Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pakatan 'denied 4 seats' due to Sabah's dubious voters

Pakatan 'denied 4 seats' due to Sabah's dubious voters
 
Pakatan Rakyat could have won about four more parliamentary seats in Sabah in the recent general election if not for dubious voters on the electoral roll, said Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) secretariat director Jannie Lasimbang.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) secretariat director Jannie Lasimbang frontShe told a seminar in Kuala Lumpur today that number of dubious identity card holders in Beaufort, Tawau, Kota Marudu and Batu Sapi exceed the majority won by BN.

In Beaufort for example, she said there are around 1,061 alleged dubious IC holders but the BN's majority there was 673. In Tawau, there are 7,472 such IC holders compared to the 4,947-vote majority.

She said this is based on the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project's (Merap) analysis of Sabah and Sarawak National Registration Department (NRD) identity card division assistant chief Ruslan Alias' testimony at the Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), who had produced a list of such identity card holders to the commission.

"The analysis shows that there should be three, possibly four, that could have been won, based on the assumption who were put there (on the list) were not really there," said Lasimbang, who is former Suhakam commissioner.
‘59 election complaints received’

Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam (below) told the same seminar the commission has received 59 complaints of electoral irregularities, of which the majority (22 complaints) are related to the indelible ink.

Another 12 complaints are regarding voters being issued pencils instead of pens to mark their ballot papers.

NONEIn addition, James said Suhakam has done its own research on media coverage of the elections and found it disappointing, with Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and New Straits Times focussing on BN, while The Star focussed its coverage on MCA.

Meanwhile, he said, Sinar Harian, Sinchew Daily Nanyang Siang Pau and the online media carried reports from the BN, Pakatan Rakyat, and independent candidates.

In terms of advertisements, he said almost all of the print media carried many BN advertisements and little or no Pakatan advertisements.

NONEHe said while Suhakam pursues answers from the Election Commission (EC), it wants to address the deficiencies in the media as well.

“We are not satisfied (with getting answers from the EC alone) because what is bothering us is the media.

“Why should the media be let off so easily while people are being charged with sedition and so on?” he said.

Therefore, he said Suhakam will hold a roundtable discussion with media agencies on the issue.

Speaking to reporters after the seminar, he said the discussion will most likely be held after the upcoming fasting month, and the commission will invite editors from all media agencies in addition to the NGO Centre for Independent Journalism.

He hopes that the roundtable discussion could hammer out guidelines for professional journalism.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat will go all out to fight against BN’s acts of political vengeance.




Speech by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at DAP Teluk Intan Dinner on Saturday, June 29, 2013

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat will go all out to fight against BN’s acts of political vengeance.






When the Election Commission announced that the BN had secured a simple majority in the 13 th General Elections, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the BN government will embark on national reconciliation efforts to unite the people who are seemed divided as reflected in the voters “polarisation trend” in elections.

He said that the move would be discussed by BN leaders as a way forward for more moderate and accommodative policies for the country and to reject politics of extremism, racism and religious extremism.

However, what we soon witness after the May 5 poll results was the surfacing of race baiting remarks and Chinese bashing speeches and articles.

Umno mouth piece Utusan Malaysia especially has been leading the nonstop attacks.

What is sad and most disappointing is that the Prime Minister has chosen to remain silent when such attacks are clearly against his call for national reconciliation.

This raises doubt as to how committed he is to national reconciliation.

In fact, Najib himself has to take the major blame for such Chinese bashing due to his using of the term Chinese Tsunami when explaining BN’s dismal electoral performance.

Such term has certainly influenced and caused a lot of Chinese bashing remarks and articles by extremists.

It is certainly not true BN had suffered because of Chinese tsunami. What caused BN to win only 47 % of the popular votes in the election was a Malaysian, urban, semi urban and youth tsunami.  
The recent decision by Melaka government on Jonker Walk is certainly and clearly an act of political vengeance emboldened by Najib’s Chinese Tsunami term.

Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron has given traffic congestion as a reason why there will not be road closure at Jonker Walk, but his real motive was revealed by his very first public comments where he admitted that MCA’s electoral defeat in the state prompted the closure of Jonker Walk.

Such political vengeance cannot be accepted and has gone against Prime Minister’s announcement that there is a need for national reconciliation.  

Tourism Minister Datuk Nazri has rightly reminded Melaka Chief Minister that Jonker Walk is a walk and not a Jonker Drive and that there must be continued road closure.

