and the greater awareness of human rights in society.

He said that it was not due to pressure from any quarter.

I don’t agree with his denial that the changes were not due to pressure from any quarter as it is so obvious that the combined pressures of the Opposition and the probability of BN suffering another debacle in the coming general election have been the causes.

But I certainly do agree with him that Malaysians have become more matured and more aware of their human rights.

In fact, Malaysians have become braver and more forceful in demanding political changes.

This is an era where the government knows best is over. This is an era where the people will not allow the introduction of repressive and regressive laws.

It is shocking indeed that the BN government could ever think of presenting to the Parliament the Peaceful Assembly Bill which is repressive and restrictive of civil freedom.

A Peaceful Assembly Bill should facilitate, promote and protect the rights of people to assemble but the Bill proposed by the government is doing the opposite.

Section 27 of the bill states that public gatherings cannot be held in the following areas: petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, railways, land public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, bridges, places of worship, kindergartens and schools as well as dams and reservoirs.
It states that no street protests are allowed, and bars any assembly in or within a 50 metre buffer zone around the listed prohibited areas.

This Bill should instead be called Illegal Assembly Bill.

Yet the Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib could even describe the Bill as “revolutionary” and “a giant leap” in the political transformation of Malaysia.

When a nation like Myanmar which has scant regard for human rights could even introduce a Bill which only requires 5 days notice to the authorities to protest peacefully, BN government has proposed a 30 days’ notice!

Under pressure, the Cabinet has decided to make amendments including reducing the 30 days notice to 10 days.

However, DAP will not support the Bill unless there is a complete revamp to ensure the Bill is to facilitate, promote and protect the people’s right to assemble.

Apart from the 30-day notice requirement, other objectionable provisions include the arbitrary powers given to the police to impose restrictive and unreasonable conditions for the holding of assemblies, the role of the Home Minister in cases of appeal, the unconstitutional ban on street protests, the list of prohibited areas or 50-metre vicinity disallowing the holding of assemblies, the ban on underaged children and the onerous and crippling fines for offences under the Bill, etc.

Our stand is that the Government must withdraw the Bill tomorrow or at least refer it to a Select Committee for a complete revamp by obtaining feedback and views from all parties and groups concerned.

Let me remind the Prime Minister that Malaysians have become more matured and more aware of human rights.

Malaysians will no longer accept oppressive, restrictive, suppressive and undemocratic law.

BN will definitely pay a heavy political price in the next general election if it bulldozes the Peaceful Assembly Bill in Parliament.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lawyers want BN, Pakatan MPs to reject assembly law

Lawyers want BN, Pakatan MPs to reject assembly law

November 28, 2011
Malaysian Insider

Lim urged the lawmakers to set aside party loyalties and vote in the interests of the constituents they represent. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — The Malaysian Bar has urged lawmakers on both sides of the political divide to reject the Peaceful Assembly Bill that will be debated in Parliament tomorrow.

Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee said lawmakers should instead remit the proposed law to a parliamentary select committee and give due consideration to the Bar’s alternative Bill.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that tomorrow, you will hold the liberty of the rakyat in your hands. We ask that you treat it with the deference it deserves,” he said in an open letter to lawmakers today.

“Now, more than ever, you must remember that you were elected as a representative of the people, to carry out responsibilities as a wakil rakyat.

“Please do not put blind obedience to party and partisanship before your duties as a servant of the people. The rakyat should not be made to suffer the consequences of party politics.”

Lim said the controversial Peaceful Assembly Bill was an “unjust law made in haste... which will impose unreasonable and disproportionate fetters on freedom of assembly”.

He pointed out there were provisions in the Bill that were more restrictive than current laws governing public assembly, such as the banning of street protests and the unlimited powers vested in the police to dictate the conditions of any gathering.

Street protests had contributed to the formation of the nation, Lim pointed out.
This not only went against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Malaysia Day promise to give greater freedoms to Malaysians, Lim said, but “outrageously” prohibited assemblies in motion.

“It is ironic that the government now wants to prohibit the very processions that led to the founding of our nation, and others that moved the prime minister to promise legislative reforms.

“These promised reforms now strike back at the very demonstrations that catalysed them,” he said.

Putrajaya agreed to amend seven sections in the Peaceful Assembly Bill following nationwide protests criticising it as more repressive than current laws.

According to Star Online, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz confirmed today that the Cabinet had reached the decision during its meeting yesterday.

Nazri said the Cabinet decided to amend the Bill following objections from civil rights groups and opposition lawmakers.

Among others, he said the 30-day advance notice to hold an assembly will be shortened to 10 days.

The provision has been criticised by civil society groups and opposition lawmakers as restrictive, particularly after Myanmar, known for its poor human rights record, passed a similar law earlier this week stipulating only five days’ notice to hold an protest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peaceful Assembly Bill – Najib has probably created world history in the speed with which a “revolutionary” bill becomes reactionary within 24 hrs as to require at least eight amendments

Peaceful Assembly Bill – Najib has probably created world history in the speed with which a “revolutionary” bill becomes reactionary within 24 hrs as to require at least eight amendments

--Lim Kit Siang

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has probably created world history in the speed with which a Bill which he described as “revolutionary” became reactionary within 24 hours as to require at least eight amendments.

On Thursday, Najib told Parliament that the Peaceful Assembly Bill was “revolutionary” and “a giant leap” in the political transformation of Malaysia. But in less than 24 hours, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was directed by the Prime Minister at Friday’s Cabinet meeting to review and amend the “revolutionary” Bill!

This is the latest proof of the haphazard, insincere and irresponsible manner in which Najib is trying to implement his “political transformation” programme – totally at variance with his pledge that under his premiership, the era of “government knows best” is over and that he would fully consult with all relevant stakeholders and the civil society on major reform measures for the country.

The amendments to the Peaceful Assembly Bill, primarily on and consequential to the reduction of the requirement of 30 days to 10 days for notification to the police for any assembly, are not acceptable to give approval to the Bill as they are not wide-ranging enough as there are also other provisions in the bill which strike at the constitutional rights to freedom of assembly.

Apart from the 30-day notice requirement, other objectionable provisions include the arbitrary powers given to the police to impose restrictive and unreasonable conditions for the holding of assemblies, the role of the Home Minister in cases of appeal, the unconstitutional ban on street protests, the list of prohibited areas or 50-metre vicinity disallowing the holding of assemblies, the ban on underaged children and the onerous and crippling fines for offences under the Bill, etc.

The test of whether the Peaceful Assembly Bill is “revolutionary” and “a giant leap” in the political transformation and democratisation of Malaysia is whether the civil society, human rights activists and the political opposition feel freer and more liberated to exercise the fundamental constitutional right of Article 10 on “freedom of assembly” under the new law or they feel more suppressed, restricted and conscribed than even under the regime of Section 27 of the Police Act 1967.

The Prime Minister must take full cognisance that a former Lord President and the country’s most outstanding and longest-serving Inspector-General of Police had both regarded Section 27 of the Police Act as unconstitutional and undemocratic in violating Article 10 on the fundamental liberty of freedom of assembly – expressed in the Police Royal Commission Report of 2005 of which Tun Dzaiddin was Chairman and Tun Hanif Omar Deputy Chairman.

The Police Royal Commission 2005 had recommended far-reaching amendments to Section 27 to uphold “one of the most basic and indispensable of the fundamental freedoms necessary for the functioning of a democratic society and is provided for in the Federal Constitution” but this recommendation of the Police Royal commission was ignored by the Barisan Nasional government for more than six years.

Now we have the Peaceful Assembly Bill with provisions which are even more inimical to the nurturing of a democratic environment fully respecting the human rights of Malaysians to freedom of speech, expression, association and assembly.

