Monday, September 30, 2013

Our small dreams, our great vision - Liew Chin Tong

Our small dreams, our great vision - Liew Chin Tong

September 30, 2013
Malaysian Insider

From March 8, 2008 until May 5, 2013, we were consumed by a single, overarching goal – to win Putrajaya. After the 13th general election (GE13), the political future has been thrown wide open.

We are determined to take the path of reform, no matter how challenging. Our immediate focus is to realise many of our small dreams, as stepping stones towards the fulfilment of our larger aspirations.
Post GE-13, Umno has been putting the wrong foot forward, moving further and further away from moderate, centrist politics.

In the 14 years in between Mahathir’s February 1991 announcement of Vision 2020 until Hishammuddin’s July 2005 keris-waving incident, Umno enjoyed full non-Malay support.

In the eight years following the keris-waving incident, Umno’s increasingly extremist rhetoric has lost it support from Chinese, Indians, non-Muslim East Malaysians and Christians. Worsening corruption and economic policies that favoured cronies has cost Umno urban Malay support.

If Umno continues to pander to extremism and Pakatan Rakyat’s three parties remain on the middle path, the future political landscape will not stray much from that of 2008 and 2013.

Here’s what would hasten Barisan Nasional’s demise – a sliding domestic economy due to international factors and lack of reforms, plummeting commodity prices including palm oil, and worsening corruption.

However, it is not impossible for Umno to do a complete U-turn. Here’s what could possibly change BN’s fortunes: if Umno were to turn itself around to appear moderate like it did in 1991 by unveiling Vision 2020; if Umno makes efforts to clean up corruption and deal seriously with the problem of the poverty gap.

As for the other parties within the BN coalition, they play a peripheral role hardly worth discussing.
On the other hand, the challenge for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is whether or not it can continue to remain in centrist ground.

The challenge for PKR’s leadership is whether it can bring about transformation from the ex-Umno generation to the reformasi generation, to create a new political model and to win the trust of the people.

The current challenge for PAS resembles DAP’s situation when it left the 2001 Barisan Alternatif pact. At that time, DAP thought that BN/MCA’s successful propaganda against DAP and PAS’ insistence on Islamic state had eroded DAP’s ground.

In a reverse way, some in PAS feel that Umno and Utusan’s tirade against DAP had eroded PAS’ ground now.

Whether or not PAS can remain as a moderate centrist party is crucially tied to the November party elections.

Here are DAP’s two biggest challenges: first, how to overcome the limitations of race-based politics and open a new political discourse which is acceptable to Malays and East Malaysians.

Second, continue to use PR-ruled states and the performance of our reps to convince the people that we are a forward-thinking, aspirational political party, a viable government-in-waiting.

Regardless of the situation, the lesson from the 2013 elections is this: no matter how BN throws money at voters and exerts pressure on them, Malaysia has changed since 2008.

We have now become a 50-50 society. The government and the opposition are now evenly matched and any election will be closely contested.

One seldom mentioned lesson that PR learnt from 2013 is, state-level politics is more important in the equation than we had previously fathomed.

Especially within the context of Malay politics, state-level politics plays the most important role. PR failed miserably in Kedah, but in neighbouring Penang, our Malay votes increased marginally. PAS doubled its seats in the Selangor State Assembly, and improved its performance in Terengganu.

Simply put, this is the scenario that lies before us: our opponent may move to the centre, and PR may fail to guard the middle ground. However, our society has evolved to the point that the government and opposition are close rivals in terms of strength. In addition, the role of state-level politics is of increasing importance.

In the past five years, we stretched ourselves for one single goal – to win Putrajaya. Moving forward, we need to work on many of our small dreams. These small dreams are really pieces of our larger aspirations and vision, particularly the aspect of community-building.

Although winning federal government remains our biggest aim, but we also need to focus on building up local, state-level, and even city-level politics, economics, and communities. More thought and preparation needs to be put into this aspect.