Nazri said that he hoped that Jonker Walk can continue after the 4 weeks trial period announced by Melaka Chief Minister.

When asked to comment on threats to blockade the road if the government persists on reopening it to traffic, Nazri noted that legal action would be taken against those who do so.

“I promise you, if they break the law, I will ensure that I will speak to the police: arrest them. It is not our way,” he said.

I wish to ask Nazri to answer three questions:-
1.     If people should not break the law, why should the government break the people’s rice bowls?
2.     If he disagrees with Melaka state government’s decision to reopen Jonker Walk to traffic, why does he not get the Prime Minister or Cabinet to stop Melaka’s decision?
3.     Why allow 4 weeks trial that can affect hawkers’ livelihood and affect Melaka tourism income?

Melaka state government’s decision on Jonker Walk is purely and clearly an act of political vengeance.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat will go all out to fight against BN’s acts of political vengeance.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
After speaking  at the DAP dinner, I proceeded to speak at a PAS ceramah held in Teluk Intan. I touche don two key issues , namely the indelible ink and the post general election Chinese bashing by extremists.

I had said that  the indelible ink issue was enough for the Election Commission heads to tender their resignations.

















Saturday, June 29, 2013

MCCBCHST’S FULL STATEMENT On June 28, 2013

MCCBCHST’S FULL STATEMENT On June 28, 2013 

The Malaysian Consuttative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vehemently objects to some  provisions  found in the RANG UNDANGUNDANG PENTADBIRAN  AGAMA  ISLAM (WILAYAH-WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN) 2013 tabled in Parliament  for its first reading on 26 June 2013 as they affect the Non-Muslims.

The Bill under disguise of lslamic Laws is unilaterally trying to alter the Federal Constitution by translating  the word "parent" in the Federal  Constitution to mean "lbu atau Bapa" as opposed  to "lbubapa".

Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice  to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage - Section 107 (b) "jika dia belum mencapai  umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya  mengizinkan  pemelukan agama  lslam olehnya"

This provision  would further  creates social injustice and is contrary to the constitutional scheme of things.

Cabinet held responsible
We hold the Federal Cabinet accountable for this transgression, that is, in spite of the Cabinet decision of 2314/2013 whereby it was decided that a single parent cannot convert a minor child of the marriage.
Despite that public statement, the Cabinet deem it fit to introduce the above provision in D.R. 112013.|t appears  that the Cabinet promise  and undertaking  on this issue was not sincere.

The MCCBCHST wishes to reiterate that any unilateral conversion of their children by one parent encroaches into the lives of Non-Muslims. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong.

We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you.

Absurd and against the spirit & letter of the Federal Constitution
We must warn that if "Parent"  in Article 12(a) is to be interpreted  to mean "single" parent",  it will go against the spirit and letter of Article 4 of the Federal Constitution  - the Supreme Law of the land.
lf this lnterpretation is advanced,  then there is nothing  to stop the other  single parent to convert  back the child to the Original religion.  No religious law can over-ride the constitution.

This would  produce  an absurd result and therefore  this could  not be meaning intended.

Reliance on the case of SUBASHINI (2008), may not be in order as the case appears to be wrongly decided due to the following:-

i) The Court did not apply the Statutory Interpretation clause. Art. 160(1) (Eleventh Schedule) under which "words importing the masculine gender include female" and "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular.

ii) The guardianship of Infants Act, 1961 which provides for equality of parental rights.
iii) lf single "parent"  can convert,  then it would lead to an absurd result, as the nonconverting spouse can similarly by virtue of being a single parent convert back her child to the original faith.

Syariah and not civil court to decide if a person is Muslim or not

We understand  that the Bill also provides for Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is a Muslim or not. See Section 51(3Xb)  (x) and (xi).

This power has always been with the Civil High Court and not the Syariah Court.
The amendment  thus proposed  is unconstitutional.

The MCCBCHST, therefore calls upon the Cabinet to withdraw the above Bill, until its provisions have been thoroughly debated by all the stake holders.

Any bull dozing through of the Bill will not be accepted and would also be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy peacefully through other legal channels locally and internationally. - June 28, 2013.

- MCCBCHST

Bishop says bill on minors' conversion a litmus test

Bishop says bill on minors' conversion a litmus test
 
Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing described the proposed amendments to the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) on the conversion of minors as a "flagrant violation of the equality of persons' provisions of the federal constitution".

