Friday, November 29, 2013

Reform of the civil service: The NUCC is its last hope – Koon Yew Yin

Reform of the civil service: The NUCC is its last hope – Koon Yew Yin

November 29, 2013
Malaysian Insider

To say that the newly established National Unity Consultative Council has been greeted with a big yawn by the public is too kind. Feedback so far especially over the uncensored internet has ranged from scepticism – “a political wayang” to the dismissive – “a waste of taxpayers’ money and time” and “expect NUCC to go the way of the 1Malaysia slogan”. 

One reader has already predicted that “it will soon be known as the ‘No Use Consultative Council (NUCC)’”.

Part of the reason for the criticism is that among the group appointed to forge a new direction in national unity are some well-known apple polishers who have risen to where they are because of their prowess in flattering the Barisan Nasional.

On the bright side, those appointed could have been much worse – think of what outcome we will have if the Government had appointed Riduan Tee or Awang Selamat.

Another problem is the restricted terms of reference set up for the Council which can discuss only four subject areas - laws, the federal constitution, values and programmes. Why this limitation if not to prevent discussion of sensitive areas is the obvious conclusion to reach.

Include civil service reform in NUCC agenda

For me, if the Council really wants to be taken seriously, it should include the civil service as one of the areas of examination covering all the four topics. There is no doubt that one of the pivotal players in national unity – perhaps the most pivotal – is the civil service. Unlike the politicians of whom there are only a few tens of thousands, the civil service employs over 1.5 million staff.  We have one of the highest if not the highest number of civil servants per capita in the world!  Their actions and decisions extend into every area of life and affect all Malaysians – from the time when the child is in the womb until after he or she dies.

Let me put a question to the NUCC. Is it not clear that the drastic decline in national unity has coincided with an increasingly Malay dominated civil service with the non-Malay bumiputera component, increasingly marginalised and reduced to single digit numbers in terms of their participation in key national ministries and agencies?

It will be revealing if the Government can reveal the racial composition of the civil service today. According to one estimate the proportion of Malays in the civil service had grown from 60% in 1970 to 77% for the year 2005. Today nearly 10 years later what is the proportion of non-Malays in the civil service?

Is it 20%? Is it 15%; or perhaps even less? I am happy to see that the Malays have made big strides in participation in the private sector since 1969. But what about the participation of the non-Malays in the public sector which was promised to by the New Economic Policy?

If the Government had upheld the provision of the NEP calling for restructuring of the civil service to increase non-Malay participation, I am sure that the thousands of racially and religiously sensitive or controversial incidents happening almost on a daily basis nation-wide will be dramatically reduced.

A multi-racial and multi-religious civil service is the cornerstone of a united and social cohesive Malaysia. It is also the cornerstone of social and economic development as it ensures a representative system based more on merit.

Suggestions for NUCC
I would like to propose the following steps to be taken by the NUCC when it meets.  

1. Request for data on the civil service racial composition and for the number to be broken down by government department – police; land and district offices; Ministry of Education; public universities; local councils; etc. This should be a time series for the past 20 years so they can see the actual situation in each major sector of the civil service.

2. Undertake a thorough and full evaluation of the implications of the trend towards a mono-ethnic civil service and examine whether this trend is desirable in the interest of national unity and social cohesion as well as national socio-economic development.

3. Make use of policy studies on the civil service and their proposals as a basis for a strategy of reform and to make the civil service more multi-racial. The most relevant one is the paper, Towards a Representative and World Class Civil Service. This was part of the studies in the Centre for Public
Policy Studies report, Proposals for the Ninth Malaysia Plan, ASLI, Kuala Lumpur, February 2006. It provides a methodology for recruitment of non-Malays and rebalancing towards a multi-racial civil service which protects existing Malay rights. Members of the NUCC should review the methodology which provides a compromise for a more racially representative civil service that can be accepted by all communities.

Civil Service as the key cog of development
Malaysia's poor performance is largely due to the inefficient civil service. For any organization, business or government to do well, they must have good people to manage. The government must employ more non Malays and practice meritocracy in the selection and promotion of the employees.
Malaysians know that we started off in the 1960s well ahead of South Korea, Taiwan and on the same level as Singapore.