As long we remain on track with our larger direction, fulfilling our small dreams is the best response and preparation we can have to deal with the current maelstrom – perhaps the chaos before the creation of something greater? – September 30, 2013.

* Liew Chin Tong is the DAP Member of Parliament for Kluang, Johor.

Lawyers question criteria for promoting judges

Lawyers question criteria for promoting judges

Malaysian Insider
September 30, 2013

Bar Council president Christopher Leong says the Bar's views on the latest promotions were not sought. – The Malaysian Insider pic, September 30, 2013.Bar Council president Christopher Leong says the Bar's views on the latest promotions were not sought. – The Malaysian Insider pic, September 30, 2013.Six top judges are slated to be promoted to the Federal Court and Court of Appeal today against a backdrop of unhappiness in Malaysia's Bar Council for not being consulted on the latest judicial appointments.

The Bar Council is unsure whether these judges are being promoted on merit or seniority. In today's promotion, Court of Appeal judges Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin, Datuk Ramly Ali and Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali will be elevated to the Federal Court.

High Court judges Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam, Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid will be promoted to the Court of Appeal.

The council, which covers all lawyers in West Malaysia, also feels it should have been consulted as it is an important stakeholder in the administration of justice in the country.
One view is that it harked back to 1988 when the dismissal of then Lord President Tun Salleh Abas sparked a judicial crisis.

"There was no communication due to bad relationship between the (Bar) council and the judiciary then," past council president Ragunath Kesavan told The Malaysian Insider.
Current council president Christopher Leong when contacted said neither his nor the council's views were sought this time.

"I am only invited to attend the oath taking ceremony for the judges at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya tomorrow (Monday)," he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

In previous years, the chief justice made it a point to consult the council on the appointment of federal and appellate court judges.

Leong's immediate predecessor, Lim Chee Wee, who held the post from 2011 to 2013, said the chief justice had sought the council's feedback when appointments and promotions were made.
Ragunath (left), who was council president between 2009 and 2011, said then chief justice Tun Zaki Azmi consulted him before the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) discussed the elevation of judges.
"Whatever reservations some may have about Zaki, he displayed respect for the council and did not ignore us even after the JAC was set up in 2009," he said.
"This time around the legal fraternity is wondering whether judges were promoted based on merit or seniority," he added.

Ragunath also wondered if the failure to obtain the views of the council was a return of the practice soon after the judicial crisis in 1988 following the dismissal of Salleh.

In today's ceremony, the promoted judges will receive their letters of appointment from Yang di Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah prior to taking their oath of office before Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Raus Sharif.

Two senior Court of Appeal judges Datuk Abdul Malik Ishak and Datuk Mohd Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus have been overlooked in the current promotion exercise.

Abang Iskandar and Umi Kalthum have leapfrogged several High Court judges to become Court of Appeal judges.

Abu Samah and Ramly were from the Legal and Judicial Service while Apandi was in private practice from 1982 before he was appointed a judicial commisioner in 2003.

Abu Samah, who has been in the Court of Appeal since 2007, has presided over several cases relating to administrative and constitutional law.

One was that non-Muslim lawyers can practise syariah law in the Federal Territories.

Ramly was a chief registrar of the Federal Court and Registrar of Companies before being appointed judicial commissioner in 2000.
He was made High Court judge in 2002 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 2009.

Ramly was the presiding judge two weeks ago when a three-man bench ruled that lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was qualified as deputy public prosecutor to lead the prosecution team appointed to appeal a High Court ruling which acquitted Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy.

Apandi was on the bench that acquitted two former policemen of murdering Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.

He was also in the majority that held that public assemblies require police permits and the Police Act 1967 was a valid law.

Apandi also chaired the bench which heard Putrajaya's appeal to set aside a High Court decision that a Catholic weekly newspaper is allowed to use the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section. The court is scheduled to deliver judgment in October.