The amendments, tabled in Parliament earlier this week, by dint of the use of the word 'parent' instead of 'parents', makes it legal for a father or a mother, or guardian, to convert children below the age of 18 to a religion of proprietary choice.

NONEBishop Paul Tan wondered if there was not an element of diabolism in the intent of the framers of the amendment who he said knew that the word 'parent' can also be construed as a collective noun like 'crowd', and hence, when push comes to shove, they could limit its meaning to one of the two progenitors - father or mother - or a guardian.

"This shows the mala fide of the framers of the amendments," he argued.

"I understand this amendment contravenes a decision by the cabinet announced on April 23, 2009 that a single parent cannot convert a minor," said the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese.

"If so, this would not be the first time that the cabinet is overridden by civil service functionaries - the main drivers of creeping Islamisation in this country," charged the Jesuit-trained prelate.

"Truly, it does not come as a surprise to me that a cabinet undertaking on a matter of this importance has been shown to be not worth the vapor it takes to avow it," expatiated the bishop.

Commitment to gender equality


"What would come as a surprise is the way the vote would go in Parliament because there are legislators in the House who have signed on to gender equality in their election manifestoes," he reminded.

"The proposed amendment clearly violates this commitment to gender equality so that the way those signatories vote on this bill would be a test of whether they will match deed to word. Failure to do so would expose them for the imposters they are," warned the bishop.

He also noted that the proposed amendments provide for the Syariah High Court to determine whether a person is a Muslim or not.

"This power to determine whether a person is Muslim or not has always resided with the civil High Court so that the proposed shifting of this onus on to an Islamic jurisdiction is further evidence of not just creeping, but galloping Islamisation which is a matter of the gravest concern to non-Muslims," he argued.

Bishop Paul Tan warned that the vote on the bill will be a litmus test of the fidelity to the Federal Constitution of legislators elected to Malaysia's 13th Parliament.

"I fully support the Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism and the Christian Federation of Malaysian in their opposition to this bill," he said.

Going bonkers over Jonker Walk

Going bonkers over Jonker Walk
 
QUESTION TIME The closing down of the Jonker Walk night market in Malacca’s Chinatown is yet another reflection and manifestation of the hard stand that some people within Umno are taking against the so-called ‘Chinese tsunami’ in the last general election.

While common sense may have prevailed to stop this totally short-sighted move by the new chief minister of Malacca, who is now vigorously backpedalling after his earlier outbursts and his highly irrational justification of the closure, that something like this can happen is a major cause for concern.

Various quarters - and especially Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia - have systematically attempted to fan Malay hatred against the Chinese by perpetrating half-truths, portraying the swing of Chinese votes away from BN as a plot by the community to take over political power.

Although such an assertion cannot be true simply because Chinese voters only form some 28 percent of the total, and the opposition which also has Malay-based parties such as PKR and PAS for whom the Chinese voted, no major Umno leader has come out to openly condemn such blatantly racist and possibly seditious remarks aimed at inciting racial tensions.

NONEThis has resulted in more so-called Malay champions such as the Malacca chief minister coming forward to do what they, in their myopic view, see as their duty to punish those who voted against the BN, and especially the Chinese.

While Malacca Chief Minister Idris Haron (right) now denies that there was an element of punishment in the move to close the Jonker Walk night market and insists that traffic alleviation was the purpose, that was not what he maintained at first.

Malaysiakini reported that according to Kwong Wah Daily, Idris had argued that the decision passed by the Malacca executive council on June 12 to close the night market - which has been attracting tourists for 13 years - "follows the intention of the people".

Idris reminded that it was DAP that protested against the state government's decision to cordon off Jonker Walk from road users to make way for the night market, when the idea was first mooted.

That time, he said, DAP slammed the state government for sacrificing the interests of road users to benefit only some 200 hawkers.

'We hope they will be happy'
"Now, we see most of the Malacca residents fully supporting DAP over MCA candidates who have been serving them. Hence, we decided to cancel the night market and we hope they will be happy," the daily quotes Idris as saying.

He admitted that MCA's electoral defeat in the state prompted the closure of Jonker Walk. Incredibly, he added that he was not worried about the impact of the closure as there were other tourist destinations in Malacca.

NONEHowever, Idris backtracked when Tourism Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (left) denied that the Jonker Walk night market has been closed down in order to punish Chinese hawkers who did not support MCA and the government in the May 5 general election.

In the meantime, the prime minister weighed in by saying that he will discuss the closure of Jonker Walk with the state government, putting further pressure on Idris. Perhaps the hitherto little-known Idris might take comfort in the fact that he is now the centre of attention and that he might be regarded among Umno hardliners as a sort of hero.