Najib has only one option when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday if he is serious about his latest slogan of “political transformation” and democratisation – to withdraw the Bill or refer it to a Parliamentary Select Committee to engage all stakeholders, the civil society, human rights groups and the political opposition in a meaningful consultation and full engagement.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The hands behind our false spring | Free Malaysia Today

The hands behind our false spring

Lim Teck Ghee | November 25, 2011-FMT

Were there other forces at work that may have compelled the prime minister to engage in this astonishing political turnaround?

COMMENT

To most of the country’s independent political observers, it is very clear now.

With the unveiling of the new proposed law restricting our right to peaceful assembly and protest, the Malaysian public has been taken for a ride on the promise of political liberalization and reform made by the prime minister on the eve of Malaysia Day this year.

What is the explanation for the apparent turnaround in Najib Tun Razak’s initial plan unveiled on Sept 15 this year to abandon earlier draconian and repressive legislation and to improve our civil liberties?

Is it that there was really no enlightened plan but in fact a calculated and cynical move aimed at strangling the right to peaceful assembly – a potential game changer in the country’s political dynamics – whilst holding out crumbs of comfort that the government is being sincere about political liberalization on less important fronts?

If so, the prime minister must be congratulated on producing academy award performances not on just one occasion but for an entire two-month period in which he consistently extolled the merit of the Barisan Nasional moves to advance civil liberties and good governance in the country when plotting the exact opposite.

Even as late as today the prime minister continues to praise the new bill on Peaceful Assembly as a “revolutionary” law and a “giant leap” towards improving individual freedom.

He must be the only person in the country to believe that the country will experience a quantum improvement in our basic freedom of assembly with the passing of the new law.

If he is deaf to the overwhelming opposition to the proposed new law coming from all quarters, this coming year’s international assessments on the country’s civil liberties record will be salutary in reminding the prime minister that the country’s ranking on civil liberties and his own reputation for honesty have taken an enormous beating from this cynical attempt to kill off political dissent under the guise of improving the law pertaining to the right to assembly.

Were there other forces at work that may have compelled the prime minister to engage in this astonishing political turnaround?

If the prime minister is not the main actor of this political deception, is it the work of right wing Umno leaders such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his son Mukhriz, the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Ibrahim Ali as well as Najib’s ambitious cousin, the Home Minister who have pushed him to this unprecedented flip- flopping on political liberalization?

Whichever hands finally prevailed on this obnoxious bill now being debated in Parliament, their mission is clear: to prevent the same exercise of the freedom of peaceful assembly and dissent that are toppling similar authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world in the hope that they can buy for themselves a longer lease of authoritarian rule and unchecked power in Malaysia.

Lim Teck Ghee is the director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives.

Government facing an economic dilemma — Ramon Navaratnam

Government facing an economic dilemma — Ramon Navaratnam

November 25, 2011
Malaysian Insider

NOV 25 — At least two economic ministers, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, the minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, yesterday sounded greater caution on our economic outlook next year.

The European economy is weakening and the finance minister stated that government is “closely monitoring the European situation”. This shows his serious concern as to how low the European economies can go and how much we would be adversely affected.

The economic planning minister at the same time stated that “the global economic recovery is likely to stay weak and bumpy with a higher probability that things could get worse.”

We cannot therefore take it for granted that Malaysia can achieve a 5-5.5 per cent growth in our economy this year and anything near 5 per cent next year. Inflation could exceed 3.5 per cent next year and we could move towards stagflation which means stagnant economic growth and rising prices.

The government is now facing an economic dilemma. It would like to stimulate the economy, but the long-standing budget deficits do not allow even more budget spending, which would worsen the wide deficit. More government spending would also mean more borrowing especially for development expenditure. This, we are starkly reminded, is not prudent financing, particularly in the light of the Greece and Italian experience.

Hence the second finance minister indicated at the 16th ASLI Capital Market Conference yesterday that “Malaysia’s economy would primarily be driven by domestic demand”.

He expects private consumption or consumer spending which constitutes about 55 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product to increase by 7.1 per cent to provide the push for growth. But it may be difficult for consumers to spend more at a time of slower income growth and rising prices.

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa happily announced that foreign direct investment for the first nine months this year has exceeded the RM9.1 billion for the whole of last year.

This is good news .However it is also important to state how much of our own domestic capital has flowed out of the country. Even more significantly, it would be appropriate to ask what can be done to discourage not only the large capital outflows but also the serious brain drain of highly qualified human resources? Both are vital for our capacity to fight likely recession and to progress towards Vision 2020

This may therefore be the right and an opportune time to make more transformational policy changes that would encourage more Malaysian private investors to invest at home .

We can be gratified by the World Bank’s recent assessment that “the ease of doing business in Malaysia” has considerably improved. But the business climate could be spoilt by insufficient longer term confidence in good governance, and in the prospects of better racial and religious harmony and national unity in our country.

Thus increasingly we have to look at our business climate and outlook in more holistic ways since our domestic investors must feel more comfortable in their business sustainability in the longer term future.

Given the weakening US and European economies, and even the possibility of economic decline in China’s and India’s huge economies which are now our major trading partners, we have to take the signals for greater caution more seriously and prepare for more difficult times.

What we need to do to counter the declining economic trends is to liberalise our socio-economic and political policies further, provide a more attractive business environment and a better a more inclusive quality of life for all Malaysians.

Finally, we can step up public private investment partnerships amongst Bumi and non-Bumi businesses in Malaysia and within Asean and our Asian neighbours, especially for the major productive and income-generating projects like the KL-Singapore high-speed railway.

In effect we have to be more resolute and innovative in facing the great dilemma and grave challenges of our times.

* Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the chairman of the Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lawyers to march against proposed assembly law next Tuesday

Lawyers to march against proposed assembly law next Tuesday

November 25, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Bar Council chief Lim Chee Wee sounded today the bugle and called on the 12,000-strong legal fraternity here to march to Parliament on November 29 and protest the Najib government’s proposed peaceful assembly law.

“If this piece of legislation makes it to the statute books, future generations would inherit a nation that is far from modern and progressive,” he said in statement today.

He urged the lawyers to make a stand and stop the proposed law, which he described as being “more restrictive than the current law” from being passed.

He reminded that the proposed law to replace Section 27 of the Police Act was tabled just three days ago and is now in its second reading in the Dewan Rakyat and will likely be passed after the third reading, but said the lawyers’ march may still persuade prime minister to change his mind.

The lawyers’ march on November 29 will start from the entrance of the Royal Lake Club, roughly 1.4 km away from Parliament building.

Lim (picture) asked lawyers to meet at the entrance at 11.30am and to dress in their black-and-white court attire.

Yesterday, Lim urged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to put the proposed law before a Parliamentary panel and seek public feedback before passing the piece of legislation.

“We feel let down by how far short this Bill falls in relation to what the Malaysian people were promised in the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Day 2011 message. In short, the Prime Minister must walk his own talk,” Lim said today.

The Peaceful Assembly Bill was introduced to replace section 27 of the Police Act as part of Najib’s raft of reforms promised during his Malaysia Day message in September.

Najib, in defending the new assembly law yesterday, had described it as “revolutionary” and a giant leap towards improving individual freedom.

But civil society group and lawmakers are strongly against the Bill, claiming it was more repressive in nature than current laws, and want the administration to withdraw it from Parliament.

Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said earlier today that Malaysians will have less freedom under the government’s proposed new law governing public demonstrations compared to Myanmar, a country which has one of the world’s worse human rights record.

Myanmar had also this week passed new legislation that allowed street protests, and provided for less stringent conditions than the Najib administration’s proposed Peaceful Assembly Act.

Opposition MP Lim Kit Siang has also criticised the ruling Barisan Nasional government’s proposed law and suggested Malaysia should copy the Myanmar legislation.

The DAP politician said that although Malaysia’s assembly law was patterned after the Queensland Peaceful Assembly Act 1992, it included additional provisions that grant the police powers to arbitrarily restrict the right to free assembly.