Today, these countries are in a completely different league of development.  The answer to the riddle of why they have moved ahead so quickly is partially due to their civil service. Focused, efficient, based on merit and most of all, united, they have been the engines of growth accounting for the remarkable progress made in their societies.

In contrast, the Malaysian civil service has followed a different trajectory. Unfocussed, inefficient, with merit a secondary factor in recruitment, not representative and hence a dis-unifying factor – it is no surprise that the civil service is a critical blockage to unity and development.

I am confident that the majority of the NUCC members will agree that the present racial composition of the civil service is adversely affecting national unity, social cohesion and economic competitiveness.

I hope the NUCC can rise to the challenge to push for the reform of the country’s civil service which can enable all communities to be represented in reasonable numbers and help Malaysia to rise above race and religion. – November 29, 2013.

*Koon Yew Yin reads The Malaysian Insider.

'Defected ex-reps earning more than assemblypersons'

'Defected ex-reps earning more than assemblypersons'
The BN-led Perak state government has been accused of “reciprocating” two defected former state assemblypersons - Hee Yit Foong and Keshvinder Singh, who quit DAP to be BN-friendly Independent legislators, by specially appointing them to highly-paid posts after the May 5 general election.

NONEDescribing the appointments as “ridiculous”, Canning assemblyperson Wong Kah Woh of DAP revealed that Hee was appointed as Caring Society Council coordinator, while Keshvinder (right) was named the menteri besar’s special adviser on non-Islamic affairs in August this year.

Wong told Malaysiakini today that the salaries for the duo were even higher than those of elected state assemblypersons.

According to a written reply by the state government to Wong, Hee’s monthly salary for the post is RM5,000 with a driver’s allowance worth RM1,000, while Keshvinder got RM5,331.25 and an extra allowance of RM1,550 per month.

This is relatively higher than the monthly remuneration of a Perak state assemblyperson that totals RM4,112.

NONE“The BN government utilises the people’s money to reciprocate the ‘political frogs’. This is a very ridiculous act,” chided Wong (left).

In 2009, the Pakatan-led Perak government collapsed after three then-assemblypersons - PKR’s Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Osman Jailu as well as deputy assembly speaker Hee of DAP - quit their parties to become “BN-friendly” legislators.

A year later, Keshvinder joined the “BN-friendly” group by quitting DAP.

In the 2008 general election, Pakatan took over the state government with a mere three-seat majority, bagging 31 seats while BN held 28 seats.

Four years later, BN defended its power in Perak with a slim three-seat majority, too, in the May general election.

Both Hee and Keshvinder were not fielded as candidate in the last election, but Menteri Besar ZambryAbdul Kadir appointed them to special posts in the new session of the state assembly that commenced in August.

‘Posts did not exist before last polls’

To this, Wong opined that BN rewarded the duo by setting up these special posts, which did not exist before the last election.

He further questioned whether Jamaluddin and Osman might get appointments as well within half a year.

“I had once asked about the jurisdiction and responsibilities for the posts, but this remained unanswered,” said Wong.

He urged Zambry to explain to the public whether the appointments were meant for any political pursposes.

Yesterday, PKR’s Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tsin revealed that unelected parliamentary coordinators operating in Penang constituencies lost by BN are paid a monthly salary of RM5,860 from the federal coffers, while state constituency coordinators are paid RM3,630 a month.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

M’sia should plea on behalf of death row prisoner | Free Malaysia Today

M’sia should plea on behalf of death row prisoner

Vignesh Kumar | November 27, 2013
A Malaysian on death row could be sentenced to life imprisonment under the amended law since he is willing to cooperate with the authorities and was only a courier.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government should submit a recommendation order to  Singapore on Malaysian Cheong Chun Yin who is on death row in Singapore for a  drug-related offence, DAP national vice chairman M Kula Segaran said.

At a press conference today, Kula Segaran urged the Singapore government to seriously look into Cheong’s plea who is effectively denied the chance to be considered for relief from mandatory execution even though he meets the conditions of the new law.