If he intends to go for a position in the Umno polls later this year, the entire silly episode may give him some standing. Aspiring, upcoming politicians know only too well that taking a hard stance is one of the quickest ways of getting recognised. Loss of credibility is probably more than compensated for by name recognition.

What is amazing about this entire event is that a chief minister can go to the extent of deliberately closing down Jonker Walk, affect the livelihood of perhaps up to 200 stall and shop owners, and even adversly affect the tourism industry, which is a mainstay of Malacca’s economy.

NONEIf so many tourists are coming to Malacca and causing traffic jams in and around Malacca because of Jonker Walk and its attractions, surely the solution must lie in easing the traffic congestion rather than killing the golden goose.

Those who come to Jonker Street surely will also go to other parts of Malacca and partake of its other offerings. It stands to reason that everyone - not just Jonker Street traders whatever race they may be - will benefit if more people come to the street.

But the ultimate result of hate-mongering is that the nose is cut to spite the entire face. Let’s stop these kinds of incidents in their tracks, focus on what is best for everyone, and let reason and common sense prevail.

Unfortunately, this is something we seem to be finding increasingly harder to do in the wake of the general election.

P GUNASEGARAM is founding editor of KiniBiz.

Custodial deaths: A tale of indecision and indifference

Custodial deaths: A tale of indecision and indifference
 
COMMENT I take as my starting point May 2005, and the release of the Report of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police (Report).

This Report noted that between January 2000 and December 2004 there had been 80 deaths in custody. Inquests were held into only six of these deaths. The most recent statistic, as disclosed to Parliament on June 26, 2013, is that from 2000 to mid-2013 there had been 231 cases of deaths in custody.

NONEThe Report contained a recommendation to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). A complete draft bill was included as an appendix to the Report. All that the government needed to do was to table this in Parliament. It did not.

Instead, the government disagreed with the proposal. It was debated and discussed, and the government dithered for some two-and-a-half years.

According to the non-governmental organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia or Suaram, 28 people died in police custody between May 2005 and December 2007.

Eventually, in December 2007, the government introduced legislation in the Dewan Rakyat to establish a Special Complaints Commission in place of the IPCMC - on which there was an uproar of sorts.

Complaints were levied that the proposed legislation was being rushed through without proper or sufficient consultation. The government relented and agreed to defer the matter to the next sitting of Parliament, in March 2008.

Of course Parliament did not sit in March 2008, given the 12th general election, with the Barisan Nasional government losing heavily.

The then-prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made it known on March 27, 2008, that an IPCMC Bill had been ready to be presented to the cabinet before being tabled in Parliament, but this was deferred because of GE12. But Abdullah was on his way out, and thus a lame-duck prime minister.

So, matters had to await a change in the leadership of the government, which occurred on April 3, 2009.

The government under new Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak finally introduced legislation in the form of the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) Bill, which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on July 1, 2009, and by the Dewan Negara on July 30, 2009.

The EAIC Act 2009 received Royal Assent on Aug 19, 2009, and was gazetted on Sept 3, 2009.

According to Suaram, in the almost two years between December 2007 and September 2009, eight people died in police custody.

Notwithstanding its gazetting on Sept3, 2009, it would be some time before the EAIC took effect. Time was needed to set up the EAIC, to find staff, appoint commissioners. This took 19 months and the EAIC finally commenced operations on April 1, 2011.

According to Suaram, in the 19 months from September 2009 to March 2011, eight people died in police custody.

Again according to Suaram, a further 19 people died in police custody between April 1, 2011 and May 20, 2013.
Some of the major EAIC shortcomings

I chose May 20, 2013, because the EAIC Convention 2013 was held on that day. During the convention, the former chief justice of the Federal Court of Malaysia, Abdul Hamid Mohamad, delivered a detailed critique of the shortcomings of the EAIC.

In particular, Abdul Hamid highlighted the following:
  • Between April 2011 and the end of 2012, the EAIC received 347 complaints;
  • 110 (31.7 percent) were rejected;
  • Nine (2.5 percent) were referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission ("MACC");
  • 15 (4.3 percent) were referred to the various appropriate disciplinary authorities;
  • Four (1.1 percent) were referred to the appropriate disciplinary authority and the MACC;
  • 60 (17.2 percent) were directed for full investigation; and
  • 149 (42.9 percent) required further preliminary investigation.
Under Section 17 of the EAIC Act, full investigations are to be conducted by a Task Force. Abdul Hamid disclosed that no such Task Force had been formed.