In the case of Zakaria, he is the most senior of High Court judges, having been elevated in 2004.
Abang was made High Court judge in 2009 and has presided over several high-profile cases including the Malaysiakini appeal for a print licence and the Sime Darby-E&O case. Umi Kalthum was elevated to the bench in 2011.

Former council president Datuk Param Cumarasawamy said a representative of the lawyers must be a member of the JAC to discuss judicial appointments.

"In a number of Commonwealth countries, the Bar Council president is a member of the JAC to give his input," he said.

Param, who is also a former United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, said there must be some transparency and accountability in the elevation of judges.

In the past the chief justice recommended names to the Prime Minister who then submitted the list to the king. The Council of Rulers then endorsed the names.

The JAC states that the prime minister must uphold the independence of the judiciary, provide support necessary to enable them to exercise their function, and that public interest must be represented in the administration of justice.

Under the present make-up, the chief justice now becomes JAC chairman. The others in the JAC are the Court of Appeal president, the chief judges of the High Courts of Malaya, and Sabah and Sarawak, and a senior Federal Court judge.

The JAC Act states that four eminent persons are appointed after consulting the Bar Council of Malaysia, Sabah Law Association, The Advocates Association of Sarawak, the Attorney-General's Chambers and other relevant bodies. – September 30, 2013.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lim looking at bittersweet Sunday as DAP gears up for new party polls

Lim looking at bittersweet Sunday as DAP gears up for new party polls

Malaysian Insider
September 28, 2013

DAP’s constitution states that the secretary-general can only hold office for up to three terms, or nine years.

Still, it will be a moment to savour, given what has happened.

Lim and his colleagues had to face one of their most trying challenges in recent times when his 48-year-old party was threatened with deregistration if it refused to hold this fresh election.
This came after complaints from several disgruntled members who claimed that the party polls last December was not properly conducted when it was announced that a tabulation glitch resulted in the wrong candidate being elected to the CEC.

Although the DAP itself reported the glitch and clarified that the correct winner had been identified, the RoS stepped in and directed the secular Chinese-dominated opposition party to hold new CEC elections.

Add that to the uncertainty of an injunction filed by a branch leader to stop the new polls from taking place, and party leaders, including Lim, could certainly be forgiven for having had sleepless nights.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to throw out the suit yesterday knocked down that particular hurdle.

Now, the fiery Lim is hoping the election will go on without a hitch but the load is still not off his shoulders yet.

He is worried that members will not come out to vote because they think the worst is over.
“Initially, when we were butting heads with the RoS, members were worried. The consequences were too heavy to bear,” he said, referring to the threat of deregistration.

“When we decided to hold the fresh election, they were very happy and that was it. The sense of crisis was not as strong as before. They might think, ok la, safe already, no need to worry,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two Malaysian rivals cross paths in New York, but Anwar rules out secret talks

Two Malaysian rivals cross paths in New York, but Anwar rules out secret talks

September 27, 2013

Malaysia’s political impasse needs to be urgently overcome if rising crime, bigotry and the perils of economic decline are to be reversed, warned opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in New York this week.

He urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has also recently arrived in New York, to engage in dialogue and reconciliation amid “rancorous” times in Malaysia since the fraught May general election.

On the eve of what New Yorkers now refer to as “hell week”, where a heavy security presence shut down parts of Manhattan as this season’s United Nations General Assembly gets underway, the Malaysian opposition leader cut a becalming swathe through a jammed nearby theatre on a mild midtown evening.

The 200-seat college hall was filled with mostly Malaysians from universities and UN-linked agencies to Wall Street and fine diners, who came for an open forum that aired vexed allegations of fraudulent elections and looming electoral delineation battles, the prospect of an Islamic state, and a Malaysian economy undermined by a ballooning deficit that was accelerating the “brain drain” of skilled Malaysians abroad.

“There is a clear impasse because we have a minority government where the majority of Malaysians are completely marginalised,” averred the weary opposition leader after arriving in New York the day before from Malaysia. “There is this fear in Umno, of not being prepared to engage in a debate or dialogue. Yet we have garnered 52% of the popular vote.

