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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Malaysia move over detention passes key test

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 09:11 PM PDT

Parliament's lower houses passes law that gives authorities power to hold people for years without charge. 

(Al Jazeera) - A controversial Malaysian government move to give authorities the power to hold people for years without charge was headed for parliamentary approval after it was passed at the lower house.

The move by Prime Minister Najib Razak's long-ruling coalition has sparked an uproar among the opposition and activists who denounce it as a step back towards the tough authoritarian rule that Najib had pledged to end.

The amendment to a 1959 crime prevention law allows authorities to hold crime suspects for an initial two years which can be extended indefinitely without charge. The government says police need that to deal with a recent burst of gun violence.

But preventive detention is a highly charged issue in Malaysia, whose 56-year-old ruling coalition has been accused of regularly using previous tough laws to silence dissent.

Lawmakers and media reports said parliament's lower house passed the amendments early on Thursday, shortly after midnight.

"It's unconstitutional to us. It takes away the right to liberty. And the law is drafted in such a way that the net can cover everyone," Tian Chua, a senior opposition politician, told the AFP news agency.

The passage comes despite a pledge last week by the government to take into account concerns that have been raised.

Senate approval is still required, but that is virtually assured as the Barisan Nasional (National Front) ruling coalition controls the body.


Under public pressure for reform, Najib in 2011 abolished two tough, decades-old laws that allowed indefinite detention without trial, touting the move as a shift towards a more democratic society.

Najib said this week the crime amendments would not be abused, and his home minister insisted they were far weaker than the earlier security laws.

"I assure you again, this would not be used against someone just because we have political differences," Zahid Hamidi, the home minister, told parliament just before it voted, Malaysian media reported.

But Najib's opponents have accused him of swerving to the right after winning May general elections on promises of reform.

Police blame dozens of shootings in recent months on a turf war by gang members they say were freed when the previous security laws were scrapped.

They have pushed for stronger powers, but the opposition says police already have enough.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, said in a statement that "Malaysia is taking a huge step backwards on rights." 

He called the amendments "methods that do little to curtail crime, but threaten everyone's liberty".


Jomo: Malaysia mustn’t betray trading partners by signing TPPA

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 06:00 PM PDT

Sean Augustin,

Malaysia must not betray her trading partners by becoming a signatory to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a prominent economist cautioned.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram said the objective of the TPPA was to keep Malaysia in the "good books" of the USA which is an important trade partner.

It was important, Jomo said, to not go out of the way to offend them with scurrilous remarks.

"But you don't go from one end of the pendulum to the other by embracing the US and turning our backs on our other trading partners," he said when asked to elaborate on his stand on the controversial agreement.

Jomo was speaking to reporters here last night after launching his book, co-authored by Wee Chong Hui entitled "Malaysia@50".

The purpose of the TPPA, Jomo explained, was to isolate China, which is the country's number one trading partner. He said that it was not good to get into a bilateral deal with one partner against another.

Options should be kept open, said Jomo, who is the founder chair of the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs). He noted that the TPPA was drawn up when the US was running a huge trade deficit against China.

Malaysia, he pointed out, has a trade surplus with China.

"You don't get involved in their fight by taking sides. We stand to lose, not to gain," he said. As the deficit has since closed, rendering it "yesterday's problem", Malaysia should not get stuck in it.

Malaysia, Jomo warned, had a bigger problem in the form of an "economic NATO" between the US and Europe which would weaken the World Trade Organisation.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is an intergovernmental military alliance where its member states agree to a mutual defence in response to an attack by an external party.

"We should be thinking ahead of the challenges we are going to face instead of looking back," he said.

On the argument that the country would lose out if it did not take part in the TPPA, Jomo said that if certain quarters wanted to find trouble, they could always look for problems, citing the example of Vietnam being barred from exporting its catfish to the US after joining the WTO.

A “black day” for Malaysia as PCA passed, and the debate goes on

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 05:30 PM PDT

(TMI) - The passing of the revised Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) hours ago showed that the Prime Minister succumbed to right-wing pressure within Umno and reneged on his promise not to use preventive laws, opposition MPs said today.

"He has no guts to bring about reforms. We will look bad on the international stage," said PKR Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin.

While the opposition called it a black day for the country, Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers were convinced the revised law would help bring down the crime rate.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan expressed confidence that the crime rate would be reduced and said the opposition's arguments against the amendments had no merit.

The PCA now includes detention without trial, restrictions on judicial reviews, secrecy provisions and a recital of Article 149 in the preamble, all of which the opposition says is inconsistent with basic human rights guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

During debates at the committee stage of the PCA, several opposition lawmakers, including N. Surendran (PKR – Padang Serai), R. Sivarasa (PKR – Subang), Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (PAS – Sepang), Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS – Kota Bharu), Nga Kor Ming (DAP – Taiping) and Gobind Singh (DAP – Puchong) argued that the amendments be re-looked.