Instead, investigations were conducted by EAIC investigators. Only three out of those 60 cases had been fully investigated, resulting in one case being referred to the disciplinary authority of the Royal Malaysian Police and the other two closed because the disciplinary authorities in both those cases had already meted out punishments.

Abdul Hamid questioned how long it would take the EAIC to complete the 57 cases that were directed for full investigation and the 149 that were referred for further preliminary investigations.

He also questioned the speed with which the various disciplinary authorities completed their own investigations into complaints referred to them by the EAIC and compliance with the time-frame to communicate their findings back to the EAIC.

In none of the cases of referred complaints did any of the disciplinary authorities communicate back to the EAIC within the prescribed two-month period: the norm was six months.

NONEOn June 5, 2013, EAIC chief executive officer Nor Afizah Hanum Mokhtar (left) provided updated statistics that appear not to show any improvement. Nor Afizah said between April 1, 2011 and May 31, 2013, the EAIC had received 469 complaints. Of these, 353 (75.27 percent) were against the police.

Investigations were opened into 124 out of these 469 complaints, but only one resulted in a recommendation of disciplinary action against a member of the police force. This would appear to be that same one case cited by Abdul Hamid.

In other words, none of the new cases of complaints against the police, from January to May 2013, has resulted in any recommendation of disciplinary action against a member of the police force.

Yet, according to Suaram, eight people died in police custody from January to May 2013, six if we exclude N Dhamendran and Jamesh Ramesh, for which a decision to create a Task Force to investigate was announced in May 2013.

Nor Afizah Hanum was quoted by The Malaysian Insider as saying, "We are looking at how we can investigate deaths in police custody... even though nobody has filed complaints." She went on to say, "We want to investigate cases of public interest, even when we do not receive complaints."

Section 28 of the EAIC Act 2009 states:

"Without prejudice to Section 27, the Commission may commence an investigation in respect of a misconduct it becomes aware of on its own initiative, only if the Commission is satisfied that the matter is of significant interest to the public or that it is in the public interest to do so."

This is not a new provision of the EAIC Act 2009. It has been there right from the very beginning. Given this power to commence an investigation even in the absence of any complaint, it begs the question, why only in June 2013 was she saying this?

Was it only because of the publicity that arose from the three deaths in custody that occurred between May 21, 2013 and June 5, 2013? What about the 20 deaths in custody from April 1, 2011 to May 20, 2013? Were none of these deaths of significant interest to the public?

So, how many more have to die in custody?


One of these cases was that of C Sugumaran, the circumstances of whose death on Jan 23, 2013 widely reported in the local media. Did the EAIC not feel that this was a suitable case to exercise its powers under Section 28 of the EAIC Act 2009, or that it was in the public interest to do so?

How many people have to die in police custody before the EAIC becomes satisfied that the matter of deaths in custody is of significant interest to the public? How many people have to die in police custody before the EAIC thinks it is in the public interest to do so?

We enter the realm of speculation, but how many lives might possibly have been saved had the EAIC got its act together much earlier, and launched an investigation into this matter much earlier? One can only guess.

The establishment of a task force to investigate two of the latest deaths in custody comes as too little, and certainly too late, for those who have died. Because of the dithering, indecision and indifference of the government and, to a certain extent, the EAIC commissioners, people die.

In the 27 months that the EAIC has been in operation, from April 2011 to June 2013, 23 people have died in police custody. All the EAIC commissioners must bear the moral responsibility for not having stepped in much earlier to address this issue.

NONEDeath in custody is not a recent phenomenon. Remember what the Report had already noted more than eight years ago, when it was 80 deaths in custody. Now it is 231 custodial deaths. When will this stop?

A new test has now arisen for the EAIC: what to do with the new inspector-general of police (IGP), Khalid Abu Bakar? High Court judge VT Singham (left) in his judgment delivered on June 26, 2013 in respect of the civil suit brought by the family of the late A. Kugan, who died in police custody on Jan 16, 2009, concluded that the police had attempted to cover up the real reason for Kugan's death.

Justice Singham dismissed claims by Khalid, who was then chief police officer of Selangor, that there was no cover-up. He raised doubts about the veracity of statements made at that time by on the cause of Kugan's death, and questioned why Khalid had not initiated a detailed investigation into the matter.