Call on DAP delegates to attend Sunday Congress in full force to vote for a united leadership

Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on 27thSeptember, 2013

Call on DAP delegates to attend Sunday Congress in full force to vote for a united leadership

Justice has been served after the High Court today allowed the application by party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to strike out a suit and an injunction by former Ladang Paroi DAP branch vice-chairman A. David Dass, who claimed that members were not given 10 weeks' notice to hold the election.

Many DAP leaders attended the court proceedings.

Article 46 of the First Schedule of the DAP constitution clearly states that Central Executive Committee Election can be conducted through a Special National Congress and no one should doubt that the DAP leadership will want to do anything that is ultra virus the Constitution.

The Registrar of Societies (ROS )Director General Datuk Abdul Rhaman has certainly not understood the DAP constitution when he claimed that CEC election must be done through a normal Party Congress.

There has been a campaign of lies against the party and some DAP leaders by some former DAP members. Their lie campaign has been supported by BN controlled media like Utusan Malaysia.

I therefore call on all Congress delegates to turn up in force at the Special Congress scheduled on coming Sunday and to give their support to the present leadership so as to prove to ROS and BN that DAP will stand united in the face of most unfair, unprofessional decision by ROS to direct a fresh CEC election without giving any reason.

Let’s all prove to those who want to tarnish the DAP image and sabotage the reelection that DAP delegates are matured, disciplined members who will never allow anyone to destroy the party in any way.

Newsreports in Tamil Media

Newsreports in Tamil Media 

[ADMIN] 赞扬槟州以民为本赋在野党拨款权力,苏健祥张志坚吁国阵仿效民联开明政策。 Ahli Parlimen Ipoh Timur & ADUN Bercham menggesa BN supaya mengambil Negeri Pulau Pinang yang Memberi Dana kepada Parti Pembangkang sebagai Satu Teladan


Is Najib the self-styled reformer falling to the right?

Is Najib the self-styled reformer falling to the right?

September 27, 2013
Najib: Amendments to PCA appear to be a clear sign that Umno hardliners are winning.Najib: Amendments to PCA appear to be a clear sign that Umno hardliners are winning.
It is election season in Umno and president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, it seems, has to pander to the right-wing elements within his Malay party.

The clearest sign that the hardliners have a firm grip on Najib, who was returned unopposed for a second term last Sunday, was in the contentious amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) which, if passed, critics said would make the PCA mirror the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).

The ISA and a raft of preventive laws were repealed by Putrajaya in the past two years in line with Najib's self-styled image as a moderate and a reformer.

He had said previously that he would not succumb to pressure to reinstate powers to detain individuals without trial.

"We are doing our best to find a good balance to ensure that human rights are not affected but to defend public interests as well. This is what is needed for a more matured society," he was quoted as saying.
Conservative forces within Umno, especially those linked to influential former president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have resisted change and pushed for a more Malay-centric platform. And on Wednesday, it looked as though Najib had given in to their demands.

"Najib is succumbing to right-wing pressure within his party because it is crucial for him in the coming polls to get his people in and maintain his strength.

"The focus is not on Malaysians, but on the Umno polls," said PKR vice-president N. Surendran, who is a critic of the proposed changes to the PCA.

Describing the amendments as the "biggest democracy drawback" in the last 10 years, DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong said Najib seemed to be running around blindly.

"He has no idea which way to go. I think the police dictated the terms and he is just responding to them and to the right-wing elements within his party. There does not seem to be much thought put into this," said Liew.

However, Universiti Putra Malaysia political analyst Dr Jayum Jawan said there is hope yet for Najib to counter the perception that he is being controlled by the right wing in Umno.

"He must ensure that the new law is not used against his political opponents," said Jayum.
"If he allows that, it will hamper democracy and this will backfire on him."