Cheong’s willingness to cooperate with the police, and that he was only a courier could be sentenced to life imprisonment under the amended law.

He said Singapore police arrested Ipoh-born Cheong in June 2008 on suspicion of trafficking 2.7kg of heroin and the High Court sentenced him to death in February 2010. The Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in October 2011.

Meanwhile, Cheong’s lawyer M Ravi claimed that Cheong cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers and gave them the name, physical description and phone numbers of his contact – a man, only known as Lau De.

However, the CNB did not make any effort to investigate.

Ravi said High Court Judge Choo Han Teck stated: “It is immaterial that the CNB did not make adequate efforts to trace Lau De or check his (Cheong’s) cellphones.”

“Effectively, because cooperation was given but not utilised, it is now being treated as never been given.

“It is inconceivable that a judge would now be able to make the above statement in a capital case given the importance of cooperation. Literally, it could mean life or death,” he said, adding that while the accused is still alive, it is only right to allow him the benefit of the amended law.

He urged the judge to consider his plight and allow him a rehearing.

Sabahan Yong Vui Kong’s death sentence was  reduced this month to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, which was amended in November last year.

GE14 will be about PAS | Free Malaysia Today

GE14 will be about PAS

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | November 26, 2013
A progressive PAS can replace Umno and lead the Malays.
The only reason why Umno and its allies want the PAS ulamas to win all is because they know how easy it is to run circles around them.

Should PAS ever teamed up with Umno, all Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will do is give PAS two cabinet posts and that’s the end of PAS.

It will be a repeat of what PAS went through when it joined Barisan Nasional a long time ago.
If PAS revere the foremost ulama, Tok Guru they will ensure that PAS never teams up with Umno. Tok Guru will never sanction PAS sleeping with Umno.

What use is teaming up with Umno? For what purpose?

So that the right wingers in both parties can stay under one roof and become racists?

A progressive PAS can replace Umno and lead Malays. Why should it want to extend a life line to a sick Umno?

A sick party like Umno can control the minds of Malays with sick policies and agenda.

There must be something wrong in this arrangement.

It can only do this because PAS limits its own potential. If PAS becomes a progressive party, Umno is finished!

Ignore Umno

PAS has to play the game intelligently.

As my friend Walla perceptively observed, GE12 was Hindraf. GE13 was DAP. So that GE14 will be PAS.

Now take the earlier statement that in this country our Malays can be the most globally-attuned community member and graft it onto the role that PAS can play towards total success in GE14, and we have immediately a new transformation wave for this tired land.

PAS can also do the same to dignify all life again. People should not be corrupted about their needs.
They can be helped by earnest and honest community work extended to all who suffer regardless of race or religion.

It’s not about forming an Islamic state. It’s all about forming and living an Islamic state of mind. And that has to be globally attuned in nature. After all, isn’t He global?

So what must PAS do?

First of all dismiss and ignore Umno. There is no need for Malays to unite under Umno if a progressive PAS is available.

It is more important for PAS to have an Islamic state of mind instead of an Islamic state.

That way it can build up its image as a progressive and inclusive party – something that Umno can never achieve

The writer is Raub MP. This is an excerpt from his blog sakmongkolak47 blog

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Will National Unity Consultative Council become a talk shop?

Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on November 26, 2013

Will National Unity Consultative Council become a talk shop?

Yesterday, when launching the National Unity Consultative Council, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak listed seven tips for the newly established National Unity Consultative Council, including organising programmes that transcend race and religion.

The Prime Minister revealed that the government had organised a 'durian fest' after the May 13 racial riots to unite the people and suggested that the council look into organising environment, health and sports related programmes for the very same reason.

While I agree that more unity progarmmes should be organized to bring about more interactions among the different races, such aspect can be left to the Unity Department to discuss and implement.

The Unity Council should be given the freedom and responsibility to carry out the bigger task of reviewing government policies which have caused disunity among the people and to recommend the necessary changes.

It cannot be denied that there are many factors which can cause disunity in a multi racial and multi religious country like Malaysia; however, a government policy is a most significant factor.

