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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Govt's human rights report to UN 'less than truthful'

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 09:53 PM PDT

Jaqueline Png,

The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) has slammed the government for being "less than truthful" in its report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is the Human Rights Council's mechanism to promote and protect human rights through peer review process every 4.5 years. Malaysia is scheduled to present its report for the second time on Oct 24 in Geneva.

The 20-page report talks about the current human rights conditions and efforts put into improving them. Among the Issues touched upon are rights of women, children and indigenous people, healthcare, right to education and healthcare, as well as political and civil rights.

Comango spokesperson Honey Tan claimed that the report was deceiving as it states that the government has implemented "all" of the recommendations from the first UPR in 2009.

"The suggestions were phrases like 'beginning to study' or 'to investigate'. There are no substantial steps taken to really address human rights violation," she said at a briefing here today..

Tan, who is with Pusat Kesedaran Kominiti Selangor (Empower), also criticized the report for not providing sufficient details on how resources were allocated for action taken to tackle the problems.

Comango had complied a report to the government in March but the authorities only sought consultation from the NGOs two days before the May 5 general election.

"We boycotted the consultation because it was so short notice, and clearly we do not have enough time to discuss what should be written in the report. And here, the government claims that it has consulted us," said Tan.

The coalition is made up of 54 NGOs including Suaram, KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, All Women's Action Society (Awam), Tenaganita and the Centre for Independant Journalism.

Bar Council vice-president Andrew Khoo, who were also at the briefing today, said the government's report was merely a lip service.

"The government is taking the credit for the work done by the NGOs. The report is superficial and weak, it underscores the attitude of our government towards human rights issues."

He noted that the government has proudly announced the abolition of the "draconian" Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), but there was no mention of how the Prevention of Crime Act will inherit ISA's detention without trial nature.

Another example highlighted by Tenaganita's Katrina Jorene Maliamauv was the 6P Programme to legalise foreign workers and immigrants.

In the report, the government hailed the programme as "beneficial", but in reality, the programme has created even more room for employers to exploit foreign workers.

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Allah issue: Anwar calls for calm

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 07:08 PM PDT

It is understood Pakatan stand is that the word 'Allah' should not be exclusive to Muslims as Christians and Jews are also allowed to use it, but the name should not be used in a wrong and irresponsible manner that could jeopardise racial and religious harmony.

Lisa J. Ariffin, FMT

Pakatan Rakyat supremo Anwar Ibrahim has called for calm following the Court of Appeal's decision to ban the term 'Allah' from being used in Catholic weekly, The Herald.

The Permatang Pauh MP was responding to worldwide criticisms on the judgment, which law experts said had misplaced its priority by misinterpreting Article 3 and Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

"A lot of people have expressed concern on the matter. Pakatan's consensus is to call for calm and reasoned discourse on the subject and not condemn those who differ in views," he said.

"Our collective stand on the issue remains the same as announced last year," he added, refusing to elaborate further.

It is understood Pakatan stand is that the word 'Allah' should not be exclusive to Muslims as Christians and Jews are also allowed to use it, but the name should not be used in a wrong and irresponsible manner that could jeopardise racial and religious harmony.

Asked if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had met with opposition leaders to discuss the much-debated issue, Anwar said: "He (Najib) is not around."

"Najib doesn't seem to be around when it comes to controversial issues. This reflects the state of poor leadership in the country. It (Malaysia) needs a leader. The country is not on autopilot," he added.



Cops confirm probe into sedition case involving Ali Rustam

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 05:29 PM PDT

(The Star) - Police have confirmed that a sedition case has been opened against former Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam for remarks made at a function last week.

Kuala Lumpur deputy CID director ACP Khairi Ahrasa in confirming the case refused to comment further as police were in early stages of investigations.

This comes after DAP Kota Laksamana assemblyman Lai Kuen Ban lodged a police report against the Umno vice-presidential candidate for remarks allegedly made at a Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Berhad (PUNB) function on Oct 8.

The alleged remarks included an economic comparison between the Malay and Chinese communities. He reportedly commented that casinos, lotteries, massage parlours and ah longs should not be allowed to reach the Malay community. 

Brickfields OCPD ACP Azlee Abdullah said police have already started recording statements from the event organisers and  attendees, but have yet to summon Mohd Ali himself.

"We will do that soon enough. After the statements are recorded, the case will be forwarded to the prosecutors to decide if he is to be charged," said ACP Azlee.