Kit Siang suggests Malaysia copy Myanmar’s assembly law

Kit Siang suggests Malaysia copy Myanmar’s assembly law

November 25, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Lim Kit Siang told the government today to send Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to Myanmar to learn about fundamental liberties, after human rights activists suggested earlier that Yangon’s new law on public demonstrations gave its citizens more freedom than Malaysia’s own version.

Mocking the Najib administration’s Peaceful Assembly Bill tabled this week in Parliament, the veteran DAP politician said Malaysia should copy the Myanmar legislation.

“It was however mortifying and shameful that Malaysia has to learn from a country known for its poor human rights record.

“Does Najib want to send the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to Myanmar to learn to be more respectful of the fundamental liberties at least with regard to freedom of assembly for the respective citizenry?” Lim (picture) said in a statement today.

“I thought the day will never come for me to say this — the Malaysian prime minister and Cabinet should learn from Myanmar at least on freedom of peaceful protest and assembly.”

Earlier today, Bersih 2.0 chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said Malaysians will have less freedom under the government’s proposed new law governing public demonstrations compared to Myanmar, a country which has one of the world’s worse human rights record.

She pointed out that Myanmar recently passed new legislation that allowed street protests, and provided for less stringent conditions than the Najib administration’s proposed Peaceful Assembly Act.

Myanmar’s military-dominated Parliament passed a law this week allowing citizens to protest peacefully but which requires demonstrators to “inform the authorities five days in advance.

Under Malaysia’s Peaceful Assembly Act, demonstrators are required to give 30 days’ notice to the police, while a host of restrictions effectively prevents any street protests.

The Myanmar law states that demonstrators must avoid government buildings, schools, hospitals and embassies. The Malaysian version has similar restrictions but includes a buffer from houses of worship and petrol stations.

Lim said that despite Myanmar’s reputation, its military-dominated government had approved the Peaceful Gathering and Procession Bill yesterday.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must be at a loss for words,” Lim said.

“Myanmar has always been regarded as the worst laggard country in Asean in its utter disregard and contempt for human rights,” he pointed out.

Najib, in defending the new assembly law yesterday, had described it as “revolutionary” and a giant leap towards improving individual freedom.

But civil society group and lawmakers are strongly against the Bill, claiming it was more repressive in nature than current laws, and want the administration to withdraw it from Parliament.

Lim said Malaysia’s proposed law contradicts Najib’s intention to turn the country into the “best democracy in the world” as it appeared to be more restrictive than section 27 of the Police Act.

The Peaceful Assembly Bill was introduced to replace section 27 of the Police Act as part of Najib’s raft of reforms promised during his Malaysia Day message in September.

Lim said that although Malaysia’s assembly law was patterned after the Queensland Peaceful Assembly Act 1992, it included additional provisions that grant the police powers to arbitrarily restrict the right to free assembly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The 13th GE: It’s an open field — Sakmongkol AK47

The 13th GE: It’s an open field — Sakmongkol AK47

November 24, 2011
Malaysian Insider

NOV 24 — Rahim Tamby Chik (RTC) says there are attempts by the opposition parties to invite Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to become PM. This will happen, Rahim says, if there is a hung Parliament. Such a situation is untenable, says Rahim, because it will create political instability. So Umno must work hard to get a two-thirds majority.

Those were the observations and musings by RTC on the political possibilities after the GE13. What is intriguing was his warning that a hung Parliament will create instability. I hope we will not be in such a situation. Malaysians would prefer a clear-cut victory one way or the other.

I am not going to respond to his nervous prognosis, being more interested on how such a scenario can possibly happen and what are the implications if it does. I don’t think we are going to have a hung Parliament. It will be clear-cut either way. I am also bemused at his attempt to involve Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in such a scenario. To qualify as a participant in any future negotiations should a hung Parliament comes into being, TRH must be head of a political party. Right now, TRH is in Umno and doesn’t head a party nor is he a leader of any faction in Umno. Could Rahim’s advice be another attempt to isolate TRH from Umno?

TRH is far too principled to agree being appointed as leader of government on a personal-to-holder basis. He will be a figurehead. Oh, because Tengku has never disowned the ambitions to become PM comes the answer from Umno people. So my answer is: why should he not have that ambition? He was cheated to becoming one before. He has all the credentials to become one.

Here is an interesting piece of information. When certain Umno people wanted to kick out Abdullah Ahmad Badawi , they approached Tengku Razaleigh for a solution. Their agenda was only one — because of Najib’s hesitation they went to see Tengku Razaleigh asking him to stand as Umno president and Muhyiddin as deputy president. This group was made up of powerful people, united at that time by their intense disapproval and loathing of Abdullah. My point is this: at that time, they didn’t think it was inappropriate for Tengku Razaleigh to become Umno president and if he had won, he would have gone on to become PM. Tengku’s ambition wasn’t an issue. His age wasn’t an issue. The fundamental objective was to remove Pak Lah.

Why should the opposition parties invite Tengku Razaleigh to become PM if they could win the elections on their own? PAS has Hadi, the DAP has Lim Guan Eng and PKR has Anwar Ibrahim? This assessment presupposes that between the three, neither one accepts the leader of each party as a future PM. It also assumes further, that Tengku Razaleigh commands a number of elected MPs to give him standing in future negotiations. Where will he get the MPs? Rahim says 20-30 people are being lined up to stand as MPs who are aligned to Tengku Razaleigh. Where are these people? In Umno? Within the opposition camp?

So now, let us build up a case why a hung Parliament cannot happen. Just for the moment, let’s not talk about how Umno and BN can lose. Let’s talk about HOW the opposition — the DAP, PAS, PKR — can WIN. Let’s begin by asking: will PR lose its current 82 seats? Possible, but very unlikely. The seats which they lost when some people jumped ship will become theirs again. We won’t see the likes of Zahrain and his types in Parliament again.

DAP

The DAP now has 28 seats in Parliament. The DAP has gained substantial ground with Chinese voters. Chinese voters identify more with the DAP. By and large the Chinese do not require the intervention and involvement of the government to improve their wellbeing. They got to where they are now largely by their own efforts and independence. They want to preserve and reinforce that independent streak. How best for them to do that? By staking their future in a party that best represents the independence streak. They don’t want a sissy party perceived as easily compromised, intimidated or even bought over to represent them. The DAP is their preferred choice.

I mean that is the reason driving Hishammuddin pondering a move from Sembrong to Kota Tinggi. To the Chinese in Sembrong, and this doesn’t please me in saying, Hishammuddin is irrelevant to them. He knows if he stays in Sembrong, he can kiss his seat goodbye. They want to kick the ass of the man with the monkey grin.

The Chinese are less dependent on the government and by government, I mean the BN. They need champions for other requirements and that they find in the DAP. So the DAP will more or less pummel the MCA to the ground. They will take most of the 15 seats the MCA won in the 2008 elections. At the very best, the MCA can retain three seats. The worst-case scenario is the MCA wins nothing. The DAP will increase its seats by another 12 in Semenanjung. It gobbles up most of the seats now held by the MCA.

Why will the DAP win over the MCA? Because the Chinese believe the MCA has sold them out. Not necessarily by kowtowing to big brother Umno over many issues, but by retreating from representing the indomitable spirit of the Chinese. The MCA has lost its mandate. That’s how the DAP is winning the Chinese over — where the MCA failed.

On a more simplistic reasoning, the Chinese who have traditionally supported the MCA are asking: how is it almost all our Chinese MCA leaders are being persecuted and prosecuted by the courts once they leave office? How is it Umno leaders who did or are alleged to have done the same things are not? They know Malay leaders stole and swindled more.

What about the DAP in Sarawak? Generally speaking, the urban seats will be taken up by the DAP. That will be another eight or nine seats for the DAP. The seats held currently by SUPP will end up in the DAP’s hands. The DAP will get around 20 seats more than they got in 2008. This time around, the DAP will be in Parliament with probably 46-48 seats.