Najib mentioned yesterday that national unity will emerge once Malaysians stop seeing each others through the lens of race or religion. Yet even though the nation has achieved independence for more than 4 decades, the BN government is still keeping and implementing various race based policies.

Change must come from the government and unless the government is prepared to make bold changes, many Malaysians will see his call as only “cakap syok”.

Can Najib therefore declare that the government is prepared to accept good policy recommendations made by the Unity Council if the recommendations are good for national unity though they  are in conflict with government’s decisions and policies?

I will give an example here. 

Yesterday, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression said that the federal government and the home ministry should allow the Catholic Church to use the Arabic word to refer to their God.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Malaysia should take necessary steps to secure immediately the right to freedom of opinion and expression of Herald – The Catholic Weekly and withdraw unconditionally from further litigation on this issue,” the UN expert said in a press release issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) . 

If the Unity Council agrees with the UN experts’ views, will the government accept the Council’s recommendation? 

Or will it be a case where the Council can discuss anything behind closed doors but the government will only accept what it wants to accept, just  like how it has treated the   good recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by headed by former Lord President Tun Dzaiddin?.

Ex-EC chief cements BN stooge claim, says Ambiga

Ex-EC chief cements BN stooge claim, says Ambiga
In a surprising move, the former Election Commission chairman has decided to become a member of Perkasa, an incendiary ultra-Malay outfit which detractors claim is hell-bent on stoking racial strife.

However, Perkasa, whose patron is former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has denied this accusation, arguing that it is merely defending the special rights accorded to the Malays.

NONEWhile Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga (left) refused to comment on Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman's move to join Perkasa beyond saying that it "evidences his mindset", she however zoomed in on the former EC chief's statements regarding the delineation exercise by the commission when he was in charge.

Abdul Rashid claimed that he joined Perkasa to ensure that the Malays remained as political masters, adding that as a former EC chairman, he knew how to keep the Malays in power.

He revealed that the three re-delineation exercises of electoral borders, which were done during his time with the EC, had ensured Malays remained in power.

Disputing this argument, Ambiga said the question of Malay power did not arise because they formed the majority.

"In any event, some of the delineation that have taken place were to PAS' disadvantage. So I don't accept what he says.

"Perhaps, it would make more sense to say that the delineation benefitted the ruling party. This is what we have always claimed - and he has confirmed it," she told Malaysiakini.

In other words, Ambiga said Abdul Rashid had used different criteria for the delineation other than what was provided by the Federal Constitution.

The Bersih leader stressed that the concern now was whether the present EC was doing the same with regard to its current delineation exercise.

"The present commission must own up or disagree with it (Abdul Rashid's statement). Silence is not an option. I am asking the present EC to come clean on how they are going about it," she said.

Zaid: Malays already have power

Meanwhile, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim described the ex-EC chief's decision to join Perkasa as a blatant admission.

On Abdul Rashid's argument pertaining to keeping the Malays in power, Zaid contended that the Malays already had power, and do not need more.

"What they need to know is how to use this power. What's the point of having power when it leads to abuses?" he asked.

NONEAs for Abdul Rashid's remarks pertaining to the delineation exercise, the former minister said: "It is unfortunate that the former EC chief would speak blatantly about this. Fairness must be a core privilege."

"When you do not have a delineation exercise that is fair... that is not right," Zaid (right) told Malaysiakini.

Abdul Rashid had also claimed that he had joined Perkasa not to seek fortune or power and therefore his motive must not be questioned.

The man, who was once entrusted with ensuring that the electoral process in this nation was fair and scrupulous and was part of the EC for three decades, argued that Malays must remain in political power as the country belonged to them.

"This place was called the Malay Federation (Tanah Persekutuan Melayu) and when we gained independence, it was changed to Malaya and after other states joined us, it again changed to West Malaysia (Malaysia Barat)," he was reported as saying by The Malaysian Insider.

"This land has always belonged to the Malays. It's in the history."

Monday, November 25, 2013

DAP MPs, senators to 'buy a brick' for Mkini

DAP MPs, senators to 'buy a brick' for Mkini
All 40 DAP MPs and senators will participate in Malaysiakini's "Buy a Brick" campaign to contribute to the news portal's acquisition of a new office building in Petaling Jaya.

