Sunday, August 28, 2016

Proposed amendments to Law Reform Act should involve the input and feedback from all stakeholders

Press Statement by M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP national Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 28th August 2016
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Proposed amendments to Law Reform Act should involve the input and feedback from all stakeholders
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When launching the national Women's Day celebration yesterday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib announced that the necessary changes will be made to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to resolve issues and problems when a spouse converts to Islam.
He said the amendments will be tabled in the next Parliament meeting in October.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement and hope that the amendments will resolve the various long standing issues and problems of conversions and custody.
The issue of custody of children of parents who convert to Islam was first raised in 2009. In reply the then law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri was quoted on 24th April:
“Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri said it was decided in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that a spouse who has converted into Islam would also have to fulfill his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil marriage laws.


“Religion should not be used as a tool to escape marriage responsibilities. Conversion is not a ground for the automatic dissolution of a marriage,” he said at a press conference at Parliament building Thursday.
“The children should be brought up in the common religion. For the spouse who intends to convert into Islam, he or she would also have to come clean,” he said.
Nazri said religious conversion must come with the innocent party being protected from being victimised, as well as protection being afforded to the new religion of the converted person.
“Civil marriages have to be resolved according to civil laws. The conversion takes effect on the day of conversion and is not retrospective. “The convert would have to fulfill his or her marriage responsibilities according to civil laws prior to the conversion,” he added.
Nazri also said the Cabinet has instructed the Attorney-General to look at all relevant laws which needed to be amended in line with what has been decided on civil marriage laws and others.”


Since then 3 cabinet Committee were formed to look into and resolve this thorny issue. However, no effective solution was ever proposed.


Indira Gandhi filed various proceedings in court over the last 7 years over the interfaith issues when her children were converted to Islam without her consent or knowledge. Although she got custody of her 3 children in 2010, the last child of the family has not been returned to her as yet. At the same time her ex husband had also obtained a custody order from the syariah court. This is the form of overlapping of Jurisdiction which should be prevented.


Indira Gandhi herself went to Parliament on 28th January 2016 to enquire from the Cabinet committee members the progress of the amendments. She met Datuk Seri Nazri, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and Tan Sri Joseph Kurup in Parliament house. She was assured that the necessary amendments would be tabled soon. She took it upon herself to speak for the many others who are suffering in silence without a remedy in conversion of children case.


We very much welcome the proposed amendments although it is 7 years late.


As a Member of Parliament, I am unaware what are the proposed amendments that will be tabled. To ensure that the amendments will satisfactorily resolve the long standing disputes, issues and problems, I suggest the draft laws be widely circulated among stake holders like MPs, NGOs and Bar Council. By this manner a more detailed study and feed back could be obtained for a thorough and fair amendments to meet the aspirations of those caught by this saga and that the issue which has caused much hardship to Indira and others could be addressed once and for all.


In the interim, an all party Parliamentary committee could be established to address this issue. This move if it does take place will be a “win win” to all.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The biggest cause of disunity in the country is none other than the BN government itself

Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 25th August , 2016

The biggest cause of disunity in the country is none other than the BN government itself
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In a dialogue programme themed Strenghtening Unity aired over RTM1 last night, special adviser to the Malaysian Government on socio-cultural matters Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim stressed that only the education system is capable of strengthening unity among the various races in the country.

He said students of various races should study in the same school from their early years to foster the feeling of unity and harmony among the races. He stressed that separate education will bring conflict against one another.

The question of fostering unity via single stream education system has been raised in the past by some politicians who refuse to accept the fact that multi stream education system is not the cause of disunity in the nation. And Rais has joined the list of such politicians.

Undoubtedly, despite having achieved Independence for decades, Malaysia national unity remains fragile. But it is wrong for anyone to put education as the cause.

Education does not breed racism or cause disunity. Children do not have to study together to understand unity.

Malaysians of all races do not play badminton together but the recent excellent performance of our athletes has brought the nation together. Can we at least learn from here??

The major factors which have caused disunity of Malaysians are racial politics, racial policies and racial speeches.

Hence, the biggest cause of disunity in the country is none other than the BN government itself.

To achieve genuine unity, the government must be prepared to implement color blind policies which are fair to all. However, BN government which has relied on racial politics to remain in power has refused to change.

Rais also proposed that the National Unity and Integration Department be further empowered to enhance unity.
“In my view the department now is small. We need to have a unity ministry so that we can be bold in implementing social ingredients more effectively,” he said.