The newer and younger DAP leadership is taking on Malaysian politics with more finesse and it doesn’t now intimidate modern-thinking Malays as the older generation of DAP leaders once did. And it has shed its umbilical connections with the PAP. So now, if there are attempts for example to link the DAP as a stool or Trojan horse to Singapore’s PAP, such attempts will be laughed at.

PAS

It’s difficult to dislodge PAS from where they are now. Has any elected PAS rep jumped ship? This means PAS has been careful to select leaders on the basis of each having convictions and intense belief. It will likely do the same thing for the 13GE.

How can PAS win? It’s difficult for its opponent to dislodge PAS in its traditional role as champions of Islam and serving as the emotional anchor for conservative Malays. It will retain the many seats it now has in Kelantan. It will gain more seats in Terengganu which is expected to go back to PAS this time around. Some of the seats in Kedah, for example, currently held by the MCA and Umno will be won by PAS. The seat now occupied by the MCA’s Chor will be lost to PAS. PAS can win because it’s organised and is motivated by convictions. This is what sets it apart from Umno.

They are not out for personal glory and gratification. They have got a number of secular liberals in the party who can attract younger Malay voters. They will attract the serious thinkers among the younger Malay crowd who are not included in the tweeting about football or about Elton John variety.

PAS currently has 23 seats in Parliament. It will secure a large number in Terengganu, maybe one seat in Pahang, three in Kedah. My guess is they will increase their seats by another 7-8. PAS will enter the next Parliament with around 30-31 seats.

PKR

What about PKR? I thought PKR is the weak link in PR. Let’s not forget it won 31 seats in the 2008 elections. Those who jumped ship were either ex-Umno members (that tells us much about the quality and resolve of Umno members) and those who were selected on the basis of urgency and expedience. The “fluid” candidates will be removed this time around, and it is likely that PKR will select candidates with a firmer constitution. PKR will secure a number of seats in Sarawak, taking away seats from SPDP and PRS. Baru Bian will spearhead PKR’s drive in Sarawak. I am thinking that PKR will still enter Parliament with around 33-35 seats.

Let’s take the worst-case scenario. DAP= 46, PAS= 30, PKR= 33. The opposition has 109 seats. They are short of three seats to secure a majority.

We haven’t included Sabah in our discussion. With the disenchantment towards Musa Aman, it’s unlikely that Sabah Umno can retain all its seats it currently has. Unless of course they pay the voters in their constituencies. The non-Umno parties in Sabah are increasingly less enamoured with Musa Aman and they can’t defend their positions by sticking around with Mr Vacuum Cleaner. The opposition will probably gain around six seats outright.

To me Sabah is the powder keg. It’s likely to blow in the face of BN. the non-Malay indigenous people of Sabah are likely to pressure their parties to abandon BN. They have had numerous Umno leaders leading them in the past, all they got was continued marginalisation. They don’t see development in their areas. They don’t see electricity and roads and clean water after years of BN rule. It’s therefore possible for us to see 8-10 seats migrating to PR’s camp. We can say that around 14-16 seats from Sabah alone are PR inclined.

My own personal observations about the coming 13th GE is as follows: PR 118-125 seats, Umno-N= 98-104 seats.

There won’t be a hung Parliament.

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication, and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Emergency Declarations Revoked after 45 years (part 1)

Crisis in the Chambers | Free Malaysia Today

Crisis in the Chambers

FMT Staff | November 23, 2011-FMT

More and more senior DPPs are throwing in the towel and the list includes Solicior-General II Mohd Yusof. Sources claim that the AG is to be blamed for this.

PUTRAJAYA: Allegations of internal politicking, nepotism and cronyism are swirling in the Attorney-General’s Chambers and fed-up deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) are tendering their letters for optional retirement.

Those interviewed by FMT agreed to voice their grievances on condition of anonymity.

These legal eagles believe that the rot is beyond repair and pin the blame on Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail himself.

According to them, it is an open secret that those loyal to Gani rise up the ranks and are given key tasks irrespective of whether they are qualified for the job or otherwise.

Those considered hostile or critical of the AG’s decisions often land in cold storage.

“The only criteria (required) is that the DPP must be close to him (Gani) and not go against his or his men’s word,” said a former senior DPP who served for nearly 30 years.

Initially, only a handful felt upset with Gani but the number has grown over the years and they are tendering their application for optional retirement.

“The AG in his capacity as the head of the department is approving the applications without the slightest of hesitation,” said another vexed DPP.

In their application, most of the DPPS cite “personal reasons” for their decision.

“It’s very difficult for them to state the actual reason since only the AG has the discretionary power whether to approve their applications or not. They will be asking for trouble if they state ‘AG’s conduct’ as being the reason,” said the DPP.

Son, daughter-in-law promoted

Quizzed on their grouses regarding Gani and his men, one DPP cited the management of the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies (ICELLS), where the AG’s son and daughter-in-law are attached to.

“Both of them have less than five years experience in the service but have already been promoted to Grades L48 and L52 respectively. In our service, there was never such a promotion exercise.

“As far as I know, it is only in Malaysia that the AG and his next-of-kin are working in the same department and same building,” he said.

He added that initially research division head K Muniandy was slated to helm ICELLS.

“Muniandy was the former deputy head of prosecution and highly respected in the legal fraternity but he was sidelined, prompting him to put in his optional retirement papers at the age of 50.

“He was the only ‘Jusa A’ Indian officer in the Chambers and probably in the entire civil service. So there must be something seriously wrong when someone of his calibre and experience chooses to quit,” he added.

For the record, besides Muniandy, other senior DPPs who have left the service are S Devanandan, Ahmad Firuz Zainal Abidin, Dr Sabirin Jaafar, Shamsul Sulaiman and Sallehuddin Saidin.

Solicitor-General II on the way out

In a related development, FMT also learned that Solicitor-General II Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abidin, 56, has also submitted his application for optional retirement.

“This is the third time he has submitted his application. When he applied the first time in 2008, former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi convinced him to stay while his second application was submitted a few months after Najib Tun Razak took over as prime minister. Najib also persuaded him to stay.

“But this time around, Yusof decided that he will not let anyone talk him out of his decision. He is frustrated with the empty promises of restoring the integrity of the AG Chambers,” said an officer.

He also disclosed that for the past three years, Yusof’s only task has been to handle Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial.

Other DPPs, he added, are told that Yusof’s offce is considered off limits and the latter is almost kept in “isolation” at his desk.

“Those in the Chambers are aware what is prompting senior DPPs to throw in the towel, while those who choose to remain, do so grudgingly. The country’s leadership is also aware of what is happening but no action is being taken to fix the problem.

“We fear that the situation has now come to a point of being beyond redemption,” said another former DPP.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weak management ‘systemic’ problem in government projects, says PAC

Weak management ‘systemic’ problem in government projects, says PAC

November 23, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Weak management is a “systemic” problem in government projects such as the National Feedlot Centre (NFC), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said today.

A visibly frustrated PAC chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said that the problems surrounding the NFC was an indication of a much bigger problem concerning the management of such projects, and that it needed to be revamped.

“Something must be not right if all agencies are like this . . . this type of problem has occurred repeatedly for years since the PAC conducted its hearings.

“The management system needs to be re-looked at, although relevant ministries may be telling the truth . . . the public is fed up,” Azmi told reporters here.

“This is a recurring problem in all departments. If the government wants the country to progress by 2020, then these matters need to be addressed,” he said after interviewing the Ministry of Agriculture over allegations of financial discrepancies involving the cattle project.

Azmi (picture) said the main concern PAC had with the NFC project was the fact that money had been given to NFC management in 2008/2009 through a special account, when the agreement deal for the project was only inked last year.

The PAC chief said the committee would be calling the Finance Ministry, the Chief Secretary to the government and two more government agencies in January next year over the matter.

“Mismanagement, miscoordination . . . this will affect the administration,” said Azmi.