NONEDAP's chief whip in Parliament, Anthony Loke told Malaysiakini today that all the MPs and senators have agreed to buy a brick for RM1,000 each, which will bring in RM40,000 to help the company reach its target of collecting RM3 million from subscribers and supporters.

"All 38 MPs and two senators will contribute. We have agreed on this matter," said Loke, who is also Seremban MP and the party's organising secretary.

"We expect to make the payment late this week, or the latest by next week," he added.

So far, the initiative has raised RM260,000 since the drive was launched on Nov 15.

Malaysiakini is also looking for corporate sponsors and will have fundraising events in order to help it achieve its RM3 million target.

Other political leaders who have lent their support for the "Buy a Brick" campaign are PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and former deputy higher education minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Call on the Prime Minister to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the problems and sufferings of the Indian committee and to come up with effective solutions.

Media Statement by M Kula Segeran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on November 23, 2013

Call on the Prime Minister to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the problems and sufferings of the Indian committee and to come up with effective solutions.

When answering my oral question in the Parliament on Thursday on the issue of social problems faced by the Indian community, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Shahidan Kassim has said that the government is taking steps to resolve the problems in stages.

I then raised in my supplementary question that what is needed is long term policy and that the government’s ad hoc approach has failed as evidenced by the following facts:-  

1.     In last Budget, the government allocated RM 50 million for the purpose of retraining the Indian community but so far only 472 have been retrained
2.     In 2000, the government said it would increase Indian equity participation from 1.1% to 3 % in 2010, now it has changed the target year to 2020
3.     Before the 13th general election, the government signed MOU with Hindraf and committed to increase matriculation college places for the Indian community to 2100. But in 2013, only 800 Indians were admitted into Matriculation colleges.
4.     Before the 13 th general election, the government promised that it would build 7 new Tamil schools but till today, not a single one has been built.
5.     In the seventies, Indian percentage in the civil service was 17%, today it stands at 4.8%.
6.     Indian community has the highest number of gangsters, single mothers, school dropout and unemployed

I further said that Indians are not beggars but children of the soil and want a holistic approach to be given to the community. I also said that a Parliamentary Select Committee should be set up to identify, study the problems faced by the Indian community and propose solutions.

Shahidan in his reply said that although the Indian population is only 7.2% of the national population, the number of Indian doctors constitutes more than 30% and there are many Indian lawyers too.

He also said that even for academic achievers, the Indians ratio is high and is just that there is a big gap between those who are at top of achievers and those who are dropouts.

He said that instead of critcising the government over its policies for the Indian community, those at the top should help those who are at the bottom.

I am not surprised that Shahidan’s reply has attracted much criticism, even from MIC politicians as his reply is totally unfair and irresponsible.

As a Minister, he should provide responsible answers and outline steps to be taken to effectively resolve the problems faced by the Indian community which has long been marginalized.

Let me ask Shahidan 3 questions:-

Firstly, will he give the similar answer if the question involves the Malay community? 

Secondly, is he not aware that many Indian doctors and lawyers have graduated without any financial help from the government? 

Thirdly, does he not agree that the Indians are children of the soil and are therefore entitled to equal treatment by the government? 

I repeat my call that the Prime Minister should set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the problems and sufferings of the Indian community and to come up with effective solutions. 

Four years on, Indira still waiting to see daughter in bitter custody fight

Four years on, Indira still waiting to see daughter in bitter custody fight

Malaysian Insider
November 23, 2013
Indira Ghandi (centre) with her children,Tevy Darsiny, 16 (right) and Karan Dinish,15, leaving Ipoh High Court. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 23, 2013. Indira Ghandi (centre) with her children,Tevy Darsiny, 16 (right) and Karan Dinish,15, leaving Ipoh High Court. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 23, 2013.

Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi has taught many children over the years in Ipoh but her mind is only on one child – her youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa, whom she has not seen in the last four years.
"She is always on my mind. Not a day goes by when we don't mention or talk about her," the mother, who is in the midst of a four-year custody battle over her youngest child, told The Malaysian Insider.