"They were trying to politicise the issue. But with this law, Malaysians will feel safer and the crime rate will come down," Kamalanathan said.

In response Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (PKR – Bukit Katil) said it was ridiculous for BN MPs to describe the opposition lawmakers' arguments as baseless.

"It is the government that went back on its promises. This is a black day for Malaysia," he shot back.



It’s business, not politics – Umno VP candidate defends Felda’s purchase of London property

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 05:22 PM PDT

(TMI) - Umno veteran Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad (pic) was in a bullish mood today, dismissing talk that his chances in the party's vice-presidential race would be derailed by Felda's purchase of a London serviced apartment complex.

"This is business, other government-linked companies have also purchased property abroad, such as the Employees Provident Fund and Lembaga Tabung Haji. You cannot go wrong if you buy property in London," argued the Felda chairman.

"The property was bought by Felda Investment Corp (FIC) UK Properties for Felda, not for me. It was a simple business decision and I do not see how it is related to politics."

Mohd Isa was referring to the upcoming Umno polls where he is involved in a six-way fight for three Umno vice-presidents' posts.

He said the £98 million (RM497 million) FIC paid for the London property was a reasonable amount, pointing out that it was at a prime location in upmarket Bayswater.

"The returns on investment are also favourable. The apartments are fully booked for five months so it is a good indicator," he added.

He said if property buyers wanted a cheaper price, then they should not look at prime areas.

"If we were to sell the apartment complex next year, we will still make a profit. The purchase of the apartment complex is not related to my candidacy in the Umno elections.

"You cannot buy property overnight. There is a process. FIC has to do due diligence, engage consultants; all of this is a process which takes six months to a year to complete. So how is it related to me contesting an Umno vice-president's position?" Mohd Isa said.



Home Minister backs police chief on missing guns excuse

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 05:13 PM PDT

(TMI) - Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has stood by his police chief who had earlier contended that the 44 guns which had gone missing could have have fallen into the sea.

"Yes, it could have... during operations," Ahmad Zahid (pic) told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

He was asked to comment on Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar's statement yesterday about the missing guns, which the 2012 Auditor General's Report revealed were among the lost police equipment worth RM1.3 million between 2010 and last year.

The equipment included 44 firearms and 29 vehicles.

Opposition politicians, in particular DAP's Teresa Kok, jumped at the findings, and connected the missing guns to the recent spike in violent crimes involving firearms.

The Home Minister however agreed that the police force needed to be beefed up and strengthened in the wake of the revelation.

Yesterday, Khalid, in dismissing speculation that the guns could have fallen into the hands of criminals, said they could have fallen into the sea.



DAP’s re-election suspicious, says Zulkifli

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 04:48 PM PDT

A candidate for CEC re-election accuses the DAP leadership of 'maneuvering' the outcome of the polls last Sunday to keep status quo.

Athi Shankar, FMT

An upset DAP grassroots leader has alleged that the party re-election held last Sunday was tainted with dirty tactics and undemocratic elements.

The DAP's Bayan Baru parliamentary liaison committee chairman Zulkifli Mohd Noor alleged that the poll's results had been pre-determined through the candidates' list allegedly prepared by the party's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng's camp

Describing the list as 'menu', he said that it was distributed to delegates during the balloting process to ensure that only candidates closely aligned with the Lim Dynasty were elected to the central executive committee (CEC).

'Lim Dynasty' is a term coined to describe the internal faction led by Guan Eng and his father Kit Siang.

"I realised that I will lose when my name was not in the said 'menu'.

"It was never a free and fair electoral process," Zulkifli told a press conference here today.

Also present was Penang Malay Congress president Rahmad Isahak who quit the party last week.

Zulkifli contested and lost in the CEC re-election, which was held following a directive by the Registrar of Societies (ROS). He only managed to secure 220 votes.

A few days before the party election, Zulkifli had announced his intention to be the party's first Malay national chairman, provided incumbent Karpal Singh calls it a day and paves way for him to takeover.

ROS issued the re-election directive after its investigations found that the party polls held in Penang on Dec 15, 2012 were marred by irregularities.

Zulkifli also described the letter written by Guan Eng, in four languages, to all delegates a few days before the re-election, as a dirty campaigning tactic to maintain the CEC status quo.

He further questioned as to why candidates were only issued the delegates' list, void of their addresses or contact numbers, a few days before polling on Sept 29.