The NFC has been dogged by allegations of corruption and fund misappropriation after it made it into the pages of the Auditor-General’s Report for 2010, which described the project “as a mess”.

Among others, PKR has alleged that the NFC funds were used for federal minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s personal expenses and that of her family, as well as to buy multimillion-ringgit condominium units at the luxurious One Menerung in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Shahrizat’s husband and NFC boss, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail, finally emerged last week in the face of the attacks to break his family’s silence in the matter, and moved to defend the purchase of the condo as well as deny the alleged failure of the project.

PKR scoffed at Mohamad Salleh’s remarks, saying he had failed to deny a single allegation and had merely offered explanations for the many discrepancies involving the NFC.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar has denied the NFC was ever discussed in Cabinet, claiming it was handled by the Cabinet Committee for High-Impact Projects, which was then chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

PKR had alleged on Monday that the funds meant for the NFC were used to fund umrah packages and set up two Singapore-based companies, both owned by Senator Shahrizat’s family.

Party leaders claimed to have proof that Mohamad Salleh had ordered payment of RM31,580 to be made for his haj pilgrimage and that of his son Wan Shahinur Izran Mohamad Salleh in 2010.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, who is also Machang MP, had urged the police and the PAC to probe all transactions between the NFC and the National Meat and Livestocks Corporation (NMLC) and Real Food Company (RFC). Both NMLC and RFC are majority owned by Mohamad Salleh and his children Izran and Izmir.

He said this was because financial records showed that Singapore-based firms Global Biofuture Pte Ltd and Meatworks Singapore Pte Ltd, both of which are also owned by Shahrizat’s family, currently have debts with the RFC.

As at June 2010, he said, Global Biofuture, which ran a food and fuel business, owed RFC RM939,495.

In the same period, Meatworks, a luxury restaurant chain, was found to be owing RFC RM2,416,815, he added.

Police is investigating the NFC for cheating or criminal breach of trust.

NFC: Makes no cow sense! | Free Malaysia Today

NFC: Makes no cow sense!

Douglas Tan | November 23, 2011-FMT

Najib's alphabet soup including the NRKAs, NEMs and the ETPs count for nothing if he allows his cabinet ministers to run wild with the taxpayers' money.

COMMENT

One of my father’s favourite expressions is “use some cow sense!” which basically means “use your brain!”. It is remarkable to see how Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family utterly capitulated under the tirade of dirt dug up against them.

First we hear of the RM250 million National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) project awarded to the family of the Women, Family and Community Minister Shahrizat, who had no experience of breeding cows at all.

Then there is a damning report from the Auditor General who said that since 2009, the NFC has fallen short of its breeding target by 41%.

The public outcry was predictably loudest coming from the opposition, PKR in particular. They demanded to know how they got into this mess in the first place and proceeded to dig further.

That is when they realised that they struck political gold and at the same time, opened a massive can of worms for the Barisan Nasional government.

Inexcusable scandals

PKR obviously wanted to dig deep for evidence of cronyism and fund misappropriation. It was simple logic. When so much money is dispensed for a project which the Auditor General declared to be “a mess”, where did the money go actually?

They followed the trail to Bangsar, and the purchase of a RM10 million condominium using NFC funds. Cue the beginning of the “Cowgate” scandal.

The deathly silence on the part of Shahrizat and family further compounded the feeling that this was tantamount to an admission of guilt.

Naturally Shahrizat crying out that she was victimised as head of Wanita Umno did not earn her many supporters, as it was clear that she was using the tactic as a scapegoat.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin wading into the debate with another insanely far-fetched explanation that the purchase of the condominium was a good investment just did not help. But we have to ask, why did he get involved at all in the first place? What’s in it for him?

For a man who is embroiled in controversy over “Kampung Buah Dada”, you would have thought that he would have kept silent! Obviously, Khairy can take even more of a public bashing. Is this an act of self-sacrifice for the party? Only time will tell.

After this the second condominium unit surfaces. Where does it end?

The cover up

What was remarkable about this incident was that it turned into a bipartisan affair. BN backbencher Bung Mokhtar Radin called for Shahrizat to hand in her resignation, which was met with a chorus of approval from the opposition MPs.

However, cabinet members stepped up to the plate to say that it was not fair. Leading the defence of his cabinet colleague is Muhyiddin Yassin, who said that there was no need for her to step down as she was not directly involved with the NFC itself.

This should not come as a surprise to us, as BN are always so good at avoiding issues, passing blame around and use less popular members as scapegoats so they are able to continue plundering and pillaging. Only crooks protect other crooks. When all else fails, hire a lawyer.

The belated press conference called by NFC director Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, who is also Shahrizat’s husband, created suspicion from the offset when all alternative media and Chinese language press were barred from participating.

Is it the inability to handle probing questions or fear of his words being twisted? Perhaps. Nevertheless the exclusion only worsens the situation.

He explained to the BN friendly papers that the NFC was on track and that they need more time to deliver results. There were a couple of issues with the answers provided. The government target of 8,000 head of cattle is not a breeding target but a slaughter target.

Although they did raise 8,016 head of cattle, the issue the Auditor General raised was that only 3,289 heads were delivered, which is well short of the target.

The entire premise of the NFC project in the first place was to supply beef to the market. As a result, the Key Performance Indicator should obviously be the number slaughtered not raised.

Additionally, he tried to claim that they were receiving RM70,000 a month for the condominiums.

When I asked a couple of developers and real estate agents, they scoffed at the possibility of being able to obtain such a high rental.

The income they get may be in the form of guaranteed yield over two or three years in which most developers offer as an incentive to purchase the property.

However, this turns out to be no more than a glorified discount. Anyone who can pay RM70,000 a month would we well within their means to purchase their own property!

The logic of it all

After all of the articles in the online and print media about the scandal, I doubt I need to venture further into all of its sordid details.

Wanita PKR has launched a nationwide campaign to file police reports against five individuals considered to be instrumental to the epic failure of the NFC including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Najib has been accused about lying to parliament, and Muhyiddin apparently does not see anything wrong with using public funds to purchase property.

However, let us take a look deeper into to the whole issue and the futility of it all. The question has to be asked as to why we needed the feedlot in the first place.

The government would claim that it is to supply more halal beef into the Malaysian market.

Nevertheless there are a couple of important questions that need to be asked:

1. Farms in Western Australia already supplies beef which have received international halal certification to many countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia. However, Jakim has not approved this. Is Malaysia truly more Islamic than Saudi Arabia so as not to recognise the Halal certificate? If not, why are we unable to accept the beef?

2 What is the point in importing Australian cows at great expense and import the feed as well? There is a massive difference in the quality of Australian beef and the so-called Gemas ‘Gold’ cattle, and I would presume that this is down to the massive change in climate and environment. Why shortchange the Malaysia public with sub-standard beef which costs more.

3 If this is an issue of sovereignty, why can’t the government just acquire a farm in Australia and send people from Malaysia to run it? The NFC ran losses of RM7 million in 2009 and RM11 million in 2010. This amount would have comfortably paid for the living and lifestyle expenses of the staff required, as the last time I checked, cows pretty much take care of themselves.

4 If this is an issue about slaughtering the cows according to Jakim standards, why not just import the cows and slaughter them locally to Jakim’s satisfaction? This would be far most cost effective than the current method as we still have to import cattle anyway!

5 Was this project to stimulate the national economy or the agricultural sector? If so, why are local farmers not benefiting from this project instead of awarding this to a company with ministerial connections that has never bred cattle before?

Grab and run

What we are seeing now is nothing short of a daylight robbery. We can see the system is rotten to the core, with scandal after scandal surfacing. However, the NFC saga may be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

It is clear that Najib is not interested in reforms but more interested in making cosmetic changes to policies just to retain power.

His alphabet soup including the NRKAs, NEMs and the ETPs count for nothing if he allows his cabinet ministers to run wild with the nation’s money, and gives his deputy license to display arrogance in telling off the public for not believing their version of the story.