The custody battle came about after all her three children, who were Hindus by birth, were converted to Islam by her ex-husband in 2009.

And although Indira's divorce came through recently, the last thing on her mind now is to find love again, despite the fact that most people would find her attractive.

For Indira and  K. Pathmanathan, as he used to be known, it was a true love story. Despite objections from her family, she went ahead and married him in 1996, when she was only 21.

Five years into the marriage, however, the relationship turned sour, with incidents of abuse and affairs with other women. Pathmanathan was also unemployed then.

"He was also in debt. He actually suggested that we convert to Islam together, because we would get some money and even land. He was desperate, but I told him I wanted no part of it.

"He left the house one evening, got drunk, came home, grabbed the documents, our daughter and left on his motorbike, and that was the last time I saw her," she said, referring to Prasana Diksa.

After converting to Islam in March 2009, Pathmanathan, who then became Muhammad Ridzuan, converted their three children to Islam at the Perak Islamic Religious Department, Ipoh, following which the Syariah court granted him custody of the three children.

The couple then separated and the husband took Prasana with him, when she was only 11 months old.
Indira mounted a legal challenge and managed to quash the decision of the Syariah court that gave Ridzuan custody of the children.

In July this year, the High Court quashed the children's conversion to Islam. But until today, he has yet to return Prasana, now 5, to Indira.

Since the incident in 2009,  life has been a constant challenge for Indira, 38, but she soldiers on with the comfort of her two other children, Tevi Darsiny, 16, Karan Dinish, 15, and her family.

Indira revealed that Tevi Darsiny was carrying Prasana in the porch when the father grabbed her and left. "She blames herself until today for letting go, she loosened her grip on her sister because she was shocked to see his behaviour. She was only 11."

And now, despite the emptiness she feels from not seeing her youngest daughter for four years, Indira said she works "around the clock" to make ends meet.

"I am a kindergarten teacher by day and teach at tuition centres at night. We live in a rented house. I can't even get a loan to buy anything because I am a bankrupt," Indira said, revealing that her bankruptcy came about because her former husband took a car loan under her name and never paid up. "So our lives are stuck, we can't seem to go forward."

As such, Indira is constantly telling her two children to study hard, so that they can secure scholarships to further their studies, adding that " I won't even be able to sign as a guarantor for a study loan". But Indira offered that she is a stronger person today, because she is able to take on this fight and bring some hope to other women in a similar predicament.

"This is not about race or religion. This is about separating a mother from her child.

"And he did not convert because of love for the religion, it was a means to get some money," she pointed out.

According to Indira, her two children are also happier without their father, but they just want little Prasana back so that they can be a family again.

"We don't want him. In fact, a few months ago, I couldn't sleep, thinking, what if he comes for me and says I'm still his wife. I woke up and filed for divorce," she said, the face lighting up. Indira added that they missed Prasana even more during festivities and on her birthdays,  and that she initially suffered sleepless nights when the child was  taken away.

"That night I lodged the first police report and I hung around the police station compound the entire night hoping they will find my child. Since then I have lodged close to 15 police reports but there has been nothing."

Indira also revealed that she only found out her former husband had converted to Islam at the police station.

"They called him in front of me and kept referring to him by his Muslim name, I asked them why, then the policewoman looked at me and asked, 'you don't know that he is converted?'," Indira recalled.

"After taking Prasana, he asked us to come to the Perak Islamic Religious Department, saying he would return her. But when I got there, they served me with the Syariah court order.

”I will never trust this man again," she said, shaking the head.

Given what she has gone through, Indira feels the government should take heed of cases like hers, which is denying her rights because of bias.

"I am the mother of the child but because he is Muslim, they are not helping me reunite with her."
Indira said she is prepared to wait, as long as Prasana is returned to her.

"I think she lives in Kelantan now, so perhaps she does not speak Tamil and will not recognise me. But I am a kindergarten teacher, so I will take her to school every day and break the ice."