Zulkifli received the incomplete list via courier only two days before polling.

Suspicious irregularities during balloting

Another contentious issue was in regards to the use of indelible ink during balloting.

Zulkifli claimed that the ink can be wiped out from one's finger within three to four minutes with a piece of tissue, contrary to an earlier official announcement that it could last for a few hours.

He said he was also curious to know on whose directive the ink was used during the party polls as the CEC did not exist at that time.

Nevertheless, he said the use of ink was not mentioned in the party's constitution.

Zulkifli also claimed to have seen many new faces, whom he never met before or seen during last year's party polls, voting as delegates during the re-election on Sunday.



Zairil's appointment to state chair 'unconstitutional'

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 11:10 AM PDT 

(The Star) - How could the CEC replace a democratically elected leader with the one they appointed?

In the latest twist to the Kedah DAP leadership saga, its elected chief is rejecting the CEC's reaffirmation of Zairil Khir Johari as the interim state chairman.

Former Kota Darul Aman assemblyman Lee Guan Aik said Zairil's appointment was "unconstitutional".

"I was democratically elected as the state chairman during the 2010 annual general meeting.

"I was not appointed by the CEC or secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

"How could the CEC replace a democratically elected leader with the one they appointed?" he said, adding that a complaint had been made to the Registrar of Societies two months ago.

The CEC had first appointed Zairil in May and the freshly re-elected CEC, which convened its first meeting on Monday, re-affirmed the appointment.

Lim said Zairil was authorised to set up the state DAP committee.

Lee said he would leave it to the ROS to decide on the legitimate state leader and committee.

Organising secretary Anthony Loke said Kedah would be holding its state convention within six months as they had just appointed Zairil as the interim state chairman. 

Felda’s pricey London hotel buy sparks probe, Umno disquiet

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 11:06 AM PDT 

(TMI) - State plantation giant Felda's £98 million (RM497 million) purchase of a London serviced apartment complex is now being investigated by anti-graft officials and could derail its chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad's chances in the Umno vice-presidential race.

The Malaysian Insider understands there is also growing disquiet in Umno over the hefty price paid by Felda Investment Corp (FIC) UK Properties for the Grand Plaza Service Apartments in London's Bayswater suburb, a popular area among Malaysians living in the UK capital city.

"The price tag is the talk among Umno people because it is very expensive and it isn't something that Felda should venture into," an Umno warlord told The Malaysian Insider.

"There has been enough controversies over the FGVH listing, so we don't need another cause for the opposition to use," he added, referring to the Felda Global Ventures Holdings public listing last year.

It is also learnt that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is looking into the matter to see if there is any element of corruption in the deal that was sealed on September 4.

Sources said the MACC is working with others to investigate the matter.

"This is a sensitive matter as it involves an agency led by an Umno aspirant. It must not be seen as a way to knock Isa off the race," a source told The Malaysian Insider.

Read more at: 

Amended security law a huge step backwards, says Human Rights Watch

Posted: 02 Oct 2013 11:03 AM PDT 

(TMI) - Malaysia is taking a "huge step backwards" on human rights by returning to laws that allow detention without trial, said global rights advocate Human Rights Watch.

Its deputy Asia director Phil Robertson insisted that the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) would only serve to infringe on the people's liberty without serving its stated purpose of decreasing crime.

"The Malaysian government should immediately scrap proposed amendments to a law that would reinstate detention without trial for people the authorities believe have committed two or more serious offenses," Robertson said in a statement issued before the amended PCA was passed in Parliament early this morning.

The amendments were passed after a voice vote, with more "ayes" from the Barisan Nasional parliamentarians to drown "nays" from their Pakatan Rakyat counterparts.

The amendments are on detention without trial, restrictions on judial reviews, secrecy provisions and recital of Article 149 in the preamble, which the opposition claims is inconsistent with basic human rights guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

The bill was passed after minor changes were made, including adding two more members to the initial three-man Prevention of Crime Board, to whom reports on detainees will be submitted.

The opposition has in the run-up to the bill's passing repeatedly warned that the changes were similar to the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), which allowed detention without trial.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh had said the new contents were "no better" than the ISA while DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang described the amendments as regressive and "an obnoxious piece of legislation".

Robertson meanwhile expressed concern that the Board's operations and decisions would be kept from public view to protect its members.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's decision to "jam the law through parliament" could backfire on the nation's global reputation, and recalled Najib's pledge in September 2011 to make Malaysia a "functional and inclusive democracy, where peace and public order are safeguarded in line with the supremacy of the constitution, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights become a reality".

"Responses to crime require a rights-sensitive approach entirely absent from this legislation," Robertson added.

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