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TPPA Report Will Be Tabled In Parliament When All Aspects Discussed In Detail, Says Hamim

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:28 PM PDT
(Bernama) - The report of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will be tabled in Parliament when all the aspects in the agreement have been discussed in detail.

Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Hamim Samuri said the draft of the agreement is still being discussed with industry players to determine the pros and cons when the agreement was implemented later.

"Until the specifics have not been finalised in the drawing up of the draft agreement, the report will not be tabled in Parliament.

"The draft agreement will be tabled in Parliament only after the main issues have been agreed upon," he told reporters after opening "Conversation With Leaders" hosted by the Performance Management and Transformation Leaderahip Centre, a unit in the Malaysian Institute of Management.

The event discussed the topic "How Business Can Benefit from Free Trade Agreements: Helping Malaysian Companies to Develop New Market" besides exchanging views on interesting issues in TPPA.

Hamim said among the basic issues which have not been agreed upon are small and medium enterprises, environment, government procurements, intellectual property rights and state-owned enterprises.

Asked whether the TPPA will be signed by year-end, he said that was the targeted deadline, but Malaysia was not necessarily bound by the timeline.

Twelve countries, including Malaysia, are involved in the trade pact negotiations.

Penal Code amendments passed

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:21 PM PDT

The clause appearing in the new Section 203A has drawn much flak, primarily from the opposition, for its vagueness.

Tarani Palani & Pathma Subramaniam, 

The disclosure of information clause in the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill merely functions as an "enabling" law to tackle "serious crime".

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri said this when replying to answering queries from MPs before the bill was passed at the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The clause appearing in the new Section 203A has drawn much flak, primarily from the opposition, for its vagueness.

The newprovision reads: "Whoever discloses any information or matter which has been obtained by him in the performance of his duties or the exercise of his functions under any written law shall be punished with a fine of not more than one million ringgit, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with both".

Nancy said that the provision has to be read together with Section 203 of the existing Penal Code with regards to giving false information.

Section 203 states that whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, gives any information respecting that offence which he knows or believes to be false, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.

Opposition MPs have argued that the proposed clause restricts freedom of information and goes against the Whistle Blowers Act in revealing information important to curb wrong-doings.

They also argued that such matters like revealing crucial information with regards to corruption may be perturbed through this clause.

Nancy however said that this law was specific to crime prevention and would not hinder the leaking of information in relation to corruption.

"If the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) gets a tip off, those who have given the information will be protected under the MACC Act itself.

"(The new clause) is to tackle organised crime...this clause has to be read on a whole with the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) and the existing Penal Code.

"We won't detain just about anyone. This only comes into effect when there is a threat to the nation," she said.

During the third reading, Tangjong Karang MP Datuk Seri Noh Omar (BN) came to the government's defense arguing that the amendment is necessary stop leakage of information that jeopardises the country's defence.

Drawing analogies from confidential police operations, Noh said that if the information leaked could lead to the operation being cancelled then the clause comes into effect.

"If the media releases the information of a police raid on a prostitution den and its later aborted that's when action should taken on the journalist," he insisted, dousing earlier criticisms that the clause has severe bearing on journalists from doing their jobs without fear or favour.

This clause has been one of the hotly debated provisions in the amendments suggested in the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill.

Klang MP Charles Santiago (DAP) argued that this particular clause contradicts the Freedom of Information Act which has been implemented in the Pakatan Rakyat-held states of Selangor and Penang.

Nancy said she will have to double check on this matter as she wasn't clear on it herself.

Other issues that were contested was that rape should also be extended to males as some of the amendments touch on matters such as gang rape.

Drawing heated discussion was the introduction of a new Section 329A on domestic abuse which states that "whoever, during the subsistence of a valid marriage, causes hurt to his spouse and commits and offence under Sections 323, 324, 325, 326, 334 or 335 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of twice as long as the maximum term for which he would have been liable on conviction for that offence under the relevant section".

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Zaid: Anwar's 'Islam and democracy' strategy superficial

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 07:53 PM PDT

Sean Augustin,

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's strategy of using Islam and democracy to draw DAP and PAS supporters for winning elections is "superficial and shortsighted", Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.