With the MACC and the police silent about this, there is a definite reluctance to probe this issue.

The difficult questions are now being asked, and this is the greatest benefit of the strong opposition we have today.

It is clear that despite suffering the worse electoral defeat in history back in 2008, BN have not learnt a single thing. In fact they got worse, and expected to get away with it.

Pakatan Rakyat has a golden opportunity now to frame themselves as a credible government. Public sentiment and anger is high, and another season of protest votes may favour PR in the coming election.

However, they must work hard and work fast. Malaysian politics is fickle and the landscape changes quickly. If they miss the boat now, it may be a long time for it to come around again.

Douglas Tan obtained his law degree from the University of Nottingham and currently works in the manufacturing industry. He is an active member of the DAP but does not let it define his opinions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hisham wrong about Patriot Act, says Suhakam

Hisham wrong about Patriot Act, says Suhakam

UPDATED @ 03:48:48 PM 22-11-2011
November 22, 2011
Malaysian Insider

Hishammuddin yesterday said the ISA’s replacement will still allow for detention without trial. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein misunderstands the reason for the United States’ preventive detention clause in its Patriot Act, Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today.

Commissioner Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah pointed out that the US security law does not allow for detention without trial, disputing the minister’s citation yesterday.

“That’s why Hishammuddin’s statement that the new law replacing the Internal Security Act (ISA) is the equivalent of the Patriot Act is not true,” he said.

Yesterday, the minister announced that the replacement for the much-criticised ISA next year will still include a clause that will allow the police to detain a person without trial.

Hishammuddin had said the preventive measure was needed to combat militant movements and terrorism, and cited as examples the Patriot Act in the United States as well as the Anti-Terror Acts in Britain and Australia.

The home minister and the national human rights watchdog have been engages in a verbal exchange following the arrest of seven Malaysians and six foreigners in Sabah last week, for what the police allege to be an attempt to revive a militant movement in the state.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam issued a strongly-worded statement soon after, saying the arrests went against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise to repeal the archaic security law.

“What we want is to see them taken to court and tried and not detained without trial under ISA,” Muhammad Sha’ani said today, backing Hasmy.

He denied Suhakam was pushing for the suspected militants to be freed.

In his Malaysia Day address, Prime Minister Najib had promised a raft of reforms including repealing the ISA to give the public more freedom.

But the prime minister later said the repeal of the law that allows for preventive detention without trial will only take place next year after two new laws are drafted to replace it.

Najib’s promises of reforms, which also include doing away with annual permits for print media and a parliamentary panel on electoral improvements, came after widespread condemnation over the crackdown on the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally for electoral reforms.

Hishammuddin’s announcement yesterday, however, has caused Najib’s reforms pledge to labelled a rebranding exercise by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, who said the retention of the ISA’s preventive arrest powers meant it was simply a case of “old wine in a new bottle.”

New assembly law chokes liberty, says Pakatan

New assembly law chokes liberty, says Pakatan

November 22, 2011
Malaysian Insider

Lim said the new law would allow the police greater leeway in clamping down on public assemblies. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Pakatan Rakyat today described the Peaceful Assembly Bill as repressive and restrictive of civil freedom, claiming it accords the police even more power to arrest individuals.

The government today finally tabled the law regulating public gatherings, two months after the prime minister first pledged reforms to laws on security and public assembly.

Shortly after it was unveiled, PR leaders said the new bill was “worse” than previous laws on public assembly, and that it simply meant “people could not gather anywhere in Malaysia.”

Section 27 of the bill states that public gatherings cannot be held in the following areas: petrol stations, hospitals, fire stations, airports, railways, land public transport terminals, ports, canals, docks, bridges, places of worship, kindergartens and schools as well as dams and reservoirs.

It states that no street protests are allowed, and bars any assembly in or within a 50 metre buffer zone around the listed prohibited areas.

“This new bill should be called the illegal assembly bill; it is worse than the previous laws,” DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng told reporters here.

“Malaysia is full of places of worship, so looking at the prohibited areas, you cannot gather anywhere in Malaysia.”

“This is further oppression, suppression,” he added.

Lim said under the Police Act, there was specific mention of how many people would constitute a public gathering, and that the fine for illegal assembly was between RM2,000 to RM10,000.

“Now, you can get fined up to RM20,000. And there is no mention on the number of people, police can take action and arrest anybody,” said Lim.

Section 9 (5) of the bill allows the police to fine organisers up to RM10,000 if no advance notice of a planned assembly is given to the authorities.

Section 20 (1) (c) allows for police to arrest anyone who brings or recruits children in an assembly.

Section 21 (3) allows protesters arrested by police to be fined up to RM20,000.

The new law says that there also must be 30 days’ advance notice for assemblies except for designated areas defined by the home minister. The assemblies can then proceed unless there is objection by the police.

Simultaneous assemblies may be held, but this is subject to the discretion of the police. If a “counter assembly” should cause potential conflict with another assembly nearby, police have the right to name an alternative location and time for the counter assembly to be held.

Individuals under 21 years of age not allowed to organise assemblies and children under 15 are not allowed to participate in assemblies except for cultural and religious ones like funeral corteges or events approved by the home minister.

“This is like another version of the University and University Colleges Act. The police now have added powers,” added the Penang chief minister.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution told The Malaysian Insider that parts of the bill made it even more difficult for people to have peaceful assemblies.

“The reality is that the police will sit on an application till the very last minute, and everything is now up to the police’s discretion.

“The fines are even higher now; this is worse and is clearly meant to oppress and repress people and scare them from expressing their rights to assemble,” he said.

The Machang MP said that the new bill was a “far cry” from what PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised Malaysians on the eve of Malaysia Day.

The Malaysian Insider reported recently the new law will replace Section 27 of the Police Act, doing away with police permits for mass assemblies other than street protests.

But the new law will require the “collaboration” of various parties before a public gathering can be held.

The prime minister promised a raft of reforms in his Malaysia Day address on September 15, including the repeal of the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) and doing away with annual permits for the print media, saying he wanted to give Malaysians more freedom.

He further said the government will review Section 27 of the Police Act by taking into account Article 10 of the Federal Constitution that relates to freedom of assembly.

According to Najib, the government will allow public gatherings based on international norms while taking a firm stand against street demonstrations.

The Restricted Residence and Banishment Acts were already repealed last month, and Najib has said the repeal of the ISA will take place in March after two replacement laws have been drafted.

Monday, November 21, 2011

World Bank: M’sian varsities a poor show | Free Malaysia Today

World Bank: M’sian varsities a poor show

Patrick Lee | November 21, 2011-FMT

Malaysia spends a lot on tertiary education, but its universities are not as good as others in Asia and many of its graduates are not equipped for the job market.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has little to show for its universities despite spending more money on tertiary education than do many other countries.

Malaysian universities lag behind many counterparts in Asia, including those located in neighbouring countries like Thailand and Singapore, according to a World Bank report released today.

“While Malaysia spends slightly more than most countries on its university students, leading Malaysian universities perform relatively poorly in global rankings,” said the report, entitled Malaysia Economic Monitor: Smart Cities.

Citing the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings 2010, it noted that Universiti Malaya (UM) was ranked 207th worldwide and 29th in Asia.

It also quoted a US News and World 2011 report on the World’s Best Universities, which put UM, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia at 167th, 279th, 335th and 358th place respectively.

Even more worrying, the World Bank report observed, was the “increasing gap” between Malaysia’s and Singapore’s universities.

It compared UM with the National University of Singapore (NUS), which QS cited as the leading university in Southeast Asia.

“The gap between UM and NUS has been high and generally increasing, especially in the sciences,” the report said.

According to the report, UM and NUS were on par when it came to science and technology in 2005. However, UM has lost out to NUS over the past six years.

The report also said many of Malaysia’s university graduates did not seem to have the skills that would help them get employment.

