Isnin, 30 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

King hands letters of appointment to seven judges

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 07:46 PM PDT 

(Bernama) - The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, today handed letters of appointment to three Federal Court judges and four Court of Appeal judges at the Istana Negara.

The Federal Court judges are Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali, Datuk Seri Abu Samah Nordin and Datuk Ramly Ali and the Court of Appeal judges are Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam, Datuk Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid and Datuk Varghese George Varughese.

The judges took their oath of office in the Small Throne Room.

Also present at the ceremony were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri; Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria; Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin; Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif.

Malaysia faces backlash over push for tough new laws

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 07:37 PM PDT

Members of non-government organisation (NGO) SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) hold up placards during a protest against the new amendments in the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) which resurrects back the detention without trial, outside the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur  

Stuart Grudgings, Reuters

Malaysia's bid to bring back detention without trial and toughen a range of other laws has triggered a backlash from civil society groups who call the move politically motivated and a major step back for human rights.

Home Minister Zahid Hamidi was due to debate the proposed changes in parliament on Monday, justifying them as necessary to battle a rise in violent crime, as the government tries to push through the controversial bills this week.

The proposed amendments appear to mark a reversal of Prime Minister Najib Razak's steps in recent years to repeal draconian security laws, such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), that were sometimes used to jail government critics.

They come weeks ahead of a ruling party assembly where Najib faces pressure to make concessions to hard liners, following a weak election result in May that cut the ruling coalition's majority, undermining the prime minister's moderate agenda.

"After the election they are showing their real colours," said Nalini Elumanai, executive director of human rights group Suaram. "It's not because they want to curb crime. They want to stop the civil society movements, that's the real motive."

The tougher laws come as Najib's dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) struggles to retain its traditional grip on the multi-ethnic Southeast Asian nation in the face of growing demand for more freedoms.

Najib attempted to rebrand UMNO after a dismal election showing in 2008, liberalizing security laws and pledging to phase out privileges for majority ethnic Malays.

But he is widely seen as having been pegged back by UMNO traditionalists, particularly after May's election, in which minority ethnic Chinese and most urban voters rejected the ruling coalition.


The changes to the 1959 Prevention of Crime Act provide for a board made up of three members and headed by a judge to issue detention orders for up to two years that can later be renewed.

The suspect has no right to legal representation, according to a copy of the bill seen by Reuters, and lawyers said there would be limited scope to appeal against decisions.

In addition, the government is proposing amendments to the country's penal code, mandating prison terms of 5 to 15 years for promoting a false national flag and up to three years for "vandalism", which includes the display of banners or placards without proper permission.

Judges' powers of discretion in sentencing are curtailed in favour of minimum mandatory sentences.

The new laws could be so broadly interpreted that they were "wide open to abuse," said Andrew Khoo, co-chairman of the Malaysian Bar Council's Human Rights Committee. The Bar has said the changes are "repugnant to the rule of law".

Read more at : 

Leave Pakatan, Pas urged

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 05:54 PM PDT

ALL FOR IT: Pas Ulama chief's call for the party to review ties with DAP and PKR should be considered, says Pas member

(NST) - A CALL for Pas to review its collaboration with the opposition, Pakatan pact, continues to gain momentum despite being ridiculed by the party's deputy president Mohammad Sabu (pic).

Permatang Binjal Pas branch member Mahzan Zahid defended the party's Dewan Ulama chief Datuk Harun Taib, who had made the call, following a drop in the support for the party in the last general election.

"I do not agree with the opinion that the call (for Pas to review its ties with DAP and PKR) is not a brilliant idea.

"Harun is a visionary leader and respected by many people in the party.

"The call made by Harun is sincere. All he wanted to do was for Pas to gain more support from its allies and adversaries," he said yesterday.

Mohammad, or fondly known as Mat Sabu, who failed to gain prominence after he lost the Pendang parliamentary seat in the 13th General Election, told a news portal recently that the call for Pas to review its partnership in the opposition as "satu tindakan kurang bijak" (not a brilliant action).

Mahzan claimed there was "mild tension" between Pas and its opposition allies in several states and all these must be put to a stop.

"It is a high time for Pas (leaders) to look into this idea for the party's political survival."

Cracks within the opposition fold started to emerge after Harun initiated the call two weeks ago.

He said Pas had compromised on its principles to please its partners in the coalition, resulting in the party's poor performance in the GE13.

Since then, several party members at the branch level had come out in support for Harun.


Guan Eng shrugs off comments on reduced votes

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 05:25 PM PDT

The party secretary-general says the rise or drop in the number of votes is part of the electoral process, and that he respects the delegates' decision.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng today downplayed the reduced votes he received in yesterday's party polls, saying that it was all part of the electoral process.