The learned judge found Khalid liable for misfeasance of public office.

Indeed, this practice of announcing a misleading cause of death is not limited to the IGP. In the case of the death in custody of N Dhamendran recently, Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department head SAC Ku Chin Wah gave a press conference declaring that Dhamendran had complained of chest pains and had died of breathing difficulties.

This was in spite of clear evidence that Dhamendran had been brutally killed. Even his ears had been stapled, and there were puncture wounds on his ankles.

Will the EAIC now launch another task force to look into the possible misconduct of Khalid? Or the patently erroneous reason given by Ku? Or are these matters not of significant interest to the public?

Is launching an investigation into the conduct of the IGP not in the public interest to do? The words of the judgment of Justice Singham, said in respect of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, apply in equal measure to the EAIC:

"As soon as the crime is reported or comes to the public knowledge, the highest authority of police must act promptly and must ensure investigation is conducted with promptitude by an independent investigation agency or at least an inquest is held or recommended."

If the government is adamant that the EAIC is a good or better alternative than the IPCMC, then the time really has come for all the EAIC commissioners to show that they have the independence and integrity to investigate the IGP.

If they do not do so, then all that the government has said in defence of the EAIC will count for naught, all the EAIC commissioners should resign, and the IPCMC should be immediately established.

The ball is now squarely in the court of the EAIC to act decisively. The inescapable conclusion must be that it is of significant interest to the public that the EAIC does so.



ANDREW KHOO is co-chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council Malaysia. He writes here in his personal capacity.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Parent(s) at the heart of dispute over child’s religion

Parent(s) at the heart of dispute over child’s religion

By Rita Jong
June 28, 2013
Malaysian Insider 
 
The tussle is over just one word – shall it be “parents” or “parent”?

The government wants it to be good enough for just one parent to decide for a minor to convert religion and tabled the bill for this on Wednesday.

But religious groups and civil society leaders have slammed this move as unconstitutional.
They want the key word in the law to remain “parents” so that both parents of a minor must agree to any conversion of religion.
The bill in question is the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Bill 2013.

Two groups that have raised major concerns are the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) and the Bar Council.

The proposed bill would affect non-Muslims and they also see it as a turnabout of sorts.

They point out that just four years ago, then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the government will ban the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

He said this in response to high-profile cases of children being converted to Islam while one parent objected.

The religious group said in a statement to the media: "It appears that the Cabinet's promise and undertaking on this issue was not sincere."

It added: "If 'parent' is interpreted to mean 'single parent', it will be against the Federal Constitution."
The Bar Council too raised a similar point. In a statement, it said:  "Any legislation that is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution that provides that the consent of only one parent is sufficient for the conversion of a minor to any religion would therefore be unconstitutional."

Bar Council president Christopher Leong urged the government to bring the new law into line with the Federal Constitution.

Leong noted that the under the Constitution, when both parents are alive, both must decide on the conversion of their child who is a minor.

Only when it is just one parent that is alive, can one parent decide on such a conversion.

The religious group went further than the Bar Council and called for the bill – which lets the Syariah High Court decide whether a person is a Muslim – to be withdrawn until it has been thoroughly debated by all stakeholders.

It said:  “Bulldozing through this bill is unacceptable and would be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy through other legal channels locally and internationally."

MCCBCHST’S FULL STATEMENT IS AS FOLLOWS: 

The Malaysian Consuttative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vehemently objects to some  provisions  found in the RANG UNDANGUNDANG PENTADBIRAN  AGAMA  ISLAM (WILAYAH-WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN) 2013 tabled in Parliament  for its first reading on 26 June 2013 as they affect the Non-Muslims.

The Bill under disguise of lslamic Laws is unilaterally trying to alter the Federal Constitution by translating  the word "parent" in the Federal  Constitution to mean "lbu atau Bapa" as opposed  to "lbubapa".

Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice  to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage - Section 107 (b) "jika dia belum mencapai  umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya  mengizinkan  pemelukan agama  lslam olehnya"

This provision  would further  creates social injustice and is contrary to the constitutional scheme of things.

Cabinet held responsible
We hold the Federal Cabinet accountable for this transgression, that is, in spite of the Cabinet decision of 2314/2013 whereby it was decided that a single parent cannot convert a minor child of the marriage.
Despite that public statement, the Cabinet deem it fit to introduce the above provision in D.R. 112013.|t appears  that the Cabinet promise  and undertaking  on this issue was not sincere.