Lack of R&D

It said that 18% of university graduates were reported to be unemployed 18 months after graduation.

“There is substantial evidence of mismatches between the skills produced by Malaysia’s universities and the skills demanded by the labour markets.”

It appeared that graduates lacked proficiency not only in technical and professional areas, but also in information technology and the English language.

Research and development, the World Bank said, also did not seem to play a big role in Malaysia’s universities.

Not even added funds for R&D under the 2007 National Higher Education Plan and “sophisticated programmes” seemed to have helped.

“For many years, Malaysia pursued a policy favouring commercialisation and applied research over fundamental research and development,” the report said. “Results of the reforms have yet to show in data.”

It said Malaysia’s gross expenditure on R&D was only 0.64% of GDP in 2010, compared to Singapore’s 2.52%.

Malaysia had 372 researchers and 44 technicians per million of its population, much fewer than Singapore’s 6,088 and 529, it added.

PKR claims NFC funded umrah packages, Singapore firms

PKR claims NFC funded umrah packages, Singapore firms

UPDATED @ 01:46:41 PM 21-11-2011
November 21, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — Funds meant for the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) were used to fund umrah packages and set up two Singapore-based companies, both owned by Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family, PKR alleged today.

In their latest round of exposes on the scandal-tainted federally-funded cattle project, PKR leaders claimed to have proof that NFC executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail, Shahrizat’s husband, had ordered payment of RM31,580 to be made for his and his son Wan Shahinur Izran Mohamad Salleh’s haj pilgrimage in 2010.

“PKR has clear proof that orders for the umrah package to be paid using this public fund had come from the NFC executive chairman’s office,” PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution (picture) said today.

He was speaking at a joint press conference in Parliament with Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin and PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli.

The Machang MP urged the police and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to probe all transactions between the NFC and the National Meat and Livestocks Corporation (NMLC) and Real Food Company (RFC). Both NMLC and RFC are majority owned by Mohamad Salleh and his children Izran and Izmir.

He said this was because financial records showed that Singapore-based firms Global Biofuture Pte Ltd and Meatworks Singapore Pte Ltd, both of which are also owned by Shahrizat’s family, currently have debts with the RFC.

As at June 2010, he said, Global Biofuture, a firm in the food and fuel business, owed RFC RM939,495.

In the same period, Meatworks, a luxury restaurant chain, was found to be owing RFC RM2,416,815, he added.

“PKR believes that a sum of money was channelled from the RM250 million loan meant for NFC to these personal companies of Shahrizat’s family, including to set up Global Biofuture in Singapore,” said Saifuddin.

The NFC has been dogged by allegations of corruption and fund misappropriation after it made it into the pages of the Auditor-General’s Report for 2010, which described the project “as a mess”.

Among others, PKR has alleged that the NFC funds were used for Shahrizat’s and her family’s personal expenses, as well as to purchase multimillion ringgit condominium units at the luxurious One Menerung in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Mohamad Salleh finally emerged in the face of the attacks last week to break his family’s silence in the matter, and moved to defend the condo purchase as well as deny the project’s alleged failure.

But PKR scoffed at Mohamad Salleh’s remarks, saying he had failed to deny a single allegation and had merely offered explanations for the many discrepancies involving the NFC.

At a press conference last week, Rafizi demanded the Cabinet disclose all its meeting minutes from 2006 to determine if Shahrizat had been directly involved in awarding the project to her husband’s company.

But Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar denied over the weekend that the NFC was ever discussed in Cabinet, claiming it was handled by the Cabinet Committee for High-Impact Projects, which was then chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“PKR urges Najib to make a statement on this scandal immediately, especially more so now that Noh Omar claimed the project was not raised in the Cabinet but handled by the committee,” Saifuddin said today.

The NFC is now being probed by the police for cheating or criminal breach of trust and will be investigated by the PAC this Wednesday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unite under Pakatan, Karpal tells anti-BN parties | Free Malaysia Today

Unite under Pakatan, Karpal tells anti-BN parties

Athi Shankar | November 19, 2011-FMT

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh urges political parties unhappy with Umno-BN to join Pakatan officially to face the 13th General Election

GEORGE TOWN: DAP national chairman Karpal Singh urged all political parties unhappy with Barisan Nasional to join Pakatan Rakyat officially to face the next general .

However, he said the parties should apply to join Pakatan without any conditions attached.

He particularly had his sights on Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Human Rights Party (HRP) and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) who he said should join Pakatan now unconditionally.

He said these parties should know that the 13th General Election presented a great chance for Malaysians to oust Umno and BN from federal power for the first time since the country achieved independence.

“They should join us unconditionally and not become spoilers. Together we can replace BN in Putrajaya,” said Karpal, the Bukit Gelugor MP.
Karpal assured that Pakatan leadership would give all unconditional applications from any party due consideration.

However, he said any conditional application, especially those demanding seats, would not be entertained because it would put all anti-BN parties in a “no win situation.”

Although PSM is Pakatan-friendly and contested in three seats under PKR ticket in the last general election, in which it won two, the party still remains outside Pakatan.

In 2008, PSM national chairman Dr Nasir Hashim won the Kota Damansara assembly seat while another leader Dr Micheal Jeyakumar won the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat.

PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvam lost in the Semenyih state seat in Selangor.

‘Socialism no longer a powerful political tool’

PSM was also involved in a three-cornered fight in the Perak state seat of Jelapang when it fielded national deputy chairperson M Saraswathy as an independent candidate against DAP’s Hee Yit Foong and BN’s Loh Koi Pin.

Hee, who won the contest, has since quit DAP to become a BN-friendly Independent.

“Socialism is no longer a powerful political tool in the country as it was in 1960s. It’s about time PSM considers its socialist position to join Pakatan officially,” said Karpal.

HRP has also stated that it would contest in certain federal and state seats against both Pakatan and BN if Pakatan refused to accept it as equal partner.

PRM recently announced that it would contest Balik Pulau federal seat in Penang and, Petaling Jaya Selatan parliamentary and Selayang state seats in Selangor in the next election.

Karpal cautioned that any multi-cornered contest in the next election would only benefit BN, hence nullifying an opportunity for Malaysians to see a new federal government.

He said PSM, HRP and PRM should gauge their strength first before making demands in joining Pakatan.

“They should join us first unconditionally and then request for seats. I’m sure the Pakatan leadership would consider their request in a fair and just manner,” said the Pakatan leader.

Malaysia ‘moderate to low’ in defence budget transparency, says anti-graft body

Malaysia ‘moderate to low’ in defence budget transparency, says anti-graft body

November 19, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — Malaysia scored “moderate to low” in the Transparency of National Defence Budgets study by Transparency International (TI) UK that was launched locally in Subang Jaya today.

The study released in October reviewed 93 countries and found Malaysia’s defence budget transparency to be on a similar level as that of Thailand, Rwanda and Afghanistan.

Director of the International Defence and Security Program Mark Pyman at TI UK said the security landscape today is fundamentally different from the time of the Cold War.

“Particularly at a time of economic crisis, governments are less ready to accept the waste that comes with corruption.

“Defence budgets, due to their secrecy, are particularly vulnerable to corrupt politicians seeking funds,” he said in the report.

Developed countries such as the UK and the US scored “high”, along with 11 others, while 20 countries including South Korea and Kenya scored “moderate to high.”

Indonesia was among the 14 countries that scored one level better than Malaysia, at “moderate”, while countries like China and Pakistan scored “low.”

The results of the research indicate that approximately 14 per cent of the countries under review in this study scored high and these are primarily developed countries with strong democratic systems in place.

Out of those countries, 21.5 per cent score moderate to high while nearly 65 per cent of countries score moderate, moderate to low, or low.

“Around the world, governments must balance the need to maintain the security of confidential information with budget transparency and accountability to their people,” the report said.

The description for countries that were ranked moderate to low was that there may be a legal framework in place that regulates defence budget management and oversight, and provides for freedom of information.