Rais has outlived his usefulness and ought to retired as adviser to the Government.

The issue is not having a more powerful or bigger Unity ministry. The question is whether the BN government has the commitment and will to abandon racial politics and racial policies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Malaysiakini :Federal Court to hear appeal on child conversion on Nov 14

The Federal Court today fixed Nov 14 and 15 for the hearing of M Indira Gandhi's appeal to challenge the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by her former husband, K Pathmanathan @ Muhammad Ridhuan Abdullah.
The date was fixed by the Federal Court registrar today following case management.
The date was confirmed by lawyers M Kulasegaran and Aston Paiva, who are appearing for Indira Gandhi.
On May 19, the Federal Court granted the kindergarten teacher leave for the highest court in the country to decide on three questions of law on the conversion of the children.

This came after the Court of Appeal, in a majority 2-1 decision on Dec 30, overturned the Ipoh High Court decision that declared the unilateral conversion as illegal and hence, null and void.
In 2009, Ridhuan converted the three children - two daughters and a son - when they were 12, 11 years old and 11 months respectively, without their mother's consent and three other conditions as required under Section 96 of the Administration of Islam, Perak Enactment 2004.
The three questions of law to be decided after a three-member bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin granted Indira’s leave application are:
  • Whether the High Court has exclusive jurisdiction, pursuant to Sections 23, 24 and 25 and the Schedule of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (read together with Order 53 of the Rules of Court 2012) and/or its inherent jurisdiction to review the actions of the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate acting as the public authorities in exercising statutory powers vested by the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004;
     
  • Whether a child of a marriage registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1979, who has not attained the age of 18 years, must comply with both Sections 96(1) and 106 (b) of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 (or similar provisions to state laws throughout the country), before the Registrar of Muallaf or his delegate may register the conversion to Islam of that child; and
     
  • Whether the mother and father (if both are still surviving) of a child of a civil marriage must consent before a certificate of conversion to Islam can be issued in respect of the child.

Federal Court to hear Indira Gandhi’s appeal to challenge the conversion of her 3 children to Islam


Media statement by M. Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP national Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 24th August 2016

Federal Court to hear Indira Gandhi’s appeal to challenge the conversion of her 3 children to Islam
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Today the interfaith case of Indira Gandhi came up in the Federal Court for case management before the registrar. The court fixed 14th and the 15th November for full hearing of this matter.

The matter first came up in the High Court of Ipoh on 9th June 2009, where Indira filed a motion at the High Court to quash the decision of the Syariah Court dated 8th April2009 which Court had given custody and control of the 3 children to Muhammad Riduan Bin Abdullah. The case has been filed against 6 Defendants namely 1.PENGARAH JABATAN AGAMA ISLAM PERAK 2.PENDAFTAR MUALLAF 3) KERAJAAN NEGRI PERAK 4) KEMENTERIAN PELAJARAN MALAYSIA 5) KERAJAAN MALAYSIA 6) PATMANATHAN A/L KRISHNAN (known as Muhammad Riduan bin Abdullah)

On 28th July2010, the Ipoh Civil High Court gave leave to quash the decision of the Syariah Court to Indira notwithstanding to the strenuous objections from the Attorney General‘s office.



The Federal Court on May 9th granted the kindergarten teacher leave for the highest court in the country to decide on three questions of law on the conversion of the children.
This came after the Court of Appeal having, in a majority 2-1 decision on 30th Dec 2016, overturned the Ipoh High Court decision that declared the unilateral conversion as illegal and hence, null and void

We had initially suggested 9 questions to be argued. But only 3 questions were allowed to be argued and will be decided before the Federal Court and they are as follows:

1) Whether the civil High Court has exclusive jurisdiction to review the actions of the Registrar of Muallafs (converts) or his delegates as public authorities exercising statutory powers vested by the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004;

2) Whether a child of a civil marriage that has yet to turn 18 must comply with both Sections 96(1) and 106(b) of the Perak Enactment or similar provisions under other state laws before the Registrar of Muallafs may register the child’s conversion to Islam;

3) Whether the mother and the father (if both are still surviving) of a child of a civil marriage must consent before a certificate of conversion to Islam can be issued in respect of that child.

