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Money for nothing

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 09:46 PM PDT


What should be of even more grave concern to all Malaysians is the great unknown – just how much more wastage and inefficiencies are there, which are not being investigated?

Tricia Yeoh, The Sun

IF there is one government document Malaysians look forward to each year, it's the Auditor-General's Report. Once released, we go crazy picking it apart and selecting our favourite delectable pieces to rave about to friends.

It was no different this year with the 2012 report. This time, we even managed to make it to the Wall Street Journal that reported on the wasteful spending and mismanagement.

For instance, we read about the Education Ministry wasting RM2 billion on poor school security systems with unsatisfactory results, 20 branded wall clocks bought by the Broadcasting Department for RM3,810 each, more than 38 times the estimated price of RM100, and a RM400,000 claim difference for Health Ministry uniforms, among many other ridiculously shameful examples (never mind the 44 missing loaded firearms that the police said could have fallen into the sea from boats).

A total estimate of wastage caused by such gross inefficiency was not given, mainly because this was merely a partial audit of the federal government bureaucracy.

The report only covered observations from the audit of "21 programmes/ activities/ projects of 15 Federal Ministries/ Departments and management of 4 Government Companies", so imagine the results if this sampling was widened to include the hundreds of programmes run by the 24 federal ministries over the full year.

Even so, the total sum of wastage based on select cases quoted by mainstream media came up to RM3.5 billion, which, by the way, is RM200 million more than what the Finance Ministry has told us the government would save by increasing oil prices in its recent subsidy rationalisation move.

Although government does eventually need to phase out subsidy dependency, what infuriates people most is that such efforts are not perceived to be matched in commensurate measure by attempts to reduce unnecessary government spending.

It was timely that an IDEAS policy paper (the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs for which I work) by author Professor David Jones from the University of Brunei Darussalam, gave specific proposals on how transparency could help existing failings in the public procurement system.

He states that Malaysia spends more than RM150 billion each year on procurement, almost one fourth of our nominal GDP. This is higher than what most OECD countries spend, about 12% of their GDP annually.

The various acts, treasury instructions and circulars that form the basis of government procurement are clear, for example in stipulating that open tenders are required for works, goods and services procured worth more than RM200,000 a year.


Comparison of Police Powers of Arrest in Malaysia and the United Kingdom

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 09:38 PM PDT


A police officer's duty is to combat crime and provide protection to the citizens of the country. In order to carry out their duties well, they are granted certain powers. The most fundamental power given to them as police officers is the right to arrest.

Jevinder Singh, Loyar Burok 

Jevinder Singh compares the police powers of arrest in Malaysia and the UK and comes with some frank observations. 

A police officer's duty is to combat crime and provide protection to the citizens of the country. In order to carry out their duties well, they are granted certain powers. The most fundamental power given to them as police officers is the right to arrest. Arrest is the "restraint of a man's person, obliging him to be obedient to the law and defined to be the execution of the command of some court of record or officer of justice" (Krishnan, 2008). Police officers are not allowed to abuse their power by simply arresting whoever they want because there are certain fixed guidelines as well as fundamental liberties granted to us as citizens. They will require proper grounds to take someone into custody for them to be able to conduct further investigations and to strengthen their case over the accused or suspected offender.