Indira's brother-in-law R. Sugumar, who lived with her during this interview before her court case on Friday, offered that while Indira could smile now, she was a wreck before, sitting around in a daze, depressed and not waiting to go out.

"We used to take her to shopping malls and walk around the whole day, buying nothing, just to be out with her," he said.

Sugumar also said that they have asked Indira to get married again.

But she interjected saying "that is the last thing on my mind now. I need to earn for my children and will wait for my daughter's return.Then we can talk about the future."

Yesterday, Indira had hoped to be reunited with Prasana in court, as her former husband was scheduled to attend proceedings with the girl.

But he never turned up. Ridzuan had applied to stay the High Court's decision which overturned his children's conversion to Islam.

Hearing now has been postponed to January 24. "I hope to see my daughter then.” Indira, dressed in a cream and green salwar kameez, had sound advice for other women: "If you suspect anything amiss with your husband, quickly check up on his status at the National Registration Department". – November 23, 2013.

Friday, November 22, 2013

RMC: GST at 6% to raise RM22b revenue | Free Malaysia Today

RMC: GST at 6% to raise RM22b revenue

The Malaysian Reserve | November 22, 2013
The Royal Malaysian Customs believes GST is a good solution to fix leakages in the current consumption tax collection and result in the extra revenue.
by Prem Kumar Panjamorthy
PETALING JAYA: The proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 6% will contribute a revenue of up to RM22 billion to the government’s coffers annually.

The new tax, effective April 1, 2015, subject to legislation approvals, will raise tax receipts by an additional RM5 billion to RM6 billion, on top of the current earnings of RM16 billion derived from the existing sales and services tax.

The Royal Malaysian Customs (RMC) believes GST is a good solution to fix leakages in the current consumption tax collection and result in the extra revenue.

“We expect at 6%, an additional of RM5 billion to RM6 billion will be raised. This additional amount will actually flow back to the people through incentives and cash aids.

“Corporations will also benefit through the non-tax packages and several redemption packages we are working on. Companies involved in the supply side of manufacturing will be reimbursed the GST they are charged,” RMC senior assistant director in-charge of GST Mohammad Sabri Saad told a media briefing yesterday.

He said the reimbursements will help contain major price hikes of several end-products like in the automotive and retail sectors.

Mohammad Sabri said Malaysians should not have the misconception that GST will only result in increase in prices of good and services.

“Products and services that are being charged 10% sales and service tax now will only be charged 6% GST. That would drive down the end-price.

“We cannot give the exact amount of price increase or decrease, as April 2015 is still 15 months away, and prices of goods would fluctuate by then,” he pointed out.

The Treasury and RMC are working together to set up a “shopping guide” for Malaysians, with a list of 325 essential goods showing price difference of pre-GST and post-GST. The guide will be made public in January 2015, Mohammad Sabri said.

“If consumers find that supermarkets or premises over price GST-taxed items against the guide, they can issue an official complaint to our department, so that action can be taken.

“We are in talks with supermarket and hypermarket operators over the possibility of them absorbing minimal hikes in price due to GST. It’s a winwin solution, where the prices do not change, people will not panic and business maintained for the retailers,” he said.

The RMC target of RM22 billion is somehow, far less than KPMG’s collection projection of at least RM30 billion.

The international tax and audit firm had said the government will earn a 20% hike in collection through GST over the current consumption tax revenue. It predicted a collection of RM25 billion for only the first nine months of GST implementation in 2015.

The GST has been proposed as part of the federal government’s commitment to reduce its budget deficit and with the view of achieving a balanced budget in 2020.

The 2014 government revenue is estimated RM224.1 billion, of which income taxes are expected to contribute RM125.7 billion while indirect tax collection estimated at RM38.8 billion.

The GST will be introduced in place of the sales tax and services tax introduced in 1972 and 1975, respectively.

Malaysia’s 6% GST will be the lowest in the Asean region, compared to Singapore (7%), Thailand (7%), Indonesia (10%), the Philippines (12%), Laos (10%), Vietnam (10%) and Cambodia (10%).