As the case is of great public importance it is hoped the Chief Justice will convene a full bench of Judges to hear the case in the apex court

Monday, August 22, 2016

Abolition of Death Penalty


Speech by M. Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat on “Abolition of Death Penalty” organized by Amnesty International of Ipoh on 21st August 2016

Introduction

First and foremost I would like to thank Amnesty international Malaysia for inviting me to present on the topic of death penalty. Amnesty international have been in the forefront in highlighting the facts on the death penalty around the world and why it should be abolished.

 One of those worrying trends from this facts is the arbitrary manner in dealing with the death penalty and its lacking of proportionality to the crime, due to questionable judicial processes, and prejudices inherent in the justice system of the state, besides social economic factors that deprives the poor of competent attorneys to represent them.

The Malaysian situation on death penalty
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In Malaysia the number of individual currently under death sentence is at least 1,043.

In a reply to Parliament on 12th November 2014, the Minister of Home Affairs informed Members of the House of Representatives that there were 975 persons under sentence of death. Among these, 347 had filed for appeals (310 to the Federal Court, and 37 to the Court of Appeal), and 255 to the Pardons Board. 

 Prison Department Director Abdul Basir told the press in May 2015 that there were 1,043 death row inmates nationwide.

As of October 2013, 564 death-sentenced individuals had been on death row for over 5 years, representing just over 50% of all death row inmates.

In October 2012, the DPP commissioned Professor Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the University of Oxford, to design and analyze the findings of a public opinion survey on the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia. 

The survey of a representative sample of 1,535 Malaysian citizens from all over the country, was carried out by Ipsos Malaysia, a leading market research company.

The research was designed to elicit views on the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, murder and offences under the Firearms Act.


By using a series of scenarios it shows the extent to which members of the public support the mandatory death penalty when faced with the reality of having to judge whether the crime merits the death penalty. In the findings a large majority said they were in favour of the death penalty, whether mandatory or discretionary: 91% for murder, 74 to 80% for drug trafficking depending on the drug concerned, and 83% for firearms offences.


Concerning the mandatory death penalty, a majority of 56% said they were in favour of it for murder, but only between 25% and 44% for drug trafficking and 45% for firearms offences.This was basically in theory.


When asked to say what sentences they would themselves impose on a series of ‘scenario’ cases, all of which were subject to a mandatory death sentence, a large gap was found between the level of support ‘in theory’ and the level of support when faced with the ‘reality. For example of the 56% who said they favoured the mandatory death penalty for murder whatever the circumstances, only 14% of them actually chose the death penalty for all the scenario cases they judged.


This was only 8% of the total number of respondents. When interviewees were asked whether they would support the death penalty if it were proven that innocent persons had been executed, the proportion in favour for murder fell to 33%, for drug trafficking to 26%, and to 23% for firearms offences.


These findings suggest that there would be little public opposition to abolition of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, murder, and firearms offences. Public support for the death penalty for murder is also lower than is perhaps assumed, so may not be regarded as a definite barrier to complete abolition.

Research on death penalty Overseas
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A report released by death penalty information centre on April 18 by the prestigious National Research Council of the National Academies based on a review of more than three decades of research concluded that studies claiming a deterrent effect on murder rates from the death penalty are fundamentally flawed. 

The report concluded: “The committee concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide is not informative about whether capital punishment decreases, increases, or has no effect on homicide rates.


Therefore, the committee recommends that these studies not be used to inform deliberations requiring judgments about the effect of the death penalty on homicide. 

There are also various studies done in the United States which highlights how the death penalty has been a used unjustly against the black community

Jurors in Washington state are three times more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case. (Prof. K. Beckett, Univ. of Washington, 2014). • In Louisiana, the odds of a death sentence were 97% higher for those whose victim was white than for those whose victim was black. (Pierce & Radelet, Louisiana Law Review, 2011).

Since 1973, more than 150 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. (Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil & Constitutional Rights, 1993, with updates from DPIC). 

From 1973-1999, there was an average of 3 exonerations per year. From 2000-2011, there was an average of 5 exonerations per year.of-defendant discrimination, or both. (Prof. Baldus report to the ABA, 1998).

Social and psychological dimension of crime dilutes the fear of death penalty
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The death penalty in Malaysia has been hardly a deterrent factor in reducing serious crimes. For an example the death penalty have not resolve the drug trafficking problems due to poor enforcement related to corruption, besides the inability of the Law enforcement officer to nab influential syndicates who has global links and their ability to pay a lucrative amount to drug traffickers around the world. 

In the case of homicide the rage of the moment of individuals whose mind is clouded, are not in a position to think about the consequences of his or her action that could lead to a death penalty.