An arrest has to be done in line with the law of Malaysia because Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia states that personal freedom is part of a citizen's fundamental liberties and the Federal Constitution is the highest source of law in Malaysia. Malaysia has its own Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that is used to govern the arrest procedure. There are two types of arrest which are known as an arrest with warrant and an arrest without warrant. An arrest without warrant is also known as a "seizable offence". The third column of the First Schedule to the CPC shows that offences under the Penal Code which are punishable with imprisonment of three years and above are seizable offences. This means that the police may just arrest you without a warrant for any offence in violation of the Penal Code. An example would be theft. According to the Penal Code, the crime of theft is a seizable offence under s 379. section 23 of the CPC provides power to police officers to arrest without a warrant under certain circumstances. section 23(1)(a) is often the provision used by judges when deciding on a case. section 23(1)(a) states that the "police without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant of arrest may arrest any person who has been concerned in any offence committed anywhere in Malaysia which is a seizable offence under any law in force in that part of Malaysia in which it was committed or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned". In the case Tan Eng Hoe v AG, the claimant was arrested mistakenly for a fraud case because he matched the description of the actual offender. He then sued for wrongful arrest but Whitley J held that a reasonable man would have thought he was the offender due to the similarities. The police were justified for arresting him without a warrant. According to Sidhu (2008), "credible information" means that the information received by the police has to be reliable. A plain allegation without any other concrete evidence is not considered to be credible information. In Hashim bin Saud v Yahaya bin Hashim & Anor, an electricity generator was stolen and a report was lodged. The plaintiff was arrested as instructed by the first defendant, Inspector Yahaya without a warrant after information was given by an informant about a stolen cement mixer. The plaintiff then took action against the defendants for wrongful detention but Harun J held that the information that was given by the plaintiff had proven to be reliable and credible in the past. Therefore, the arrest of the plaintiff without a warrant was proven to be lawful.

A "non-seizable offence" is an offence where police officers are only allowed to arrest you with a warrant according to the third column of the First Schedule to the CPC. Therefore, a police officer is not allowed to arrest without a warrant if the punishment of the offence is less than three years. That being said, if there is any written law that states an offence is seizable even though the punishment is less than three years imprisonment is therefore seizable under the principle of generalia specialibus non derogant.This latin phrase means that when a matter falls under any specific provision, then it must be governed by that provision and not by the general provision (US Legal, n.d.).

Section 15(1) of the CPC states the procedure to arrest and remand. Under section 15(1), there are three ways a police officer may arrest you. Police may arrest by touching the body of the person to be arrested, confining the body of the person to be arrested or where there is submission to custody by word or action. In the appeal case of Shaaban & Ors v Chong Fook Kam & Anor, the Privy Council had the case to consider what elements constitute a valid arrest. Devlin LJ said that, "An arrest occurs when a police officer states in terms that he is arresting or when he uses force to restrain the individual concerned. It occurs when by words or conduct he makes it clear that he will, if necessary, use force to prevent the individual from going where he may want to go."  A police officer stopping someone to make an enquiry is therefore not considered an arrest (Sidhu, 2008).

The Federal Constitution of Malaysia grants Malaysians certain rights when it comes to police arrest. According to Article 5(3), as soon as someone is arrested, they must be notified of the grounds of the arrest. In the case of Christie & Anor v Leachinsky, the House of Lords explained that an arrested person must be informed of the reason of the arrest instantly. After which if the reason is withheld, the arrest as well as the imprisonment would amount to false imprisonment. Hence, the police officer that arrested the person would be held liable for false imprisonment. Besides that, according to Article 5(4) of the Federal Constitution, a person that is arrested must be presented to a Magistrates Court without any unreasonable delay within 24 hours excluding the travel time. The arrested cannot further remain in police custody without a Magistrate's order. Under section 28(A) of the CPC, an arrested person has rights to be informed the basis of his arrest as soon as may be, a right to contact a legal practitioner within 24 hours of the arrest, rights to communicate with a relative or a friend to notify about his whereabouts within 24 hours of the arrest, as well as to be able to contact a lawyer. The lawyer is allowed to be present at the location of detainment before the police officers proceed with their questioning or recording of statements from the person arrested.


Save the nation, ban Umno elections

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 04:21 PM PDT

Erna Mahyuni, The Malay Mail

Right now is a great time to leave the country for a long break and return... after the Umno elections are over.

Do it for your health. The news headlines reporting what Umno politicians are saying in a bid to out-Melayu each other are so toxic, I think I need a medical checkup.

I can imagine the news summary of my coming death now: "Breaking news: subeditor/columnist dies of massive brain injury from prolonged exposure to Umno election campaigning rhetoric."

But in all seriousness, I feel like the news is constantly being hijacked by candidates vying to say the most racist, idiotic or sensationalist thing probably just to get into the news.