The MCCBCHST wishes to reiterate that any unilateral conversion of their children by one parent encroaches into the lives of Non-Muslims. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong.

We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you.

Absurd and against the spirit & letter of the Federal Constitution
We must warn that if "Parent"  in Article 12(a) is to be interpreted  to mean "single" parent",  it will go against the spirit and letter of Article 4 of the Federal Constitution  - the Supreme Law of the land.
lf this lnterpretation is advanced,  then there is nothing  to stop the other  single parent to convert  back the child to the Original religion.  No religious law can over-ride the constitution.

This would  produce  an absurd result and therefore  this could  not be meaning intended.
Reliance on the case of SUBASHINI (2008), may not be in order as the case appears to be wrongly decided due to the following:-

i) The Court did not apply the Statutory Interpretation clause. Art. 160(1) (Eleventh Schedule) under which "words importing the masculine gender include female" and "words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular.

ii) The guardianship of Infants Act, 1961 which provides for equality of parental rights.

iii) lf single "parent"  can convert,  then it would lead to an absurd result, as the nonconverting spouse can similarly by virtue of being a single parent convert back her child to the original faith.

Syariah and not civil court to decide if a person is Muslim or not

We understand  that the Bill also provides for Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is a Muslim or not. See Section 51(3Xb)  (x) and (xi).

This power has always been with the Civil High Court and not the Syariah Court.
The amendment  thus proposed  is unconstitutional.

The MCCBCHST, therefore calls upon the Cabinet to withdraw the above Bill, until its provisions have been thoroughly debated by all the stake holders.

Any bull dozing through of the Bill will not be accepted and would also be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy peacefully through other legal channels locally and internationally. - June 28, 2013.

- MCCBCHST

IGP must give full account of all custodial deaths

IGP must give full account of all custodial deaths
 
MP SPEAKS Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar can only regain public confidence that he is not complicit in the many deaths in police hands by coming clean and giving a full accounting of the custodial deaths of A Kugan and 230 others from 2000 until May 2013.

NONEOr else, Khalid should honourably resign as head of the Royal Malaysian Police Force.

In a historic judgment on Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled in a civil suit that Khalid was responsible for the death of detainee Kugan, who was physically tortured during interrogation by police four years ago.

High Court judge VT Singham, in allowing the negligence suit filed by Kugan's mother, said the injuries Kugan suffered could not have been done by one officer and that the senior officers could not plead ignorance.

The judge also reprimanded Khalid for trying to cover-up and suppress the truth to escape liability for Kugan's death in January 2009.

Can Malaysia afford to have an IGP to uphold the law when he has been ruled by the High Court as suppressing the truth, trying to cover up, being negligent and responsible for a custodial death?

Singham awarded Kugan's mother, Indra Nallathamby, RM 851,700 as damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, misfeasance, and pain and suffering suffered by Kugan.
Zahid Hamidi remains in denial mode
NONEDespite court rulings such as this, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi continues to deny in Parliament that police brutality is the main cause of deaths in custody.

Zahid said that 166 deaths in custody were due to illnesses, such as HIV, asthma, heart attack and others; 29 committed suicide, two died in fights among inmates while two detainees slipped and injured themselves in the lock-up before succumbing to their injuries.

Of those who had died in custody, 97 were Malays, followed by Indians (51), Chinese (49), foreigners (25) and other races (9).

Following the historic court victory of Indra (above), Zahid's claims that police brutality is not involved sounds completely hollow and ridiculous.

azlanZahid should take heed of the High Court's recommendation for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

This because the BN government's choice, the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), has simply not been effective in preventing abuses of power and custodial deaths.

The EAIC can only make recommendations to the disciplinary authority of the relevant enforcement agency upon completion of its investigations.

The IPCMC would be able to prosecute and punish police personnel who abuse their powers. Or else, how many more must die before the IPCMC can be set up?

LIM GUAN ENG is the MP for Bagan, as well as the chief minister of Penang and DAP secretary-general.

The return of EO? No way, says Suhakam

The return of EO? No way, says Suhakam
8:37AM Jun 28, 2013  
Suhakam has expressed reservation against suggestions to reinstate the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance 1969 or the enactment of a similar law as an instrument for preventive detention.

In a statement yesterday, Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam (below) said while the Human Rights Commission recognises the need to preserve social order, the reinstatement of the Emergency Ordinance was retrogressive.