"We respect the decision of the delegates. Whether we receive more or less votes is part of the process. We are willing to listen to the delegates," he told reporters at a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

"But (despite the reduced votes) my style of leadership will remain. We will continue to fight the Registrar of Societies (ROS)."

The Penang Chief Minister, who held the number two spot in the first Central Executive Committee (CEC) elections in December last year only managed to secure the fifth spot this time around with only 1,304 votes.

According to Lim, by voting in the same 20 members into the Central Executive Committee (CEC), the delegates had shown they were unanimous in believing that the party had been victimised by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

"The delegates have spoken. They are saying "no" to the ROS," reiterated Lim.

The ROS had ordered the DAP to hold a re-election after disgruntled members reported they had not received notice of the CEC elections last year.

Last year's party polls also invoked controversy when a tabulation error was discovered where a recalculation of the results saw Zairil Khir Johari entering the CEC, making him the only Malay in the party's highest committee.

"I don't know what the ROS wants. Maybe they want to cause trouble in a bid to cripple us so that we are unable to carry out our main function, which is to topple BN and Umno in the next general election," Lim said today.

He also deflected criticism that the re-election of the party's highest council again saw delegates voting in only one Malay leader.

Lim instead turned the tables on his critics by saying that Barisan Nasional component parties Umno, MIC, MCA and Gerakan only have leaders from one race.



In the Chinese Press: DAP delegates want check and balance

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 05:19 PM PDT

Chan Wei See,

The results of the DAP re-election suggest that the delegates wish to have check and balance of power in the central executive committee (CEC), China Press said.

Its writer Yu Pei Ni opined that the change in ranking in the 17 CEC members sends out a clear message that the delegates want to provide check and balance to the party leadership – which is still very much intact.
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang who is also party adviser, dropped to number two from previously being at the top with reduced votes (171) while secretary-general Lim Guan Eng dived from the second position to number five ranking with 272 votes – down from the previous election.
National deputy chairman Tan Kok Wai had the sixth highest number of votes in the 2012 election but this time he dropped out of the top-10 chart to be ranked 16th, Yu wrote.
It was the total opposite for Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong who was at 14 before as he rose to the top with the highest votes this election. 
This was an unexpected outcome as he is not a senior member, Yu observed. DAP national legal bureau chairman Gobind Singh Deo, Tanjong MP Chow Kon Yeow and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari also won the election with a surge of votes. 
Yu also noted that the result evidently showed an anti-Lims sentiment.
"Of course, it is a mission impossible to topple the Lims (Kit Siang and Guan Eng), the delegates can just tell the secretary-general with their ballots that DAP's success cannot happen with one or two persons' effort alone, it is rather a collective achievement of all grassroot members nationwide throughout the last few decades," she said.
Looking at the "menus" distributed at the DAP Special Congress, China Press further reported an alternative fraction in DAP Penang disapproving of Guan Eng and his team members namely national vice-chairperson Teresa Kok, Liew, deputy secretary-general Anthony Loke, Zairil, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching and Gobind who is also Puchong MP. 
Meanwhile, it pointed out a split in the Perak DAP in which the fraction led by former DAP election publicity chief Hew Kuan Yew wished to bring down Perak leaders Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming in the re-election.
Hew, widely known as 'Superman', openly criticised Ngeh and Nga on Facebook and urged the delegates to vote them out prior to the re-election. 



Was Attorney-General sidelined during PCA amendments? Bersih asks at Suaram protest

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 04:57 PM PDT

(TMI) - Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan led a group of human rights activists in protest outside Parliament this morning against the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act being debated this week.

The lawyer questioned if the Attorney-General was sidelined when Putrajaya formed the amendments.

She said Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had recently voiced out that he was in a disagreement with preventive detention.

"Did the government not take the AG's advice? I want to know whether the AG was consulted, as he has made it clear he does not agree with this," she said to about 50 protesters during the rally.

The protest was organised by non-government organisation Suaram to stop the amendments to the PCA being passed.

While holding placards stating "Take PCA back", the group also labelled the PCA as the Internal Security Act 2.0.

"We don't need such acts to curb crime. We have facilities for the police to fight crime," Ambiga said.

"We celebrated the repeal of ISA but not more than a year later, the ISA seems to have returned in different forms."

She said the worst aspect of the bill was that Malaysians were "misled".



Historian says citing historical facts, unaware of race-themed forum

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 04:50 PM PDT

(MM) - Under the spotlight for a presentation on a "southbound invasion" from China, a historian insists she was only referencing historical data and was unaware of the race-based theme of the conference where it was delivered.