Or maybe they all have secret shares in Malaysiakini or The Malaysian Insider. Who knows?

I quite like my job but these days I feel bone weary before my shift even starts. The content of my work inbox can be summarised as "Really stupid things our politicians say".

It is depressing as I really did think that the racist, divisive chatter would calm down a little after the general election.

How was I to know that Umno was only just getting started? Please-lah, stop recycling your election strategies.

GE13: Alienate the Chinese community to get more Malay votes.

Umno elections: Alienate the Chinese community to get more party votes.

You know things are getting bad when being locked away indefinitely without trial under the newly amended PCA looks really good.

In all seriousness, though, Umno campaigning should be minimised to, say, a week?

You're not being reasonable, Erna, I can hear Umno members say.

Well, you're not being reasonable with all the bullcrap the potential candidates are saying just to win votes.

Umno, like it or not, is not just the leader of Malays but the source of leadership for most of the country.

Umno candidates are expected not just to look after their Malay brethren but to care about their country and everyone else who happens to live in it.

Like, oh, very not Malay me.

Or make it really simple. Just make Umno elections Facebook contests. Whoever gets the most likes on Facebook wins.

The nation saves money, I don't get an aneurysm and the news can be filled with more important things. Like kittens.

Less Umno, more kittens. Now, who's with me?

Umno Leaders and Their Racist Hatespeak

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 01:58 PM PDT


And yet it continues to be supported – to the extent that at GE13, Umno won nine seats more than in 2008.  

Kee Thuan Chye

No run-up to any Umno party elections has been so notoriously marked with racist fervour as the current one. At least two of the contenders for senior positions have revealed their true colours by openly bashing non-Malays. In any sensibly-governed country with sensible laws, they would both have been arrested for provoking racial tension. But Malaysia is increasingly becoming the country where Umno is king, and anyone who is not Malay doesn't count for much.

This is why someone no less than the home minister can say with impunity that because more than half of identified gang members in the country are Indians, and most of the victims "are our Malays", the police are justified, if they have the evidence, in shooting to kill gang members before asking questions.

This statement from Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in front of presumably a predominantly Malay audience in Melaka last Saturday is not only racist; it is also something that in a civilised, sensibly-governed country with the right sensibilities would have resulted in his being sacked, without hesitation, as home minister.

His statement totally disregards human rights and natural justice. It encourages the police to take lives instead of bringing people to justice. It is telling the police to be judge and executioner all at once. How could it have come from a minister of the government?

This is not what we teach our children. But now that a minister has said it, it will have a negative impact on the young. How can we let Ahmad Zahid get away with it? This is not only conduct unbecoming; it is conduct unforgivable.

Lately, Ahmad Zahid has been behaving like a gangster himself – in the way he told Malaysians who were not happy with the country's political system that they should leave; in the way he promoted detention without trial for criminals and pushed for the amendments to the Crime Prevention Act (CPA); in the way he refused to answer a question from Malaysiakini reporter Lawrence Yong last week over how the police lost 44 loaded firearms as revealed by the Auditor-General's report; in the way he threatened journalists at the Saturday event in Melaka that if they were to report what he said, he would close down their newspapers.

These were his words: "…this is a closed-door meeting; this is only for Umno delegates. If any news about what I say appears in the newspapers, be it in Malay, English or Chinese or Tamil, I will shut down that newspaper. Do not write, I say do not publish, do not put on Facebook, do not anything. I know what to do. You are dealing with Zahid Hamidi, okay?"

That last bit, "You are dealing with Zahid Hamidi, okay?", is particularly arrogant. So too is the claim that he can shut down any newspaper just because they publish what he said. In the past, the home minister could have done that and his action could not be questioned. But now, after the recent amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), the action can be challenged in court. Obviously, Ahmad Zahid is getting out of control.

Besides, as far as that Melaka event is concerned, it was reportedly a government function with the Government's stamp being clearly visible on the logos in the backdrop. But he himself termed it as being "only for Umno delegates", which must therefore mean that the organisers of the event were misusing government funds and machinery for something related to the party. This would constitute abuse of power.