The former de facto law minister said the acrimony between the so-called progressives and conservatives in PAS and Umno was proof that the formula will not work.

The Islamists in any political party or grouping, he explained, would not tolerate freedom of expression and personal liberty, nor would they accept human rights as understood by the modern world.

Islamists, he said, would always fight for an "Islamic model" of their choice.

"Meanwhile, the cause of democratic struggle will suffer and remain unattended. Those who value freedom and liberty will be attacked not only by (Perkasa chief) Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Utusan Malaysia but also by the groups in the Opposition," he wrote in his blog today.

Zaid said this following the PKR de-facto leader's talk on the compatibility of Islam and democracy in Adelaide, Australia last week.

Democracy, he said, was not just about elections but about freedom and personal liberty and the recognition of basic human rights. It was also about protecting the rights of the minorities.

"We don't have this basic freedom in Malaysia, not even in the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled states. So how does Anwar's Islamic model in Malaysia actually work?", Zaid asked.

The lawyer turned politician said the country has witnessed contradictions between the fatwa and democratic principles and practices.

Zaid opined that Anawr would likely agree with Islamic scholars if the latter said that Islam came first when it came to defending human rights.

The former deputy prime minister, Zaid claimed, has said nothing about the ongoing transgressions against the country's personal liberties.

"He has, in fact, not taken any clear position on the violation of fundamental liberties in Malaysia, except for some nice-sounding and very general statements about democracy, which he has mainly given overseas.

"He has not been a democrat in the true sense of the word. In the end, even the democrats will desert him," Zaid said.

Instead of trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, Zaid argued that Anwar should just fight authoritarianism first.

Anwar, he said, should focus on democratic issues that are easy to understand, which are the antidote against the "authoritarian rule" in the country.


Sultan of Brunei introduces tough Islamic punishments

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 07:48 PM PDT

(AFP) - The Sultan of Brunei introduced tough Sharia-law punishments on Tuesday including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, hailing what he called a "historic" step toward Islamic orthodoxy for his sleepy country.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — one of the world's wealthiest men — said a new Sharia Penal Code in the works for years was officially introduced Tuesday in the tiny, oil-flush sultanate and would be phased in beginning in six months.

Based on individual cases, punishments could include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption, according to a copy of the code.

The code applies only to Muslims.

"By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled," the sultan, 67, said in a speech.

An absolute monarch whose family has tightly controlled the languid, oil-rich country of 400,000 for six centuries, the sultan first called in 1996 for the introduction of Sharia criminal punishments.

The sultan already imposes a relatively conservative brand of Islam on his subjects, compared to Brunei's Southeast Asian Muslim neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Brunei bans the sale and public consumption of alcohol and closely restricts other religions.

But Sharia has been a rare point of contention in a land where the sultan's word is unquestioned, with many Bruneians quietly grumbling that the concept is out of step with the affluent country's laid-back ethnic Malay society.

"These rights-abusing policies are a good indication of why modern democracy and the right of people to participate in their government is a much better idea than anachronistic absolute monarchy," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

The situation shows that "respect for basic civil and political rights is near zero in Brunei," he added.

The monarch himself has acknowledged concerns over Sharia in recent years as the code was being drafted.

Compatible with Malay culture?

It was not immediately clear how aggressively it would be enforced.

Two years ago, the Attorney-General's office promised Brunei would apply an extremely high burden of proof for Sharia cases and judges would have wide discretion in applying it, in comments apparently aimed at easing public fears.

"It seems almost incompatible with Malay culture, which is peace-loving," said Tuah Ibrahim, 57, driver of a boat taxi in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.

He said Sharia can be acceptable if proportionate to the crime, but adds: "I can't imagine our country turning into somewhere like Saudi Arabia."

Brunei already has a dual system combining civil courts based on British law — the sultanate was a British protectorate until 1984 — and Sharia-compliant courts limited to personal and family issues such as marriage and inheritance.