Writer and historian Zaharah Sulaiman was one of the speakers in the Facing Foreign Agenda (MEGA) symposium on Saturday organised by Muslim groups Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) and Pembina, which was themed "Malays in Leadership Crisis".

According to her, she only decided to highlight the "Nam tien" event as she sympathised with the untold plight of the Malay stock, such as the Cham people who were the victims of ethnic cleansing by the Khmer Rouge.

"I did not really present about 'Nam tien' ... I took it as universal," Zaharah told The Malay Mail Online in an interview here.

"There was no defence for the Cham people, no defence against the Khmer Rouge for 30 years, there was no defence at all.

"The world could not be bothered with these deaths. Unfortunately, the dead are Malays, of Malay stock," the Malaysian Archaeology Association writer added.

Zaharah's presentation in the MEGA symposium was titled "Memahami Maksud Nam Tien Menjajah Terselindung dan Direstui Dunia" ("Understanding the meaning of Nam Tien, a hidden invasion sanctioned by the world").

The historian said she had left the event early, and was not aware that she had been part of a dialogue session that discussed other "foreign threats" towards Muslim Malays, including Shiah teaching, free trade agreements and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Americanisation, and Christianisation.

Zaharah said she had no racial agenda, and was only presenting historical facts in her allotted time.

"Nam tien", a Vietnamese term literally meaning "South march", generally refers to a southward expansion of Vietnamese territory from its original heartland in the Red River Delta between the 11th and 18th century.

The Cham are remnants of the ancient kingdom of Champa of people who now live in parts of Cambodia and Vietnam, and are related to the Malays through a common lineage.

Hundreds of thousands of them were reportedly killed during the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s.

Zaharah had mentioned Khmer Rouge as one of the transgressors of the so-called "southern invasion" against the Malay stock, which also included the earlier Dai Viet, a Vietnamese dynasty which came from South China.

Other groups involved in the "invasion" and mentioned by her were the Tai people against the Funan Kingdom, and the Thai people towards the Malay peninsula.

Zaharah said the portions of her presentation on "Nam tien" were based on a paper by a Professor Yang Baoyun from Peking University, called "Contribution à l'histoire de la principauté des Nguyên au Vietnam méridional, 1600-1775" (Contribution to the history of Nguyen Principality in Southern Vietnam, 1600-1775).

She said other parts of her presentation were derived from scholarly works of authors such as British navy officer Sherard Osborn, and Yale University history professor Ben Kiernan.

Last year, Zaharah had been part of a conference on the origin of the Malay race, where she presented findings from an archaeological and genome study showing that ancient Proto-Malays who lived in the Sunda Shelf were the ancestors of the human race.

A book on the topic, co-written by several historians including Zaharah, is expected to be published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) by the end of this year. 


Anti-PCA protest amid strong police cordon

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 04:41 PM PDT

Suaram looking to handover memorandum to home minister protesting amendments to the PCA, which will be tabled for its second reading today

P Ramani, FMT

A group of 20 Suaram demonstrators marched towards parliament to protest the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) 1959 which is expected to go for its second reading today.

About 20 policemen formed a human barricade near the parliament gate to prevent the group which is hoping to hand over a memorandum to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi protesting the amendments.

The group are waiting for a parliament rep to take them in to handover the memorandum to the home minister.

The protestors were joined by Pakatan Rakyat reps as well as other NGO leaders. Also present were Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson S Ambiga and MIPAS sec-gen S Barathidasan.

Civil liberties groups say the provisions on detention without trial in the PCA violates fundamental human rights values enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The PCA (Amendment and Extension) Bill 2013 went through its first reading on Sept 25, 2013 in the Dewan Rakyat.

Suaram says the amendments proposed in the bill harkens back to the days of the Internal Security Act which was repealed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Sept 15, 2011 along with three Emergency Declarations.

The demonstration was organised by a coalition of NGOs, among who were Suaram, Gabugan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS).

At about 11am, the group was taken inside parliament by Opposition MPs Nurul Izzah Anwar (Lembah Pantai), Wong Chen (Kelana Jaya), G Manivannan (Kapar), Fuziah Salleh (Kuantan) and N Surendran (Padang Serai).

The NGOs were led by GMI chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Nor who initially met a representative from the Home Ministry but insisted on meeting either the Home Minister or his deputy to receive the memorandum.

Since either minister failed to turn up, the representatives sat at the parliament lobby in protest. PKR deputy president Azmin Ali joined in as a sign of support.

After 20 minutes, Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar met the representatives and received the memorandum.