Broader understanding of issues related to the Justice system

While there are legal dilemma facing the death penalty due to arbitrary processes ,there is a need to look into a broader dimension on whether a death penalty is the right choice of the State in addressing capital punishment. 

There is a need to understand that death penalty could never be proportional to the crime committed due to various factors in regard on how the crime was committed and the manner of how factual evidence was gathered, the social economic situation of the perpetrator who might not have the means to hire a competent Lawyer to represent him.

Government response to the death penalty

Being a member of parliament and the secretary of the PGA I have highlighted the injustice related death penalty in parliament. It is significant that Attorney General Apandi has stated that the government plans to review the death penalty on certain crimes . 

Former minister in the Prime Ministers department Nancy syukri has ensured me in parliament that there is a comprehensive review on the death penalty. This are encouraging signs that shows that the effort put by MPs and amnesty international, and concern NGOs is beginning to bear fruits.

Conclusion
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From the empirical research in can be concluded that the death penalty for crimes, does not stand the test of due process and proportionality between crime and punishment. Its so-called deterrent effect has not been conclusive. 

The survey in Malaysia and research done overseas shows there is lack of definite conclusions whether the death penalty in itself is able to deter crime, and the discrimination effecting minority communities when it comes to death penalty. 

The social and psychological factor of individual rage of the moment that blind an individual from assessing the implications of the crime is not taken into consideration by the proponent of death penalty.


We have to go beyond the reductionist mindset and take a broader dimension to solve violent crime in our society. The most significant aspect of the survey is, Malaysians in General would support the abolition of death penalty if the facts surrounding this capital punishment are disseminated through forums of this nature and role played by civil society, public intellectuals, and members of parliament. 

The media should play its rightful role in this education process of abolishing the death penalty. Let’s stand together and say no to death penalty.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Call the IGP to form a special task force to investigate the shooting of Lucas




Media statement by M. Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 14th August 2016

Call the IGP to form a special task force to investigate the shooting of Lucas
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Just met Lucas a/o Asirvatham 65 years old was apparently shot while he was working in his orchad/farm of 4 acre land in Chepor, Chemor Perak. He was shot on 11th August 2016.

ADUN Cheong Chee Khing (Bercham) Jeremy Chuah my secretary and I visited Lucas at the IPOH Hospital.

In the meantime we call upon an independent inquiry as the person who shot Lucas was a retired senior police officer. Apparently the police office thought was shooting a wild monkey. Much explanation and a deep investigation is required.

It will help if the ipoh police can confirm that the police officer was not detained and investigation is on going.

What criminal action will be taken against the retired police officer if any?

The DAP will provide legal assistance for justice must be done to Lucas and we will act for him without fear or favour.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Absurd and totally unacceptable for USM to propose convocation on Deepavali eve



Press Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP MP for Ipoh Barat and National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on August 11, 2016


Absurd and totally unacceptable for USM to propose convocation on Deepavali eve

Although the USM ‘s convocation will now not be held on Deepavali eve following a change of dates, the Hindu community are still angry as to how the university could have been so insensitive and absurd to have proposed earlier that the 2016 convocation ceremony ends on Deepavali eve.

Malaysia is a multi religious nation and there is no excuse for the university not to know that Deeapavali eve is when Hindus, in a time-honoured tradition, gather for family reunions and offer prayers to their ancestors.

By proposing the convocation on Deepavali eve is therefore simply absurd and totally unacceptable.

Following media report of protest by the Hindu students, USM registrar Prof Abdul Aziz Tajuddin had earlier yesterday said the convocation dates of Oct 24 to 28 as displayed on the university’s website had not been finalised.

“The dates of Oct 24 to 28 was a result of internal discussion. I don’t know how outsiders got wind of it. The matter hasn’t been finalised because it still requires the Chancellor’s nod” he was quoted as saying.


But the point is not whether it was a proposed or finalised date. The issue is how could the University be so insensitive to propose such dates?

Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan has expressed his gratitude to the USM Vice Chancellor Professor Dato Dr Omar for the university’s kind consideration and aid in making the rescheduling possible.

Why the university should be thanked when it has committed a mistake which ought not to have happened.


USM must not offer any excuse for their insensitive proposal and must tender a public apology to the Hindu community although new dates have been set.



Two years ago, the Education Ministry was slammed for planning to hold its compulsory briefing for teachers invigilating in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) examinations on Deepavali eve.

It is a disgrace that even a university could be so insensitive.