Nearly 70 percent of Brunei's people are Muslim ethnic Malays. About 15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese, followed by indigenous tribes and other groups.

Bankrolled by South China Sea oil and gas fields, Brunei has one of Asia's highest standards of living, including free medical care and education through the university level.

The monarch's wealth — estimated at $20 billion by Forbes magazine two years ago — and luxurious lifestyle have become legendary, with reports emerging of his vast collection of luxury vehicles and gold-bedecked palaces.

The monarchy was deeply embarassed by a sensational family feud between Hassanal and his younger brother Jefri Bolkiah over the latter's alleged embezzlement of 15 billion dollars during his tenure as finance minister in the 1990s.

Subsequent court battles and exposes revealed salacious details of Jefri's un-Islamic jet-set lifestyle, including allegations of a high-priced harem of Western paramours and a luxury yacht he owned called "Tits."

Despite a suave image overseas, the sultan repeatedly warns at home of the potential impact that increasing integration with the world could have on Brunei's moral values and has leaned towards Islamic orthodoxy of late.

In the past year, the government introduced mandatory religious education for all Muslim children and ordered all businesses closed during Friday prayers.

In his speech, the sultan appeared to try to assuage any international concerns that may arise, saying the Sharia change "does not in any way change our policies … as a member of the family of nations." 


DAP hunts for enemies within

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 04:34 PM PDT

(The Star) - Now that DAP's heated battle with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) over party polls is settled, it is training its gun at dissenters.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has directed organising secretary Anthony Loke (pix) to investigate and take disciplinary action against party members "wearing Rocket badges but with BN (Barisan Nasional) hearts".

A DAP insider said that there were several vocal party members who had undermined the party during the re-election of the central committee held on Sept 29 and were continuing to do so.

"We don't know specifically who they are going to go for, but it's directed at those who continue to undermine the party after election," he said.

Another source said certain DAP veterans had made unfounded claims about the party polls, including accusing DAP of bringing in phantom voters.

Some grassroots leaders had spoken out against the party during the election troubles, such as Zulkifli Mohd Noor, who repeatedly claimed that the party's leadership was manipulating the voting process in the re-election.

"Loke will most likely have to document all wrongdoings and take it to the committee. Previously the status quo was that leaders cannot take action unless and until someone makes a complaint."

He said DAP leaders had most likely taken this step since it was no longer in the shadow of the RoS.

"Previously the party was being threatened by external forces, like the RoS who said it could be de-registered. Now that the crisis is over, leaders want to focus on internal threats," he added.

Loke, who is Seremban MP, told The Star Online that he would begin his work this week.

"I've nothing to report yet, but I can say that this ruling to take action is definitely not directed at any specific persons."

According to a statement sent by Lim earlier this week, Loke will be investigating and taking disciplinary action against party members who "try to destroy and sabotage DAP".

If any wrongdoing is discovered by Loke, he must submit a formal complaint to the party's disciplinary committee headed by deputy chairman Tan Kok Wai.

Tan, also Cheras MP, said his committee would look into the complaints referred by Loke.

He assured party members that the directive would not violate freedom of speech.

"We will be targeting those who bring disrepute to the party, but I and my committee will not allow any curbing of freedom of speech within DAP. We uphold freedom of speech with genuine and good intent," he said.


Nazri justifies one country, two rules over ‘Allah’ issue

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 04:18 PM PDT

(MM) - East Malaysian Christians have to respect the Muslims' exclusive right to describe God as "Allah" in peninsular Malaysia, as peninsular Malaysians have to similarly respect customs in Borneo, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said today.

The former de facto law minister pointed out that the Christian bible in peninsular Malaysia is typically in English, but noted that Sabahans and Sarawakians, including Muslims, are fine with Christians using the Arabic word to refer to God, as it is part of their culture.

"As much as you want us to respect what you do in Sabah and Sarawak, I'd expect Sabahans and Sarawakians to respect Muslim sensitivities in the peninsula," Nazri told reporters after the Malaysia International Golf Fair Symposium here today.