NONEHe explained that the law allowed for detention without trial and was against Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution and Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

"The increase in crime rates occurs in many other countries and is not unique to Malaysia. This, however, does not justify the use of retrogressive measures which would only move the country backwards in terms of its human rights record," he said.

Hasmy, a former representative to the United Nations, said Suhakam was of the view that existing laws, which requires a fair trial, were sufficient in handling crime.

"Suhakam also sees the need for the authority to enhance the effectiveness of its crime investigation, prevention and monitoring mechanism, as well as rehabilitation programme for former detainees," he said.

Check and balance

Hasmy was responding to an ongoing debate in some newspapers on whether the Emergency Ordinance be reinstated, or a similar law created, to address claims that many former EO detainees are returning to a life of crime.

what is eo emergency ordinance 050307Among others, the claim was made by the police and supported by a Universiti Sains Malaysia research team, led by associate professor P Sundramoorthy.

In a letter to The Sun, Sundramoorthy had proposed that a preventive law similar to the EO, with a stringent check and balance system which cannot be abused, be formulated.

"This law is not meant to be a shortcut for investigating criminal cases. It is meant to keep away violent gang members, recidivists and organised crime members who are adept at beating the criminal justice system," he wrote.

The Emergency Ordinance was repealed last year by the Najib administration as part of a reform effort, resulting in the release of some 2,000 detainees.
Although the move was hailed by human rights activists, there were suggestions it had contributed to an increase in crime, such as the recent spate of robberies at eateries in the Klang Valley.

Related story

EO repeal may have led to crime spike, says Pemandu

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Education Ministry must be transparent on the issue of Matriculation intake of Indian students.

Today's parliamentary question no 1 was on the Education Ministry. The Deputy Prime Minister ( DPM) himself came to Parliament to reply. The deputy Education Ministers were also in Parliament.

The Government had promised to increase the allocation of seats for Indian students to pursue matriculation from 506 to 1506. The Prime Minister  had announced this "special increase"early last year to garner votes from the Indian community. But the promises were not kept.

Late last year only 800 students were given places in Matriculation for the Indian community. Thus I asked DPM not only to announce policies but  must also honour it. Don't cheat the Indian community. Is this too much?

The reply by DPM is in my statement below.

After the DPM's reply thereafter interestingly the Speaker threatened to throw me out if I continue to make these allegations of untruth etc. I retorted if the Government is giving wrong statistics , I have to speak out.

I will speak out without fear and favor as an elected rep.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Media statement by M. Kula Segaran , DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Parliament on 27th June 2013

Education Ministry must be transparent on the issue of Matriculation intake of Indian students.

I posed a supplementary question today in Parliament to ask the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin why the promise of offering 1500 matriculation seats for Indian students remains unfulfilled.

I further mentioned that HINDRAF’s Waythamoorthy while signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PM Najib just before the 2013 elections had secured 7.5% of the total intake to matriculation which works out to 2200 students.

The Indian community has been for years taken for a ride by BN as the promises have not been kept. Many students who have obtained good results, some with 8 or 9 A’s, have not secured a place to study matriculation. 

The vast majority of Indian students come from the lower income group. Although they do well academically, due to financial constraints, they are unable to further their studies. So continuing at the matriculation is a way out.

Every day, especially in the Tamil papers, we can read reports that very qualified students are denied pursue matriculations studies. Even in today's Star, we see a Chinese student who got 12 A's failed to enter matriculation.

Statement made by Deputy Minister of Education P Kamalanathan just a week ago created confusion when he had said:-
1.      For 1st intake,  1500 places offered, taken up by 892 students
2.      For 2nd intake,  350 places offered, no information on how many taken up.
3.       
If 1st intake taken up by 892 students, then why were 608 not taken and offered immediately?

Why offer another 350 in 2nd intake when the 1st intake places not fulfilled?

Hence, there is false public impression that a total of 1850 seats were offered!

A. Tiruvendgamalam from the NGO had led students to Prime Minister’s department and submitted a memorandum complaining about the intake issue.

All concerned about the intake to matriculation question the actual numbers taken for matriculation.

I am now shocked and dumbfounded when the Deputy Prime Minister states that the present intake is 1800. He further said the qualification to enter matriculation has been reduced.

All theses sound great and nice. But the reality is many eligible and qualified Indian students have failed to secure a place in matriculation. Why?

Education Ministry must disclose the details of those who have been admitted to further their matriculation studies. The reluctance and failure to disclose the names of successful students further strengthens our argument that the total of 1800 students accepted is not true.

We demand transparency from the Education Ministry.