Friday, January 10, 2014

Malaysia: where contracts and agreements are not sacred

Malaysia: where contracts and agreements are not sacred

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
January 09, 2014

A man's word is his bond. But the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government is fast gaining a reputation for not honouring some agreements in the past few years.

The latest is the 10-point resolution with the Christian community in Malaysia which was agreed just before the Sarawak state elections in 2011 to allay concerns about the word 'Allah' in Malay and native language bibles.

The resolution brokered by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was delivered to the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) in a letter dated April 11, 2011, from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In the 10-point resolution, Putrajaya assured the sizeable Bumiputera Christian population in Sabah and Sarawak that they were free to bring in and use their bibles in Malay, as well as in indigenous languages.

The issue cropped up last week when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized 320 Malay and Iban language bibles under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 which limits words such as 'Allah' from being used by non-Muslims.

Selangor has asked Putrajaya to resolve legal issues about the state law and the 10-point resolution, but the federal Cabinet that met yesterday for the first time this year has decided to wait for a Federal Court ruling in another case.

The Federal Court is to sit on February 24 to decide whether to grant leave to the Roman Catholic Church to appeal a Court of Appeal decision affirming the Home Minister's right to ban the word 'Allah' from being used by Catholic weekly Herald's Bahasa Malaysia edition.

There are other examples of broken contracts in the past.

Petroleum contracts with states where Petronas was supposed to pay the likes of Terengganu and Kelantan.

When Terengganu fell to the opposition, Putrajaya started paying something called Wang Ehsan via the Federal Office rather than to the state government.

Even now, Putrajaya is doing its best to deprive Kelantan of oil royalties, despite founding president Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's insistence that the contract permitted such payments.

Another agreement that was not honoured was with the outlawed Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) after it laid down its arms on December 2, 1989.

Among the terms of laying down arms was that CPM secretary-general Chin Peng and other communists could return to Malaysia. Chin Peng sued in the courts, but lost.

He died in Bangkok last September 16, on the 50th anniversary of the Malaysia agreement that brought Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore as one nation.

The government banned any move to bring his ashes back to the country.

When circumstances change, the government thinks nothing of moving the goal posts and sometimes completely ignoring its obligations.

How does anyone respect a government that does not respect the sanctity of contracts? Mind you, these are contracts and agreements that the government itself had initiated and inked. - January 9, 2014.

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