When asked how Malaysia could be united as one country in light of separate rules on the usage of "Allah", Nazri pointed out that it is Sabah and Sarawak that have different laws for peninsular Malaysians in other matters, such as requiring ICs for travel purposes and work permits, among others.

"This is what they wanted 50 years ago," said Nazri.

Nazri, who is currently the tourism and culture minister, also noted that state Islamic enactments in the peninsula, except for Penang and the Federal Territories, prohibit the usage of "Allah", and several other words, in non-Muslim creeds.

"There are no laws, no Islamic enactments in Sabah and Sarawak to disallow the use of Allah," said Nazri.

"The practice here is that Allah is a reference to God only for the Muslims. In Sabah and Sarawak, it's different, but in Semenanjung (peninsular Malaysia), it's sensitive," he added.

Last week, the Court of Appeal ruled against a High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Middle Eastern word "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly newsletter, 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 Catholic Church has said it would appeal the decision. Sabah and Sarawak churches, however, have maintained that they will continue their age-old practice of addressing God as "Allah" in their prayer services and in the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the bible.

Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, minister in the Prime Minister's Department, insisted yesterday that Christians in peninsular Malaysia, as well as in Sabah and Sarawak, can still describe God as "Allah" in their weekly masses, despite the Court of Appeal ruling.

He said that the court decision, which found that allowing Christians to describe God as "Allah" would cause confusion in the Muslim community, was restricted to the Herald.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also said yesterday that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak would not be affected by the ruling, and affirmed the validity of the 10-point solution that allows the printing, importation and distribution of the Al-Kitab.

The Cabinet has, however, not provided any basis for their interpretation which contradicts the opinion of the Malaysian Bar and other lawyers.

Ministers have also not directly addressed why the government thought the Herald, which is circulated only among Catholics including in the Borneo states, had been singled out for the ban.

Nazri said today that unlike the Herald, copies of the Al-Kitab distributed in peninsular Malaysia need to be stamped with the symbol of the cross and the words "Christian Publication".

"How do you ensure that the Herald will not be outside internal use?" he questioned.

When asked if Arab Christian tourists who visit Kuala Lumpur can bring in a copy of their bible in Arabic, Nazri said they could, but noted that action could be taken against them if such copies reached the hands of Muslims.

"You have to respect the laws of the country," he said.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan said yesterday that the Court of Appeal ruling has set a precedent for the authorities to ban non-Muslims from referring to God as "Allah" in future, on the basis that allowing such usage would cause "confusion". 


Malay DAP MP supports syariah law

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 03:59 PM PDT

MPs from opposition coalition do not see eye to eye on issues concerning syariah compliant laws in Malaysia.

G Vinod, FMT

DAP's Raub MP Ariff Sabri said today that he was in support of a PAS MP's call to make future laws in Malaysia syariah compliant.

"As long as it is syariah compliant, we are all for it," said Ariff, when met at the Parliament.

Yesterday, Temerloh MP Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi called for the government to ensure all future legislation in Malaysia to be syariah compliant; by getting religious scholars to give their views while drafting bills.

He argued that existing laws have failed to curb criminal activities in Malaysia and thus, it was fair for the government to to give syariah law a chance.

Ariff said he was in support of Nasruddin's statement as Islamic laws, in general, call for the establishment of a government guided by the rule of law.

"So I think it should be alright and I don't think its implementation will interfere with the rights of other citizens," he said.

Fellow DAP MP Ong Kian Meng said that while it was within Nasruddin's right to propose the idea, it would depend on Pakatan's leadership to decide on the matter.

"Whatever it is, it needs to be decided at the leadership level. This needs consensus of all three parties," said the Serdang MP.

However, Ong made it clear that DAP does not believe that syariah law was suitable to be implemented in the country.

"We respect PAS' right but as far as DAP is concerned, the country is not suitable for the implementation of syariah law," he said.



Najib talks about further subsidy cuts

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 03:49 PM PDT

Through his blog posting, PM Najib hints between his message that Malaysians may be facing the stark realities of having more subsidies removed in the Budget 2014

Narinder Singh, FMT

In defending his move to rationalise subsides, far more with the recent increase in fuel prices, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak went on social media via his 1Malaysia blog to explain further on his actions.