Read more at: http://my.news.yahoo.com/blogs/bull-bashing/forgive-racist-talk-154430033.html 

The foot is in the mouth ... again

Posted: 08 Oct 2013 12:34 PM PDT


I am writing this article from the heart – fully aware of the consequences. I am well aware that a fellow journalist was arrested for "her own protection". I very well know that I could incur the wrath of the Lord and Master. Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us. 

R. Nadeswaran, The Sun 

WHEN mobile telephones and their related technology landed on our shores more than two decades ago, they were deemed as "telecommunications equipment" which enabled the people to stay in touch with each other without the need for telephone exchanges, wires and the other trappings of a land line.

Some of them at that time appeared to be weapons of destruction, one of which was the size and weight of a brick! Over the years, with the advent of modern technology, they have become smaller and have a host of applications.

The technological advancement has not stopped. What could be classified as an innovation today could become obsolete the next day. Instead of just being used to make calls, the mobile telephone can be used as a camera, a voice recorder and even a video player. And images and voices can be sent out at the press of a button to hundreds of people instantaneously.

It is because of this that certain countries chose to ban certain brands and applications because of the threat of abuse and for security reasons.

Many holding positions and those in high office take cognizance of these existing and innocent-looking gadgets and choose to be guarded when speaking in private knowing very well that the mobile telephone has other uses.

That was perhaps what Home Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not take into account or deliberately chose to ignore when he made the threat of closing down newspapers in a speech last Saturday.

Unknown to him, someone in the audience had made a complete recording of his nonsensical tirade and his innocuous links to a secret society which had been banned by none other than his own ministry.

That audio recording has now gone viral and no one is paying any heed to his threat and the Chinese Newspaper Editors Association has urged Zahid to retract his threat.

The threat aside, what was more shocking was his endorsement of the Tiga Line underworld group, calling them his friends and urging them to do what they needed to do.

Tiga Line, he thundered, weren't thugs and were in fact some form of benevolent gangsters that only turned up at festivals.

"I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done," he can be heard in the recording, which has now been made available in several internet sites.

His remarks drew loud cheers from the room, and he took it further by taking a racist line when he declared that Malays were the usual victims.

"The largest drug dealers are Chinese, the smaller ones are Indians and the users are Malays. In internet gambling, the bosses are Chinese, operators are Indians and patrons are Malays.

Therefore the victims are Malays," Zahid is heard saying, adding that he is home minister due to Malay support that made him Umno vice-president.

It is understandable the minister is in the race for a senior party post but to take a racial stance on victims of crime is certainly the bottom of the pits.

Using crime to pit one race against the other is not acceptable. Crime has no race barrier. Using imagination and not foresight, the minister has chosen to conjure his own reasons without any facts or figures, just to win a few brownie points for the sake of his career and political expediency.

It is obvious that he has little respect for the law; pays no heed to common sense; lacks good judgment and has no self-esteem by resorting to such levels of disgusting popularity-gaining efforts.

Besides, the threat to close newspapers goes against the basic grain of the prime minister's promise of easing up on press freedom. What message are we sending out to the people when the minister openly defies and derides the country's No. 1 and his own plans for a fully-developed nation?

How will the PM face an international audience when a member of his own cabinet makes such unwarranted threats and attacks? How will he be able to defend his policies when renegades start putting their foot in the mouth?

I am writing this article from the heart – fully aware of the consequences. I am well aware that a fellow journalist was arrested for "her own protection". I very well know that I could incur the wrath of the Lord and Master.

Silence is no longer an option for those who choose to call themselves journalists. For our dignity and pride, we have to stand and say our piece on those who choose to ride roughshod over us.

Politicians should no longer be allowed to use journalism as cannon-fodder for their actions or the lack of them. Or for that matter, for political gain and political glory.

If we want to practise good journalism to serve as the eyes, ears and mouths of fellow Malaysians, we cannot be practitioners with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

R. Nadeswaran believes that bullying and threats have to stop to allow journalists to practise their craft. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com


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