However, in practice, countries have “little willingness or capacity to enforce these laws”. It also said defence budget figures are disclosed to the public in a highly aggregated manner and on a discriminatory basis.

“Little or no practise of defence and security sector audits, or the government lacks the capacity to undertake them. Significant off-budget military expenditure,” it said.

Malaysia’s Opposition parties have continued to question defence projects which they say have cost over RM16 billion in the last three years alone.

The debate was heightened after William Bourdon, a French lawyer, was deported in July after he spoke in Penang about the controversial RM7 billion Scorpene deal.

The purchase of the two submarines from French defence company DCNS in 2002 was made when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was still defence minister and a company run by Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close aide of the then-deputy prime minister, was reported to have received commissions of over RM500 million from the deal.

In December 2009, Suaram filed a complaint with the French courts asking for access to information regarding government contracts signed with Abdul Razak’s Perimekar Sdn Bhd and other information classified as official secrets in Malaysia.

The French courts accepted the request to investigate claims of graft in the RM500 million payment from DCNS to Perimekar.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vote Pakatan Rakyat for a Better Malaysia for All

Saturday 19.11.2011

Just spoke at DAP Greentown Branch dinner. Among others who also spoke were 1) YB Cliff Tan(MP- Cheras),YB Thomas Su (ADUN -Pasir Panji) 3)YB Seah (ADUN-Pasir Perdamar) 4) YB Sum(ADUN-Bercham)

BN had always gone into past general elections with full confidence that it could not lose even the traditional two thirds parliamentary majority.

For BN, losing power in Perak was impossible.

But the 2008 general election gave BN its greatest shock. BN suffered its worst ever electoral debacle.

It was an election where Malays, Chinese and Indians decided to come together to vote for change and created the political tsunami.

The result has proven the might of people power!

But has the arrogant BN learned its lesson after the unprecedented electoral debacle?

When Dato Sri Najib took over the Prime Minister’s post, he launched his 1 Malaysia concept and slogan.

While many Malaysians still do not really understand this concept, many will expect it to be fairness to all.

But the concept and slogan remain hollow.

Vernacular schools are still not accorded fair treatment; many qualified non bumiputra students still cannot gain admission into matriculation colleges or obtain government scholarships.

Now DAP MP Tony Pua has disclosed that even Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia is not selling goods at the cheap prices as claimed!

BN has always boasted that it can bring much development.

But DAP Sarawak Chairman Sdr Wong Ho Leng has revealed that 30 percent of rural Sarawak has no electricity, 41% no water coverage and 47.8% of the state’s hardcore poor are native Ibans.

If Penang government led by Sdr Lim Guan Eng can eradicate the hard core poor issue within
a short period of 3 years, it shows that DAP and Pakatan Rakyat Boleh!

The Prime Minister has recently said that the important question for the people is to ask themselves in which political coalition they can trust.

The answer is obvious, put your trust in DAP and Pakatan Rakyat.

BN has ruled for too long and it has brought too much political darkness to this nation.

One would have thought that the natural thing for BN to do is to reform and change so as to win back the confidence, support and trust of the people.

But BN simply cannot change.

In his opening speech at the MCA national convention last year, Dato Sri Najib reminded BN component parties of the “four diseases” - delusion, amnesia, inertia and arrogance — which often hit parties that were too long in power and failed to reflect on their own weaknesses.

These were what he said:-

“Firstly, the disease of delusion comes because the party has taken for granted that the support from the people will continue.

Secondly, amnesia hits when a party has forgotten its purpose and the original objective of its struggles.

Next, the inertia disease occurs when parties refuse to implement reforms or make changes.

Finally, arrogance is born out of the attitude of refusing to accept advice from others.

All these diseases, particularly arrogance, will only result in hatred from the people and disgust in our leadership”.

Time has proven that BN simply can’t change.

BN is still inflicted with the 4 diseases.

There are too many examples but the National Feedlot Corporation controversy is a very good one. Business as usual is what the people can expect under BN rule.

I call on Malaysian who yearn for political change and a better Malaysia for all to vote Pakatan Rakyat at the next general election so as to create a stronger political tsunami that will see the end of BN rule.

Rural Sarawak still without water or electricity | Free Malaysia Today

Rural Sarawak still without water or electricity

Joseph Tawie | November 19, 2011-FMT

If Penang, which has far less resources, can eradicate poverty in its state why can't Sarawak?

KUCHING: Thirty percent of rural Sarawak has no electricity, 41% no water coverage and 47.8% of the state’s hardcore poor are native Ibans. These, according to Bukit Assek assemblyman Wong Ho Leng, are the hard facts about Sarawak.

“Under the BN, people see the SESCO’s (Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation) power grid above longhouses. But many of these longhouses do not have electricity supply.

“About 33% of rural areas in Sarawak do not have electricity coverage, compared to 0.5% in Peninsular Malaysia. This shows that the performance of BN is a disgrace.

“We have the Batang Ai hydro-dam. We also have the Bakun Dam. Yet, in many areas that I visited, particularly areas near the power grid and the dams, many longhouses do not have electricity supply.

“These areas are BN strongholds and served by Ministers. The areas that I had visited include Sri Aman, Balai Ringin, Kapit, Selangau, Tamin, Mukah, Nangka, and Bawang Assan.

“The government should not have neglected these rural folk. To deny them electricity supply is to deny them human rights. They are forced to use gen-sets. The diesel is not only costly.

“These generators have to be turned off at about 9pm. Some longhouse folk told me that their children cannot produce good exam results because their study hours are so short.

“Not only that. Many longhouses I visited do not have water supply. They depend on rain water. In fact, 41% of rural areas do not have water coverage, compared to only 10% in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

Natives are the poorest

Citing the Rajang River as an example, he said there were many longhouses along Malaysia’s longest river which do not have piped water supply. “Why is this so?” he asked.

Wong was highlighting the issue of poverty and the lack of basic necessities in the state during the debate on the state’s budget 2012.
Wong recalled that at the last sitting of the House, deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang said that there were 55,975 poor households in Sarawak.

Their incomes, he said, were less than RM830 per month per household. He said 27, 902 (49%) households were considered to be hardcore poor, earning less than RM520 per month.

The Ibans comprised 13, 349 (47.8%), Malays 5,601 (20%), Orang Ulu 2,925 (10.5%), Bidayuh 2,757 (9.8%), Melanau 1,974 (7%) and Chinese 674 (2.4%).

“We should view these figures with grave concern. The majority of the hardcore poor are the natives of Sarawak. Have a heart for these people,” Wong said.

He also asked Jabu to detail what he had done to eradicate poverty in Sarawak.

“The Deputy Chief Minister said that he had done a lot for the natives to eradicate poverty. With these figures, can we know what has he done? We don’t want hot air from Jabu,” said Wong.

Basic amenities essential

He said the Penang Pakatan Rakyat government had eradicated poverty within a year by topping up hardcore poor household’s income.
And in Selangor, the Pakatan government had also introduced welfare policies aimed at providing social assistance to the economically marginalised residents of Selangor.

“Where do we stand in Sarawak? We have more natural resources than Penang and Selangor combined. But these resources are controlled by a few political leaders of the BN.

“After 48 years of BN rule, Sarawak is the 4th poorest state in Malaysia,” he said, urging the state BN government to emulate Pakatan’s Alternative Budget.

“Under the model of the Pakatan Alternative Budget, the Poverty Line Income of the people in Sarawak shall be raised to RM1,380 for urban folk, RM1,150 for semi-urban folks and RM920 for rural folk.

“It will be a way to improve the livelihood of the poor households,” he said, pointing out that all of them have a social and moral obligation to see that all ‘anak-anak Sarawak’ are not living in poverty.

He said that to start off poverty eradication, the government must begin with provision of basic amenities like electricity and water.

“I urge the state government to be serious in poverty eradication. Don’t talk only, but walk the talk as well,” said Wong.