In his posting titled "Responsible steps in managing subsidies", Najib said that in view of uncertainties in the global economy, Malaysia was not immune to downtrends though it has seen rapid growth.

"I believe it is important for us to rationalise a few current subsidies to hover the global economy of today, including fuel subsidy," said Najib.

He further said that though the government has reduced fuel subsidy by 20 sen, it still subsidises the RON95 and diesel by 63 sen and 80 sen per litre respectively.

RM24.8 billion was allocated in 2013 for fuel subsidies, according to Najib.

He further strengthened his arguments by comparing the fuel prices in other Asian countries, claiming that prices here are still much lower.

He affirmed that a litre of RON 95 in Thailand was RM4.74, the Philippines RM5.44 and Indonesia RM3.05. He also went on to say that in June this year, the Indonesian government was forced to increase fuel price by 44%.

He said "though it was not well received and an unpopular move, nevertheless the Indonesian government realised that it must take necessary steps to improve its economy."

Najib also lamented that Malaysian imported petroleum due to the high local consumption.

"I believe we must take long term measures to reduce dependence on government subsidies now, in order not to burden our future generation. Malaysia is a small nation in petroleum export but our domestic consumption is very high."

"We are forced to import petroleum from other countries to meet domestic demand," he said.



No 'peanuts' for this Indian leader

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:48 AM PDT 

( -  A letter written by Samy Vellu to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to secure a national service camp in Sungkai, Perak, used the race card to help Silver Line gain an advantage. 

A seven-year-old support letter written by then works minister Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu to help secure a national service camp in Perak, is returning to haunt the person benefitting from the "surat sokong" (support letter) – MIC Youth Chief T Mohan.
Following Mohan's statement on Oct 17, that the government does not give "peanuts" to the Indian community in Budget 2014, he has received a barrage of criticisms. 
Among them is that he has been receiving much more than a can of peanuts through the offices of Samy Vellu – the then MIC president.
The criticisms centre on Silver Line Services Sdn Bhd, of which Mohan is a major shareholder. A letter written by Samy Vellu to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to secure a national service camp in Sungkai, Perak, used the race card to help Silver Line gain an advantage.
"The involvement of the Indian community in the National Service programme is very limited. Hence I appeal to your good self to consider the application by Silver Line Sdn Bhd. 
"The approval of the application is in line with the government's aspiration to improve the economic standing of the Indian community," read the letter which was dated July 28, 2006. 
POWER chairman S Gobikrishnan said the camp (Kem Sinaran Suria) is one example where the Indian community is left in a lurch while only a handful of connected Indians are benefitting.

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Herald editor: Double-speak on ‘Allah’ a source of confusion

Posted: 21 Oct 2013 10:22 AM PDT 

(MM) - The editor of Catholic weekly the Herald said those in government have not been able to come to an agreement even among themselves as to how to view the court's ruling against the use of the word in the publication's Bahasa Malaysia section.

The lack of clarity in Putrajaya's interpretation of the Court of Appeal's judgment on the "Allah" issue is only adding to the growing confusion surrounding the use of the word by non-Muslims nationwide, Father Lawrence Andrew said yesterday.

The editor of Catholic weekly the Herald said those in government have not been able to come to an agreement even among themselves as to how to view the court's ruling against the use of the word in the publication's Bahasa Malaysia section.

"I think there are two sides always to a situation, for instance Abu Talib said the ruling concerns for all (sic), both for the people of Sabah-Sarawak and Semenanjung," he said, referring to retired Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman's recent claim that Sabah and Sarawak cannot be exempted from the ruling.

"Whereas Gani Patail says the ruling is directed to Herald only," Lawrence added, this time drawing attention to current Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who maintained that the judgment is limited only to the weekly publication.

"There seems to be a yes and no approach at many levels... it is not the word 'Allah' that is creating confusion among the people, but it is some people who are interpreting a judgment differently. They are creating more confusion," the priest told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

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