Syed Ibrahim wanted the PCA Amendment Bill to be withdrawn and urged the Home Minister to consult legal fraternities such as the Bar Council before it is tabled for a second reading.

According to the GMI chairman, there are several irregularities in the PCA which contravenes Human Rights values and will be detrimental to the public.

The Deputy Home Minister promised to bring the memorandum to the attention of the Home Minister and revert to the protestors and the NGOs.



In Umno battle, Ali Rustam joins list of saviours protecting Malays from others

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 11:21 AM PDT 

(TMI) - He said the biggest problem facing the country at this time was intolerance, and certain quarters were raising questions pertaining to equality and making comparisons with the special privileges for the Malays. "Some people just do not learn or respect. The Constitution lists in detail the Malay rights mainly, so stop questioning and respect the rights of the Malay,"  

Add Umno vice-president aspirant Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam to the growing list of party officials who believe that the best way to win big in the party polls next month is to play the role of saviour to Malays under siege.

The former Malacca chief minister, who blamed Chinese voters for his defeat in Election 2013, has been making the rounds to meet party delegates, using that loss and the current antipathy in Umno towards non-Malays to boost his chances of emerging as one of the three party vice-presidents in the October 19 elections.

Other candidates in Umno such as incumbent vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Umno Youth chief aspirant Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi have also been playing the Malay rights card in this year's race.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insider, Ali said his mission was to strengthen Umno against groups such as DAP and Chinese educationist group Dong Zong as only through political means can the Malays be kept safe.

"Groups like DAP and Dong Zong are out to sideline Malay rights... they want to remove them from the Federal Constitution because they do not like it. But the Malays don't do such things towards other races," he said in a telephone interview.

Ali said the demands of these groups were "unconstitutional".

"This was what was feared before independence and it has now come true," he added.

Asked if he intends to turn Umno into a right-wing Malay group akin to Perkasa, Ali said, "I do not want to refer to anyone, but we (Umno) have our own way of doing things."

He said it was not necessary for Umno to emulate any Malay right-wing group or those calling for stern action to be taken against the alleged anti-Malay groups.

"I will do things according to the Constitution, unlike some who have been very inconsiderate in their demands."

Read more at: 

Lawyers question criteria for promoting judges

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 10:18 AM PDT 

(TMI) - 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.

Read more at: 

Malaysia’s compromised electoral system

Posted: 29 Sep 2013 10:13 AM PDT 

The EC is listed under the Prime Minister's Office on the PMO website.

It's not the "foreigner watch", which I personally think is racist and problematic, that Malaysians should be most concerned about. The truth is that much of the election was already won before polling day. And what we should be most concerned about are the numerous amendments that have systematically opened up the electoral system to manipulation. These worrying amendments have also placed the Election Commission (EC) under the ruling party's control.

Ding Jo-Ann, The Nut Graph 

OUR electoral system is in a mess. This I got from attending and volunteering with the recently concluded Bersih People's Tribunal on the 5 May 2013 general election.

Many have touted the 13th general election since independence (GE13) to be the most hotly contested in our nation's history. That's a fair assessment. Tensions rode high amidst talk of illicit ballot boxes and "foreigners" impersonating voters.

However, it's not the "foreigner watch", which I personally think is racist and problematic, that Malaysians should be most concerned about. The truth is that much of the election was already won before polling day. And what we should be most concerned about are the numerous amendments that have systematically opened up the electoral system to manipulation. These worrying amendments have also placed the Election Commission (EC) under the ruling party's control.

What are some of the most damaging provisions in these amendments, and how did they come about?

EC's independence

A crucial element in ensuring a fair election is an independent EC. This has been under threat from the very start even before independence was attained. EC members are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. In our constitutional democracy, that means that the prime minister advises the monarch on who gets selected as an EC member.

The Reid Commission originally proposed that these appointments enjoyed "the confidence of all democratic political parties and of persons of all communities". This specific wording, however, was watered down by a working group of British officials, rulers' representatives and Alliance members. It now reads that EC members must "enjoy public confidence"[1].

This broad and vague wording dilutes the EC's independence because it reduces the standard of acceptability for an EC member. The original wording would have ensured that an EC member must have the confidence of both government and opposition parties, and also that of Malaysia's multiethnic community. The current phrase in the law in fact makes the standard of appointment much lower.

Indeed, there have been accusations that the EC now functions as a government department and not as an independent, impartial body. Currently, all seven EC members are retired civil servants. To compound matters, the EC is in fact listed under the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on the PMO website. The EC's deputy chair, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, has also described himself as a government servant "to this day".

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