Although opposition lawmakers and civil society are right to be fearful that the PCA can be used against them, Jayum is confident that the government will be more careful now.

"The era of the ISA is definitely over, where the law was used to detain political opponents."
International Islamic University Malaysia academic Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Idid agreed that it did appear as if Najib had gone back on his word but felt the Prime Minister did it out of concern for public safety.

"I don't think he was pushed by the right wing in his party," Syed Arabi said.

"He did not realise the consequences of abolishing the preventive laws earlier. He is doing this to correct something that was not right, so it should not be seen as breaking a promise.

"The prime minister has to be pragmatic. Between going back on his word and the security concerns of the public, he would of course choose the latter." – September 27, 2013.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

PCA amendments unconstitutional, says Karpal

PCA amendments unconstitutional, says Karpal
The tabled amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) are unconstitutional, said DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh today.

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby today, Karpal said that even though the amendment stipulates that the three-member Crime Prevention Board would be answerable to the Parliament, the provisions can still be considered unconstitutional.

"Being answerable to Parliament is one thing, but we are doing something unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional," he said.

Karpal said that having a three-member board as opposed to a minister calling the shots would make little difference, and that the amendments would still make the law similar to the now abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).

"In principle it is still the same thing. This can only be justified during wartime. If you have the evidence, take them to open court. If he is found guilty, put him in jail.
dap special meeting 110313 lim kit siang 2"How can you entrust (these powers) to the hands of three people? Having no judicial review makes it worse," said Karpal.

Meanwhile, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang (right) described the amendment as an "obnoxious piece of legislation".

"This is against the promise of liberalisation," he said.

The government tabled the PCA amendments, which included a provision for detention without trial, in Parliament yesterday along with 10 other laws to be amended concurrently.

The new legislations were immediately met with stinging criticism from both civil society and the Opposition.

The government previously abolished two laws that provided for preventive detention, namely the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and Internal Security Act (ISA).

Utusan apologises to DAP | Free Malaysia Today

Utusan apologises to DAP

Leven Woon | September 26, 2013
Utusan to publish apology for untruth reporting about DAP in relation to Tanda Putera; and DAP accepts but for the last time
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno-owned broadsheet Utusan Malaysia has promised to retract and apologise to DAP over an article that accuses Lim Guan Eng of having a hidden agenda in banning the film Tanda Putera from being screened in Penang.

The DAP chairman Karpal Singh said Utusan has promised to publish an apology in the same size and prominence as the report, published on Sept 7.

He stressed that this would be the last time DAP accepts an apology from the daily.

“Next time if they do it again, we would not be that compassionate,” he told a media conference at the Parliament’s lobby today.

“Utusan should be a shame of itself. We hope it will turn better and report the truth,” he added.
In the article, Utusan quoted Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi of saying that Lim, the Penang chief minister, has banned the film in the state because he wanted to conceal the uncivilized act of his father Kit Siang as portrayed in the film.
Kit Siang, the DAP parliamentary leader, was portrayed urinating in a scene in front of the Selangor menteri besar’s residence during the bloody May 13 race riots in 1969.

Kit Siang has repeated many times that he was in Sabah when the riots broke up in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Kit Siang who was also present at the conference said he did not expect the Umno-owned daily to be in favour of Pakatan, “but they have to be honest and truthful and stop publishing lies”.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Call for a bipartisan parliamentary committee to conduct fresh probe into the SK Seri Pristana “meals in changing room” incident

Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on September 25, 2013

Call for a bipartisan parliamentary committee to conduct fresh probe into the SK Seri Pristana “meals in changing room” incident

Yesterday, I received written parliamentary replies to my questions related to the meals in changing room incident at SK Seri Pristana. 

I have submitted the questions for oral replies but unfortunately the questions were slotted as numbers 44 and 54, thus they had no chance of being replied as oral questions and I missed the chance to ask further questions. 

My first question was to ask the Education Minister why he had kept silent or failed to take any action against the headmaster and teachers who had bullied and ostracised whistle blower Guneswari’s daughter. 