Mohd Ali, who was Malacca Chief Minister for 14 years, lost the Bukit Katil parliamentary seat to Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin of PKR during GE13.

He is among six vice-presidential candidates vying for three seats in the party's polls this Saturday.


Jenice Lee vs DAP case management on Oct 28

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 05:24 PM PDT

(The Star) - The High Court here has fixed Oct 28 for the next case management of a suit filed by former Teratai assemblyman Jenice Lee Ying Ha against the DAP over her expulsion from the party. 

Justice Nor Bee Ariffin set the date in chambers after meeting counsel Harjit Singh Sandhu who acted for Lee while Sangeet Kaur, for DAP.  

Sangeet told reporters later that they would inform the court on Lee's current position in the party. She said the plaintiff's counsel would reassess Lee's position before taking further action.  

"The judge later set Oct 28 for the next case management," Sangeet said.

On June 5, Lee had filed the suit against the DAP over her expulsion from the party.  

Lee, 33, had named DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as the defendant.  

In the statement of claim, Lee sought a declaration for her membership in DAP since 2001 to be reinstated immediately, with cost and other relief deemed fit by the court.  

She claimed that her expulsion from the party, which she knew through the media last April 20, was null and void because an investigation by the Registrar of Society (ROS) revealed that the election of the party's central executive council (CEC) members, held in December last year, was not in accordance with the DAP constitution.  

In the recent 13th general election, Lee, the former Selangor DAP publicity secretary, contested as an independent candidate for the Teratai seat, but lost.


DAP bent on use of Allah word by Christians

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 05:09 PM PDT

(NST) - DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the party is firm in its stand that Christians should be allowed to use the word "Allah".

He said the Pakatan opposition pact would make a joint statement on the matter today.

"This is a sensitive issue and as such it is important for all three opposition parties to meet up and give a joint statement. As the state Pakatan chairman, I will wait for the official announcement on the matter.

"However, as for the DAP, we stand firm with our original stand that Christians should be allowed to use the word 'Allah'," he said when asked to comment on the Court of Appeal ruling on Monday.

The court had ruled that the Catholic weekly The Herald could not use the word in its Bahasa Malaysia section, printed mainly for the benefit of Christians from East Malaysia.

The ruling had overturned a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision in 2009.


Kelantan Mufti warns non-Muslims in state against using Allah

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 04:45 PM PDT

Shukri did not rule out the possibility of a backlash from Muslims if non-Muslims continued to use the word Allah.

Elizabeth Zachariah, TMI

The Mufti of Kelantan has warned non-Muslims in the state who use Allah in their worship that they could face action under the Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1981.

Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamad said non-Muslims have to face the consequences if they still insisted on using Allah, as Malaysia had laws that had to be followed.

"We in Kelantan have our own enactment. For a long time, the enactment has prohibited non-Muslims from using Allah. The enactment is for the civil court, not Shariah," Utusan Malaysia reported today.

"So we leave it to the authorities to act on those who break the law. Those who are rational will understand the consequences," Shukri added.

He was responding to a statement from the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) chairman, Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, who said Christians would continue to use Allah in worship and prayers.

Shukri did not rule out the possibility of a backlash from Muslims if non-Muslims continued to use the word Allah.

"It is a possibility, something that we don't want to happen," he warned.



Jakarta Post: ‘Allah’ ruling risks spreading to Indonesia

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 04:29 PM PDT

(MM) - Malaysia's court ruling on Muslims' exclusivity over "Allah" could inspire Indonesians of the faith to lay the same claim over the Arabic word, Jakarta Post warned in an editorial yesterday.

The English-language daily in Indonesia noted that religious exclusivism was equally strong in Indonesia, "if not stronger" than in neighbouring Malaysia, citing previous debates like whether non-Muslims should be allowed to say the traditional Arabic phrases "Assalamu'alaikum" (peace be upon you), "Alhamdulillah" (praise be to God) and "Insya Allah" (God willing).

"It's only a matter of time before someone takes the cue from Malaysia and starts raising objections to non-Muslims using the word Allah," Jakarta Post wrote in an editorial titled "No one has monopoly claim to God: On the use of 'Allah' in Malaysia".

"No one who believes in the power of one supreme God can really claim exclusivity. There is no such thing as the God for Catholics, just as there is no such thing as the God or Allah for Muslims," added the newspaper.

Jakarta Post stressed that "those who claim exclusivity to God undermine their own faith, and inadvertently or not, preach polytheism".