Items exempted from GST include rice, flour, vegetables, sugar, fish, chicken, salt, cooking oil, eggs, beef, chicken, mutton, spices, cencaluk, budu and belacan.

This content is provided by FMT content provider The Malaysian Reserve

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bar Council wins 'rights' judgment against DBKL

Bar Council wins 'rights' judgment against DBKL
Six years ago, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) enforcement officers brought down three banners at the Bar Council headquarters that were put up for its Human Rights Day celebration.

Recently, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur entered judgment against the KL City mayor for the DBKL action. It ruled that the banners on human rights do not fall within the realm of ‘advertisement' that requires a licence from DBKL.

NONEJudicial Commissioner SM Komathy Suppiah also awarded the Bar Council general damages of RM12,000 and RM320 as special damages for the banners.

The incident also saw then Bar Council Human Rights committee chairperson Edmund Bon (above) arrested and charged.

However, Bon was later acquitted and discharged after the prosecution discontinued its action.

Komathy's grounds of judgment on the issue were highlighted in the Loyar Burok blog yesterday.

The decision against the KL mayor, dated Oct 8, is seen as victory for human rights, with Human Rights Day being celebrated around the world on Dec 10 every year

On July 10 this year, six human rights defenders, who were arrested by the police during the Human Rights Walk on the same day the banners were pulled down, also won their case for wrongful arrest and detention and KL High Court judge John Louis O'Hara awarded them RM10,000 in damages.

The six who were arrested by the Dang Wangi police in 2007 were Sivarasa Rasiah (now Subang MP), N Surendran (Padang Serai MP), lawyers Amer Hamzah Arshad, Latheefa Koya, Eric Paulsen and activists Johny Andu @ Abu Bakar Adnan and Nooraza Othman.

Action filed in 2009

The Bar Council in 2009 filed its action on the 2007 tearing down of the banners put up at its premises to celebrate Human Rights Day, arguing that DBKL's action was unconstitutional and violated the freedom of expression.

The three banners stated ‘Stop the Patronage, Stop the Rot', ‘As I Believe? Freedom of Expression through Art, Music, Culture and Conscience...' and ‘Rakyat Hakim Negara' (People are the nation's judge).

City Hall men came about noon and ordered that the banners be taken down, arguing that they were advertisements within the meaning of a by-law and hence a licence was required to put them up.

The Bar Council was told that since it did not have a licence for the banners, City Hall could remove them. The enforcement officers then took down the banners while Bon was arrested for trying to stop them.

Judicial Commissioner Komathy in her 21-page judgment said the requirement for a licence for a banner only applied for a commercial product or service.

Using the example of the gigantic banner with the immortal words of former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad, ‘Buat kerja' (Perform your work), Komathy asked if the court required a licence for the banner that was to motivate the staff or to state the ethics of judiciary.

"The banner was displayed for 12 to 15 months or so... Was the banner said to be running foul of the by-law as it was put up without a licence? I think not. There is no compelling reason to give the phrase a wider meaning (like advertisement) as sought by the defendant," she ruled.

Liberal meaning would bring absurd results

Komathy agreed with the submission of the Bar Council's lawyers, led by Ranjit Singh, Razlan Hadri Zulkifli and Jamie Wong, that if a literal meaning was adopted in terms of advertisement, it would lead to absurd results as even advertisements that merely expressed ideas, opinions, principles and values would then require a licence.

"I agree with the plaintiff that a liberal interpretation would produce absurd results, as pointed out in their submissions.

"It would certainly not promote good order and governance within the jurisdiction of the City Hall and stifle the rights of ordinary citizens to put up banners that are not commercial in nature.

"If the draftsman had intended to include private,  non-commercial advertisements in the definition, it is reasonable to expect that this would have been easily stated, clearly and expressly. On any footing, that has not been done," she ruled.

She noted that if an exhaustive approach was adopted, then banners wishing people during festivals such as Deepavali, or a simple happy birthday message put up at the house, would require a licence and this, Komathy said, should not be the case.

"By-laws do not apply to non-commercial advertisements," she said in awarding costs to the Bar Council.

The KL mayor was represented by Thangaraj Balasundram and Nalani Murugiah.