The reply stated that there was no proof to show that either the school administration or the teachers were engaged in any act that would cause disharmony among the multi racial students. It also said that the allegation that Gunewswari’s daughter was ostracised is not true.

I find it hard to believe that the allegations which were widely reported in the media were all found baseless. 

Is the Education Ministry prepared to reveal all the details of the probe like who were interviewed and what were said by each interviewee?  

My second question was to ask the Education Minister if any probe was carried out into the meals in changing room incident, who headed the probe and what were the probe results. 

The second reply stated, among other issues that Selangor Education Director headed the probe and that the changing room was used by Malay, Chinese and Indian students as well as teachers since March 2013 as the canteen was not able to accommodate all the students during recess time.

What surprised me first is that the answer says that even the teachers had been eating in the changing room since March this year! 

So was it right for such a practice in the first place? If the Ministry thinks it is okay, then why should Deputy Education Minister P Kalamanathan offer his apology when he visited the school?  

If the Ministry thinks otherwise, then why no action was taken against the headmaster for making such an unacceptable decision.

Nevertheless, there was also allegation that the canteen could have been opened for students’ use during the Puasa month and that the school administration’s explanation about the canteen being under renovation then was not true.  

I therefore urge the Education Minister to allow a bipartisan parliamentary Committee to conduct a fresh probe into the entire “meals in changing room” incident.

Bar Council 'not consulted' on changes to Crime Act

Bar Council 'not consulted' on changes to Crime Act
Amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) are expected to be placed before Parliament today for the first reading, but without consultation with the legal fraternity.
In drafting amendments to any law, feedback from stakeholders - such as the Bar Council and the police - is often sought by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).

NONEBut Bar Council president Christopher Leong (left) said the body has not been given a copy of draft Bill and, therefore, has not discussed its provisions with the AGC.

Crime committee member Baljit Singh Sidhu said: "Normally a copy would be given to us for scrutiny before it is tabled. However, we have yet to see it."
It is understood the amendments to the PCA will be tabled with amendments to Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code.

The PCA allows for detention of an individual for up to 72 days with a court order, unlike the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) which provided for indefinite detention without trial.
However, the PCA is now seen as not providing sufficient powers to the police in dealing with organised crime in particular, hence the move to make changes.
Sabah Law not consulted either
The PCA currently does not cover Sabah and Sarawak as it was passed in 1959, well before the two states joined the Federation of Malaysia.
If the states are to be covered by the Act, then amendments would be required.
Sabah Law Association president GBB Nandy @ Gaanesh confirmed that the body has not been consulted over proposed expansion of the Act to Sabah.
Malaysiakini is awaiting a response from the Advocates Association of Sarawak.

NONEEarlier this month, Ahmad Zahid (left) said the 72-day detention period allowed under the Act would not be lengthened.
He said other amendments would give more power to the police to fight crime.

He has previously insisted on the need for preventive detention laws.
The repeal of the Emergency Ordinance and ISA, he said, has led to the escalating incidence of violent crime.

Under the ongoing 'Ops Cantas', the police are using provisions of the PCA to remand suspects.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, when opening a law conference last week, said the country is "in the midst of reviewing its prevention of crime laws to give more powers to the police, but at the same time, ensure that the rights of citizens are protected".

He said it is crucial to find the right balance and that the review is necessary because of the upsurge in criminal activity by organised gangs.

However, Pakatan Rakyat is opposed to the PCA being amended to provide the police with more powers of preventive detention.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Is MIC in government ?

Is MIC in Government? Its leaders speak like opposition politicians. Of late in Tamil papers,  it has been  reported that MIC Ministers and the deputy Ministers have openly urged  the Prime Minister  to make new monetary allocations like what was done by the PM for the Bumis. 

Question is was the allocation for Bumis ever discussed and consented to by MIC leaders? Or the MIC leaders only heard about it when it was announced by the PM!!!!