The republic's newspaper said it was ironic that religious exclusivism, "which goes against the grain of Islamic teaching", was now formally entrenched in Malaysia, a country that takes pride in its racial and religious diversity.

The daily also noted that while Malaysian Muslims went for religious exclusivism, Pope Francis headed the opposite direction towards inclusivism by saying recently: "I believe in God, not in a Catholic God".

"Monotheism is the foundation of the Abrahamic faiths – including Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and it entails that their followers pray to the same God Almighty. The Pope is only reaffirming the very principle of monotheism but at the same time he is promulgating the inclusivity of the deity," said Jakarta Post.

"Every monotheistic religion will obviously claim exclusivity in their proximity to God, but that is not the same thing as claiming that God only listens to them and no one else," it added.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled against a High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Arabic word "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, the Herald.

The court adjudged the usage of the word "Allah" as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.

The 2009 High Court ruling, which found that the word "Allah" was not exclusive to Muslims, had sparked a string of attacks like arson and vandalism against non-Muslim places of worship, including Christian churches and Sikh temples.

Besides Sikhs, Christians in Arabic-speaking countries use the Middle-Eastern word "Allah" to describe their god.

Jakarta Post noted that Indonesian Muslims, who shared the linguistic similarities with Malaysians, translate the phrase "Lailaha Illallah" to "Tiada tuhan selain Allah" (No God but Allah), instead of the literal translation "No god but God".

"This erroneous translation may have become the basis that put Muslims in much of Southeast Asia to claim exclusivity to God," it said.

The daily theorised that the distinction between Allah and God may have been made to help convert polytheists, since the people in the region were mostly Hindus and Buddhists before Islam arrived in the 14th century.

"The late Islamist scholar Nurcholish Madjid drew sharp rebukes when he suggested that Indonesians should translate the term to 'No god but God', so the idea was dropped prematurely," said Jakarta Post.

The newspaper noted that Malaysia and Indonesia have, so far, practised a more moderate and tolerant strand of Islam, compared to Muslims in the Middle East, the origin of Islam, or in South Asia.

"But there is only a thin line dividing tolerance and intolerance, so we should not take this moderation for granted," said Jakarta Post.

"With the rising exclusivism that the Muslim majorities in these two countries are pushing, we may be witnessing the Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia becoming less and less tolerant. In fact, it may already be happening," added the daily. 


‘Umno is the real MCA opponent’

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 02:16 PM PDT 

(FMT) - MCA has to engage in a daily tug-of-war with Umno at all administrative levels, and the party will only be popular if it stood up against Umno, says sacked MCA man Lee Hwa Beng.

Former three-term Subang Jaya assemblyman Lee Hwa Beng said Umno is the real opponent of the MCA and only by standing up against the Malay party will it get the support of the Chinese.

Lee, who was sacked from MCA recently, said the party had to engage in a daily tug-of-war with Umno at all administrative levels.

"Our real opponent is not DAP as we only face the opposition party once every five years. Our real opponent is Umno.

"Every day at local, state or federal level, we have to face them. We have to stand up against them if not they keep eroding our (Chinese) rights.

"The more you stand up against Umno, the better received you are by the Chinese community.

"The moment you 'kowtow' to them, the Chinese will run away from MCA," he told FMT in an exclusive interview recently.

He said even the MCA leadership reckoned the dilemma.

"After the general election in 2008 and MCA was only left with 15 parliamentary seats, (the then MCA president) Ong Ka Ting told me he has to resign from the cabinet because he cannot be effective with that little representation.

"He said for sure he will be bullied by Umno. That's why he resigned," said Lee.

Lee's statement underlined the love-hate relationship between the many race-based parties in Barisan Nasional.

MCA and Umno on one hand have to stick together for political interest but on the other, both parties cannot compromise on issues and are determined to champion the interest of their own race.

Lee said Umno needed the MCA to avoid a regime change.

"Under the circumstances, it is important for MCA to get rid of the president, Dr Chua Soi Lek, who is handicapped because of his involvement in a sex scandal.

"Chua has committed oral sex in the video and it is a Penal Code offence. So this has made him a lame duck. The moment he opens his mouth, Umno can use this to threaten him," he said.

He also criticised Chua for allegedly being weak by surrendering several MCA seats to other BN component parties in the last general election.

Umno will lose support

On the future outlook of MCA, the former MCA central committee member said: "Sadly, the ball lies on Umno's court".

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